Pokemon Fan Fiction ❯ A Blond Ray of Sunshine ❯ Chapter 25
The next day, in the midmorning hours, the three siblings and Fireball walked out into the field outside the cabin. Latoshi was wearing a green t-shirt, which Antoshi had gone out and bought for him, along with blue jeans borrowed from Antoshi's wardrobe. His outfit resembled his brother's red and blue attire. Fireball closed his eyes as Antoshi pulled him into the confines of his Poké Ball.
“Ready to go?” Antoshi asked his brother, tucking the minimized Poké Ball into his pocket. Latoshi sighed, pausing for a moment before he nodded. The two boys took Mitoshi by the hand. “Then, let's go!”
The girl grinned as her brothers helped lift her into the air. She used her own training and ability to help keep herself airborne as well. Bubbles remained at the front door, waving to them with both flippers as they flew off southward into the clear blue sky.
The trio of siblings sailed high, near the clouds. The warm, summer wind whipped loudly around them. They took in the sights of Route 35 beneath them, which gave way to Goldenrod — the city that they were all so intimately familiar with already.
After some time, the two brothers watched as Mitoshi hesitantly let go of their hands. She shrieked and flailed for a moment, losing some altitude, before managing to fly on her own between them. She laughed it off, her face lit up with elation, keeping her attention focused on her flight and managing her energy as Antoshi had taught her. At the same time, she couldn't help but revel in the freedom of flight — despite how scary it was being so high up at first. The blond boy grinned at her, proudly. She giggled, maneuvering up and down, spinning and rolling with her arms out wide. The black undershirt and blue shorts she wore held tight to her body, while the much more loose, blue shirt on top, as well as her long blue hair, flapped wildly in the intense winds. The longer she kept at it, the more comfortable she became — like learning how to ride a bike, as Antoshi said.
The group flew for over an hour without stopping. By then, their destination was in sight. They descended slowly to the ground, just on the outskirts of a wooded area, away from eyesight of nearby people. The trio emerged from the trees, having made it to the remains of Fern Town.
Before them was a memorial park, currently visited by a few dozen people scattered around the area. The neatly landscaped grass was bordered by large, circular pathways, allowing people to stroll and to jog amid newly planted oak trees. Small statues, flower beds, and short, brick walls made up just what they were able to see from their vantage point. More notable were the many memorial plaques and headstones alongside the paths.
The group stood at the edge of a sidewalk, leading toward a parking lot occupied by several parked cars on their right. Antoshi held out Fireball's Poké Ball, releasing him from its confines, allowing the Typhlosion to gaze upon the scenic park. Mitoshi groaned, weakly, falling back onto her posterior on the grass. She caught her breath, visibly sweating, resting on her hands.
“You okay?” Antoshi asked her.
Mitoshi uttered an airy laugh. “Yeah, I'm just a little wiped out. That was a heck of a first attempt at flying.”
Antoshi chuckled in response. “It's really beautiful here,” he remarked, to the agreement of Fireball and the girl. The three of them watched as Latoshi hesitantly walked forward. The sable-haired boy exhaled slowly, gazing out at the long, empty stretch of grassy plain, bordered by a forest, behind the park. Small handfuls of people walked on by along the grass and the paved walkways. Very few cars drove along the nearby stretch of road. The brief sounds of laughing children and Pokémon rang out.
Antoshi took a seat next to Mitoshi, and Fireball followed suit. Each of them understood how important this was for Latoshi.
It couldn't have been a more picturesque day, with pillars of white clouds brushed across the warm, blue sky. A gentle breeze carried him forward as he approached a small memorial area where people stopped by briefly. He stopped in front of a vertical, black marble memorial slab to read its inscription: 'This land is dedicated to honor the memory of the citizens of Fern Town. A beautiful town with over seventy years of history. 7,182 souls were lost one fateful morning. May their memories of their lives continue in our hearts forever.'
He exhaled in awe upon looking out at the makeshift cemetery laid out in the distance. Aside from the thousands of plaques within the confines of the park, beyond that lay thousands of identical headstones dotting the pristine field of grass, set in perfectly spaced rows.
He wandered through them, looking at all of the engraved names — names that were all that was left of the town's residents. Many of the headstones had flowers or balloons or toys laid out in front of them. Each of the gifts that loved ones had left felt like a dagger through his heart.
His town was gone. He was the only one left.
He came to a halt, gasping in shock as he found a shared headstone with the names of his parents — along with his name, too. His jaw quavered. It was a jarring experience to see his own name upon a grave. Part of his memories, his past, his former name, had perished with the town.
‘They think I died, too,’ he thought, his eyes welling with tears. He scoffed and wiped his eyes. ‘So, … it really is the start of a new life. … Just like Lazarus told me it would be.’
He sat in front of the headstone, crossing his legs. He reached out and touched the smooth finish on the cool, hard marble. “It's been a long time,” he muttered, staring at his parents' names. “I finally … came to see you. I know it took a while for me to get here, but, I had no idea what happened until just recently. I'm sorry I didn't come sooner.” He sighed and looked away for a moment. “I wanted to apologize for everything I did. I was … so terrible to you near … the end. I realize now how difficult I had been over the past few years. I was dealing with a lot of things. I never … felt like I 'fit in' at school. I barely had any friends. I started acting out. I thought I was cool acting like a punk and getting into trouble. You were both always so patient with me. You just wanted the best for me, but, I was so shut-in that I never noticed any of that. I just wanted you to leave me alone and I— … I never realized how much that must have hurt you.”
Latoshi huffed and wiped the tears from his eyes. He steadied his breathing for a moment before continuing.
“After … I had found out that … you had adopted me, it was like … I dunno, something snapped inside me. I had this horrible, emotional burden inside me all the time, and then finding out about the adoption made me feel like my whole world came crashing down. It was like my life was ending. I was so confused, and scared, and I didn't know what was going to happen to me. I felt so alone, but, the truth was, I wasn't. If I had just listened to you, if I had just stopped and had an actual conversation with you, … none of this would've happened. I was too weak, emotionally. That's why I turned to Lazarus. It felt like he understood me, and he would take care of me, and that all of my troubles were over. Turns out that was far from the truth.”
He touched the headstone again. “I cried so much over the past few days. It hurt every time I thought about … what I had done. I know it wasn't me that did all these terrible things, but … it's hard not to feel that way. My mistake was letting Lazarus in and giving him the ability to act out his plans. I should've been stronger and smarter, but I wasn't. Now, that's my burden to bear. … I can't keep crying over it, though. I have to be stronger and smarter now. I have to move forward. Even despite all this horrible tragedy, there's a light of hope for me in the end. I have a new family now. I finally got to meet my twin brother, and my younger sister. They're really amazing. I bet you'd have loved them, too.”
Latoshi stood up, exhaling slowly. “I'll come and see you again soon. I want to tell you about everything that's happening with me. I want you both to know … that I'm doing my best to become a better person now. I love you both so much.”
He slid his hands into his pockets, turning his gaze to the sky for a few moments. He cleared his throat, rubbing his eyes once more, before heading back.
The trio were still sitting in the grass, talking and laughing, as Latoshi approached them. They stood up, noticing Latoshi heading over.
“How do you feel?” Antoshi asked him.
Latoshi smiled and shrugged. “Better,” he replied. “It gave me some closure, just like you said. Thank you for talking me into this.” Antoshi nodded to him, smiling. Latoshi sighed, looking to the sky again. “It's so weird when you think about it. None of this would've happened if not for my decisions. We probably never would've met — at least, not so soon. We might not have even used our powers on the scale we did. … It's like realizing the moment when my life suddenly split off into a completely different direction.”
“Do you … regret the way things turned out?” Mitoshi asked, softly.
He smiled and shook his head. “No, I don't — I can't. If I regret it, then, I can't move on.”
“Well said,” Antoshi replied. “There were plenty of times when things didn't turn out the way any of us expected, or hoped. Even still, we'll move on together.”
“Sounds good,” Latoshi said.
“Speaking of 'moving on,'” Mitoshi added, “could you guys cart me back home? I don't think I can fly all that way again.”
The others laughed. “All right, take my hand,” Antoshi said, holding a hand out to her.
“Yeah, and be sure to look both ways, little one,” Latoshi added, smirking.
“Hilarious,” Mitoshi replied, sarcastically, as she grabbed hold of Antoshi's hand.
"So, when do we get to eat?" Fireball asked.
“We'll have lunch when we get home,” Antoshi replied.
"Maybe we could have a … pre-lunch before that?"
Antoshi smirked, shaking his head, before recalling Fireball into his Poké Ball. The three siblings headed back into the woods, before going airborne once again.
That night, after everyone had gone to bed, Antoshi sat alone on the large, middle couch in the living room. He sighed, moving his Trainer ID card around through his fingers. The door to his room opened, grabbing his attention.
"Antoshi?" Fireball mused, groggily. "It's almost 1 A.M. What are you doing up?"
“Can't sleep,” he replied, as Fireball shuffled over to him. “I've just been sitting here, thinking.”
"What about?" the Typhlosion asked, taking a seat on the couch to his left.
“Well, … Latoshi came to terms with his parents. Now, I have to do the same.”
Fireball went silent for a moment. "When are you … going to talk to them?"
“The sooner, the better,” he replied, staring at his ID again. “I haven't spoken to them since, … well, since I found out. I only went this long without talking them once before, and you know how worried they were when I finally called. It's just, …” his hand trembled as he pinched the card between his fingers, “I kind of feel the same way Latoshi did when he found out. I can't help but thinking that … they lied to me by never telling me.”
"But, they are your parents, Antoshi — you know they wouldn't ever lie."
“I know, I— it's selfish of me to think that, but, … I just wish they would've told me.”
"It's hard. That much I know from what I've seen from you and from Latoshi. Obviously, I couldn't what you're going through, since I barely remember my own parents. But, you know I've always got your back. Whenever you want to talk to them, I'll be right there with you."
“Thanks, Fireball,” he replied. “I was thinking about going as soon as possible tomorrow morning. I was going to ask you to come with me, too.”
The best friends smiled to each other.
"Why don't you get some rest now?"
Antoshi closed his eyes and nodded in response. The two of them got up, and headed back into their room.
“Are you sure you don't want us to come with you?” Mitoshi asked, the following morning. She and Latoshi stood by and watched as Antoshi knelt down to tie his shoelaces.
“Yeah, I'm sure,” he said, standing up. “This is something Fireball and I have to take care of together. I'll be back tomorrow, though.”
“Don't forget to call us,” Latoshi said. The two brothers smiled at each other, sharing a brief handshake.
“I sure won't,” Antoshi replied. “I'll be thinking about you guys the whole time.” Mitoshi walked up to him, giving him and Fireball a hug around the neck. Antoshi laughed. “Come on, guys, we're only going to be gone for one day.”
“Yeah, we know that,” Latoshi replied, “but, it won't feel the same without our 'fearless leader' around.”
“Is that how you really think of me?”
“You didn't give up on me after learning about Lazarus,” Latoshi said. “Mitoshi also told me about how you would go outside and send out energy in the hopes I'd sense you.”
“You're also teaching me how to use my energy like you do,” Mitoshi added, smiling.
“I just enjoy being with you guys,” Antoshi replied, with an embarrassed grin. “I … I care about you, and I just want to make you both happy.”
“And, that's why it won't feel the same without you around,” Latoshi said.
Antoshi nodded in understanding to them. “Well, try not to miss me too much,” he joked. The others chuckled. He bent down to grab his backpack, slinging it over his shoulders with a content sigh.
“See you guys tomorrow.”
“See ya,” they both replied, while Fireball waved to them. Bubbles, staying near the back of the main area, waved to the duo as well. Antoshi held the door open for Fireball, heading out after his friend did.
Latoshi let out a heavy sigh.
“So, what should we do now?” he asked.
“Hmm, … you know, this whole time you guys haven't watched any TV.”
Latoshi stared at her blankly. “I … thought the TV wasn't working or something.”
“No, it works. The remote should be in a little pocket on the side of the couch.”
“Awesome,” he replied. Latoshi performed a flashy backflip from where he was standing, startling Bubbles, before making a soft landing sitting down on the couch. He reached for the remote where she said it would be, sighing happily, putting his feet up on the table.
Mitoshi grinned. “I'm glad you learned how to make yourself at home here,” she said.
“This place is so cozy,” he replied, “especially with all of you around. How can I not?”
Latoshi flicked the television on and reclined with his hands behind his head. Mitoshi smiled and shook her head, heading into the kitchen to grab a snack for them both. Bubbles quietly returned to her usual task of tidying up.
In the early afternoon, Antoshi and Fireball headed off the Magnet Train. The boy took a deep breath and huffed sharply. He had a determined expression as they made their way out of the train station and back into their hometown of Saffron City.
"You were quiet the whole ride here," Fireball remarked, as they crossed the street together.
“Yeah, I'm sorry about that. I was just … rehearsing what to say to my head, and what they might say, and how they might react …”
"You could've called them."
“I could have, but this is something really important. It's the kind of conversation that needs to happen face-to-face.”
"That's true, but, I meant you could've called them to let them know we were coming."
Antoshi chuckled. “I haven't been able to call them this whole time because of what I want to talk about with them. I wouldn't be able to keep myself from bringing it up and, like I said, this needs to be discussed in person.”
The duo grew increasingly nervous the closer they got to home. Their serene neighborhood was quiet. Only a handful of their neighbors were out and about, and none of them seemed to notice the pair. By the time he reached for the front door, Antoshi's hands were trembling. He turned the knob and they headed inside.
“Mom! Dad!” Antoshi called out. “I'm home!”
“Antoshi?!” they both responded in surprise from the living room.
Antoshi headed over, finding them getting up from the couch. His mother quickly shuffled over and embraced him tightly.
“Oh, we were so worried!” she said. “You hadn't called in so long after you got to Route 35! We were hoping you'd been taking care of yourself, but, is everything all right? Why did you come home so suddenly?” The boy looked up at his mother, smiling, with tears filling his eyes. “Antoshi, … what's wrong?”
“I, um,” he said, his voice quavering, “… I think we should all sit together to have a talk.”
His parents looked to each other in concern. His father came over to join them.
“All right, sure, son,” he said. He pulled out a chair from the nearby dining room table. “Here, come sit.”
The boy did so. He was promptly joined by his mother sitting on the chair next to him. His father pulled out another chair and brought it over to sit with them as well. Fireball opted to stand nearby.
Antoshi gazed down at his trembling hands, exhaling slowly.
“Did something happen in Johto?” his father asked.
Antoshi chuckled, weakly, rubbing the tears from his eyes. “You could say that,” he replied.
His mother looked up at Fireball. “Well, you're here, and Fireball is here,” she said. “You both look all right. What could it be?”
“It's not really about me or Fireball,” he replied, “it's … it's about you. Both of you.”
His parents looked to each other in confusion. “I don't understand,” his father said.
The boy sighed again. “While I was in Johto, I met a couple of friends my age: a boy and a girl. They're both really nice, and Fireball really likes them, too.” Fireball nodded in agreement.
“Well, that's wonderful, honey,” his mother said, softly.
“It is wonderful, but, … well, the girl ended up telling me something I—I certainly wasn't ready for. She told me that she was actually my sister, and that the other boy with us … was my brother. She'd been searching for us for some time after finding out she had two older brothers that were given up for adoption.” He looked up to see the alarmed expressions on their faces. “She told me that I was … adopted.”
His parents went quiet for a few moments. His father reached over to grab his wife's hand.
“Oh,” she whispered. “I see.”
“Ever since I found out,” Antoshi went on, “it's been eating at me. I had so many questions on my mind, but the main question was: why? Why did you never tell me?”
“We were most certainly going to tell you, Antoshi,” his mother said, her voice breaking, “just … when you were a few years older. We weren't sure you were ready just yet.”
Antoshi took a deep breath, exhaling with an almost relieved laugh. “I was … really hoping that was going to be your answer,” he said, sniffling.
“We didn't keep it from you to hurt you,” his father said, shaking his head. “We just, … well, we certainly didn't expect you to find out on your own like this. We wanted you to go out and fulfill your dream as a Pokémon Trainer. We wanted you to … live your life, and learn, and grow, and just have fun. I'm so sorry you had to find out this way, son.”
Antoshi sniffled and nodded. “I'm sorry, too,” he replied. “I should've called you sooner. I knew you were worrying about me, it's just … I couldn't bear to talk to you for a little while after I found out. I was too scared. But, I couldn't avoid talking to you for very long, so, that's why Fireball and I are here now.”
“I understand, Antoshi,” his mother said, taking him by the hand. Her hand was cold and trembling just as his was. “I'm glad you decided to come home to talk about this. That was very responsible of you. I've always said I trust in your judgment, because you've always had good judgment.”
“That's true,” his father added.
“I'm just … glad to finally get this out of the way,” Antoshi said, chuckling. “But, just out of my own curiosity, could you … tell me about it? How you adopted me and … why?”
“Of course,” his mother said. “You deserve to know.”
“Well,” his father said, “without getting into all of the embarrassing details, after your mother and I were married, we found out that … well, we couldn't have children of our own. Even still, we decided we wanted to start our own family regardless of that.”
“We contacted an adoption agency,” his mother continued, “and, not long after, they called us back to set up a meeting with a newborn baby. We ended up flying to their location in Blackthorn City, and that's when we met you.” The two parents grinned to each other. “You were the most adorable little baby with your little sprouts of blond hair. We fell in love with you immediately.”
“The adoption papers had the name your birth parents gave to you,” his father said. “It was 'Antoshi.' We thought it was a wonderful, unique name, so, … we stuck with it.”
Antoshi let out a soft laugh. “So, my … birth parents were the ones that came up with my name?” he mused, grinning. His parents responded with a nod. “It's funny because … of all the people I've met on our journeys that thought that my name was 'weird' or 'crazy' or 'exotic'. I always figured I had you both to 'blame' for that.”
His parents laughed. “Well,” his father said, “of course we considered giving you a new name, but, … we just liked the name 'Antoshi' too much.”
“After thirteen years, it's grown on me, too,” he replied with a smile. “But, there was one other thing I needed to talk to you both about. … I've given it a lot of thought, and … I think that I'd like to put my Pokémon journey on hold indefinitely.” His parents were surprised by the news. “I … hope you both aren't upset with me. It's just that I'd really like to spend some time with my brother and sister. I really want to get to know them better.”
“Oh, honey, we're not upset one bit,” his mother said. His father nodded in agreement. “We always trust in your judgment, like I said. If that's what you really want, then we want that for you, too.”
“We'd love to be able to meet them, too,” his father said. “It'd be wonderful for us to talk to your siblings.”
“I know they'd love that,” Antoshi replied.
The three of them got up in order to share a group hug. Antoshi sighed with his face in his mother's shoulder.
“I love you both so much,” he said.
“We love you, too,” his mother replied. “You will always be our little 'blond ray of sunshine.'” Antoshi laughed in embarrassment.
“We love you, son,” his father added.
Fireball eagerly shuffled over, putting his paws around all of them with tears streaming down his face. The others shared a laugh.
“We love you, too, Fireball!” Antoshi's father said.
The duo stayed home the rest of the day, as Antoshi had planned to do. The two of them were extremely content being home once more. They spent the day enjoying time spent as a family, as well as the satisfaction of home-cooked meals. They walked around outside, talked to their friends and neighbors, reminiscing on earlier times. They played games, watched some television, and Antoshi happily caught up with some of his belated home schooling.
"Do you really enjoy doing that paperwork stuff?" Fireball asked, watching him write.
“Oh, yes,” Antoshi replied with a grin. “Yes, I do.”
Antoshi and Fireball got a sound sleep that night. Both of them felt much better being able to address the issue of Antoshi's adoption with his parents. Since last they slept at home, the course of their lives had altered dramatically. Neither of them were perturbed by that or by what the future held for them.
The next morning, Antoshi and Fireball walked down the path leading away from their home. The best friend duo turned and waved to the boy's parents, who stood together at the front door.
“Good luck, Antoshi!” his mother called to them.
“Try not to have too much fun!” his father added, in jest. “Call us at least once a week, okay?”
“Will do!” Antoshi called back. “Love you both!”
“We love you!” they said together before heading back inside.
The duo headed back down the same street they grew up on once again. Fireball sighed happily. "It was really great to be back home. That whole 'adoption' conversation went swimmingly."
Antoshi was taken aback by the remark. “'Swimmingly'? Your vocabulary is becoming very good, Fireball.”
"Why, thank you," the Typhlosion replied, playfully. "I happen to consider myself smarter than the average Typhlosion."
“You're definitely taller and heavier and eat way more than the average Typhlosion.” Fireball chuckled, warmly. “You're right, though. That whole situation couldn't have gone any better. Now, it's time to head back and see what Latoshi and Mitoshi are up to.”
"I'll bet they passed out from boredom already."
Several hours later, Mitoshi sat outside on the porch stairs, watching Latoshi as he trained. With a serious expression, he rattled off several rapid-fire flurries of punches and kicks for a short time. He shouted, finishing with a kick powerful enough to cause a visible shock wave.
“That was great!” Mitoshi said, offering a gentle clap.
Latoshi sighed, smirking at her. “It's nice to finally stretch out a bit. It's been forever since I felt this strong.” He grunted, looking down at his clenched fist as he summoned his aura to it. The color of his aura had shifted to that of a dark green. “… Or this green,” he added.
“Oh, hey, that's right,” Mitoshi replied. She hopped to her feet, skipping playfully over to him. “Your aura was black the last time I saw it. Why is it changing colors?” The girl gasped in shock. “Are you a chameleon?”
Latoshi chuckled. “Nah. Last time I checked, I'm definitely human. Still, this is kind of odd. I have no idea why my aura is changing color.”
“We can figure that out later~,” she whined. “You said you were going to train me while Antoshi was gone.”
“All right, all right. Let me think here. From what Antoshi told me, you're still pretty inexperienced. So, I'll figure out where to start by testing how good your sensing ability is.”
“Right!” she exclaimed, standing at attention. “What should I do?”
Latoshi turned to the side. “I'm going to punch a certain number of times, and you just tell me how many you see. Sound good?”
“Sounds great! I'm ready!”
Mitoshi remained fully alert, narrowing her eyes as she stared, unblinking. Several moments passed before Mitoshi finally blinked, and looked at him in confusion. “Are you ever going to start?”
Latoshi raised his eyebrows. “… Seriously?” he asked in disbelief. “You didn't see anything just now?”
“Uh, well, … no~o?” she replied, meekly. “Should I have?”
Latoshi sighed, sharply. “Wow. Okay, then. Looks like we're starting at the basic of the basics.”
Mitoshi groaned in frustration. “Fine. What do we do first?”
“First, you have to tell me how you did that thing where you turned your body to water. I've been wondering about that this whole time.”
“Ooh, that. I've been able to do that for a couple years now. I can't really explain how, it just happens when it happens. I usually need some kind of water source to do it, though.”
“You didn't need any water when I was about to punch you in the chest back on Mt. Mortar.”
Mitoshi shrugged. “Like I said, it just happens when it happens. But, like Serenity explained to me after that fight, if I ever lose any part of my 'water body' then I really do need a source of water to kind of … 'refill' myself.”
“That's so weird, but, I would love to be able to do it.”
“It is pretty fun. So~o, about training me?”
“Okay, let's see. … How about you unleash your aura first?”
Mitoshi spread her stance a bit. With a determined gaze, she gave a loud shout, her blue aura suddenly flaring to life around her. At the same time, her irises turned a shimmering blue.
Latoshi hummed and nodded, impressed. “Not bad,” he said. He idly gazing down at his open palms, which were visibly slick. “You know, your aura actually carries moisture inside it.”
“Antoshi mentioned that, but, he figured it was a side-effect of having an elemental Ki like Serenity said.”
“Okay, I seriously want to trade Ki with you now. Your power is sounding more and more cool.” Mitoshi laughed. Latoshi sighed and grinned. “Well, like I said, let's go with the basics, okay? How about you just come at me with your best?”
Mitoshi smirked, confidently. “Watch out, I might knock your jaw off again!” she exclaimed, running at him.
“Keep dreaming!” he retorted, smirking just the same as her.
She shouted with each strike she threw at him. He blocked each punch with open palms, smiling, as he gradually moved backward.
“Not bad!” Latoshi said. “Let loose! Give it everything you got!”
Mitoshi kept it up for some time, finding a comfortable rhythm in her punches. After a while, however, she started panting and sweating heavily. Her hair was becoming matted to her head. Her flickering blue aura weakened, diminishing in sync with her faltering energy and slowing strikes.
“Okay, that's good enough,” Latoshi said. As she came to a halt, he suddenly bent down to catch her from falling. “Whoa!” He laughed, letting her lay down on her back. “All right, take a breather. We can keep doing that every day and build your stamina.”
Mitoshi grinned weakly, staring up at the partly cloudy sky. She caught her breath for a few moments while Latoshi sat next to her.
“That was so much fun!” she remarked. “I've never gotten to just cut loose and train like that before. I hadn't ever thought much about fighting, or learning how to fight before I met you two.”
“I think training with you and Antoshi would be a lot of fun,” Latoshi remarked, smirking. “You've gotten a lot stronger since that time you knocked me silly.”
“You've gotten stronger, too! I swung at you just the same way as I did when we fought, except now I have more Ki control.”
Latoshi humphed, thoughtfully. “I guess that shows how much Lazarus really was holding me back. My strength is coming back in a big way.”
“Hey, there!” another voice called out from afar. The two of them turned to see the familiar faces of their brother and Fireball.
“You guys are back!” Mitoshi responded in elation. The girl sprung to her feet with a sudden burst of energy that surprised Latoshi. She ran over to them, hugging her brother tightly around his neck.
Antoshi laughed in response. “Hey, you're getting sweat all over my clothes!”
"Aw, man!" Fireball said. "You were training and I missed it? I wanted to watch!"
“Blame Mitoshi,” Latoshi replied, walking up to the group. “She got impatient and didn't want to wait for Antoshi to get back.”
“It's true!” Mitoshi replied, pulling away from her brother. “I'm super excited to start training with you guys for real.”
“I think it'll be fun to train with you as well,” Antoshi replied, smiling at her.
The four of them continued chatting as they headed back toward the cabin together.
The group all sighed, almost in unison, as they sat down on the living room couches together. Latoshi sat alone on the big couch in the middle, Antoshi on the smaller couch on his right, Mitoshi and Fireball seated on the couch to his left. Bubbles slid herself over to rest beside Mitoshi.
“Another amazing dinner,” Latoshi remarked. “I'm finally feeling back to normal again.”
Mitoshi laughed, petting Bubbles' head. Just then, there was a knock at the door. “I'll get it!” the girl said, springing back up. She headed to the door and opened it. Mitoshi gasped in excitement.
“Good evening,” Serenity said, smiling. “May I come in?”
“Of course!” Mitoshi replied, waving her inside, eagerly. “Hey, guys, look who it is!”
“Serenity!” the others greeted her, as Mitoshi closed the door behind them.
“Hello, everyone,” she replied, politely.
“Here — come, sit down,” Mitoshi said, guiding her over to the couch Antoshi was seated at. Serenity and Antoshi smiled to each other as the young woman sat down. Mitoshi was bubbling with excitement, taking her seat next to Fireball again.
“So, what brings you here?” Antoshi asked.
“I wanted to see how everyone was doing,” she replied. She paused for a moment, smiling, as she looked at all of them. “It's quite the sight to see you finally together. It warms my heart like you wouldn't believe. In my opinion, you're all where you should be: together, as a family.”
The others chuckled, looking to each other.
“Serenity!” Mitoshi spoke up, raising her hand over her head. “I've been getting a lot stronger. Antoshi and Latoshi are both training me.”
“I can tell!” Serenity replied with a warm smile. “Your Ki is much more refined than the first time I met you. In fact, all of you have gotten stronger since then.” She turned her attention to Latoshi. “Especially you.” Latoshi was taken aback by the personal remark.
“Oh, hey!” Mitoshi went on. “I just remembered! Latoshi, show Serenity your aura.”
“Oh, yeah, you're right.”
Latoshi held his fist out. Antoshi was surprised, watching his brother summon his dark green aura around his lower arm.
“Wow, it's green now,” Antoshi remarked. “That's really awesome! But, what does it mean?”
Serenity closed her eyes and smiled. “Latoshi,” she said, opening her eyes, “if you'll recall, I spoke to you not too long ago in Goldenrod. I said that your heart is where your strength is. If you open your heart and let your true emotions shine, your powers will return. Just from being here, I can see that your mind and heart have mellowed considerably. You're very relaxed. Your siblings give you strength, and the same is true for them.”
"Hey!" Fireball exclaimed, taking offense to being left out. The others laughed in response.
“Yes, and Fireball's presence gives you strength as well. I'm sorry about that, Fireball.” Fireball folded his stubby arms, smiling in contentment. “The truth is,” Serenity continued, “being around your family has drawn out your emotions and empowered you. Not only has the strength you lost to Lazarus returned, but, you're continually becoming even stronger.” Latoshi grinned from ear to ear, proudly. “Your spirit energy is finally breaking down the barrier that Lazarus created. Your willpower is burning away its leftover energy bit by bit. That's why it's turning green. It appears to be the natural color of your Ki.”
“I've been wondering about that, actually,” Antoshi said. “Why do we have different colored Ki?”
“A very good question,” Serenity replied, “however, I'm not totally sure. It's possible it could be as simple as what color you subconsciously prefer. It's also possible the color of your aura reflects the type of person you are. Antoshi, yours is red. Red is the a color associated with leadership, and strength. Green typically represents loyalty and passion. Blue reflects peace and unity. That, I feel, is fairly accurate to your personalities, don't you think?”
The three siblings nodded, murmuring and looking to each other.
“What about pink?” Antoshi asked. “I remember that's the color of your Ki.”
Serenity chuckled. “Love,” she replied. Antoshi was suddenly a tad embarrassed for asking. “It's my gift and curse. I care very deeply for the people around me — even complete strangers. I only wish for no one to be harmed, and for everyone to live in peace and happiness. I can't bring myself to disdain anyone, … even if I should've cast them aside long ago.” Her smiled faded, her gaze faltering away.
“Collin,” Antoshi remarked.
Serenity looked to him, smiling reassuringly. “It's nothing to worry about,” she replied.
“Well, I have a question,” Latoshi said, boisterously. “Why the heck can the three of us understand what Fireball and Bubbles say?”
“Another very good question,” Serenity answered. “Pokémon instincts are more naturally in tuned with the spirit than humans. That's why all Pokémon are able to sense spirit energy, while very few humans can do the same. The bond between humans and Pokémon can run deep enough to the spirit. Since Antoshi possesses spirit awareness, he can 'hear' what Fireball is projecting with his spirit through spoken words. The same goes for Mitoshi and her Lapras. As for why the other two siblings can hear them, too, I believe it's because of your familial bond. Your spirits are deeply attuned to one another by birthright.” Latoshi was visibly impressed by the explanation.
“Ooh, that reminds me,” Mitoshi chimed in. “I'm so sorry I never introduced you to my Lapras. This is Bubbles! Bubbles, Serenity — Serenity, Bubbles.”
“It's very nice to meet you, Bubbles,” Serenity said, smiling warmly. Bubbles offered a coy smile and a nod of acknowledgment.
“'Deeply attuned to one another by birthright,'” Antoshi reiterated. “Is that why Mitoshi and I were able to see through Latoshi's eyes at one point?”
“Did this happen in a dream?” Serenity asked, curiously. Antoshi and Mitoshi nodded. “And, I can only assume it happened when Latoshi was using a considerable amount of spirit energy.” They nodded again. “Then, yes, that's exactly the reason why. The three of you share a very incredible bond with each other unlike anything I've ever seen. You draw strength from your siblings and all three of you strengthen each others' limits. Because of that, I believe that any Pokémon that one of you bonds with automatically bonds with the other two. Truthfully, I think the three of you may soon discover that you can apply the bond between your spirits in ways you never knew. Don't take that as a fact, though, it's just a theory I had floating around in my head. The colors of your spirits may be different, but I feel a powerful sense of similarity and familiarity between them.”
"Sweet!" Fireball exclaimed. "I have three best friends now!" The others laughed, loudly.
“How long will it take before we see the color of Latoshi's real Ki?” Mitoshi asked.
“When Antoshi was only possessed,” Serenity replied, “it only lasted for a few minutes, so the energy from Lazarus burned away almost immediately. However, Latoshi was possessed for months — that's how long I could sense Lazarus' presence inside him. It'll still take some time for him to be completely rid of Lazarus' energy.”
Latoshi nodded in understanding.
“Oh, man,” Antoshi remarked. “I can't believe how selfish we've been. We've asked so many questions about us, we never asked about you and how you're doing, Serenity.”
Serenity chuckled. “It's all right, Antoshi. I'm more than happy to answer your questions if I can. If imparting my knowledge means that the three of you grow stronger and with better understanding of yourselves, then it's very much worth it. But, since you asked, I recently had a job interview at a local supermarket and I'm happy to say I was hired.”
“That's great!” Mitoshi said, the others nodding in agreement.
“Which supermarket is it?” Latoshi asked.
“Swalot's in Ecruteak City,” she replied. “Home of the 'Big Gulpin' Discounts!'” she added with a laugh.
“Wait, you live in Ecruteak City?” Antoshi mused.
“Yes. When we first spoke, I had said I was in Goldenrod because I sensed Lazarus' energy. However, I actually live in Ecruteak City.”
“Could we come and visit you sometime?!” Mitoshi asked, eyes sparkling with excitement. “I'd love to see your place. Oh, and to see Ecruteak City!”
“Of course,” Serenity replied. “All of you are welcome to come and visit me whenever you like — as long as I'm at home, of course. I'll even make snacks for us.”
"Okay, when do we leave?" Fireball asked, in a dead serious tone. The others shared a laugh.
The group continued to chat long after the sun had gone down. Serenity took her leave, heading out the door as the group said their 'goodbye's to her. Everyone remained in the same seats as before. Five small plates littered with pie crumbs, along with small forks, were sat upon the glass table in the middle of the group. Tea cups were situated in front of Antoshi and Mitoshi, while Latoshi had a glass of water before him.
“That was nice of her to stop by,” Antoshi remarked.
“Yeah,” Latoshi added, folding his hands behind his head. “On a different note, there's something that I've been thinking about recently.”
“What's that?” Mitoshi asked.
“Well, I went to visit my parents. Antoshi went to visit his parents. … Looks like there's one set of parents left.”
Mitoshi was surprised by his suggestion. “You … really want to meet my parents— I mean, our parents— I mean … what do I even call them?”
“'Our parents' is fine,” Antoshi said, smiling to her.
“That's so surprising,” she said. “I didn't know if you were ready to meet them, or if you even wanted to.”
“I'd like to,” Antoshi replied.
“Yeah, same here,” Latoshi added. “I've definitely got a few questions I have to ask them. How about you, Antoshi?” Antoshi nodded to him in agreement.
“Okay, then, it's settled!” Mitoshi said. “I'll call them and let them know that I'll be coming back home since … I succeeded in what I told them I was going to do.”
Mitoshi got up, stretching for a brief moment, heading over to the small video phone on the desk outside her room. She hummed to herself, using the screen's navigation to call her parents.
The phone started to ring. The boys looked on with intense curiosity. The phone continued ringing for a few moments before it automatically disconnected.
“Huh,” Mitoshi uttered, looking over at the group, “that's odd. They're always home at this time. I'll try again.” She attempted calling once more, but the phone again ended up failing to connect. “Maybe … they're out or something,” she mused. “I'll call tomorrow morning, and then we can head over there. How's that sound?”
“Sounds good to me,” Latoshi said, as he and the others got up to stretch. “Well, I think I'm gonna get some shut-eye. Goodnight, guys.”
“Goodnight,” everyone else replied to him while he retired to his room.
“Guess we better do the same,” Antoshi said to Fireball. The Typhlosion gave a nod of agreement before they, too, headed into their room.
Mitoshi hugged Bubbles, planting a kiss on the Lapras' cheek. “Well, it looks like we're going home tomorrow, Bubbles.”
Bubbles smiled with joy. "I'm so looking forward to it, Miss Mitoshi."
Mitoshi chuckled, quietly. “Goodnight, Bubbles.”
Bubbles nodded before the girl smiled and parted from her. Mitoshi turned off the lights in the kitchen and living room. Bubbles tapped her snout against her Poké Ball to retreat into its confines for the night.
Mitoshi sighed, smiling proudly, as she gazed at the boys' closed bedroom doors. She had indeed succeeded in her venture. The girl headed into her room and closed the door behind her. Everyone rested up for what was surely going to be an eventful day.