Pokemon Fan Fiction ❯ A Blond Ray of Sunshine ❯ Part 5: Frozen Summer ( Chapter 27 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]
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Part 5: Frozen Summer

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Antoshi closed his eyes, standing amongst the quiet of nature, inhaling the fresh air deeply. He looked to the early afternoon's nearly crystal clear blue sky. With a slow exhale, he took some time to simply enjoy the peace and splendor outside of the cabin in the woods he now called home. It was a home he shared with his best friend, his brother, his sister and her best friend. The warm, summery air rolled past him in gentle breezes, almost soothingly, as if telling him he was right where he needed to be.

In the large, grassy clearing outside their cabin, the blond-haired boy had finally regained his normal, sunny disposition. Antoshi was feeling much more confident than he had in past months. His new, abnormal life was finally settling into a sense of normalcy. It'd been exactly fifty days — not that he was counting, of course — since Antoshi first met his brother back in Goldenrod City and subsequently fought against him. The teenage boy strolled along the natural lawn, his hands in his pockets, enjoying the pleasant day all by his lonesome. He grinned to himself, well aware that at least one of the others would certainly join him before long.

He briefly turned his attention to the skies over the cabin, recalling the snowflakes that fell upon the window one morning. Three weeks had come and gone since then. He wondered if it was a Pokémon that caused such a strange occurrence. His instincts as a Trainer made his heart swell with excitement at the idea that perhaps a Legendary Pokémon had appeared before him. Such fleeting creatures have always been known to appear mysteriously.

His focus shifted to the front door, noticing his sable-haired brother heading outside. Both boys were wearing similar clothing: red and green tank tops in their respective favorite colors, and long, white shorts for both of them.

“Out here by yourself, huh?” Latoshi asked, grinning, as he approached.

“Yeah,” Antoshi smiled, turning his attention to the sky. Latoshi did the same.

“It's a great day out today. Perfect day for some fightin',” Latoshi joked.

Antoshi grinned, hissing, followed by a chuckle. “I don't need you using the 'f-word' around me,” he joked.

“Don't give me that. You know this is what you love doing.”

“Exactly! That's why!”

“Come on,” Latoshi goaded him, stepping back a few meters from him. “Let's keep the streak going. This'll be twenty days in a row. So far, it's much better training for me than anything I ever got from Lazarus.”

“How did you train with Lazarus, anyway?” Antoshi asked, as he started to warm up with some stretches. “Maybe you could use some of those methods against it.”

Latoshi scoffed, stretching as well. “Lazarus made me do this 'image training' where I would envision my opponent's movements so that I could have this sort-of … sparring session in my head. It was actually the most boring way to train imaginable. I never want to do that again.”

“Wow, it sounds boring. Besides, why pretend to have a sparring partner when you could have a real sparring partner?”

“Oh, yeah! Now you're reading my mind! If I didn't know any better, I'd think I was related to you or something.” The two brothers shared a laugh.

Antoshi's expression turned serious, taking a fighting stance, bringing his flaming red aura to life around him with a grunt. Latoshi smirked, generating his green aura as well while getting into a similar stance. The two boys' irises glowed brightly in their respective colors. Antoshi took a moment to appreciate his brother's aura no longer looking or feeling corrupted with Lazarus' rotten, black Ki.

“Let's get a little more serious for day twenty!” Antoshi said.

“Sounds good! I'm ready to find out just how strong we really are now!”

With a visible shock wave, Antoshi disappeared in a flash. Latoshi's eyes widened. The blond boy's speed was overwhelming, but Latoshi was just barely able to detect his brother's presence sneaking up behind him. He turned, grabbing Antoshi's oncoming punch, the impact digging his heels into the dirt. Antoshi could not release himself from Latoshi's grip — the sable-haired boy's strength was still incredible. Latoshi smirked at him, throwing a punch of his own. Antoshi quickly countered by firing a quick blast of his red spirit energy from his free hand, impacting and knocking away Latoshi's fist, staggering the sable-haired boy back. Antoshi flew into the air to space himself and regroup. Latoshi clicked his tongue, grinning in jubilation, launching himself up after him.

Fireball hurried out the front door, his maw agape as he watched the two boys fly into the air with their fiery auras trailing behind them.

"Aw, man!" Fireball exclaimed. "Why do they always start training when I'm not ready?"

“You and me both,” Mitoshi said, joining him out on the porch.

"Oh, have they started for today?" Bubbles asked, sliding her way out through the open front door.

Latoshi rocketed upward in an instant, throwing a punch at Antoshi's chest, ultimately striking an afterimage of his very swift brother. The sable-haired boy smirked and sucked his teeth, feeling out Antoshi's Ki. He flipped backward abruptly, dodging the kick Antoshi was about to land upon his back.

“You're gonna have to be faster than that!” Latoshi remarked, taunting him. “And, come on, the whole 'appear behind you' thing is so predictable now! You gotta come up with something new!”

Antoshi grinned and chuckled. “Hey, if it works, it works! What am I going to do — get below you and punch your foot?”

“That would be different!”

Antoshi laughed, vanishing suddenly. Before Latoshi could even think, his brother rained countless punches down upon him from all angles and positions. The others watching from the ground were stunned by the display of speed, though not nearly as much as Latoshi was. Once the brief volley was over, Latoshi slumped over in mid-air, groaning in a mix of pain and shock.

“… Ow, damn,” he muttered, holding his jaw while setting it back into place. “When did you get that fast?” he asked, his brother reappearing before him.

“I told you, I wanted to get serious this time,” Antoshi replied, resting his hands on his hips. “We should really keep pushing each other to our limits. You said you wanted to become better than Serenity and Collin, right? Think about it: if you can't keep up with me, there's no way you'll keep up with the likes of them.”

Latoshi's expression turned stern, nodding confidently at him. His irises burned brightly with the green hue of his spirit. Antoshi gestured to come at him, and his brother did so promptly. Both of them darted toward each other and seemingly vanishing in a second. Their spectators were left bewildered, looking all around for the two boys. All they were able to hear were momentary strikes landing, and the flashes of their auras clashing.

Mitoshi was awe-struck, constantly impressed by her brothers and their gradually increasing ability. Her eagerness to improve and evolve was just as strong, if not stronger, than the boys'. The girl's expression, too, turned serious, pursing her lips as the fire burned inside her heart and her irises glowed blue. Without even realizing it, she was able to detect their movements. They were darting at each other continuously, their fists striking each others' fists. All the while, the two brothers grinned at each other confidently.

Mitoshi's chest swelled with elation as she trembled with excitement. She refused to be left in the dust, unable to remain on the sidelines any longer. She took to the air to go after them, flying straight into the fray with her brothers.

The two boys dashed away from each other out of instinct. Both of them were surprised, jaws agape, watching the girl throw a punch through the air directly where they just were. Without wasting a moment, she charged at Antoshi with an intensely serious look on her face. She shouted and struck at him with everything she had. Antoshi's eyes were wide, irises burning bright, grinning as he blocked, dodged, and parried every strike.

Latoshi dashed at them from behind. Mitoshi turned to the side, shooting him a bitterly serious gaze, grabbing his fist as he threw a punch at her. She countered with a punch of her own to his face, which he narrowly avoided. Latoshi was pleasantly surprised, as was Antoshi, at just how much their little sister had improved and matured as a fighter. Still holding his fist, she gathered some of her blue energy into her palm, prompting Latoshi to rip his hand away in the moment just before she fired off a blast of Ki that spiraled harmlessly into the air.

Antoshi went over to his brother, hovering side by side with him. They looked to each other, nodded, and looked back at her. Mitoshi took a defensive stance, her blue aura flaring to life, remaining steadfast in the face of their oncoming coordinated attack. They dashed toward her, all three shouting and grunting as they punched and kicked at her. The girl dodged and blocked to the best of her abilities, keeping up with their combination of speed and power.

The brothers backed off suddenly. Almost in unison, they aimed their open hands at her, shooting dual spheres of red and green energy at her. She gasped, holding both hands out, mustering forth energy blasts of her own. She grunted and struggled, the boys' clashing energy pushed against her own mere inches away from the skin of her palms. Her energy gave out, resulting in her brothers' attacks colliding and exploding violently on contact with her body.

Fireball and Bubbles gasped, watching in concern as the girl spiraled downward helplessly; a trail of smoke left behind her from the exploding energy. She smacked down upon the earth with a hard impact. However, Antoshi and Latoshi showed no concern at all. They continued to hover in place, fully aware that the girl was far from down and out.

Mitoshi groaned as she picked herself back up, brushing the dirt off her clothing, her face scuffed and muddied. She looked up at the two boys, who were still waiting for her to continue. She huffed sharply, none too happy to be struck down, soaring back into the air after them. She immediately went after Latoshi this time, shouting and swinging hard at him, while her blond brother maneuvered off to the side. Latoshi grinned, evading her movements until she perked up with an unexpected burst of speed. His eyes widened in the moment before he took a handful of shots to the face, chest, and abdomen. As Latoshi reeled from the hits, she spun around, nailing him with the back of her heel, sending him shooting to the ground.

The girl subconsciously lifted an arm and dodged to the side, avoiding a sudden punch to the back from Antoshi. Her brother was surprised — even more so when she managed to grab and trap his wrist with one arm before he could move away. With her other arm, she struck him in the face with a few back elbows before spinning around once again, kicking him away with a hard shot to the sternum.

Mitoshi wiped the sweat from her dirt-caked brow, catching her breath for a few moments as her brothers rose back into the air before her. They all looked at each other, flashing one another their own respective grins. The trio of siblings suddenly darted at each other in unison, their bodies becoming a blurring mass of punches and kicks.

"Man, they're loving every second of this," Fireball remarked with a grin of his own. "They just keep on training like this every day and never get bored."

The girl proved unbelievably durable, even without resorting to her water form. She kept her brothers on their toes, both boys continuously impressed at her high stamina and startling ability to take a hit like it was nothing.

"She's getting very good," Bubbles remarked, grinning proudly.

"She is getting good," Fireball replied. "All three of them are at the point where I can barely keep up with their movements."

"Miss Mitoshi has gotten so much more confident ever since reuniting with her brothers. It's wonderful to see the change in her. She never showed any sort of interest in combat back home, but, it seems to make her so happy."

A short time later, all three of them descended back to the ground. Each of the siblings were drenched with sweat, totally out of breath, and yet, so very content. Mitoshi laughed as the three of them happily collapsed onto the ground on their backs, making an almost perfect triangle with their feet inches away from each other.

Latoshi was the first one to sit up as Fireball walked over to them. He shook the sweat of his matted black hair, ruffling his fingers through his scalp to air it out.

“Not bad,” Latoshi remarked, panting. “I think someday soon we won't need to hold back against Mitoshi.”

The girl leapt into a sitting position, looking at him in disbelief. “Wait a minute! You were taking it easy on me?”

Latoshi looked over at his brother, who was also sitting up. He gave Antoshi an expression that begged him to bail him out from upsetting their sister.

Antoshi sighed, nodding to her. “Yeah, … we did. I'm sorry to say it, but, we kinda have to.”

“Oh,” the girl replied, crestfallen, “I get it. You guys don't think I'm good enough yet. I thought I'd at least be close by now. Maybe I won't ever be as good as you two…”

Antoshi scooted over and sat next to her. He placed a hand on her shoulder, bringing her attention to him. “Don't ever get discouraged, Mitoshi. There's no reason to doubt yourself. You have the very same ability for growth that we do. Whatever level Latoshi and I can reach, so can you. All you have to do is find that power inside you and believe in it.” Mitoshi smiled at him, giving a nod of understanding.

“You actually did surprise us a few times back there,” Latoshi said, causing Mitoshi to look at him in awe. “Neither of us were expecting you to come back so hard after we knocked you down the first time.”

“It's true,” Antoshi said. Mitoshi grinned in elation at him. “You're getting better every day, and that's always something to be proud of.”

“Well,” Mitoshi replied, “there's that, and the fact that training with you guys is so much fun!” The brothers and Fireball laughed.

“I gotta say,” Latoshi began, as the three of them got to their feet, “training with you both is … infinitely better than sitting in the woods somewhere and listening to a voice in my head tell me what to do.”

“It's better than training with Fireball as well,” Antoshi added, flashing a cheeky grin up at his taller companion. “No offense.”

"None taken!" Fireball replied. "Training with you got kind of … overwhelming."

The two brothers smirked at each other, momentarily reflecting on how much things had changed for the better between them. Latoshi suddenly dashed toward his brother, throwing a punch that halted mere centimeters away from his face. Antoshi did not flinch, continuing to smirk at Latoshi. Mitoshi and Fireball were taken by surprise, the burst of air he created breezing past them.

“Stop showing off,” Mitoshi remarked.

“Fine, fine,” Latoshi relented before he took his tank top off. “Man, it's so hot out.”

“Yeah,” Antoshi replied, doing the same. Both boys had far more defined muscular features than before. “We're around the middle of summer now.”

Mitoshi smirked, holding her hands out at the two boys. She pointed her fingers at them, slowly pulling back, as if removing something. Antoshi and Latoshi watched in bewilderment as the sweat was pulled away from their shirtless bodies, hovering toward the girl.

“What in the world?” Latoshi muttered. His sister had pulled their combined sweat into an amorphous ball.

“Pretty cool, huh?” Mitoshi asked, grinning.

“That's … gross,” Latoshi replied. Mitoshi rolled her eyes.

“Also,” Antoshi said, “we kind of needed that.”

“I just wanted to show you guys I've been working on my own abilities, too,” Mitoshi said. “I'm starting to get the hang of being able to move liquid around that isn't attached to me.”

“Very impressive,” Antoshi remarked, smiling. “I'm looking forward to see how else you learn to apply your water powers.”

Mitoshi grinned at him, looking over at her other brother to see what he thought. Latoshi, however, did not seem very impressed.

“… Yeah, so, that's cool and all,” Latoshi said, flippantly, “but, I really need to take a shower.” As he walked away, he was suddenly struck from behind by the blob of sweat. He gasped, turning around to face Mitoshi, who had a very perturbed look on her face.

“You could at least pretend to care!” Mitoshi said, before stomping back toward the cabin. Fireball looked at the two brothers with worry.

Antoshi walked up to his brother, patting him on the shoulder. “She did seem kind of proud of her new ability. Don't just ignore other peoples' feelings.”

“I'm sorry,” he replied with a sigh, “I wasn't … trying to upset her. … It's just the heat, you know? I guess I got a little crabby.”

“You can make it up to her. Make her one of those … pudding cups like you made a few days ago. The one with the banana eyes.”

“Yeah, … all right.” Latoshi sighed again, ending up more crestfallen than Antoshi expected.

“Don't sweat it too much. People argue over silly things. Then, you make up and move past it. Just look at you and I!”

“I know, I'm … trying to be better than I was before. I guess I can still be kind of a prick sometimes, huh?”

Antoshi uttered an uneasy noise, shrugging, implying that was mostly the case.

"A little bit," Fireball also agreed.

Latoshi grinned and chortled. “Well, at least you guys are honest about it.”

“Come on,” Antoshi said, putting his arm around Latoshi's shoulder, “let's head back inside and cool off. It's hot as heck out here.”

The three of them made their way back to the cabin, where Mitoshi and Bubbles had already gone inside.

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All remained good, and mostly harmonious, for the reconciled sibling trio. Their very abnormal lives had begun to settle into a rhythm of normalcy. The next day, however, it began to rain — almost out of nowhere. It rained for the entire day and, for some strange reason, it began to get colder as well. The rain soon turned to hail, and that hail gave way to snow.

It was a never-before-seen summertime snowfall.

The flurries of snow continued on for two days nonstop. Eventually, it intensified into a dangerous blizzard. The weather, becoming curiouser and curiouser by the day, began to shift its pattern. The snowstorm grew quickly in size, until it started to bring its blankets of white not just over Routes 36, 35, and the siblings' cabin, but also over nearby Goldenrod City.

The following morning, Fireball opened the front door as he and the sibling trio single-filed their way out onto the porch. Between Fireball's Fire-type and Bubbles' Ice-type, the two Pokémon had no qualms about the cold weather. The siblings were dressed in the heaviest clothing they had on hand. For Mitoshi, that was a long-sleeved white shirt with a large blue horizontal stripe in the middle and white pants. Her long, blue hair was tied back in a ponytail. The brothers had on respective red and green t-shirts, and matching jeans. The trio shivered and hugged their chests as they looked out at the field of white before them.

“First thing's first,” Antoshi said. “We stop by the Pokémon Center in Ecruteak to pick up our clothing drops, then, we head to Swalot's.

“I really don't want to fly in this weather,” Mitoshi whined.

“You'll be fine,” Antoshi reassured her. “It's not that long of a flight. Remember to generate your aura — it'll at least stop the snowfall from hitting you.”

“Oh, all right,” she muttered.

“Yeah,” Latoshi added, “and don't turn into your water form or you'll freeze.”

“I think I could've figured that one out myself, Latoshi,” she shot back, impertinently. Latoshi rolled his eyes in response.

“Let's get going,” Antoshi said. He recalled Fireball into his Poké Ball, which he placed in his pocket. The other two nodded. All three siblings took to the air, the respective colors of their auras flickering around their bodies.

The woods around Route 35 were completely blanketed with snow, as was the entirety of the footpath of the route. The siblings shivered in the cold winds, gazing down upon handfuls of people and their Pokémon trudging through the snow; most of them wearing layered clothing, knit caps, scarves, and mittens — all undoubtedly not summertime clothes.

By the time they neared the city limits of Ecruteak, the siblings' all breathed a sigh of relief. They had made it out of the inclement weather, back to basking in the brightness and warmth of the sun amid a cheerful, blue sky. The trio dropped down, out of sight, into the edge of the forest bordering the city. They emerged, brushing some twigs and leaves off themselves. Antoshi released Fireball from the confines of the ball. After which, they headed in through the gate house separating Route 37 and Ecruteak City.

“This is so much better,” Latoshi remarked, as all of them strolled in with the passersby upon the city streets. “I'd take the heat over the cold any day.”

“Really?” Antoshi mused. “I actually like the cooler weather better, just … not that cold.”

The group were in one of the sections of the city affectionately referred to as 'Old Ecruteak'. With its traditional Japanese style of architecture, stone brick roads, and an emphasis on more natural surroundings, the area was a living relic of a bygone age. The siblings looked around in quiet reflection, remembering that this was what their mother loved about the city and where their birth parents originally lived at one point.

“It really is nice here,” Antoshi remarked, saying what was on his siblings' minds. “It's got a unique charm, and a sense of peacefulness to it.”

“The suburbs where I live are peaceful, too,” Mitoshi said. “Although, it feels much more … empty than this.”

Antoshi chuckled, knowingly. “Tell me about it. Like those days when you come outside and there's no one around — no cars, no people, no Pokémon. Like it turned into a ghost town.”

“Right?!” Mitoshi replied, grinning. “One time, our neighbor left his lawn mower on, and he went inside right before I came outside, and it was like the mower was possessed.” She made eerie ghost noises, as Antoshi and Fireball laughed.

“Okay, we get it,” Latoshi replied. “You two are suburban kids. Good for you.”

Mitoshi huffed, staring at him in disbelief. She couldn't believe Latoshi was continually being so rude to her — and neither could the duo of best friends. She crossed her arms over her chest, all of them refusing to say anything further.

The mood between them remained awkwardly quiet until they got to the Pokémon Center. There, Antoshi and Mitoshi were able to pick up the packages of clothes sent to them by their respective parents from the Center's parcel delivery system. Latoshi, meanwhile, stood by the entrance and waited for the others. With both of them carrying their parcels, they headed back. Latoshi grumbled to himself after Mitoshi walked right past him, refusing to make eye contact with him.

A few blocks away, they arrived at Swalot's — a local supermarket based in Ecruteak City. Antoshi picked out a single shopping cart and the group wandered together through each aisle in order. They stocked up on a variety of fresh, packaged and canned foods, as well as toiletries. Mitoshi crossed items off of her shopping list, while Antoshi had to restrain Fireball from picking out nearly everything in the store.

Once they were done, they headed into one of the unoccupied checkout lines. Each of them smiled at their familiar cashier.

“Hey there, Serenity,” Antoshi greeted her while they placed their items onto the conveyor belt.

“Hey, guys!” she replied, grinning while scanning each of their items. “I would say it's a surprise to see you, but, …” she lowered her voice to a whisper, “I sensed you guys were here for a while now.”

Mitoshi laughed in response. Meanwhile, Fireball attempted to sneak a candy bar from a nearby shelf in with their items.

“No candy, Fireball,” Antoshi replied, turning and grinning at him. Fireball whimpered like a scolded puppy, putting the candy back. “Crazy weather we're having, huh?”

“Tell me about it!” Serenity replied. “I feel so bad for you guys, having to ride out that freak snowstorm in the middle of summer. If you ever need anything, don't be afraid to call me.” Antoshi nodded to her.

“Oh, that outfit you have on is so lovely, Serenity!” Mitoshi remarked. Serenity briefly glanced down at her clothes behind her employee apron — a floral patterned pink fitted shirt and black dress pants.

“Thank you! I usually shop for as little as I can. I bought this whole ensemble for just three thousand.”

“Wow, that's a steal! I'm so jealous.” The girls chuckled to each other, while Antoshi had moved further down the checkout line to start bagging their groceries.

Latoshi sighed, leaning against the conveyor belt. “Wow, girls and talking about clothes. Name a more iconic duo.”

“How about Latoshi and being a jerk?” Mitoshi muttered as she elbowed him in the ribs. “That iconic enough for you?”

Latoshi rubbed his side. “What? I was just joking!”

“Jokes are supposed to be funny,” she shot back, glaring at him. The others looked on in silence.

Latoshi scoffed in disgust. “Whatever. I'm waiting outside.” He walked off, making his way to the exit of the store.

Mitoshi groaned in frustration. “I don't know what his deal is lately.” She smiled as Fireball attempted to console her by patting her on the shoulders.

“I know siblings can be frustrating sometimes,” Serenity said, smiling warmly at her. “Don't forget, the three of you only recently found each other. It's gonna take some time for you to get used to each other.”

“I suppose so,” Mitoshi muttered, looking away.

“One thing you should always be grateful for is family,” Serenity went on. “Even if you don't get along with each other, … it's always good to appreciate the family you still have left.” She spoke with such heartfelt reflection that it gave pause to the others as they wondered what she might have been trying to imply. Serenity went quiet for a moment, ringing up their final total. Antoshi paid her, and she handed him his change and printed receipt. “Well, it's always nice to see you guys,” she said, smiling at them. “Thank you for shopping at Swalot's! Have a great day!”

“Bye, Serenity!” they all said, parting ways with her while cradling bags in their arms. She chuckled before turning her attention to the next customer.

Outside, Latoshi leaned his back against the wall of the supermarket, brooding, his arms folded over his chest. He sighed, taking one of the bags from Fireball as the Typhlosion handed them to him.

“Come on,” Antoshi said. He gave Latoshi a reassuring pat on the back as the four of them walked back the way they came from.

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“Latoshi!” Mitoshi shouted from the kitchen, early the next day. “I told you not to eat the pecans! I was saving those for a new dessert I was going to make!”

“Well, you bought, like, five different kinds of nuts!” Latoshi shouted back. He sat on the couch to the right of the largest of the three, which Antoshi and Fireball sat upon. The two best friends watched the impending argument in silence. “I thought it wouldn't matter!”

“Of course it matters!” she roared. “The others aren't pecans!”

“You don't have to bite my head off over it!”

“I do when you end up doing things I specifically told you not to do!”

“Fine, I'll just leave!” he exclaimed. He hopped to his feet, storming out onto the porch, slamming the door behind him. “Man! I can't do anything right around here!” Bubbles nervously peered her head out from inside of Mitoshi's room.

Antoshi sighed, getting up and following after his brother. “Come back inside, Latoshi,” he said, holding the door open for him. “Don't stay out in the cold.”

Latoshi humphed, turning away from him. “Yeah, well it's a lot colder in there right now.” He shoved his hands in his pockets, walking out into the field which was deeply covered in over a foot of snow. Antoshi sighed again, closing the door, heading back in.

Mitoshi growled, infuriated, slumping down on the third couch across from where Latoshi had sat. “I know he did that on purpose,” she remarked. “He wanted to spite me and see me get riled up.”

Antoshi walked past her, sitting next to Fireball again. “I know you're upset, but, be reasonable, Mitoshi.”

“I'll be reasonable just as soon as he is!” she shot back. Antoshi and Fireball glanced at each other in concern. Mitoshi grabbed an electric blanket, which had been draped on the far end of the couch she sat upon. “Anyway, it's my turn with the heated blanket. It's so darn cold in here!”

She shivered, huddling up tightly under the warmth of the blanket. The group went quiet again, focusing their attention to the program on television.

Outside, Latoshi ignored the numbing cold, his green aura flickering around him as he aimlessly walked into the snow-covered forest outside their house. He kicked away some of the snow in front of him, which evaporated instantly on contact with his aura.

‘What the heck are we even doing?’ he thought. ‘Seems so stupid and pointless for us to fight with each other when we've all been so eager to be together and be a family. … I just wish she didn't piss me off so much!’

He wandered around through the trees, his breaths visible in the cold air, taking his hands out of his pockets every so often to rub his arms, which were exposed by the short sleeves of his green t-shirt. As he wandered in further, he saw a small group of Swinub slowly pushing their way through the dense snow. He smiled at them.

‘I guess Ice-type Pokémon must be having a blast in this cold. I wish the feeling was mutual.’

He walked around them, reaching a small lake in a forest clearing. As expected, the lake was completely frozen over. Nearby, he saw a wild Sneasel scamper over to something in a hurry. Curious, Latoshi followed it, watching it dig at the snow under a tree as if searching for something. It stuck its snout into the hole it dug, shaking the snow off its face before noticing the nearby human approaching it. Its eyes went wide, quickly fleeing from the sable-haired boy.

Latoshi furrowed his brow, seeing something bright and yellow underneath a small covering of snow that the Sneasel dug at. He knelt down, brushing the snow away. His eyes went wide in horror, gasping loudly. He brushed more and more of the snow away, finding two small Pichu that had been buried under the falling snow. The wind was knocked from his lungs.

“Oh, no…” he whispered in sorrow. He gently picked one of them up, looking it over as he held it in his arms. It made a tiny noise, surprising him. He brought the Pichu up to his ear, catching its very faint breaths. Latoshi's eyes widened in surprise.

Without another thought, he picked up the other Pichu, cradling them both in each arm. His expression turned bitterly serious, shooting into the air. He soared over the forest, heading back to the cabin in a hurry.