When Mark Antony came around, he could feel the soft grass beneath him.
Groggily, he shook his head and opened his eyes. Everything was much bigger than before and had a distinct smell to it. Mark Antony scrunched up his new snout as the smell of the grass began to disorient him. Dew, dirt, the remnants of a barbecue; all of it put him on the verge of a headache. With a distasteful snort, he stood up. It really didn’t help, seeing as how his snout was still a mere two inches from the ground. Mark Antony immediately wished to be bipedal again.
<It can’t be helped,>
he reasoned. <Really, I should be glad I didn’t end up in a body with no legs at all.>
It took him a few moments to learn how to control four very short legs, but once he did, they allowed him to bound towards the house and away from the intoxicating smells of nature. Interestingly, though, a part of him didn’t want to leave the giant tree and the carpet of grass. Mark Antony had a feeling he was going to be forced to pay the front yard a second visit. Damn Grass-types.
Mark Antony looked up and saw the man from earlier on the backdoor step. His worn jeans and gray T-shirt were heavy with dirt stains both old and new, and even his hair seemed more gray than its original chocolate brown. Yet his smile was genuine and unmarred with exhaustion. Again, he beckoned to the undercover guardian.
“Santtu, time to come inside. A cold front’s coming.”
The Pokémon gladly obliged and stepped inside. The sound of claws against white tile was heard as Mark Antony exited the kitchen and entered the living room. It was time to find his newest charge.
Mark Antony suddenly stopped. There was the now-awake mother on a rocking chair, and though she smiled, one hand outstretched to him, he felt an unpleasant chill rustle his leaves. The woman noticed his wary stance, took one look at her hand, and chuckled. She grasped her trembling fingers and flashed an apologetic smile.
“Sorry, Santtu. I’m acting up again.” The woman, Lillian, flicked away some auburn hair from her face with a shaky hand and leaned forward. “Enjoyed your nap?”
Mark Antony merely nodded before he turned to climb the stairs to the second floor. The woman was certainly sick, yet the sight of her still unnerved him. If he didn’t know better, he would have thought she had gotten back from the frontlines. Shaking hands. Unfocused eyes. He had seen it all too often.
In a couple of hazardous leaps, the Pokémon had cleared the stairs and was exploring. He passed a bathroom and a linen closet before stumbling upon the two youngest members of the family. Mark Antony was about to investigate the other room when he felt a strange sensation creep up his spine. Before he could escape, he felt himself float backwards into the waiting arms of a girl.
“Santtu, were you really going to pass by without saying ‘hi’?” came a lilting voice.
Mark Antony craned his head upwards and saw two bright blue eyes blink back at him. The girl quirked a smile and leaned in closer until the two chocolate braids that framed her face tickled his nose. Just as he was about to sneeze, she let him go. “I’ll take that as a yes, then.”
The Ivysaur shook himself and looked up. Whoever this girl was, she was pretty but a bit on the childish side. The tight-fitting, lavender pants and the thick belt that wrapped around her white blouse were just as odd as the way her eyes sparkled whenever she laughed. Yet there was something about her, when he looked close enough, that made him think twice about dismissing this girl as an ordinary human. Maybe it was the way those joyful eyes analyzed everything a little while longer than what was normal…
The girl now turned to the boy next to her, who just shook his head and offered the Pokémon an apologetic smile. He was a stark contrast to his sister. While her hair was dark and braided, his was a short blonde and parted to the side. She dressed eccentrically while he found himself comfortable in slacks and a buttoned-up shirt. However, just like his sister, his brown eyes took in everything.
“Sorry ‘bout that,” the blonde said with a shrug. He picked himself up from the floor to sit on the bed’s edge. To hide his teasing smile, he focused his attention on the purple lilies that decorated the white walls of the room. “You know how Natalia gets when someone cute walks by.”
“Hey, it’s Natalie,” his sister corrected. Natalie narrowed her blue eyes in mock-anger. “Elijah.”
However, she couldn’t help but smile when her brother tauntingly grinned back. The sixteen-year-old laid back on the beige carpet with crossed arms, muttering, “It doesn’t work if you actually like being called Elijah.”
“And what’s wrong with that?” Elijah shook his head again and went to pick up the book he and his sister had been reading. “Now reading on the floor is weird. Why don’t you read on your bed?”
“A bed is for sleeping,” came the response, as though it was the most obvious answer in the world. “If the brain associates a bed with reading and other activities such as watching television, insomnia can pop up.”
As though to prove her point, Natalie stood up and resumed her laying down on the bed. Really, though, it provided a good vantage point for punching her brother in the shoulder if he decided to mock her more.
He had been left alone, but Mark Antony hadn’t moved. That strange feeling was still crawling up and down his body like ants. Blood-red eyes wandered over to the girl on the bed and then towards the boy that leaned forward for the book. They narrowed as Elijah came closer.
“What’s wrong?” the youth asked.
The words were enough to bring the guardian back to his senses before he bared his teeth and blew his cover. There was a beat of silence in where he took a mental step back and tried to reassess the situation. Meanwhile, Elijah picked up his book and sat next to his sister, trying to ignore how the little alarms inside his head were going off. This was the family pet. It wasn’t some strange animal that wandered into their home.
Much to Mark Antony’s surprise, the book flew out of the teen’s hands and hit him square in the forehead. Elijah yelped and turned a glare to Natalie that soon softened upon seeing her stop being so serious
grin. He picked up the book, glanced at it, and stood up.
“I’ll just take this, then. Since you hit me with it, I guess you don’t want it.”
As Elijah walked out, Natalie stopped chuckling to sit up. “He-hey! I was reading that! Come on, Elijah, give it back!”
Natalie quickly followed her brother, and soon, only Mark Antony was left. He turned around and could have face palmed in frustration.
The kids were psychic.
Damn it all, they were psychic.
<I swear, Death,>
the assistant began, looking up as though his superior was right above him, laughing at his misfortune. <When I get back, you will not hear the end of this.>
It wasn’t that he hated psychics, but the mere word brought back memories of his first mission and the trouble a psychic charge brought on. The kid’s sixth sense had ultimately saved the town, but what could psychic powers do in the flourishing (and ghost free) Goldenrod? And Ivan had only been able to see and sense the supernatural. These kids could control objects as though it was a game.
He could only imagine what their older sister could do.
Like a child forced to go to school, Mark Antony grudgingly exited the room to search for his charge. His more-than-likely psychic
After a while of wandering from room to room, however, no such girl was on the second floor. An odd sense of irritation nagged him. No doubt she was going to be trouble if she had psychic powers, so the least she could do was show up when she needed to be guarded. Mark Antony continued to frown as he walked towards the staircase.
The sound of a door swinging open caught his attention.
“I’m home,” came a voice. A jingle, a couple of steps, and the door closed again. “Mom, I’m home. Do you need anything?”
There she is,
Mark Antony thought, much a like a parent now whose child had stayed out too late.
As though he was going to give her a piece of his mind, the Pokémon hoped down the steps with a scowl.
And stopped on the landing.
The young woman turned and gave a distracted smile. “Santtu, hey.”
Red eyes widened then lowered. She was beautiful.
“Santtu, what’s the matter? Come here, boy.”
Mark Antony looked up and slowly walked over to her, reminding himself that he had a job to do, that a pretty face was just that, a pretty face. When alive, he never had the time to fall for a girl, and he didn’t have the time for it now.
The daughter knelt down and held out a hand. Just like her sister, her eyes were blue but the sparkle in them was tamed and slightly withdrawn, as though she couldn’t afford to be as carefree as Natalie. Mark Antony let himself be petted and continued to watch her.
Her curly locks of blonde hair had been hastily pulled only half back. The brown pack that was still slung over her shoulder was half-opened, its clasps forgotten. As she let him go and adjusted the denim vest she wore over her blouse, he noticed her clothes were wrinkled.
“Oh, Mom,” the college student said with a sigh when she took one look at the woman’s unruly mop of hair. She deftly rolled up the sleeves of her pink, violet-accented blouse and grabbed the brush on the living room table. “You’re so stubborn. Why don’t you ask Natalie to help with your hair?”
“Cleo,” Lillian started, rolling her eyes with an air of immaturity. “You worry too much. I can brush my hair.”
“Sometimes, Mom,” Cleo corrected her. “Sometimes.”
With such loving grace, Cleo brushed her mother’s hair. Mark Antony waited for the unsettling psychic powers to pop up. But they never came. The brush never untangled the hair by itself. The hair band tied the hair into a small bun with the help of human hands. Cleo herself went to turn off the television instead of levitating the remote control to her from the deep recesses of the couch.
“Here, Mom, read this.” When Lillian looked at the offered book with a frown, Cleo took a motherly pose. With one on her hip and knitted eyebrows, she placed the book on her mother’s lap. “You have to keep your mind sharp, Mom, and reading will do that a lot better than watching television.”
“Honey, you know I read.”
“But not enough.” The college student gave her mom a small smile and leaned in for a hug. “Just humor your daughter and read more often, ‘kay?”
An unsteady arm wrapped around Cleo. “Okay, I’ll do it for you.”
They let go, and Cleo shouldered her school bag. “I’ll be in my room, Mom. Shout if you need anything. I’ll get Dad to it right away.”
The sick woman chuckled. “I will.”
Cleo made her way towards the stairs while Mark Antony had to keep his jaw from hitting the floor. He was usually very self-composed, but on the other hand, he was usually right about conclusions carefully constructed from information and observations. To not see the psychic powers he was expecting was like not seeing the sky when looking up. It left him shock and feeling slightly stupid. Was there more to this than he first realized?
Determinedly he climbed the stairs again. Mark Antony would figure this little puzzle out soon, he always did. He went straight for one of the rooms he had searched earlier. A bookcase full of books. A desk neatly arranged. A bed that was a mess and strewn with opened books. This was certainly the room of a college student bound to success (and sleepless nights).
Mark Antony nudged the ajar door to let himself in. Cleo had already taken a seat in front of her desk. She was taking out a textbook from her bag with one hand and wrestling a pen from a drawer of her desk with another. If the sight wasn’t enough for Mark Antony to raise an interested eyebrow, her low mutterings were.
“Mom is going to dig her own grave this way… She needs to keep her mind sharp, or the Huntington’s is going to get worse right under our noses…”
Huntington’s? As in Huntington’s Disease? Now the woman’s frail appearance made sense, if his very limited medical knowledge was anything to go by. Unfocused eyes, uncoordinated movements, slow deterioration of the mind. There was no cure, and the only thing that awaited the diseased was a life full of pain. It was a fate worse than death.
And Cleo clearly knew it. Those blue eyes darted to the door as though her mother was going to collapse at any moment. Only when they wandered over there for the third time did she notice Mark Antony’s presence. A taut smile appeared on her face.
“Hey, Santtu. What are you doing here?”
Mark Antony inclined his head, his version of a shrug, and came to rest at her feet. Cleo gave him a parting glance before diving into the textbook on her desk. The minutes stretched on like that. Mark Antony would occasionally snort or get up, half-expecting for Cleo to levitate something to her. The side that didn’t expect wished for this sort of distraction. None of his past charges had bored him as much as this girl. He lived (metaphorically speaking) on hidden danger and action. Unless Cleo was going to suddenly study abroad and become enemy of the state, she was going to stay as dull as every other college student in Johto was.
The door suddenly flew open. Mark Antony snapped his head up, wondering if Cleo had telepathically opened it. When he saw her, mouth agape, the thought was dashed, and he turned around to the person responsible. Or persons.
“Cleo, my loving sister!” Natalie crowed upon entering, saluting. Elijah snorted and followed her in.
“Yes?” the twenty-two-year-old drawled, one eyebrow raised expectantly.
“Just wanted to greet you and wish you the best luck in studying,” was her response.
“Uh huh,” Cleo deadpanned, putting her book aside.
Natalie let herself lie on Cleo’s bed, careful to avoid the books and pencils strewn all over. Elijah merely stayed beside the desk, arms crossed.
“Cleo, why don’t you practice your powers more?” Natalie began to play with one of her braids. A mischievous grin was spreading on her face.
Without even turning, Cleo knew her little sister was planning something. This was the “forbidden topic” among them, and the only topic that irritated her to no end. If Natalie had brought it up that only meant that she was plotting something. That, or she was looking for a cheap laugh.
Putting her pencil down a bit too delicately, the blonde turned her chair. “Really?
Do you really
need me to answer that?”
Natalie was unfazed by the narrowing of the eyes. She sat up, crossed her legs, and leaned forward like an eager child. “Why of course.”
Mark Antony saw an uncharacteristic frown mar Cleo’s face.
“I don’t want to waste my time perfecting something I will only use for self-amusement. I much rather spend my time becoming something useful, like a doctor. What do you think is better: getting a book from a bookshelf or helping others like Mom?”
Something akin to guilt flashed through Natalie’s eyes, but it was gone within seconds. The same teasing smirk played on her face as she spoke again.
“But our powers are our culture. It’s wrong to just ignore them!”
Natalie’s voice had climbed into an annoying whine. Cleo flinched and turned to her brother, always the voice of reason.
“Elijah, just tell her how childish this is.”
Elijah took one look at her. For a flitting moment, Mark Antony saw the same guilt in his eyes. When it was gone, he simply shrugged and said, “She has a point, you know.”
Cleo gaped, unable to believe her level-headed brother agreed with their ditzy sister. She then scowled and stood up from her chair, swiping the book into her arms with such ferocity that Mark Antony though she would take the desk along with her.
“If you guys are going to continue this stupid game, fine by me.” Her heated daggers landed on each of the accused. “But keep me out of it.”
Cleo stomped out, muttering why on Arceus’ green Earth Natalie (and now Elijah!) loved to drive her to the deep end of her sanity. Elijah wisely moved out her way and glanced as her retreating form seemed to be beating the stairs into submission. Mark Antony sighed at the prospect of descending those steps again and made to get up to follow. However, the door was slammed shut a mere inch from his nose.
Leaning against it, Elijah fixed Mark Antony with a gaze the guardian couldn’t quite comprehend. Behind him, he heard the groaning of bed springs as Natalie stood. Mark Antony backed up and eyed them distrustfully. The humans smirked at the action and closed in on him. As Elijah knelt down to his eyelevel, his ocher eyes began to dangerously harden.
“Listen, whoever you are, we’re onto you.”
Natalie now stood beside her brother. The playfulness in her own cerulean eyes was gone.
“We can sense you. Inside that body is a different being, a different soul.”
Elijah leaned in, his boyish features in shadow.
“So tell us who you are because I’ll be damned
before I let you hurt Cleo.”
A/N: (Yay for no school for the rest of the week!)
We're finally in the second book, guys! This is where the real plot comes in. (Which is why at first this was going to be the first chapter of the fan-fic.) Yes, there's a reason why I skipped three hundred years.
Sorry for the long wait and that the chapter was, for the most part, a bit boring. Okay, I only added Natalie (named after my awesome best friend who, without her encouragement, this fan-fic wouldn't be here) and Elijah around two or three months ago, and I'm glad I did. They're going to be fun to write later on in the story. Also, this chapter and one (or two) after that were completely different than I had originally planned because I began to flesh Cleo's character more after the whole story planned out. I'm honestly not sure how I'm going to write the chapter after this so the shift to the real plot isn't so abrupt, but I'll figure something out.
Yes, it's not a coincidence that the two main characters are named Mark Antony and Cleo. My sophomore English class was reading Julies Caesar
at the times. And yes there's going to be some romantic hints here and there in the story. Hints
, though. It's only going to involve into something more in the sequel.
"Santtu" means something along the lines of "guardian" and Finnish.
On an unrelated note, I'm planning two new fan-fic related things:
- A thread for Pokemon one-shots. Unfortunately, they're going to be written in Spanish. (I need to work on my written Spanish and vocabulary.) The first one-shot should be posted this weekend.
- I'm currently planning out a Harry Potter x Full Metal Alchemist (post-Brotherhood) idea. If anybody wants to bounce this plot-bunny with me, hit me with a PM. :)
I'll get right on working on how to write the next chapter. Trust me, things are just getting started! ^-^