Chapter One - To Triumph Over Someone
Arc 1 - Parodos
To Triumph Over Someone
Ten hours later, Ren opened his eyes blearily to find his room full of light. Squinting, he propped himself up on one elbow and glanced over at the window. The curtains were wide open, revealing a sharp, crisp azure sky free of clouds. The sun was streaming in through the casement, painting his whole room golden and illuminating the dust motes in the air.
Groaning, Ren flopped back down onto his bed. He had forgotten how passive-aggressive his mother was when it came to getting him up in the mornings. She had probably come in and opened his curtains just as soon as she had woken up herself.
Eyes adjusting to the light, Ren sat up and grabbed his watch off the bedhead. It wasn't even half past eight. With a sigh, he swung his feet out from under the blanket and onto the carpet. Yawning, he stood up to get dressed.
When he got downstairs ten minutes later, his mother was sitting at the kitchen table with a bowl of cereal. She looked up, beaming, when Ren entered the room.
“There's my little Champion!” she exclaimed. Ren rolled his eyes and smiled indulgently.
“I'm nearly fifteen now, mom,” he complained half-heartedly, knowing full well it would make no difference.
“Aww, don't be like that, sweetie!” his mother pouted. “It's like you don't love your mommy anymore!” Shaking his head, Ren grabbed a bowl off the shelf and poured himself some cereal.
“Don't be silly, mom,” he said quietly, looking down at the table. “Course I do.”
“I know, sweetie,” she said, ruffling his hair. “I just wanted to hear you say it. It's been a long time since we sat down together like this, huh?”
“I came back for Christmas last year,” Ren reminded her, splashing milk onto his cornflakes before getting up to fetch a spoon from the drawer. “It's not like I haven't seen you.”
“I mean just you and me, like it used to be.” She fell silent for a moment before speaking up again. “Don't suppose you'll be home for long this time, either, huh?”
“Yeah, pretty much,” said Ren lightly, refusing to meet her eyes. “I've got, you know . . . Champion stuff to do now. Taking challengers, and . . . um.” Ren suddenly realised that he had no idea what was expected of him. Challengers would come infrequently. The Ever Grande Conference was only held once a year, and there had to be some kind of special reason for any Trainer to make a challenge outside of that – for example, if one of the Elites vouched for them personally. That meant he'd be taking perhaps one challenger a year. Other than that . . . what was he to do?
“That reminds me!” his mother said brightly. “Steven rang earlier. He wants you to meet him in Rustboro City today. Can you call him back and tell him you'll be there?”
“Steven?” Ren said. “What does he want? I just got back – can't it wait?”
“Well, I assume he wants to talk Champion business, sweetie. You'll have to go and find out.”
“Sure. I'll call him now, then,” Ren decided, standing up and snatching the phone off its hook. “Be right back,” he said over his shoulder as he headed back upstairs, dialing the number he had been given earlier.
Ren sat down on his bed as he pressed the 'call button', idly staring at the ceiling as he waited for Steven to pick up. He didn't have to wait long.
“This is Steven Stone,” said a familiar voice.
“Steven! It's Ren.”
“Oh, hello, Ren,” Steven said. “I trust you've been keeping well?”
What sort of eighteenth-century greeting is that? Ren wondered absently. Aloud, he simply said, “I'm all right. A bit tired, but I guess that's to be expected. But what's this about me having to go to Rustboro City?”
“I have to . . . talk to you about something very important,” said Steven. Ren frowned.
“Something important? Is it so important you can't tell me over the phone? I mean, I just got home last night and all.”
“Yes!” Steven said emphatically. “This is a matter of crucial importance, and I need to speak to you about it in person.There should be a train leaving Slateport at nine thirty. Can you be on it?”
Ren glanced at his watch – it was quarter to nine. “Can't it wait?” he asked.
“Not possible,” Steven insisted. “Can you be on the train?” he repeated.
Ren rolled his eyes. “Sure,” he said, shaking his head as he resigned himself to Steven's stubbornness. “Meet me at the station?”
“I'll have someone there to pick you up,” Steven said. “I'm sorry, Ren. This must all seem very confusing and inconvenient, but trust me, there's good reason for it. I won't keep you in the dark any longer than I have to.”
“Alright,” said Ren wearily, biting his lip. “I'll be there.”
“Thank you, Ren. Goodbye, and be safe.” With a click, the line went dead. Ren sighed and flopped back onto his bed, staring at the ceiling. He had been looking forward to spending some time at home, but it seemed that that was not to be.
With another sigh, Ren picked up his backpack off the floor and started tossing things into it. Over the last five years, he had gotten used to travelling light, so he knew exactly what he needed. There wasn't much: just his Pokemon, a few toiletries and a change of clothes.
Out of habit, he straightened the covers on his bed before he left. It might have been a long time since he'd last done it, but it still didn't feel right to leave the house without doing it. He clunked down the stairs again, his durable, hard-soled shoes making an uncomfortably loud noise as he did so.
“Oh . . . you're going now, sweetie?” his mother said, her brow slightly creased – with concern or disapproval, Ren couldn't tell which.
“Yeah, mom,” he said. “Steven wants to talk to me in person, so I've gotta catch the nine-thirty train.”
“Do you have to go now? Can't it wait?”
“That's what I asked,” Ren said wryly, “but he was quite insistent.”
“Oh, I don't like it,” she grumbled. “You come home for one night and then you're off again! I hardly see you these days.”
“I know, mom,” Ren said, “but it shouldn't be for so long this time. I'll talk to Steven about . . . whatever it is he wants to talk about, and then I'll be back. Maybe even tonight, but I can't make any promises.”
His mother smiled and ruffled his hair affectionately. “Don't worry, sweetie,” she said. “I know it has to be important, so you go and do what you have to do, OK? I've managed without you for five years, after all. I'll be fine for another couple of days.”
“Gotcha,” Ren said, nodding as he opened the front door. “See you, mom. Love you!”
“Love you too, honey,” she said quietly as the door closed between them.
Ren took a deep breath of cool morning air before slapping himself in the face. He worried about his mother. She pretended not to be bothered, but he knew how hard it had to be for her. She had been living alone for five years, after all. Ren couldn't imagine how hard it would be to be isolated, which was why he had tried to visit as often as he was able, but being the Pokemon Champion was a demanding dream. As much as he wanted to, he couldn't spend his whole life in Slateport.
He'd thought, perhaps, that things would change after he finally became the Champion. Of course, he'd known that he'd still be running all over Hoenn like one possessed, but he hadn't realised it would start this soon.
I promise, mom, he said to himself as he looked back at the gate. After this, I'll come home and stay for at least a month. It'll be just you and me.
Sweeping his tousled brown hair out of his face, Ren set his eyes on Slateport City – visible just a couple of miles along the coast, glittering like a jewel in the morning sunlight – and stepped out confidently towards it.
(continued in next post)
Last edited by Misheard Whisper; 11-20-2011 at 10:29 PM.