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Old 02-07-2013, 07:11 PM   #8
MarbleZone
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The truth... how he'd yearned for it, even if he didn't realize it. The nightmares, the inexplicable need to be the best, the preference of Pokemon types; was all of that because of his subconscious need to know the truth? And now, just like that, there it was. The man he'd tried so hard to forget but could never cease to hate, the brother he thought had abandoned him and his family... had died.

- Finally, Levin. You understand now... or rather, you've finally accepted it. I never made it out of Victory Road, never laid eyes on the Indigo Plateau... never fulfilled my destiny. But I never abandoned you either.

- Liar! You think that makes everything okay? You died, so our family being shattered by your disappearance is suddenly alright?!

He wasn't thinking straight, but he didn't care. To him, Ivan was still guilty of everything. Of disappearing, emotionally destroying his parents, of... of dying on him. Of never coming back.

- Brother, listen to yourself. You... you really hate me so much that you'll still blame me? I died, Levin. I didn't choose to! I never meant to leave you guys, never wanted to make you worry!

Levin didn't know how to feel. Should he be relieved that Ivan didn't really want to disappear, like he thought he did? Should he be sad to know that he was gone forever regardless? After his outburst, Levin was now silent, almost apathetic; it was too much for him to process, all of this... for some reason, his only reaction was to grab a Pokeball from his belt.

- I never meant to harm any of you... Levin, my family was the most valuable thing in my life! The success, the talent, the relative fame, all the supporters and fans, the Badges... All of that took a back seat to your pride in me, to your love. All of my victories... they would've meant nothing if you weren't there to cheer me on, if I didn't have you to feel proud of me. Abandoning you, traumatizing mom and dad like that.. I would never do something like that intentionally!

The Pokeball in Levin's hand expanded to cover his palm. He remained silent as Ivan kept going. His brother's tone suddenly changed, becoming heavier.

- The fact that you've been thinking that I deserted you for all these years.. is a testament to how hard I failed as a brother. You're only a boy back then, and the only memories you have of me are those of an arrogant prick, the older brother that belittled you at every chance, uncompromising, inflexible... I'm so sorry.

Sorry? Since when did Ivan Sanders apologize, least of all to him?! Why would it change anything now that he was dead, wasn't he the same person Levin had been trying to forget and surpass at the same time? Why would he be nice now? This was all... so confusing...

-... How?

Levin's voice was coarse, almost imperceptible.

- How what, Levin?

- I asked you before, you didn't answer... How did it happen?

He wasn't even sure he wanted to know, because that meant he'd have to believe. But he'd spent enough time doubting Ivan, blaming him... if there was a chance to make peace with himself, he'd take it.
Ivan hesitated, then sighed. He looked ashamed.

- I was an idiot. Actually, I.... I was myself, exactly as you'd describe me, but nobody else. Maybe you were the only one that really saw me for who I was... I was battling this kid on the lower floors of Victory Road. Guy called himself an "Ace Trainer", so of course I had to humble him, humiliate him. It was a three-on-three match, standard stuff. I can't recall what Pokemon he had, it was all over too quickly, but I do remember that I only needed one of mine: Steelix.

Levin remembered that one well. Perhaps Ivan's strongest Pokemon, he already owned it as an Onix before leaving on his journey... arrogant as his owner. Ivan probably arranged for a trade at some point to make it a colossal Steel-Type...

- So I smacked his first two Pokemon around for a while with some Earth Powers, eventually knocked 'em out after turning the field to rubble. Then on his last Pokemon.. that one I remember. It was a Raticate, and it was terrified. The kid was ready to concede and throw the match away...

- But you didn't let him. You never did.

-... Yes. I did the same with you all the time. It didn't feel like a true victory until all of his Pokemon were down. So I kept punishing the poor rat... Rock Throws, Rock Slides, Steelix was wrecking the cave around him to hurl more stones at the opponent. And when I finally had enough, I ordered an Earthquake...

He'd pieced it together by then. All of it. The memories were coming back too, no longer repressed. His mother crying in the living room in front of the TV, telling him to go back to his room when he approached her. The headline on the morning TV news saying "Victory Road closed indefinitely due to tragedy"; the Indigo League being suspended for a month, causing a number of irate Trainers to set sail for Hoenn and Sinnoh...

- You died in the cave-in. You caused that cave-in, the interruption of the League... you and that other Trainer were the casualties...

- Yes. I was a self-important idiot, a bully, and it cost me my life. I threw everything away in that match with my attitude, that I didn't even notice the ceiling starting to crack after all the damage I caused to the surroundings. Last thing I remember was the noise, the kid looking up in panic... and nothing more. My Pokemon were crushed inside their Pokeballs, and not even Steelix could dig his way out on time before starving...

He'd never have guessed it; his perfect brother, the supreme analyst and future Champion... killed by his own recklessness?

- You allowed yourself to die and leave us all alone because of you ego?! You goddamn IDIOT! Do you have any idea of the mess you left behind? You destroyed your own family, that kid's family, the journeys of countless Trainers and the League itself!! You fuc...

- I KNOW THAT! And I've had to deal with it every single day since, watching from the Spirit World as mom and dad went into depression, as you harbored even darker feelings about me, as you put together your own version of the events and antagonized me subconsciously. I've watched you grow under the vow that you'd never be like me, only to become dangerously similar; the arrogance, the goals, the self-centered mindset... But Levin, you can't keep following in my footsteps. You have to be your own man, like you claimed to be. Look where I ended up, look what my attitude did to me!
I know I have very little right to give you lectures, so take them as heartfelt advice: it's not all about you. The journey, the travels, they're meant for more than improving your skills. They're a lesson for life, they change you... if you let them. Remember when you allowed your Elekid to convince you to save that man on Phantom Isle? He would've died otherwise. He would've died if you'd been your usual self, if you'd been... like me. You can become more than I ever was, bigger than I could ever be! Not because you choose certain Pokemon that could beat mine, not because you try to erase my existence from memory; but because you can learn from my mistakes, and succeed where I failed: be a better person. Have the character I never had, the clarity of mind to know that your own interests don't always come before others'... please, take the wisdom I only earned when it was too late!


- You... you've been watching me all along?

- Every step of the way, little brother. Where I am I can't help you, I can only watch... and it anguished me to see you become so much like me, while trying so hard to become the opposite. But thanks to your Duskull I was given this chance: the chance to warn you, to guide you - whether you like it or not -, and above all... to apologize. I said it before Levin, and I mean it: I'm so sorry. So sorry that the only memories you kept of me were those of a jerk, sorry that I gave you enough reason to believe I'd abandoned you. Sorry for not being the older brother you deserved; if I could go back... I'd fix everything. If only I could...

If only he could... Levin found himself smiling. So this was Ivan too; not just the prick, the best, the greatest. But the humbled, matured, regretful person he never thought he could be. He should have tried to look past his faults to, rather than instantly antagonize him; but now that they'd been reunited, he began to believe he could turn over a new page. Maybe even forgive Ivan, rather than just forget... But there was something that still needed to be done.

- Ivan... thanks. And I have to apologize as well. I should have never assumed anything about you; you always were an asshole, but I could tell how much we meant to you; mom and dad, anyway. I neglected to remember that and blamed you for disappearing... but I'm glad. I'm glad we got the chance to talk. And believe it or not... I think I'm glad to know that you're watching. But...

-... Heh. I was wondering when you'd get to that. Magneton's been waiting... It's itching to see for itself how much you've grown.

- Three on three, Ivan. Like old times.

- Bring it, Lev!


He hurled the Pokeball he'd been holding all this time. From it emerged a violent Magby, hungry for fire and destruction. Grinning, Magnus realized he was about to get some action.

Hate to rely on this guy, but Magneton's got nothing to hurt him. Now if only he feels like obeying..

- Magnus, Flamethrower!

- Magneton, disrupt him with Metal Sound.

The Steel-Type reacted faster, its magnets vibrating at a special frequency; just as Magnus prepared to attack, the sound waves reached him, inducing a head-splitting headache; completely unable to focus, the Magby released his Flamethrower aimlessly, completely missing his opponent.

- Lock-On and Zap Cannon. Sorry Lev.

Magneton's eyes glowed red for a brief moment, taking aim as Magnus clenched his head in his hands; finally, it unleashed a huge ball of electricity at the Magby, creating a large explosion on contact. When the dust settled on the peak of Mt. Infernus, Magnus was knocked out.

- No way...

Levin recalled his Pokemon; beaten before landing a single blow...

- Your Magby represents the first part of your journey; the Levin that had set out on his own journey, mindless of the events of before and carefree about future ones; a Levin that could live in the present.

Ivan recalled Magneton, and chose his second Pokemon; from a Steel Ball emerged another familiar sight, a voracious Aggron.

- Wondered when I'd see that one again. But this time I'm prepared.

Paying no mind to Ivan's speech, Levin chose a second Pokeball. He called forth Buster the Heracross, who excitedly fluttered his wings, ready for battle - his single greatest pleasure in life.
Ivan smiled.

- Ah, a Fighting-Type. Let's see how he holds up then... Aggron, Metal Claw, then mow him down with Iron Tail!

- Buster, counter his Metal Claw with Rock Smash, then side step his Iron Tail!

The two Pokemon bolted forward, Metal Claw and Rock Smash colliding as the two punched, nullifying each other's offense; Aggron then turned around and swept his Tail in vertical motion, but just as Levin had anticipated, Buster managed to dodge to the side, the steel tail hitting the ground so hard that it got stuck temporarily.

- Aggron always used his Iron Tail like that, never as a side sweep. Sorry brother, I remember everything now. Go Buster, there's your opening! Focus Punch!

The Heracross charged up his fist for a moment, capitalizing on Aggron trying to unstuck his tail, then let loose with the fiercest punch Levin had ever seen, sending the megaton beast flying some feet back before crashing down with a large thud. But just as he was about to congratulate Buster... Aggron rose back to his feet, his eyes glowing an ominous blue.

- Impressive work, Levin. You could've never pulled that off before. But you're still missing something... Aggron, Metal Burst!

- What?!

The Steel-Type roared and released a massive ball of silver energy, twice the power of Buster's Focus Punch concentrated into one blast, and as it made contact with the awe-struck Heracross, the ensuing explosion almost made Levin fall down himself. After that, it came as no surprise when Buster was unable to get back up. He'd lost... again.

- Good going, Lev. And I mean it; I didn't expect you to be any more trouble than you were back in the day... but in only one year of adventuring, you already evolved far more than I had in the same amount of time. Heracross represents just that: your road toward the future, your desire to be better than me, to become something I couldn't; and that makes you, like I said, two.thirds of a great Trainer: one who can live in the present, simply capturing the Pokemon he likes, and who simultaneously looks to the future, training other Pokemon he feels he needs in order to overcome an obstacle. But you're still not over your past, and that's the third you're missing: peace of mind with what is left behind. Now... there's one more to go! Unless you wanna call it a day?

That question wasn't innocent; Ivan already knew his answer. Smiling back - a genuine smile, one he'd never granted his brother in all the years he'd been alive -, Levin's eyes revealed no intention of dropping the last fight; no matter the outcome.

- Heh. Figures. Well then... If this is my chance to apologize, to put all our differences aside and get rid of all the skeletons in our closets, then I think it's only fitting that I use this as my last Pokemon.

Tossing a Premier Ball in the air, Ivan called forth his last fighter, and Levin already knew which one before it materialized. The Steelix stood imposing and ominous, but Levin didn't care. It wasn't about the result anymore.
Before he could choose his own partner, the Luxury Ball in his belt clicked open, the Pokemon inside coming out on its own: Mazo, the Riolu.

- Hah, I was wondering when you'd come out. Levin, meet the one responsible for us meeting here like this.

- Wh-what? But wasn't it... Faust?

- When Faust summoned me, he told me he came on behalf of another one of your Pokemon, who believed this reunion to be fundamental for your future well-being. Now that I see him, I'm certain it was this one... Hello there, little one.

The Riolu bowed his head in respect, before assuming a battle stance. He had to know he was completely outmatched... so why?

Without waiting for instructions, Mazo dashed forward, almost too fast to track, and hit the massive Steelix with a Quick Attack. The titan, of course, barely felt the hit, but unlike Levin expected, he didn't swat the tiny Pokemon, instead humbly awaiting instructions. The burden of the horrible events clearly weighed on the once-boisterous Steel-Type... in a way, he was also responsible for his Trainer's death.

- Steelix, use Dragonbreath then Stone Edge.

The iron snake immediately fired a stream of blue flames directly at Mazo, who was still recovering from having bumped his body directly against his huge opponent.

- Mazo, no!! Wait... quick, use a Hi Jump Kick!

The Riolu quickly realized the point of the command, obeying without hesitation. Using his powerful legs, he leaped as high in the air as he could, in the process dodging the Dragonbreath at the last possible second, and plunged down driving his knee with immense force against Steelix... making him wobble and almost fall down in an unbelievable display of strength! Still, the opponent recovered, and just as Mazo returned to the ground, Steelix shot dozens of sharp rocks, the Stone Edge hitting its mark and sending the Riolu tumbling down to the floor.

- Mazo!! Get up, quick!!

He's not holding back anymore... not being condescending, not an ounce of arrogance in his orders. Ivan is taking this battle seriously; taking ME seriously! Ivan... Brother... thanks.

Levin smiled yet again; he was at peace. He would forgive his brother, and acknowledge that he was much more than the memories he'd kept. And he'd make the world remember Ivan again through his own journey; no longer one to set him apart from his brother, but maybe to continue his legacy, not the legacy of Ivan or Levin, but the Sanders legacy.

- Thanks, Levin. Thanks for believing, for accepting, and above all, for forgiving me. Let's end this then... Steelix, Hyper Beam!

The monstrous Pokemon arched his head back and unleashed the stream of destruction that no Pokemon in Mazo's condition could resist. It was the ultimate proof of respect, ending the battle with his most powerful move. The beam ravaged the field as it traveled toward Mazo, kicking up a massive dust cloud as it hit the still downed target. It was over.

- Great job, friend. We almost had him... I couldn't have asked for a bett... what?!

- How the hell?...

As the dust settled, something unbelievable awaited. Mazo was standing, arms crossed in front of his face, having somehow Endured the hit. And then, he started glowing.

- Your Riolu... he's...

A bright light enveloped his body as it began to change, to grow... and soon thereafter, Mazo was no longer a Riolu. Before Levin's eyes stood a magnificent Lucario.

- His bond with you... it's stronger than any other I've ever seen! It's the only way he could have gotten back up, and now this proves it. Mazo cares deeply about you Levin, and the only reason we were able to finally set aside our differences was his devotion. He's proven his worth and dedication, and he looks exhausted. Let's end this for now, brother.

Levin nodded; Mazo had been magnificent. The Lucario turned to face his Trainer, the solemn look on his face still present from when he was a Riolu - but then he smiled, for the first time in his life, before collapsing at Levin's feet. Recalling him into his Luxury Ball, Levin whispered a "Thank you" and placed the ball in his belt.

Ivan walked over to him, Faust floating closely behind.

- I would offer a hand, or a hug, but you passing right through me could be unsettling - he joked. - Levin, once again... thank you. I never expected you to forgive me, not really, but you've proven to be more of a man than I ever was. Don't neglect that side of you, that kind side, the one I was never really able to show you. With it, with the love and care that allowed Mazo to evolve, along with your skill, you can go anywhere and accomplish anything you want. Now... now you're a great Trainer. And you've always been a great brother.

- Ivan, I... thanks. I think we've said it all by now; I'll train as hard as I can, and who knows, maybe one day Faust can provide a way for a rematch. I think I'd like to kick your ass one day.

- Some day you might... you know I'll be waiting. It's not like I'm going anywhere... Heh, just kidding. Lev... when you're with Mazo, remember me, remember this encounter. Have him be my way of reminding you that I'll always be watching over you. The Steel-Type Sanders and the Fighting-Type Sanders... I'd say Lucario embodies both of us perfectly. We both owe a great deal to him.

- I'll honour your memory, Ivan. I'll walk my own path, but through me people will be forced to remember the greatest Trainer in the history of Kanto, the Champion that never got his moment. I'll carry the Sanders name to the top, and I'll count on your Steel Type to help me. Levin and Ivan will be one single legacy. Turns out, when you're not a colossal prick, you're apparently a guy worth being a fan of. Who would've known?

Levin and Ivan laughed together, and finally nodded simultaneously - there was no need for any more words. The two brothers had mended their friendship, and Levin could finally put his ghosts to rest, as his Ghost returned him to his own sleep.

Last edited by MarbleZone; 02-17-2013 at 09:52 PM.
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