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MATURE: Nori Carino: Official In-Training [COMPLETE!!]

True to the arc's title, this chapter was a nice, kick-back-and-relax kind of chapter, where Nori can get a break after all that's happened to him. Nice to see him without all that pressure and bullying he had to deal with, and that he's allowed to borrow Pokemon. Also nice to see Billy Ordride get some comeuppance and maybe a new purpose in life. I wonder what'll happen next? Oh, and I do find it a little ironic that the previous arc was called July of Death when nobody actually died. Was that on purpose?
True to the arc's title, this chapter was a nice, kick-back-and-relax kind of chapter, where Nori can get a break after all that's happened to him. Nice to see him without all that pressure and bullying he had to deal with, and that he's allowed to borrow Pokemon.
There's a reason for him borrowing Pokemon, you might be able to figure it out if you consider it. Before it gets directly addressed.

Also nice to see Billy Ordride get some comeuppance and maybe a new purpose in life.
The eternally unlucky and sucky surfer, this time, getting destroyed by Nori directly.

Oh, and I do find it a little ironic that the previous arc was called July of Death when nobody actually died. Was that on purpose?
Ah, but death has many meanings. It can refer to the loss of life, which the title of the previous month was intended to be a sort of fakeout for. But there's also the concept of a metaphorical death: Volkner's Elite Four aspirations died, Tono's dreams probably died, etc. But the biggest one? Tarot allusions.

In tarot, the Death does not represent actual death. It instead represents a sort of powerful change: the end of things, a transformation, moving forward, and so on. In July, Nori finally moves beyond Kallisto and has an epiphany that ultimately leads to him becoming a better person. It was also when he all but formally was recognized as a true official. It's not just his life changing, either. Arumi finds her story and achieves the fame she wanted, Flint becomes an Elite Four Member, the Gym Trainers' lives get shattered to various degrees, Sofie is forced to rethink herself. Of course, as one thing ends, another thing begins. That was the true meaning behind July of Death.
Mostly a calming chapter other than what I assume is Billy Ordride's epic finale, though Nori's acknowledgement he'd prefer any of the Gym trainers (sans Kallisto) to Radovan was unsurprising.
Hopefully no disasters before Nori's training finishes, at least. And hey, plenty of exp for Pachi and Demon from last chance Gym challengers.

He never imagined having conversations about stupid morons with an adult. If only they knew they had this much in common sooner.
I found this funnier than I probably should have.

not every job had to involve Pokemon in some way. Despite what some people thought and tried to force.
Sadly, an attempt to involve the owner of a massage parlor's Scyther in their business ended in a swift government mandated shutdown.

In tarot, the Death does not represent actual death.
I recall reading this, before; I think "Hanged Man" is the actual "really, really bad" card?
(I remember the Tarot cards better than I probably should because they were prominent in an old SNES game I played a ton as a kid called "Ogre Battle").
Mostly a calming chapter other than what I assume is Billy Ordride's epic finale, though Nori's acknowledgement he'd prefer any of the Gym trainers (sans Kallisto) to Radovan was unsurprising.
Hopefully no disasters before Nori's training finishes, at least. And hey, plenty of exp for Pachi and Demon from last chance Gym challengers.
Indeed on all points.

Sadly, an attempt to involve the owner of a massage parlor's Scyther in their business ended in a swift government mandated shutdown.
It was a riff on people who try to Pokemonify everything in their universe. Even actual canon is guilty of this sometimes. I'd expect there to be a little of it, but not having literally everything named after and/or involving Pokemon

I recall reading this, before; I think "Hanged Man" is the actual "really, really bad" card?
(I remember the Tarot cards better than I probably should because they were prominent in an old SNES game I played a ton as a kid called "Ogre Battle").
More familiar with Tactics Ogre myself, watching a friend play a rebalance h*ck of it. Though he's stalled on it lately. Tempted to do so if I replay, though between Triangle Strategy, Super Robot Wars W and 30, and hopefully finally playing FE16, going to have a lot on my stratgame plate.
Month 8: August of Respite (second part)
August of Respite (second part)
August 12th, 2015

When Nori was studying in his room in the afternoon of the 12th, he was interrupted by a knock. "Arumi's here," said Volkner.

Nori got up and opened the door, moderately surprised to see her right outside. "Hey, Nor'!" his friend greeted. "Sorry for stopping by without notice. Needed another break."

"That's fine," the boy replied.

The teenaged reporter invited herself in and looked around. "Wow, your room is so clean!" she gushed. "Very nice place you have!"

The boy at this point could only laugh. "That's what everyone says. I don't know why."

"Well, it's because, get this. A guy your age having a squeaky clean room? Unheard of!" She dramatically clapped. "That's why!"

Nori smirked. "When you live in a trailer, you need to keep it clean."

"Yeah, that's fair." She put her bag on the floor, kicked off her shoes, and commandeered his bed, laying down on it (and nearly sending Pachi flying). Nori eyed her, shaking his head. "Not too shabby," she remarked at the comfort of it. "So whatcha up to?"

"Studying for my tests in a few days."

She sat up. "Your official's test, huh? Cool! Maybe I can help you out with that!"

"Sure!" he replied. "You can like, quiz me and stuff."

"Exactly what I was thinking!"

"And I can help you by..." He paused. Talking without thinking. "Er, do you need help with anything right now?"

Arumi twirled her braid thoughtfully. "Well, can't ask you for exclusive interview rights. Maybe you can help out with my follow-up papers when you can, though."

"Sounds good to me." He wouldn't have time for the next couple weeks, but after that, he'd be happy to.

"By the way, check THIS article out!" She took out a printed article from her backpack. "Drunken Man Mauled to Death by Ursaring!"

Nori gave the paper a fleeting glance. "This seems fairly normal by your standards."

"You know me all too well!" She winked and nudged him. "22-year-old Shinn ‘Sir Hands’ Myopia, a notorious furry known through many corners of the internet, was out in the woods..." Arumi paused. "Well, better to read it yourself. Can't do it justice this time."

Nori slowly nodded. Good 'ol Arumi. He wasn't sure if he wanted to know what happened, but his curiosity got the better of him. In short and putting it simply, the guy thought the Ursaring was someone dressed up as one. And tried to do things with it. "Man, that was a dumb way to go." Nori could only shake his head.

"Real em-bear-assing, wouldn't you say?"

The boy chuckled. "Ur...said...something?" He slapped his forehead. "I mean, was this guy furr-real? I guess?"

Arumi patted him. "That works, heh. But let's get to this, right?" She took the textbook. "I'll flip through the pages and ask you something from it."

"Sure, let's head to the trainer's lounge and do that. Probably comfier there."

"Oh yeah! Love the couches there!" She skipped out of the room. "Race ya!"

"Hey, head start! No fair!" Nori motioned to Pachi to hurry and come along.


August 17th, 2015

The day of Nori's Official tests were from the 17th to the 19th. They would take place at the Sunyshore Courthouse, a place Nori didn't think he'd be going back to. Why couldn't it be somewhere closer he could skate to and from?! For that matter, Volkner wasn't too happy to be coming back, even if it was in a different context.

There would be one each day: history, followed by law, and finally Pokemon-related subjects on Wednesday. His physical and battling test would take place at a later date, conducted by Volkner.

He waited in a small meeting room. Eventually, someone entered on exactly ten on the dot.

"Good afternoon, Mr. Carino." Nori recognized Tom Peterson. Something about this guy annoyed him. Maybe it was how he was acting like his visit from before hadn't happened. "I'll be overseeing your tests over the next three days."

"All right," the boy nodded.

"You'll have two and a half hours to complete each tests. No electronics or notes during them, and pencil down when I tell you time is up."

"Well, yeah." That was obvious.

The boring man handed him the paper. "Open your test in three, two, one..."


August 20th, 2015

Nori would have to wait a week to see the results. But if he passed them, which he had no doubt he would, he would officially be a Pokemon Rehabilitator come September.

He went down in the morning of the 20th to greet Volkner. "So! Exhibition day, huh?" he asked, before taking pause. "Um, it is still happening, right?"

The man nodded. "Going to be lower key. Haven't had much time to plan."

"Not even a main event?"

"Open floor," Volkner explained. "Implicitly. Three-on-threes maximum. If something good comes up, we'll have it go on last."

Nori nodded. "You got a good sense for figuring these things out."

"If I did, I'd have planned something better. This is just what I can work with." Volkner shrugged it off.

There was a chime over the intercom. "Mr. Denzi, there's people here to see you," came Mrs. Stetcher's voice.

People, plural? The Gym Leader was just as confused. It wasn't even close to opening time yet, and he hadn't done anything to warrant a visit. With a nod, the Gym Leader stood from his chair and motioned to follow him into the lobby.

The two walked out to an impressive sight. A massive crowd was gathered outside the arena, waiting to get in, many famous faces from around Sinnoh being close to the front. Leading the pack was Flint Donaldson, alongside Sofie and what appeared to be three of his Gym Trainers: an older boy with fiery red hair and two girls close to Nori's age. He saw Gasha Qian, and what looked like many of the other Gym Leaders of Sinnoh - some of who had brought their own Gym Trainers. Nori even spotted out Eddie and a couple of other familiar people from Sunyshore, including Haruna Okazaki.

"Surprise!" the 'froed man said, which the entire crowd echoed in-tune.

Volkner's arms fell slack. He looked out at everyone in utter amazement. Though it was only for a fleeting moment, he wore a genuine smile on his face.

"What are you all doing here?" he asked as he opened the door to greet them.

"Do you mind if we hijack exhibition day from you?" asked a jovial burgundy-haired man in a fine white suit. Some Gym Leader, Byron if he wasn't mistaken?

Volkner sighed. "I guess since we didn't really have plans and you came all this way." He allowed them in. "Why, though?"

"What else?" said Flint. "We're going to put on a show today! To celebrate your Gym staying open! Oh, and..." The red 'froed man chuckled with competitive spirit. "It's going to be you and me in the final battle tonight. Let's see once and for all who the better trainer is."

Volkner snorted. "If you insist."

The crowd started walking in, almost everyone slapping or shaking hands with Nori and Volkner along the way. One of them - a bald man in a violet robe with silver trim - stood before the young future official and bowed.

"So you are Nori Carino."

"Yes, and you are?"

"My name is Warutsu Amaya, and I am a humble priest of the Kannagi Shrine. Outgoing Gym Leader, and current overseer of the original shrine." The man bowed deeper. "It is an honor to make your acquaintance. Lady Kannagi spoke highly of you."

"Oh, um, that's good?" Prema was talking about him to others?

"You have a bright future ahead of you. I hope you will continue to support Lady Kannagi." He offered a hand, which Nori accepted. A weird thing to say, however. Support Prema? She was supporting him, nothing the other way. To his chagrin.

The next to approach him were the ones who accompanied Flint. "Y-you're Nori Carino?" the oldest of the trio asked. He looked to be in his late teens or early twenties.

"Yup. I take it you're his Gym Trainers?"

The girl in white and blue clothing giggled. "Candice isn't. But they are!" Nori eyed her. He supposed this was the girl Flint wanted him to meet? She was cute, he could say that much, but there was more to love than looks. "Not all of them, though. The other two are taking care of the Gym!"

"I'm Alicia Hardee," the other girl tersely said. Or maybe it was her. Also kinda cute, he supposed.

"And I'm Firuz Orswell." The teenager with fiery-orange hair sighed. "We could've had you with us instead of Sofie..." He glanced to the punk teenager, sighing in relief when it appeared she wasn't paying attention.

"Well, no sense thinking about it now," the boy replied.

"If say," Firuz blurted, louder than he seemed to be intending given he paused momentarily and started over. "If you could go back and make it so you went to our Gym, would you have?"

Nori had to take a few seconds to think about that one. It was a bizarre hypothetical question. "Well, I don't know how being at Snowpoint would've gone for me. But I can say that in the end, I'm happy with things turned out at Sunyshore. Maybe there was a time where I would've said yes, but now I can say, no."

Alicia blinked. "Huh, wasn't expecting to hear that deep out of someone like you," she remarked.

The boy could only laugh. "I'm just full of surprises, aren't I?"

"Yup!" agreed Candice. "Come on, guys! Let's go find seats!"

As they went off, he briefly greeted Gasha as she strutted by, the ever-recognizable Fantina following in close behind. Soon thereafter, Eddie approached, breaking from a conversation with Haruna. She smirked and waved to him before entering the arena.

"So you wouldn't have changed a thing, huh?" the former Gym Trainer teased.

"I didn't say that," Nori replied with a smile. "I just said I'm satisfied with how things turned out in the end."

The dark-skinned teen nodded. "Heh, fair. What'd you change if you could?"

"That should be obvious. Kallisto gone in March. And maybe still give the rest of you a chance."

Eddie chuckled. "Well, like you said, no sense thinking about hypothetical shit."


"So you wanna have a real battle today? No bullshit?"

Nori shook his head. "When I'm stronger and have more Pokemon. Then come by Veilstone and we'll see."

"See you in a year or two, then. Better be worth my time." With a grin, Eddie went to find seating.

Nori glanced around to find Volkner finishing conversation with an elderly woman in a big coat. He nodded at the boy. "Surprised Bertha stopped by," the Gym Leader remarked. "Said she wasn't going to let the younglings stop her. Speaking of, she's hitting it off with a challenger I had in May."

Nori blinked. "Er, now when you say hitting it off..."

"As friends," Volkner clarified. "Liv Raison, fellow elderly trainer. She's thinking of going on a journey in September. Didn't think she would."

"Huh, related to that Roger, maybe?" Nori mused aloud. It would be an interesting story to tell, an elderly person going on their first journey. It was never too late to start, he supposed. "Anyone else of note?"

"One of my former Gym Trainers, Preston. Interested in working part-time between his gigs." The Gym Leader looked back. "Bunch of Sinnoh's top trainers, too."

Nori crossed his arms. "Even the Champion?"

"She couldn't make it," Nori sighed, considering himself lucky on that front. No doubt, she'd have words for him for disgracing her family. Maybe. But he didn't want to meet her, ever!

The boy turned to see someone was standing before him. A strawberry blond boy in a frilly pink shirt and short blue shorts.

"Hey, Nori..." greeted Yuki, awkwardly fidgeting.

"Oh, Yuki."


"Um." He said hi already. Nori sat there for roughly twenty seconds, waiting for his former friend to say or do something. He eventually turned to leave, when the other boy started talking.

"Well," he started out. Not the best way to start out, but it was something. "Sorry for not believing you about Kallisto. I didn't want to, but I should've known you wouldn't lie about any of it." He lowered his head in shame. "And, I'm really sorry for thinking you were a bad person, just because he didn't like you."

Nori let out a reluctant sigh. "That's okay." He could at least understand where Yuki was coming from.

"Th-thanks, Nori. I...really treated you like trash. Worse than you deserve. I was terrible." Yuki was on the verge of crying, his knees quivering.

"You kinda were, but I don't blame you for it," he shrugged. "You'd have been going against Kallisto and more than half the club. Even Arumi had to play it careful."

He wiped a tear. "Thanks for understanding. I really didn't know how to say this until now. I didn't know how to say a lot of things, really."

"What other things?"

"Um." Nori realized what it might've been right after asking. But Yuki obliterated all doubt by dropping to a knee and grabbing him by the hand. "Will you go out with me?!"


"I always liked you and thought you were cute!" He was confessing to him right in the lobby, in front of everyone!

"S-sorry!" Nori yanked away in nervous panic, nearly falling over the seats in the process. "But I don't know...don't like..." He wasn't sure how to say what he wanted to! "But anyway, I'm moving back to Veilstone soon!"

Okay, so there was Lux. But he wasn't sure of even that. Plus, he gave it some thought after Arumi told him, and well. More importantly. If Yuki really liked him, he would've stuck by him. It was a little hard to get over that.

Yuki closed his eyes. He took a deep breath, and let it out in one sigh. When he stood, it was with a smile. "I thought so. I just wanted to get it off my chest."

He took that remarkably well, thought Nori. You had people like Jamie who didn't take rejection well, plus several others he'd seen in the past. But Yuki seemed almost prepared for this.

Thanks," said Yuki. Nori looked around, and thankfully, all the attention had passed. "I still want to be friends, if that's okay."

"I guess we can?" he tentatively said. "Maybe through email?" While as a boyfriend the answer was no, he didn't see any reason him and Yuki couldn't keep being friends.

"Great. Good luck if you decide to battle! And..." He shuffled his feet. "If you change your mind...well...lemme know!" With a feverish blush, the strawberry blond boy hurried off.

Nori huffed and sat down. He didn't hate that, but he wasn't sure if he liked it at all, either.

"Somebody's popular," a woman remarked. Rin Kakoku. "Sorry, didn't mean to see that."

"Rin!" he waved to her. Now this was a person he didn't mind seeing.

"Nice to see you. Came by to give you this." She handed him a book, entitled Crossing Lines. "Book about my experiences. Early draft of it, but uncut."

"Thanks." It was as big as one of his law textbooks. "It uh, might take a while to read."

"Take your time. Might have a few things in it that'll help you." She gave a small salute before leaving to find seating.

As she left, Nori almost stood up to leave, when someone else sat beside him. "Man, all the Gym Leaders are here," remarked Arumi, in a silly voice. "First time in eight years that's happened in Sinnoh. Even the new ones, rocky Roark and sylvan Sprig are here."

"So you're still incognito?" he whispered. She was in a ridiculously elegant dress that would fit a socialite, but not Arumi Schrader.

"For a different reason." She briefly raised her star-shaped sunglasses to show a wink. He smiled and nodded, understanding at once. She wanted to get away from her fans.

"Want to grab a seat and watch? A good seat, not the stands."

A thumbs up. "I thought you'd never ask!"


An epic day of battling followed. Everyone who came to Sunyshore Gym - and there were so many they were turning down people at the door - was treated to nonstop battling of the highest caliber. They eschewed normal breaks in favor of continuing to have exhibition after exhibition from some of Sinnoh's greatest trainers.

One in particular saw that Joe Stone guy from a couple months back battle Elite Four member Bertha to a close loss. Haruna threw out an open challenge, which was answered by Radovan of all people. She ended up winning, to Nori's amusement. Nori himself participated in a few. He won all three, including teaming up with Eddie against Alicia and Candice in a multi battle. He was able to work surprisingly well with the former Gym Trainer, despite their differences and history, defeating their opponents' Ice-type Pokemon. Even the ordinary trainers who stepped up were inspired by the intense battles, bringing their A+ games against their opponents.

It culminated with Volkner facing off against Flint in a full battle.

It wasn't even close. Volkner kept the lead the entire time, starting with his Galvantula stopping Flint's Bloomitts - some weird thing that looked like a bigger and bulkier Bellsprout with glove-like leaves. It eventually came down to Flint's Steelix against three of Volkner's: his Chatot - which had just knocked out Flint's Infernape - his Octillery - half-weak from facing this red dragon-turtle thing (called Raphael) but still kicking - and an entirely fresh Luxray.

The big iron snake (nicknamed Gneiss) quickly dispatched Chatot, yet Volkner's Luxray came out and proceeded to give it the fight of its life.

"Well, this is looking pretty bad, girl!" Flint remarked to his Pokemon. "May as well go down swinging. Iron Tail, and drop into an Earthquake!"

"Dodge and climb on."

Flint's eyes stretched wide. "Wow. Really, V?" he asked, equal parts disbelief and shock, the former fading as Luxray proceeded to do just that. It simply dashed in close and hopped up. Being on Steelix helped it avoid the shaking ground.

"Keep going and Snarl."

Flint whistled. "Daring. Shake'em off, Gneiss."

Luxray yelled and barked as if ranting, irritating the steel snake. Nevertheless, it had no trouble forcing the black and blue Pokemon off with a simple roll.

"Great going! Now–"

"Hyper Beam."

"Now look out!"

It was so sudden that Gneiss couldn't respond in time. A blast of shining white light took Luxray to the floor via equal and opposite force, and regardless of effectiveness, sent the Steelix crashing down.

"Gneiss cannot continue!" The Gym Leader had insisted the judge call it this way, rather than the unable to battle catchphrase they seemed to all have. "This battle's winner is the Sunyshore Gym Leader, Volkner Denzi!"

The audience cheered. "Did great, Gneiss. Rest up!" The red 'froed man took it all in stride. "See? What'd I tell ya, V? Always, always, always been better at me than Pokemon?"

Volkner crossed his arms and smiled. "I don't need you to tell me that. I already know."

"And now you proved it to everyone!" Flint stuck out his hand, which Volkner accepted. He then raised Volkner's arm. "Let's hear it one more time for V, folks! Been through a lot the past two months, and he's still ticking!"

Once more, the crowd cheered. Volkner half-turned away in flustered annoyance. He covered his mouth, no doubt hiding a smile. Nori knew his mentor well; he was happy, but didn't want to show it.


After things settled down and most of the people had left, Nori went out into the left hall. To his surprise, not only was Eddie chatting with Volkner there, but so was Ollie. He didn't even see the hefty teen come in.

"See ya later! And thanks again!" Ollie said He didn't give Nori so much as a glance as he skipped away.

"Isn't he blacklisted?" the boy asked after a few seconds.

"Can still be here," Volkner explained.

"What was he doing?"

Eddie stretched. "Just saying sorry and thanks for stuff. He decided he's not going to let this get him down."

"Huh, bit of a surprise."

The dark-skinned teen concurred. "Yeah, he's come a long way. Said he was afraid of striking out without Kallisto, but now that he has to and found he can, says he'll be all right."

"I guess that makes sense, but what about the others? And you?" Nori inquired, more out of curiosity.

"Plan's still the same for me. Leaving in March on a journey. Tono pled guilty to his hacking. Sentencing's up in the air, but he's trying to strike a plea bargain." Eddie paused. "None of us have heard from Kallisto."

"Huh. Have you, Volkner?"

The Gym Leader shook his head. "Don't care."

Well, no skin off Nori's back. "I still don't get him, and I don't think I ever will."

"He didn't get you either, man," said Eddie.

This took Nori - and even Volkner - by surprise. "Wait, really?"

"Drove him crazy seeing you stick to yourself. Think he was worried as shit. And think seeing you're friends with that Kannagi chick made him snap."

"I mean, I kinda figured that, given he got with that shallow cheerleader after."

Volkner huffed. "Well, doesn't matter anymore."

"How've you been, Nori?" Eddie asked.

"Just training and getting ready for my tests. If I pass them, I'll officially be a Pokemon Rehabilitator. Then it'll be back to Veilstone."

"Nice. Good luck, man." He checked his watch. "Would stay and chat longer, but better get going."

"Good luck to you too, thanks."

Eddie clapped him on the shoulder before leaving, and only at that moment did it hit Nori.

Kallisto's friends may have been subject the same pressures. Though to a lesser extent since they never fought back as hard. In a way, things had worked out for...Eddie and Ollie. It remained to be seen if it would for Tono. Particularly given his close friendship with Kallisto, and the whole hacking thing. A few months ago, he would've been angry about it. But now? He was glad.

"You're smiling," Volkner noticed.

"Just that things worked out for those two."

"You are forgiving," noted the Gym Leader. "Maybe more than Kallisto."

The boy shrugged. "Maybe, but I'd say I'm more accepting."

"Yeah, that fits better."

All of this had started because Kallisto wanted him to be a certain way. If he'd accepted or even tolerated how he was to begin with, way back in March...maybe things would've turned out well for everyone.


August 21st, 2015

The next day, Nori was hanging out with Volkner in his office. The Gym Leader was calculating the money that came in from exhibition day, as he usually did.

The man eventually smiled. "Third highest profits ever," he remarked. "No mean feat."

Nori nodded. "Especially since you didn't plan anything."

"Word spread fast, I guess." The man chuckled. "Take a look at this."

The boy walked around to look at the laptop's screen. There was some sort of email from a Pokemon League representative. Nori only skimmed it, but got the gist of it.

"Er, why aren't they happy?" he asked.

"Better battling than the League," Volkner explained. "Starts in two days. Gyms are closed for the duration, by the way."

"Oh. But why would they be mad at that?"

"Their thunder got stolen. Compare yesterday to the average battle at the League." Volkner leaned back. "They always hated being overshadowed, since they pride themselves on having the most elite Pokemon handlers. Like with the Battling Tents of Hoenn in the 1920s. Or Contests."

"That seems petty."

"It is. Least they've gotten better over the decades."

Nori glanced at it again, in more detail. Come to think of it, it was more some guy's bitter rant than an actual reprimand or threat. But that didn't mean one wasn't there in the subtext. "Aren't you worried they'll punish you?"

"Pretty much every major trainer in Sinnoh was here. And the new Elite Four member arranged it, another one also being complicit. Can't punish us all, and if they single me out?" The man shrugged. "Fuck'em."

Nori laughed. It always amused him to see this side of Volkner. He was absolutely correct, however. When Nori thought about it, it wouldn't reflect well on them to do something like that anyway. And like his old elementary school principal had said, it wasn't like they ran the world.

"Challengers here," came the voice of Mrs. Stetcher over the intercom.

The man grumbled. "Hate getting interrupted and losing my place," he said.

"Can't you like, leave a note for yourself?"

"Ruins my momentum anyway."


"See, what'd I tell ya?" came an upbeat female voice as Nori followed Volkner out into the lobby. "Yo, you okay?"

"We didn't have to fly here..." a more level-headed sounding girl spoke, lightly shuddering. She was in fashionable clothing, and had a beret with a wolf pin at the front. "And shouldn't you have spent more time training for this, Shinobu?"

"Hey, I wanted to spend time with you. And either way, it's the last Gym, and last day to qualify!" the girl named Shinobu declared. She was in light blue ninja clothing. "Let's make it count, Nori!"

"Er, yes?" he asked.

"No, she meant me," said the other girl.

They both blinked. Suddenly, the boy felt he was looking in a magic mirror. Dark hair, red eyes, the same name as him. Nori. Except this was a girl of about sixteen years. This was...a meeting of some kind. But he wasn't sure what to make of it.


Didn't plan the delays. Blame Kirby and Triangle Strategy and writing the next fics (and a joke fic for April Fools). Speaking of not planning, the meeting happening, but I figured if they didn't make it before the League, well. A case where logic wrote the plot.
It's very nice of Flint to make sure everyone knows he only won the Elite Four spot because of Volkner's scandal in front of a huge audience, and even arranged a big money-making event. What a bro.
And it annoyed the league because a bunch of Gym Leaders and two Elite Four showing up makes the league look less impressive by comparison, heh. I guess Tobias didn't show up (if he even exists in this story setting).

In any case it's nice that Yuki and Nori made up even if Nori is understandably not willing to completely forget it, and him and Eddie are getting along fairly well (which I am not surprised by; "Eddie is actually the least bad Gym Trainer" was foreshadowed very heavily). He seems confident he passed the test, so here's hoping. And maybe Tono will get a decent please bargain.
Though I've got a feeling we haven't quite seen or heard the last of Kallisto in this story, but we'll see.

No doubt, she'd have words for him for disgracing her family. Maybe. But he didn't want to meet her, ever!
Nori is 100% meeting Cynthia in one of the other stories in this verse, right?
I am curious what she'd think about the whole Kallisto incident, though.
It's very nice of Flint to make sure everyone knows he only won the Elite Four spot because of Volkner's scandal in front of a huge audience, and even arranged a big money-making event. What a bro.
Flint is a good friend, just in his own way.

And it annoyed the league because a bunch of Gym Leaders and two Elite Four showing up makes the league look less impressive by comparison, heh. I guess Tobias didn't show up (if he even exists in this story setting).
I mean the characters in this fic don't need poorly explained legendary Pokemon to crush their opponents, as Kallisto shows.

In any case it's nice that Yuki and Nori made up even if Nori is understandably not willing to completely forget it, and him and Eddie are getting along fairly well (which I am not surprised by; "Eddie is actually the least bad Gym Trainer" was foreshadowed very heavily). He seems confident he passed the test, so here's hoping. And maybe Tono will get a decent please bargain.
Random behind-the-scene asides, I changed the scene with Yuki between drafts. Originally Nori got a surprise kiss on the cheek, then dodged a hug, then I cut that too since I wanted him better than Jamie who didn't give Nori things he didn't ask for. It was partially a vessel to have shown Nori wasn't outright disgusted at another boy kissing him on the cheek.

Though I've got a feeling we haven't quite seen or heard the last of Kallisto in this story, but we'll see.
Heh heh heh

Nori is 100% meeting Cynthia in one of the other stories in this verse, right?
I am curious what she'd think about the whole Kallisto incident, though.
Oh, 110%. And you'll see.
Not much to say about this one. A nice, relaxing chapter. Do love that Volkner managed to get one up on Flint and that Eddie reconciled with Nori, along with Yuki doing the same with Nori. Always good to see progress, and not the negative kind. I wonder how the rest of the story will go? Can't wait to read more!
Not much to say about this one. A nice, relaxing chapter. Do love that Volkner managed to get one up on Flint and that Eddie reconciled with Nori, along with Yuki doing the same with Nori. Always good to see progress, and not the negative kind. I wonder how the rest of the story will go? Can't wait to read more!
Not much to say about the review in turn. Look forward to a comfy relaxing coast to the finish, two more chapters left. Of course the epic fated meeting has just happened, so there's still things going on.
Month 8: August of Respite (third part)
August of Respite (third part)
August 21st, 2015

Nori faced off with his fellow Nori. No matter how many times he reset his thoughts, it was felt vaguely akin to looking in a mirror. More than having the same name, they kinda looked the same too. Although her hair was simply black compared to his chestnut, and her red eyes were bright. He'd heard of people running into others named the same, but never thought it would happen to him, let alone that they'd look similar.

"I'm seeing double, here!" her companion exclaimed. "Four Noris!"

The boy glanced around in confusion. "Wait, where's the third and the fourth?"

"I was making a reference! That's the joke." She said her second sentence in a sort of deep, German accent.

"I don't get it."


The other Nori giggled. "It's rare to see your jokes fall that flat, Shinobu."

"I thought anyone could get that!"

Well, if it was pop culture, he simply didn't know those things. Still, the boy smirked. "Shinobu, or Shinobi?" he asked, in reference to her ninja-like clothing.

"That's also the joke," was her reply.

With a nod, he turned to the girl with reddish eyes and blackish hair. "So you're also Nori?"

"Yes, I'm Nori Masuda," she stated with a small bow. "As in, a possessive particle or accordingly, and jasmine."

"And I'm Nori Carino! As in..." He paused. "A lot of different meanings in one kanji. But righteousness, for one. Can't remember them all off-hand."

Volkner grumbled. "This is going to get confusing."

"We have girl Nori and boy Nori!" She struck a pose. "Shinobu Maehama, by the way!"

The boy shrugged. "I guess, but that's a little simple."

"Well, since you're my junior, why don't you just call me Masuda?" the other Nori offered.

"I dunno, not really big on calling people by their last name without a Ms. or something. Plus it reminds me of you-know-who." The others understood at once. With a cheerful grin, he asked, "But neither of us talks in the third person or anything, so why don't I just call you Nori, and you can call me Nori?"

Nori Masuda smiled, seeming to find it fun. "That's fine, Nori, but..."

"But what, Nori?"

She gestured to everyone else. Wait, that's right. And both of them answered to both pronunciations.

"Whatever, just won't use names," the Gym Leader grumbled.

"And you're my pet wolf!" Shinobu declared, throwing an arm around her friend. "He can be Nori-kun! Or Carino if you'd like!"

"Either's fine, I guess." He shuffled his feet. "But um, a wolf?"

"Don't ask..." replied a blushing Nori Masuda.

"All right, enough of these antics," said the Gym Leader, who just wanted to get going.

"Ant ticking you off?" asked Shinobu.

Volkner buried his face in his palms. Her friend sighed. Even Nori himself had to admit, that one was a bit forced.

"All right," said Mrs. Stetcher. "It says here you have seven badges Ms. Maehama, and you only have six, Ms. Masuda.

"Yes," said the latter. "We got to Pastoria a little late. I couldn't beat Crasher Wake, and we needed to hurry over here so Shinobu could get her eighth badge."

"No problem!" said Shinobu with a wink. "We'll jet back over there tonight after you win!"

"Out of the question," Volkner dismissed. "We're not accepting challengers with any less than seven badges this week. Workload issues."

While he was expecting Nori Masuda to be upset, she wasn't bothered in the slightest. "Well, that's okay. I wasn't intending on entering the League Tournament anyway."

"Wait, you mean you don't have to?" he asked.

She shook her head. "No. I was really only on this journey since Shinobu was going on one. I did think about contests, but going up on stage is..." She awkwardly turned away.

"That kinda makes sense." Her fashion made him initially believe his fellow Nori was a coordinator, but there was no accounting for stage fright. "Plus, you're not stepping on her toes."

"She can do whatever she wants to my toes, but hold on! This is not okay!" Shinobu shouted. "We have Nori! And we have Nori! We can't pass up the chance to have the battle of the century!"

"Yes, we can," said Volkner.

"Yeah," agreed her friend.

He had to agree. "It'd be a fun gimmick, but not really productive."

"Some other time." Everyone looked at Mrs. Stetcher, who shrugged. "Sorry. Couldn't resist adding my piece."

"Darn it. In that case..." Shinobu dramatically raised her arm and did a powerful point. "Today, I'll be getting down and dirty with two Noris!"

Her friend was super embarrassed for some reason, but Nori Carino countered. "The only one going down is you." He beamed with faux arrogance for just a second before asking, "Um, was that...good counter trash talk?"

Volkner nodded, although Nori Masuda cringed. She dreadfully turned to her friend, who snorted and started to speak with a rictis grin on her face. "Speaking of going down–"

"Enough with the puns," Volkner cut her off. "Let's get to the puzzle."


While Shinobu was doing the Gym puzzle, Nori took the chance to talk with the other Nori for lack of anything else to do while waiting. She talked about her hobbies of origami and wheelchair repair, and how her real interest was computer programming. She also spoke about her journey when Nori asked. He was always curious to hear from someone who went on one, and things like Claris Willins' were abnormal. Plus, he felt she could give an objective opinion of one. While Nori Masuda didn't have bad things to say, there was nothing that made the boy feel like one would be worth it. Also, she was apparently dating Shinobu? That got him pondering to ask her for advice with Lux, until...

"Woohoo!" Shinobu eventually came bursting through the door. "Passed with flying colors! It's time, little Nori! Prepare for the terror!"

He stood. "Sure thing. Let's get right to it." It was a little annoying having his conversation interrupted, but he knew from the former Gym Trainers you simply had to be ready for things like this.

The judge had been standing motionless on the sidelines the whole time they had been waiting. Nori didn't really like him. He'd been so impersonal around the Gym that barely anyone even knew his name. "This is a Gym Qualifier battle between Shinobu Maehama of Jubilife and Nori Carino of Veilstone, contested under standard Gym rules. Trainers, send out your first Pokemon simultaneously."

Well, not technically standard. That last part was something Volkner fought for. Nori had his Gym Pokemon at the ready, including Pachi atop his shoulder.

"Alrighty then! Boober, shine on!" The ninja girl proceeded to send out a fiery bipedal duck. Magmar.

Nori scratched an ear. Why would she call it by its traditional Japanese– "Oh." He blurted aloud. The boy huffed and shrugged it off. "Elekid, let's go!"

The small Pokemon emerged from her ball with a blubber. As Nori learned, Volkner actually considered this Elekid for him to raise, but settled on Pachi. For a multitude of reasons, such as no one at the Gym training a Pachirisu, his extreme contrasting personality with the Demon, and Pachi having interacted with him more. He thought about nicknaming her Elly, but didn't want to get too attached to what was probably a temporary Pokemon.

"Trainers! Are you both ready?" asked the judge.

"I am," Nori replied.

"Ready to make things hot in here!" declared Shinobu.

"Then, begin the battle!" The judge waved his flags, and it was on.


"Boo–hey, look out!"

One of his favorite ways to start off the battle with Elekid was to charge straight in with Quick Attack, to where she understood his intent given a simple two-letter word. It caught a lot off people off-guard, and Shinobu was no exception.

"Okay, Rolling Kick," he followed right up.

"You can kick too, right, Boober?" came the retort.

The Magmar did a Low Kick, whereas Elekid's came high. While his Pokemon struck first, the tiger-striped Pokemon's foot was cut out from beneath her. Not the best exchange.

Shinobu giggled in glee. "Let your hand burn with an awesome power, Boober!"

Burning hand? So a Fire Punch? "Sure, Thunder Punch." He decided to copy her, too.

While Elekid had been knocked down, she was able to meet Boober's attack with her own. This was no mere fist bump: both Pokemon took damage from the respective elemental energies infused into the punches.

"I think it's time we get started here!" declared Shinobu.

Nori didn't get it. They'd already started. "I think it's time for a Charge Beam."

"Nope!" She twirled and pointed. "Dodge and use Smokescreen!"

The fire duck slipped away from the electric laser, and spat a plume of smoke that enveloped most of the battlefield. The acting Gym Trainer was perfectly aware that Pokemon that use these moves usually have a way to see through their own attack.

"Like a ninja, indeed!" Shinobu declared.

"Elekid, Swift," he instantly replied, smirking a little as he did so. Eddie's Electabuzz loved using that, and showed him the value of perfect accuracy moves. He could've scouted whatever was coming, but with the Pokemon he was using, it was better to simply go on the offense and ask questions later.

"Oh, COME ON!!" Shinobu complained, before snorting. "Heh heh, come."

Nori couldn't use his eyes, but he could use his ears. From the sounds of things, the homing stars indeed landed true as they were supposed to.

"Welp, no sense Teleporting around if you have that," Shinobu said. Wait, freaking Teleport? "So let's skip to the part where we Heat Wave!"

He thought fast. "Behind the pillar, Elekid."

Boober blasted hot air, blowing some of the smoke away in the process. Elekid did manage to avoid about half of the attack by taking cover, but was still considerably singed.

"Now shoot some Clear Smog!" cheered Shinobu. "Should go right around cover!"

"Just stay where you are." Maybe this was too stupid and obvious, but that might be what would make it work. He was confident the attack wasn't going to work like she expected anyway, and was quickly proven right.

"You can run, but you can't hide!" Shinobu playfully said. "Warp in Boober, and show'em your Confuse Ray!"

Nori nodded. Time to go straight forward. "Thunderbolt."

Boober was ready as soon as it indeed used Teleport to get close, but so was Elekid, who unleashed a full-force blast of electricity. Although she was affected by the subsequent delirium-inducing light, her own offensive move actually did damage.

"Crap..." muttered Shinobu, noticing her Pokemon weakening. "But it doesn't matter! Finish with Flamethrower, Boober!"

"Elekid!" Nori shouted at the top of his lungs, hoping sheer loudness might help get through. "Try a Swift!" Much as he wanted to be a little flashy here, this was the correct move. There was no need to aim this, just get it off.

Alas, it was the fire duck that moved first. It enveloped the hapless Elekid in a stream of fire. Nori sighed. He supposed this was a little bit of a mismatch. He braced himself for the sight of an unconscious Pokemon as the fiery attack finished.

Except it never came. The little Elekid was braced against the pillar, still on her feet in a show of defiance. She drunkenly meandered in her foe's general direction and started expelling stars everywhere. Boober squawked in surprise as it was impacted from all directions. It fell over and lay still. That was a victory.

"Boo...no, I refuse to call it that," the judge dismissed, grumbling under his breath that he wasn't getting paid enough. "It's unable–"

He was interrupted by a sudden bright light centered on Elekid. Her form grew and changed shape. Her plug-like horns became two prongs, her claws became fingers, she sprouted a small tail, and became overall taller. What's more, not only did she seem a little rejuvenated, the shock to her body appeared to clear up her confusion. The now Electabuzz blubbered incomprehensibly as she flexed, basking in her newfound power.

"How's that?" Nori asked.

"Enjoy it while it lasts! But congratulations!" said Shinobu, with a faux evil grin. "You did good out there, Boober! Come back. And Spiritomb, let the spooks come out!"

Her next Pokemon was this creepy swirling vortex jutting out of a thimble or something. It had green eyes and a mouth surrounded by similarly-colored balls of phantasmal energy.

"You ready, Electa...Elly?" Screw it, he thought. That was much quicker to say and was part of the reason for Pachi's shorthand nickname. She grinned and nodded, getting into a battle pose.


Nori Carino was on-point.

There was no doubt that Shinobu was an excellent trainer, what with having seven badges and all. But he was handling her thoroughly, and it wasn't even close. Compared to when he was battling say, Eddie or Tono, there were no major mistakes or shenanigans involved. He was simply outpacing her.

While her Spiritomb was nearly immobile, it was able to endure attacks and strike out with shadows, darkness, and wind. It eventually proved too much for the newly evolved Electabuzz. Nori shifted to Luxio next and managed to severely weaken it with a couple Snarls before finishing with a Charge Beam. While Luxio was exhausted for the Vaporeon (of all things) that was sent out, especially after a Retaliate, Nori had him use Volt Switch to hit hard before returning to his ball - nonstandard substitutions being permitted. It was effectively down to Pachi against Vaporeon.

Despite the water, Nori more or less kept in control of the battle the whole time. Her not using moves like Surf helped, too. The worst hit Pachi had taken was getting bit when Vaporeon came up from melting into fluid with Acid Armor, followed by a Hydro Pump that threw the boy off due to setting off his phobia. Pachi tried using Discharge, but still got blasted into a pillar. Other than that, he was getting the better of every exchange.

Before long, it appeared the battle was reaching its end. Pachi had plenty of fight left, yet Vaporeon was running on fumes. The watery fox had recently melted away again, this time disappearing entirely. But Nori wasn't about to have Pachi stay there and do nothing.

"Okay Pachi, get onto a pillar and..." He had two ways to play this, the other being Swift, but decided tact was the better idea. The little squirrel chirruped and dashed to the nearest one, clinging to the side. He paused. "And get ready."

Shinobu smirked. "Just try us! Vaporeon, Dig!"

There it was, he was expecting a Ground move for her to have walked into an Electric Gym with a Water type.

"Discharge, quick!"

The extra second or so from being elevated turned out to be a difference maker. Right as Vaporeon rematerialized and leaped out from the floor, Pachi unloaded. The watery fox's attack halted as paralysis gripped her body.

"Vaporeon, no!"

"Finish with style," Nori said with a grin. "Electro Ball."

With his opponent helplessly tensed up, Pachi performed a backflip as he executed the attack. The golden-yellow sphere knocked Vaporeon into a roll. And that was all it took to finish things off. With a final cry and failed attempt to get up, their foe lay still.

"Vaporeon can't continue," ruled the judge. "The winner of this match is the Gym Trainer, Nori Carino."

"Wow. I uh, wasn't expecting that," the boy remarked. "I was really surprised when you brought out a Water type. I thought you might have a Ground move, and that was a really creative way to use it." Most Pokemon can't get through a floor to use Dig in a building. Good thing too: most buildings are Pokemon-proof, but not to that extent.

Shinobu didn't reply, only silently looking over at her unconscious Pokemon.

"Um, are you okay?" he asked.

"I lost?" Shinobu quietly asked.

"Shinobu?" her girlfriend called to her in concern.

"I can't just rematch you now, can I?!" she begged.

"Qualifiers close today. Wait a couple weeks." Volkner punctuated by crossing his arms.

"But the League will be over by then!"

The Gym Leader shook his head. "As they say, them's the breaks, kid."

Shock. That was the only way to describe what was leaking from every pore on Shinobu Maehama's body. She almost silently recalled her Eevee evolution as she stared down at the floor.

"Shinobu..." Nori Masuda rose and started over to her. She had been quietly watching the whole time, aside from applause when Shinobu managed to knock out Elly.

"I...I...I'm sorry, I need some time alone." Slumping, she excused herself from the arena.

Nori was surprised the other Nori didn't go after her. "Volkner, did you have to do that?" he asked his mentor.

The man shook his head. "If I make exceptions for her, I'd have to for everyone."

Well, that was true, but it was still the last day! He turned to the dark-haired red-eyed girl. "I'm sorry, Nori. This is my fault. If I knew how important the League was to her, I would've gone easy on her. And now she's run off and–"

"It's okay, Nori," she interrupted. "It's just how competition goes."

"You mean you're not mad at me?" He thought for sure she was going to be pissed for making her girlfriend get depressed and run off.

Nori Masuda smiled. "I don't have reason to be, since you didn't do anything wrong. All you did was battle to your best, and you beat Shinobu. You don't have to feel bad about it. In anything where there's winners, there has to be losers. And lots of things are like that. I know it hurts for Shinobu now, but she'll be fine. She'll get over this, and be a better trainer because of it."

"So it's like any other sort of harsh loss..." Pick yourself off the ground and do it over again. He'd been through that too often himself. He'd even caused it a couple times. But this was the first time he caused it for someone he didn't hate. "I guess that makes sense. But she still did all that traveling only to fail at the very end."

"Badges don't expire," she explained. "Not even if you enter the League. There's always next year."

Always next year. So Shinobu wouldn't have to do the entire journey over again. That was a small comfort to know. He hadn't completely destroyed someone's chances. Finally, his smile returned.

"You're good with kids," Volkner remarked.

Nori Masuda shuffled her feet. "Not really..." she modestly remarked. "But between us? I think this was the wakeup call Shinobu really needed."

The boy nodded. "It sounded like she was putting it off to the last minute, and paid for it."

"If you intend to reach the top, you need to work at it," said Volkner. "Can tell. Had her goals, but wasn't taking them seriously, expecting it all to work out. See it all the time. Something to keep in mind, by the way." He addressed that last part his way.

"Right!" Nori wasn't ever going to slack on his work. He knew going in this was something he had to commit to long-term!

"I guess I should head back to the Pokemon Center. Shinobu should go there after her walk."

"Okay." It sounded like she was going to be all right.

"Take care, Nori, and good luck."

"You too, Nori. Thanks." They laughed a little. It was a little fun talking to someone with the same name as you by name. With a wave, the other Nori got on her way.

With this, Nori sat back down on the benches. "One of my last battles as a Gym Trainer," he remarked.

"Think you've proven you've trained Pachi well enough," remarked Volkner. "I'll give you a pass there."

"Oh!" Nori snapped to. "Um, er, thanks."

"You're welcome, I guess." The man shrugged and suddenly threw a quiz at him. "By the way, know why I'm having you do this? Besides to help out."

He had never considered there was another reason behind being an acting Gym Trainer, but it took only a few seconds for it to sink in. "Oh! Practice with other Pokemon, right?"

"Yes." Volkner nodded his approval. "You'll need to pick up your assignments as quickly as you can. Also practice for your trainer skills. You'll be fine with both."

"I don't see myself going on a journey."

"Will have to let some of your Pokemon battle, though."

"I know. But I could probably do that at battling places. Even if the people there are obnoxiously battle happy." It was the only option besides random challenges. He could live with it, for the sake of his Pokemon.


August 23rd, 2015

Arumi stopped by for another visit on the 23rd. Volkner made it clear he didn't want her doing this when Nori was gone, to which she'd replied she knew and only wanted to enjoy it while she could.

They'd gone upstairs to watch TV and let their Pokemon get some exercise; Arumi decided she may as well since she was here. They were talking about various things when a sudden and sharp sigh escaped the reporter girl, after the subject had shifted to school.

"What's wrong, Arumi?" Nori asked her. He'd never seen this side of her, although he expected it might've existed.

"You know, it's just that," she started, leaning back on the couch. "Now that I've done this, everyone's going to be expecting the best out of me. I know I'm not going to be able to live up to their expectations no matter what I do."

"But you're an amazing journalist. You just showed that," he encouraged.

Arumi laughed slightly. "I know. But it's not about that. Now that I've written such an amazing article, everyone's going to expect me to do more. I never really realized until my parents told me, being a great journalist isn't about having one flash in the pan. It's a lifelong commitment."

"Yeah, kind of like what I've taken on. I guess you'll simply have to go out there and find those stories."

"Heh, maybe." She smiled. "It's like you say, there's nothing to do but do it."

"It's a good mentality, isn't it?"

She grinned in agreement. Some would say it was similar to saying it can't be helped or something, but that was more of a defeatist and conceding statement. This was willingly taking something on with enthusiasm!

"I have to laugh, though."

Arumi tilted her head. "At what?"

"You know why the others in the news club don't really like you?"

"Jealousy?" came the quick reply.

"Sort of." He supposed that was one way of interpreting it. "They were mad at how unfettered you seemed."

Arumi chuckled, slightly grumbled as well. "Of course I have worries! Everyone does!"

"Some people are just better at handling worries than others," Nori added. "Like you and me are both good at it."

Arumi raised a finger. "The way I see it is, if you get dragged down by all those negative thoughts, you're going to make a self-fulfilling prophecy happen!"

"Exactly," the boy nodded. "There were times when things were bleak with Kallisto, but I was always able to keep going since I convinced myself things would work out. And thanks to you, they did."

"Yeah." Arumi smiled with determination. "And I know things are going to work out with my journalism. Things just have a way of working out."

"As long as you work at it. The cream always rises, as they say."

She sighed dreamily, half-laying down on the couch although keeping her feet on the floor. "It's nice to talk about this stuff with someone who understands!"

"I know, right?" said Nori. "And I know even though they're jealous and worried, the others will be able to succeed too. Beau and Gino will be news anchors, Lorant will be a cameraman, and Yuki will find a boyfriend and be a famous sports analyst!"

Arumi snickered at that last part. "Heh, you have no idea how hard he was crushing on you."

"I'm sure he'll have other chances." He was sure Yuki wasn't right for him anyway. He wasn't desperate to get into a relationship, especially with Kallisto not around to spite anymore.

"And I know you won't have trouble finding someone, either," Arumi declared with a wink.

"It's finding the right person that's the problem. That's one thing I could agree with Kallisto on, strange as it was that it started this whole mess. All because of a girl who liked me but I thought wasn't right." The boy rolled his shoulders. "But I guess we can't all be like you and Sato. Knowing who you love right away."

"Actually," said Arumi, "I decided to move on from him for now. My future's looking bright! I don't know if Sato's going to be a part of it, but who knows what the future might hold!"

"Don't tell me you're into me too..." Nori nervously shuffled. He was getting way too many of those.

"Nope! Best friend!" She did a peppy fistpump. "And I wouldn't have it any other way, wingman!"

Nori grinned and nodded, reaching out his fist to bump hers. "Same here!" He liked Arumi, but didn't want to think of her like that. Besides not thinking they'd mesh well together, he valued her way too much to complicate things.


August 25th, 2015

"So it's the beep test again?"

The boy was in the arena of the Gym, his Pokemon watching from the sidelines. He was half-expecting something more elaborate, like having to do parkour or gymnastics. Instead, it was something he was very familiar with.

Volkner shrugged. "I'm in charge of it. This was easiest." Good old Volkner. "Plus, figured you might want to try it again."

"Maybe. But it's not the same without being to rub it in the others' faces."

"Think of it as personal pride."

Nori stretched to get ready. That wasn't really a motivator for him. But he had wanted to see if he could pull this off. He'd been getting out more the past month, going on more walks and runs with his Pokemon.

"Whenever you're ready?"

"Sure, ready as I'll ever be."

"Starting in three, two, one..."



Nori managed to make it to the final round, yet was starting to run on fumes. Exhaustion was still threatening to consume him despite the fact that he'd been doing everything to pace himself. Was he just too small? Too inexperienced? Was it not going to be enough?

He pushed himself. "Just" he huffed, before thinking, 'Just a little further, Nori.' He couldn't waste any breath encouraging himself verbally.

The boy managed to touch the wall the first couple times. Yet he missed one! He quickly kicked off and went for a full-sprint, pushing himself to his absolute limits. He lungs were on fire. His limbs felt like they might snap. Each step felt like he was on hot coals. He felt like he was wading through snow.

He was counting in his head. He was coming up to the final one, but he'd been slowing down. There was only one thing to do. He left his feet, flinging himself forward. And right as he crashed against the wall...


He hit the floor, but he didn't care. He'd done it! He'd beaten the beep test! Worse for the wear, not like stupid Kallisto did it, but he did it!

Suddenly, the adrenaline left and he felt like he wanted to throw up. He heard footsteps, looking up to see Pachi, Demon, and Volkner. The latter handed him a sports drink.

"...overdid...again..." Nori huffed. It felt like his chest was on fire.

Volkner stared. "You've done this before?"

"Once..." He unscrewed the lid and took a sip. Blue raspberry flavor. "Back in April. Didn't pass out this time."

"Push yourself too hard sometimes." The man shook his head with a chuckle of approval. "Have a rest, you earned it."

"No, I think..." He managed back to his feet by bracing against the wall, giving it more thought. "...I think that's a good idea," he corrected with a laugh. His two Pokemon nodded in agreement. "So I guess all that's left is test results."

"Might not be long, now." Volkner crossed his arms.


Nori almost didn't want to go. He was beginning to enjoy it here. And from the sounds of it, Volkner shared the same sentiment.


August 29th, 2015

Nori was met with a visitor on the 29th. Unlike before, however, this was not someone he had been hoping to see.

"Alola, Nori Carino!" greeted Billy Ordride as he came down to the lobby. For once, recognizing him.

Nori sighed. "What are you doing here?" he asked, his patience already thin. He seemed happy, so maybe he had success for once.

"Just came to thank you for the advice!" the surfer dude said. "Told me to go back to what works best for me. And I figured, what's the thing I do best? Gettin' with chicks, that's what! I'm ripped like a Machoke and got a cock as long and thick as a Diglett the babes love."

"Excuse me." Mrs. Stetcher sternly looked up from her desk. "That is inappropriate language to be using here."

"Oh, sorry! Spat that out. Not reading the waves, y'know?"

"Could you get to the point already, too?" Nori asked.

"So I remember, remembered this teacher babe I was with a couple times. Had a nice crease and good rockers. Called her up, had a couple sick rides, macked around, and now we're getting married!"

"Excuse me?"

"Heh heh, and it's all thanks to you, little bro!" Even as Ordride ruffled his hair, Nori did not respond. "A little Billy's swimmin' in her already. Gonna be a househusband! Maybe I'll try my hand at the typewriter, heh. And we're inviting you to the wedding in a few days!"

"I'm sorry, could you repeat that?"

"We're getting married and you're invited! She's here now, in fact! Come in, babe!" Sure enough, it was his old teacher from West Sunyshore Elementary.

"What the hell?"

"Well, if it isn't Nori," Mrs. DeWood said, as her future husband threw an arm over her, giving her a squeeze on the chest as he did so. "How have you been doing?"

To quote Tono: ridiculous. He looked back into the hall to see Volkner, just as confused as everyone else. The Gym Leader shrugged.

"Good, I guess?" he answered. "I...have to go though. I was in the middle of...a thing."

"Your invitation's right here, dude!" yelled Ordride as he awkwardly shuffled back upstairs. "I'll just hand it to Mr. Gym Leader here. Oh, and here's a pass for you too!"

The boy could only shake his head. He'd attend, but only to be polite. What had he done?


August 31st, 2015

As with last month, Volkner actually came into the Gym for the last two days. He would still be maintaining the Gym's old schedule moving forward, but decided there was no reason not to at least pop in. And personally oversee the slacking maintenance crews. Nori got treated to seeing Volkner yell at foreman Rick, which was a sight to see.

Nori was upstairs listening to the radio in the trainers' lounge, when Volkner stepped inside.

"Hey," the man greeted. "Test results are in."

The Gym Leader handed him the letter. Nori tore it open and had a look. He came up with a smile.

"Aced them! All marks in the 90s!" Now this was more like how he usually did on tests! No, it was even better! "And it looks like they want me to start as soon as possible!"

The Gym Leader smirked his approval. It was official. His training was complete. He was now Nori Carino, Pokemon Rehabilitator!
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Shinobu should have spent more time on training a party that could handle an electric-type gym and less on coming up with innuendos. I felt like I was on the early 2000s internet again.

Billy Ordride returns! I thought he was gone, but no, he's...
...he's...marrying the teacher.
...did you plan this from the start?

But hey, Nori's a rehabiliator! I'm sure that won't end up so dangerous he finds himself missing Kallisto.
Hunter J's gonna kill Pachi in the next story isn't she.
Shinobu should have spent more time on training a party that could handle an electric-type gym and less on coming up with innuendos. I felt like I was on the early 2000s internet again.
Real!Shinobu (probably) isn't a train of these sorts of things, but she does have this sort of wit and sense of humor. Ficcified Shinobu can vary, including my own take - same for Ficcified!Real!Nori who's a blend.

All the battles in the last arc are in some way showing or constrating the fruits of Nori's training. Roger was to show how he can actually enjoy battles for what they are. Billy Ordride was to show how much stronger he is. The mentioned Nori/Eddie vs Alicia/Candice was to show how he can cooperate and work in accord. And this and Nori vs Sofie contrast where he could've ended up if he didn't get character development. Shinobu never took it too serious, and Sofie was mindlessly aggressive. Nori still is laid back and favors power, but they're tempered in the right ways.

To contrast I cut a brief one with Pachi vs. Luxray out (cutting in at Nori losing at the end and Volkner still passing him) since it accomplished nothing but filling in time, and had Volkner instead take Nori's success with Pachi when an acting Gym Trainer as a pass.

Billy Ordride returns! I thought he was gone, but no, he's...
...he's...marrying the teacher.
...did you plan this from the start?
Heh heh heh. Well, I had to show what it is exactly happened for him, too. Biggest plot twist: the joke character/comic relief gets a happy ending. Not the start start, but when I figured out this last arc, yeah.

But hey, Nori's a rehabiliator! I'm sure that won't end up so dangerous he finds himself missing Kallisto.
Hunter J's gonna kill Pachi in the next story isn't she.
I mean next story is a little soon for a twist like that. Wait a while for stuff like that to possibly start happening. But Nori is someone who invites trouble, so I'm sure Bad Stuff will happen.
Two things: Wow, Ordride actually managed to get with Nori's old teacher? Not sure how that'll work out, but here's hoping the two are happy together. And yay, Nori finally got to be a rehabilitator. Can't wait to read the last chapter!
Two things: Wow, Ordride actually managed to get with Nori's old teacher? Not sure how that'll work out, but here's hoping the two are happy together. And yay, Nori finally got to be a rehabilitator. Can't wait to read the last chapter!
Major plot twist, huh? Nori himself seems at least a little mortified. But hey, whirlwind romances! And the finale!
So one thing before I get into the last chapter shortly! I've indeed expanded Month 1 a little, mostly spacing it out more to where it's now four chapters. If you're @Dorothy and still reading, pick up back at January 19th. I've included the old versions of the chapters for archival purposes. A rough changelog:

- The introductions are moved to when Volkner is still around.
- Tono counters that he is the second best Gym Trainer.
- Ollie's battle happens when he suggests it after Kallisto isn't around. Volkner leaves right after.
- Because Lanturn got knocked out, Ollie goes to get it healed before starting on the floors
- Some dialogue rearranged or tweaked to better make sense with the new order (e.g. Nori musing he already fought Ollie, adjusting Eddie's word of advice so it's clear he's talking about things in general).
- Eddie decides to hold off a day to strategize. Nori decides to do what he always does, even if he doesn't know his opponent's Pokemon.
- A little interaction with the Elekid (Elly) as a red herring
- There is an extra scene at the end with Spike, mostly foreshadowing and explaining Nori's views on bullying a little more. It also has some dunking on people who still think the age is ten (while alluding to Nori getting the chance to have Pokemon before then)

- A little bit added to account for needing a bit of a lead-in, including Nori musing that he's fighting a Magneton
- Eddie reacts to Shadow Claw being used for the first time.
- To excuse Kallisto being a day late, I have him explain he caught a cold and didn't want to spread it.
- Kallisto passes his jumper to Tono instead of Ollie, early hint of their friendship.
- Kallisto stops the mocking, although Nori still walks off.
- Nori's musing about Claris not having time for anything is moved to the end of the first target test scene.
- Minor tweak to account for Nori knowing Spike was in his class earlier and accounting for him pondering why Lux was being bullied.
- An extra scene where Nori goes to Volkner about it after, who didn't get a call and just doesn't care when Nori tries to explain. Ends with Nori pondering the consequences beyond getting in trouble.

- A bit of early tweaking, mostly to account for the previous scene, but also having Nori mention he had no regrets sticking up for Lux
- With the Claris bit moved, Nori instead ponders strategy after Kallisto tells him the trick to the target test.
- An extra scene for padding where Nori is woken up on exhibition day by a crash, and briefly chats with Mrs. Stetcher about where Volkner is. He gets challenged by Yuuta on his way out the door, but can't of course with Nidorina in his room.
- Minor tweaks to Nori making friends with Lux to a bit more showing.

- A bit of adjustments to account for Nori hearing about exhibition day sooner and seeing Yuuta earlier
- The entire Lux conversation takes place on the 21st. Added conversation points about Nori inviting him to the Gym directly.

A few additional scenes have been added. Here are all of them so the rest of you don't have to go back and reread.

(This is set during school on the 6th. The Eddie and Kallisto battles were moved to the afternoon, and Nori feeling down about his loss to the 7th.)
January 6th, 2015

Nori had learned yesterday during roll call that Spike was in the same class as him. He kept quiet about his absence, as did the purple-haired boy to his left. He was approached by Spike during recess.

"Hey!" he greeted. "So how'd things go?"

Spike chuckled in satisfaction. "It was totally sick. Check out this killer wristband I got." He held up his left arm to display it, orange with a Pokemon's face pattern.

He nodded. "Nice. Er, did you get in trouble for skipping?"

The spiky-haired boy shrugged. "Parents don't care. Got detention at lunch and after school today, but it's worth it."

Well, if he was happy and felt that way, that was all that mattered. "After school today, me and the Demon are going to have to battle one of the Gym Trainers."

Spike's eyes stretched and he whistled. "Damn, Kallisto Keravnos?"

"No, that Eddie guy. Beaten the other two, haven't met Kallisto yet."

"Should be easier, heh." Another person talking up Kallisto, the boy noted. "Speaking of, gonna get my first Pokemon in a few months. Gonna be sick."

Nori nodded. Some idiots thought you always got Pokemon age ten, but in truth, that was only when you could get a trainer card and participate in things like the League challenge or contests. There were plenty of people who started later than the minimum age like him or Spike, or people who got their Pokemon early...like he actually almost did.

He glanced up at the clock. Just a couple minutes left. Convenient, as there was something else he was curious about. "By the way, who were you talking to yesterday? Know he sits next to me."

"That's just Lux," Spike dismissed. "Don't mind him."

It wasn't lost on Nori that Spike was bullying Lux. Why he was doing so was another question, and one he didn't really care to ask about. It wasn't really his problem right now anyway, and he didn't want to rock the boat too hard at his new school.

Besides, he needed to get mentally prepare for the battle. It was going to be tougher for sure, but Nori was sure he and the Demon could manage. And if Eddie and Tono seemed close in power as their remarks implied, he figured it shouldn't be that much harder.


(This scene is set on the 12th after Nori's fistfight with Spike)

Nori was sure he was going to get in trouble anyway. In fact, he was so certain of it that despite not being asked to go see the principal at school or anything, the first thing he did after going back to the Gym was find Volkner to explain himself.

Thankfully, he wasn't difficult to locate. He was idly sitting on a chair in the arena, engrossed in a car magazine. Making matters easier, the Gym Trainers also weren't around. Nori supposed they were upstairs in the trainer's lounge. So it was just them.

"Volkner?" he called out to him.

"What?" the man tersely asked.

"Did you um, get a call from school or anything?"

The blond man shook his head. "No. Something happen?"

Nori froze up. How was he going to explain this, now that it was out in the open? "Nothing...really important." He cringed as soon as he said that. Absolutely the wrong thing to say. "Well, actually–"

"Whatever," the man dismissed. The boy did not hide his sigh of relief. He supposed his mentor's apathy had some advantages. "Go unpack and get ready."

He went to do just that, while pondering what he had just done. That was his first fight in Sunyshore, something he'd been hoping to avoid doing. Maybe he wasn't going to get in trouble for it, but that didn't mean there weren't going to be consequences...


(This scene is set before exhibition day, added to give M1-3 a little more content)

January 20th, 2015

Nori was woken up early Tuesday morning by a loud crash coming from below. Furthermore, the Gym seemed noisier than usual for a weekday morning. When he was able to pull himself together for long enough to get dressed, he peeked out into the arena before he went to the trainer's lounge to eat breakfast. A few staff members were running around down there. He thought to holler at them to ask what was going on, before figuring he could do that later.

The lounge had all sorts of meals and meal ingredients in its shelves, fridge, and freezer. He decided to heat up a tamago sando to have something quick and easy. There was food for Pokemon as well. The Demon wasn't really enjoying the processed beef and kibbles, particularly against the small rodents he would sometimes take her to hunt, but it was all they had and going to do that at Sunyshore was difficult. At least they had berries too...

When they were both done eating, Nori grabbed a sandwich and drink to take to school, left his Pokemon in his room, grabbed his school supplies, and went downstairs. By the time he did so, there was no longer anybody in the arena. He went out into the lobby. Some congregating staff, but no sign of Volkner.

He approached the head receptionist. An elderly woman who went by Mrs. Stetcher. "Um, where's Volkner?" he inquired.

"Busy," came her to-the-point reply.

"When's he going to be not busy?" he followed up. It was more out of curiosity than anything else. Volkner didn't seem to care about him very much, so it was just wondering.

"Probably not anytime today," she said. "Exhibitions."

The boy shrugged. Whatever that meant, but it seemed he might be getting the day off? "Well, let him know I'm heading off to school now."

"Will do," said the receptionist. With this, Nori made to leave. He gave a nod to a hefty security guard who was watching the door. There was actually a small lineup waiting to get into the Gym.

"Whoa, it's Nori Carino!" said one of them, a woman in her 20s with a Marill sitting on her shoulder. Not an electric Pika, but still made her look like a walking stereotype, Nori thought to himself.

"Hey! Battle me!" said an older teenager with wild green hair. He was clad in jeans as well as a white and blue sweatshirt. "Need a warmup before this afternoon. Came all the way from Eterna."

"Sorry, I can't," he replied. Why this guy came here from all the way across Sinnoh was a question Nori didn't care to have answered. "Nidorina's not with me right now, plus I really have to get going to school!"

The young male groaned, but ultimately shrugged and said it couldn't be helped. With that, they let him get on his way.


(This scene combines Nori's talks with Lux over two days into one and adds a bit of extra content)

January 21st, 2015

Nori and Lux were hanging out near the kindergarten classrooms during lunch hour. As the youngest students only had half-days, it was quiet and empty save for the two of them and the odd student who passed through from the outside. They spent recess and lunch getting to know each other.

What Nori appreciated was that Lux was interested in hearing about the rest of his life, not just the Demon. He was happy that he found someone to be friends with who was kind and accepted him. Lux just seemed happy to have a friend.

"So that's what happened during exhibition day," Nori finished recounting what happened during lunch. He didn't end up battling anyone, but he did learn quite a bit about battling.

"Mhm." Lux wasn't even looking at him.

He tilted his head. "Sorry, was that not interesting?" He wasn't sure if Lux was into Pokemon or not.

"Can I ask you something, Nori?" his friend blurted out.


The purple-haired boy pressed his index fingers together. "Why did you help me?"

There it was, the question he was surprised he hadn't been asked sooner. He put it simply. "I didn't want to do nothing. You were freezing, and they were being dumb." The boy shook his head. "They had no reason to do that, it was too much. I hate those kinds of bullies. They're the worst. Wasn't the first time I stood up to one of them."

Lux slowly nodded. "Were you..." He spoke up, hesitantly. "Bullied yourself?"

Nori blinked at the perceptiveness. "A little," he admitted. "Most stopped bugging me when I yelled or hit back. I'd even stop others' bullies sometimes. But there was this one rich kid, Tarou Daikoka. He hated me. Probably still does. Long story."

"No wonder you're so tough," Lux remarked. "You had to be."

"Guess that's one way of looking at it." He shrugged. He got in trouble sometimes for fighting back (or doing worse), but it was worth it. "Well, enough about me for now. How about you, Lux? What's your life like? And your family?"

The other boy nodded. "My mom's a civil engineer and my dad repairs vacuum cleaners. I'm just, well. Me. I don't think I'm very interesting."

"Heh. I'll be the judge of that," Nori declared, getting a small laugh from Lux. He patted his friend on the shoulder. "I think everyone's interesting, once you get to know them."

Lux smiled. "I guess."

"By the way, what do you like to do, Lux?"

The other boy quickly shook his head. "Nothing, really."

"Come on!" he encouraged. "You have to like something. What do you like?"


"Who doesn't like those? What else?"

"Pokemon, I guess," he said more quietly. "And um..." Nori leaned in closer. "Promise not to laugh at this?"

"I won't."

Lux blurted it out quickly. "I like flowers."

"Really?" Nori had to swallow a chuckle at that. It was at the irony rather than making fun of him, but he said he wouldn't at all. "I bet Monday was actually really fun for you."

"Um, it was. But well, what do you like?" Lux waved it off and changed the subject.

"Oh." If he wanted to, he was fine with that. "Well, I like going outdoors and exploring! Haven't been able do that here, though. I like science, and I like helping people. Oh, and I also like listening to the radio."

Lux's eyes lit up, "Really?" he marveled. "I like the radio too. I really like the radio dramas."

Nori grinned. "Me too! They were all I had back in the trailer. I still do. Been following one called Crime by Starlight lately."

"That's my favorite!" Lux grinned back at him. "They really left off on a cliffhanger with Tybalt last time, didn't they?"

"Yup. Can't wait to see what happens next." Something decisively in common! They were going to have fun talking about this. "Oh yeah, want to come to the Gym on Friday after school?"

It was something of an impulsive thought. Lux froze up on hearing it, taking several seconds to answer, "Mom might not want me going to a...Pokemon Gym."

"But you like Pokemon? Why would your mom not want you hanging out there?"


It seemed he didn't want to get into the specifics. "Well, you don't know if you don't ask," he cheerfully countered.

Lux chuckled. "I guess you're right."
Month 9: September Towards Tomorrow
Whew, and finally at the end of this fic. Thanks to all my readers, quiet and vocal, praising and critical. This fic ran way longer than I wanted, heh. Scope creep happened in a good way. Maybe it was all for the better, however. Lux was the biggest long-term addition that came from it, along with the better defined connections with Arumi and Volkner (and more).

Here's the final chapter! With this, aside from maybe some additional tweaking, this fic is officially complete!


Month 9: September Towards Tomorrow
September 1st, 2015

The wedding took place on the first day of September. It was a small civil ceremony with only a small group of twenty or so friends and family members in attendance. Nori was bored out of his mind. There wasn't anyone remotely close to his age in attendance, and all the conversations were either too adult or too personal for him to get involved in.

The young official hung out with Volkner for most of it, although the Gym Leader was bad at making small talk as usual. There was a stretch of half an hour where Nori had nothing to do but sit around and make him wish he'd brought something to do. But eventually, Volkner came and found him.

"So how are you doing?" Nori asked his mentor.

The man shook his head in derision. "What do you think?"

Nori studied him and thought about it for a moment. "You're bored, you're getting hit on by people you wouldn't touch with gloves and a meter stick, they're talking about petty social stuff, and they think low windshield fluid is a reason to take their car into the shop?"

"And they all drive minivans." Scratching his cheek, the man added, "Except that surfer, but he doesn't even know the model of car he bought. Maybe this one guy. Said he was someone's boss, got defensive and flipped out when I asked him what he drives."

The boy blinked. He was just guessing, but...

"One of Flint's old Gym Trainers is here," said Volkner. "Quit because of Sofie. Most interesting person to talk to, but he had to get back to helping with the ceremony."

Speaking of which. "I've never seen a wedding like this before. Well, actually, I've never seen one at all besides TV and radio."

"It's Gautama-style."

Nori tilted his head. "What's that?"

"Religious subset." The man took a sip of his drink. "Their weddings are more relaxed. Not lavish like Iseuan-styles, or formal like Kodo-styles."

"I don't know what those are, and am surprised you know." Didn't Volkner say he was atheist?

Volkner shrugged. "Had to attend a few weddings before. Gautama-style ones are first and foremost about celebrating love in a spiritual and emotional sense. But they can otherwise differ from even each other."

Nori nodded. "I guess that explains people going up and reciting quotes."

"It's common in this style. This one doesn't have the religious aspects, though. Isn't as theatrical, either."

"Well, I guess I can be happy for the couple."

"All it takes."

Internally, Nori was breathing a sigh of relief, and he sure Volkner was too. He'd probably have left early no matter what if they were pushing gods on them. It'd be way too weird.

"Hello there, you two," came the voice of Mrs. DeWood. "Enjoying the party?"

The bride approached them with a sunny smile. She was clad in an elegant dress that reached to her ankles, tied at the waist and with a shield-shaped patch on her left shoulder. The dazzling scarlet seemed like it wanted to leap off the fabric, contained only by the green and white frills. She wore high heels and more jewelry than a princess: crystal earrings, a pearl necklace, a sparkling ruby tiara holding her blonde hair up in a ponytail, an X-shaped bracelet on her right hand, and an expensive watch on the left.

"What does it look like?" Volkner snipped, tapping his foot.

His former teacher chuckled. "Well, thanks for taking the time out of your day to come anyway."

"Not like I had anything better to do..." the man muttered, half-turning. The Gym was still closed for a few days yet. "Hope you liked the gift. He picked it out."

Volkner had deferred to him to get something for the reception. Nori chose a breadmaker. "I'm sure we'll get some use out of it," his old teacher replied.

"I tried for a practical gift." Why get something like flowers when they wouldn't last? Better to get something that could last, like the marriage hopefully would. "I am surprised you're marrying him, though." He blurted out his thoughts before realizing he probably shouldn't have. "Oh, um, I didn't mean anything from that."

She laughed. "Don't be, I'm surprised too. I've had all sorts of flings, but I never thought one would turn into a whirlwind romance."

"Curious, you get wedding bands?" asked Volkner, eying her fingers.

"We decided we didn't need them. Last husband proved to me what good they are." Mrs. DeWood grumbled.

Nori tilted his head. "Wait, no rings?"

"It's a western tradition," Volkner remarked. "Probably some of them would find it insane some cultures don't exchange them. Or things like the bride and groom seeing each other before the ceremony." Yes, Nori would have to agree there.

The blonde woman smiled. "But Billy has a sensitive side like you wouldn't believe. He can take care of himself and the kids. And being a good lover helps."

Volkner turned to him. "What did you say when you caught them screwing when he worked at the Gym, Nori?"

"I thought she was being murdered?"

"Yeah, that's it."

Mrs. DeWood laughed. "Well, at least you got to see an older woman's tits."

Nori buried his face in his palms. "And I didn't need to see that, let alone his ass, not for even that split second. Can we get off this subject?" Was this really appropriate for a teacher to be talking to her former student with, too? Sure, she was strict in class, but he preferred the less shameless side of her.

"Well," his former teacher said. "The point I'm trying to make here is, if you don't step forward and take a chance on love, you won't find any. Lots of young people never even try."

"That's why birth rates are so down..." Volkner muttered.

"I guess. But what if your marriage doesn't work out?" She seemed a little hasty about this. Nori even had to agree with Kallisto's caution with relationships, before he completely lost his mind and got with that cheerleader.

She smirked. "I get divorce money," she said with a haughty laugh.

Nori shook his head. "That's not really encouraging..."

"Anyway," she changed the subject. "How are you doing these days?"

"Better. Don't need to say why."

Mrs. DeWood laughed. "I always knew you were a troublemaker."

"And I always thought you were a crummy teacher!" he snapped back.

She crossed her arms, although kept her good cheer. "I figured. Just try not to drive your tutors too crazy."

"Good luck with that," Volkner remarked.

"Oh, come on! Not you too!"

"I mean it as a compliment," the man remarked. How could it be a compliment?!

Mrs. DeWood checked her watch. "Well, looks like it's about time for the ceremony. I should go get ready. It was nice chatting with you."

"Yeah, I guess it was." It was weird seeing one of his teachers outside of school, but as much as he did still have a few hard feelings, it wasn't unpleasant. And she was sort of making sense with some of the stuff she was saying.

"Good luck," Volkner remarked. With a nod, Mrs. DeWood walked to the back for her final prep. As soon as she was out of earshot, he grumbled, "Damn dress looks like Christmas."

"Maybe with the colors?" He didn't think it was weird. At least it was creative and not plain white. "Well, nothing to do but wait, huh?"

"We'll have to head back after they're wed. I have a meeting to get to."

Nori tilted his head. "That's the first I've heard of it."

Taking a sip of his drink, the man elaborated, "I just scheduled it now. But trust me when I say it's extremely important."

Oh, that sort of meeting. Nori couldn't blame him. He wouldn't mind staying, but the Gym Leader was his ride back home–no, the Gym. He almost thought home, and in a way, it was for the past eight months. While he would get to see everyone back in Veilstone again, he would be leaving all the people he met in Sunyshore behind...

Pushing that out of his mind, Nori couldn't help but shake his head at what Mrs. DeWood had said. Jumping into love impulsively seemed like a recipe for disaster. He'd never forgotten that, even when there was the temptation to find someone out of spite. Still, he could see where she was coming from. If he'd been more open with Claris Willins, for example. Maybe she did have a point...within reason.


September 4th, 2015

Over the next couple days, Nori slipped in some training as well as doing a little bit of sleuthing, otherwise relaxing. Over the course of it, he was given information on what would be happening when he moved back to Veilstone.

He was going to receive an Officials' ID badge and radio phone in short order. He was likely going to get his first assignment within the month, and would have to report into a senior official every week to update them on his progress. In regards to education, he would attend school for the remainder of seventh year, before being given condensed classes from then on. And eventually - and much to his surprise - he would be given a small home where he could live and train his Pokemon.

Nori was slated to leave Sunyshore Gym on the 4th. The staff held a small going away party for him the day before, where he was able to say goodbye to everyone. He woke up early, walking through the Gym one final time. It was going to be weird moving back into a cramped trailer after this. His room was bigger than the vehicle, and he had plenty of privacy and space to walk around in or let his Pokemon get exercise. At least with his salary, he'd be able to eat better at home. It was probably going be even weirder living on his own when it came to that, however.


Nori turned to face Volkner. "Hello."

There was an awkward silence between them that even the Gym Pokemon seemed to pick up on. Pachi looked out at them sadly. No doubt, every one of them knew they were leaving. Nori had barely noticed them sometimes, but it was apparent they were noticing him. And they knew the time had finally come.

"So this is it..." the Gym Leader said.

"Yeah. I'm going to miss this place and everyone here. The people, the Pokemon. It's going to be so weird moving back home."

"Same. I'm...you know..." Volkner turned away. "Not good at this."

Nori could only chuckle softly. Not only had he changed and grown during his eight months at Sunyshore Gym, the same could be said about many of the people around him - the Gym Leader being no exception. And yet, he was still the same Volkner Denzi in other regards.

The man looked up at the wall. "It's about time. Let's get moving."

With a nod, Nori followed the Gym Leader downstairs. As he did so, some of the Pokemon waved or said their goodbyes. Elly in particular came right up to them, waiting by the stairs. She and Pachi had a brief conversation, after which she reluctantly let them pass.

As Nori went downstairs, he found nearly the entire Gym staff waiting in the stairwell area. They clapped and applauded him. The boy lightly blushed at the praise.

"I just know you're going to do well, Nor'!" came the voice of a suspicious new janitor. She came right up, waving her hand.

"Did you really need to dress up, or are you actually working here?" he asked Arumi.

"Just dressing up," she admitted with a shrug. "Wanted to surprise you by seeing you off, that's all."

"Thank you. I'll let you know when I'm back home." He raised his fist, and she bumped it. He wasn't sure how often given he didn't have internet back home, but maybe he could find a place that did. He turned to the rest of the staff. "And thanks to the rest of you. Bye, see you around!"

They applauded once more and said bye in return as he left for the garage with Volkner and Pachi. It was a comfort to know that at the end of the day, most of the Gym Staff didn't hate him.

It deserved infinite repeating, but no matter some of the bad memories he had, he was going to miss Sunyshore.


It was late in the morning when they arrived at the bus depot. It was the first place he stepped foot into Sunyshore City, and the place he would be leaving it from.

Volkner walked with him to the terminal, as silent as he was during the drive. Whenever he tried to speak, the Gym Leader ignored him or turned away. Eventually, Nori understood. This was harder for Volkner than he let on.

As they came to the boarding area, Nori paused. He glanced down the long hallway that led to the back parking lot where all the buses were. "I guess this is goodbye," he said as he turned to Volkner, a heavy heart weighing him down.

"It's not. You know how to reach me," the Gym Leader dismissively brushed off. "Call or email if you need advice. Or...y'know...just want to talk."

Nori suppressed his laughter. "I will."

Volkner sighed. "Won't be the same without you," he remarked with honesty.

The boy tapped his chin. "Maybe I'll come visit when I can. I'm sure Arumi would want to see me from time to time, too."

"Do what you want," the man replied. He turned away and covered his mouth, likely containing a smile.

Nori closed his eyes, wondering if he could get a bigger reaction. He wanted to say some of these things anyway. "Thank you for everything, Volkner. I don't know if I could've made it through this without you."

That did it. Volkner turned to him with a genuine smile - something he had rarely seen out of the man. "You're welcome, Nori. Heh, never thought I'd be getting all sappy about this." After a brief pause, he said, "Owe you just as much. Hate some of it, but in a better spot than I was eight months ago."

Nori stuck out his hand, much like he did when they first met. Volkner surprised him by instead pulling him into a brief hug, almost fatherly in nature.

"Take care of yourself," the Gym Leader said, clapping him on the back before he let go. "And try not to stir shit up too much."

"No promises, but I'll keep that in mind."

"Now get outta here." The man spun him around. "Got one minute to board."

Nori looked up at the wall clock. 10:59. "Ah! You're right! Gotta run, thanks for everything again, bye!"

He ran as fast as his legs could carry him, spurred on by Volkner's laughter.


The ride back home went very smoothly, with no traffic or inclement weather to slow the bus' progress down. As Pokemon weren't allowed in the vehicle, Nori decided to read the book Mrs. Stetcher had bought for him in between taking in the sights of Sinnoh's wilderness once more. Maybe he would never go on a proper journey, but nature's beauty did intrigue him. Perhaps instead of driving to Sunyshore to visit or anything, he'd go there on foot. It would be a taste of what traveling trainers got to experience.

It was around 6:00pm by the time the bus arrived at the depot, the first thing Nori did after leaving the vehicle was stretch. The second thing he did was let Pachi out of his Poke Ball. The little squirrel ran in circles around him after he did so. The boy chuckled.

"Guess you're happy to get out, huh?" he remarked, to which his Pokemon nodded. "Well, let's head home. Not sure if you're going to like it there, but..." He ruffled his hair. There wasn't much upside about it. "But let's get moving."

With a nod, Pachi hopped out in front, eager to get going. Nori smiled, walking alongside his Pokemon.

As they got into the lobby, they were met with a surprise. Someone who had been waiting for him.


He was not expecting his mom to be waiting to meet him. She put her hands on her hips. "Nori Carino. We have a lot to talk about."

Nori sighed and shook his head. "I know." He knew they were going to have this talk when he got back. He just hoped he'd have a little more time to think about it.

His mom's expression gave way to a smile. This was even before Pachi leaned forward and started wagging his tail, peering at her with sparkling eyes. "But for now, let's head back home."

As she motioned to set off, Nori breathed the faintest sigh of relief. That meant he wasn't getting in trouble, at least. If he was, she would've let him have it right there in the bus depot. That was one of the big things he needed to sort out taken care of.

There were moments over the past eight months that Nori thought he'd never return to Veilstone, at least not with his head held high. Now that he was back, there was so much he wanted to do. He wanted to show Pachi all around the city. He wanted to have fun exploring around on his skateboard. The Demon would no doubt want to battle people, and Pachi would certainly want in on it too. He'd certainly be getting his first assignment soon, too.

He would have to go somewhere else to use his laptop's internet to talk to Arumi and Volkner and others. Maybe he could find Betsy-Ann too if he was lucky. He'd have to go see Rashid when he could, and would have to visit Prema too. And there was Maylene too, wherever in the city she lived these days. With any luck, she'd come and see him, but if not, he had a couple ideas on how to find her. He probably had more to talk about with her than anyone except his mom...and Lux. Nori was still holding out hope he and Lux could reunite someday. Now that he was back home and not super busy, he planned to write a letter to his friend as soon as he could!

There was so much in front of him, and so many other possibilities waiting. He was so excited about it that he worried about being able to get to sleep. It may have been the end of his time in-training, but now that he was Nori Carino: Pokemon Rehabilitator, his story was only beginning.


The ending arc went mostly to plan, although the idea to catch up on virtually everyone of even minor importance (who I could remember) only came to me later. Some of it was subtle, particularly those I had no real place for like Diane or Tai Ying (or in Kimmy's case, being illogical).

There were only minor dropped and inserted scenes throughout. For example, a brief summarized having Pachi battle against Volkner as a "final exam" dropped in favor of him judging his performance as an acting Gym Trainer. Also, the final scene was Nori seeing Maylene, but decided to go in a different direction.

The next fics in the series already have five and part of six chapters each completed in them. In Nori Carino: Blade of the Blackout Killer, the young official will receive his first assignment, a sadistic Pawniard once belonging to a serial killer. In Prema Kannagi: Memory of a Ghoul, the shrine priestess will perform an exorcism, a task that turns out to be far more arduous than anticipated. Smaller in scale than this one, don't have another longfic in me for a while.
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So one thing before I get into the last chapter shortly! I've indeed expanded Month 1 a little, mostly spacing it out more to where it's now four chapters. If you're @Dorothy and still reading, pick up back at January 19th.
Still am, as much as a full-time job as an overburdened legal professional allows me...
Congratulations on finishing! I'll have way more to write when it's not an hour to midnight here, but for now I'll just make one note:
I am so relieved nothing terrible happened to Pachi.
Still am, as much as a full-time job as an overburdened legal professional allows me...
The pains of work. Just thought I'd ping you just in case, since with how things are rearranged now, M1-3 is mostly stuff you've already read except for a couple scenes at the end.

Congratulations on finishing! I'll have way more to write when it's not an hour to midnight here, but for now I'll just make one note:
I am so relieved nothing terrible happened to Pachi.
Looking forward to it.

I mean, Pachi did have to say goodbye to everyone and won't have as much room to run around and play in the trailer! But, small inconveniences compared to the horrific things you were probably imagining.
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