Chapter 1: When Red Eyes Meet
It was long ago been agreed upon that, in the event of Steven Stone seemingly vanishing from the face of the Earth as he so often does, no man is permitted to search for him unless he explicitly and clearly communicates that he is in need of help.
Roxanne Stein is many things -- Rock-type user, aspiring Pokémon Trainer, and Gym Leader of Rustboro City -- but a man is certainly not one.
This is why she is knee-deep in soot and ash in Meteor Falls.
She hasn’t been to Meteor Falls in quite some time -- in fact, she hasn’t been here since her “edgy Dragon-type phase” as a teen, as she calls it now. Gosh, she cringes just thinking about it. Still, she shines her torch around, illuminating the caves. “Steven?” she calls hopefully. “Steven, where are you?”
She receives no response and groans, trying with little success to brush the mountains of dust off of her skirt as she continues to walk. “Steven,” she calls. “If you’re in here then it’s time to come out. Wallace is panicking.”
She does not see why Wallace is panicking -- it has only been a week since he was last seen, and he has been gone for longer times with less powerful Pokémon to defend him -- but when the Water-type user had called her three times in a panic she was left with no choice but to search.
“Steven!” she calls. “Steven, where are you?”
She is given no response.
Then she sees a human-like shadow.
For a second she’s relieved but then she realizes the hair looks nothing like Steven’s -- it’s a little longer and it does not spike up in the same way. It’s also jet black, a sort of charcoal-y color that blends in with the rock walls in the low light, while Steven’s silver locks practically glowed. This person is also wearing a Draconid cape, whilst Steven could never be seen in such clothing.
The person turns, and Roxanne can see that it’s a woman. A familiar woman. A woman she hasn’t seen since last year, when her face was all over the news along with stories of the meteor crisis.
“Zinnia,” she says softly.
“That’s me!” says Zinnia. “And you would be Roxanne?”
There’s a hint of disdain in her voice, but that’s to be expected. Some people believe respect is given by default, and some believe it is earned. Zinnia believes it is given to Dragon-type users and earned for everyone else. Roxanne is somewhat well-known, at least in the area around Rustboro, as a Rock-type user.
Still, she gives a determined nod. She looks up, at Zinnia’s face, and their red eyes meet.
“I’m looking for Steven Stone,” she says, as confidently as she can.
Zinnia pauses. “He’s not here.”
“Wh-What?” That can’t be the case. She’s already gotten Brawly to check Granite Cave and Steven’s neighbors, Tate and Liza, to check Shoal Cave. Where else could he be?
“I would know if he was here,” confirms Zinnia, and Roxanne’s red eyes stare into hers, her lips burning with the unspoken question:
If not here, then where is he?
She tries, even though she knows Zinnia probably won’t know. “Do you know where he would be, then?”
“No,” responds Zinnia, but she’s grinning, and she has a glint in her eye that makes it clear she knows more than she’s letting on. Zinnia always knows more than she’s letting on.
“Are you sure?”
“Yes.” There’s hesitation in the air as she contemplates continuing, as she tries to figure out whether Roxanne knows. “Well…”
“Tell me.” Roxanne’s voice is confident and assertive, and suddenly she’s not third youngest Gym Leader in all of Hoenn, an unsure Trainer that only graduated a few years ago. Suddenly she’s a renowned scholar.
Zinnia does not look intimidated, but she continues anyway. “Do you have any Water-type Pokémon?”
“I have a Relicanth that I use when I need to cross bodies of water sometimes.”
Zinnia’s grin widens. “Your Relicanth will know what to do.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“Exactly what I said.” She hesitates. “How much do you know about ancient Draconid lore?”
“Not as much as I’d like to. It’s hard to find books on the subject in libraries.”
Zinnia laughs, and Roxanne glares slightly. She just wants to find Steven so Wallace can stop freaking out. That’s the only reason. She’s not worried about Steven at all. He’s been gone for longer than a week before.
“Roxanne,” says Zinnia. “There are some things you don’t learn through books.”
“Then how do I learn it?”
“Simple. You go to Pacifidlog, with your Relicanth, then send it out and see where it takes you.”
Roxanne hesitates. “Why should I trust you?”
“I think you know the answer to that.” She pauses. “Oh, and you might wanna bring a stronger Trainer with you, in case anything goes wrong.”
Her condescending tone is not lost on the younger Trainer, and while Roxanne is slightly insulted by the implication that she can’t defend herself -- she is a Gym Leader, after all -- she can’t deny that Wallace’s panic combined with Zinnia’s vague wording is starting to make her anxious. “Would you come with me?”
Zinnia shakes her head. “I have no interest in the Ice-types that could harm or kill my own Pokémon, nor do I care for the Rock-types and Steel-types that drew you away from Dragon-types.”
“What do Ice-types, Rock-types, and Steel-types have to do with this?”
She grins. “You’ll see, Roxanne. You’ll see.”
And she’s right. Roxanne will see.
Roxanne sighs, and as she looks down, her red eyes finally break contact with Zinnia’s. “I’ll go now, then. Bye.”
“So he wasn’t there, but you did find a Draconid woman who helped save the world from a meteor last year who gave you incredibly vague instructions to go to Pacifidlog and make your Relicanth take you somewhere?”
Roxanne sighs into her PokéNav Plus; it sounded unusual at the time, but hearing Wallace say it like that makes her feel like a madman and a fool. “Yes, in a nutshell. I was wondering if you would be willing to come with me?”
“I don’t suppose I have much choice in the matter, do I?”
“My niece is performing in a contest at nine tomorrow. I’ll meet you in Pacifidlog after she’s finished.”
Chapter 2: You Can't Breathe … And Then Suddenly You Can
Autistic!Steven, Nonbinary!Wallace who uses they/them pronouns, and Roxanne and Steven being childhood friends?!?! In MY fanfiction?!?!
It's more likely than you think.
It’s a little after ten when Wallace arrives in Pacifidlog and it only takes a few seconds of searching to find Roxanne. They adjust their white hat so that it contains their teal locks, knowing well that getting salty water in their hair is something they ought to avoid.
“Do you have your Relicanth?” they ask.
She nods, sending said Pokémon out. She lets go of it and it jumps into the water. She’s about to get on it when Wallace holds her back. “It’s too small to carry you in harsh waters like this. I have a Pokémon large enough for us both to ride on. We’ll just follow the Relicanth.”
“Okay, thanks,” she says, and Wallace takes out a Poké Ball. They send out a Wailord and Roxanne’s red eyes widen. It’s a lot bigger than she expected.
Still, Wallace gets on and she does the same. Relicanth starts swimming and Wailord follows.
The group swims through Routes 132 and 133 with ease and they're halfway through Route 134 when Relicanth pauses. It looks up at Roxanne, and dives.
She groans. “Now how do we follow it?”
Wallace hesitates. “How skilled are you at swimming?”
“Not very…” She can swim, unlike her silver-haired childhood friend that's the reason for her being here in the first place, but there's no doubt in her mind that Wallace, as a Water-type user, is probably much better than her.
“That's okay, Wailord will take us down then.” They take her hand and grip it tightly. “Take a deep breath.”
She takes a deep breath, and holds it. They do the same and then nudge Wailord, and within the second they're submerged.
Roxanne can't see. She closes her eyes to stop the salt water from stinging and hopes Wallace and Wailord can be trusted. Her lungs are burning, begging her for air. She can't breathe.
And then suddenly she can.
She kneels on the rock floor, gasping for air and shivering. She's soaking wet. Wallace is too, but they don't seem to notice. They stand up straight away as though they hadn't just been deprived of oxygen, and it's clear they have practice in this.
They reach up to adjust their white hat and realize it's gone; they must have lost it in the dive. Their teal locks are a mess but there's not much they can do about that right now.
They return Wailord to its Poké Ball and look around. Relicanth is lying on the ground. They're in a cave. To their left is a door to another room in the cave. They hesitate, then pick up Relicanth and turn to Roxanne.
She's still recovering from the dive. They hold Relicanth in one hand and use the other to help her up. Still shaking, she takes her Relicanth back.
“Are you okay?” asks Wallace.
“Yeah, just… shaken.” She turns to the door. “Should we …?”
“I think so.”
Wallace, quicker than the younger Gym Leader to recover from the dive, takes the lead, with Roxanne immediately behind them. The two walk into the room and immediately gasp in shock.
Steven Stone is gasping for air, using one hand to steady himself against the cave wall while the other clutches his forehead, red liquid slowly pouring between his fingers.
Wallace is in a blind panic. The only things going through their head are Steven's hurt and Steven’s bleeding. “Steven!” they yelp, running over to him, grabbing his arms to prevent him from falling. Roxanne is wondering what happened to him, but Wallace doesn't have any room for that question, the fact that their boyfriend is hurt filling their mind completely. They need to do something, they need to help him!
Their Milotic knows Aqua Ring. Aqua Ring is a healing move! They don't have time to ask if it will help. They just grab the Poké Ball in their right-hand pocket and throw it open. “Milotic, use --”
They pause. That's not a Milotic.
Normally they keep Milotic in their right-hand pocket and other Pokémon in their left, but today they put Wailord in their right-hand pocket for easy access.
They're about to return Wailord when they hear a deafening rumbling noise and the ground shakes beneath them. Steven’s knees buckle and Wallace drops Wailord’s Poké Ball to hold him up.
Steven is holding onto Wallace for dear life. The gash on his forehead hurts, the noise filling the cave hurts, the ground quaking beneath his feet hurts. It's too much, it's overwhelming him. He's on the verge of tears. He can't breathe.
And suddenly he can.
The noise has stopped, the ground has stopped moving. He's safe, he's okay, Wallace is here.
He sinks to the ground and accidentally pulls Wallace down with him, not realizing the teal-haired Gym Leader is still holding his arms. Wallace sits down next to him, putting an arm around his shoulders.
Roxanne, who had been too focused on keeping herself from falling when the ground shook to think of Steven and Wallace, looks over at the two and immediately feels a wave of guilt wash over her. She's been friends with Steven since she was three, she knows what's coming.
“Steven, what happened to your head?” she asks hopefully, but when he gives no response her worst fears are confirmed. Wallace returns Wailord to its Poké Ball as she runs over to him, sitting down next to him against the wall. Her mind is still full of questions, questions about what happened to him in the first place and what he was doing here and where he had been for the past week, but she knows that the worst possible thing she could do right now is overwhelm him with questions, questions he probably isn’t capable of answering.
“Steven, it’s okay,” says Wallace, breaking the silence with their soft voice. “It’s okay, I’m here now.”
Tears start to leak out of Steven’s eyes and Wallace feels like they’ve just been stabbed in the heart. How long had Steven been in this cave before they came? How long had he been injured? Scared? Wishing Wallace would come to save him?
“W-Wallace?” he whimpers quietly.
Wallace is caught by surprise; Steven is rarely able to talk when he’s in a state like this. “Yes?”
“I… I want to go home.”
Chapter 3: Zinnia? More Like Sin-nia
Suddenly something clicks in Wallace’s mind. Of course he wants to go home. Has he been stuck here for the past week?! They knew they shouldn’t have waited so long before searching.
“It’s okay, we’ll get you home,” they say soothingly, though how they plan to get him home is a mystery. “What Pokémon do you have with you?”
“E-Empoleon,” he begins, which confuses Wallace. They didn’t know Steven had an Empoleon. Still, they can ask him about it later. Right now they don’t want to overwhelm him, so they nod to gesture for him to continue. “Meta...Metagross, and Skarmory. And … and Aggron.”
Wallace nods. They’re formulating a plan. Wailord can get them out of the cave, and Skarmory can fly them to Mossdeep. Is three people too many for a Skarmory? Steven’s Pokémon are exceptionally strong, so it will probably be fine. They stand up and hold out their hand to Steven. Steven raises his left hand to the cut on his forehead and grabs Wallace’s with the other, standing up. Next to them, Roxanne is already standing.
“What happened to your head?” they ask.
“I...I d-don’t know…” he stutters, his grip on Wallace’s hand tightening, and their heart speeds up.
“It’s okay, Steven, it’s okay. Can you let me see?”
Slowly, he moves his hand away from the cut, wiping his bloodstained hand on his trousers. Wallace brushes a lock of silver hair away from the wound so they can get a proper look. It’s deep, but not frighteningly so; they’ll have to make sure he sees a doctor about it at some point but it’s probably not hospital-worthy.
“Okay, thanks for letting me see. Come on, we’re going back to Mossdeep.”
They step forward, and Steven does the same. The two, along with Roxanne, walk back to the entrance to the cave. Roxanne returns her Relicanth to its Poké Ball as Wallace sends their Wailord out. Steven whimpers slightly, gripping Wallace’s hand tightly.
“It’s okay,” assures Wallace. “You’ll only have to be underwater for a few seconds.”
Roxanne is about to correct them when she decides not to. Steven slowly, nervously, nods.
Wallace guides him onto the Wailord’s back and Roxanne follows behind the two. Steven wraps his arms around Wallace’s torso and takes a deep breath, and the next thing he knows there’s water everywhere. It’s in his hair, his ears, his nostrils, stinging his eyes no matter how tightly he keeps them shut and drenching the fabric of his clothes. Saltwater gets into the gash on his forehead and creates a stinging sensation that makes him want to throw something but there’s nothing to throw and so he has to settle for holding onto Wallace like his life depends on it.
What feels like an eternity later, Wailord breaks the surface and he gasps for air.
The next thing he knows he’s sobbing into Wallace’s shoulder uncontrollably.
Wallace bites their lip. “Shh, Steven, it’s okay…”
“It’s going to be okay. Can you send out your Skarmory?”
He nods, fumbling in the pocket of his jacket until he finds the Poké Ball. He throws it into the air and it splits open, his Skarmory flying in the air.
Wallace turns to Roxanne. “Roxanne, would you mind if I take him on Skarmory and you use my Wailord to get home?”
“Uh, sure. I’ll give it back some other time.”
“Thanks.” They grip Steven’s arms, standing up and helping their silver-haired boyfriend to do the same. With their help, he climbs onto Skarmory and they get on behind him. Wallace glances back at Roxanne. “Again, thank you and goodbye.”
And with that, they fly off.
His eyes open and he looks around. He’s in bed. Wallace is sitting next to him, running their hand through his silver hair. He gives them a questioning look and they explain. “You fell asleep on the way home.”
His eyes widen. Wallace had to carry him inside, after having already gone all the way to the Sealed Chamber to find him. “I’m sorry --”
“Don’t say that. You were exhausted.” They sigh. “Now tell me what happened.”
“Um…” He hesitates. “I wanted to explore the Sealed Chamber, so I asked Cynthia to send me an Empoleon from Sinnoh so I could dive down there. So, I went down there, and … I was sort of at a dead end. I could tell it was a two-room cave, but no matter what I tried I couldn’t find a way to the next room. Eventually, I tried using Dig, and … it just sort of opened.”
“And … your head?”
“That’s where it starts to get fuzzy. I … I think there was something white and yellow?”
They sigh again. “I don’t think it’s safe to send anyone down there until we know what’s going on. Just … be careful, alright?”
“I will, I promise. Sorry for not informing you.”
“You never inform me when you’re going spelunking.” Their eyes move up to the gash on his forehead. “I think you ought to see a doctor about that wound. Do you want to go now, or do you need more time to rest?”
He tries to sit up but suddenly his muscles refuse to cooperate. “Just a little more time.”
Roxanne Stein is many things, but she is first and foremost a Rock-type Gym Leader. So it makes sense, at least to her, that when she looks out the window two weeks after the incident in the Sealed Chamber and sees that it is hailing, her first thought is to walk outside holding her trusty frying pan over her head as a shield from the pieces of ice.
Her second thought is to look for an Ice-type Pokémon -- it is the middle of Hoennian Summer and it is currently thirty-seven degrees Celsius in Rustboro, much too hot for hail.
Instead, she sees a familiar face.
Zinnia turns to face Roxanne, and her expression is one of amusement. “Hey, Roxy, can I tell ya something?”
She glares; only Steven and Mr. Stone call her Roxy. “What?”
“You’re a huge dumbass.”
Roxanne does a double take. “Umm, excuse me?”
“You brought a Wailord?! To the Sealed Chamber?! Gosh, I thought you knew all this stuff…”
“You’re being quite condescending.”
She laughs. “You’ll figure it out soon enough, Roxy.”
Chapter 4: All Hail Zinnia
The Hoenn Elite Four, at least at this point in time, consists of the Dark-type user Sidney, the Ghost-type user Phoebe, the Ice-type user Glacia, the Dragon-type user Drake, and the Champion, Steven Stone, who has a preference for Steel-types but also uses multiple Rock-types in his team.
This particular type set up means that, with the rare exception of a Trainer challenging them, there are usually no Fire-type Pokémon in Ever Grande City.
Despite this fact, right now, in Ever Grande, things are quite quickly getting heated.
“Are you fucking with me right now?!”
Phoebe’s voice, considerably louder and angrier than normal, fills the room as she paces furiously. She stops pacing and glares at Glacia. “This is just petty!”
“This isn’t my doing!” protests Glacia. She’s angry too. She feels attacked.
“Glacia, it’s forty-one degrees Celsius and you’re trying to tell me it’s naturally hailing?!” She sighs, grasping the bridge of her nose in frustration. “This is because I mentioned my girlfriend, isn’t it?”
“What?!” chokes Glacia. “Just because I don’t necessarily approve of your lifestyle, does not mean I would do something like this to punish you!”
“Then why is it hailing in Hoennian summer?” asks Drake.
At that moment, the door swings open. It’s Steven Stone, the Champion of Hoenn. He’s soaking wet, shivering slightly from the cold and sporting a noticeable bruise on his face from where a large piece of ice hit him.
He must have heard their arguments, because he says, “It’s not Glacia.”
“How do you know?”
“Because it’s hailing all over Hoenn.”
Sidney groans and gets out of his chair in favor of pacing anxiously. “Fucking shit!” he yells, much louder than Phoebe was previously yelling.
Glacia raises an eyebrow. “Must you insist on swearing like a sailor?”
Drake is indignant. “Fucking excuse me, bitch? I don’t motherfucking talk like that and I’m an actual fucking sailor.”
Phoebe still does not believe it. “All over Hoenn? You’re kidding, it’s summer!”
“I checked with all of the Gym Leaders. It’s everywhere.” The sound of chunks of ice hitting the roof gets louder and he clasps the bridge of his nose. “We have to do something.”
“Hey, I’m not sending out my Dragon-types in this weather,” says Drake. “Who else has Pokémon that can fly but aren’t weak to ice?”
“My Skarmory and Metagross should be alright,” answers Steven.
“Where are we going to go?” asks Phoebe.
“The hail is especially bad in Rustboro, Dewford, and Petalburg. Sidney, Drake, you to head to Dewford. Phoebe, Glacia, you’re in charge of Petalburg.”
“And Rustboro?” asks Glacia.
He smiles slightly. “I have a plan for that.”
At the moment, in Petalburg City, the hail is getting so bad that the Gym Leader has formally ordered that everybody needs to stay inside for their own safety until it stops.
May and Lisia have other problems.
Lisia is pacing around in Petalburg Gym. “How am I supposed to get a fake boyfriend when I can’t even go outside?!” she chokes.
Norman raises an eyebrow; he’s known Lisia is dating his daughter for a while, but this is the first he’s heard of a fake boyfriend. “Why are you looking for a fake boyfriend?”
“She’s having a homophobic grandpa emergency,” explains May. “She mentioned that she was dating someone and now she has to bring her boyfriend to dinner with her family on Saturday.” She turns to the teal-haired girl. “Have you tried asking Chaz?”
“My family already knows he has a girlfriend. Won’t work.”
“He didn’t want to.”
“I feel like a better question would be where he is.”
“May!” snaps Lisia. She groans. “Ugh, I am so screwed if I can’t find a boyfriend.”
She looks out the window and sees two women, a dark-skinned girl with short hair and a pale blonde woman. She groans. “They can’t be my fake boyfriend, they’re both too old.”
“Hmm?” Norman looks out the window. “Oh good, Steven said he’d be sending the Elites. You two stay inside while I talk to them.”
And with that, he leaves.
There are many sounds Steven finds overwhelming. Hail is one of them, and hail on a frying pan specifically is a sound that makes him want to cut his ears off.
He and Wallace happen to be in Rustboro at the moment, and Roxanne is also there, using her trusty frying pan as a shield. He groans. “Roxanne, why do you have that pan?”
“I’m using my trusty frying pan as a drying pan!” the Rock-type Gym Leader explains.
“Perhaps we should go inside to discuss this?” suggests Wallace.
Steven nods. “Let’s go to the Gym.”
He does not wait for confirmation before he starts speed walking toward the Gym. He just wants to get inside. He’s getting positively pelted by pieces of ice and he has been since he got up and left his house in Mossdeep and he could really do with a chance to sit down and rest and maybe have a nice cup of coffee.
He still forces himself to hold the door open for Roxanne and Wallace, because he knows that’s the polite thing to do, but he does not bother to close it properly; he lets it swing shut on its own.
He’s about to ask the obvious question -- that is, does Roxanne know anything about the hail -- when he hears yet another noise that makes him want to throw something. It’s Wallace’s PokéNav Plus, ringing loudly. They quickly answer it, holding the device to their ear. “Lisia? … I’m in Rustboro with Steven and Roxanne, we’re trying to figure out the hail. Where are you? … Okay, stay where you are and do what Norman says --”
There’s a pause as Lisia speaks and Wallace’s face develops a confused look. “Why do you need a fake boyfriend?”
Lisia says something else and Wallace groans. “I forgot about that. Look, I’ll help you get a fake boyfriend once we’ve dealt with this weather, okay? Bye.”
They hang up and put the device back in their pocket. “So,” asks Steven. “Do you happen to know anything about this?”
Roxanne’s face is red. “Um, sort of.”
“Explain.” He’s too stressed and too sleep-deprived to phrase it in a more polite way.
“Well, uh, Zinnia said that it was my fault for taking a Wailord to the Sealed Chamber. That’s all I know, though.”
He groans, and suddenly he’s overwhelmed by an urge to ram his head into something. “Could you go and get her?”
“In this weather?”
“Somebody has to. Nobody has her number.”
“Fine.” She picks up her trusty frying pan and leaves, shutting the door behind her.
Wallace’s eyes widen. “Steven, stop doing that.”
“Stop doing what?”
“You’re scratching yourself.”
He looks down at his hands. The fingernails of his left hand are almost obsessively digging into the skin of his right palm. He puts both of his hands in opposite pockets of his jacket, away from each other so that they stop fighting.
He hears a noise. It’s his PokéNav Plus ringing. The noise is undesired and he wants it to get as far away from him as possible. He throws the PokéNav Plus.
Wallace sighs. “Steven…”
It’s still ringing.
Wallace goes over to where it has landed and picks it up. They look at the screen. “It’s your dad.”
He groans. “Give it here.”
They do so and he answers the call. “Hi, Dad.”
“Hi, Stevo!” he responds, as though it’s not hailing all over Hoenn in the height of summer. “Some crazy weather out there, ey?”
“Yes, Dad.” he sighs. “I’m in the Gym in Rustboro now to find out the cause.”
“Oh, should I come there?”
“No. Just don’t.”
“Okay, Stevo, I’ll leave you to it. Be careful, okay?”
“I am being careful.”
Big mistake. “Hi being careful, I’m dad!”
“Dad, I’m not in the mood.”
“Hi, not in the mood! I’m --”
He hangs up.
Roxanne is seriously beginning to doubt how useful her trusty frying pan is.
It’s excellent at frying things, but less so at protecting her.
She’s shivering and she really wishes she had thought to bring a jacket. She’s grateful that the walk from Rustboro Gym to Meteor Falls is relatively short. Even so, her arms and legs are bruised from the hail by the time she gets there, but at the very least the trusty frying pan protected her hair.
She’s grateful when she finally gets to Meteor Falls, for the shelter it provides. She only has to look for a moment before she sees her. “Zinnia!”
Zinnia grins. “Good to see ya again, Roxy.”
Only Steven and Joseph Stone are allowed to call her Roxy. “You’d better explain.”
“Hey, don’t look at me. I had no idea about the Wailord.”
She glares. “Why shouldn’t I have brought a Wailord?”
“Because you’re not supposed to.” Despite the circumstances, she chuckles. “Wailord and Relicanth are two of the six Pokémon that are connected to the Sealed Chamber, according to ancient Draconid lore. You can have one or the other, but if you bring both at once, well…”
She sighs. “You said there are six Pokémon connected to the Sealed Chamber. I’m guessing the other four are Ice-types?”
“One of them is.”
Red eyes widen. “One Pokémon is causing all of this?!”
“Yeah.” She says it nonchalantly, as though it’s no big deal. “C’mon, I’ll come back to Rustboro with you and I’ll tell you what I know and what to do about it.”
Chapter 5: Can't Stop Shivering
When the door to Rustboro Gym opens and the sound of the hail hitting the ground outside suddenly intensifies, Steven’s first impulse is to scream and throw something.
He ignores this impulse and instead waits until it closes. It’s just Roxanne, with Zinnia. There’s a Whismur by Zinnia’s side that squeals when it comes in. It refuses to stop squealing. It’s a good thing he’s a good person otherwise he would just kick it.
Zinnia’s laughing. She goes over to Wallace and messes up their teal hair like she’s an old friend. “You messed up, man.”
Wallace does not appreciate this. “Aren’t you the woman who secretly joined both Team Magma and Team Aqua in a desperate attempt to get Rayquaza to come?”
She is, but since only Team Aqua succeeded and May caught Kyogre, it is completely irrelevant. “Yeah, and you went and released, like, four legendary Pokémon by accident. So I reckon we’re even.”
“What?!” chokes Wallace.
“You’re not meant to have a Wailord and a Relicanth in the Sealed Chamber, dummy.”
Steven groans. “So we need to defeat
legendary Pokémon to stop this hail?”
“No, only one to stop the hail. We can deal with the other ones afterward. I know what to do.”
“Okay, then,” says Roxanne. “What?”
“You stay here and look after Rustboro.” She turns to Wallace and Steven. “You two are coming with me.”
Steven would sell his soul for this hail to stop.
The pieces of ice are bruising him, the noise is killing him, and Zinnia’s Whismur squealing does not help. He just wants it to stop. So he can’t help but groan when Zinnia’s Salamence lands in Petalburg.
“Geez, you’re impatient. I’m just getting a friend to help us. You look after Aster, okay?”
Aster is the Whismur that just won’t fucking shut up and Steven rather thinks it’s not okay. Despite this, he does not protest as Zinnia gets off the Salamence and goes into the Gym. He instead opts to slam his left hand against his head, hard.
“Steven…” mumbles Wallace.
“Don’t say anything.”
“If you insist…”
Zinnia’s on her way back. There’s a girl by her side. Steven recognizes the girl. “May?!”
Said girl gives a determined nod. “I’m going to help!”
Zinnia smiles. “Come on. Let’s go.”
“So … this is it?”
Zinnia, Wallace, Steven, and May have landed on a small island on Route 105. There is a large cave in the middle of the island, and six large rocks around the edges. Zinnia nods. “Come inside.”
She walks inside, soon followed by the others. The cave somewhat resembles the Sealed Chamber, but it’s empty. “What now?” asks Wallace.
“Simple,” says Zinnia. “Stop and wait unmoving as time passes by you twice.”
Steven groans. “What does that even mean?!”
“Hard to be sure. Just stay still until it happens.”
Wallace gulps. “Until what happens?”
“You’ll know what it is when it happens, trust me. Just stay still.”
They do so. They all do.
Steven is only vaguely aware of what happens after. There’s a light, a blinding light, the type of light that makes his head hurt no matter how tightly shut his eyes are, and then suddenly it’s not Hoennian summer anymore. Suddenly it’s not nearing forty degrees. Suddenly it’s fucking freezing.
The light fades. He forces his eyes open. There’s a huge blue something in front of him.
Zinnia is laughing. The noise is grating on his eardrums. “That,” she says. “Is what we would call Regice.”
It takes him too long to process her words and figure out what they mean. He has to stop it. He fumbles around in his pockets for his Poké Balls and sends out Metagross. He wants to command it to attack but his brain won’t translate thoughts into words and suddenly asking him to talk is like asking him to write with no pens or pencils.
Metagross seems to get the message, however, and it levitates toward Regice, throwing punches and dodging attacks. The others have sent their Pokémon out too, fighting the Regice.
“Steven!” Wallace’s voice is yelling his name. He does not answer. He can’t answer.
“Steven!” Wallace repeats desperately. Can he hear them? They need to make sure he’s okay, they know he’s overwhelmed, but he can’t be doing anything that isn’t performing at his best, not now.
They’re about to run over to him when they feel themself being knocked backward by a gust of wind, cold wind, too cold, so cold it hurts. Suddenly they’re freezing. They were already freezing but the coldness of the cave seems like a Hoennian summer compared to how cold they are now. They can’t stop shivering.
They need to help with the fight, they’ll be less cold if Regice stops this. They struggle to get out their Milotic’s Poké Ball. They’re tired. They send out Milotic. They can’t stop shivering. “Milotic, use Water Pulse!”
May has her Blaziken out. Blaziken is a Fire-type and a Fighting-type. Regice is an Ice-type. Blaziken is Mega Evolved. Combined with Metagross, Salamence, and Milotic, Blaziken might just be able to win. Wallace can’t stop shivering.
Steven can hardly think straight, he’s so overwhelmed, but he’s found his voice enough to command Metagross to attack, and that’s enough for him. He knows he won’t be able to make as much of an impact as some of the others, but he’ll help, at least. Wallace can’t stop shivering.
Zinnia is struggling to keep her Whismur, Aster, shielded from the attacks. She knows it’s silly to put herself at risk for a Whismur, but she can’t lose Aster. Not again. Wallace can’t stop shivering.
With a final Blaze Kick from May’s Blaziken, Regice collapses to the ground, and the group collectively realize they can’t hear the hailing outside anymore. Steven looks out the entrance to the cave, heart pounding with relief that it’s finally over, and it is over, it’s not hailing anymore, and it’s not nearly as cold as it was previously either. He’s almost crying from sheer relief. He’s safe, they’re all safe, they stopped the problem.
Teal locks of hair are covered with dirt as the head attached to them hits the ground. Wallace has stopped shivering.
Chapter 6: Not Cool
Steven heard the thud as Wallace hit the ground and now he’s panicking, kneeling over them. Their skin is pale, too pale, and cold to the touch. Their breaths are slow and shallow, their eyes barely open as they stare up at their boyfriend. “Oh shit…” he mumbles under his breath. Then he takes his PokéNav Plus out of his pocket and hands it to Zinnia. “Call an ambulance.”
She starts doing so, and May steps forward anxiously. “Blaziken, use --”
“No!” yells Steven hurriedly. Too much heat will shock Wallace’s system and just make everything worse. He needs to warm them up gradually. “Wallace, can you hear me?”
“Ye...Yeah…” they answer shakily.
He takes off his charcoal-colored jacket and drapes it over their torso like a blanket. Then he turns to May. “May, I want you to de-Mega Evolve your Blaziken, and then give it to me to help Wallace, but don’t let it use any Fire-type moves, okay?”
May is confused -- if Wallace is cold, then Fire-type moves should help -- but she obeys anyway, allowing her Blaziken to revert back to its un-Mega Evolved form and then gesturing for it to go over to Steven. It stands over Wallace apprehensively. Steven grabs its hand, and it’s warm, but not so warm that it will shock their system. He guides Blaziken’s hand to Wallace’s chest, hoping that the warmth will help them.
They yawn, and Steven’s heart speeds up. They’re tired. That’s probably why they collapsed in the first place. Being tired makes sense after the fight with Regice, they’re all tired, but -- but not like this. Steven’s tired as in exhausted, tired as in muscles aching and wanting to relax, tired as in he should probably go to bed early tonight to make up for overexerting himself. Wallace is tired as in sleepy, tired as in just woke up or just about to fall asleep.
Just about to fall asleep! Oh Rayquaza, that thought makes Steven panic. If they fall asleep right now, will they wake up? Hands shaking with fear, he looks back at Zinnia. She's still talking on his PokéNav Plus but she notices him looking and moves it away from her ear. “They're sending a Swellow from Petalburg. They'll be here soon.”
He nods, turning back to Wallace. They stopped at Petalburg to pick up May, and they didn't seem to be flying over Route 105 for very long. Petalburg must be close, probably less than five minutes away on a fast Swellow.
He's looking at Wallace. They'll be okay for five minutes.
It feels like longer than that before the Swellow arrives, but he knows it can't be that long because they're not showing signs of getting worse. There's a Nurse Joy who gets them onto the Swellow, and then they fly off.
He flies to Petalburg right afterward, of course, and May goes with him since she has to get there to see Lisia.
Lisia saw her uncle’s limp body on the Swellow flying into the city and panicked, and now at Nurse Joy’s instructions, she's waiting outside the hospital anxiously.
Steven and May meet her outside, and Steven quickly calls Juan to inform him of the situation. Juan takes a while to arrive -- he doesn't have a Flying-type Pokémon and so he has to go over the water -- but he meets them there.
They all think it's far too long before they're allowed to see Wallace. The teal-haired Gym Leader has a cuff around their wrist connecting to a screen displaying their vitals, but otherwise, they seem relatively fine, if a little tired.
“I’m glad you’ve all come to check on me,” they say. “But don’t you all have jobs to do? Steven, you should be in Ever Grande, and Juan, nobody’s looking after Sootopolis with us both here.”
Steven shakes his head. “I’m staying here until you’re discharged, Wallace.”
“You shouldn’t do that. It’s Tuesday. You might miss movie night with Tate and Liza.”
He shrugs. “It’s not like I’d be missing out on much. We’ve been watching the same movie every Tuesday for the past four years.”
“What movie?” asks Lisia.
“Mulan,” he answers.
A wild grin crosses May’s face, and there’s a glint in her eye as she asks Lisia, “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”
“No,” says Lisia cautiously.
“I can be the fake boyfriend!”
Lisia’s eyes light up. “Of course, why didn’t I think of that?” She turns to Wallace. “Sorry, Uncle Wall, but I need to go and turn this girl into a stone butch.”
The two run off. Steven stares at them. He does not know why Lisia needs a fake boyfriend. He does not want to know.
He turns to Wallace. “How do you feel?”
“Tired, mostly. I’ll be alright.”
“You really scared me back there.”
“As long as you’re okay.”
Juan coughs loudly before the two can continue flirting. “Ahem, I’m glad you’re alright, Wallace.”
“Thank you, Master Juan.”
“You don’t need to call me that anymore. You haven’t been my student in years.”
“If you insist, Master Juan.”
Juan sighs, grasping the bridge of his nose in frustration. “I’m just glad you’re safe. I was terribly worried about you.”
That does not mean much -- Juan is always terribly worried about Wallace. Still, Wallace smiles. “Thank you, Master Juan.”
Chapter 7: Ovary-acting
Roxanne Stein does not want to hear any more bad news this morning.
She’s only just recovered from the bad news that it was hailing all over Hoenn, followed by the bad news that Wallace was in the hospital with hypothermia, three weeks ago, and this morning she received the exceptionally bad news that she’s not pregnant.
The news isn’t surprising -- she’s single and hasn’t had sex in a few years, so she would be more surprised if she was pregnant -- nor is it inherently bad that she is not pregnant. No, the problem is in the way the news was rather aggressively delivered to her at six in the morning, leaving her to vigorously clean her pajama pants and hope she does not end up having to just throw them out.
She does not want to hear any more bad news this morning.
She groans as she hears her PokéNav Plus ringing. It’s Steven. She answers it.
“Uh, Roxy?” he says anxiously, voice distorted by static. “I have bad news.”
She groans. “What?”
“We’re having some ... abnormalities in Mauville and Lavaridge.”
She’s not in the bloody mood to deal with this. “And that is my responsibility because?”
“Well, Wallace has a theory, and … well, you’d best hear it in person. I’m in Lavaridge now, can you come?”
“Well, I’m sort of busy ... “ What is she supposed to say? That she’s cleaning up blood? Steven’s known to get awkward quickly when she mentions this particular subject, but if she just says there’s blood and does not specify the source then he’ll think she’s injured and panic.
“Is your task time-sensitive?”
“...Kind of?” The longer she leaves it, the harder it will be to scrub out, but she supposes whatever’s going on in Lavaridge and Mauville is more important. She sighs. “I’ll meet you in Lavaridge.”
She’s in Lavaridge now and she wishes she had stayed in Rustboro. On the way here she saw a fat Skitty and immediately burst into tears, and if she’s not emotionally able to handle that then she does not know how she’s going to deal with whatever Steven wants to tell her.
Despite this, she goes to the Pokémon Center first to see if he’s there, and then the Gym. He’s in the Gym, along with Wallace, and Flannery, the Lavaridge Town Gym Leader.
Flannery’s pacing around. “I just don’t understand, Steven! Why is this happening to my town?!”
“It’s nothing to do with your leadership skills,” assures Steven. “It’s happening in Mauville too, and Watson’s been a Gym Leader much longer than you have.”
Wallace nods. “I have a theory as to the cause of this. Good to see you’re here, Roxanne.”
“So what exactly is going on?” asks Roxanne.
Steven turns to face her, but his eyes don’t quite meet hers. “You’re going to think this is totally impossible.”
“That’s probably correct,” she confirms.
“Right, so… You know how plants grow?”
“Well, rocks have started doing that too.”
Her face falls. “What?!”
“You heard him,” says Wallace. “But I think I might know why this is happening.”
“Then tell us!” demands Flannery, still pacing.
They’re smiling. “I’ve done a little research on Draconid lore, after everything that happened with Regice, and … supposedly, there’s another one, a Rock-type.”
Flannery stops pacing. “Where is it?”
“The desert on Route 111, right between here and Mauville. It’s called Regirock.”
“Should we go there?” asks Steven.
Flannery sighs. “I have to stay here. I mean, I have a town to look after.”
“So do I,” mumbles Roxanne bitterly, but this goes unnoticed.
“I’m going, obviously,” declares Steven. “Wallace, Roxanne, you’re welcome to come if you want.”
“Sure, why not?” mumbles Roxanne. “I’ll go with you. Sounds like a nice way to spend my Sunday.”
“Thanks for the enthusiasm,” says Wallace. “I’ll join the both of you since I know how to get there. Follow me.”
Roxanne is getting increasingly annoyed.
They found the cave in Route 111 some two hours ago. They’ve been in there since and it’s completely empty.
Steven and Wallace are insisting that they didn’t get the wrong place, they just need to find the secret code or something. They’ve already tried everything she can think of. She’s pretty sure that Wallace just does not want to admit they’re wrong.
Wallace and Steven are roughly in the center of the cave, brainstorming ideas on what to do. She’s leaning against the wall opposite the entrance. There are some odd markings on the wall, tiny bumps that remind her of braille. She suspects that it might be braille, but as nobody in the room knows anybody who understands braille it does not really matter whether it is or not.
She is most definitely not sulking.
Steven sighs. “Roxanne, can you stop sulking like that?”
“Sulking?!” She’s indignant. “I’m not sulking!”
“Roxanne, you look like you’re in your edgy Dragon-type phase again.”
Her cheeks are as red as her eyes and suddenly she feels like she needs to stomp around. She stomps two steps away from the wall she’s leaning on, then turns and stomps another few steps, then slams her foot onto the ground in fury.
Roxanne isn’t aware of the fact that it is possible to be physically pushed by light until her entire vision is filled with the glow and she stumbles backward like she just got punched in the gut.
The glow fades, and suddenly she can see properly. Suddenly she can see the grey -- the grey monster, the horrific amalgamation of rocks that shouldn’t go together.
And it’s moving.
She somehow manages not to scream, but her hands are shaking and she struggles to get out her Probopass’s Poké Ball. “P-Probopass! Magnet Bomb!”
The move attacks the -- the thing -- in an instant, the magnets Probopass conjures flying towards the Regirock, but … but the explosion does not do anything. It does not even flinch! She’s only a Rustboro Gym Leader. Why did she agree to come here?!
Regirock raises its arm, and several rocks start levitating off of the ground. The next thing she knows they’re flying at her. By instinct, she turns, so that her torso and face are protected, and she feels bruises forming as rocks hit her back.
When one unusually high-flying rock hits her in the back of the head, she does not feel it, not as such, nor is she aware of it hitting her. As far as she’s aware, they’re just hitting her back, and then for no apparent reason, everything goes dark.
Chapter 8: What Weights More: A Pound Of Feathers, Or A Pound Of Steel? Trick Question, The Feathers Are Made Of Steel
She wakes up a few minutes later to find Steven kneeling over her. He looks worried. “Roxanne? Roxanne, can you hear me?”
She looks around. She’s in a cave. She has some vague memory of possibly going to a cave. Her head is killing her. If she finds out that she was getting drunk in a cave last night then she’s going to be really annoyed with Steven.
No, no, something’s wrong. There's -- there's some sort of -- thing -- behind Steven. What's going on?!
Steven groans. This is all his fault. Why did he insist on dragging Roxanne out here? Just because she uses Rock-types doesn't mean she's interested in Regirock, nor does it mean she's powerful enough to battle it safely. Now she's hurt and it's his fault.
He looks at her. She looks … scared, almost. And confused. He knows that's probably a bad sign.
He turns to Wallace. “Stay here and try to keep it under control.”
Wallace's eyes widen as Steven lifts Roxanne up and onto his Metagross. “You can't just leave me here!”
“I have to take her back to Lavaridge, she's hurt. I'll be quick.”
It doesn't really matter how quick he is, because spending any amount of time alone with Regirock is something they'd rather avoid.
Metagross leaves, and they're alone in the cave, and suddenly they're not the former Champion of the Hoenn Region. Suddenly they're just the Sootopolis City Gym Leader. They're just another Gym Leader, just like the other Gym Leader that's being so graciously given a lift to Lavaridge.
They send out their Milotic with shaking hands, their voice trembling as they command. “Use Protect!”
A pink shield materializes in front of Milotic, and Wallace -- not that they would ever dare to use the word -- cowers behind it. They know they're safe, at least as long as Protect holds up.
As long as Protect holds up. How long is that, exactly? Protect doesn't usually last very long, and the constant blows from Regirock will speed up the process.
They hope Steven is as quick as he says he will be.
When Protect finally collapses and Wallace is left vulnerable, they only just manage to duck in time for Regirock’s arm to swing above their head. They return Milotic to its Poké Ball, stand up, and run. They're not exactly sure where they're running to, but they know a moving target is harder to hit.
Until the inevitable happens.
Until they fall.
They're only down for a second but that's all it takes; a large rock falls onto the fabric of their pant leg and they're effectively trapped. No matter how hard they tug at the fabric it won't get out from under the rock, nor will it tear. As Regirock stalks toward them, they’re left with no options but to raise their arms in front of their head protectively, shut their eyes, and hope for the best.
They’re shaking. They know it’s coming, any second now. Any second now they’re going to feel Regirock’s arm crashing down onto theirs, almost definitely breaking multiple bones. After the initial blow they’ll still be on the ground, still trapped at the mercy of this monster, and less able to defend themself.
They hope Lisia’s in good hands if anything happens to them.
Their eyes open involuntarily as they feel a sharp pain in their ankle. They instinctively look down at the source of the pain, to see what’s wounded them, and find that they’ve been … stabbed?!
They look down again, still struggling to figure it out. There seem to be several knife blades stuck in the rock wall behind them, along with the one digging into their skin. And … the fabric of their pant leg is torn. They can move.
Regirock’s close, but not too close that they can’t get away. It’s made entirely out of rocks and must weigh a literal ton; it can do some serious damage physically but its downfall is its speed, or lack thereof. They struggle to get to their feet. With a second of testing, they discover that putting weight on their injured leg is painful, but doable. They move away from Regirock, and once they don’t have the huge monster standing over them and practically filling their entire vision, they’re able to see exactly what freed them from the rock.
They realize, rather awkwardly, that their boyfriend stabbed them in the ankle, which is not nearly as kinky in practice as it sounds when one says it like that.
Metagross, Steven, and Skarmory are all in the cave with them, and suddenly they don’t feel so alone and vulnerable. Skarmory’s left wing is noticeably missing a few of its steel feathers, and Wallace has a feeling that one of the missing feathers could be found embedded in their leg. Still, they know that the injury was only caused by a misguided attempt to free them as quickly as possible, and it did work, so they don’t say anything.
Steven grabs their hand and pulls them behind Metagross, then yells, “Metagross, Protect!”
The shield that Metagross summons is blue instead of pink, and more solid compared to Milotic’s. Steven, being the current Champion of Hoenn, has to use his Pokémon in much more high-stakes battles than Wallace does as a Gym Leader, and as a result stalling moves such as Protect are practiced and perfected, rather than just being taught in case of emergency as is the case with Milotic. This shield will last longer, so the two have some time to talk.
“You certainly took your sweet-ass time,” they mutter bitterly.
“Sorry,” he says guiltily. His eyes linger on the steel feather poking out of their leg. There are a few drops of blood trickling from underneath the knife, but for the most part, Skarmory’s feather is acting to block the blood flow.
Wallace notices his stare. “What do we do?”
He shrugs. “I don’t really know. I’m rather lacking in experience with stab wounds.”
“Didn’t you have to take a first-aid course as Champion?”
“You were Gym Leader, then Champion, then Gym Leader again. You took the course three times.”
“You have a better memory than me.” They wrap their fingers around the steel feather, but the slightest attempt at moving it causes them to hiss in pain.
Steven pulls their hand away from the wound. “Don’t do that, you might make it worse. I’ll take you to the emergency room once we’ve dealt with Regirock, okay?”
“Okay.” They take a Poké Ball out of their pocket and send out Milotic. “Milotic, Hydro Pump!”
They turn to watch as the water being shot out of Milotic’s mouth hits Regirock. At first, the attack appears to do nothing, but when Milotic stops, they can see water seeping through the cracks between the giant boulders that make up its body.
It’s the arms that fall apart first, the rocks that make up its hands falling with a loud thud, and Steven instinctively cups his hands over his ears.
The water drives the rocks apart, widening the gaps between them until the bonds keeping them together are destroyed, and the entire being that is Regirock just falls apart in front of them. Metagross’s protect is enough to shield them from the falling rocks, so they just watch as the monster that they honestly thought would be the end of their life ten minutes ago is reduced to a pile of rocks.
Steven isn’t watching. He’s waiting, waiting for the rocks to stop hitting the ground. They’re loud, too loud, and it seems to be going on forever. He’s pressing down on his ears harder and harder to block it out but it’s not working. He wants it to stop, he needs it to stop, he --
The sudden noise makes him flinch. “Steven,” says Wallace again. “Steven, breathe.”
It takes him too long to translate their words into what they’re actually instructing him to do, but once his brain catches up he tries to regulate his breathing. In, out, in, out.
Finally, the noise stops.
It takes him a second to remove his hands from his ear.
“Are you okay?” asks Wallace.
“I’m fine, don’t worry.” He stands up, holding out a hand to Wallace and pulling them up. Wallace steps onto their injured leg and winces. Now that they don’t have adrenaline pumping through their veins it feels a lot more difficult to walk on.
“Don’t walk on it,” scolds Steven. “You’ll make it worse. Metagross, come here.”
Metagross obeys, floating toward them and lowering itself so that it’s almost on the ground. Wallace steps onto it, and Steven follows.
“Thanks for getting Milotic to single-handedly defeat the godlike being that was going to kill us both, by the way,” he adds, as an afterthought.
Chapter 9: This Can't Be The End
“Hello. If you’re hearing this message, that means Steven isn’t currently available to answer your call. Please leave a message after the tone.”
Wallace hangs up and sighs. It’s not terribly unusual for Steven to go spelunking without bothering to inform anybody, but they still don’t exactly like it. It does not really help that he hasn’t gone spelunking alone since the incident in the Sealed Chamber slightly over two months ago.
Still, he’s only been gone for a short time, so they probably shouldn’t start searching yet. He’ll probably be okay. Just because something bad happened the last time he went spelunking does not mean something bad will happen this time.
They’re still worried, but they know that’s not a reason to deprive Steven of his interests.
They’d prefer if he called ahead, but they can’t really blame him for that. Usually, he does not have a signal in the caves he’s in, and it’s a bit unrealistic to expect him to change his voicemail message every time he goes anywhere.
He’ll probably be back soon, and if he isn’t, then he’ll probably leave the cave for a second to call them.
They don’t know that Steven is actually much safer than he normally is while spelunking, because he’s with Roxanne, instead of being alone.
They also don’t know that he, in fact, does have signal, and simply chose to turn his PokéNav Plus off in order to allow him some focus.
Roxanne is annoyed.
made you think this would be a good environment in which to research?!”
Steven barely notices her annoyance as he turns a page. “We’re immersing ourselves in the culture.”
“Immersing ourselves in the culture?!” she chokes. “I can’t even see the book I’m meant to be reading!”
“Well, I can,” he says, turning another page.
She sighs, her red eyes straining to read in the low light of Meteor Falls. She might be bookish, but Steven has better eyesight than her and is naturally a fast reader. She’s not sure why he insisted on her coming in the first place.
At last, he closes the book triumphantly. “I’ve got it!”
He turns on his PokéNav Plus and calls Wallace. They pick up almost immediately.
“Can you meet me in Fortree?”
They pause. “Why?”
“I’ll explain there. I’ll see you outside the Pokémon Center.”
Wallace isn’t exactly sure what convinced them to come to Fortree, and yet here they are.
Roxanne and Steven are there too. “What’s going on?” they ask.
“I have no idea,” answers Roxanne. “Steven dragged me here without telling me anything.”
Steven gives an annoyed huff. “Didn’t you read the books I gave you?”
“We were in Meteor Falls, I couldn’t see anything.”
He rolls his eyes. “Okay. There’s another one.”
“Another what?” asks Wallace.
“Regice and Regirock. There’s another one. Called Registeel. And it’s a Steel-type.”
Roxanne has known Steven since she was three and she can recognize that look in his eyes. “Steven, you’re not seriously thinking of…”
“I won’t use it in Champion battles,” he insists, though it’s not entirely true. He won’t use it often in Champion battles, but if May shows up again with her Latias, Kyogre, and Rayquaza, it’s only fair. The last time she beat him, it took six months of training for Wallace to become Champion, even despite League regulations forcing her to only use Latias in her Champion battles instead of all three Legendaries.
“I’m not sure about this…” says Wallace. The last time they tried to fight one of those … things … they got stabbed in the ankle.
“It’ll be fine,” he insists. “Follow me.”
It’s around halfway down Route 120 that they find it.
It’s the same as all the others, a large cave with six large rocks surrounding it. Wallace and Roxanne can’t help but feel disappointed that he wasn’t wrong about the location, but there’s not much either of them can do. All three go inside.
Steven sends out his Skarmory. “Skarmory,” he commands. “Go to the middle of the room and use Fly.”
The Steel-type obeys, walking into the center of the cave and flying into the air. There’s a flash of light that causes Steven to stumble backward, and then it’s there.
It’s a little larger than Regice and Regirock, and it’s grey, its entire body made out of steel. There are a series of red dots on its face that seem to be almost glowing in the low light. Roxanne and Wallace back away nervously. Steven is determined to stay standing.
He was scared the first two times, but not anymore. Not this time. This time he has a plan.
He sends out his Metagross. “Metagross, Mega Evolve!”
He holds out his Mega Stickpin, and in a flash of light, his trusted partner turns into a Mega Metagross. He grins. “Now use Hammer Arm!”
Metagross obeys, flying toward Registeel and slamming its legs into its body. The force of the impact sends Registeel flying against the wall, and Wallace has to resist the urge to cower behind their boyfriend.
Steven fails to notice their anxiety as he reaches into the pocket of his jacket and takes out an Ultra Ball. He throws it at Registeel and the ball swallows the beast with a flash of light. It rolls as Registeel tries to get out, then again, then a third time, and then it clicks.
Roxanne and Wallace are in shock. This is only the fourth time in recorded Hoennian history that a Legendary Pokémon has been successfully caught, and this time is nothing like the first three times. The first three times were May Sapphire catching Latias, Kyogre, and Rayquaza, all in the span of last year. The three incidents were all over the news, and while Roxanne wasn’t able to take part in any of them unlike her two companions, she’s memorized the stories. Latias willingly gave itself to May after she helped it in a time of crisis, Kyogre had to be caught to save Sootopolis City and the rest of Hoenn from flooding, and Rayquaza had to be caught -- not that it resisted at all -- to save Hoenn from a meteor.
Even May Motherfucking Sapphire, the (in)famous Three Legendaries Trainer, is yet to catch a Legendary Pokémon just because she likes it.
Is such a thing even allowed? Roxanne does not know, and that’s what scares her.
Despite this, Steven walks into the center of the cave and picks up the Ultra Ball containing Registeel. He won’t use it in battles, not unless it’s a matter of life or death (or against May, but that seems unlikely -- she was almost relieved after Wallace beat her, and she found the position of Champion to be incredibly stressful). He just reasoned that, as Regice and Regirock had caused problems by being active, Registeel would too, and that he ought to stop it before it could. Capturing it was just as good a solution as defeating it.
And now all three of them are inactive -- Regice has been forced back into its eternal slumber after waking for a brief period only, Regirock is too badly injured to possibly do anything and most likely will be for hundreds of years if not forever, and Registeel is in the hands of the strongest trainer in Hoenn.
All is well.
Chapter 10: Holy 300 Word Chapter, (Zu)Batman!
Nothing is well.
Long did we live here in this cave.
For the first time in all of Hoennian history, a Legendary Pokémon has been captured against its will, not because it is needed to keep the citizens safe but merely because somebody wanted it.
All thanks to the powerful Pokémon living alongside us.
Registeel is angry. It’s supposed to be in the Ancient Tomb on Route 120. It’s not supposed to be stuck in an Ultra Ball in a house in Mossdeep.
Despite being trapped, Registeel can communicate. It can send out an indetectable signal, a signal that only five types of Pokémon can sense.
we sealed that Pokémon away,
Those living in Lilycove, Dewford, Pacifidlog, Mossdeep, or Sootopolis may choose to watch the seas near their home today. If they choose to do so, then the most observant of them may be able to notice the Relicanth swimming erratically in confusion.
alone in the dark.
There are very few Wailord in the wild, but suddenly everyone on Route 129 can see them on the surface in plain sight. Any Trainers that own Wailord, including Wallace of Sootopolis City, may happen to notice their agitation and refusal to battle.
We feared it.
This time, it has enough sense to know that it does not want to be detected and defeated quickly, so there is no hail. However, those in Petalburg, Rustboro, and Dewford can’t help but notice the unusually cold temperatures as Regice wakes up.
If you have the courage,
Rocks in Route 111 roll together, into large boulders, and connect with Regirock’s disembodied head.
if you still hold to hope,
Gym Leader Candice is panicking.
open the door.
The ground is shaking in her home city.
For beyond it the eternal Pokémon awaits.
It’s coming from Snowpoint Temple.
Chapter 11: May He Who Is Without Sinnoh Cast The First Stone
Golden locks are pulled into a ponytail for the sake of convenience and grey eyes strain from the effort of staring at the tiny Pokétch screen. It’s a Kantonese news story about a twelve-year-old boy with red eyes and jet black hair. He has a Pikachu on his shoulder and is speaking in Kantonese Sign Language. Cynthia, the owner of this Pokétch, only speaks Sinnohan Sign Language and does not know a word of KSL, but there are subtitles on the bottom of the screen transcribing what he’s saying.
The only problem is trying to read the subtitles on the minuscule screen.
She’s been replaying the news story for half an hour now, trying to read the text, and the eye strain is giving her a headache. She needs to get a laptop.
She has a notification. It’s from her Link Searcher app, an app on her Pokétch that allows her to communicate with other Pokémon Trainers. Candice has sent her a message.
(10:34PM) candice-ice-baby said: Champion? We’ve got a situation.
(10:34PM) arceus~dammit said: What’s going on?
(10:35PM) candice-ice-baby said: The ground is shaking in Snowpoint. I think there’s something going on in the temple.
(10:35PM) arceus~dammit said: Pardon my Kalosian but HOLY FUCK ill be here in half an hour
Blonde hair is mixed with white snow as Cynthia runs toward the temple. Candice is waiting outside for her, and for once she’s actually wearing her jumper instead of just having it tied around her waist in a way that can’t possibly hope to shield against the cold.
“Should we… go inside?” asks Candice cautiously.
Cynthia bites her lip. “I think so.”
Normally, if somebody is entering the Snowpoint Temple (which in itself is extraordinarily rare; more common is tourists coming to enter the temple and then spending hours arguing with Candice when she tells them they can’t go just for fun to take photos because it’s sacred ground), it is Candice’s job as Gym Leader to guide them. This time, however, Cynthia is leading the way whilst Candice practically cowers behind her.
They go down into the temple, until they finally reach the lowest floor. On the lowest floor is supposed to be the legendary Regigigas, sleeping for an eternity and frozen into a statue by the frigid temperatures of Snowpoint. Being asleep and frozen prevents it from harming anyone, so the temple is used as a place of worship for the indigenous peoples of Hoenn and Sinnoh, many of whom believe the legends of how Regigigas pulled the continents together, and created Registeel, Regirock, and Regice.
Candice is one of these people. As a result of the colonization a few centuries ago, most Sinnohans are actually mostly Indigo, the collective term for the Kanto and Johto regions. Since Kanto and Johto were classified as a single region when the colonization happened, before they split into two, it’s impossible to say whether Sinnohan is technically colonized by Kanto or Johto, unlike Hoenn which was colonized by Kanto after the split. Candice, however, is part of an indigenous Sinnohan minority that has worshipped Regigigas for millennia.
She looks at Regigigas.
It's not there.
Candice’s heart is racing. It's not there! She's heard stories about how powerful Regigigas is, of how it needed to be asleep and frozen before it was safe to worship it. Where is it?! Is Sinnoh in danger?! Is this her fault for not doing enough to keep it under control?
“Calm down,” says Cynthia, placing a hand on the younger girl’s shoulder. “It'll be okay.”
She's about to say more when her Pokétch beeps. It's another Link Searcher message, but this time it's from Steven Stone.
(11:13PM) Steven_Stone said: Um, Cynthia? We're having a bit of a problem in Hoenn.
(11:14PM) arceus~dammit said: whats the problem?
(11:15PM) Steven_Stone said: Frigid temperatures in southwest Hoenn, unexplained cave-ins throughout the region, and erratic behavior of Wailord and Relicanth.
(11:15PM) arceus~dammit said: Well, we’re having some problems in Sinnoh as well. What time is it in Hoenn?
(11:16PM) Steven_Stone said: It’s … 2 AM, actually. What’s going on in Sinnoh?
(11:16PM) arceus~dammit said: And you chose 2 AM specifically to tell me about this because?
(11:17PM) Steven_Stone said: Because I was informed at 2 AM because apparently nobody in the Hoenn League has slept since 1995. What time is it for you and what’s happening in Sinnoh?
(11:17PM) arceus~dammit said: It’s 11PM here so late but not super late. I could come to Hoenn to help you but it would take a while and I’d be jetlagged so I might not be much help.
(11:17PM) Steven_Stone said: What is happening in Sinnoh?!
(11:18PM) arceus~dammit said: Okay, I’m not sure how much you know about ancient Sinnohan lore, but one of our Legendary Pokémon was sealed in place and now it’s gone.
(11:19PM) Steven_Stone said: Which Legendary Pokémon?
(11:19PM) arceus~dammit said: Regigigas.
(11:21PM) Steven_Stone said: …
(11:21PM) Steven_Stone said: Oh
(11:21PM) Steven_Stone said: Funnily enough, I think I might know something about that
(11:21PM) Steven_Stone said: In other news PLEASE come to Hoenn as soon as you can
Chapter 12: The Beginning Of The End
“I won’t say I told you so.”
Technically speaking, she didn’t tell him so, but she certainly thought it very loudly.
Steven’s cheeks have a tint of red, but he chooses not to acknowledge anything. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Steven…” sighs Wallace, glancing sideways at Roxanne. They’re shivering. They grew up in Sootopolis, the hottest part of the already insanely hot Hoenn region. Their body isn’t at all used to temperatures like what they’re currently feeling at two in the morning in Rustboro, and Steven’s jacket is barely helping.
Honestly, Steven’s jacket is just serving to confuse them more than anything else. It has metal cuffs sewn into the sleeves. It’s heavy, heavy enough to make it difficult to use their arms normally, and they don’t know how he wears it all the time. They suppose it must get easier once one is used to the weight.
They’re grateful for Steven lending them his jacket, though, because without it they probably would have frozen to death by now. The two went to Rustboro together at the Elite Four’s prompting after Roxanne reported the unusually low temperatures, and now they’re both discussing it with her.
It’s snowing in Rustboro. Usually, the most snow Rustboro gets is an inch or two during the night that melts by morning, and it only snows at all in the height of Winter. Hoenn is naturally warm, and many places don’t snow at all because it simply never gets cold enough. But now it’s snowing in Rustboro, badly, in the middle of Spring, and those there have a nagging feeling that it’s not going to melt any time soon.
Wallace is further wrapping themself in the surprisingly heavy jacket as shivers run through their body. “C-Can we go inside?” they ask with chattering teeth.
Roxanne rolls her eyes. She grew up in Rustboro, so the temperature isn’t that much lower than what she’s used to in the height of winter, and she’s more prepared than them, wearing a greyish-blue long-sleeved dress and a thick pink jacket.
Steven is also shivering. He grew up in Rustboro as well, but spending the last several years living in Mossdeep gave his body plenty of time to unlearn its cold tolerance skills in favor of dealing with the high temperatures in Eastern Hoenn. The fact that he gave his jacket to Wallace probably isn’t helping. “My dad’s house is closest,” he says. “Let’s take shelter there.”
He takes the lead, followed by Roxanne, who knows the location of the house well from the numerous times she visited it growing up. Wallace lags behind them, having only been there a few times. Soon the three reach Steven’s old house, and Steven takes out his keys. It takes him a few seconds to get the right key -- his hands are shaking from the cold and it’s been a long time since he last visited -- but he unlocks the door, lets Wallace and Roxanne in, and then locks it behind him.
“Is your dad in here?” asks Wallace.
“Probably,” answers Steven. “I should certainly hope he’s not at work, it’s two in the morning.”
Roxanne’s voice is quieter once she realizes that Mr. Stone is probably asleep. “Do you think he’s okay? I mean, it’s really cold, and he is getting older…”
“He’ll probably be fine,” says Steven, who clearly does not appreciate the implication that his father is old, even if the man is nearing fifty-four at this point in time. “He used to take me to Sinnoh on vacation, so he’s used to cold temperatures. Still, a Fire-type Pokémon would be useful right around now.”
“I thought your father had a Numel?” asks Roxanne. “I remember there being one here when I was little.”
“That belonged to my mother,” he replies curtly. “So unless you feel like walking to Slateport in this weather at three AM, we’ll just have to make do.”
Wallace hears a beeping noise coming from the pocket of the jacket they’re wearing, and reaches in to find Steven’s PokéNav Plus. They hand it to him and mutter, “I think you have a notification.”
Steven quickly takes the device as his heart speeds up with anticipation. Normally it’s impossible for a PokéNav Plus to have the Link Searcher app, but he got his father to install it for the sake of communicating with his Sinnohan friends.
(02:34AM) arceus~dammit said: It takes 4 hours to fly from here to Hoenn. IDK how long it’ll take to deal with airport security and such since I haven’t gone to Hoenn since before I was Champion, but if I’m lucky I’ll be able to make it there by eight in your timezone. I’ll still be jetlagged though and I wont be able to talk to you on the plane.
(02:34AM) Steven_Stone said: Okay. I’ll see you here.
“Cynthia’s coming,” he says to the others. “Hopefully she’ll be here by eight.”
“And until then?” asks Roxanne.
“We wait, I suppose.” He turns to Wallace. “Lisia’s safe in Sootopolis, right?”
They nod. “She’s with May. The Mossdeep Twins?”
As their neighbor and go-to babysitter, Steven had become a close friend to Tate and Liza, the Gym Leaders of Mossdeep City. “They’re in Mossdeep at home, so they should be safe.”
There’s a silence among the three. Roxanne is the one who finally breaks it.
“...You know this is about Registeel, don’t you?”
He goes red. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Who else knows you caught it?”
“Only the Elite Four and you two.”
“What are the Elite Four doing?”
“Helping the citizens deal with the cold. Drake’s in Dewford, Glacia’s in Oldale, Phoebe’s in Littleroot, and Sidney’s in Petalburg.”
Wallace yawns. “I think perhaps we should get some sleep.”
Steven nods in agreement. “We need to be ready for tomorrow. We need our rest.”
Chapter 13: The Champion's Mistake(s)
Cynthia groans. “I know you’re tired. I’m tired too. I just got off a plane from Sinnoh. Get over it.”
Steven tries to block out her voice, as well as the logical voice in his head telling him that if she’s here then it must be at least eight AM and he should really be getting up by now. Steven needs at least eight hours of sleep in order to function, and being awoken at two AM the previous night combined with the stress of everything with Registeel made it quite difficult to get back to sleep.
“Steven, the fate of the world might be at stake here and you’re in bed at eight-thirty!” snaps Roxanne. “Can’t you just drink coffee until you’re awake enough?”
Joseph Stone chuckles. “That’s my Stevo. You know, when he was little, he used to sleep in until one in the afternoon! And if we tried to wake him up, well, then we would have a repeat of the escalator incident. Oh, did I ever tell you all about the escalator incident? That was a thing that happened when Steven here was only seven years old! You see, we were just in Lilycove Department Store, and I asked him to go down the escalator with me, and --”
He’s interrupted by the pillow that hits him in the face. Steven groans. “I’ll get up if you promise not to finish that story.”
Roxanne mumbles something that sounds suspiciously like the word “escalatorphobia”, but this goes unnoticed. Joseph chuckles. “Okay, Stevo, I promise not to finish the story.”
Steven sits up in his bed and stretches his arms out, yawning. He forces himself to stand up. Wallace, Roxanne, Cynthia, and his father are all in the room with him. He really needs an extra few hours of sleep or a large cup of coffee.
“Coffee?” he asks blankly, eyelids drooping.
“There’s some in the kitchen,” answers Joseph. “I’ll go get some.”
He leaves the room. Steven rubs his eyes. “Welcome to Hoenn, Cynthia. Thanks for coming.”
“You’re welcome,” she mumbles.
“Did I miss anything?”
“Um…” mumbles Wallace. “Well, not really.”
“Good.” He shivers as his body wakes up and he suddenly becomes aware of the cold. Wallace is still wearing his jacket.
They notice his shiver and take off his jacket, handing it to him. “You can have it back, I’ll find another one to borrow.”
“Remind me again why you were sleeping in my jacket?” Steven’s known to be possessive of his possessions, and his jacket is no exception.
“You let me borrow it because I’m not used to the weather. I always did use to say that the C in Sootopolis stands for cold.”
Wallace’s jokes shoots through the air, and it brushes over silver hair as it flies directly over Steven's head. “There’s no C in Sootopolis.”
“That’s the point … oh, forget it.”
Joseph walks into the room, holding a cup of coffee. Steven takes it, sips from it, and then splashes it onto his face. The pain and burning sensation makes him recoil but he’s more awake now. “Okay, I’m awake. Let’s think of a plan.”
“We need to find the cause of all this,” says Cynthia. “Normally, the only reason for Regigigas to leave would be if Registeel, Regice, or Regirock is in danger.”
There’s a heavy silence between Roxanne, Wallace, and Steven. Wallace is the first to talk. “I think that it’s because Steven --”
They’re interrupted by Steven’s PokéNav Plus ringing and the silver-haired man quickly answers. “Hello? … Okay, I’ll send someone. Bye.”
He puts the device down and turns to Wallace. “Wallace, Phoebe needs backup. You go down to Littleroot.”
Wallace huffs. “Why do I have to go?” It’s no secret that they had a falling out with Phoebe after Steven became Champion, and they resent that their attempt to tell Cynthia about Registeel is essentially causing them to be exiled.
“Because I said so,” answers Steven. “Off you go.”
They roll their eyes. “Can I at least have a jacket? I’m freezing.”
“Take mine,” says Roxanne, handing it to them. “I’m better with cold than you are.”
They put the jacket on and leave, with Littleroot Town as their destination.
Wallace is in Littleroot, staring blankly at the thing standing over him. It’s twelve feet tall and mostly white, with black lumps all over its body and three large yellow parts on its … head? Chest? What body part even is that?
They’ve seen it in books when they were researching Regirock. They know what it is. It’s Regigigias.
Steven should have sent more backup.
They quickly locate Phoebe, who’s hiding behind the Pokémon Lab. They run over to her; they know she’s not exactly their biggest fan, but they’re hoping she’ll have the sense to put that behind her in these circumstances.
The first thing she does when they reach her is groan. “I told him to send backup and he sent you?!”
Wallace chooses to interpret this statement as annoyance that he only sent one person, rather than annoyance at the particular person he sent. “I’m just doing what Steven tells me.”
She gives him a glare. “You know this is your fault, right?”
They’re indignant. “My fault?! Steven’s the one who decided to catch Registeel!”
“Yeah,” she says, in a voice that seems to indicate that she thinks they’re deliberately misunderstanding what she says. “And he’s the Champion because of you.”
“Because I lost?!” They’re furious; is this all because she thinks they’re weak? “Steven’s the Champion because he beat me in a fair battle. If you have a problem with him then that’s on you, and this is no time to take it out on me!”
“Look, Steven’s great and all, but…” She trails off uneasily, then sighs. “Did you plan it out with him beforehand, or did he think it was fair?”
“Wh-What?” stutters a blushing Wallace.
“Wallace, I was watching the whole time. I know you threw the Champion battle.”
Their face grows redder with this comment in contrast with their teal locks, but they try to maintain their composure. “Whyever would I do such a thing?”
“Because they hated you!” snaps Phoebe. “Everybody wanted May or Steven to come back as soon as you were Champion because everybody’s a huge jerk and you couldn’t handle it so you threw the battle!”
Her accusations hit close to home, and they see no point in trying to hide it when she’s already demonstrated that she can read them like an open book. “So what if I did? I’m allowed to make my own decisions. I did what satisfied the population, and what was best for me.”
She groans, and her hand meets with her forehead in what is colloquially known as a facepalm. “Wallace, what you did was cowardly. None of this would be happening if you hadn’t thrown the battle! The Champion should be the strongest in the region. You beat the girl with three Legendaries! There are people who didn’t like May, or Drake, or Steven, and do you see them giving up?!”
Wallace finally gives in to their building frustration with the Elite girl. “They were throwing soda cans at me! Every time I left Ever Grande I heard people yelling profanity at me! Was I just supposed to put up with it?!”
She looks them dead in the eye. “Yes.”
“Ugh, what would you know?!” they snap, knuckles almost white with fury.
Phoebe, despite her reputation for her fiery temper, does not respond with anger. Instead, she takes Wallace’s hands into her own, uncurling their tightly clenched fingers and watching as they regain their color that they had lost after being so tightly clenched.
She looks at their hand, and then at her own dark skin.
Theirs is darker.
Of course it is -- for thousands of years, Wallace’s ancestors lived in Sootopolis City, in the hottest part of the already insanely hot Hoenn region. Melanin functions as a shield against the sun’s harsh rays, and having a shield against the sun’s harsh ways is a necessity in Sootopolis, where thirty degrees Celsius is merely annoying and it’s not until it gets into the forties that people start to worry about the heat. Melanin also affects skin color, with more melanin resulting in darker skin. A simple evolutionary adaptation.
Phoebe sighs. “I was so happy when you beat May, you know, because I knew it meant something for Sootopolitans and other people of color as a whole. But then you just quit. I watched the battle, I could tell you weren’t even trying. Does Steven know?”
“He … knows I was finding the position stressful,” they mutter. “I asked him to battle me because I was hoping he would win and take over the position, and I was upfront about that. But … I didn’t tell him I was planning on deliberately losing.”
“So you deceived the entire region.”
They sigh. “I just … couldn’t handle it. I was famous. I was in the public eye. I was getting hate from all sides.”
“And you think that’s unique to you?” She chuckles, despite the circumstances. “Not a single day goes past when Glacia doesn’t try some passive-aggressive shit, and Steven’s so oblivious that it flies over his head, just because I’m an Alolan girl with a girlfriend. I mean, heck, I was born in Hoenn, and she grew up in Kalos! But you don’t hear her talking about that.”
“That sounds awful…” they mumble.
She waves her hand dismissively. “Eh, Glacia’s just a bitch. But what about Lisia? She’s Sootopolitan, too, and she’s even more famous than you were when you were Champion. Not to mention she’s younger than you. Do you see her giving up?”
“No, but … Lisia’s more careful than I was about what she discloses to her fans. She has a clear line between what everyone can know about her and what only her personal friends and family can know. I was out and proud as nonbinary when I was Champion, but no matter how much research you do, you still won’t be able to find out that Lisia’s real name is Alizeyat and she has a girlfriend -- although the girlfriend part is mostly because she does not want her homophobic grandfather to find out.”
Phoebe chuckles once more. “Yeah, my gramps is homophobic too. One day I was at a family dinner and he started saying shit about gay people, so I just said I had a girlfriend, right then and there. Then he kept going, so I just stood up and started wrestling him.”
Wallace’s teal eyes widen in shock, so she elaborates. “He was all old and weak, y’know? And my Pokémon were on standby in case anything got serious. The rest of my family was pissed, but mostly about me fighting him, none of them cared about the girlfriend. Maybe Lissi should just try fighting her grandpa.”
Wallace’s mind replays memories of their father screaming in rage upon discovering that they had a boyfriend, slamming his hands onto the walls in fury so hard that his hands were fractured and the walls had holes in them, and then they think of Lisia’s petite frame and weak Contest-oriented Altaria, and they privately think that perhaps encouraging their niece to fight the man is the worst thing they could possibly do for her safety. Despite this, they smile at Phoebe. “I’m not sure that’s a good idea, but thanks for the advice.”
The two are interrupted by the ground shaking beneath them, and Phoebe grabs onto Wallace for support in a way that makes them privately hope that she's a lesbian, as opposed to bi or pansexual. She quickly realizes what she's doing and moves away from them, blushing.
Both of them know the cause of the earthquake.
“Regigigas,” says Wallace.
“What do we do?” asks Phoebe.
Wallace groans, turning away from her. “I need to think of a plan.”
“That’s where you’re wrong.”
She grabs their shoulder, pulling them back so that they face her, and she smiles as she makes eye contact with them.
“We need to think of a plan.”
Chapter 14: The End of the End
“So, we need a plan.”
Cynthia didn’t need Steven to point this out; she was already fully aware of this. “Any ideas?”
“We could get one of the Draconid people to give us advice,” suggests Steven. “They have many legends about Regigigas.”
Joseph Stone gives a hearty chuckle. “Where are we meant to find a Draconid? Don’t they have red eyes and really dark hair?”
Roxanne avoids eye contact with the older man as she runs her fingers through artificially lightened hair, but this goes unnoticed.
Cynthia frowns. “I can’t see why this would happen. Normally Regigigas would only leave if Regice, Regirock, or Registeel was captured against its will.”
“Hmm,” says Steven. “I don’t believe anything like that has happened.”
“Um,” says Roxanne.
“Maybe it was some random Trainer?” suggests Cynthia. “I mean, it takes a lot of skill to catch a Legendary, especially against its will, but it is possible…”
“I don’t think any of them have been captured,” lies Steven. “Perhaps one of them is injured?”
“Excuse me,” says Roxanne.
“That can’t be it,” replies Cynthia. “They were sealed away centuries ago. When they’re injured, they just wait until Hoenn or Sinnoh needs them or something, and then they just heal themselves.”
“What if the injury is life-threatening?” proposes Steven.
“Wait a second,” says Roxanne.
“Unlikely,” says Cynthia. “Anything strong enough to kill or mortally wound a Legendary is also strong enough to disrupt the local area in ways that would be impossible to ignore. Besides, it’s freezing here, so we know Regice is fine.”
“Anything’s possible,” says Steven. “We should try to keep an open mind.”
“Could you please listen to me?” Roxanne is on the verge of tearing her hair out. “I’m trying to say something.”
Cynthia turns to the red-eyed girl. “Yes, Roxanne?”
Roxanne says the words before Steven can stop her. “Steven caught Registeel!”
There’s a heavy silence between the four of them. Joseph Stone is the first to break it. “Stevo, you … you caught Registeel and didn’t tell anyone?!”
“I told some people…” he mumbles.
Cynthia glares at him. “And you didn’t tell us?! Steven, that’s important information!”
“I… I thought that if you knew then you would make me release it!”
“Of course we’ll make you release it!” the blonde woman snaps. “Steven, the fate of the world is at stake here! Why did you catch it in the first place?!”
“I … I liked it…”
It’s a weak answer and he knows it. Cynthia groans. “Maybe Regigigas will calm down if we take Registeel to it and release it.”
“Where is Regigigas?” asks Roxanne.
Little does she know, Steven’s about to receive a call that will answer this question.
Wallace is fumbling around for their PokéNav Plus with shaking hands. They finally manage to call Steven. The device rings twice before their boyfriend picks up. “Wallace? Are you okay?”
“I’m not injured,” they answer, which is the best answer they can truthfully give. “But when Phoebe said she needed backup she really meant multiple people.”
“How bad is it down there?”
“Regigigas is here.”
Steven is silent for a moment. “We’ll be right there. Just keep yourself safe until we arrive.”
It’s only ten minutes before Steven’s Metagross flies into view, carrying Steven himself along with Roxanne and Cynthia. Metagross lands, and as all three Trainers step off its back, Steven gestures for it to stay back, away from him. Metagross, however reluctantly, does so.
Wallace bites their lip, watching as Steven slowly walks toward Regigigas.
Regigigas does not hurt him, nor does it react to his presence in any way. With trembling hands, he takes Registeel’s Ultra Ball out of his pocket.
“Regigigas,” he says, as loudly as he can. “It was I who captured your friend and creation, Registeel, against its will.”
Regigigas raises its arms, ready to attack, but does nothing.
“I apologize,” continues Steven. “For the damage I have caused with my selfish decision. I will release Registeel back now in the hope that some semblance of balance can be restored, and I am willing to accept the consequences of my actions.”
Slowly, carefully, he places the Ultra Ball on the ground in front of him.
Registeel comes out, but just as quickly it vanishes. The frigid temperatures around southwest Hoenn warm up as Regirock, Regice, and Registeel go back to sleep, sealed away once more in their chambers until they encounter a Trainer who is worthy of catching them.
Regigigas, too, has the ability to teleport back to its home, back to Snowpoint Temple to seal itself away.
It chooses not to.
It bends down and touches the human that caught Registeel against its will. The human recognized his error and did his best to fix it, and for that Regigigas will thank him by allowing him to live.
He still needs to pay the consequences.
It pushes the human lightly, and he grunts as he falls to the ground. The other humans rush to his age, but he quickly stands up to reassure them. “I’m okay,” he says in a strained voice. “Just bruised. I’m not seriously hurt.”
Satisfied, Regigigas vanishes, sealing itself away in the bottom floor of the Snowpoint Temple, so that citizens can worship it accordingly until the time when a worthy Trainer finds it.
Cynthia, Roxanne, Wallace, and Phoebe exchange eye contact as the four collectively realize what just happened.
“We did it!” yells Roxanne in triumph. “We saved Hoenn!”
“And Sinnoh!” adds Cynthia, talking louder than she means to as adrenaline pumps through her veins.
Wallace is so relieved that they’re close to tears. “We did it. We won. We won!”
Phoebe is celebrating, too, but not for long. She stops once she notices the one person who isn’t celebrating their victory.
Steven Stone has his eyes tightly closed and teeth gritted in what looks like an expression of extreme pain, and his hands are almost obsessively pulling on his silver locks. She bites her lip. “Steven, are you okay?”
He gives no response, and Phoebe doesn’t know what to do. She can tell he’s in pain, so she opts to place a hand on his shoulder in a comforting way.
Steven feels the unfamiliar touch and immediately his brain starts screaming at him. He’s being attacked! By instinct, he uses both of his arms to push the attacker away as hard as he can. Then he opens his eyes.
Oh fuck. He wasn’t under attack. It was just Phoebe. He just physically hurt Phoebe. He just physically hurt Phoebe! For no reason! What is wrong with him?! Phoebe’s shocked, everyone’s probably angry with him, everything hurts, he needs to leave, leave right now!
His legs refuse to move and he wants to scream. Everyone’s staring at him! His legs finally co-operate with his brain. He needs to get out! Without thinking, he turns and runs.
Chapter 15: Epilogue
Since some non-Australians might not know this: "I'm/We're not here to fuck spiders" is Australian slang. It's basically a phrase you use in specific circumstances as an alternative to "thanks captain obvious", usually when somebody asks if you should do something that you should obviously do.
(Person 1: So, now that we're at this café, should we order?
Person 2: We're not here to fuck spiders!)
Since there is (as of 2019) no Pokémon region based on Australia (which is where I live), my version of Hoenn is sort of an odd cross between Japan (which is what IRL Hoenn is based on) and Australia, so they use "I'm not here to fuck Spinarak" as slang in my fanfics. This is also why the temperatures are so high (because some of you probably read 40 degrees Celsius and started wondering why the characters haven't died of heat stroke yet; 40+ degrees C happens every summer here and it's hell).
(Another interesting tidbit: my depiction of Sootopolitans is VERY loosely based on IRL Aboriginal Australians)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Steven’s exhausted. He just ran through Route 101, Oldale Town, Route 102, Petalburg City, and some of Route 104 in the span of around five minutes while already injured. He’s in Petalburg Woods now. He wanted to make it to Rustboro but his entire body is screaming at him to stop and he knows he doesn’t have a hope of making it there.
He said he was okay back in Littleroot, and it wasn’t a complete lie. He said he wasn’t seriously hurt, just bruised, and that’s true, but bruises hurt, and they especially hurt when he hasn’t eaten all day and he’s sleep-deprived and hungry and emotionally drained and exhausted from running from Littleroot to Petalburg Woods.
Everything hurts. His head is spinning. He had to release Registeel. Why does that bother him so much? Ugh, this is all his fault!
His legs refuse to continue carrying him and he falls to the ground, whimpering as his bruises hit the ground hard. His entire body hurts. He’s crying. He can’t breathe.
And as soon as he hears that familiar voice, he can.
“W-Wallace?” he stutters.
Wallace runs toward their boyfriend, placing a hand on their back. “Steven, I’m here.”
Steven wraps his arms around Wallace’s torso. “It… It hurts.”
They bite their lip. “Do you need me to take you to a hospital?”
The suggestion causes him to hug them tighter. “No, just … stay here.”
“I’m not going anywhere, Steven.”
A choked sob escapes him. “P-Please don’t leave me…”
“Don’t worry, Steven. I’m staying here with you, okay?”
The two are silent for a few moments.
“I’m sorry,” Steven sobs.
“You don’t need to be sorry.” They run their fingers through his silver locks. “You’re going to be okay, Steven. You’re going to be okay.”
That was two months ago.
Steven, along with everyone else, has had some time off to recover, and now he’s back in the Champion position. He hasn’t had any challengers since the incident with Regigigias.
That’s about to change.
He hears a knock on the door. “Come in,” he says.
The challenger walks into the light, and Steven recognizes their teal locks.
“Wallace?!” he chokes. “You’re becoming Champion again?!”
Sidney, standing in the doorway behind the two, chuckles. “They’re not here to fuck Spinarak.”
Steven’s mind immediately jumps to the most literal interpretation of this statement and he cringes. Despite this, he grins.
The two battle in the Champion’s hall once more, and this time, Wallace uses all of their strength. They’re not scared of the backlash and controversy they’ll surely receive for being a Sootopolitan nonbinary Champion. They know they’ll be able to handle it.
It’s a tough battle, but Milotic only wobbles as Metagross falls to the ground. Drake smiles. “They’ll be a good Champion.”
Sidney nods in agreement. “I’m glad to have ‘em back.”
From the back of the room, a small voice starts to sing. “So what can I say except you’re welcome?”
Sidney turns. “Did you say something, Phoebe?”
The Alolan girl chuckles. “Oh, it was nothing important.”
Wallace recognizes that tone in their boyfriend’s voice and they groan. “Steven, what did you do?”
“Well… Remember the time I impulse brought a house?”
Very few people know why Steven lives in Mossdeep of all places, as opposed to Sootopolis with Wallace or Rustboro where he grew up with his family. The truth is that he just saw that Shoal Cave was nearby and brought the house on impulse, and then he started living in it because moving to another city was easier than admitting he had just impulse brought a house.
“Yes?” says Wallace apprehensively.
“Well, I did it again. I impulse brought a villa in Sinnoh.”
They sigh. “Steven, you idiot. Don’t tell me you’re moving to Sinnoh? I can’t move with you because I’m the Champion.”
“Not permanently,” he assures them. “I’ll just stay there for a year or two to collect stones, then give the villa back to Cynthia and move back in with you in Sootopolis.”
“And the house in Mossdeep?”
“I don’t know, I’ll give it to May and Lissi. You can visit me any time. I’ll call every day.”
They sigh. “Well, I’m not going to try and stop you. Just don’t impulse buy any more real estate, okay?”
“I won’t, I promise.”
They’re both happy. All is well.
For real this time.
Okay, sorry for bragging, but I am SO proud of this fic for being the first fic in ages that I have successfully completed with the "writing by the seat of your pants" method. I had a VERY vague plot idea when I started, but that's changed repeatedly, and normally when I don't have a clear plot idea I have to give myself a set amount of chapters to finish it in otherwise I'll never get it done.
I'm also a big fan of the writing style -- this is the third present-tense fic I've ever written (not counting the 10-book series of fanfics I wrote in year 6 that, among MANY other errors, switched between past-tense and present-tense every two lines) and the first time I've used present-tense but third-person. I think it makes for some good prose! I should try present-tense more often.