A/N: Hey there...Frostbreaker here with Part II of the "Second Chance" storyline. Things are going to change, but in a good way. As always, please R&R and tell me what you think.
Disclaimer:I do not own any of the characters or original story elements associated with the Pokemon series, manga, or game. All rights go to their respective owners.
Chapter 1: That Which Should Be
Life has a funny way of evening things out. I mean look at me: I'm smart, athletic, decent-looking, and well-educated.
The only thing I had to sacrifice to get all these was normality.
My name's Rick. Not Ricky, not Ricardo...Rick. I was born with ocular polychromia, which means my eyes are multiple colors...and my two eyes' colors don't match each other. Not so bad, right? Problem is, my hair is also different. I was born with multi-hued hair that changes color throughout the seasons. Needless to say, these two conditions warranted multiple trips to the doctor's office for me, as I was an oddity in a lot of ways.
Physically, I was average. Muscle mass was good, body temperature was always stable, brain activity was above average, but nothing to be concerned about. Yes, beyond my obvious visible traits, I was physically healthy.
Non-physically, not so much.
From a young age, I'd known that something was different about me. I used to think I was special, but that wasn't the truth. No...I was just different. Whereas most kids that went on their Pokemon journeys would have to take the time to learn about their partners and get to know how to communicate with them non-verbally, I was weird in that respect.
I could understand Pokemon.
Since Pokemon weren't as judgmental as humans, I often spent my free time with them...which only made the hazing I got in school worse. I had rumors following me everywhere...some good or funny, and some not-so-good. Regardless, I plugged away at school and got exemplary marks, but only because I wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible.
As soon as I turned twelve, I left on my journey. Sure, it was two or three years later than most kids, but only because I had things to take care of before I left. First of all I needed to be sure my dad would be okay, but I also wanted to find my own Pokemon partner. You see, my ability to communicate with Pokemon gave me the chance to form a friendship with one, and allowed me to not only choose my own partner, but for him or her to choose me as well.
That's how I met Osiris.
Osiris was a Houndour that I had met during my time playing outside in the woods surrounding New Bark Town, and he quickly realized there was something different about me. He was apprehensive at first – as a Pokemon should be around a human – but once he realized I wasn't going to hurt him or catch him, he warmed up to me really fast. One day when we were in the forest relaxing, he commented – seemingly to himself – that sometimes he wished I could understand him. Imagine his surprise when I answered that I could in fact understand him. I won't bore with details, but this quickly made us closer and when I told him I was leaving one day on a Pokemon journey, he instantly volunteered to come with me.
Throughout my travels, I'd caught four other Pokemon in all, using the same technique I'd used with Osiris. This proved difficult however, because I needed a psychic type to balance out my group, and the one I was striving for the most was a Ralts. The reason this was difficult was because Ralts were so afraid of humans, and so while I knew I could find them outside of the Ilex forest near Goldenrod City, this meant I still had to be very patient.
About a week into my search, however, I'd hit the jackpot.
I had heard somewhere that Ralts were attracted to positive emotions, so more often than not, I would camp out on Route 34 and just enjoy myself, projecting those happy-happy thoughts all around us. Osiris and my other partners helped a lot, and more often than not we would just have a bonfire and enjoy the night air.
My four other partners were Gracia, Tomel, Lidia, and Zane. Gracia was a Pidgeotto that I'd met in the forests surrounding home, and after feeding her a few times when she got curious, she chose to join me. Tomel was a Haunter that always loved to mess around; I caught him in the Sprout Tower after he bet me I couldn't, and after that he shrugged and said, "You win some, you lose some." Lidia was a Croconaw that I had found as an egg. After watching the egg for a week or so to see if it would be claimed, I assumed it was abandoned and took it with me. Lastly was Zane, an Ivysaur. I'd gotten him in a trade from a friend of mine, who'd asked for an Abra in return for Zane. Luckily, I'd just caught an Abra, and so I traded without delay.
However that left me without a psychic-type, so now I was back on Route 34 looking for one.
The past few days I'd had some luck though, as I would catch glimpses of a Ralts' head gem from behind a rock or in some grass. This made it very clear to me that a Ralts was curious enough to get that close, but not enough to actually approach...which meant I'd have to take matters into my own hands.
Tonight was like most other nights as I settled down with a roaring fire before us, courtesy of Osiris. The Houndour took his place upon a high rock along with Zane, the two overlooking the campsite in case any dangerous territorial Pokemon came along. Gracia lay in my lap as I preened the feathers she couldn't reach...which left Lidia and Tomel to play near the lake. Even as I tended to the bird-Pokemon, I kept my eyes open for a glimpse of the Ralts...and it didn't take long before I saw its head gem behind some tall grass.
I decided that five days of playing hide-and-seek was enough, so I cleared my throat as I prepared to speak to it. "You know, I know you're there. Your head gem is sticking out of the grass." At this, the gem disappeared into the grass as the creature squeaked in surprise. I chuckled and shook my head. "You don't have to be afraid. I have a ghost-type partner, so if I wanted to hurt you, I could have. I've actually been looking for you."
"You've been looking for me?" said a young-sounding girl's voice inside my head.
I assumed it could only be the Ralts, so I nodded. "I have. Let's just say I haven't been camping out here for the past week just because the weather is nice." I then produced a small bowl of assorted berries. "Here, I gathered these for you."
She approached, albeit cautiously. I handed the bowl to Gracia and the Pidgeotto took it in her mouth. The bird-Pokemon then waddled over to the small psychic-type and set the bowl down in front of her. "Here, eat up. You must be hungry."
The Ralts looked at the bowl suspiciously for a moment before pulling out an Oran berry and biting into it. The juice exploded around the sides of her mouth, and I noticed a small smile appearing as she ate. She quickly finished the berry before looking up at me in confusion. "Why? Why do this?"
I shrugged. "Well I'll be honest with you...I need a psychic-type on my team." This caused her to shrink in fear, so I shook my head. "I'm not going to capture you against your will, so you don't need to be afraid."
"What do you mean 'against my will'?" the Ralts projected.
I responded, "Just what I said...I'm not going to catch you against your will. I'm asking you to come with me, not making you."
The Ralts tilted her head to the side and shuffled over to me with the bowl, until she was standing right in front of me. "You look different than most humans. Your eyes are really pretty."
I chuckled. "Well humans don't think so. As far as humans go, I'm just weird-looking. That's why I try and make friends with Pokemon more than humans."
"That must be hard. Most Pokemon don't trust humans." she replied.
I shook my head. "It's easier for me than you might think. Being able to understand Pokemon's speech helps."
The Ralts looked to Gracia, who was nestled beside me. The Pidgeotto nodded. "He can. I don't know how, but he can understand all of us."
"How?" the Ralts asked, now speaking to me normally.
I shrugged. "I don't know. I was born this way." I then put my fingers to my mouth and whistled loudly, causing the other four Pokemon to gather around me. "Anyway, this is the rest of my group." I motioned to each one. "This is Gracia, Tomel, Lidia, Zane, and Osiris. Can I know your name?"
The Ralts smiled and nodded softly. "My name is Ada."
I smiled. "That's a pretty name. Well Ada, I'll ask formally now – I need a psychic-type on my team, and I'd like if you'd fill the spot. You can ask any one of my partners here, and they'll all agree that you'll be in good hands. I take care of my friends and your happiness and safety comes before anything else. Would you come with us please?"
Ada looked all of us over before looking back to me with a smile. "I think I will."
I held a Pokeball out to her. "Well, all you have to do is press the button. I'll let you right back out afterward." She nodded and did as I said by pressing the button, then disappeared in a flash of red light into the open ball. The ball only rocked once before it "ding-ed", then I pressed the button and let her back out in a flash of white light. When she fully materialized, I smiled. "Welcome to the family, Ada."
She looked up at me and I could just barely see a crimson eye from behind her green hair. She smiled before nodding. "Thank you..."
"Rick." I answered. I motioned to the rest of them. "They all call me by my name, so I'm not going to have you calling me 'master' or anything like that, okay?"
She nodded. "I'd prefer that, I think. 'Master' just sounds so..."
"Coarse." I offered. Ada nodded again with a smile before looking at the bowl of berries, then to me. I laughed. "I got those for you, you don't have to ask. Go ahead, eat your fill." I pulled four miniature berry tree pots off of my bag. "With these, I can grow berries no matter where we go. We'll always have food so long as we're careful not to eat too many and we always have some sun for them."
The Ralts took a pot in her hands and examined it. "The things humans think of..."
She handed it back to me and I nodded. "Yeah. Well anyway, you should go ahead and eat and then we'll get some sleep. We're heading to Blackthorn City tomorrow, but we're going to walk there so that you all can get plenty of training in." I then pointed at Lidia. "And we need to find a way to train you to be more resilient against electricity. Clair is famous for equipping her dragon Pokemon with electric moves."
"Okay daddy!" the Croconaw answered with a smile.
Ada looked at me with confusion. "Daddy?"
I chuckled nervously. "Well I did hatch her and raise her...so makes sense that she thinks of me as her father."
"What happens when she evolves and gets bigger than you?" Ada asked.
I shrugged. "Well I've already held off on evolving all of my partners, so that they can learn new moves faster. When I feel the time is right, I'll let that happen. I'll admit it'll be new being called 'dad' by a giant alligator, but I'm sure I can get over it." I then placed my hands behind my head and sighed as I lay down against my rolled-up sleeping bag. "Well, we should all get to sleep, as we have a lot of work to do tomorrow. So get some rest." With that I closed my eyes and slipped off into sleep.
Some time later, I was awakened by the talking of Osiris and Ada. At first the words were kind of fuzzy, but as I listened to their hushed voices, the words became clearer until I could hear the conversation.
"So have you told him yet?" Ada asked.
"No, I haven't." Osiris responded. "And I'm not sure it's the right time. This kind of thing needs to be handled delicately."
I heard a sigh and then Ada saying, "Well he obviously already knows he's different somehow. What's the harm in telling him the truth?"
I decided enough was enough and I opened my eyes, looking towards the two voices and finding the two Pokemon pretending to be asleep. I rolled my eyes and spoke, "I know you two are awake...I just heard you talking. You going to be dishonest about that too?"
Osiris groaned and sat up with an ashamed expression. "Rick...I'm sorry. I would have told you the truth sooner, but I just didn't know how."
I yawned and sat myself up against the rock behind me. "Well now's as good a time as any, because I know something's up. So...how exactly am I different?"
The Houndour looked to Ada, so she turned to me and sighed. "Being able to speak to Pokemon is a rare gift, Rick. It's not coincidence that your hair and eyes are different either...those are a physical mark of what you are."
I raised an eyebrow. "And what's that? What am I?"
"You're an Awakened." Osiris answered plainly.
"Umm...okay, what's that?" I asked, now confused by the new term.
I heard shuffling from behind me as Gracia fluttered down beside me. "You remember hearing about that man in Cianwood, right? The one that lives with Pokemon?" I nodded, so she continued with, "Well...he's also an Awakened."
I raised an eyebrow skeptically. "Okay, but one thing that sets the two of us apart is that he can use Aura and I can't. I've been traveling with all of you for almost ten years...I think that's something I would have noticed."
"Each Awakened has access to a different ability. He can use Aura...while you can likely use something different. Those powers are usually unlocked during times of extreme duress." Ada explained.
"Ah." I deadpanned. "So all I have to do is be put in a life-or-death situation and my arms might catch fire, right?"
"Or you might cause a thunderstorm, or you could psychically pick up a boulder and throw it. Just like Pokemon types, there are many different ways your power as an Awakened can manifest." Ada explained further.
I nodded. "Well I think we should probably go see this guy before heading to Blackthorn then. I'd like to hear from another of these 'Awakened' people just what the hell is going on." I then waggled a finger. "I guess until I meet him I can handle things...I just don't need anymore surprises, that's all."
"Surprise!" screamed a voice from in front of me, accompanied by a flash of light. I fell back against the rock and bumped my head, grumbling as I held my now aching cranium. I then opened my eyes to see a small floating greenish Pokemon with large blue eyes. She glanced around before clapping happily. "Haha, I got to you first! Taika owes me a Rowap Berry!"
Just then another flash of light blinded me, only this time revealing two Pokemon I did recognize: a Mew and a Mewtwo.
The Mew floated away from its larger companion and crossed its little arms. "You got lucky, Celebi."
The Mewtwo shook its head before looking to me, seemingly appraising me. "You must be wondering why we're here." I just nodded as my mouth hung open. "Well," he started, "our job is as a sort of 'welcoming party' for the new Awakened Ones that are born into our world. Lord Lugia would have done it himself but as you can imagine, it would be rather hard for him to be stealthy with his large form. Besides, Timothy Maxwell would like to meet you, and has asked us personally to invite you to his home."
I pointed a finger at my chest as I stuttered out, "H-h-he wants to m-meet me?"
The Mew nodded. "Mmhmm! He's heard a lot about you and your compassion for Pokemon. You're the kind of trainer that he likes, which is good."
I finally composed myself and nodded. "Umm...okay. Before we go any further, let me just say that it's awesome to meet all of you." They all nodded, so I continued. "And it's funny that you all would suggest that, because I was actually thinking about going to see him before I headed to Blackthorn."
Celebi giggled and nodded. "That's great, because we can take you to see him right now!"
"Wait, now? As in now now?" I dumbly asked.
She nodded with a smile. "Yep! Just put your partners in their Pokeballs and we'll get going!" I shrugged and did as she said, then stood up and gathered my things. I finished clipping my Pokeballs to my belt and nodded. "All set then? Good...just stand right there."
The three Legendaries took places around me, but before anything could happen the Mewtwo tapped me on the shoulder, so I looked at him. "I'll warn you that this is going to feel very strange...and you can probably expect to lose your dinner when we arrive."
"What do you me-" I started to say, just before the world disappeared.
It's a weird thing to teleport across such a large distance. Imagine the feeling of being squeezed through a pipe, but it doesn't hurt. Now imagine that your stomach is doing backflips the entire time. All of this happened within a second or so, and when we arrived at wherever we were, I realized that the Mewtwo was right...
I stumbled over to a bush and started retching until my stomach had expelled its contents. I felt the Mewtwo's three-fingered hand pat my back as I did so. "It's okay...every human does that the first time." He then helped me up and raised his eyeridge. "Better?" I nodded. "Very well, follow me."
We walked over to the only house up on this hilltop or plateau or whatever it was. It was large and painted a soft cyan, with white windows and doors.
When we got to the front door, Celebi put her hand in front of me. "Wait here. Timothy's friends are a little protective of him, and might attack you if you startle them in the middle of the night."
I nodded. "Yeah, that sounds good. I'll wait here then." She nodded and the three went inside. I stepped a distance away from the house next to a full-size berry tree and went about releasing all of my partners.
Osiris sniffed the air before grimacing. "Ugh...what smells like sick?"
I sighed as I leaned against the tree, pointing to the collection of bushes a few dozen feet away. "That would be my dinner in the bushes over there. Humans aren't made to teleport."
This elicited laughs and giggles from all of them, but they all were cut short when the door opened again. Stepping out in front of us was a Feraligatr, a Charizard, and a very groggy looking man.
The man yawned and sighed as he looked at Celebi. "You couldn't have waited until morning?"
"Why put off until tomorrow what you can get done today?" she remarked.
The man – who I assume must be Timothy Maxwell – walked over to me slowly. His hair was a mixture of platinum and lavender, and his eyes matched. He stopped in front of me with the Feraligatr and Charizard flanking him. "So...you must be Rick, right?" I nodded and he extended his hand. "I'm Timothy Maxwell. It's a pleasure to meet you, Rick..."
"Childs." I answered.
"Rick Childs..." he mused. "Well, it's a pleasure to meet you, sir. Since you're here, I take it you've already been told what you are. Well I'm going to tell you a little more about yourself and your reason for being here."
"Well I'm here to learn more about-" I started before being cut off.
"I'm not talking about being here in Cianwood," he answered, "I mean here on this world. The reason for the Awakened are to act as a liaison between Pokemon and humans. There are comparatively few Awakened in the world compared to normal humans, and our job is to make sure that Pokemon are treated fairly and are protected." He then gestured to the three Legendaries. "Our more important job, however, is to protect and watch out for the Sacred Ones of the world. Each one of them has a job in this world, whether it be controlling rainfall, creation of land, or even the fabric of space. If they are captured by a trainer, it could cause global catastrophe. Our job as Awakened is to stop that, by any means necessary. For the time being, you'll need to rely on your partners." Black fire then crawled up his arms, which I recognized as aura. "But when your power awakens, you will be able to help them." He then looked nervous. "There is one other thing..."
"Timothy, come back to bed." called a feminine voice from the house. The door opened and even in the darkness, I could see the tall form of a Blaziken approaching. As she got closer, however, I could see she was very different from a normal Blaziken.
Mr. Maxwell pointed to the Blaziken with a sheepish smile. "Umm yeah...that comes with being an Awakened."
It took a second for the thought to hit me, and I shook my head. "Wait a minute, that's never happened to any of my partners. I'm pretty sure I'd notice something like that."
He shrugged. "It only seems to happen when you can both understand your friends and use your Awakened power. Since you haven't discovered yours yet, that's why your partners all look 'normal'."
The Blaziken came up beside Mr. Maxwell and looked up at me. "Wow, you're tall." I ran my eyes quickly over her figure before she snapped her...wait, five fingers? I looked at her face and she smirked. "Eyes up here, buddy."
As I looked over the group, I noticed that the Blaziken wasn't the only one that looked different. The Feraligatr was just as tall as normal, but had a more humanoid shape that allowed him to stand up straight, the Charizard being the same. Both still had long claws, tails, and elongated snouts however, so it was clear that they were Pokemon.
I looked back to Mr. Maxwell. "So when my powers are unlocked..." I pointed to Osiris.
The man nodded with a sigh. "Him too. I'll tell you right away that a lot of the Pokemon I kept left when they heard about it. If you're really the good trainer I think you are, you'll still give them the choice though."
"Yeah, I'm not going to be okay with that." said a gravelly voice from behind me.
I turned and looked at Tomel, who was frowning. "So..."
He nodded. "Sorry bud, but I like my body...or lack thereof."
I sighed and nodded back. "Well it's been a hell of a journey, Tomel." Without hesitation, I unsnapped his Pokeball from my waist and crushed it in my hand, releasing him of my possession. I then reached out and took his shadowy hand in my own. "You take care of yourself."
The Haunter smirked. "Please, I got this. Don't worry, I'm sure we'll bump into each other again." And with that, he floated away into the night.
"Well...that sucked." said Mr. Maxwell's voice from behind me.
I turned and sighed. "Yeah, that blows. I guess it could have been worse though." I then turned to the rest of my partners with a question in their eyes, and they all shook their heads as they took places next to me. I smiled and nodded. "Thanks guys."
Mr. Maxwell then motioned to the house. "I've got a huge guestroom you all can stay in for the night. I'll contact Lord Lugia, Lord Latios, and Lady Latias tomorrow so you can meet all of them. Sound good?"
I nodded. "It does. Lady Celebi caught me just as I was getting ready to go back to sleep, so I am kinda tired."
He shot a look at Celebi. "You know for a master of time, you sure have bad timing."
"Hey, ease up or you'll wake up in a child's body." the time-Pokemon retorted with a mischievous grin.
Timothy then inclined his head to his home. "Come on, I'll show all of you to your room."
The house was much larger inside than the outside would suggest, but only because it was a split-level that was built into the bedrock of the plateau...and he wasn't kidding when he said the guestroom was huge. The bed in it was twice the size of any bed I'd seen before, and the room was large enough to have a party in.
Timothy turned to me as he stood by the door. "Well, bathroom is down the hall with the blue door and kitchen is back the way we came. Feel free to help yourself to a beer or some berries. You need anything or are you good?"
I shrugged. "I guess that's it. Thanks a lot for doing this."
He shook his head with a smile. "It's cool. We Awakened take care of our own. If you need anything, just talk to Tara. She's the Umbreon that you saw in the family room. She stays up pretty much all night and is friendly, so don't worry about approaching her."
I nodded. "Well thanks a lot. I guess I'll see all of you in the morning then, huh?"
"You will. Get a good sleep...tomorrow you start your life as an Awakened." Timothy responded before closing the door.
I sighed and whipped off my shirt and pants before donning my pajamas. I then turned to my partners. "So, who wants the bed?"
I kinda wish I knew what was inside Pokeballs, because all but Ada and Lidia pressed the button on their Pokeballs and vanished inside them. Ada I hadn't known, but Lidia always took to sleeping with me, much like a human child would their parent. I shrugged and lay down in the bed, on top of the covers because of how warm a night it was. Lidia took her place beside me and snuggled into my grasp while Ada sat on the floor.
"Oops...guess you need help, huh?" I whispered. The Ralts nodded, so I reached my hand down and let her grab on before lifting her up with ease and placing her beside me. Surprisingly, she settled against me without hesitation, and almost instantly fell asleep.
The Croconaw hugged me tightly in her stubby arms and grinned. "I always knew you were special, daddy."
I chuckled. "Well that means a lot, sweetheart. Go to sleep now...we've got a lot to do tomorrow."
She nodded and settled against me, the rhythmic beating of my heart lulling her to sleep like it always did. As I lay there in the silence that filled the room, I reflected on the day. One day had changed my entire outlook on life...and not necessarily in a bad way. I had gained a great deal, but also lost a friend. Nonetheless, things were heading in what I thought were a good direction. With this in mind, I closed my eyes and slipped off into peaceful slumber.