From: A person in a place with a thing. (newhaights@aol.comanyte) Subject: [PW!] Out of Time: Realization; or, Photo Finish Newsgroups: Date: 2001-05-15 19:12:01 PST (OOC: Damn news server...I gotta post this through friggin' AOL...) (OOC: Finally...the loose ends are tied up.) *** Exiting the Saffron Gym, Andrew held up his Marshbadge to the light, grinning as it shone in the sun. "It was close, but I got the job done." Beside him, Mara smiled. "Not too shabby. There might be hope for you yet..." "What's that supposed to mean?" "Well, with you've finally managed to get a rescue and succeed without my or Gads' help." Andrew's hand shot behind the head. "Awww, you had to go and bring that up, didn't you?" "Um-hmm." Mara nodded, her smile turning impish. "Can't let you go and get a run-away ego now, can I?" "Guess not..." Meanwhile... Gads was busy practicing in the Dojo in solitude. He had even sent Monk-chan out earlier so he could practice in silence. Besides, the Mankey's incessant comments about sparring rather than just practicing a kata had begun to get on his nerves after the first few minutes. Not that his nerves weren't already shot. He was worried for Andrew, and for Mara. Had he made the right choice? Shouldn't he have gone instead? . . . Gads shook his head. He was a fighter, and as much as he hated to admit it, Andrew probably had a better shot at victory because of his more-varied style. '... kick, kick, punch, stance, punch, dodge, block, parry, punch, kick, stance.' Gads finished his kata and frowned. He hadn't done such a basic kata that sloppy in years. Gads frowned and begain again. 'Stance, punch, punch, dodge...' *I'm dissapointed in you.* "YAAAAAH!" Gads, startled by the voice in his head, fell to the ground in mid-kata. Cursing, he knew who that voice belonged to. 'Whaddya mean, Sabrina?' *I was expecting you to answer this challenge like any other you received. Not send your friend to meet a similar fate as your sister.* 'Andrew... lost?' *... no.* Gads grinned. 'HA! So my sister is freed then. I guess letting Andrew go instead was a good choice.' *But it was the coward's way. You let your friend fight your battle for you. What happened to your precious warrior's honor?* 'Because it was a trap set up for me. You wouldn't have been expecting Andrew.' *Does that make your decision any less cowardly? You sent Andrew because you were afraid to lose.* 'HEY! I'm not afraid of...' *Actually, you are afraid. You're afraid of Primeapes... how ironic. You're afraid of the Pokemon Tower...* 'Get outta my head!' *And you're afraid of me.* 'You? Ha!' *Then why didn't you come? After all, it was a challenge addressed to you. Not just anyone who wanted to save Mara. Not just you or Andrew. It was a challenge issued to you, and you ran away while your friend picked up your slack.* 'That's not true!' *Tell me: what would you had done if Andrew had lost?* 'But he didn't!' *But what if he had? Besides, he's still just outside my gym. What would happen if I decided to punish him and Mara for taking your challenge. Then what?* 'You wouldn't DARE!' *... you're right, I wouldn't. Such a pity though . . . a martial artist of your calibur, with psychic potental as well, hiding behind his friend.* 'Damn it! That's not what it was!' However, this time, no voice responded. 'It wasn't like that... it wasn't!' '... was it?' Gads, instead of returning to his kata, simply sat and began to think. *A little later* Andrew and Mara, having not found Gads at the Trisan house, decided to check at the Dojo. And sure enough, there Gads was, sitting on the floor, lost in thought. "Hey man, I did it!" Andrew said, while showing his Marshbadge to Gads. "I know already. 'She' already told me." "'She'?" "Sabrina. She said you won, and was dissapointed that I wasn't the one she faced." "Oh." Andrew put the Marshbadge away, frowning a little. Then his grin shot right back up. "Well, I guess she's just bitter about losing, ne?" "Yeah. She was expecting you. After all, that's why she kidnapped me: to get you to fight her. Sending Andrew wasn't something she expected." Suddenly, something clicked in Gads' head. 'She challenged ME! It wasn't about Mara. It never was. That's what Sabrina was saying. It didn't matter that Andrew was better suited to the task, she wanted to face ME. If Sabrina hadn't wanted to face me, Mara would have never been held like that, just treated like any other person who lost to Sabrina: possibly had a cruel trick pulled on her, but otherwise fine.' The train of thought continued. 'Mara was put at risk because of me... and even worse, Andrew was the one who stepped up. What if he lost?' "Well?" Mara's question shook Gads out of his mental loop. "What?" "I said that Andrew and I were gonna head out for a bite to eat. You wanna come?" "Um... no thanks. I've got something I need to think about." Gads went back to thinking as Mara and Andrew simply shrugged and headed out for a victory meal. *Saffron Gym, a little later* "Key..." Monk-chan tensed up, curlling up his tail a bit tighter and looking around, ready for anything. "Calm down MC. We're not here to pick a fight." 'Although we might get one anyways.' Gads entered the main Gym arena. As expected, Sabrina was there. *I've been waiting for you.* "I'd guessed as much. You know, if you wanted to challenge me, you could have just done exactly that. You didn't have to take it out on my sister. And if you had really read my mind, you'd have known that." *Hmmm. Suppose you're right. Pity though that you didn't accept the challenge earlier. Is that the reason you're here now?* "No. I just wanted to say my piece. I'll go after this. I'll give you your match now if you want. But I already know that I'll lose. I'm not ready. I'm about to leave to go train again." *With Mara and Andrew?* "No, alone. Long as it takes to get my focus back. And I'll return, and give you your match then, to your terms." *What if I decided that I wanted you as a personal slave? Or perhaps as a pet?* Gads frowned, but continued, evenly. "As long as I got to make a demand of similar harshness out of you. I'm not gonna fall for that old "you gotta face me for a Marshbadge anyway" stuff. I could care less about the stupid badge anymore. It's just about you and me. And if the terms aren't even, that I'll refuse to fight except on my terms." *Fair enough I suppose. You'd make a terrible pet anyways. You'd probably bite too much, and I'm willing to bet those fangs of yours would hurt, eh Mankey-boy?* Sabrina sounded almost... amused. "Funny. Oh, and one other thing. Leave my friends and family out of this, period. If I find out you've done something to them in order to convince me to fight or else, I'll... I'll..." *You'll what?* Gads thought about it for a moment, then his features darkened. "I'll kill you. Plain and simple. I won't care what I lose during it, I will kill you. I'm getting sick of people messing with those I care for. And if you kill me first, I'll haunt you until the end of time." Sabrina seemed to think about this for a moment. *All right. Guess I'll leave your precious friends and family alone.* Gads turned to leave, but one more comment entered his mind. *Besides, I bet you'd make a really annoying ghost. I'd never be able to focus.* For a moment, Gads did nothing. Then, he turned to look over his shoulder, and grinned. "You better belive it." *Trisan home, following morning* "WHAT? You're leaving?" Mara looked almost shocked. "Yup. This morning. As soon as my backpack is refilled with supplies and my stomach is filled with breakfast." To add emphasis, Gads flipped the pancakes he was cooking. "Well, it's a little sudden, but I'm sure I can be ready by then." Mara began to turn to her room. "Nope, I'm going alone. Well, me and my Pokemon." "WHAT!" Once again, the shocked look overcame Mara's face. "You're going alone?" "Yep. Alone." Gads dropped a couple pancakes on Mara's plate, then two on Andrew's, who was still sleeping. Finally, two more was dropped on Gads' own plate. "Why?" Although it was said like a question, it sounded more like a demand. "Regain my focus and whatnot so I can give Sabrina the beating of her life for screwing with you, and possibly Andrew, had he not won." "But Andrew did win..." "But what if he didn't, Mara? Besides, she didn't want just ANYONE to come and challenge her. That's why she manipulated you like that. She wanted ME to come and challenge her." "How can you be certain?" "Me and Sabrina had a little chat the other day." Shock time, no. 3. "WHAT? You didn't challenge her or anything did you?" "One match, any terms, when I get back from my trip, on the promise that she doesn't do anything to provoke the match involving my family and friends." Again... "Why?" "Because I have to." And with that, Gads and Mara sat down for breakfast for what would be the last time in a while... A much longer time then either would expect. *Later that moring* "See ya man." Andrew shook hands with his traveling partner of over a year now. It was almost like the end of a dream to Andrew. From a dull, boring life of wasting away to being dragged along by a pair of martial artists through super-villians, heroic quests, mis-steps, and even the darkining of one's own soul. He'd never forget the times he spent with Gads. Whether it was as an adversary, a friend, an ally, a sensei, or what-not, Gads had affected Andrew's life permanently. "See you around, Andrew." Likewise, Andrew's dry wit, level head, and constant companionship would be missed by the martial artist and fighting Pokemon trainer. He'd been a sociopath when he first met Andrew, and he had helped Gads rediscover the right path. From there, the two had become the best of friends, no matter what kind of trouble popped up among them. After the handshake, Gads turned to his half-sister. Gone from Gads mind was once the potental love interest he saw in his now-sibling. Now he saw family, and a much deeper bond that tied them together no matter how far apart they were. They didn't exchange any words, instead just sharing a gentle hug between brother and sister. When they releaced eachother, Mara finally spoke. "Be sure to come back soon." Gads grinned. "No problem. I'll probably only be gone for a season. Six months, tops. Be good to yourself." "You too... brother." Gads motioned to the Mankey. For all of the Mankey's crass, rude behavior, goodbyes always made him tear up a little. He quickly took a pearch on his trainer's shoulder, and Gads started to walk away, turning and waving as he left. "HEY, GADS!" Andrew took something out of his pocket, and threw it to Gads. Gads caught it one-handed, and looked at it. It was an old locket, with a picture inside of the trio, taken during the previous year's christmas shopping in one of those picture booths. Andrew and Mara had tremendous smiles; Gads, although dampened by the responsibility of carrying their bags, was also beaming. On the back was inscribed a phrase in Latin. It read: NUMQUAM DEPONO NULLUS REFERT PRETIUM Gads gave a strange look to Andrew upon reading this. "It's Latin," Andrew yelled back. "Look it up." TBC? 5 years or so... (OOC: Well, that's it. Gads is as of now indefinitely retired. Mara too. If Locke gets interested anymore, he might re-commandeer the two [oh, and BFPOC too], but until then.... In other news, Andrew is as of now a changed, but free, character. Expect him in Violet City sometime soon... ^_- ) (OOC2: Like Andrew said, look it up. If not in a latin dictionary...if you've been following stories like a good reader should, you should know where to look.) -- NewHaights: NOBODY EXPECTS THE SPANISH INQUISITION. NOBODY.