“Oh, Sweetie! This place looks amazing!” Alana gushed as she stumbled to get her shoes off in the genkan of the newly renovated Kantoan style minka. The brunette woman took a deep breath and was flooded with memories of living with her children and ex-husband in Kanto – all happy, rest assured. “I didn’t think you’d go with an almost traditional restoration, though.”
“Meh.” Her oldest child and the Tri-Regional Champion, Akara, shrugged as she put her mother’s shoes in the little cubby off to the side of the genkan. Alana’s youngest, Sol, was carefully doing the same with his shoes and hanging up the siblings’ bags on the hooks above it. “I missed being in Ōto-san’s place. There’s way too many ‘authentic Alolan’ resorts in the Regions and I can always just visit you if I need something simple and quaint.”
Sol was quiet as he wandered around the tatami floored home, gently tracing the designs that had been sand blasted into the glass panes of the shoji. He came to the large curio cabinet that spanned an entire wall, only split in the middle for the wall mounted fifty inch TV and entertainment center beneath it, and looked at the multitude of fossils, Mega-Stones, and other relics his sister had obtained in her career as a Trainer. The Blue Orb pulsed lightly alongside an open Master Ball and he remembered how she’d refused to officially release Kyogre to ensure no one ever tried to catch the Legendary again.
Akara had moved in a few months after they had gotten settled into their home on Mele Mele Island. Close enough to visit, but far enough for her to have her privacy, and yet Sol could still feel her shadow over him. Akara never acted like he had to follow in her footsteps or reach her level. Hell, she’d only gotten as far as she had out of spite half the time. Having a sister with three regional titles, the Hoenn title spanning the most recent five years, was just a heavy burden to bare once people connected their last name.
Sol sighed and shook the thoughts from his head. Akara was nothing less than supportive in everything he’d done in his life. Being literally double his age at twenty-six, she was even covering all of his medical costs for his transitioning! He knew a lot of kids – adults, too – that weren’t as lucky to have a family that accepted the fact that they were transgender.
“Hello~? Earth to Sunflora!” Sol jolted back to himself, hand accidentally rattling the glass of the cabinet loudly as Akara’s warm amber eyes came into focus. He blinked his own Sunflora petal yellow orbs and felt his face heat up at being caught daydreaming. “I asked if you were gonna participate in the Island Challenge, Otouto!”
“I-I was thinking about it. Professor Kukui is so pushy about it, though, like I don’t have a choice…”
“Kukui? Is that the shirtless guy that keeps just walking into your house?” When he nodded, Akara turned to their mother with a frown. “I told you to lock your doors, Ōka-san!”
“Oh, he’s harmless-!”
“And married,” Sol mumbled behind Akara as they walked into the engawa that faced the back yard, making Akara snicker at their mother’s blushing face.
He felt more intimidation creep back into his mind seeing his sister’s Pokémon. A Tyrantrum sauntered around with an Aurorus; a trio of Shiny Pokémon were in the small berry and fruit orchard in the back – a Volcarona fluttered around with a Shiny Sylveon and a Shiny Rapidash paced between trees; and her oldest companion, Auron the Blaziken, was putting up the clothing line.
Her Champion team from Hoenn – reigning for five years before she decided to retire so she could spend time with her family. She had also gotten extremely bored with having to sit and wait for challengers that she’d just beat in a few turns anyway. All he had was a regular Eevee that was more of a pet, but he hadn’t started training the little one yet.
“I was thinking of doing the Challenge, too. I’m curious about the Z-Moves and how they compare to Mega-Evolution.”
“Admit it, Sis. You just want another ring!”
Akara held up her hands to look at said rings, ignoring the many other sterling silver rings and midi rings to see the Class-Ring style of her platinum Champion ones. Each one for a different region and year, each had a shard of a Fire Stone in the middle – too small to affect an Eevee should it brush against them, but the little flame inside flared strong all the same. Kanto and Johto were on her pinkies while Hoenn was on her right middle finger. The five rings for each individual year she held onto her title were in the curio cabinet next to the Blue Orb, but she preferred this one.
It was her retirement ring, in a sense, with every year engraved into the metal around the Fire Stone with Kyogre on one side and Auron’s likeness engraved on the other. A custom gift from Steven Stone himself and the Elite Four of Hoenn.
As she looked at them, Sol smiled at the memory of when he gave it to his sister. Oh, the media shit-storm that had caused! Rumors of them being engaged despite Steven openly proposing to his longtime boyfriend Wally a year before, were still circulating and Akara had been retired for a year! He knew it was from how they were raised – their family was very open about PDA, be it platonic or romantic, so Akara holding hands, hugging, or kissing the cheek of any of her high profile friends immediately caused hell on earth for her poor agent, Leah.
She was a saint for dealing with Akara, to be honest.
“Nah, I won’t go for the League here. Too damn cold on Mt. Lanakila! All I want from there is that Ice Type Vulpix!” Akara said with fist bump. “It’s so cute! Besides, Hex needs a friend and she’s a snob!”
Hex was her Ninetails from Hoenn and she was, indeed, a snob. She didn’t have a tantrum like Delilah, her Master Rank Cool Contest Houndoom, when she got even the slightest bit dirty, but she refused to do anything but battle with Akara’s other Pokemon. Auron couldn’t even get the frigid Fire Type to warm up to him and he was the most welcoming one Akara had! But Hex loved being around other Vulpix and Ninetails, so Akara was planning on a small expedition once she got a Regional Pokédex from Kukui.
“Sis, you’re in hoodies and jeans no matter where you are when you’re not home, anyway,” Sol deadpanned, jumping off the porch to scratch Titan the Tyrantrum’s chin. She made happy purring noises that rattled their chests and made their jewelry vibrate, feeling more like the heavy bass of a concert than a purr.
“Jeans with the knees completely ripped out and a hoodie over a crop top, Kid.” Akara stretched up to help Auron tie off the rope at one end of the clothes line, having followed off the porch with their Mother as she went to the orchard. “Pretty sure the only bottoms I own that don’t have holes in them are my leggings and yoga pants – neither good for an ice capped mountain!”
“I still don’t know if I wanna do the Challenge…” Sol rubbed his arm and shuffled his feet a bit. “Mom did it when she was a kid and I wanted to when we got here, but then Professor Kukui barged in and said I was gonna be the first Alolan Champion this, first Alolan Champion that! It’s… It just feels like I won’t be able to actually enjoy it like you did your journey, ya know?”
Akara was silent as she walked over and hugged him, running her hands through his hair like she did before she left for Hoenn after Johto. She’d decided to take a full year off when he’d come out as Transgender during that visit. She’d been pivotal in starting his therapies and changing his entire self to reflect himself as a boy and not a girl. He wrapped his arms around her waist tightly and buried his face in her shoulder.
“I’ll talk with Kukui when I go over there in a few days. Push comes to shove, I’ll beat him up.”
“You will not, young lady!” Alana scolded, tugging lightly on Akara’s fiery red hair. The thick mass of body wave curls bounced back into place as Akara re-did the ponytail with a grumble, and Sol wilted as he fingered a lock of his wine red, straight hair. He froze when Alana turned her gaze to him. “And you! Stop comparing yourself to your sister!”
“Mom, it’s not that easy -”
“I’m not done!” Alana knelt in front of her son and put her hands comfortingly on his shoulders. “Kazuhiro and I love both of you with all our hearts. Have we ever given you a reason to not believe that?”
Sol looked down at his feet in the lush grass. “No…”
“No matter what you do, we will never say ‘you should’ve done… whatever… like your sister’-”
“I certainly fucking hope not,” Akara snarked, crossing her arms under her breasts. “I almost died a few times, last I knew!”
Alana looked up to the sky and muttered about the Tapus giving her strength before looking at Sol. “That’s one reason why we wouldn’t say that. You two are completely different people, beautiful and strong in your own ways. Your sister is Tauros-headed and plows ahead no matter the obstacle. Come Hell or high water, which both have, actually, she’s going to reach her goal.”
“Yea, but she’s always been confident! She didn’t have the bullies I did…”
Akara snorted and rolled her eyes. “You think I didn’t have people ridiculing me when Auron and I started our MMA training? So many Black Belts saying it wasn’t a woman’s place to be training so hard, my waistline should be smaller, ‘women should stick to the Contest Hall,’ ‘men don’t like women with muscles’ – Why do you think I’ve had Leah since I was sixteen?”
“She’s really been with you that long already?” Alana’s brows almost disappeared into her hairline when Akara nodded. “Feels like Kazuhiro and I called her not too long ago…”
“Why’d you call her when you were that young? You only had your Kanto Title back then, Sis.”
“Cuz I kept beating the shit out of people that tried to haze me out.” She shrugged. “I got sick of them pushing us around and being civil wasn’t cutting it, so Ōto-san and Ōka-san got me an agent who could handle it.”
“You, thankfully, don’t take after me and have my temper, Sunflora.” Alana brushed some of Sol’s hair out of his face, noting that she’ll have to take him for a haircut before he picks his Pokémon with Kahuna Hala. “You’re gentle and kind, more often than not, even to people that are trying to knock you down, and that’s rare in this day and age.”
“Yea and it makes me a doormat every time!”
“Actually, you’d be surprised what kindness can do.” Akara motioned to where the Legendary Xerneas, nicknamed Xerxes, had appeared and was helping in the Orchard – making the trees bloom earlier than normal, much to the Shiny Trio’s delight. “Xerneas doesn’t come to just anyone. If anything I was certain that Yveltal would’ve shown itself to me instead of Xerxes.”
“Well, you are a Bouffelant in a china shop, Sis.”
“Come ‘ere, ya lil shit!” Akara grabbed Sol into a fireman’s hold and started running around their mother, not stopping until he was laughing so hard he had tears in his eyes. She swung him around, earning a loud shriek from the boy, and sat him next to Alana before plopping down on his other side. “You’re getting fat – you weren’t that heavy when I picked you up last.”
“CHILDREN!” Alana sang the word a bit to stop the siblings before Sol tried to wrestle with Akara again. They both turned their attention to her and she smiled at them. “My Sun and Moon, you two are so different, but like your sister, I have a feeling you’re going to do great things for yourself!”
Sol whined as both women hugged him, making a sammich of the poor child before he struggled free. He definitely felt better knowing that, despite Akara’s track record, no one in his family was expecting anything huge from him. It made him get excited for his Island Challenge again.
When Akara laid down in the grass, hoodie unzipped and leaving her stomach bare, he caught sight of the two flowers on her hips and it brought another thought to his head.
“Hey, Sis?” She hummed at him, eyes closed and legs crossed at the ankle. “Have you ever found who these belong to?”
Akara opened an eye and pulled herself up a bit to see that Sol was pointing at the purple Guzmania bloom on her left hip, the long stem covered in leaves snaking up the entire length of her hip bone, and the red Dahlia flower on her right. She shrugged and fell back into the grass. “Nope!”
“Why not? I thought everyone wants to meet their Soul Mate – and you have two!” Sol pouted while looking at the vibrant colors on his sister’s skin. “I can’t wait to find mine once my Mark shows up.”
“Wasn’t gonna waste my life searching for two people in a population of over seven billion, bud. I had a plan for my life and I wasn’t putting it on hold for anyone – besides you, of course,” she flashed him a smirk that he knew a lot of her fans would swoon at, one that showed her little canines. “You can’t live your life for other people, Sol. Gotta live it for yourself!”
Alana and Sol left as the sun started to set, saying Professor Kukui would meet them at the Ferry Terminal and escort them back, which Akara was grateful for. Alana was known for her horrible night vision and had actually put herself in the hospital after stubbing – and breaking – her toe in their old home after getting up to let her Meowth inside in the middle of the night.
The Champion had walked them to the end of her driveway in Ula’Ula Meadow and shared one last hug with her family, lifting both Alana and Sol off the ground. She and Sol waved until she lost sight of them. She was more than happy that she could help her brother feel better about the Island Challenge. There was never pressure from their parents for him to follow her example, but the public often mobbed the poor kid about it if he went out alone in Kanto, so Kazuhiro had agreed to move them out here and his only request he’d had was that Sol visited for half the year once they were settled in.
Akara was grateful her parent’s Soul Mate bond was platonic in the end. They really were great friends and parents. The siblings had never wanted for anything, never had to compete for attention – nothing. They had just decided that their bond wasn’t romantic and divorced. No drama, no fuss.
Akara knew the hardships of Soul Mates better than most despite not finding her own yet. Being a Champion, people would often try to fake their marks and it was an issue every high profile Trainer had to deal with at least once. She’d seen so many variations of what was supposed to be her own mark that she had no idea what it would actually look like on another person.
The wrong color Guzmania or Dahlia on one person, a flower “representing” her that she despised on another, a Megastone swirl that was the wrong colors for ANY known Megastone, her name – who even HAD their Soul Mate’s name as a Mark? Akara knew Blue Oak and not even his Soul Mates had his name as his mark on their skin. He was vain, but not that vain.
When she had made the decision to renovate this minka and move to Alola, however, her Marks had gotten very warm and pulsed with different heartbeats that eventually synchronized with her own. Since then, they’d been very faintly getting more vibrant as she got closer to Alola and the heartbeats hadn’t gone away.
They’re here. In Alola.
Walking back down the drive with her hood up to keep some of the semi-permanent mist off her hair, Akara became lost in her thoughts.
She wasn’t a humble person, but Akara wasn’t cocky enough to believe she was the best at anything, either. She didn’t see herself as a die-hard beauty, but she knew she was worth a double-take when she actually tried. Her Pokemon were some of the strongest out there, but they had to work to get there – it didn’t happen overnight.
Hell, Auron had almost died when they first started their journey in Hoenn! He was deaf from that incident and Akara certainly learned from that.
Like Sol said, outside of the house, ripped jeans, a crop top and a hoodie were the norm. At home, you were lucky to catch her in yoga pants or leggings. Having to be in her ridiculous Edgelord Champion outfit for five years made Akara hate dressing up, make-up, or even putting in her contacts. The hatred of make-up was from having to cover her numerous tattoos every time she left her own home just so she could get something from the store without being mauled.
Good thing Auron was there to help get her back with that miracle cover-up she had or the water color piece on her back that was inspired by Xerneas’ spots would give her away. Or the Team Valor logo on her left collarbone, her Zodiac constellation on her right collarbone, the Soma family crest on the right side of her ribs, the dreamcatcher with charms of all the Gym Badges she’d earned in the feathers and web on her left thigh – she was covered in ink and there was no way to go out without either using an entire bottle of cover-up or looking like a thug or a nun.
As she corralled her larger Pokemon into the barn for the night and closed up the shoji against the damp, Akara felt Butterfree in her stomach. This made her nervous. More nervous than anything she had dealt with in the past – being friends with Red and Blue, Akara had seen and done some shit!
Akara growled while almost angrily changing into a tank top and underwear; the usual wear for home, sans shorts. She threw herself onto her large bed and got comfortable before the Shiny Sylveon and Volcarona got into their respective spots. As she trolled through her social media accounts, a thumb ran over the length of her Guzmania bloom Mark and she spoke into the dark.
“You’re finally within reach, my Flowers. You can’t hide from me anymore…”