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Pokémon April Fool’s — Flagrant Denial: A Prequel

WildBoots

Don’t underestimate seeds.
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She/Her
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Now that April Fool's Day has come and gone, here's what this is: 10 years ago, I wrote this. (Links to G Drive with snarky commentary by me. Still in the process of transcribing the entire thing from a hard copy my godmother -- a brave soul -- mailed me.) I took literal scissors to the prologue and rearranged the pieces to make it... differently bad. Found prose. I highly recommend cutting up your old fics, either for fun or to get a new perspective. If you decide to take a stab at it, feel free to show me! ✂✂✂





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Summary: Scarlet has been putting off admitting the truth for a long time, but she can’t lie to herself anymore. Or to them.

A/N
: Folks who’ve been reading Continental Divides on FFN will recognize some of these characters. Think of this as a prequel of sorts. I might still post a little bit more before-the-story content — after all, we haven’t even seen Mark yet! — so stay tuned.

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Flagrant Denial

Natalie had been stretched out on her sofa watching a mindless talk show, her mightyena dozing on the carpet at her feet, when she was startled by a sharp rapping on her door. A quick glance at her phone told her that it was just past one in the morning. Surely not a good sign about whatever company she might find at her door. Smoothing her tousled hair and pulling her robe tighter around her, she stepped over Luna and started for the door. She peered through the peephole and felt her stomach tighten when she saw a braid of red-orange hair. With a sigh and a soft-spoken curse, she slid back the deadbolt and opened the door for Scarlet.

“What are you doing here?”

“Is your phone broken?” Scarlet scoffed when Natalie impassively stared at the floor and said nothing for a long time. “This is such a waste of my time,”
She snapped.

Already, it was a bad start for their not-so-innocent meeting, for they both knew what kinds of thoughts had been crossing Scarlet’s mind.

but Natalie was completely undisturbed by it, and more than anything she just felt like hugging her. “If it’s such a waste of time, why are you still here?”

They heatedly stared each other down, tension building, until Scarlet took a step back and turned her head to the side. Natalie sharply turned her head and pressed herself into Scarlet’s face. “I miss you,” she whispered, blue eyes imploring.

They were strangers; they only used to know each other. They used to be close.

It was like she was detoxing.

Scarlet gave Natalie a hard look, coolly glancing around with a fastidious frown on her face. It took every ounce of self-restraint Scarlet had to keep from shaking with suppressed sobs. “It’s over,” sighed, sounding drained but decisive.

Natalie gawked incredulously and all the fire rushed out of her eyes. “Are you serious?” God was too cruel to let her even begin to think she could have her way for once, and then rip it out from under her.

Scarlet nodded slowly. The decision was cold and cruel, like an ice pick between her ribs, but at the same time it gave her a tiny scrap of gratification in the back of her mind: the truth hurt like hell, but it felt good to finally have it said, something like vindication.

Losing him wasn’t worth it to her.

The door shut with a soft click and then Scarlet disappeared into the night.

--


Lying on the cold bathroom floor, the same thoughts that went through her head that night came rushing back to her like a boomerang that struck her in the temple. She desperately wished it could all go back to the way it was before. Everything was better before Team Aqua started, and she’d known without a doubt that he’d loved her then. Scarlet smiled for the first time in a long time at the memory. Why did it have to change?

“You cheated,” he said simply.

That had been almost a year before, when Scarlet numbly let him pull her inside his room. After the door was closed, they dropped each other’s hands and stared at each other like they couldn’t quite figure out where they’d seen each other before. It gave her chills the way he looked at her like he could see right through her down to her very soul and every obscured truth, no way to hide, stripped bare. He knew everything about her, and that used to mean he was the one person she trusted and relied on above everyone else. The awful piteous state they were in made her throat feel tight with despair.

“What is it?” Archie demanded instantly, clapping a hand down on her shoulder.

She wasn’t here to pick a fight. Words were dispensed as scrupulously as gold nuggets, though glacial stares were delivered by the bucketful.

Archie’s expression didn’t change, but he set his hand on her arm and gently said, “It’s alright.”

Scarlet and Archie were good at lying to themselves and believing it.

She kneeled over the toilet bowl and vomited with horrible wrenching heaves that brought tears to her eyes. When it was over, she curled up on the refreshingly cold floor, shaking all over. Isn’t that sad, she thought dryly, an Aqua officer who gets seasick.

Just thinking about Archie made her want to puke again, but not because of any kind of repulsion. She missed him and she was miserable being cut off from him.

For a few weeks, she walked about with a small cluster of female friends hovering around her — like vultures, she thought — and they never missed an opportunity to coo, coddle, and offer advice she didn’t want.

None of them knew what they were talking about.

Like any high-ranking Aqua official, she loved the water, especially the ocean. But even she could only handle so much of it before it made her sick. Archie had always been an advocate of water-types — they were his particular passion as a trainer — but she secretly wondered if he had gone a little off the deep end.He cared about fish and Team Aqua more than he cared about her.

They’d been exploring some of the small islands off the coast of Slateport City. They’d been doing field research — all of Team Aqua’s best scientists, engineers, and a few special agents — on the Hoenn Sea for a few months now. The biologists seemed frustrated, as if they weren’t finding some vital fact or clue. She could feel him drifting further and further away from her and she couldn’t seem to grab a hold of him to pull him back.

There were rows and rows of glass tanks on the bottom deck full of specimens the marine biologists were studying. Scarlet hated going down there: the chilled air, the sinister smell of chemicals, and the hollow, alien eyes of the huntail in the large aquarium in the back… It all made the hair on the back of her neck prickle.

The whole place made her sick. Everything from the greasy smell of the fuel to the fishy stench that clung to everything, everything made her stomach roil. Even her cornflakes and her toothpaste were infiltrated with the odor of fish; it was subtle, but still there, and all the more annoying because the only stink worse than fish is wintergreen-mint-and-fish. enough to make her puke.

Well, get up and stop feeling sorry for yourself, a new voice inside her roared. You can’t change it, so deal with it.

Finally, she climbed back to her feet, swaying with The Marine Quest’s rocking, and slowly made her way back to her cabin. She felt almost as if they were lying together in his bed in a tangled heap.

The administrator had to wonder if she’d hurled because of sickness… or because of… Archie.
 
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Pen

the cat is mightier than the pen
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Wow, I know it's come up in passing but it was awesome to see Natalie and Scarlet's history first-hand. It was super intense. Got to say, I still kind of ship it myself.

They heatedly stared each other down, tension building, until Scarlet took a step back and turned her head to the side.
I can really feel the tension in this line

Natalie gawked incredulously and all the fire rushed out of her eyes.
Rings really true. I've been there myself. Felt the flames vacate my optic organs.

Your Archie still gives me the complete chills. So frightening, but so oddly compelling. I can see why it's hard for Scarlett to escape his ring of orbit.

Words were dispensed as scrupulously as gold nuggets, though glacial stares were delivered by the bucketful.
Mmm, excellent characterization

Isn’t that sad, she thought dryly, an Aqua officer who gets seasick.
The irony is really acute here.

but she secretly wondered if he had gone a little off the deep end.He cared about fish and Team Aqua more than he cared about her.
Such a difficult realization to undergo. My heart really goes out to Scarlett here.

The administrator had to wonder if she’d hurled because of sickness… or because of… Archie.
O GREAT KYOGRE IN THE SEA is she . . . pregnant?

You've blown it out of the park as always @OldschoolJohto . It's great to fill in this backstory but what truly stands out to me is the consistent quality of your prose. Each of these lines has so much subtlety. Can't wait for the next chapter of Divides.
 

kintsugi

golden scars | pfp by sun
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the warmth of summer in the songs you write
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she/her
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is it bad form to review this on the second? not sure.

“Is your phone broken?” Scarlet scoffed when Natalie impassively stared at the floor and said nothing for a long time. “This is such a waste of my time,”
She snapped.
Okay! This is pretty good grammatically and I think the fonts really help emphasize what's important, but you've actually got a little typo -- you spelled "good fic" as "waste of my time".

Already, it was a bad start for their not-so-innocent meeting, for they both knew what kinds of thoughts had been crossing Scarlet’s mind.
But does she like electric types?????

“I miss you,” she whispered, blue eyes imploring.
I think you meant “sapphire orbs” here?

It took every ounce of self-restraint Scarlet had to keep from shaking with suppressed sobs. “It’s over,” sighed, sounding drained but decisive.
This dialogue! It's just so poignant, so original. You get so much unique emotion across in so few words. And yet I’m left with so many questions!! Which one of them sighed? How many ounces of self-restraint DOES she have? Does Hoenn run on metric? If you’re suppressing sobs will you still shake or is the shaking suppressed too??? I'm in awe. :cat_heart_eyes:

Also! I noticed something interesting about this sentence? It's really good but I don't think there are enough words that start with 's'? You have 130 words that start with 's' in this short story but you could definitely have more.

The decision was cold and cruel, like an ice pick between her ribs
Such a good metaphor! It's true, any object inside of living body cavities is known to be quite cold (ask Trotsky). Using the rib cavity as a cold place is actually a key plot point in Empire Strikes Back -- glad to see a reference to an indie work in here!

“You cheated,” he said simply.
Likewise, this is a great use of adverbs! It's normally frowned upon, but in this case I think it's great since usually two word sentences are pretty complex, especially one with all this emotional weight and originality!

It gave her chills the way he looked at her like he could see right through her down to her very soul and every obscured truth, no way to hide, stripped bare
yeah well THIS LINE gave me chills

He knew everything about her, and that used to mean he was the one person she trusted and relied on above everyone else.
awesome use of tell don't show!

She kneeled over the toilet bowl and vomited with horrible wrenching heaves that brought tears to her eyes.
wow!! is this supposed to be irony? Because she's Aqua?

Isn’t that sad, she thought dryly, an Aqua officer who gets seasick.
oh thank god the suspense was killing me

For a few weeks, she walked about with a small cluster of female friends hovering around her — like vultures, she thought — and they never missed an opportunity to coo, coddle, and offer advice she didn’t want.
ugh, this characterization as women as brainless scavengers is just so on-point! I'm glad that Scarlet is not like other girls.

but she secretly wondered if he had gone a little off the deep end
amazing language here -- it's really evocative of the ocean!! or a pool!! was that intentional?

all the more annoying because the only stink worse than fish is wintergreen-mint-and-fish
okay joking aside I'm like 85% sure this is from a febreze commercial

slowly made her way back to her cabin. She felt almost as if they were lying together in his bed in a tangled heap.
Love this metaphor! It's so obvious that walking down a hallway feels just like having sex.

this was!! so spicy. can't wait for the espresso machine to play a role
 
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