Bromley Rhys Kahele has planned this night for weeks. He's planned to escape the clutches of his abusive father and negligent mother.Click. The television turned off. Check.
Everything is ready. He has it down to a science.
What could go wrong?
The Guzmania Blooms
A One-Shot by Sinderella
Everything is ready. He has it down to a science.
What could go wrong?
The Guzmania Blooms
A One-Shot by Sinderella
CW: Strong Language, Child Abuse
Hey all! This was written in one go with minimal editing! Gentle critique appreciated!
This takes place in the same world as my fic White Swan, Black Swan, but happens many years before the plot takes off. Please enjoy! 🤍🖤
This takes place in the same world as my fic White Swan, Black Swan, but happens many years before the plot takes off. Please enjoy! 🤍🖤
Squeeeaaaaak. Dad got off the recliner. Check.
Panic began to set in when he didn’t hear the telltale sign of his parent’s bedroom door closing. It was usually in short succession. The click, the squeak, then the ba-thump, and the ba-thump was taking way too fucking long. He squeezed his eyes shut, despite the painful throb that pulsated through the left one. Of all the nights for that piece of shit to stray off the monotonous bed routine, why did it have to be—
The timer started now.
He was slightly off schedule, but he’d make it work. He’d planned way too damn hard for this not to work. He was getting out tonight. Fifteen years was a long enough time enduring hell.
Once dad entered the bedroom, the snoring would start between twenty to thirty minutes later, depending on how much he’d had to drink. From there, it was a straight twenty steps to the front door. Tip-toed steps, of course. He’d need to watch himself. Dad was a heavy sleeper, but mom wasn’t, and if mom heard something, her pansy-ass would undoubtedly wake dad up. It’d be over after that.
Bromley had this jailbreak down to an absolute science, which was ironic because he was failing chemistry the last time he’d checked. Surely that would appeal enough to the Aether people when he inquired about that lab assistant job.
He exhaled sharply as he slowly swung his legs off the bed. He cringed as he pushed himself to stand, roving a hand over his bruised bare stomach as if that would somehow stop the ache. He’d been pretty convinced that that kick he’d endured during that routine fight with dad didn’t crack a rib, but now he wasn’t so sure.
It didn’t matter, though. He’d sprinted on a golf-club-induced concussion before, so surely his body could handle jogging on a kick-induced cracked rib.
At least, he hoped it’d be a jog. It wouldn’t need to be much more than a jog if he played his steps right.
“Focus, Brom,” he muttered to himself. He inhaled a deep breath, nursing himself through the pain, before pushing himself up to stand and patting his bed.
“Let’s go, bros.”
Wimpod and Charjabug skittered out from under the bed, dragging his pre-packed duffle bag behind them.
As they emerged, he kneeled down and pulled the bag open, digging through it for the tenth time that day and making a final mental note of what he’d shoved in it. His eyes had long adjusted to the darkness of his bedroom, so he could at least see the outlines of everything. Three shirts, two pairs of sweatpants, five pairs of boxers, body spray, toothbrush, water bottle, brass knuckles, burner phone, three empty Pokeballs…
As he counted through everything in a single sweep, his hand eventually grasped a waterproof drawstring bag. While it was nice to have clothes and some toiletries, that bag was the thing he needed to ensure he had. He pulled it open and couldn’t help but sigh in relief at the sight of the wad of cash he’d procured over the past couple of weeks.
From what he remembered counting, there was at least $2750 in this bag, all slowly but surely snatched from the emergency fund box in the kitchen cupboard.
The hinges on the cupboard door creaked every time they were moved, which meant there’d be no plausible way to steal more money on his way out without risking waking anybody up. So, that would be it. It would be his lifeline until he made it over to Aether.
He didn’t have a lot of healing items on hand and was still missing many of the survival basics. He could use the money to buy the rest of that before purchasing his boat ticket over to the Paradise, and still have a good amount to keep to the side, just in case.
Things were coming together. His planning was paying off.
“Wiiiimpod?” Wimpod chirped in an airy whisper. Bromley nodded once before hastily zipping up the bag and rising to his feet.
“Yep, into your balls. We’re goin’ out as soon as I hear it.”
He pulled himself back up to stand and plucked their Pokeballs off his night table. He pressed the recall buttons simultaneously, and both Pokemon disappeared into them with two flashes of light. He grimaced at how bright they were and stiffened his posture as if waiting for dad to come barreling in and giving him another beating for still being awake. When it didn’t happen, he nodded once to himself, then made haste toward his dresser.
He quietly yet aggressively pulled open the top drawer and grabbed the first shirt he laid his hand on. He yanked it over his bare torso, then plucked the jacket off the back of his desk chair and tugged it on, shoving his occupied Pokeballs into the pockets. The piece de resistance was his sneakers, which he forced onto his sock-covered feet without bothering to undo the laces.
He momentarily stopped his haste to listen. When he didn’t yet hear any snoring, he exhaled sharply. Why couldn’t time pass by any faster? It was bullshit.
No matter. No matter.
He was ready. He was dressed. His bag was packed. He had money. Wimpod and Charjabug were at full health, safe in their Pokeballs, and all was good. They were ready. All there was left to do was wait. He could do that. He’d waited long enough as it was.
Pressing his back against the door to his room, he slid down to sit slowly, as to not allow the pain in his ribs to intensify much more. When he hit the floor, he dipped his head between his knees, sighing deeply as he mulled over his plan again.
He would make a quiet break for the door when he heard the snoring. It had to have been almost 11:00 pm at this point, which meant the last bus for Melemele Dock was leaving in thirty minutes. If dad fell asleep around 11:15, or 11:20, that would give him about ten to fifteen minutes to make it to the bus stop. He could make it in exactly six if he jogged and three if he sprinted.
The absolute worst-case scenario was that he missed the bus. The next plan was to hike the five miles up the road to the nearest Poke Center and rent a room for the night. It would put a small dent in his cash stash, but it was better than sleeping on the bench and risking dad getting up in the morning and going to look for him. No, the further away he got, even if it was only a couple of miles, the better.
Whatever ended up happening, he’d have to be sure to give Kalani a call once he made it onto the boat. Let her know he was still going and well on his way there. He raised his head and eyed the Applin phone he was planning to leave on his nightstand, as a last and final sign that he was done being curtailed to his family and household. He felt a pang of distress as he remembered that he’d have to survive with the shitty flip phone he’d picked out at the gas station, but it was only temporary. If he were really going to be paid as much as the Aether ad promised, he’d have a new phone in no time. New gaming systems, too, ones that he wouldn’t have to worry about dad smashing just because he “felt like it.”
Thinking back again to the Aether job caused another wash of distress to fill his core. The flier, which he’d carelessly shoved into the duffle, laid everything out: lab assistant to Aether’s president, Lusamine Allen. No lab experience or scientific background needed; just a willingness to learn. Room and board were included for the first year, and pay started at a whopping $26.50 an hour. That was more money than he ever thought he could make. ‘
Of course, unless he successfully completed a trial circuit and got sponsored. With that chunk of change, he could conceivably do it. Maybe become a captain before he aged out. There’d be no stopping him.
He had to wonder if it was all too good to be true because it damn near seemed that way. Who in their right mind would pay a stupid delinquent like him that much money to hang out in a lab and hold a clipboard? Or whatever it was lab assistants did? Maybe it was a classic case of a bait and switch, where he’d actually start making much lower and work up to that $26.50? Weren’t there laws on how much a fifteen-year-old could make, anyway? Or, maybe he was walking into something nefarious, like trafficking or a drug ring?
But, Aether was pretty reputable, right? They gave a lot of money to the island and all that philanthropic shit. Surely he couldn’t find anything much better than being hired by them, even if it was too good to be true to some extent. It was better to cling to that than to risk much longer living under dad. That was certain.
Srrrrrnnnnk, shhhhhhhh. Srrrrrrrrrrnnnnnk, shhhhhh.
Bromley bristled at the sound of the snore and scrambled to his feet. He’d never been so excited to hear his dad’s loud ass snore more than that moment, the one time his thin walls were helpful.
He scooped his bag onto his shoulder and patted his pocket to ensure his Pokemon were with him. Then, he made one final sweep of his room. The last time he’d ever see it, hopefully.
His eyes traveled from the half-made bed to the TV set that was long broken due to one of dad’s tirades to the dirty clothes that littered the floor. Mom could deal with that; at least it would give her something useful to do.
He focused on the League posters that littered his wall and had half a mind to pull one down to take with him. But, no. His bag was already running on the heavy end, and he’d need to stay light for a breakout. League posters were a dime a dozen. Surely, on a $26.50 salary, he could buy as many as he wanted.
Last but not least, his gaze fell on his trophy collection. Stacked neatly on the shelves mounted behind his bed. Tens of them, all proving the one thing he’d clung to the most over the years: he was strong. He could make it through anything.
He’d probably miss those the most. They also didn’t matter, though. Because there’d be more where they came from.
With a light exhale, he grabbed his doorknob and slowly pulled his door open.
He grit his teeth as the hallway from his bedroom to the living room was revealed to him. The house was dark, the snoring was evident, and all was in motion. He just needed to move.
Elevating onto his toes, Bromley smoothly navigated down the hall, out to the living room, around the couch and dad’s stupid recliner, and over to the front door. Days of practicing made sure he missed all of the squeaky floorboards—he’d rehearsed it down to the timing of his steps, assuring this escape was silent and understated.
It felt good to be this planned. Maybe he should try doing things like this more often. Invest in a planner or something.
They lived in a safe neighborhood, so mom and dad never bothered to lock the door. As expected, the lock was turned to the open setting, and he didn’t hesitate to open the door. He was met with his closed protective screen door, which would require a little more finesse. The thing had just been replaced, but that didn’t stop it from squeaking every time it was opened, just like the damn cupboard. He could avoid the cupboard, though. This was a necessary evil. He’d also have to watch himself when he closed it because it slammed shut like no other fucking door in the house.
But, like his steps, he’d also rehearsed this.
Grasping the handle and pushing down on the lock release, he cracked the door open just a smidge. A low rrrrr vibrated among the hinges, but nothing noticeable. He shot a look over his shoulder, just in case.
No movement. All clear. Again.
He pushed. Another rrrrrr, same as the last. He looked toward his parent’s room again. No sign of stirring. One more.
The door was now open just enough for him to slip through. He sucked in a deep breath, grimacing through the throb that shot down through his stomach to his legs, and wiggled his way through the gap, switching his hands from the inner handle to the outer one, set to guide the door shut before he traversed down the porch steps.
“Easy peas—” he started to say.
CRASH, KER-PLUNK. KA-BANG.
He should have known. He did not plan for this.
It was Wednesday.
Mom gardened on Wednesday and always left her shit by the front door when she finished. Shovel, pots, all the leftover dirt, just piled by the fucking door. Dad yelled at her repeatedly for it, but she never listened. Clearly, dad didn’t beat on her that badly. That must have been nice.
After taking a step and tripping over a bag of soil, he fell onto the porch table and sent a bunch of other tools to the floor. Bromley lost his hold on the screen door, and it slammed shut. A double whammy.
He froze, like that would somehow make him invisible. Like his lack of movement would somehow will his parents to stay asleep.
He knew his endeavor had failed when the living room light flicked on through the front window.
All conscious thought drained from Bromley’s head as he took off into a mindless sprint down the walkway and into the groomed woods that bordered his house. He could see dots of light from the street lamps that bordered the main road from where he was running, and that’s what he set his sights on. The main road equaled bus stop. His watch read 11:28.
It wasn’t ideal. It probably wasn’t enough time. But he could do it. He couldn’t will his parents to stay asleep, but he could will himself to catch the bus before dad caught him.
He had to do it. He had to make it work. Everything had gone so smoothly until this point. There’s no way he couldn’t succeed.
He probably wouldn’t live to see the light of day if dad got his hands on him, anyway.
An unconscious flinch jerked his shoulders when he heard the very distant SLAM of the screen door.
Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck…
Dad was a big guy. Golf didn’t offer that many conditioning options. Bromley knew he’d made adequate space between himself and the house, so there would be no way for dad to make up that distance so quickly. It’d take him some time, and that’s what he was banking on now. If he could get onto the bus before dad caught up, all would be okay.
He felt the pain of his ribs pulsating through his nerves, and his breathing became labored. The initial speed he’d started to pick up was falling back down as his body’s energy was quickly being sapped by the pain, which looped up into his black eye, causing a piercing headache that was blurring his vision. Adrenaline was a fucking myth, apparently.
A chill ran up Bromely’s spine as dad’s piercing yell hit him. That chill carried the adrenaline he needed because he was suddenly running at full speed again. He thought he might lose his duffle bag at the rate it was slamming against the back of his legs. At this point, it didn’t matter if he lost it. Clothes and money and basic toiletries wouldn’t matter if he were dead.
“When I get my fucking hands on you, boy…”
Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.
He darted out onto the main road and took off for the familiar bus stop bench, illuminated by a lamp much shinier than the others. His beacon. His saving grace.
At least, he thought it would be.
But those thoughts were entirely dashed when he saw the bus beginning to pull away.
“Stop!” he shouted after it, not thinking twice about what yelling might entail. He extended his arm in front of him as he bore every last drop of energy into his speed. He wasn’t sure if he could go much faster, but he’d damn well try.
“Stop! Stop! I need to get on! I need to–”
It didn’t matter.
The bus was already hundreds of feet in front of him. There was no catching it.
“No. No, no, no…” Bromley said through his heavy panting as he slowed to a stop mere feet from the bench. “No, no…no. I was on time. I was…”
How had he managed to plan so deeply, only for things to go to shit so quickly? Was there no fucking reprieve? Was there no escaping this bullshit? Was he doomed to be a punching bag to dad forever?
“There you are, you sonofabitch!”
Bromley could suddenly run again. He shot a look over his shoulder, just barely catching the silhouette of dad bursting from the paved treeline.
No. No. No.
I will not…
Be a fucking punching bag.
There was still the Poke Center. It was five miles away, but there was no way dad could keep up with him until that point. He’d grow tired long before they even made it off this road.
Bromley had to keep running. If he wanted to survive, he had to.
As he ran, he found himself focusing back on the sound of dad’s footsteps. They were heavy. They were slow. They were relatively close, but not close enough to be dangerous.
“Stop fucking running, Bromley! Get your ass back here!”
Bromley didn’t answer. He couldn’t spare the energy to speak. He’d let his running legs do the talking.
Dad’s breathing was loud, labored, and weakening. He couldn’t even speak now without his words being broken up by panting.
“Bromley…you’re…fucking dead. You...you hear me? Dead.”
Fat chance, fat fuck.
Bromley kept running. He ran, and ran, and ran. He didn’t stop until he was nearing the corner, and that was when he realized he could no longer hear dad behind him.
He whipped his head over his shoulder and could make out dad’s figure, hunched over and hanging his head under a streetlight. There was now far too much distance between them. Dad didn’t have a chance.
He’d done it. He got away.
Plan B was underway, and Bromley was determined to see this route through. But he knew better than to celebrate early. He’d cheer when he got to the Poke Center.
“Oh my goodness, are you okay, young man?”
Gods, why were Poke Center nurses so nosy? Even the young ones, like the one he was talking to now, just wanted to know everything.
“Pechy keen,” Bromley breathed. He raised a hand to wipe a bead of sweat from his brow, minding the bruise around his eye. “I got bad eyesight ‘nd hit a tree.”
The nurse stuck out her lower lip and cocked her head to the side sympathetically. Bromley didn’t want sympathy. He didn’t need it. He was fine.
He was free.
“Would you like somebody to look at that? Do you need some water? You look like you sprinted a mile.”
Five, more like it.
“I just need a room for the night. The cheapest one ya got. I can pay.”
The nurse nodded a few times before turning to her computer. “How does one of the capsule rooms sound? Only $20 a night.”
That was a pleasant surprise and a much-needed one at that. He didn’t know the Poke Center had capsules. He didn’t look that far into his plan B route because he was sure he’d have been on the bus. “Sold.”
The nurse smiled warmly. Bromley preferred that expression over the puckered-lip one. “Of course. Can I have a name?”
“Brom—” he started to say, but he stopped himself.
He’d been planning on giving a fake name to the bus driver if they asked, and definitely the person at the dock. Even at Aether. Blasting his full name all over the damn world was not ideal for a runaway. Dad could hunt him down and drag him back by his hair. Bromley wouldn’t put that past him at all.
“I’m…” he stammered, feeling the weight of the nurse’s suspicious stare.
For all of the work that had gone into this, he didn’t think of a name to take on. The gears in his fried brain began to turn. What would work? Bob? Brandon? Rick Pickleton?
Oh, wait. Of course. How could he be so stupid?
The code names he and Kalani had come up with. It would be perfect.
“Guzma,” he said. “It’s Guzma.”
The capsule room was small. The mattress was a little firmer than what he was used to. He had to try two shower stalls before he found one that ran hot water. His body ached, and his head throbbed.
It was great.
Laying in this rented bed, $20 poorer, free of the weight his home perched on his shoulders…it was the absolute best state of mind he’d been in in years.
He was crying to himself before he could register the tears rolling down his face. Whether it was because his body hurt so bad or because he felt relieved, he couldn’t tell.
He closed his eyes and let the sobs lull him to sleep.
***Bromley hadn’t bothered to set an alarm. He was so tired he’d even forgotten to call Kalani and unlock the bros' balls. As his eyes parted, the weight of his own body hit him gradually, and he groaned.
“Fuuuuuuck,” he said in a yawn.
He raised a hand to rub the sleep out of his eyes, sucking his teeth at the ache in his eye. Maybe it wouldn’t be a bad thing to ask for ice…
His hand moved over his stomach, which hurt both with the pain of his ribs, and his morning hunger. Right. He’d need to eat before he continued onward. Get something for the bros, too. They were probably antsy being cooped up for so long.
Bromley crawled out of the capsule and gathered his things before heading back down to the bathroom. He dressed in a different shirt and a different pair of pants. He took the bros out, and let them run around in a shower stall while he brushed his teeth and ruffled his hair. It was all done very half-assed because he was so sore that he couldn’t be bothered. He’d mess with his appearance a little more on the ferry to the Paradise.
“Ya guys done yet?” Bromley called to his bugs.
“Pod!” Wimpod squeaked. He flicked his tail, and a few water droplets landed on Charjabug, who shook it off and splashed back.
“Charjaaaaabug!” he said.
It was nice that they were in good spirits. It gave Bromley his own sense of contentment.
The bros turned to him excitedly.
Bromley chuckled. “Same. Let's go check out, then we’ll get some snacks to share.”
He shouldered his duffle bag after shoving the rest of his things into it, then motioned for the bros to follow him out to the lobby. They scurried around at his feet, exchanging playful nudges and pounces as they went. Bromley rolled his eyes as they rounded the corner out of the capsule sleeping area and down the hallway that led toward the front desk.
“Easy, guys. We’re gonna get all the trainin’ we need at—”
“His name’s Bromley. Bromley Rhys Kahele.”
Bromley’s blood ran cold, and he instinctively pressed his back against the hallway wall as his father’s voice echoed through the empty lobby.
No way. No fucking way.
“Buuuug?” Charjabug whispered.
Bromley was too scared even to shush him. Thankfully, the bros were smart and fell quiet anyway.
“I’m sorry, Mr. and Mrs. Kahele. Nobody under the name of Bromley checked in last night,” the nurse said.
“This is the only place relatively close to our house he could have come to.” That was mom. She sounded distraught. “Are you sure you didn’t see him?”
“Fifteen-year-old boy. Pretty tall, has messy black hair,” dad spoke. He also sounded distraught, but Bromley knew him well enough to know it was fucking fake. Dad would never let anybody know what he did behind closed doors, and nobody would question it. “Dressed kinda like a bum, has a blue duffle bag.”
The nurse was deafeningly quiet, and all Bromley could hear was the sound of a keyboard tapping. His eyes fell shut as he dug his fingers into the wall.
Please don’t, please don’t, please don’t…
“Nobody matching that description came through here, sir,” she said.
A loud, gruff sigh could be heard. “Could we ask around and see if anybody saw him? Were you even the nurse on post last night?” dad asked.
“I was, sir. Unfortunately, nobody who isn’t checked into a room is allowed in those areas. But I’d be happy to ask around if you wouldn’t mind waiting.”
Another sigh. This one was angry. That sounded more like dad. “Fine.”
“Wonderful! Please have a seat near the desk, and I’ll be right back.”
Several footsteps could be heard; his parents moving to the bench and the nurse making her way around the desk, headed straight for the hallway he was standing in.
He tapped his foot on the floor lightly, alerting the bros, before swiftly moving back toward the capsule room. Panic flushed any coherent thought from his brain, and all he could do was walk straight and back toward his capsule.
He didn’t make it there in time before the nurse’s footsteps caught up with him.
“Hey! Wait!” she whispered.
Bromley stopped in his tracks but didn’t turn around. Charjabug and Wimpod did, though. He heard the telltale bzzzzt of Charjabug powering up.
“Relax, I’m not going to tell them you’re here,” she said. “There’s a back door in here I can sneak you out of, if you’ll let me.”
Bromley released the breath he didn’t realize he was holding and slowly turned to face the nurse. She wasn’t more than ten feet away from him, so she could see how her face was scrunched in intense determination.
“Wha—” he started to ask as the bros calmed down at his feet.
“Don’t ask. Just follow me, okay?” she said. She hustled toward and slipped around him, making the rest of the way down the hall of capsules. She turned back and gestured to him when he didn't immediately follow.
“Come on! I can only stall for so long.”
The sternness in her tone made Bromley flinch. He exchanged puzzled yet wary looks with the bros, before jogging after her. He followed her into the second room of capsules and around another corner, where there was a bright red emergency exit door. The nurse pulled a ring of keys out and tried one on the door’s lock. It gave way, with no sounding alarm, and sunlight streamed into the room.
“Here. This path leads back onto the main road. Don’t walk past the front door, or they might see you,” she said.
Bromley barely had enough time to register that the nurse was legitimately helping him before he and the bros were halfway out of the doorframe. It only dawned on him at that moment, and he whipped around to look at her.
“W…why?” he asked.
She gave him that same sympathetic look she’d given him last night, but for some reason, this one looked…more sincere. Like she might cry.
“I have a sixth sense for these things. I don’t think you’re running from them because they grounded you for failing a test.”
She reached up and caressed the skin just under his black eye, and Bromley flinched back.
“Get some ice for that. Head down to the pier, and get a ticket for a ferry to Aether Paradise. They’ll take you in,” she said. “Go. Quickly.”
She disappeared behind the door after that, and the door clicked locked. Bromley took that as his sign to go.
Bromley made it onto the 10:30 am ferry by the skin of his teeth. He’d managed to catch the next closest bus to the pier. He bought some spicy malasadas from a nearby stand as a quick breakfast for him and the bros, and he got his hands on a ticket just before they closed the gate. He was the only one on the boat.
“Well, looks like it’s just us, guys,” the captain said as he did a sweep of the cabin. “That’s quite the shiner ya got there, kid,” he added as he stopped next to Bromley’s seat.
“Walked into a tree,” Bromley muttered, taking another bite of his treat.
“Wiiiiimpod,” Wimpod chirped with a full mouth.
"Charja," Charjabug added in a snappy tone.
The captain laughed. “I hear that. Not a group of many words, are ya? Do ya lot have names?”
“Br—” he started to say, cringing to himself.
No. No. That name ended here. Once and for all. Mom and dad called him that, and he no longer lived under them.
“Guzma,” he said. “It’s Guzma. And Wimpod and Charjabug.”
The captain pursed his lips. “Interesting. Well, Guzma, Wimpod, Charjabug. Ya got a ninety-minute trek ahead of ya, so sit back ‘nd relax. Ya lot look like ya need it. Just try not to drop any of that food on the floor, ya hear?”
The captain walked back off to the front of the boat after that.
Bromley—now Guzma—watched him go before he felt his duffle bag vibrate. He hurriedly scrambled to get it open, and fished out the burner phone.
7 Missed Calls From KALANI (PLUMERIA)
He exhaled deeply as he hung his head. “Dammit, Brom,” he said to himself. He cringed. “Guz? Guz.”
Flipping open the phone, he pushed the redial button and held it to his ear. She picked up on the first ring.
“You dickass,” Kalani seethed into the phone. Guzma had to hold it away from his ear. “What the actual fuck? You promised you’d call me as soon as you got on the fucking bus.”
“That’s the thing, I didn’t make it onto the bus.”
She was silent for a while after that.
“Where are you?” she asked.
“On the ferry. Just got here for the ten-thirty.”
He heard her sigh on the other end. “What happened?”
Guzma shook his head. “I tripped. They musta heard me. Dad chased me up the road, but I made it to the center. They almost found me again this mornin’, but the nurse helped me out.”
“The nurse helped you out?”
“I know, I was pretty damn shocked, too.”
Damn. He didn’t even know the chick’s name. He couldn’t even send her a thank-you card, or whatever.
“How long ‘till you make it to the Paradise?” Kalani inquired.
“Hour 'nd a half, I think,” Guzma replied. “Should be an easy trip. Gotta change into my nice shirt 'nd do my hair.”
“I’m sure they’ll still smell the street Raticate on you,” Kalani sniggered.
Guzma rolled his eyes. “Yeah, probably. But even that nurse said they’d take me in. So, that makes me feel better about gettin' ya there too.”
“Yeah. I wanna sniff it out for myself, but I guess it’sa known thing that they take abused Pokemon and kids.”
More silence. Guzma had to wonder what there was to be silent about.
“Just…be careful, Brom. I know it was a fluke this time, but don’t forget to—”
“It’s Guzma,” he cut her off.
“It’s Guzma now. We’re fully committin’ to the code names, Kalani.”
Silence. Again. She needed to stop doing that.
“Then you better start callin’ me Plumeria from now on, alright?” she said.
A grin caressed his lips, and he leaned his head back against his chair. “You got it, Plumeria.”
She hummed that time. “Call me when you get there. Let me know how it is. Don’t forget this time.”
“Hopefully, I won’t be sprintin' five miles again, and I won’t.” He paused to consider his next words. “Even if it isn’t as lit as the flier made it out to be, anythin' is better than what we’re currently dealin' with. Y’know?”
A sigh. “I know. I’ll be there when you give the signal.”
Another nod from him. “Hold out for one more day, Ka—Plumeria. I’ll see ya soon, a’ight?”
“Alright. Bye, Guzma.”
Guzma dropped the phone back into his bag, then took the last bite of his malasada. As he chewed, he caught Wimpod looking at him.
“What?” he asked, quirking a brow. “Got somethin’ to say?”
Wimpod shook his head, and Guzma gave a firm nod before turning his head to look out the window. It was there that the ferry horn sounded, and it lurched forward.
Slowly but surely, Melemele Island would become a speck on the horizon to him. All the pain, all the suffering, all the bullshit, would be left behind on this godforsaken island. All he needed was Plumeria to meet him, and he’d have nothing left tethering him there anymore.
Whatever was in store for him at Aether, he’d take it in stride. Work up. Save some money. Go on a rightful journey. Become a captain. It was all possible now that he wasn’t going to sleep every night, wondering what beating his dad would give him when he woke up. Wondering why mom did nothing to stop it.
As he headed out to sea, Guzma was confident there were good things on the horizon he was headed toward.
He’d come to prosperously bloom, like the flower he’d named himself after.