Rocks bit into my hands as I climbed to the summit. Forrest trailed me, his face was almost planted into the rockface as we ascended Mt Moon.

"Brock! Why are we doing this again?"

"Climbing mountains builds character!" I shouted back.

"Ever-ever notice building character means hard work?!"

"Ha! That's how you know it's working!" I chuckled. We continued to struggle upwards, the sun slowly dropping closer to the horizon. The final leg of the climb was completed just in time for me to pull my brother up the mountain with a locked grip.

Forrest heaved in air while bent over, prompting me to nudge him. "Straighten up. You'll get more air standing upright. We're pretty high up so it’s important to get as much as you can with each breath."

Forrest waved me away, "I'm good, I just need a second.”


I held in more pointed instructions. I’ve told him enough times now that he should be doing it. At twelve, going on thirteen, he’s probably at that phase where he won’t listen just to spite me. I considered that while selecting a particularly good looking rock to lounge on as the sun continues to dip lower.

“So we came up here for th—” He straightened up finally, taking a deeper lungful of air, “Oh hey that h-helps.” I resisted the urge to roll my eyes. With how I looked, no one typically ever noticed. I had found that I typically had to work to not let my face rest idly. “What’re you smiling about?” Forrest said as I watched him slowly regather himself.

“Heh, nothing, just smiling I guess.”

Forrest considered that for a moment with suspicion before selecting his own rock to perch on. “It’s actually a nice view.”

“You thought I would have dragged you up here for no reason?” I asked.

Forrest huffed, “No Gym Leader Brock.” I huffed back at him, settling back while ignoring the need to return his sass with some of my own. The sun slowly dipped under the horizon and pokemon that had been at flight began to roost, creating a wonderful shimmer across the valley that we had spent the day trekking through.


Pokemon that only liked to operate in the brief window of twilight emerged and acted rapidly. Hunting prey or darting through trees for forage. Other pokemon of the night slowly roused. It made for a wonderful atmosphere, something my younger brother seemed to agree with.

Before the sun set fully, I stood, dusting my hands before opening up the backpack to begin setting out the tent that practically unfurled itself. “What’re you feeling like for dinner?” I said.

“Roast meat with a side of gravy baked vegetables,” said my all too clever brother.

I merely nodded, “Right, stew it is!” Forrest rolled his eyes but didn’t offer a complaint. I filled the quiet by talking through my process, more for my own recollection than to actually teach Forrest how to cook. I paused with a ladle of stew close to my nose. Then again maybe it would be important for Forrest to cook with how Dad had been last time he was left to look after us. I chewed my lip in thought before sighing and pushing the thoughts away. The food needed my attention. I’d have to make some plans for our family. I marked that in my ‘future Brock concerns’. There wasn’t a lot I could do, nor should I do it now. This was supposed to be for Forrest.

“You’ve been sighing a lot lately,” Forrest said languidly. His body propped up on a rock, “Seriously, is something wrong?”

I tapped my fingers together. I’d long ago decided to not tell others about my previous life. I’d probably end up in a mental hospital if I told anyone for one. Then again Pokemon was a Japanese concept. I snorted at the oft-repeated joke regarding mental health and the Japanese never bringing it up before pushing it aside. It was a bad joke.

“Forrest… what do you want to do in the future?” I said.

“Me? Well, be a trainer at the gym! I’ll work for you!” He replied without any doubt that this would be the way things went. I merely nodded and served up the stew.

“Right, right… Say… If I… If I wasn’t gym leader anymore, what then?”

Forrest went still, his bowl raised slightly to slurp from. He didn’t say anything. Huh, never thought of that possibility did you? Forrest licked his lips, “Are… are you at risk of being...audited bro?”

I snorted at the obvious fear of the thought that the Pewter city gym would face an audit of all things. Then again big companies in my old world would likely have the same reaction if such was hinted at. Then some words would have been spoken in select ears… I shook my head to alleviate his fears and get back on track. “Nah nothing like that. It’s just,” I searched around for something that would make sense, “I spotted Dad skirting around the city. He’s been coming and going every few weeks now. Checking in on us from afar. Apparently some of the teachers from school spotted him as well and mentioned it.” Forrest frowned but didn’t say anything. I let the quiet linger. Around us, some pokemon shifted and the sound echoed but it wasn’t unpleasant. Eventually, I prompted the conversation, “I think he might be looking to come back home.”

Forrest clenched his hands tightly and scowled into his bowl, as if it had suddenly become a Muk instead of a tasty stew. “He’ll try and oust you as gym leader?”

I shrugged, “He might.” I was mostly working off the Anime, with how it played out. Things were supposed to be alls well that ends well weren’t they? I had to push down the voice the niggled at me though.

“You’re better at it than he ever was,” Forrest muttered, not eying me. Part of me from my past life knew what he was doing. Some ‘guys’ didn’t like to look each other in the eye when showing emotion or talking about sensitive topics. The older me might have allowed it, but the older brother in me made me do what I did next.

“Hey,” Forrest looked up so I smiled and looked straight in his eyes, “Thanks bro, that means a lot.” Forrest blushed, shooting his eyes back into his bowl.

I held in the chuckle, not wanting to undo something positive. Old memories certainly came with advantages. Being older mentally than people expected me to be had huge payoffs. Wishing that you had the knowledge of thirty or forty year old you as a twenty-year-old was a common thing. Getting that chance? I’d abused it for all it was worth. This was doubly true for me knowing where certain pokemon were. Where certain environments were. Or even how pokemon evolved.

Not all of it translated perfectly. Trading a Graveller or a Haunter for example wasn’t what was required. It gave me an idea into the process though. Still, my experiences allowed me to be better prepared for certain things. I remember falling apart the first time I faced an angry woman as a teenager. I’d had to do that more than a few times after rejecting trainers ‘their hard-won badge despite losing’. ‘Tiger Mums' and 'Karens’ were a universal experience it would seem.

The point of this, was that I think I had a better relationship with Forrest. Heck, I put in a lot of effort with all my siblings. I liked to think I was treating them as well as, if not better than my canonical counterpart. I just had to balance being a successful gym leader. I’m not sure Dad ever had that first appellation to his title. That would have made things worse I suppose.

“Is it wrong if…” Forrest said haltingly. “I don’t want Dad to be Gym leader?”

I hummed at that. “He doesn’t have to be.” I decided not to say anything about not taking him back.

Forrest relaxed at that. “Oh, good, yeah that’s good. You’ll be the leader and he can…” He grimaced. “Look after our younger siblings?” I shared his grimace at that idea. “How would Tilly and Billy even recognise him?”

I shook my head. Forrest had pretty much hit a huge issue on the head. I didn’t have a good way of just, following Ash. I’m not sure if Brock was ever aware of the issues with leaving his family to his father, but again, Anime knowledge didn’t focus on those glossed over problems. I found myself… Not really wanting to go despite knowing that I was supposed to. Ash was… Well, I couldn’t say he was a hero of mine growing up. It was more a story I liked tuning in for. I didn’t identify with him, so much as finding him entertaining and occasionally frustrating. Again, Anime versus real life though.

“Are you going to be alright with Dad back?” Forrest asked. He said it so quietly I almost didn’t hear him over the crackle of the fire we had between us. I frowned. He sounded so… unsure of himself, just saying the words. Like he was treading on something delicate.

I had to really focus then. How did I think of our… father?

I laced my fingers together and hid the grimace as best I could behind them. I couldn’t really be objective and I… didn’t really want to be. Whenever the kids had asked about Dad after he’d initially ditched us. I’d tried to be casual. Telling them that everything was fine. But I knew I’d been edgy. How long had it been before they’d stopped asking about him at all? I didn’t know. It was only a few months ago that Tilly and Billy had called me ‘Dad’, forcing me to correct them.

A glow from a nearby crater shook me from my maudlin thoughts. This hadn’t gone how I’d thought it would. I’d need to approach the topic of letting Forrest take over the gym another time. Just like I’d need to also push the topic of our father to later.

“Hey Forrest come on let’s go! The thing I wanted to show you is starting up!”

“Huh?! Where?” He whipped his head around and squinted. I coughed sheepishly.

“Oh right sorry! Forgot you needed more light to see.” I pulled out a flashlight and gestured him towards the crater. It took about five minutes to walk there carefully and by the halfway point Forrest was practically vibrating in excitement.

“Okay, now keep quiet, they’re used to me coming up here but you don’t want to call out and startle them. They’re going to do their thing and then go. We’re just here to watch alright?”

Forrest nodded and I led him up to the ledge for the first secret of Mt Moon to be revealed to him.