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Fanfiction Ash and Kukui One-Shots

Discussion in 'Literature Library' started by Gazi, Jun 19, 2018.

  1. Gazi

    (Litleo ♀)
    Level 9
    May 27, 2018
    Dawn Stone ★★★★Legendary Triforce ★★Reaper Cloth ★★★
    Ash and Kukui made their way home in complete silence. Ash was likely just lost in his own thoughts. Too busy thinking about the new adventure that he had just begun to make casual small talk. As for Kukui, he too was just thinking as they walked, though he wasn't nearly as excited as Ash was. Kukui's thoughts were far more nervous and desperate.

    What on Earth was he supposed to do with this kid?

    Kukui wasn't used to feeling unsure around children. He loved kids. Even though professionally he was a pokémon professor, he prefered to spend all of his time at the pokémon school. Kukui got a thrill out of discovering something new about pokémon, something that nobody else had known before, but that thrill was so much better when he had the opportunity to share his findings with his class.

    Children were always so energetic and eager about everything. Most children had so much love for their pokémon partners, and so much excitement for discovering new things about the world around them. It was why he insisted that the children be allowed to have their pokémon with them during class. Their energy was so contagious, how could Kukui not enjoy being around children?

    As fond as Kukui was of children, he had never been completely responsible for one. He could teach a class full of them without any problem. He could even watch over the kids for a few days if they went on an extended field trip somewhere, though he usually had another chaperone with him during those times.

    Kukui had never had a child actually come and live with him though. It was a brand new experience, and Kukui didn't know if he was ready for it.

    But what else could he have done? If somebody was interested in going to the pokémon school, then Kukui did anything that he could to make it happen. When Kiawe had first shown interest in going to the pokémon school, it had taken a lot of work to make it happen. At the time, all of the students lived on Melemele island. The easiest solution was for them to find a host family on Melemele for Kiawe to live with while he went to school. The boy hadn't been too keen on this idea.

    Kukui had been the one to suggest that Kiawe make the journey from Akala Island to Melemele Island every day for school. He knew that Kiawe regularly made deliveries to other islands, so it wasn't beyond his capabilities. It took some extra effort on the boy's part, but Kukui knew that Kiawe didn't mind it at all if it meant that he got to go to pokémon school on Melemele and stay with his family Akala Island.

    Ash couldn't do that though. His home was all the way in Kanto. He couldn't exactly commute to Melemele Island every day the way that Kiawe did. For Ash to be able to go to the pokémon school, he had to be in Alola.

    Kukui had immediately volunteered to take Ash in so he could go to school. He couldn't imagine what it would be like for a kid as young as Ash was to be living away from his home and not know anybody. The very least that Kukui could do was to give Ash a place to stay so that the boy would at least know his guardian. Kukui had thought that it would help make Ash more comfortable staying so far away from home.

    Kukui didn't regret his decision, he just didn't know where to go from this point. There were days where Kukui forgot to take care of himself, and now he had volunteered to take on a kid as well? What if he didn't do a good enough job taking care of Ash? What if he went too far and started behaving more like a parent than he had any right to do? How was he supposed to do this?

    "Hey, Professor Kukui?" Ash asked. The pokémon professor turned and looked down towards Ash. The boy was beaming eagerly at him, and Kukui found himself returning the smile. He had always found it hard to not grin when he saw a happy child. "Thanks for letting me stay with you. I'm so excited to go to pokémon school!"

    "I'm glad to hear it." Kukui grinned. His favorite students were always the ones who were the most eager to learn. "I don't think I've met somebody as excited to go to school as you." Even Kiawe, who had been eager to go to the pokémon school, had been more subdued in his excitement.

    "It's a pokémon school." Ash specified. "Who wouldn't be excited to learn about and play with pokémon every day?"

    Kukui laughed. "My sentiments exactly." All of Kukui's students were fond of pokémon, but most of them had a specific type that really excited them. Maybe it was too early to tell, but Kukui thought that it was pretty safe to say that Ash was just excited about pokémon in general, no matter what type they were. "You really like pokémon, don't you?"

    "I love them." Ash pumped his first, his eyes gleaming in excitement. "I want to meet all the pokémon. And someday, I'm going to become the pokémon master."

    "Go big or go home, right?" Kukui raised an amused eyebrow. Ash clearly had big dreams. They were somewhat vague, and Kukui didn't know what Ash thought that he meant when he said 'pokémon master', but he obviously wasn't thinking small.

    "Right." Ash nodded. "I figured out a long time ago that I won't get very far if I just stayed in Kanto, so I've been going to all kinds of different regions. I've met so many amazing people and pokémon. Everywhere I go I find different ways that trainers and pokémon get stronger, and I want to master all of it."

    He was an eager child, that was for sure. "You've been to other regions?" Kukui was a little caught off guard by that. He had heard that Ash's mother rarely ever left her home in Pallet Town, which meant that if Ash had explored other regions, he had done it without her. Ash was still just a child, but he had already been on a number of adventures on his own. Kukui knew that this was a fairly common occurrence in Kanto and the other regions on the mainland, but it was just so different from the way that things were done in Alola.

    On the islands, children could still get a pokémon partner when they turned ten, but it was extremely uncommon for a child to begin their actual journey away from home at their age. Most children stayed close to their family and home for at least a few more years before they went to explore other parts of the world. Kiawe was probably the only one of Kukui's students who was anywhere near the age that a child usually felt comfortable going off on their own, and as far as Kukui had heard, Kiawe had no such plans. The boy was content training on his own while he went to pokémon school and assisted his family on their farm.

    "Yeah, a whole bunch of them." Ash said it as though it was completely normal for a child to explore various different regions. From what Kukui had heard, many people, even adults, didn't venture far from their home region. Ash was definitely going the extra mile. "I've competed in all of the gym challenges and pokémon leagues. I haven't beaten a league yet, but I've gotten so close."

    Kukui frowned. "You know that Alola doesn't have a pokémon league, right?"

    "I know." Ash nodded, and he seemed perfectly content with the knowledge.

    "So why did you want to stay here?" Kukui asked. He would have thought that Ash would want to take on another league.

    "Because Alola is incredible!" Ash said enthusiastically. "There are so many pokémon that I've never seen before. And everybody seems so nice."

    "That's the Alola spirit." Kukui explained with a grin. "Everybody here tries to treat each other like family."

    "That's awesome." Ash looked out towards the ocean where they could see the sun beginning to set in the horizon. The sky and the ocean, which seemed to go on forever, glowed in an orange light from the sun's final rays. It was really a beautiful sight. "This place is amazing." Ash's voice was quieter, and full of awe.

    "Yes," Kukui smiled contently. "It really is." The two of them watched the sun set as they walked. They didn't talk. They just took in the view. A few minutes later, when the sun was just barely peeking over the horizon, they got to Kukui's house.

    Ash turned his eyes away from the ocean to look towards Kukui's beach house. "Whoa, you live right next to the ocean."

    "Yep," Kukui nodded. "It's a little far from the town, but the views just can't be beat." And Kukui liked his solitude. He didn't live so far from the town that he didn't feel like he was a part of it, but he was able to get some peace and quiet. It came in handy when he wanted to work on his personal studies on pokémon.

    Kukui lead the way onto the porch. "Welcome to your temporary home." He opened the door. Rockruff came bounding out the door, barking excitedly. Rockruff ran around Kukui's legs for a few moments before he caught sight of Ash and decided to introduce himself to his new friend.

    Ash laughed and crouched down so he could pet Rockruff. Not that Rockruff was willing to hold still long enough to be pet properly, but Ash didn't seem to mind at all. "He's so friendly."

    "Rockruff likes making new friends." Kukui said. Rockruff actually got excited about everything, but especially when it was somebody else that he could play with. "I hope you don't mind my housemate." Kukui seriously doubted that the excited boy would be all that bothered by the excited pokémon, but he just wanted to be sure.

    "I don't mind." Ash said. He somehow got a grip on Rockruff before he could run circles around him again and was able to pick him up. Rockruff, who really liked to be held, calmed down when he was in Ash's arms. Rockruff licked at Ash's face and barked happily. Ash smiled and ruffled his fur. The two of them really seemed to be getting along well.

    "Why don't you two come play inside?" Kukui suggested. "It's getting dark out, and I don't know about you, but I'm getting hungry."

    "I could eat!" Ash said quickly as he dashed inside. He was excited for food. Kukui remembered how he had been much the same when he had been that age. It seemed that he had always been hungry. Kukui made a mental note to keep a better eye on how much food he had. Ash was still a growing boy, and it wouldn't be very good for him if there wasn't food around when he needed it.

    There was actually a number of things that Kukui would have to be more on top of now that Ash was staying with him. No more losing track of time and staying up all night, because that certainly wouldn't set a very good example for Ash. No more putting off chores until the very last minute. Kukui had a kid that he needed to keep an eye on now. He had to be more responsible.

    It would take some time for him to adjust to having somebody else around. And now that Kukui thought about it, Ash would have to make some adjustments of his own, considering he'd been traveling around, without stable living conditions for awhile now.

    It wasn't anything that the two of them couldn't handle though. It would be a new experience, but as far as Kukui was concerned, another word for' new experience' was 'adventure'. Kukui had never been the kind of person who shied away from adventure, and he knew that Ash wasn't either.
  2. Gazi

    (Litleo ♀)
    Level 9
    May 27, 2018
    Dawn Stone ★★★★Legendary Triforce ★★Reaper Cloth ★★★
    What a day.

    Kukui was tired, as he usually was after even a normal day teaching at the pokémon school, but Ash was absolutely exhausted. The boy ate three full servings of dinner. Kukui had known that Ash would have the appetite of a young boy, but this was worse than he had expected. Kakui wasn't mad though, he was mostly amused that the kid had still finished eating sooner than he had. He swore, the kid had a black hole for a stomach.

    After Kakui had finished eating, he had taken his and Ash's plates into the kitchen and rinsed them off. He would wash them properly later. Kukui couldn't have been in the kitchen for more than a minute or two, but when he returned to the couch he saw that Ash was already beginning to doze off.

    "Hey," Kukui shook Ash's shoulder to wake him up. "You shouldn't sleep down here. You're going to wake up sore." Kukui knew that the couch that he had available for Ash to sleep on couldn't be the most comfortable thing in the world, but it was softer than the stiff couch down here.

    Ash blinked and slowly sat up. He yawned and rubbed the sleep out of his eyes. "Sorry." Ash said. He sounded half asleep. He would probably be tired in class tomorrow too.

    "It's okay." Kukui assured him. His eyes were drawn to the empty Z ring around Ash's wrist. Kukui frowned in thought. He knew that someday soon Ash would get himself another Z crystal, and he would be able to use it without it shattering. That wasn't what Kukui was worried about though. He still hadn't been able to wrap his mind around the fact that Tapu Koko, who rarely even showed himself, had seemed to have taken a liking to Ash, who had only been on the island for a few days.

    What confused Kukui even more than that though was what Ash's reaction to Tapu Koko was. The boy had acted like seeing and battling Tapu Koko was an experience that happened every single day.

    "Hey, Ash, why were you so calm about meeting Tapu Koko?" Kukui asked, curious. Ash blinked and took a few moments to process what had been said to him.

    "I was calm?" Ash frowned. "Really?"

    "Well, not exactly." Kukui admitted. "But you seemed much more comfortable around Tapu Koko than people usually are."

    "Oh," Ash thought for a moment. "I didn't think that I acted any differently. I mean, I think I acted the same around all the other legendary pokémon that I've met."

    "...All the other…" Kukui was stunned into silence for a few moments before he burst into laughter. Of course Ash had met other legendary pokémon. Somehow, Kukui wasn't all that surprised. Whatever Tapu Koko had seen in Ash, other legendary pokémon had to have seen it too.

    "You've really seen a lot during your travels, haven't you?" Kukui commented. Ash had an adventurous life, that was for sure. The boy had experienced so many incredible things even though he was still so young. Kukui didn't think that Ash realized just how privileged he was. At the same time though, Ash was far from ungrateful.

    Ash was fearless, fierce, determined. He'd had an exciting life, and even though he was going to be living in a more domestic situation, Kukui didn't think it was fair to expect him to give up that excitement. Kukui wanted Ash to be able to make the most of his life. He wanted Ash to experience as much of the world as he possibly could.

    Kukui didn't see why Ash couldn't make his adventure in Alola just as enjoyable as his time in other regions. They just needed to set up a few guidelines.

    "Ash, can you do me a favor?" Kukui asked. "If you don't want to, that's fine, I won't make you, but I want you to at least think about it." Kukui knew that he wasn't Ash's father. He was just a temporary guardian. He could set up guidelines for Ash, but he didn't have the right to enforce them as rules.

    "What's up, Professor?" Ash asked.

    "I'm fine with you doing your own thing while you're here." Kukui said. In fact, he encouraged it. He really admired Ash's excitement for everything that he did, and he didn't want to diminish that. "But you need to be careful. There are a lot of pokémon in Alola that look harmless enough, but they could be really dangerous. You can't just go running off so recklessly."

    "Okay." Ash nodded. "Is that the favor?"

    "No, that's a request from your teacher." Kukui said. "The favor is that at the end of the day, I want to hear about what happened." Kukui wasn't trying to hover over Ash, but he felt like he should at least be aware of what the boy went through from day to day. If there had been any close calls or crazy encounters, Kukui wanted to know about it.

    Kukui knew that he wouldn't be able to do much after the fact, but he wanted to know what was going on anyways.

    Yeah, I can do that." Ash said with a grin. Kukui internally breathed a sigh of relief. He trusted that Ash could take care of himself, he'd obviously been doing so for quite some time now, but he didn't want a repeat of what had happened earlier. Kukui didn't know why, but it really bothered him that Ash had met Tapu Koko and been given a Z ring by the island guardian himself, and he hadn't breathed a word of it to him. How was he supposed to be a good guardian if he didn't know about any of the things that Ash went through?

    "One more thing, and this one is a rule," Kukui thought that it was fair for him to set up a house rule or two, considering he was Ash's guardian and his teacher. "I want you to be home before dark every day." Kukui knew that there would be acceptable exceptions, but they would tackle those when they came to them. "If it's an emergency and you need to be out, I want you to talk to me about it first, alright?"

    Ash nodded. "That's fair."

    "Good." Kukui was relieved that Ash wasn't fighting him on this. He knew that many children and teenagers had a real issue with people telling them what to do. "Now how about we call it a night?" They'd both had a long day.

    "Okay." Ash stood up and stretched. He then bent down and took Pikachu, who had been napping on the floor next to Rockruff, into his arms. Ash went over to the ladder that lead to the loft that was his unofficial room. Before Ash could think about trying to go up the ladder one handed as he held his sleeping pokémon in the other, Kukui stepped forward and took Pikachu from Ash's arms. Kukui didn't want the boy to hurt himself and his pokémon by trying to go up the ladder with just one hand.

    Ash climbed up into the loft. He then sat on the ground, leaned forward, and reached down for his Pikachu. Kukui slowly handed the pokémon off, though he was extremely careful to not wake the Pikachu.

    "Thanks." Ash said quietly as he held his Pikachu close. "Goodnight, Professor Kukui."

    Kukui smiled. "Goodnight, Ash." Kukui turned off the lights and made his way to his bedroom. It was still fairly early, but it had been a long and exciting day. And who knew what kind of adventures they would run into tomorrow?

    Kukui wasn't used to so much unpredictability. He could be spontaneous sometimes, but he was both a teacher and a professor. When he wasn't making lesson plans, he was studying Pokémon attacks and behaviors and trying to find patterns. It had been a long time since Kukui had had something in his life that could shake things up in ways that he couldn't expect.

    Even though Ash had only been living with him for a few days, Kukui could already tell that Ash was unpredictable and extremely spontaneous, which was something that he hadn't even realized he was missing in his life. Just having that boy living with him was an adventure in and of itself.

    Kukui hadn't realized just how much he had missed adventures, and he couldn't wait to see what else their future had in store for them.
  3. Gazi

    (Litleo ♀)
    Level 9
    May 27, 2018
    Dawn Stone ★★★★Legendary Triforce ★★Reaper Cloth ★★★
    Kukui enjoyed to wake up early in the morning, when everything in the world was still quiet and calm. He enjoyed those first few hours before school. It was relaxing to just sit out on his deck and watch the sun rise.

    One morning, a few days after Ash had started living with him, Kukui woke up earlier than he normally would. It was one of their days off from school, which was when Kukui would normally sleep in and spend some time at home. He couldn't do that though, because there were some errands that he needed to run.

    Specifically, he needed to stock up on food, because they were completely out.

    Kukui had known that they were running low, and he had actually been planning on going grocery shopping that day. He had planned on going later in the morning, or in the afternoon. They needed food for breakfast though, so Kukui figured it would be best if he went a little earlier.

    And if he was going to go shopping in the morning, he might as well go all out and go to the street markets around town. Everything there was cheap and fresh, and the vendors were always extremely nice. The best time to go to the street markets was first thing in the morning. That was when the streets weren't as crowded and the best goods were out.

    It had been awhile since Kukui had gone to the morning markets. He just hoped that his young ward would enjoy it as much as he did.

    "Hey, Ash," Kukui gently shook the sleeping boy's shoulder. "Wake up. It's time to go."

    "Huh?" Ash barely opened his eyes. He looked at Kukui groggily. "...Go? Where are we going?"

    "We need to pick up some food, remember?" Kukui shook Pikachu awake as well.

    "But...it's so early." Ash muttered as he sat up and shook the sleep from his eyes.

    "That's the point." Kukui said. "Come on. We'll get some malasadas while we're out" That woke Ash up.

    "Okay, okay, I'm coming." Ash yawned and pulled the blanket off. He got to his feet and went to go get dressed. Pikachu also got to its feet and stretched before following behind his trainer.

    Kukui left Ash to get ready for his day. He went back to the ladder and climbed down to the ground floor. Kukui made his way to Rockruff's bed and he shook the little pokémon awake.

    "Hey, Rockruff, do you want to go to the market?" Kukui asked playfully. Just as he expected, Rockruff was wide awake in an instant. Rockruff loved to go anywhere in town, but he especially loved the market. There were so many sights, sounds, smells, and people that excited the little pokémon.

    Rockruff barked eagerly. He jumped on Kukui and began trying to nudge at his neck, like he always did. Kukui laughed and pet Rockruff's fur. "Yeah, I thought so."

    "Someone's excited." Ash commented. Kukui turned to see the boy climbing down the ladder, dressed and ready to go. He even had both of his pokémon with him, Pikachu on his shoulders, and his new Rowlet in his bag.

    "Wow, that was fast." Kukui said. "Feeling any more awake?"

    "A little." Ash said. "I bet I'll be even more awake after I have a malasada though."

    Kukui laughed. "Alright, that sounds fair." Kukui took Rockruff into his arms and stood up. "You ready to go?"

    "Yep." Ash adjusted his backpack, waited for Pikachu to make himself comfortable on his shoulders, and followed Kukui to the door. It was still a little dark outside, and Kukui knew that they were probably leaving a little earlier than was necessary. There wasn't any harm in leaving a little early though. Besides, Kukui figured that with how distracted Ash could get sometimes, and how much boundless energy Rockruff had when he saw something that he deemed exciting, which was most everything, they probably wouldn't get to the market as quickly as Kukui on his own might.

    Not that he minded.

    They did end up getting sidetracked for a few minutes when Ash thought he caught a glimpse of a pokémon that he wasn't familiar with. Kukui hadn't seen anything, and the pokémon had run away before Ash himself could get a good look at it. Rotom Dex wasn't even around that particular morning, as it had opted to stay home and watch Alolan Detective Laki, which Kukui had introduced to it the night before. So Rotom Dex couldn't identify the pokémon.

    Ash tried to explain its appearance to Kukui, but because of how little he had seen of the pokémon, Ash's attempts to describe it could fit about a dozen different species of pokémon. Ash was disappointed that he didn't get to learn about this mystery pokémon, but he cheered up when Kukui pointed out that they might get lucky and see it again.

    Not that either of them would really recognize it if they did see it, but Kukui kept that part to himself.

    After that short detour, it was only a few more minutes worth of walking before they reached the town. Kukui knew that Ash had seen some of the larger stores when he had gone into town on his own the day before, but that wasn't where they were headed that morning. The street markets were in the other direction, still in a busy area of town, but not one that was so crowded with buildings.

    When they reached the streets where the markets and vendors were, Kukui was glad, though not surprised, to see that they weren't there too early. All of the vendors were either in the process of or just finishing up setting up their stalls for the day. Despite the early hour, there were already a number of people walking around, looking at all there was to sell. One who had never been to a morning market may find it strange that there were people up so early, but it was nothing compared to how many people would be on the streets during the later hours of the day.

    True to his word, the first place that Kukui brought them to was a malasada kart, where they made and fried their dough every single day. It wasn't as popular as the malasada bakeries at the town square, but they still knew how to make a good malasada.

    There was a bit of a line, as Ash wasn't the only person who wanted to start the day off with a hot, fresh malasada. It wasn't too bad though, and a few minutes later it was Kukui's turn to order. He paid for five malasadas, one for himself, two for Ash, and two for Pikachu, Rowlet, and Rockruff to share.

    Kukui was glad that he had thought to get two for Ash and their pokémon, because those four devoured their malasadas like there was no tomorrow. Ash probably would have swallowed his malasadas whole if they would fit in his mouth. He ate his food so quickly that Kukui wasn't even done with his first malasada by the time Ash was finishing off his second one. Pikachu, Rockruff, and Rowlet together were only slightly slower in their malasada consumption.

    As they finished up their breakfast, Kukui showed Ash around the market area. The majority of vendors sold fresh berries, fruits, and vegetables. Some of them were brought in from the other islands, but the majority of grown goods were harvested right on Melemele Island.

    Other things that were available were freshly baked bread that was still warm, homemade honey, and all kinds of homegrown herbs. Kukui picked up what food he knew they needed, though he was sure to get more than he usually did. There were some things that he would have to get at the supermarket, such as rice, but Kukui was able to get the majority of what they needed from the street market.

    Kukui knew that Ash did not do well with standing around for long periods of time. He got bored and distracted extremely easily. Kukui did his best to hold Ash's interest by showing him what to look for at these markets and how to tell what was of the best quality. Ash paid close attention to what he was saying, but it was clear that the boy was bored and didn't much want to be there.

    Kukui still had a few other stalls and vendors that he wanted to look at, ones that sold ingredients for pokémon food. He didn't want to bore Ash though, so when Kukui saw a vendor with a few racks of tourist shirts on them, he suggested that Ash go check them out while he finish up the shopping. Ash didn't seem all that excited, but he probably thought that it would be something better to do than stand around waiting for Kukui to finish.

    Kukui didn't just hope that Ash will be entertained for a few minutes, but also that he would find a couple of the shirts that he liked. He hadn't said anything to the kid, but they needed to buy him more clothes. He had brought enough from home to last him a short vacation to Alola, not a prolonged visit.

    Kukui knew that Ash's mother wouldn't hesitate to just send some clothes over for Ash, but Kukui didn't advise it. Sending packages to Alola from the mainland could get really expensive, and it would just be much cheaper and easier if Kukui just found some shirts lying around. None of his old shirts would fit Ash, but the shirts sold by the market vendor probably would, and at a decent price as well.

    Kukui left Ash to look at the shirts and went to get the ingredients that he needed. He made sure to be quick about it, because he could only count on Ash staying in one place for so long. A few minutes later, Kukui finished up and went to join Ash. The boy no longer looked as bored as he had before. In fact, when Kukui found Ash he was excitedly showing a Rowlet themed shirt to his own Rowlet. The grass pokémon just looked confused.

    "That's quite a resemblance you've found." Kukui commented.

    Ash beamed at him. "I found one with Pikachu on it too." Ash quickly put down his Rowlet shirt and rushed over to another rack to grab a white shirt with a simplified picture of a Pikachu on it. "See?"

    "I see." Kukui nodded. "Did you find anything else that interests you?"

    "Oh, yeah," Ash shoved the Pikachu shirt in Kukui's arms and and grabbed another white shirt. "Look! It's the same as your hat." Ash excitedly held out the white shirt and looked down at the rainbow like symbol in the middle. "See? They're matching!"

    "Huh," It really was the same symbol. Kukui hadn't realized that his hat had a matching shirt. "They sure are." Kukui grabbed the shirt from Ash and then went to pick up the Rowlet one. Rainbow, Pikachu, Rowlet, that made three shirts. "Why don't we pick one or two more shirts and we'll head home?"

    Ash looked at the shirts in Kukui's arms and frowned ever so slightly. "Are you sure?"

    "Yes, I'm sure." Kukui assured him. "Trust me, I have the money to buy a handful of shirts. Just let me treat you, okay?"

    Ash's frown was replaced by a grateful smile instantaneously. "Okay." At least Ash was easy to convince. Kukui grabbed two other shirts with different symbols and colors, and then he went to go pay the vendor for them. With all of their purchases in hand, Kukui and Ash made their way back home. Even Pikachu helped them out by carrying a small bag of herbs and spices.

    A few minutes later they got back to Kukui's house. Ash took his new shirts up to his loft, and then went back down to the kitchen to help Kukui put the groceries away. When they were done with that, Kukui took Ash into the laundry room and showed him how to do the laundry properly. Kukui was fine with Ash not helping him with the chores around the house, but he was an eager kid. An eager kid who wanted to be helpful.

    Rotom had told Kukui about how Ash had tried to help do some chores the day before, and things hadn't gone very well. Kukui didn't want to ban Ash from doing chores, he appreciated the help, but it would probably be best for both of them if he taught Ash how to do things properly.

    Ash, of course, was more than happy to learn. He seemed so surprised that the wash could only fit so many clothes in it at a time, and that only a little bit of soap would be enough to get the clothes clean. Once Ash had a better idea on how to use the washer, he had asked if he could try again. Kukui didn't know how many kids asked if they could do the laundry, but he had already known that Ash was one of a kind.

    With the laundry out of the way, Kukui tried to think of what to do next. It was still morning, and they had the whole day left to do with as they pleased. Kukui knew that Ash wouldn't mind getting a bit of training in, he would probably be ecstatic about it, but he hoped that the kid was willing to wait just a little bit longer. There was still some things they had to get from the supermarket, such as protein and grains.

    "You're not too tired to go with me to get a few more things, are you?" Kukui asked. He knew that he could go on his own, or that it could still wait a little longer, but he would prefer that Ash go with him.

    "I'm not too tired." Ash said, without the smallest bit of hesitation. Kukui was glad. He knew that the kid would be able to help him.

    Besides, he had been meaning to show Ash more of the island.
  4. Gazi

    (Litleo ♀)
    Level 9
    May 27, 2018
    Dawn Stone ★★★★Legendary Triforce ★★Reaper Cloth ★★★
    Kukui sighed contently as he looked up at the stars. He and Ash had gotten back about an hour ago from the party to celebrate Ash’s success during the grand trial. Ash had gone inside, maybe to sleep, but probably just to have some time to himself to reflect on the day. A lot had happened. Kukui himself found the need to reflect on what had happened, and he hadn’t even been the one to take the grand trial.

    Kukui had climbed up to the roof of his house. It wasn’t something that he did very often, but then again, he didn’t get the chance to watch a grand trial very often either.

    Kukui’d had students take the grand trials before. For most children that came into his classroom, he was not just their teacher, but their mentor when it came to being good pokémon trainers. There weren’t very many trainers in Alola who were practiced in battling the way he was. Battling was especially uncommon on Melemele Island. Kukui’d had a couple of students who had never even seen a proper pokémon battle before.

    Kukui did his best to educate his students on everything that he could. He wanted them to be the best trainers that they could be. Most of them didn’t take to battling, but he wanted them to at least know the basics.

    Every once and awhile though Kukui would get a student who truly got into battling. It was an amazing feeling, to be the one responsible for introducing a child to something that they really cared about. These students nearly always took on the island trials. Kukui had never watched a student during their actual trial though, not until Ash came by.

    Grand trials were a sacred thing. Other than the challenger, the kahuna, and the referee, nobody else traditionally watched the trial. Kukui considered himself lucky that Kahuna Hala had agreed to let him be the referee. It was a slight stretching of the rules, but technically allowed.

    Ash’s trial...it had been amazing to watch. That boy battled like nobody that Kukui had ever seen before. Ash was so enthusiastic about the battle. He hadn’t seemed the least bit nervous before the trial began. Ash also hadn’t been overly confident and arrogant. He had been as prepared for the grand trial as he could be, and he had done better than Kukui had expected him to.

    Not just when it came to the battle itself. Ash had done his very best to follow grand trial protocols the best that he could. Ash hadn’t been on Melemele Island for very long, and he really wasn’t familiar with a lot of their traditions. Ash may not be a tourist anymore, but he wasn’t a native either. Most anybody else in his position was bound to make at least a few mistakes, even if not on purpose.

    Ash was careful though, and considerate. He had asked Kukui beforehand if there were things that he needed to know for the trial. As excited and eager as Ash was to take the grand trial, he didn’t want to do anything that could be disrespectful. Ash had even asked if it was okay that his classmates joined them to celebrate

    At the celebration, Hala had told Kukui how well Ash had behaved himself when they had been at the Ruins of Conflict before the trial to ask for Tapu Koko’s blessing. Many natives to Alola had a hard time staying still during this part of the trial, and Ash had done extremely well. Kukui was proud of him.

    Kukui regularly felt proud of all of his students. Nothing gave him more joy than to see them grow as people and trainers. It was the most satisfying feeling in the world, to have a hand in helping the children become the great trainers that he knew they all could be.

    Kukui didn’t feel that kind of pride when it came to Ash. He couldn’t claim that he had anything to do with how well Ash had done. That boy’s success was all his own. He had trained by himself, and practiced his Z-Move pose as much as he could. Ash hadn’t needed his assistance, so he hadn’t offered it.

    Ash may still just be a child, and that was something that the boy should keep in mind more often, but he was still the most strong-willed, independent child that Kukui had ever met. He’d had more adventures and experiences in the time since he had become a trainer than most adults did throughout their entire lives. Despite this though, Ash was still eager to learn more.

    “Hey, Professor?” Ash’s voice dragged Kukui out of his musings. Kukui turned to the right to see the boy poking his head out the window of his loft. He must have been standing on the dresser. “What are you doing up here.”

    “Thinking.” Kukui said simply. “You’re free to join me if you want.” Ash smiled and climbed out the window. He crawled along the roof until he was at Kukui’s side and he sat next to him.

    “What are you thinking about?” Ash asked.

    “I’m not even sure.” Kukui admitted with a small laugh. His thoughts were all over the place. “Where are Pikachu and Rowlet?” Ash normally wasn’t far from his pokémon.

    “They’re sleeping.” Ash spread his legs out and leaned back, with his hands behind him to support him. “They worked really hard today.”

    “They’re not the only ones.” Kukui looked at his ward. “You did great today, Ash. You all did.”

    “I was kinda worried that I would do something wrong and Kahuna Hala would refuse to give me a Z-Crystal.” Ash admitted sheepishly.

    Kukui laughed. “You did just fine.” Kukui smiled slightly at the boy. “I’m proud of you.” Kukui had never been afraid to tell his students when he was proud of them. Young students needed encouragement. They needed to know when they were on the right track and that they always had his support.

    Ash’s smile was so bright and happy, that Kukui decided to tell Ash that he was proud of him more often, because that smile was just incredible. And besides that, Ash was an amazing young man, and he deserved to know that.

    “Thanks, Professor.” Ash said happily. Kukui had never seen Ash, who was normally so excited and energetic, be so content and calm. Kukui wondered if he was always like this after he accomplished a big goal of his. Kukui made a mental note to keep an eye out for that during Ash’s next grand trials, because he knew that there was no way that the boy would be satisfied with just the Melemele Island grand trial. He would want to do all of them, and Kukui wouldn’t have it any other way.

    Kukui wasn’t proud of Ash because of what he had accomplished. He was proud of him because he had the desire to accomplish these things. Ash didn’t have to go through the grand trial or follow their traditions. Sure, he did if he wanted to use the Z-Crystals, and Kukui knew how excited Ash was about those, but he also knew that there was more to Ash’s goal than that.

    Ash wanted to be a great pokémon trainer, not just a great battler. Powerful moves were impressive, but Kukui got the feeling that Ash was more attracted to Z-Moves because of what they meant, not because of what they did.

    Ash was a fine young trainer. He may have ambitious goals that Kukui didn’t entirely understand, but he didn’t doubt for one second that Ash could accomplish anything that he set his mind to. Kukui was just glad that he had the opportunity to watch as Ash improved himself, and maybe offer assistance, if the boy would accept it.

    Kukui didn’t know how long Ash would be in Alola for. All he knew was that he intended to enjoy the time that he had with the boy. Even if it meant letting Ash stay up a little later on a school night so that they could just sit on the roof together. Kukui knew that Ash would probably end up falling asleep in class the next day, but he would deal with that when it happened.

    Until then, he would just enjoy this moment while it lasted.
  5. Gazi

    (Litleo ♀)
    Level 9
    May 27, 2018
    Dawn Stone ★★★★Legendary Triforce ★★Reaper Cloth ★★★
    Chapter 5

    During his time as a teacher, Kukui had come to accept that children could be incredibly reckless sometimes. Actually, adults could be pretty careless themselves, it was just a part of being human. With children though, if they got themselves in trouble, they didn’t have as much experience that might help them get out of danger. One part of being a teacher was to help children out of the sticky situations that they couldn’t handle, and to teach them the life skills they might need to help them get out of these situations in the future.

    It could be tempting sometimes to hover behind the children and help hold their hand through any hardship they might come across. It had taken Kukui years to realize that he couldn’t do this. Kids had to learn and grow for themselves. He could be there to offer advice and assistance if they needed it, but he couldn’t solve all of their problems for them, and he really shouldn’t.

    Sometimes, Kukui had to draw the line. He may believe that children should learn and grow for themselves, but there was a difference between letting them figure out how to deal with a misbehaving pokémon, and standing to the side and doing nothing as one of his kids decided that it would be a good idea to jump off a cliff.

    Through the years Kukui had come to realize that every child was reckless in their own ways, but Ash Ketchum was on a whole other level.

    Kukui sighed tiredly and ran a hand through his hair. He swore, this boy was going to be the death of him. Kukui had been slightly anxious all during Ash’s rematch battle with Tapu Koko. Sometimes the Island Guardians forgot what their own strengths were, and they took things too far. Kukui had known that Tapu Lele was much more prone to accidentally hurting those that she just wanted to have some fun with, but Tapu Koko wasn’t exactly the most gentle pokémon either.

    Kukui’s concern had heightened when Tapu Koko had accidentally pushed Pikachu back too far and sent the poor pokémon over the edge of a cliff. If that hadn’t been bad enough, Kukui had thought that his heart had stopped beating in his chest when Ash, his student, his ward, had jumped off the cliff after him.

    Ash could have died, and Kukui hadn’t done anything to stop it. He had run to where Ash had been as fast as he could, so had Kiawe, but a lot of good that had done. The only reason that Ash was alive was because Tapu Koko had caught him before he could get hurt, which Kukui was eternally grateful for. The Island Guardian may be careless, but he wasn’t cruel. Tapu Koko took his job as guardian of Melemele Island very seriously.

    Kukui just wished that he hadn’t been so useless in the situation. And it wasn’t that he had been completely incapable of doing anything. At the time, Kukui had reacted instinctively without thinking things through. Maybe this could work for some situations, but that day, it could have cost Ash his life. Kukui could have lost one of his students, just because he hadn’t thought to remember that he had a bird pokémon that was more than capable of carrying a fully grown male.

    Kukui should have stayed calm. He should have taken his pokéball out of his pocket and called out Braviary. He should have actually done something that would have been useful, but he hadn’t.

    Kukui could just tell himself that this was just a one time occurrence, but he couldn’t afford to believe this. When Kukui had all but yelled at Ash, asking him what on earth he had been thinking, the boy had seemed unfazed. Kukui didn’t know word for word what Ash’s response had been, but he knew all too well what the implications had been.

    If Kukui had understood Ash correctly, this wasn’t the first time that he had risked his own life to save Pikachu’s, and it wouldn’t be the last.

    Kukui had always held nothing but admiration for Ash and the close connection that he had to his pokémon. But when Ash had admitted that he wouldn’t hesitate to die if it meant keeping his pokémon safe, Kukui felt nothing but fear. Ash was just a boy, a child, he shouldn’t have to find himself in a situation that might endanger the lives of him and his pokémon, but he had, and he probably would again.

    Ash was a lucky and resourceful boy, but that could only take him so far. Someday, Ash might find himself in a situation that he couldn’t get out of on his own. If that happened, and Kukui again didn’t do anything to help him, he wouldn’t be able to live with himself.

    He couldn’t let that happen.

    Kukui had spent far too long focusing all of his energy on helping his students be the best trainers that they come be. He had been so focused on their training that he had neglected his own. His trainer instincts weren’t what they used to be. Kukui had known this for awhile now, but when Ash had been in danger and his first instinct hadn’t been to send his own pokémon after him, he knew that enough was enough.

    Kukui couldn’t put it off any longer. He had to get back into his trainer mindset. Maybe he wouldn’t be able to help Ash out with every single situation he came across, but he was going to do his best to make sure that he was able to do what he could.

    Kukui reached into his coat pocket and brought out one of the few pokéballs that he had on him at all times. Kukui was fond of most any pokémon that he met, but he chose very few as his partners. Braviary was the pokémon that he had the strongest bond with, and it was long past time that he worked on strengthening that bond again.

    “Time to get back to work, old friend.” Kukui muttered to his pokéball before he threw it into the air and let out his Braviary. Even though the two of them were close, Kukui didn’t let his Braviary out very often. They had been partners for years, and during that time Kukui had come to recognize that just as Ash’s Pikachu hated being confined to its pokéball, Braviary hated being away from the comfort that his ball provided.

    Some people didn’t understand how Kukui could claim to be so close to a pokémon that he rarely used, but that was just how their relationship was. Kukui didn’t bother trying to explain it to other people, because it didn’t really matter if others understood or not. All that mattered in their relationship was that it worked for them.

    And Kukui still brought his Braviary out of its ball, he just avoided doing so when other people were around. Braviary didn’t like to be around other people or pokémon. Braviary knew how to handle himself when he was around others, but he always prefered it when it was just him and Kukui, and the man respected that.

    “It’s been awhile, hasn’t it.” Kukui smiled and put a hand on his pokémon’s head. Braviary leaned into the touch and made a noise of contentment. “Yeah, it’s good to see you again, buddy.” Kukui had definitely missed working with his Braviary. He had been meaning on reconnecting with his pokémon. The events of that day were just the push that he had needed.

    “I hope you’re ready for some training, old friend.” Kukui said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do.” The both of them needed to be ready to react in a moments notice. Kukui couldn’t let things get out of hand the way that it had that day, not if he could do something to stop it.

    Never again.
  6. Gazi

    (Litleo ♀)
    Level 9
    May 27, 2018
    Dawn Stone ★★★★Legendary Triforce ★★Reaper Cloth ★★★
    Chapter 6.

    Kukui sighed and practically slumped down on the couch. He felt completely drained. He knew that part of the reason was because he had stayed up all night. It was a horrible habit of his that he thought he had reigned in since Ash had started living with him. Kukui knew that he had to be more careful in the future, but at the moment getting a good night's sleep was the last thing on his mind. He was too busy thinking about why he had been up all night.

    He had always had a hard time sleeping when he knew one of his students was struggling with something like this.

    Death was always horrible, devastating, and completely unavoidable. Death was the most inevitable thing about life. It happened to everybody sooner or later, and most everybody had to experience the loss of a loved one. It was an awful experience for anybody to go through, but especially a child.

    During his time as a teacher, Kukui'd had a few students who had to go through such a loss. Whether it be the death of a parent, sibling, grandparent, neighbor, friend. Once two of Kukui's own students had been involved in a horrible accident, one of them had walked away from the incident, the other hadn't been so lucky.

    Those had been some dark days at the school. Morale had been at an all time low, the students had all been scared and depressed, and Kukui hadn't been much better. He'd had to hide it though when he was in front of his students, which had been one of the hardest things he had ever done. He had to save his grieving for when he was home. At school, he needed to be strong. He had needed to be there for his students. Their happiness and well-being was his top priority, even above his own.

    Kukui had helped so many of his students overcome their grief, but he didn't think it was something he would ever get used to. He had always thought that it was the worst part of his job, but somehow this was worse.

    Kukui would never wish the responsibility of pushing aside one's own feelings to help others with their own on anybody. It was a depressing and overwhelming task. And now, it was one that Ash had taken upon himself.

    Some people didn't think that the death of a pokémon was as impactful as that of a person, but that was just naive thinking. Pokémon could be the closest partners that anybody ever had, and they could have close relationships to each other, just like humans did. Most people probably wouldn't even notice the death of a single, stray Stoutland, but Ash did, and so did Litten.

    After all, one doesn't just lost their entire world, their only family, and moved on with life as normal.

    Kukui had expected Ash to be upset about Stoutland's death, and for him to be worried about Litten, but not quite to this extent. He probably should have expected it though. Ash was far too kind-hearted to ever feel comfortable with just sitting around and waiting when he knew that somebody was hurting.

    Ash had waited, at first. The first two days after Litten had died, he had watched Litten from a distance. That was all he had done, all day, watch and wait. It had been hard for Kukui to see Ash so forlorn and upset. The boy clearly wanted to do something to help Litten, but he didn't know what.

    Kukui wanted to offer advice, but he really couldn't. In his experience, everybody dealt with grief in different ways. The only reason that Kukui had been able to help his students was because as their teacher and mentor he had gotten to know them really well. He had never even properly met Litten. He couldn't know what the pokémon's needs were.

    But...Ash might.

    Kukui had kept an eye on Ash during these two days. He had watched Litten from a distance with him. He had let Ash's mind wander during class, because he knew there would be no point in forcing the kid to focus on his studies. When Ash had said that he wanted to take food to Litten, Kukui had suggested a type of berry that he knew was soft, simple but good in taste, and easy on the stomach. He knew it wouldn't heal what was wrong with Litten, but it would be something that it could easily digest.

    When Ash came home looking even more upset than he had before, Kukui knew that something else was wrong. According to Ash, Litten wasn't eating, it wasn't moving, it wasn't doing anything. It just stayed on Stoutland's couch, depressed.

    Kukui had dealt with many students who had reacted the same way when someone close to them had passed away. He knew at least one thing that Litten needed was somebody around to make sure that it was taking care of itself. It may not accept help right away, but it was important that Litten know that somebody was there for it.

    And Kukui knew that that somebody was Ash.

    Kukui hadn't wanted to send his student out for who knows how long to offer moral support to a grieving pokémon. Ash was just a kid, he shouldn't have to do this kind of thing. But when Kukui saw Ash staring out the window at the pouring rain, looking more distant and upset than Kukui had ever seen from him, he knew that maybe it would be for the best. Not just for Litten, but for Ash too.

    "You're really worried about Litten, aren't you?" Kukui had asked, drawing Ash's attention away from the window.

    "Professor…" Ash frowned slightly before he looked out the window. "Yeah," He had admitted in a quiet voice. "Litten hasn't been eating, and...and I don't think it should be alone right now."

    "If you think you should be with Litten, that's where you should be." Kukui had said. Maybe it hadn't been smart to let his student go running off into the storm, but it somehow felt like the right thing to do. "Litten needs you right now."

    Ash's frown softened and he had looked relieved and grateful. "You think I should go?"

    "I do." Kukui had nodded. "But Ash, I need you to remember something for me, okay? This is very important."

    "What is it, Professor?" Ash had asked, confused and slightly wary. Kukui had stepped forward and put a hand on Ash's shoulder.

    "Litten might act like it doesn't want your help," Kukui had warned. "It might try to attack you, or ignore you, but it just needs time. If you want to help Litten, you need to have the patience to wait until it's ready to accept your help."

    Ash had nodded. "Thank you, Professor Kukui." With those words, Ash had gathered his pokémon and went off to be with his new friend. That had been more than a day ago, and Ash hadn't shown any signs of coming back. Kukui knew that he needed to take his own advice and have patience. If Ash thought that Litten's condition was more than he could handle, he would have taken it to a pokémon center, or at the very least brought it here.

    Kukui was just glad that the storm seemed to have passed. He wasn't foolish enough to think that this was a sign that things were better for Litten, it just meant the weather had changed. But it eased his worries slightly to know that at least Ash wasn't out in the rain anymore.

    Now the only thing that he needed to know was that Litten was eating again, and all of his major concerns about this whole situation would be resolved.

    It was always worrying when somebody was so distressed that they couldn't bring themselves to eat anything. Kukui remembered it happening to him one time when he was younger, and it had not been a fun experience. The lack of food seemed to drain what little energy he had,and the physical exhaustion made his emotional issues that much worse.

    Kukui liked to think that Ash had easily been able to convince Litten to eat something, but he knew it wasn't the case. Ash had been gone for a whole day, and he had said that he would be back once he was sure that Litten had eaten something. If Ash wasn't back, that meant that Litten still wasn't in the mood for food, and that was concerning. It just wasn't healthy to go more than a day without eating anything, especially not for a small pokémon like Litten who probably hadn't been eating as much as it should in the first place.

    Kukui was just about ready to go into town to check on Ash and Litten for himself. He hadn't gone yet because Litten didn't know or trust him, but the small pokémon could really make itself sick if it continued to refuse to take care of himself like this. His presence may make Litten uncomfortable, but at that moment Kukui was more concerned about keeping Litten from getting sick than making sure that it felt safe.

    Kukui was on his feet and ready to leave when he heard Rockruff barking in the distance. Kukui paused. Rockruff had gone with Ash, and it was far too loyal to think of leaving him, so if the pokémon was back, that meant that the boy had to be too.

    Well, it was about time.

    Kukui ran out onto the porch and breathed a sigh of relief when he saw Ash walking down the road, holding Litten tightly in his arms. Rockruff was running at Ash's feet, occasionally jumping up at his legs, possibly in an attempt to get to Litten. Somehow, Ash kept himself from tripping as he joined Kukui on the front porch.

    "So I guess that things went well?" Kukui asked. Like he usually did when it came to matters of death, he did his best to keep his own emotions and concerns out of his voice, while also not sounding like an unfeeling robot. It was a hard balance.

    "Yeah," Ash smiled and scratched under Litten's chin, which caused it to sigh contently. "Litten's doing a lot better today. It ate a berry, and we had a battle, and it even let me catch it."

    Kukui raised an eyebrow. "So soon?" Kukui recalled that Ash had previously told him that Litten had no interest in being Ash's pokémon. Litten had been completely content just living with Stoutland and taking care of itself. Kukui had suspected that Litten would change its mind after Stoutland's death, but not quickly.

    "Yep," Ash beamed. "Litten's part of the family now."

    Kukui chuckled and pet the top of Litten's head. "In that case, welcome to the family, Litten."

    Welcome home.
  7. Gazi

    (Litleo ♀)
    Level 9
    May 27, 2018
    Dawn Stone ★★★★Legendary Triforce ★★Reaper Cloth ★★★
    Chapter 7

    Kukui yawned and got to his feet. He grabbed the stack of old notebooks he had been looking over and returned them to his bookcase. He usually tried to keep his things at least somewhat organized, but he was far too tired to follow his system. He just shoved the notebooks where it looked like they would fit. He would put them where they belonged tomorrow...probably.

    Kukui rubbed the sleep out of his eyes and grabbed another set of notebooks. It didn’t matter how tired he was, he still had a lot of work to do. His latest theory on pokémon attacks was long overdue and his peers were starting to bother him about it. And he still had a lesson to teach tomorrow, and he wasn’t at all prepared for it.

    Kukui flipped open one of his notebooks and quickly glanced over what he had written in it. His handwriting wasn’t very good at the best of times, and he must have written these notes when he had been tired or in a rush, because the scrawl was barely legible. He really needed to be more careful about his note taking in the future.

    Kukui sighed and closed the notebook. He would look it over again when he wasn’t so exhausted. At the moment, he was running on no sleep. Because of the whole mess with Litten, he hadn’t gotten any sleep the night before, and now he was paying for it. He was barely functioning, but he couldn’t sleep yet. He needed to come up with a lesson plan for tomorrow, at the very least.

    First though, he needed some tea or coffee, because he was falling asleep on his feet.

    Kukui put the difficult to read notebook back on the bookshelf and took the rest he had grabbed with him to the kitchen. Kukui could barely keep his eyes open as he went, stumbling towards the kitchen. He paused in his steps when he saw the light on ahead of him. He may be tired, but he was fairly certain he had turned the light off before he had gone down to his study.

    “Is someone in there?” Kukui called out tiredly.

    “Professor?” At the sound of Ash’s voice Kukui suddenly felt wide awake. What was that boy still doing awake?

    “Ash?” Kukui entered the kitchen and saw his student sitting at the table, looking even more exhausted than he had been a few hours ago when he had gone to bed. “What are you still doing up?”

    “I couldn’t sleep.” Ash said. He sounded as tired as Kukui felt, so he thought it was safe to guess that this wasn’t just Ash being a stubborn kid who didn’t want to sleep. Kukui eyed Ash for a moment. He was sure that if Ash hadn’t been able to sleep in the first place, he would have been aware of it before. Kukui suspected that it was more likely that Ash had been woken up by something, probably a nightmare, and either couldn’t or didn’t want to go back to sleep.

    Kukui didn’t really know what to do when kids had a nightmare, as he had never had to deal with it before, but he’d had some experience with not being able to sleep for one reason or another. Maybe the same strategy would work for Ash. Kukui put his notebooks down on the table and went to put some milk on the stove. He had considered making some tea, but that took more effort, and Kukui had never been all that fond of tea anyways. If he didn’t like it, he didn’t know how much a kid would.

    “Is there a reason why you couldn’t sleep?” Kukui asked as he got out the honey. “Mind too full?”

    “Yeah.” Ash drew his feet up onto the couch and sat cross-legged on it. The boy fell silent, but over the years Kukui had gotten really good at telling when a kid had something that they wanted to say. He waited.

    Ash was silent for a fair amount of time. By the time Ash seemed to work up the nerve to say what was on his mind, the milk had already heated up. “...Hey, Professor, do you...do you ever worry about what happens after we die?”

    Kukui flinched as he poured the hot milk into some mugs, accidentally splashing some milk on his hand. Kukui hissed and drew his hand back. It was only a mild distraction from his panic at Ash’s question. How was he supposed to answer that? He wasn’t ready for this.

    “Well…” Kukui sighed and put some honey in the mugs, which he then brought to the table. Kukui put a mug in front of Ash, and then sat down next to him. “To be honest, nobody really knows what happens to us when we die.”

    “I know.” Ash said, which may have startled Kukui more than the initial question had. “I mean, do you worry about what happens to our pokémon when we’re gone?”

    “...No, I can’t say that I have.” Kukui stared at Ash in shock. “Why? Is it something that you’re worried about?”

    “Sometimes.” Ash admitted quietly as he took a cautious sip of the hot milk. “Not a lot, but sometimes things happen, and...and I worry.”

    Kukui desperately wanted to ask Ash what kind of things he was talking about, but he didn’t dare. He knew that Ash had gone through a lot while on his journey, more things than anybody, especially a child, should have to go through. Kukui didn’t know what kind of things would make a boy like Ash consider what would happen to those he cared about after he died, and he didn’t think he wanted to know.

    Kukui took a drink of his own milk to hide how uncomfortable he was with this conversation. Ash was just a kid, and yet he was thinking about death in a way that most adults couldn’t, and that scared Kukui more than he could even explain. Still, despite how uncomfortable and nervous this topic made Kukui, Ash was clearly scared, and as his teacher it was Kukui’s responsibility to do what he could to calm his fears.

    “...You know, you don’t have anything to worry about.” Kukui put his mug down when he was sure that he could keep his expression calm and collected. Kids could get terrified if they knew that an adult they looked up to was scared, and Kukui didn’t want to do that to Ash. “If...if something does happen to you, I for one would be more than happy to look after your pokémon the way you looked after Litten, and I’m sure I’m not the only one.” Ash had befriended so many people, even just in Alola, and Kukui knew for a fact that every single one of them would be willing to help his pokémon should something happen.

    Kukui just desperately hoped that it wouldn’t come to that.

    “Yeah, I know.” Ash smiled slightly and drank some more of his warm milk. “I just worry sometimes, you know?”

    “I know.” Kukui nodded in understanding. He knew all too well that fears and concerns couldn’t always just be reasoned away. It was especially hard to be reasonable about a fear if it was fresh from a nightmare, as he suspected was the case. Kukui didn’t know how to calm Ash’s concerns in the long run, he had never even met anybody who worried about this, but he had an idea about how to help Ash sleep. It wasn’t ideal, but it would have to be good enough for the night.

    “Come here.” Kukui scooted closer to Ash and put an arm over the boy’s shoulder to draw him even closer.

    “Professor?” Ash looked at Kukui in confusion. “What are you doing?”

    I know you’ve got a lot on your mind, but you need to get some sleep. You’ve got school in the morning.” With his free hand Kukui grabbed his closest notebook and opened it up. “Reading these journals always puts me to sleep, so I thought it would work for you.”

    “Oh,” Ash nodded and relaxed. Kukui was glad that he didn’t ask any more questions about why he had drawn him close. The truth was, that wasn’t for Ash’s benefit, it was more for Kukui’s. All of this talking about Ash’s death had him paranoid for the safety of his student, and with how exhausted Kukui felt he didn’t think that concern was going to leave him alone that night. At least this way, he had Ash right by his side, so if Kukui woke up in the middle of the night from a nightmare of his own, he wouldn’t have to go all the way upstairs to make sure his ward was okay.

    Kukui yawned and began reading from his notes, glad that these ones were actually legible. “Tackling and the move ‘tackle’: The differences between them, and why they matter.” Kukui couldn’t believe he had actually written this stuff. Yeah, in theory and practice it was really interesting, but in writing, it was already putting him to sleep. “I have studied a lot about the attack patterns of pokémon. One thing that I have noticed is that many pokémon who are unable to use the move ‘tackle’ have been known to use the attack anyways. I set out to figure out why, and my research has yielded some unexpected results-”
  8. Gazi

    (Litleo ♀)
    Level 9
    May 27, 2018
    Dawn Stone ★★★★Legendary Triforce ★★Reaper Cloth ★★★
    Chapter 8

    Two full days with little to no sleep should have allowed Kukui to sleep soundly, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Every single time Ash shifted or adjusted the tiniest bit, Kukui would snap wide awake, completely paranoid. It would take him several minutes to convince himself that Ash was alive and safe, and several more minutes after that for his body to realize this and relax enough to try to go back to sleep.

    This went on for nearly two hours before Kukui’s exhaustion completely took over and he fell into an uneasy sleep, though it didn’t last as long as he had hoped. For the next few hours Kukui would sleep for half an hour or so, be woken up by something, though he couldn’t say what, and fall back asleep for another half an hour. It made the night feel impossibly long, and by the time morning came Kukui felt even more tired than ever before.

    Kukui wanted nothing more then to fall back asleep and slip away from the world. He groaned and put his arm over his eyes to block out the light...his left arm...the arm that should have been over Ash’s shoulder, but had just been hanging limply at his side.

    Kukui jerked awake so suddenly that he accidentally hit his knees on the bottom of the table, but he barely even noticed it. Ash was supposed to be right there at his side, but he wasn’t there, and Kukui couldn’t help but imagine the worst

    “Professor, are you okay?” Kukui felt all of his worry fueled adrenalin drain out of him. He was always concerned about his students, but it had never been this bad before. Kukui was just far too exhausted to deal with this.

    “I’m fine.” Kukui rubbed a hand over his eyes. He really needed to get some sleep, because this paranoia was just getting ridiculous. “What about you? Were you able to get some more sleep last night?”

    “Yeah, I slept good.” Ash smiled, though it didn’t seem as bright as it normally was. Ash looked concerned. “What about you? Did you sleep at all last night?”

    Ash had to have seen that he had been asleep just a few minutes ago, but Kukui knew what he meant. “Not really.” Kukui admitted reluctantly. “But this isn’t the first time something like this has happened. I can handle going a night without much sleep.”

    “Isn’t two nights a little too much?” Ash asked. Kukui took his hand away from his eyes and looked at Ash. The kid was way too observant for his own good.

    “I’m fine, Ash.” Kukui insisted gently. He just needed get some sleep...except he couldn’t sleep now, net yet. It was morning. He was supposed to go to the school and teach the kids. Even if he didn’t have a lesson plan, he still had to do his job. He owed that much to the kids.

    Kukui yawned and looked towards a nearby clock. He raised an eyebrow when he saw the time. It was later then he had expected. “Shouldn’t you be at school?” Kukui himself was almost running late, but not quite. Ash though, he had to be at school earlier than Kukui did. All of the students were expected to be at the school early to clean up their classroom from the day before.

    When the school had first been founded they had tried to do the cleaning at the end of school, but the kids always slacked off because they wanted to go out and enjoy the afternoon sun, and a lot of kids ended up falling asleep during their morning classes, for some reason. Principal Oak had figured that doing the cleaning in the morning would give the kids a chance to wake themselves up for class, and free their afternoons. Kukui had been dubious about how effective it would be to ask kids to come to school early to do chores, but it worked impressively well.

    “I was about to leave.” Ash said, and Kukui noticed that he was all dressed and ready for the day. One look to the kitchen showed dirty dishes from breakfast, as well as an untouched plate of food that Ash must have left for him. Ash was ready to walk out the door, but he seemed hesitant. “You were asleep. I didn’t want to wake you, but I wanted to be sure you were okay.”

    So Ash was worried about how exhausted Kukui was, even though the only reason Kukui was so tired was because of his concern about Ash. He was fully aware of the irony.

    “Alright, give me a few minutes to eat breakfast, and we’ll head off to the school together. How does that sound?” Kukui suggested as he headed to the kitchen to grab what Ash had put out for him.

    Ash smiled, clearly relieved. “Yeah, okay.” As Kukui ate, Ash grabbed the notebooks he had left out the night before and went to go put them away. It was very like Ash to do something helpful, even if it was just something small. Kukui knew that Ash didn’t like to just sit back and do nothing when he felt like somebody needed his help.

    A few minutes later Kukui finished eating his breakfast and found Ash patiently waiting for him, bag already over his shoulder. It was clear that Ash had been ready to go for several minutes now, but he didn’t say anything to make Kukui feel bad about it.

    “We’d better get going before we’re both late.” Kukui said as he picked up his dishes and put them in the sink. He would wash them when he got home. Kukui went to the front door, with Ash as well as his pokémon close behind him. Ash usually left his pokémon, except for Pikachu, in their pokéballs or in his bag during the school day. They were all out now though, even Rowlet.

    Kukui’s first thought was that it was because Ash wanted to give Litten the chance to get used to the rest of the group, and maybe that was part of the reason. When Kukui noticed that Rockruff was sticking to his side, and that Ash was walking right next to him too, even though he usually ran to school, he knew that they were worried about him too.

    Kukui wanted to insist that he was fine, but he enjoyed the company, so he kept quiet. The school was only a few minutes away anyways.

    The walk to the school took longer than it should have, and by the time they got there the bell for classes had already rang. Kukui still felt sluggish, but he made himself speed up when he heard the bell. They were already late, and there was no reason to make it worse. Especially since Kukui didn’t want to risk running into Principal Oak before they got to the classroom. The man wasn’t overly strict, but Kukui really wasn’t in the mood to have another talk about tardiness.

    Fortunately, they were able to get to the classroom without running into any trouble. He could hear the rest of the students talking in there, and normally Kukui would let them finish their conversation. Kukui strongly believed in letting the kids learn lessons and make discoveries for themselves, but he had to draw the line somewhere. Besides, Kukui could hear the concern and confusion in their voices. They were probably worried about what was going on with Ash, as the last time he had been at school he had been extremely distracted, and now he was late. They didn’t have any more reason to worry about Ash, so there was no reason for them not to get started on the lesson.

    ...Except that Kukui still didn’t have a lesson in mind

    It looked like he was winging it today. It wouldn’t be the first time.

    “Alola, class.” Kukui greeted as he entered the classroom. Ash greeted his classmates as well.

    “Alola!” The kids responded cheerfully, like they always did.

    “This morning I thought we would…” Think of something. Think of something. “...practice our Z-move poses.”

    His students all looked at each other, a strange expression on all of their faces. Kukui thought that they must have just been bored or disappointed. After all, this wasn’t the first time that they had talked about Z-moves, it was actually one of their more common lessons. Not only were Z-moves important to know about, but Kukui also knew a lot about them, which made it easier for him to talk about it on the fly.

    “Now, I know some of you may be tired of this topic by now, so why don’t we switch things up a bit?” Kukui smiled. “It’s just as important for the pokémon to be familiar with the poses as it is for the trainer, so why don’t we all help teach your pokémon how to do the poses.” Some pokémon wouldn’t need much help, but for those like Rockruff and Litten who couldn’t pose the way that humans could, they had to find something else for them to do that represented the same thing.

    The kids still looked dubious, but they all nodded and turned to their pokémon. Kiawe and Ash, who already knew how to do their Z-moves, went around to help their classmates. Most of the kids didn’t know how to do the Z-move poses themselves, let alone how to teach it to their pokémon.

    Kukui spent most of the morning helping Lillie. She was so unsure and cautious. Even though Kukui knew that she had to know the ice Z-move pose, she was certain that she didn’t have it right. It took some time to reassure her that she was, in fact, doing the right pose, and that she needed to have confidence in herself if she expected her pokémon to have confidence in her too. After that, he helped Lillie teach Snowy, which was more difficult than it had to be.

    Snowy was still extremely young. She didn’t understand what Z-moves were, or that she could be capable of doing them herself. Snowy was also a Vulpix, which meant that she stood on four legs instead of two, which meant that teaching her how to do the same pose as Lillie was even harder.

    Finally they were able to get through to Snowy. Kukui left Lillie with her Vulpix to continue practicing as he checked up on how everybody else was doing. Lana and Popplio seemed to have the water Z-move pose right, though they weren’t very in synch with each other. They could work on that later though. Sophocles was struggling, but Togedemaru seemed to be doing okay, and because they were focusing on the pokémon for now, that was alright. Mallow and Steenee were doing extremely well. And, of course, Kiawe and Ash were thriving and having a blast.

    Kukui was glad that the kids seemed to be enjoying themselves despite the familiar lesson, but by the time lunch came around he was beginning to regret having such an active lesson. It wasn’t just because he was tired, he knew how to deal with fatigue, but his head was really beginning to hurt. This was a whole new level of exhaustion, and Kukui wanted more than ever to just sit down and fall asleep.

    So while the kids ate the lunch, that was exactly what Kukui planned on doing. He would only be able to get about half an hour of rest in during the lunch break, but it was better than nothing, and hopefully would be enough to get rid of the pounding, heavy feeling in his head.

    Kukui normally spent lunch in the staff room, but that just felt like too much effort. Besides, staying in this room would give him another minute or two of sleep that would have otherwise been spent going from the classroom to the staff room, and then back again after lunch.

    Kukui yawned and just sat down on the ground, his back against the wall. It wasn’t as comfortable as his couch, but he was too tired to even think about complaining. Kukui sighed and closed his eyes. He was vaguely aware of Rockruff curled up next to him, as well as the fact that the students had, for some reason, chosen to sit on the floor on the other side of the room as they ate instead of at their desks. He also subconsciously noticed that the kids were all surprisingly quiet, talking in soft whispers as opposed to the gleeful shouts that they normally used.

    Kukui noticed all of this, but he didn’t really think about how odd it was. He just enjoyed the peace and quiet. It made it much easier to doze off. Kukui didn’t fully fall asleep, but he was able to fall into a half-sleep state, and it felt so nice. It couldn’t last though, and all too soon Kukui felt a hand on his arm.

    “Professor?” Kukui heard the concerned voice as though it was from a distance, but it was enough to give him the motivation to pull himself out of his dozing. Kukui slowly opened his eyes and wasn’t surprised to see Ash crouching in front of him.

    “I’m awake.” Kukui yawned.

    “Professor, I really think you should get some sleep.” Ash said. “The others told me that you only have Z-move lessons when you’re not feeling well.”

    Kukui was taken aback. His students had noticed that? Kukui himself hadn’t even realized the pattern, and yet they had. At least he knew what their cautious glances at the beginning of class had been about.

    “I’m-” Kukui began, but Ash wouldn’t let him finish his thought.

    “Please don’t say you’re fine when we all know you’re not.” Ash said. “Just because you’re a grown-up and a teacher doesn’t mean that you’re not allowed to have your off days.”

    Actually, that was exactly what it meant. Adults couldn’t just take a day off whenever they got reckless with their sleeping patterns. Kukui had responsibilities, regardless of how tired he was. He should be shaping his sleeping schedule around his responsibilities, not the other way around.

    “Please, Professor, let someone else teach the lesson today.” Ash pleaded.

    “Like who?” Kukui asked. They couldn’t just call in a substitute on such short notice. Especially not without a lesson plan to leave with them.

    “Uh, well,” Ash floundered a bit, trying to find an answer. “Maybe...Professor, will you get some sleep if I teach the others?”

    “You?” Kukui raised an eyebrow. Where did that even come from? “What would you talk about?”

    “Yeah, I can just tell them about, uh,” Ash looked thoughtful for a moment before his face brightened. “The pokémon league.”

    Kukui eyed Ash for a moment as he considered the idea. “The pokémon league, huh?” It was certainly a subject that Ash would know a lot about, so he would talk as naturally about it as Kukui could talk about Z-moves. It was also a subject that the other students wouldn’t know a lot about, so it would be educational for them. They would probably get a really good discussion going. But could he just leave his students to fend for themselves?

    Kukui grimaced when he felt a sudden sharp pain in his forehead, like something was pushing against it, but from inside his skull. It was not a pleasant feeling, and Kukui wouldn’t be surprised if it only got worse before it got better. Maybe it would be best if he just took Ash up on his offer. Besides, he would still be right there in the classroom in case something happened.

    “Alright,” Kukui agreed quietly. Ash’s grin was full of so much relief, and Kukui wondered if he really looked that bad.

    “Great!” Ash slipped off his backpack and enthusiastically handed it to Kukui. “I don’t know how comfortable my backpack is, but Rowlet seems to like it, so maybe you’ll like it too.”

    Kukui chuckled as he accepted the bag. It was such a child-like thing to do. “Thank you.”

    Ash smiled and went to rejoin his classmates. They spoke quietly with each other for a few moments before they all made their way back to their desks, except for Ash, who went up to the front of the classroom.

    “I’ve been to a lot of different regions.” Ash jumped right in. “And one thing that all of them have in common with each other is they have a pokémon league.” Ash’s tone was just brimming with enthusiasm, and yet he seemed to be talking in a quieter voice than he usually did. He was trying to be considerate of Kukui.

    “Ruff!” Rockruff grabbed Kukui’s sleeve and pulled on it. Normally Rockruff would do something like this when he wanted to play, but Kukui knew that wasn’t his intention this time.

    “Alright, I’m coming.” Kukui chuckled as Rockruff’s determination. He put Ash’s backpack on the ground and laid down to rest his head on it. The backpack wasn’t nearly as comfortable as a pillow, and the ground was nowhere near as good as a couch, but it wasn’t half bad and within just a few seconds he found himself dozing off like he had before.

    As he began to fall asleep, Kukui numbly listened to the sound of Ash’s voice as he talked about the pokémon league. Kukui smiled to himself as Ash talked about how thrilling it was to be in that stadium to battle incredibly powerful trainers. Ash’s enthusiasm was contagious, and it wasn’t long before Kukui began to think about his own experience competing in a pokémon league. He had nearly forgotten how exhilarating battling a strong opponent could be. It was such a shame that Alola didn’t have a league of its own, because these kids were really missing out on a great experience.

    ...An Alolan pokémon league. Now there was an idea worth thinking about.
  9. Gazi

    (Litleo ♀)
    Level 9
    May 27, 2018
    Dawn Stone ★★★★Legendary Triforce ★★Reaper Cloth ★★★
    Chapter 9

    Kukui’s favorite day of the school year had always been the school open house. For Kukui, it was a real privilege to teach the youth about pokémon and life. He was always proud of his students, and he loved having the opportunity to show everybody else in the community just how amazing the kids were.

    The children always had a blast showing off what they had learned to their parents and neighbors. Kukui had gotten used to all of his kids loving the open house just as much as he did. Even the kids who had been asked by Principal Oak to give a presentation in class seemed to enjoy the personal assignment. They were nervous at first, and they often grumbled about the extra work, but they always did so well during their presentation, and they were so proud of themselves afterwards. It hadn’t been anything that the kid couldn’t handle.

    ...And then Principal Oak asked Ash to give the presentation.

    Kukui hadn’t thought that there was anything wrong with Ash getting the assignment. In fact, Kukui had thought that Ash would give an extraordinary presentation, and to be fair, he had. But not before he had stressed about it all week and eventually tried to have Rotom Dex do the presentation for him.

    Cheating was rarely ever an issue in Kukui’s classes. He didn’t often assign homework to his students, and whenever he did it was always simple enough that there was no need for them to really cheat. Kukui was a little disappointed in Ash, of course, but he didn’t blame the boy, not at all.

    Kukui knew that it had been Rotom Dex’s idea, and he knew just how persuasive and insistent Rotom could be. Poor, stressed Ash hadn’t stood a chance.

    Kukui didn’t blame Rotom Dex either. The pokémon was extremely knowledgeable, and it thrived on any chance it could get to show off its skills. Rotom tried to be helpful, but it was still a mischievous electric/ghost pokémon. Rotom’s idea of help was much different than Kukui’s was.

    If Kukui blamed anybody for what had happened, it was himself. He knew that he was being ridiculous, but Kukui couldn’t help but think that if he had put less pressure on Ash, the boy never would have agreed to Rotom’s idea.

    What was really frustrating was that Kukui didn’t entirely understand why he had put so much pressure on Ash. He certainly hadn’t done it on purpose, he would never dream of doing such a things to his students, but he should have known that continuously telling Ash how many people could come to the open house would have made the boy even more nervous then he already had been. If it was any other student, Kukui would have reigned in his enthusiasm a bit while still encouraging them. So why had he gone so overboard with Ash?

    That was the question that Kukui asked himself, but he shouldn’t, because he knew why he had done it. He had been proud of Ash, proud that he had been chosen to give the presentation in front of his classmates and the visitors, and proud that Ash had so much knowledge about pokémon from other regions. Kukui was always proud of his students, but with Ash, it felt different. When it came to the school open house, Kukui hadn’t just been proud of Ash as a teacher, he had been proud of him as a...well, as a parent might have been.

    Kukuihad seen Ash’s accomplishments, and he had wanted to share it with everybody else. That was why he had been so eager for the open house. Ash had been asked by Principal Oak to give a presentation, and Kukui had felt the desire to go up to random strangers and say ‘this is my kid. Come listen to what he knows, hear about where he’s been. Isn’t he amazing.’

    And Ash was amazing...but he wasn’t Kukui’s kid, and it was getting harder and harder to remind himself of that.

    “Hey, Professor?” Kukui was pulled away from his thoughts when he heard Ash’s quiet, almost timid voice. He looked up from his now cold cup of coffee that he had completely forgotten about to see his ward standing there, an uncertain look in his eyes. Kukui was taken aback to see that Ash was already in his pajamas. Had it already gotten so late that the kid was already getting ready for bed?

    “What’s up, Ash?” Kukui asked.

    Ash shifted uncomfortably. “Are you still mad at me for what happened earlier? Because I’m really sorry.”

    “What?” Kukui looked at his student in shock. “Of course I’m not mad at you. I never was.”

    “Are you sure?” Ash asked, a slightly pained and confused expression on his face. “Because you’re not usually a quiet person, but you haven’t said anything since my mom left.” Kukui could have hit himself. It wasn’t unusual for him to get so caught up in his thoughts that he became oblivious to the world around him. It didn’t happen much anymore, but it wasn’t unheard of. Kukui had been doing his best to keep his thoughts grounded and focused since Ash had started living with him, but he had gotten careless. And now, Ash thought that he was ignoring him or giving him the silent treatment or something like that.

    “I’m sure.” Kukui promised as he rubbed the back of his neck and winced. This couch really wasn’t built to be sat on for long periods of time. “I was just thinking about some things.”

    “So...you’re not mad.” Ash said, for clarification.

    “I’m not mad.” Kukui confirmed. He may be a little disappointed, but he wasn’t about to say that outloud. He know just how much it could hurt a child if they knew that they had disappointed anybody, especially an adult that they looked up to. Ash had learned his lesson, so Kukui didn’t see the need to hammer it in anymore.

    “Oh, okay.” Ash looked completely relieved. “So, what do you look so upset about?”

    Kukui grimaced slightly. “Actually, there was something that I wanted to talk to you about.” Kukui scooted over so that Ash could come join him, which the kid did so with a reluctant look on his face. Kukui chuckled when he saw how cautious Ash looked. “Don’t worry, you’re not in trouble. I actually wanted to apologize to you.”

    “What?” Ash looked as Kukui like he hadn’t understood what he had just said. “Why?”

    Kukui sighed. “Because of how much pressure I put on you.”

    “I don’t understand.” Ash said, which Kukui had expected. Even if Ash recognized that Kukui’s words had made him even more nervous, he wouldn’t ever blame him for it. Ash was far too kind and gentle to do such a thing.

    “I knew that you were nervous about your presentation, and the things that I said to you when you were getting ready probably just made things worse.” Kukui said.

    “Well, yeah,” Ash admitted reluctantly. “But it’s not like you meant anything about it.”

    “It doesn’t matter.” Kukui insisted. “I should have known better, so I’m sorry.”

    Ash fidgeted uncomfortably a little bit. “It’s okay.” Ash said, and even though Kukui had known that Ash would say this, he still felt relieved. Kukui still felt bad, especially because of why he had said the things that he had. But it wasn’t like he could tell Ash that he was starting to see him as his own kid, and he had just let things get out of control.

    Maybe in the future Kukui would think about talking to Ash about this, but not yet. Kukui was just barely coming to terms with it himself and trying to figure out what he should do about it, and Ash didn’t need that.

    “Ash, if I ever make you feel like I’m putting too much pressure on you, I want you to tell me so.” Kukui said. He didn’t want to push any of his students to the extreme again. Yes, part of his job as a teacher was to encourage his students to push themselves, but he didn’t want to push them so far that he broke them.

    Ash still didn’t look like he understood, but he nodded his head anyways. “Yeah, okay.” Ash agreed.

    “Thank you.” Kukui breathed a sigh of relief. “Now, I know it’s been a long day, but you still have school tomorrow, so you should probably go to bed before it gets too late.”

    “Just as long as you don’t stay up too late either.” Ash said in a tone that was both teasing and completely sincere.

    Kukui chuckled. “I’ll try.” He couldn’t make any promises, since just that afternoon he had let himself get completely lost in his thoughts that he lost track of all time, but he would definitely try.

    “Alright, good night, Professor.” Ash stood up and made his way to the loft where he was sleeping.

    “Good night, Ash.” Kukui smiled. With Ash going to bed, Kukui considered doing the same thing for himself. It would probably take him some time to fall asleep, as he did have a lot on his mind, and he might get distracted by some research like he often did, but it would still be better than staying up all night.

    And hopefully Kukui’s overactive mind would let him get some sleep without thinking too much about just how much of a parental instinct he had developed for Ash that would likely just get stronger the longer Ash stayed with him...hopefully.

    But considering Kukui knew how his mind worked, he really didn’t think that was going to happen. Whether he liked it or not, Kukui was probably going to think about just what his relationship with Ash might develop into.

    He had the feeling it was going to be a long night.
  10. Gazi

    (Litleo ♀)
    Level 9
    May 27, 2018
    Dawn Stone ★★★★Legendary Triforce ★★Reaper Cloth ★★★
    Chapter 10

    Kukui always encouraged his students to go out and explore the world, so when Ash told him that he and his classmates were planning on camping out, he had been excited for them. He remembered enjoying camping a lot as a child. It had been tempting to go out with all of them, but Kukui had ultimately decided against it. He had some research to catch up on. And besides, the kids didn’t need some old man like him to be around to hold them back.

    Kukui was sure that when Ash came back, he would hear all about the fun adventures they’d had together, and he wasn’t disappointed. Ash came home the next afternoon filled with all sorts of stories about Morelull and Shiinotic. Ash sounded extremely excited about the whole experience, but the more that Kukui heard, the more he didn’t understand why.

    The forests that Morelull lived in could be rather dangerous, especially if Shiinotic were around too. They weren’t malicious pokémon, but they often caused trouble and harm without meaning to. Morelull and Shiinotic tried to be helpful whenever they came across a problem, but it wasn’t uncommon for them to forget about the well-being of those they came across, just so long as they solved their own problem.

    Kukui had felt like he was going to be sick when Ash told him about how he had volunteered to let a particular Morelull drain his energy, multiple times. Ash frequently put others well being above his own, and Kukui loved that about him, but at times like this it worried him so badly. At least Ash had thought ahead and came up with a way to replenish his energy. No lasting damage had been done, and it seemed like everybody was happy, including all of the kids as well as the newly evolved Shiinotics.

    “It certainly sounds like you had an interesting experience.” Kukui smirked slightly in amusement and leaned back against the couch. “But it doesn’t seem like you guys got much camping in.”

    “What?” Ash frowned slightly in confusion. “We were camping.”

    “I know that that’s what you guys went out to do, but it seems like you spent most of the time sleeping.” Kukui raised an eyebrow at Ash. “Camping is more than just sleeping outside, you know.”

    “It is?” Ash looked even more confused.

    Kukui’s smirk fell slightly. Ash’s confusion was a little perplexing. “Have you actually been camping before?”

    “I used to camp out all the time when we were traveling.” Ash grinned excitedly, but that grin slipped away when Kukui shook his head.

    “I’m talking about actual camping, not camping out.” Kukui said.

    “Uh, what’s the difference?” Ash tilted his head slightly.

    Kukui rubbed the back of his neck. He hadn’t thought he would ever have to explain something like this to one of his students, but if Ash had truly never experienced camping, then he was missing out.

    “Well, when you were traveling you ended up camping out because you had to.” Kukui said. “Camping, at least, the kind I’m talking about, while it does involve sleeping in a tent or under the stars, there’s more than that.”

    “Like what?” Ash asked, the excitement and curiosity back in his eyes.

    Kukui thought for a moment before he grinned. “I suppose I could just tell you, but I think I’d rather just show you.”

    “Show me?” Even though Ash didn’t know what Kukui had in mind, he looked eager anyways. “How?”

    “Just wait and see.” Kukui chuckled and got to his feet. “I’m going to go to the store to pick up a few things. You can go ahead and stay here and relax for a bit, or-”

    “Can I go with you?” Ash asked, which Kukui had expected.

    “Of course.” Kukui was always happy to let Ash join him for some errands. And if he had Ash with him, then the boy would be able to help him pick some fun food, because what was camping if there wasn’t some junk food involved?

    Kukui looked to see if Ash’s pokémon wanted to join them, but with one look he could tell that they were all exhausted from the day before, which was understandable. It looked like it was going to be just the two of them, and Kukui was just fine with that.

    Ash quickly made sure that all of his pokémon were situated, and then the two of them headed out. Kukui usually liked to do most of his shopping from the street vendors and early markets, but none of them would have what he would be looking for. Besides, it was coming onto afternoon now, and Kukui knew that all of the best goods from the market would have already been sold at this point.

    Kukui and Ash walked to town. They went right past the open market and made their way to the shopping plaza in the middle of town. The plaza was always extremely crowded, but late mornings and early afternoons were always the busiest times of day. Kukui had to keep an especially close eye on Ash to be sure he wouldn’t lose him. Kukui considered it nothing short of a miracle when they got to the store and Ash hadn’t gotten distracted by some pokémon or wandered off without him noticing.

    At the store Kukui immediately made his way to where the marshmallows and candies were. Kukui didn’t often get these things for himself, as he prefered desserts over candies, but Ash seemed to enjoy them, so Kukui didn’t see the problem with getting them every once and awhile, and tonight seemed like a good excuse to take such an opportunity.

    Kukui grabbed a package of marshmallows, a few candy bars, and after thinking for a moment, a bag of star candies. The weather report had said there would be a clear sky that night, and Kukui was planning on sharing one of his personal favorite camping traditions with Ash. While the candies weren’t necessary for it, they would definitely make it more fun.

    Kukui let Ash continue to browse the candy as he went to grab some other things, including thin honey flavored cookies, two metal marshmallow roasting sticks, and a pair of binoculars. He also grabbed some more pokémon food, rice, and other cooking ingredients. Even though Ash had been living with him for quite some time, Kukui didn’t think he would ever get used to just how much food the boy and his pokémon could go through.

    Kukui tried to plan ahead and buy enough food and ingredients to last them all week, but he always had to pick up more things a few days later. Kukui was just glad that he had two solid jobs as a teacher and a pokémon professor that paid decently enough, and a hobby as a wrestler that paid really well. He never had to worry about money. Kukui would have felt horrible if he couldn’t financially support Ash and give him not just what he needed, but what he wanted. Sure, it could get a little annoying sometimes to have to get more food when he thought he had enough, but if it kept Ash happy and healthy, Kukui would bare through some frustration.

    Ash soon joined Kukui, a few bags of candy in his hands, as well as a bag of sugar covered malasadas. “Hey, are these okay?” Ash asked.

    “Absolutely.” Kukui grinned as he added Ash’s choices to the rest of their groceries. Kukui had insisted that Ash pick what he wanted, and he was glad that the boy had done what he had said, but hadn’t gone overboard and grabbed everything. “You ready to go?”

    “Yeah.” Ash nodded. The two of them went to make their purchases, and then they were on their way home. Ash insisted on carrying most of their groceries, so Kukui humored him and allowed him to carry three of their bags while he handled the last bag, which contained the heavier vegetables.

    When they got home, Kukui asked Ash to put away the groceries so he could gather what they needed for their little camping adventure. Ash was more than happy to help out, as Kukui knew he would be. While Ash was doing that Kukui went into his room/study/lab to look for something that, for him, was absolutely vital for camping. Because Ash had just gotten back from camping with his classmates, their tents, sleeping bags, and other gear was already out, but Kukui had something else that he wanted to use that night.

    It didn’t take Kukui long to find what he was looking for. His telescope. Last time he had used it he had forgotten to put it away in its case, so it was a little dusty, as he hadn’t used in a long time, but other than that it seemed to be in good condition. A quick cleaning made the lens crystal clear, and the knobs at the side to adjust the focus still worked perfectly well. Kukui was even able to adjust the height of the tripod telescope stand. Everything was set.

    Kukui quickly but carefully disassembled his telescope and put it in its case. It would make it easier to take outside, and would protect it from any damage until they decided to use it. With the telescope safely put away, Kukui shoulded the bag and made his way back into the kitchen where Ash was just finishing up putting things away.

    “What’s that?” Ash asked curiously. Kukui smirked in response.

    “You’ll see.” He said almost mischievously. “Do you want to help me set up camp?”

    “Yeah I do.” Ash eagerly grabbed the one bag that he hadn’t put away, the one that contained the treats they had gotten specifically for camping. After the two of them quickly picked up two sleeping bags, a thin blanket, and a tent, they took their things outside.

    “Where are we going to camp?” Ash asked.

    “I think right here will work just fine.” Kukui carefully put down the tent and his telescope. Ash, who seemed to have been struggling to balance everything else, was much less gentle about dropping his things on the ground.

    “I thought that camping was supposed to be in the forest.” Ash said.

    Kukui shrugged. “No reason why we can’t camp on the beach. We just have to be careful of the tides and any wild pokémon.” He knelt down and unzipped the bag that the tent was in.

    “We can do that.” Ash said confidently, and Kukui agreed. “Can I set up the tent? I got really good at it yesterday.”

    Kukui chuckled and moved aside to give Ash room. “Be my guest.” Ash’s strategy to set up the tent was simple enough. First he dumped the contents of the bag on the ground, and then he sat on the ground and started to assemble the poles that would support the tent. He seemed to be struggling a little bit, but eventually he figured it out and it wasn’t too long before Ash had the poles put together and sorted according to length.

    “Mind if I give you a hand?” Kukui asked. Ash had said that he wanted to set up the tent, but Kukui knew first hand just how difficult and frustrating it could be to set up a tent by oneself. Another set of hands could make the task so much easier.

    Ash looked at the poles, and then over to the flat tent. The boy seemed to realize just how hard it would be to hold the tent up and put in the poles at once if he insisted on doing it himself. “Yes, please.”

    Kukui grinned and showed Ash how best to put the poles into place in the tent itself. After getting the two longest poles into position, Kukui held the poles in place as Ash secured them and then moved on to the other poles. It was a little awkward, as they hadn’t secured the tent into the ground before setting it up, but there was a reason for that.

    “See, the reason why people don’t often camp on the beach is because of the sand.” Kukui said as they finished setting up the tent. “Do you know why?”

    “Uh,” Ash looked around and noticed that they hadn’t used the tent stakes yet. Ash bent down and picked one up. He experimentally pushed it into the sand as hard as he could, and then he pulled it out with little resistance. “Sand isn’t as firm as dirt is.”

    “No, it isn’t.” Kukui nodded. He moved the stakes over to find a number of things that he had previously put in the bag. “That’s why we have these.”

    “What are we going to do with a shovel, rope, and a couple of rocks?” Ash asked.

    “Since we can’t stake the tent into place, I’ve had to find other ways to ground it.” Kukui took the rope, which was actually four separate strands, and grabbed a strand. He weaved an end through one of the stake holes and then tied it to the rock.

    “You’re using the rocks to keep the tent in place?” Ash’s eyes widened when he thought he realized what Kukui was doing.

    “Close,” Kukui said as he took the shovel and began to dig a hole that would be big enough to fit the rock, and about four inches deep. Ash watched in awe as Kukui dug the hole, put the rock in it, and buried it. “We’re also using sand to keep the rocks in place.” Kukui pat down on the sand to really pack it in.

    “That is so cool.” Ash looked impossibly excited about Kukui’s improvised sand stakes. “Can I try?”

    “Of course.” Kukui grabbed another robe and rock and went to another corner of the tent. “The most important thing is that the tent is tight.” Kukui demonstrated to Ash how to pull the corner tight and find the right place to bury the rock to keep it that way. Once they had found the position they were looking for, Ash followed Kukui’s example and tied the rope to the tent and the rock. He then dug a hole and buried the rock.

    “Not bad.” Kukui nodded. “Now we just have two corners to do.”

    “You do one and I do one?” Ash suggested, and Kukui agreed. They each took a rope and a rock, with Kukui claiming the shovel, as Ash was more than happy to dig with his bare hands, with the help of his pokémon. They had to work with each other to make sure their individual corners were tight enough with the already staked corners, as well as each others. After a few minutes though, they were both able to tie off their corners and bury their rocks. Their tent was up.

    “Wow,” Ash wiped some sweat away from his forehead. “That was a lot harder to put up than it was yesterday.

    “It’s definitely different.” Kukui said as he put the shovel back in the tent back, which he stored in the tent itself. “But let me tell you, there’s nothing like falling asleep to the gentle sound of the waves against the shore.”

    “Is that why you live on a beach?” Ash asked as he tossed the sleeping bags in the tent. They would set them up later.

    “That’s certainly part of it.” Especially during the summer months, it wasn’t uncommon for Kukui to spontaneously decide to sleep on the beach or on his front deck. “I also enjoy having so much space to myself.”

    “It is pretty great.” Ash pet Litten and Rockruff. “Out here, nobody can get mad at us for being too noisy when training.”

    “Exactly.” Kukui brushed some sand off his pants. “Speaking of training, what do you say we get some in before we get started on dinner.” It was still far too early to make food, so Kukui figured it would be good for them to find a way to pass the time, and training certainly accomplished that.

    “Yeah!” Ash said excitedly. He was always ready for a battle or training, and Kukui admired his enthusiasm. Ash turned to his pokémon. “Come on, guys, let’s warm up first.” Ash took off running down the beach, and all of his pokémon eagerly chased after him. Kukui laughed and shook his head, but he too run off after Ash.

    In all his years as a trainer, Kukui didn’t think he had met anybody who worked with their pokémon quite like Ash did. Ash seemed to train himself almost as much as he trained his pokémon. He pushed them to their limits, but not beyond it. He was both extremely strict and extremely lax as a trainer, and it was a unique and somewhat thrilling combination that Kukui loved to see the kid balance.

    Kukui didn’t always participate in Ash’s training, but he often watched them go. Kukui didn’t entirely understand Ash’s hands-on method of helping his pokémon learn new moves, but it worked extraordinarily well for them, and it was always thrilling and amusing to see.

    After they ran along the shore for a bit, Ash decided to do some one-on-one work with Rowlet. Kukui sat back on the beach, with Litten and Rockruff playing chase next to him, and watched Ash work. It didn't’ seem as though Rowlet was trying to learn a new move, so it took Kukui some time to figure out what the training was focused on. Finally, he got it, and he felt a little foolish for not realizing it before. Ash was trying to teach Rowlet how to wake up and be alert at just a simple command. It was a good idea, but after watching them for a bit Kukui figured that the execution of the idea wasn’t nearly as simple as it sounded. He didn’t think that Rowlet and Ash were actually getting anywhere with their training, but they were certainly trying their best, and that was really all they could do.

    Ash could, and had already showed that he would, train for hours on end without tiring. He probably would have continued on long into the night, but when the afternoon began to grow late, Kukui called to him to come and help him prepare dinner. Ash was disappointed, but despite that he still came without complaint to help Kukui.

    Even though they usually had some kind of rice dish, Kukui figured that Ash had already had enough rice the day before, so he opted for something else. A vegetable stir fry. It was an easy enough meal, one that Ash could help with too.

    Kukui had Ash get the fire started as he went into the house to get the vegetables. And broth they would need, as well as a pan and dishes. He had considered bringing these things out before, but had ultimately decided against it. Vegetables really should be chilled until they were used, and Kukui hadn’t wanted to get sand over all of their dishes.

    When Kukui came back out he saw that Ash already had the fire going. He must have found Kukui’s emergency firewood supply, and had Litten help him light the fire. He really was quite a resourceful kid.

    “Would you mind cutting some vegetables?” Kukui asked as he put the pan over the fire and added some oil.

    “Sure.” Ash took the bag of vegetables and quickly got to work. His cuts weren’t the cleanest, with some of the pieces still being attached to each other because he hadn’t cut all the way through. And none of the cuts were the same size, but that was perfectly alright. They weren’t trying to be chefs at a five star restaurant. They were just trying to get some dinner.

    Once Ash had the vegetables cut, Kukui helped him add them to the oil. After they let the vegetables cook for a few minutes, they added the broth and let it cook a bit for a few more minutes. And that was all they needed. Dinner was ready.

    Kukui dished up some food for him and Ash, and they sat on the sand to eat together. Kukui would normally put stir fry over rice or noodles, but he thought that they would be satisfied enough with just the vegetables. Besides, they had a lot of treats and candies on hand, and they wouldn’t want to be too full to properly enjoy them.

    After they were finished eating Kukui set aside their dishes and went to the fire. He carefully moved the wood around until he was able to find an accessible place with glowing embers.

    “Can you get the marshmallows and roasting sticks?” Kukui asked. Ash went to get the items he had requested.

    “What are you doing?” Ash asked as he came back with their treat bag, which Kukui was glad for. He had nearly forgotten that they would want to have the cookies and chocolate on hand.

    “Marshmallows are at their best when they’re golden brown and gooey.” Kukui said it as though it was a proven fact. He knew that there were people who liked the taste of burnt marshmallows, but for the most part people enjoyed golden brown the best, but just didn't have the skill or patience to get it. “It is difficult to get that when dealing with flames, so we’re going to be working with the heat from the embers.”

    “But won’t less heat mean that it will take longer?” Ash asked as he opened the package of marshmallows and put two of them on the end of each of their sticks. Ash handed one of the roasting sticks to Kukui.

    “That’s the point.” Kukui shifted over to give room for Ash next to him. Kukui lowered his marshmallows closer to the embers, though he was careful to avoid brushing them against the sooty wood. Ash warily followed his example. “Roasting marshmallows is the same as cooking almost everything else. It’s always better to cook it slowly and evenly.” Kukui slowly began to rotate his marshmallows, and Ash copied him.

    “How long is this supposed to take?” Ash asked as he eyed his marshmallow cautiously.

    Kukui chuckled. “Just a few minutes.” It wasn’t all that long, though compared to the seconds that it took to burn a marshmallow, it would feel significantly longer. “Tell you what, if you don’t like them this way or think they’re not worth the effort, you can burn as many marshmallows as you want. I just want you to give this way a try first.”

    Ash pouted slightly in thought. “I guess I can do that.” The next few minutes were spent in silence as the two of them focused on rotating their marshmallows, which slowly turned from white to a poofy golden brown. Finally, Kukui decided that his marshmallows were as done as they could be. He pulled back his roasting stick, and Ash did the same.

    “Can you hold this for a second?” Kukui asked as he offered his marshmallows out to Ash.

    “Sure.” Ash accepted Kukui’s roasting stick. With his hands freed, Kukui quickly opened the package of cookies and took four of them out. He then got a chocolate bar and split it evenly in half. He laid these halfs on two of the cookies, and then went to save Ash from the marshmallows that were threatening to fall off their sticks.

    “Hang on.” Kukui took two cookies, one with chocolate and one without, and squished one of the marshmallows between them. He knelt down and put this S’more on his lap, cursing the fact that he didn’t think to grab a plate, and quickly sandwiched another marshmallow between the other two cookies.

    “What about the other marshmallows?” Ash asked urgently as the marshmallows started to slip down the stick. Kukui shrugged and took his stick back. He grabbed his remaining marshmallow and, carefully avoiding touching the hot metal, pulled it off and tossed it right into his mouth. Ash grinned and eagerly did the same.

    “Whoa,” Ash grinned as he tried to look the bits of marshmallow off of his fingers. “That’s so good...and sticky.”

    “It is, isn’t it?” Kukui smiled and handed one of the S’more’s to Ash. “Have you ever had one of these before?” Ash shook his head as he took a big bite. Kukui laughed when this caused a lot of the marshmallow to ooze out and stick to Ash’s face. “I’m not surprised. From what I’ve heard, these are only really popular in Alola and Unova.”

    “I can see why.” Ash said as he tried to finish his S’more in a single bite. “They’re so good.”

    “Glad you enjoyed it.” Kukui went to the treat bag and took out a package of sweet pokéfood. Even though humans could eat some pokémon food, and pokémon could eat some human food, it was always best for them to all eat food that was made for them. “Here, you guys can have a treat too.” Kukui offered the treat to Ash’s pokémon, and they all went at it as eagerly as Ash went at his S’more.

    Once the pokémon were eating their treat, Kukui went back to his own S’more. At this point Ash had already finished his dessert, and was trying to get the sticky excess marshmallow off of his face and hands. For a bit Ash’s attempts only resulted in him spreading the marshmallow around. Finally Ash figured that he needed some extra help, so he dashed off to the ocean to rinse it off.

    Kukui grinned and stood up to follow Ash to the water. Knowing Ash, he had a guess as to what would end up happening, and he wanted to see it for himself. Kukui watched as Ash kicked off his shoes and crouched at the edge of the water. He rinsed his hands off easily enough, but when he brought the water up to his face to get rid of the marshmallow he seemed to forget that he wasn’t at a clear river or creek, he was at the ocean.

    “Agh,” Ash grimaced and tried to spit the salty flavor out of his mouth. Kukui burst into laughter. Ash must have opened his mouth slightly to try to get marshmallow off of his lips, and accidentally let the ocean water into his mouth. Ash pouted at Kukui’s laughter and kicked some water in his direction. This just made Kukui laugh even more.

    “Here.” Kukui said between chuckles. He offered the rest of his S’more to the boy, who took it and promptly at it to try to get the salty taste of the ocean out of his mouth.

    “Thanks.” Ash said sheepishly.

    “No problem.” Kukui bent down and rinsed his own hands off, as well as his face, though he was more careful to keep his mouth closed. Once he had the marshmallow off, Kukui smirked and quickly splashed quite a bit of water at Ash.

    “Wha-hey!” Ash frowned and quickly tried to kick some more water towards Kukui at the same time as he tried to step out of the splash zone. This caused Ash to lose his balance and fall, getting absolutely soaked.

    Kukui laughed and held a hand out to help Ash to his feet. The boy took his hand, but then he smirked mischievously and pulled with all his might. Kukui yelped in surprise as he fell and almost landed on Ash. Instead, he landed completely in the water, and the two of them were even more wet than they had been before.

    Ash and Kukui looked at each other and laughed. A moment later though a chilly breeze blew, causing both of them to shudder when the cold wind hit their wet clothes.

    “Why don’t we change into something a little less wet?” Kukui suggested. Ash nodded and rushed back to the house, and Kukui was right behind them. Ash climbed up to his loft to change into his sleeping clothes, and Kukui went into his room to do the same. Kukui took his wet clothes and went to put them in the laundry, though he first made sure to get Ash’s wet clothes as well. If they didn’t get their wet clothes washed, they would get all stiff and it wouldn’t be fun to deal with.

    When Ash and Kukui were wearing dry clothes they headed outside again. The sun had already started, but it wasn’t quite dark yet, which meant that Kukui had some time to set up his telescope. Kukui grabbed the blanket and laid it out on the sand near the first, but not so close to it that it would be in danger of getting burned. Kukui then brought his telescope over to his blanket and began to take it out.

    “What’s that?” Ash asked as Kukui began to set it up.

    “My telescope.” Kukui set up the tripod and adjusted it to be at Ash’s height. “This isn’t a classic camping tradition, but I like to stargaze when I go camping.”

    “That is so cool.” Ash grinned excitedly. “Can I give it a try.”

    “Of course.” Kukui smirked. What would have been the point of him bringing it out if he refused to let Ash touch it? “We’ve got some time before the stars come out though, so why don’t you get the star candies out?”

    “Star candies?” Ash frowned slightly in confusion, but did it anyways. “What are these for?”

    “Well, the most interesting thing about stargazing is seeing the constellations.” Kukui said. “But they can be a little hard to find if you don’t know what you’re looking for, so I thought I would show you some of them.” Kukui finished putting the telescope up and knelt down on the blanket. He gestured for Ash to put the star candies on the blanket, and he did so.

    Kukui spread the star candies out then began to pick them up one piece at a time to arrange in a pattern. “Are you familiar with any constellations?”

    “Well, I know what some of them are called.” Ash said as he sat down next to Kukui. “I don’t think I know what they look like though.”

    “You might be surprised.” Kukui said. “What constellations can you think of?”

    “Uh, I remember there’s a Teddiursa and an Ursaring.” Ash said.

    “Ah, the two bears.” Kukui began to move the star pieces into the pattern of the constellations. “You know, all of the constellations have a story that goes along with it. These two constellations share a story. Legend goes that a long time ago a powerful mage fell in love with a young woman, and his wife wasn’t happy about this. So when the young woman had a child, the mage’s wife grew jealous because she thought it was a child of her husband. So the mage’s wife used a magic spell to turn the young woman into an Ursaring.”

    “Wha-why would she do that?” Ash looked extremely confused as Kukui put the last star piece in place and traced out the pattern of the Ursaring with his finger.

    “She thought it would make the young woman unappealing to her husband.” Kukui shrugged and began to put together the Teddiursa constellation. “Anyways, later the Ursaring’s son came upon her without knowing who she was, and he attacked her. The mage, to keep anything worse from happening, turned the son into a Teddiursa and then put the two of them into the sky as constellations.”

    “...Are all of these stories this weird?” Ash asked.

    “Sadly, yes.” Kukui laughed. “They came up with a lot of crazy stories back then.”

    “I’ll say.” Ash frowned as he looked at the candy constellations. Ash’s eyes widened in shock when he took a good look at them. “Wait a second, I know that constellation.” Ash traced his hand over some of the candies on the Ursaring constellation.

    “Most people do.” Kukui looked at the ladle shape that Ash had traced out. “Notice that the Teddiursa has a similar shape.” Kukui pointed it out, and Ash looked at it in awe.

    “Wow, that’s so cool.” Ash grinned. “What other constellations are there?”

    Kukui smiled and began to use the star candies to make more constellation patterns. Despite the fact that Ash had found the first story weird, Kukui told him the stories that correlated with them. Ash thought that all of the stories were extremely weird, but he seemed to enjoy laughing at just how insane the stories were.

    Finally, the hour had gotten late enough that there were stars visible in the sky. Kukui looked into the telescope and changed the position and focus so that they could see the stars properly. He found the constellations of Ursaring and Teddiursa and focused the telescope on them. He then stepped aside and let Ash look for himself. Kukui then picked up the binoculars that he had gotten from the store and look up at the stars with them. They weren’t as effective as the telescope, of course not, but it was better than the naked eye.

    “Do you see them?” Kukui asked. “If you’re having a hard time, look for the ladle and go from there.”

    “Yeah, yeah, I see it.” Ash said excitedly. “It’s amazing. Look at all the stars!”

    “You don’t get night views quite like this in Kanto.” Kukui said, and he knew that for a fact.

    “No, they don’t.” Ash said in quiet awe. He moved the telescope slightly to look for other constellations. “Just look at all the stars.”

    Kukui chuckled. “It’ll be easier to look at all of them if you’re not looking through the telescope.”

    Ash followed his advice and stepped back from the telescope. He tilted his head back and looked up at the sky. Kukui shook his head and grabbed Ash’s hand to pull him down to lay on the carpet. “It’s a lot easier this way.” Kukui laid back and looked up at the sky with Ash.

    Kukui didn’t know how long the two of them laid there looking up at the stars. After some time Ash’s pokémon curled up next to them and fell asleep. Ash himself seemed to relax to the point that Kukui could tell that he was getting pretty tired himself.

    “Do you want to go into the tent now?” Kukui asked as he got up and kicked sand onto the fire that remained to put it out.

    “Can we just sleep out here?” Ash asked as he curled up next to his pokémon. Kukui smiled when he saw the kid.

    “I don’t see why not.” Kukui said. “You’re not too cold, are you?” Ash shook his head tiredly.

    “It’s warm.” Ash said tiredly.

    “That’s because you’re still feeling the warmth of the fire.” Kukui said. “Trust me, you’ll feel the chill in a few minutes.” Ash seemed to be pretty content on the blanket, so Kukui just shook his head and got to his feet. He took the end of the blanket and folded it so that it would drape over Ash. With that taken care of, Kukui took their supplies into the tent and grabbed the two sleeping bags. He would use one for himself, and have the other just in case Ash got cold and needed it.

    “Hey, Professor?” Ash asked tiredly, already half asleep.

    “What’s up?” Kukui asked as he rolled out his sleeping bag next to the blanket.

    “I really liked camping with you.” Ash said. “Can we do it again sometime?”

    Kukui grinned as he laid down in his sleeping bag. “Yeah, I think we can.” He was glad that Ash had enjoyed himself, because he knew that he most definitely had. He had always enjoyed camping, but doing it with Ash? That was just on a whole new level of enjoyment, and Kukui was eager to do it again some time.

    It had definitely been a good night.
  11. Gazi

    (Litleo ♀)
    Level 9
    May 27, 2018
    Dawn Stone ★★★★Legendary Triforce ★★Reaper Cloth ★★★
    Chapter 11

    “Alright, kids, I think that’s all for today.” Kukui finished up his lesson as the school bell rang. His students immediately began to put their bags away and started talking with each other. Kukui, who still had something to say to them, had to raise his voice a little to be heard over them. “Don’t forget that I want you guys to write about our trip to Akala Island.” Kukui didn’t often assign homework, but he usually did after they got back from a field trip like this.

    “Yes, Professor.” The kids chorused as they headed out to whatever their plans for the rest of the day were. Kukui sighed and slumped slightly. It had been a long day. His students were usually all extremely well behaved, but they were always so restless the day after they got back from a field trip.

    “Professor?” Kukui turned to see Ash in the classroom too. He looked eager to leave, but he was just sitting on the floor with Pikachu and Lycanroc. “Do you need some help?”

    “That would be great.” Kukui handed Ash an old rag so that he could help clean off the blackboard. Ash got to work, and Pikachu, standing on Lycanroc’s back was helping as well. While Ash and his pokémon helping with the lower parts of the blackboard, Kukui dealt with the higher parts that the boy couldn’t reach. Between the two of them it took only a few minutes to get the job done.

    “Is there anything else we need to do?” Ash asked. Kukui could tell that the question was sincere, that if he needed any more help that the boy would be more than happy to help him. But Kukui could tell that Ash was anxious to get out of there and do some additional training with his newly evolved Lycanroc, but he wasn’t about to leave without Kukui’s permission. Not after he had broken Kukui’s one rule when they were on Akala island.

    Be home before dark. That was the only rule that Kukui had asked from Ash, and for the most part the boy was great at following that rule, though there had been a time or two where he was an hour or so late, but nothing too bad. And then they had gone to Akala Island, and Ash had stayed out all night without even leaving a word to where he had gone.

    Kukui wasn’t angry at Ash, and he understood that he had just been worried about Rockruff, but he had still broken his one rule, and if Kukui was going to have rules, he needed to enforce them. Ash needed to know that there were consequences to his actions.

    Kukui had never been too extreme about punishments for rule breaking, but he had learned that if he wasn’t consistent about it then kids, even the incredibly nice ones, would just walk all over him and continue to break the rules. So Kukui had made it clear to Ash what exactly the punishment was. He wasn’t allowed to run off on his own all week. If he wanted to go into town, he had to wait for Kukui to take him. Same for if he wanted to do some training.

    Kukui had thought that Ash would, at the very least, complain about not being able to train unless he was with him, but Ash, to his credit, hadn’t said a word about it being unfair. He just waited patiently until Kukui was available to train with him, which the man was grateful for. It was a lot harder to enforce a punishment that he didn’t even want to give out in the first place if the kid in question was so against the idea as well.

    “I think we’re all done here.” Kukui reached down and pet Lycanroc’s fur. “I’m ready to go if you are.”

    Ash beamed excitedly. “Great! Come on, guys, let’s get to the beach and start training.” Ash quickly ran out of the room, with Pikachu and Lycanroc close behind him. Kukui chuckled and followed their lead. He was glad that Ash had decided to train on the beach because neither of them really knew just how aggressive Lycanroc would be now that he was newly evolved, and it would be better to figure it out away from everybody else.

    Once they were at the beach in front of Kukui’s house Ash let out the rest of his pokémon. He would be focusing his training on Lycanroc, but he thought that the others would enjoy some time to play and run around. Kukui was sure that Ash was eager to do a mock pokémon battle between two of his pokémon, likely Lyrcanroc and Litten, but he wisely was putting it off until he knew that Lycanroc had control of himself and wouldn’t accidently hurt Litten.

    “Alright, Lycanroc, are you ready to see what you can do?” Ash asked.

    “Lycan.” Lycanroc looked just as eager as Ash was.

    “Let’s do this.” Ash reached into his pocket and Kukui suddenly realized what Ash was planning on doing. It made him glad that he was supervising this training session, even if just to keep Ash and Lycanroc from going too big too early.

    “How about you save the Z-move for later?” Kukui suggested. Ash blinked and looked his new Rockium Z.

    “But we really wanted to try it out.” Ash said in disappointment.

    “I understand that.” Kukui said, because he really did understand the temptation of using a new Z move, but he also knew how dangerous it could be if they weren’t ready. Especially a move like Continental Crush. “But you don’t know if you and Lycanroc are ready for it. Maybe start off with something smaller?”

    Ash thought about it for a second. “You mean like rock throw?”

    Kukui grinned. “I think rock throw sounds perfect.” It was a move that Rockruff had struggled with, and it might be good to see if Lycanroc still had the control of the move that he’d mastered as a Rockruff.

    “We can do that.” Ash said, all disappointment about not being able to test out his new Z-Crystal gone in an instant. “Alright, Lycanroc, use rock throw, just like before, okay?”

    Kukui grinned and backed off so that Ash could properly train his pokémon. He sat down on the sandy beach to watch. Rowlet hooted sleepily and curled up next to Kukui to get some rest. Kukui. Pikachu and Litten also sat next to him and they all watched Ash and Lycanroc train.

    Kukui was pretty sure that he would be more than happy to watch Ash train his pokémon all day. It was just so enjoyable. Ash had a more hands on approach to his training than Kukui had ever seen, and it was just so amusing to watch.

    After a few minutes, when Ash and Lycanroc had basically adjusted to the new evolution and were adapting their attacking style for it, Kukui stood up and brushed the sand off his pants. He would love to watch Ash train for the rest of the afternoon, but he knew that the boy hadn’t eaten anything since lunch. Ash usually had an after school snack, and Kukui knew that if he didn’t have the snack soon then he would be famished by the time they had dinner.

    Besides, Kukui wanted to have a few words with Ash, and some food might be a good bribe.

    It took a few minutes to make the snacks, and during that time Kukui was sure to keep an ear out for Ash. The boy was rather loud in his training. The moment that Kukui couldn’t hear Ash training, he would know that there was something to worry about.

    A few minutes later Kukui finished up a snack for Ash as well as something for his pokémon. Balancing the plates of food Kukui made his way back onto the beach. Sure enough, Ash was still training Lycanroc and probably hadn’t even noticed that he was gone. Kukui would have been more than happy to let Ash continue his training, but it was time for a little break.

    “Ash, why don’t you come get a snack?” Kukui suggested. Ash and Lycanroc immediately stopped their training.

    “A snack? Awesome!” Ash and Lycanroc ran to get the food that Kukui was offering. “Thanks, Professor.” Kukui grinned and handed Ash the plate of food. He then put a couple of dishes of pokémon food on the ground for Ash’s pokémon to share.

    Ash, can I talk to you?” Kukui sat down on the steps to his porch and gestured for Ash to join him, which he did so.

    “What’s up, professor?” Ash asked.

    “I want to be sure that you understand why I don’t want you going off on your own for awhile.” Kukui said. Afterall, there really wasn’t a point in disciplining Ash for his actions in this way if he didn’t understand the reason for it and didn’t learn his lesson.

    “Uh, it’s because I was gone all night looking for Lycanroc on Akala Island, isn’t it?” Ash asked.

    “Something like that.” Kukui nodded. “Do you understand what was wrong with that?”

    “Oh, you have that rule about being back home before dark.” Ash said automatically, so at least he remembered the rule. “I guess when we were on Akala Island that meant being back to the pokémon center.”

    Ash frowned slightly and pet Lycanroc. “I knew I wasn’t supposed to wander off so late, but I was worried about Rockruff.”

    “Don’t you think the rest of us would have been worried about Rockruff too?” Kukui raised an eyebrow. Ash rubbed his neck sheepishly.

    “I guess I didn’t think about that.” Ash admitted.

    “I’m not mad that you were out so late looking for your pokémon.” Kukui said, and that was the truth. He knew that he would have probably done the same thing if one of his pokémon mysteriously went missing. That wasn’t the problem. “I’m just-” Don’t say disappointed. Don’t say disappointed. “-upset that you didn’t come to any of us for help. You didn’t even leave a note saying where you went. You have no idea how worried I was when I woke up and saw that you were missing.”

    Ash looked at the ground. “I’m sorry professor.” The apology was sincere.

    “I know you are.” Kukui said. Ash was a sweet kid. If he ever did anything that might hurt someone, even if it was unintentional, he would feel horrible about it. “There’s just something really important that I want you to understand.” Ash was such a social kid that Kukui sometimes forgot just how independent he was, and while that could be admirable sometimes, it could sometimes be unintentionally harmful.

    “What’s that, Professor?” Ash asked.

    “That you don’t have to deal with things like this on your own.” Kukui looked Ash in the eyes. “You always try so hard to take care of other people, but whenever you have a problem you always try to handle it on your own.”

    “I...do?” Ash frowned slightly. Kukui nodded. “But...I don’t try to. I just forget sometimes, I guess.”

    “It can be hard.” Kukui admitted. If somebody was so used to putting others before themselves, it could be hard to remember that it was okay to ask for help sometimes. “But can you promise me that you’ll at least try to remember?”

    Ash nodded and pet Lycanroc. “I’ll try.” He promised, and Kukui knew that he really would try. Ash’s attempts may not be all that perfect, but it would be something, at least, and that was all Kukui could ask for.

    He just hoped that Ash kept his promise.
  12. Gazi

    (Litleo ♀)
    Level 9
    May 27, 2018
    Dawn Stone ★★★★Legendary Triforce ★★Reaper Cloth ★★★
    Chapter 12

    Kukui paled and leaned forward closer to the television. He felt sick to his stomach as he watched the Charjabug race on television. He didn’t really care for Charjabug racing as a sport, certainly not enough to go to the stadium to watch it in person. But he cared about his students enough that when the boys decided that they wanted to participate in the Charjabug race, he promised them that he would at least watch the event on live television.

    For the most part, he enjoyed the race better than he thought he would. The boys really worked really well with each other, and Kukui really enjoyed seeing how the three of them handled the challenges that we thrown their way.

    And then everything went wrong during the final stretch.

    “Ash!” Kukui jumped to his feet, suddenly wishing that he had just bothered to go to the stadium. Charjabug racing was supposed to be challenging, but not dangerous. Accidents happened sometimes though, especially during any kind of sport. Kukui wasn’t happy, though also not entirely surprised, when he saw Ash get hit in the face a Charjabug car. Ash was a passionate, sometimes careless, somewhat clumsy boy. Getting hit in the face really wasn’t anything new.

    Getting knocked out cold though, that was new, and it definitely wasn’t supposed to have happened.

    “Do something, do something.” Kukui muttered as he listened to the race commentary. He expected, and desperately hoped, that the officials would at least pause the race for a moment and make sure that Ash was okay. Racers weren’t supposed to be knocked out in the middle of the race. From what he could hear from the commentary, this was a development that nobody saw coming, and that was pretty much all they said about it.

    “Come on!” Kukui slammed his fist on the table. “Help him!” Kukui scowled in disgust as the race just continued on as nothing happened. They talked about how Ash had been knocked out, but they weren’t doing a thing to get him medical attention. They just talked about it like it was nothing more than another interesting twist to the race.

    “This is ridiculous.” Kukui angrily turned the television off. If they weren’t going to do anything to help his kid, then he was going to go down there and make sure his kid was okay himself. Kukui stormed outside and didn’t even bother closing the door behind him. He ran all the way into town, cursing the Alola activities committee every step of the way.

    All four of the Alola islands had their own activities and events, but there was just a single committee that handled it all, with representatives from each of the islands. Kukui had a fair amount of experience with the activities committee, as he had to deal with them every Battle Royal season. He had his disagreements with them sometimes, as they seemed to care more about entertainment than the safety of the participants, but this was taking things a step too far.

    When Kukui got to the Charjabug stadium he was met with a departing crowd. It seemed that the race was over. Kukui supposed that it was for the best, as he wouldn’t have been afraid to interrupt the race to check up on Ash. At least this way he wouldn’t disrupt the race, even if he partially wanted to.

    Kukui made his way past all of the people and went inside. It didn’t take him long to find his students. They were standing on the winners stand and had a dozen or so reporters surrounding them. Despite his frustration and concern Kukui couldn’t help but grin proudly when he saw that his students had won. Their hard work had paid off.

    Kukui’s small moment of pride soon went away when he saw Ash sitting on the ground, his head between his hands. Kiawe was kneeling next to Ash, muttering something to him. Sophocles was the only one directly talking to the reporters, and even he didn’t look nearly as proud as he should have been. Their victory had been tainted by Ash’s injury.

    “Ash!” Kukui pushed past the reporters and knelt next to his student’s side. “Are you okay?”

    “I-I’m fine, Professor.” Ash tried to grin, though it seemed more like a grimace. “What...What are you doing here?”

    “I was watching the race on television.” Kukui said as he took Ash’s hand and pulled him to his feet. He frowned when the boy stumbled and seemed unsteady on his feet. He might have lost his balance entirely if Kiawe wasn’t right there to support him. “Are you sure you’re okay? Do you feel sick?”

    Kiawe was the one who answer for him. “He says he’s dizzy and feels a little sick. I think he has a concussion.” Kukui knew that Kiawe had dealt with a concussion or two in his time, and he probably knew what he was talking about.

    “Has anybody checked up on him?” Kukui asked. Based off of Kiawe’s scowl he could take a guess what the answer was.

    I’m fine.” Ash tried to insist, but considering his speech was a little slurred, Kukui wasn’t about to take his word for it.

    “Nobody.” Kiawe answered, his frustration clear. “Ash hasn’t gotten so much as a pain killer.”

    Kukui closed his eyes and took a deep breath to keep himself calm. He would make sure that Ash was taken care of first, and deal with the incompetence of the activities committee at a later time.

    “Well I’ll be, is that Professor Kukui?” Kukui opened his eyes and his eyes fell into a cold glare that made Kiawe and Sophocles flinch. He turned to glare at the man that had addressed him. Rodero, a member of the activities committee who was a representative of Akala Island. Kukui only knew the man because he was the one who organized the Battle Royal competitions. Rodero was one of the few people that knew that Kukui was the Masked Royal, and that was probably what he had come to talk to him about.

    Kukui was usually impatient with the Rodero’s antics. The man’s one goal in life seemed to be to make Battle Royal as interesting as he possibly could. Kukui was one of the few masked wrestlers, which was exactly why Rodero was so invested in his career as a Battle Royal trainers. Kukui’s mysterious identity apparently appealed to fans. Kukui really couldn’t care less about the ‘story’ that Rodero was obsessed with, but if it was what it took for him to be a Battle Royal trainer, then he would deal with it.

    Kukui wasn’t in the mood to talk to Rodero, especially since he knew that the man was just going to pester him about participating in the upcoming Battle Royal season. If the man was going to come talk to him, Kukui most definitely had a few words to say to the representative from the activities committee.

    “Kiawe, why don’t you and Sophocles take Ash outside?” Kukui asked stiffly. “I’ll be out in a minute.”

    “S-sure, Professor.” Kiawe stammered as he adjusted his grip on Ash and grabbed Sophocles’ arm to drag them out. He really couldn’t get out of there quick enough. Kukui hadn’t meant to sound so threatening, but he couldn’t help it. He was furious.

    “Rodero, I need to have a few words with you.” Kukui said coldly. “How many committee members are here?”

    Rodero looked stunned at his obvious anger. “Well, there’s five of us here.” Rodero gestured behind him and Kukui could recognize some other committee members.

    “Fantastic.” Kukui made his way towards them. “Because I have a complaint.” Rodero followed behind him, looking extremely nervous.

    When they got to the other four committee members Kukui didn’t hesitate to begin lodging his complaint. “Do any of you have any explanation for what happened during the race today? Or is it safe to assume that you just care more about your events than about the participants?

    The five committee members just looked confused, which infuriated Kukui all the more. “One of your racers got knocked out, and nothing was done about it.”

    “We couldn’t just stop the race.” One of the committee members argued, like it was just a fact.

    “No, you wouldn’t stop the race.” Kukui crossed his arms. “My student and ward got knocked out, and you didn’t do anything except exploit it.”

    “The boy signed a release form.” Another committee member, a woman from Melemele Island, said. “We’re not responsible for any injury that happened during the event, and we have permission to show the event on television.”

    Kukui raised an eyebrow. So they had given a release form to the kids. Kukui had wondered about that. But that didn’t make what had happened any better, for one glaringly obvious reason. “You had the kids sign their own release forms?”

    “We do the same for any participants of any of our events.” Rodero said. “You know this, Professor.” Kukui did know, as every year he had to sign a new release form, which made him very familiar with the details. The form did, in fact, say that the organizers weren’t responsible for any injury that may happen, but that didn’t mean that they were off the hook for not doing anything about it. Decent human beings shouldn’t just help somebody who is hurt just because they know they’re responsible for the injury.

    “I do know that,” Kukui nodded. “I also know that during Battle Royal matches you always have a Nurse Joy on hand, just in case. Is it honestly too much to ask that you have a medic as well?”

    None of the committee members said anything, and Kukui continued on before any of them could come up with a response. “And about those release forms, why in the world would you give them to the kids? They’ll sign anything you place in front of them.” Partly because kids were often too impatient to bother reading the fine print, and partly because they liked to sign things because it made them feel important. “If you want to claim that you’re not exploiting these children, then why aren’t their parents the ones who are signing the release forms?” Kukui knew that not all adults were as responsible at reading through what they were signing as they should be, but most any decent parent would take the time to read the fine print before letting their child participate in a potentially dangerous event.

    “Professor, we are sincerely sorry for what happened to your student.” The representative from Melemele island said. Kukui scoffed at their words, because they were just about as far from ‘sincere’ as they could be. “But at this time we don’t have the time or resources to meet your...accommodations.”

    Was it really all that much to ask that they have a medic in case of emergencies, have parents sign the release forms, and that they actually take responsibility for the safety of their participants?!

    “Well, you’d better find the time and the resources,” Kukui all but growled. “Because until you do, none of my students are going to be participating in any further events.” Kukui would make sure of that. “And neither will I.”

    Rodero looked panicked at Kukui’s words. “Professor, you can’t be serious.”

    “I’m completely serious.” Kukui said coldly. He knew how badly Rodero wanted him to get back in the Battle Royal ring. He would likely do whatever it took to bring Kukui back this upcoming season, even convince his fellow committee members to make a few changes to the way that things were done. Kukui didn’t normally like making threats like this, but if it was the only way to get them to listen to reason, then so be it. “Now if you don’t mind, I have to go check up on my kid who has a concussion.” Without even saying goodbye or telling the committee members to have a nice day Kukui turned around and practically stormed out of the building.

    The boys were waiting for him right outside the door. “Is everything alright, Professor?” Kiawe asked cautiously.

    Kukui looked at Ash. The boy was still being supported by Kiawe, and his eyes were distant and unfocused. Kukui sighed. “No, it’s not.” Kukui stepped in front of Ash and turned so his back was facing him. Kukui crouched slightly, and Kiawe, who noticed what he was doing, helped to get Ash on his back.

    “W-what’re you doin’?” Ash asked, his voice still somewhat slurred. “I can walk.”

    “I’d really rather you didn’t.” Kukui stood up straight and wrapped his arms around Ash’s legs to hold him in place. Ash instinctively put his arms over Kukui’s shoulders. “Please, just let me do this. It’ll make me feel better.”

    That seemed to be the right thing to say, because Ash hummed quietly and relaxed. “M’kay.” He muttered. Kukui grinned slightly to himself, though it felt more like a grimace. At least Ash wasn’t going to be fighting him about this.

    “So,” Kukui said as he carefully began to walk home, with Sophocles and Kiawe following just behind him. “How did the race go? I didn’t get to see how you guys pulled ahead at the end.” Sophocles and Ash immediately began to recall the entire race for him, which Kukui was relieved about. He didn’t want Ash falling asleep, not yet, and having him talk and get excited would keep him awake and hopefully make him more alert.

    As they walked home Kukui felt some of his anger seep away. He was still furious with the committee, and he meant it when he said that he wouldn’t be participating in any of their activities or events until they made a few simple changes. But he didn’t feel like punching all of them in the face anymore, so that was an improvement.

    Kukui’s anger was replaced with protectiveness for Ash, and all of his students. He was their teacher, it was his job to keep them safe. Maybe he wasn’t as good at it as he should be, and he definitely still needed to find the balance between keeping them safe and letting them learn and grow for themselves, but he was trying, and that was honestly all he could do.
  13. Gazi

    (Litleo ♀)
    Level 9
    May 27, 2018
    Dawn Stone ★★★★Legendary Triforce ★★Reaper Cloth ★★★
    Chapter 13

    It had been a long flight from Alola to the Kanto region. At first all of the kids had been far too excited or nervous to sleep. Of course, with all of the kids awake they had been able to entertain each other. It had taken a few hours, but eventually the thrill and fears of being on an airplane for what had to have been the first time for most of the kids had died down. All of them had fallen asleep.

    Kukui had thought that the flight back to Alola would have gone pretty much the same way. That the kids, who were all still extremely excited about their adventure in Kanto, would talk through their enthusiasm for a few hours before exhaustion got the better of them. For the most part, that was indeed what happened.

    For the most part.

    “Stop bouncing your leg.” Kukui said quietly as he put a hand on Ash’s knee to calm him. Ash was a hyper kid. He could sit still for extended periods of time, but not when there wasn’t anything for him to do, like now. All of his friends were fast asleep and he couldn’t talk to them. He couldn’t train. There weren’t even any pokémon around for him to look at.

    “Sorry Professor.” Ash did indeed stop. He gently scratched his sleeping Pikachu’s ears. “I’m still just really excited about our trip.”

    “So you had fun?” Kukui smiled when Ash nodded eagerly. “I’m glad. You seemed a little disappointed when you heard we were going to Kanto.”

    “I wasn’t!” Ash protested just a touch too loud. He then ducked his head and glanced around sheepishly. Most everybody around them was asleep, and he clearly didn’t want to disappoint them. “Okay, maybe-maybe I was a little. But that’s just because everybody else got to go to a new region and see brand new pokémon, and I...didn’t.” Ash admitted reluctantly. “But I still had fun!”

    “I understand.” Kukui assured him. “Going on a field trip back home just isn’t the same as going somewhere new, is it?”

    “Not really.” Ash said. “They’re both good, just different.” Just like the Kanto and Alolan regions themselves.

    “What was your favorite part of the trip?” Kukui asked. It was a question that he was planning on asking his students to write a short essay about. Kukui knew that sometimes Ash really struggled with writing things out. The boy was more than capable of it, but when he wrote out the first thing on his mind he usually felt like it was too simple or needed to be worded differently. He would struggle to rewrite his essay in a way that sounded smarter and more professional, and that wasn’t what Kukui wanted. He just wanted to hear what Ash had to say, with his own words.

    “Definitely the battles.” Ash said, and it was almost like a fire was lit in his eyes. Ash was getting pumped up just thinking about it. “I’ve never been able to battle with Misty like that before.”

    Kukui felt near childish excitement build up in his chest at just the memory of Ash’s battle. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a battle quite like that before.” Both Ash and Misty had been so passionate about the battle. In Kukui’s opinion, nothing could beat that spark that came with battling a friend or a rival. “I study pokémon moves, and let me tell you, there are things you do with your pokémon that I’ve never imagined before. I mean, when you had Pikachu jump from lightning bolt to lightning bolt-” Kukui chuckled, and he had to really hold back so as to not disturb those around them. “You, Ash, are one of a kind.”

    Ash laughed slightly, though Kukui got the impression that Ash didn’t completely believe him. The kid didn’t realize just how special and astonishing he was. Kukui had met a lot of trainers, and he had mentored a lot of kids. They were all unique, but Ash...he was just on a whole other level, and it was a little disappointing that he didn’t realize that.

    Then again, it was probably for the best. After all, Ash just wouldn’t be Ash if he got a big head and began to think that he was better than everybody else.

    “It’s been a long time since I’ve had a battle that got my blood pumping like that.” Ash said. “I used to get them all the time from gym battles, but…”

    “But we don’t have any of those in Alola.” Kukui finished for him. He knew that Ash enjoyed taking the island challenges, but it was definitely an entirely different experience than the Pokémon League in other regions. “The island challenge gives you a completely different thrill than the Pokémon League does.”

    “Exactly.” Ash looked excited that Kukui understood, but that excitement soon turned to slight confusion. “But...how do you know?”

    Kukui smiled as he remembered his own pokémon journey. “Because I went on a pokémon journey too, and not just in Alola.”

    “Really?” Ash’s eyes went wide, like he hadn’t even considered his teacher once having done the same thing that he was doing. “Did you compete in the Pokémon League? Where did you go?”

    “I actually went to Kanto.” Kukui answered, and if Ash’s eyes went even wider, though Kukui hadn’t thought that was even possible. “And of course I competed in the Indigo League.” The region had been even smaller back then, and the league had rules that anybody competing could only use pokémon that were native to the region, so Kukui hadn’t been able to use most of his own pokémon. It had been an interesting experience though, to train whole new pokémon that he wasn’t too familiar with.

    “How far did you get?” Ash asked quickly. “I got to the top sixteen.” Kukui raised an impressed eyebrow. The Indigo League had been Ash’s very first league, and he had gotten as far as the top sixteen? That was a lot more impressive than most people seemed to think.

    “Actually, I won.” Kukui said somewhat sheepishly.

    “What?!” Ash practically shouted, completely forgetting about how they were trying to not bother those around them. “You won? That’s...that’s amazing.”

    “It was pretty amazing.” Kukui smiled as he remembered just how elated he had felt after that final battle. It had been so many years since Kukui had competed in the Indigo League, but sometimes he still felt like it was unreal, like it had all been just one big dream that he had never woken up from.

    “Were you able to challenge the champion?” Ash asked.

    “I wasn’t able to get that far.” Kukui chuckled and shook his head. “I challenged the Elite Four, and I was even able to beat three of them.” If Ash had been impressed before, he looked completely awestruck now. “I was never able to defeat Lance though.”

    “That’s so cool.” Ash said, and he sincerely meant it. The boy smiled broadly and looked at Pikachu, a determined look in his eyes. “I’m going to win a Pokémon League someday, just like you.”

    “Kukui chuckled. “I don’t doubt that for a second.” And if Kukui was able to set up an Alolan League, than Ash just might get his chance sooner than he expected. Kukui knew that if he was going to set up a league, that he needed to refrain from picking favorites. All competitors deserved to have an equal opportunity, but that didn’t mean that Kukui had to refrain from cheering his students on.

    He hoped that he would be able to organize this while Ash was still in Alola, and that the boy would have a chance to enter the league. Kukui had the feeling that Ash was far from done with impressing him, and he couldn’t wait to see just what his ward was capable of.
  14. Gazi

    (Litleo ♀)
    Level 9
    May 27, 2018
    Dawn Stone ★★★★Legendary Triforce ★★Reaper Cloth ★★★
    Chapter 14
    Kukui had known that being involved with Ultra Beasts would be a bad idea, he just wished that they would have had a bit more of a break before complete chaos took over.

    Kukui sighed in exhaustion and slumped on the couch. He could feel some stray sticks in his hair, and he knew that he probably looked just as dirty as he felt, but he really couldn’t bring himself to care enough to wash up. There wasn’t any school tomorrow, so he didn’t have to worry about keeping up his appearances for that.

    Kukui was glad that he could sleep in tomorrow, but unfortunately he couldn’t go to sleep yet. He still had some things he had to do. Kukui knew that technically he could just do the work in the morning, there wasn’t all that much of a rush, but he wanted to get this over with. Besides, he’d had a stressful past few hours, and it would be nice to see a friendly face.

    Kukui pulled his laptop closer, feeling relieved that he had thought to get it out earlier, because he really didn’t feel like getting up from where he was. Kukui opened his laptop and opened the video call application. Without thinking twice Kukui dialed Professor Burnet’s number. He waited anxiously for her to answer, and actually breathed a sigh of relief when he saw her face come onto his screen.

    “Did you find Ash?” Burnet asked immediately. Kukui smiled gently. They had only just started talking, but he already felt calmer.

    “Yeah, we found him.” Kukui said. He felt a little bad that Burnet had been worried about Ash, but when he hadn’t been able to find Ash in the forest he had started calling everybody he could, just in case they had seen him. It hadn’t been necessary, and hadn’t done much good, but it had made Kukui feel like he was doing something productive.

    “Thank goodness.” Burnet looked about as relieved as Kukui felt. “Where was he?”

    “From what I’ve heard, everywhere.” Kukui sighed and took off his hat so he could run a hand through his hair. “Nebby took Ash on a bit of a teleportation adventure today.”

    “So Nebby can use teleport?” There was that curious enthusiasm that Kukui really loved from Burnet. She was so passionate about her work. After a moment Burnet got her emotions under control. “I’m glad that Ash and Nebby are okay.” Kukui realized that he hadn’t actually told Burnet as much, but she knew him well enough to know that if anything had happened to either Ash or Nebby, it would have been the first thing he would have told her. Burnet’s next words surprised him though. “Are you okay though, Kukui?”

    Kukui blinked, thrown off by the question. “I’m fine.”

    Burnet raised an unimpressed, but not unkind, eyebrow. “Don’t give me that. Have you taken a look at yourself?”

    Kukui frowned as he pulled a twig out of his hair. He really was a mess from looking for Ash in the forest. “I’m...I’ll be fine.” Kukui corrected himself, as he knew that Burnet wouldn’t just trust any claims that he was okay. She probably knew better than he did that he really wasn’t feeling fine at that moment. He just didn’t want to worry her.

    “What’s on your mind?” Burnet asked in concern.

    Kukui sighed and lifted his glasses to rub at his eyes. “I know that Ash said that he wanted to take care of Nebby himself, but do you think you could come over sometime to check on how Nebby’s doing?”

    Kukui imagined that Burnet would accept his invitation without hesitation, but she didn’t let her enthusiasm show. “Is everything okay?”

    “Ash thinks that Nebby has a lot of powers that we don’t know about,” Kukui said. “We would really appreciate it if you could come and check up on how Nebby’s doing.” Kukui knew that just about anybody in the Aether Foundation would be capable and willing to do just this, but Kukui felt most comfortable asking Burnet. He knew her, and he knew that she would be willing to check up on Nebby without pressuring Ash to let her do something with Nebby that he didn’t feel comfortable with.

    “I would be honored to help you.” Burnet said. Kukui let out a breath that he hadn’t even realized he had started holding.

    “Thank you.” Kukui said breathlessly. He still felt uncertain about Nebby and just Ultra Beasts in general, but he felt better to have somebody on his side that felt comfortable about the things that he was honestly afraid of. He didn’t have to be the one and only responsible adult for his kids while they dealt with Nebby. “I just feel like I’m in way over my head.”

    Burnet laughed slightly. “I’m pretty sure we’re all in over our heads. The kids are just young enough to have the privilege of just not realizing it.”

    Kukui laughed along with Burnet, not necesarilly because he found the situation funny, but because he felt like if he couldn’t laugh about it then he would just end up crying.

    “So how is Ash doing with Nebby?” Burnet asked in an attempt to change the topic without making it too obvious that it was what she was doing.

    Kukui smiled fondly. “He’s doing great. In another life, he could make a fantastic pokémon breeder.” Kukui hadn’t been told a lot about Ash’s previous traveling experiences, but he knew that the kid had picked up a lot of nurturing habits from Brock during their time together.

    “What has he been doing?” Burnet smiled and put her hands on her chin. It was an invitation for him to talk about Ash, and Kukui was more than happy to take her up on the offer.

    “Everything.” Kukui let out a short laugh that showed just how emotional and proud he really was. Kukui felt his ears burn in embarrassment. He was clearly too exhausted to be talking about his kid to Burnet. Based on the way that her smile broadened, he knew that she had to have noticed, but she was gracious enough to not mention it.

    “He, uh,” Kukui laughed at himself and shook his head. “He’s just been taking care of Nebby like he was a parent taking care of a baby. He gives it food when it cries, and keeps it close to his side. He just...he’s doing everything he can to keep Nebby happy.”

    “That’s adorable.” Burnet said, and Kukui wholeheartedly agreed. “I look forward to seeing it for myself.” Burnet had only seen Ash interact with Nebby for a short time, certainly not long enough to have an idea of how things normally were.

    “It’s really else.” Kukui promised. “And not just with Nebby. Ash has an individual and personal relationship with all of his pokémon.” It was really interesting for Kukui to see the boy interact with all of them, because he really changed his approach to training them based off of their personalities and needs. Not many trainers did this.

    “I’m sure I’ll see what you mean when I come over later.” Burnet said. “When would it be best for me to check up on Nebby? I don’t have to work next weekend, but if you want I could come over right now for a few hours.”

    Kukui smiled appreciatively. It was late, and both Nebby and Ash were long asleep. Burnet likely knew this, so Kukui knew that her offer hadn’t been for their sake, it had been for his. “Next week will be fine.”

    “Are you sure?” Burnet asked, though she didn’t seem as dubious as she had been just a few minutes ago.

    “I’m sure.” Kukui said. He honestly wasn’t feeling as stressed as he had before. Talking with Burnet had really helped. “Go get some sleep.”

    Burnet smirked at his words. “Only if you do the same.” Her mischievous smirk lightened. “If you need any help with anything, or if you just want to talk, don’t be afraid to call. I don’t care how late it is, I’m always here for you.”

    Kukui smiled fondly. He could hear the sincerity in her words. “I will if you do.” He suggested.

    “Deal.” Burnet said. “I’ll see you next week, Kukui. Goodnight.”

    “Goodnight.” Kukui returned as their connection ended. With a sigh he closed his laptop and stretched. He was still worried, but the conversation with his old friend had helped calm his nerves enough that he thought he could try to get some sleep that night. He would probably be woken by nightmares filled with Ultra Beasts, but some sleep was better than no sleep at all.

    Tomorrow he would look for what notes he had on Ultra Beasts. He didn’t want to be caught unprepared for whatever might happen. Kukui knew that Ash’s dream and Nebby’s appearance meant something, he just didn’t know what. All that Kukui knew for sure was that it was something big, and he wanted to be ready for it.
  15. Gazi

    (Litleo ♀)
    Level 9
    May 27, 2018
    Dawn Stone ★★★★Legendary Triforce ★★Reaper Cloth ★★★
    Chapter 15
    Kukui could always tell when there was something bothering one of his students. They all wore their hearts on their sleeves, but none of them did so more than Ash did. Despite how emotional and enthusiastic Ash was, Kukui could count on one hand the number of times he had seen the boy truly distressed. Ash didn't normally talk about things that really bothered him, but as far as Kukui could tell, most any time that the boy got really upset was when he was worried about somebody else. Ash had always been a compassionate and kind-hearted kid. If somebody around him was hurting, even if they were his enemies, he was usually really sympathetic towards them. Kukui had seen Ash's strong sympathy before, and he really admired him for it.

    Every once and awhile though, Ash's reaction to the pain of others was a little concerning. Sometimes, Ash got so distressed from someone else's pain that he almost completely shut down. It was really concerning, but it didn't usually last long. Ash was always able to bounce back on his feet. Kukui usually gave Ash his space, but when he saw the boy still awake on a school night when it was nearly an hour past when he would usually go to bed, he knew that something was really wrong. Kukui wouldn't feel right just leaving Ash to deal with whatever it was on his own, so he had prepared some hot cocoa and brought it up to the loft. He found that tough conversations were easier to handle with a little something warm to drink.

    "Are you doing okay?" Kukui had asked Ash quietly as he handed him one of the mugs. Ash, who was sitting on the floor with all of his pokémon around him, accepted the drink.

    "I'm fine." Ash had said quietly. The boy pet Pikachu, who was looking at its trainer in clear concern. "I'm just thinking, I guess."

    "About Lusamine?" Kukui sat down on the couch that served as Ash's bed. He had been horrified to hear what had happened to Lusamine. Even though Kukui had always known that Ultra Beasts were dangerous, he had never imagined something like this happening. Not only had Lusamine been taken by an Ultra Beast, but both of her kids and Ash had all seen it happen. That would be traumatizing for anybody, let alone a kid.

    "Kinda," Ash furrowed his brow in pained concern. "Gladion...he really doesn't want my help. He says it's a family matter."

    Kukui sighed and took a sip from his hot cocoa. Gladion had always been much too proud and slow to trust others. "I'm sure he's just stressed. You shouldn't take his words to heart."

    "I'm not." Ash said easily. "I just don't get it. His mom was taken by a legendary pokémon. I get why he would want to save her, really, I do," Ash grinned stiffly, and Kukui shuddered slightly. He knew that it wasn't strange for a kid to say that they would do anything to help their parents, but something told Kukui that these weren't just empty words, that Ash was speaking from experience.

    "Do you know what that feels like?" Kukui asked slowly, cautiously. "To have your mom taken by a legendary pokémon?"

    Ash was quiet for a moment. Kukui was just about to think that he had misunderstood what Ash had meant when the boy laughed slightly, though it came out a little forced. "Yeah, I know what that feels like." Pikachu climbed onto Ash's lap and curled up close to its trainer. Pikachu was trying to comfort him.

    Kukui frowned and tightened his grip on his mug. "What happened?"

    Ash shook his head, but he looked antsy. Kukui, who had learned how to recognize when somebody had something that they wanted to say, even if they were reluctant to do so, kept quiet and waited. Sure enough it wasn't long before Ash began to tell Kukui about a lonely little girl and a number of pokémon called Unown.

    Ash's tale sounded unbelievable, but Kukui knew he wasn't lying. Ash didn't tell tall tales to make himself seem more impressive or important. He just seemed to have an extraordinary life. Kukui knew this, but he hadn't really thought about how dangerous that life had been until now. It was a little mind-opening.

    Kukui tried to keep his awe and slight fear to himself. Kukui really didn't want to give Ash the impression that he couldn't tell him things like this. Kukui wanted to know about anything that his students may find important. He wanted to be involved in their lives, and that included knowing about their pasts too.

    Kukui gave himself a few moments to calm down from Ash's tale. "That must have been hard."

    Ash nodded. "I was so scared for my mom. Sometimes I-I-" Ash sheepishly looked at the ground. "I sometimes get nightmares about it."

    Kukui didn't blame him. "That's nothing to be ashamed about." Nightmares were just part of being human. Kukui had experienced a few nightmares about something terrible happening to Ash, and all of his students, really.

    "I know, it's just kinda scary," Ash said. "The thought of what might have happened." The dreaded 'what-ifs'. Kukui was all too aware of them. "I mean, I wouldn't have been able to save her at all if my friends hadn't been there to help me."

    Kukui leaned forward. "So that's why you're so upset about what Gladion said."

    Ash nodded. "I know he doesn't want my help, but if something happens to Lusamine, or Gladion, or Lillie, and there's something I could have done to stop it…" Ash trailed off, but there was no need for him to continue. Kukui understood the level of guilt that Ash would feel.

    Kukui eyed Ash carefully. Something told him he would regret saying what he was thinking, but he would probably regret not saying it. "If you feel like you should help save Lusamine, then I think you should trust your instincts."

    Ash looked up at Kukui, his eyes wide in slight shock. "You...think I should help them? But Gladion said-"

    "I know what Gladion said," Kukui looked Ash in the eyes. "Sometimes people say things they don't mean when they're scared, or upset. And even if he really doesn't want help, would you really feel okay about letting him and Lillie try to save their mom on their own?"

    "...No." Ash said quietly but firmly. "But what can I do?"

    Kukui frowned thoughtfully and adjusted his grip on his mug. "Honestly, I think the best thing that any of us can do is to wait for Burnett and Wicke to figure out what we should do."

    "Yeah, probably." Ash said. "But I don't think that Gladion wants to wait."

    Kukui sighed, because he agreed with Ash's observation. "We'll figure that out tomorrow." Kukui looked down at his cooled hot chocolate. He had only drunk half of it, but he didn't think he would end up finishing it. "It's a little late. Get some sleep."

    "Okay," Ash got to his feet and handed his mug to Kukui, who didn't think he had ever been so relieved to see an empty mug. With the two mugs in hand, Kukui made his way back down from the loft. He was glad that Ash seemed to be at least a little more relaxed, because he thought that he was feeling worse than he had before.

    Kukui was antsy to do something to help Lusamine, and now he knew that Ash felt the same way. Taking hasty action would be a mistake, and Kukui just hoped that Gladion and Lillie recognized that. If they didn't...well, that was another problem that Kukui could deal with tomorrow.
  16. Gazi

    (Litleo ♀)
    Level 9
    May 27, 2018
    Dawn Stone ★★★★Legendary Triforce ★★Reaper Cloth ★★★
    Chapter 16
    Kukui had known that they were beyond the point of having safe, easy-going experience with Ultra Beasts as soon as he had gotten word about what had happened to Lusamine. He had hoped that Lillie and Gladion would be patient and smart enough to wait for Burnet and Wicke to come up with a plan. He should have known better than to hope as much. Gladion and Lillie were just kids, their mom had been taken, and they probably blamed themselves for what had happened to Lusamine. Kukui knew that if he was in their shoes, there was no way that he would have just sat to the side. He would have done everything that he could.

    Kukui hadn't been surprised when Lilie didn't show up at school, but he was concerned. Gladion and Lillie were too young and inexperienced to go after their mom on their own. Kukui had been hesitant about bringing the rest of his students to go find Lillie and Gladion. If the two of them were in danger, Kukui might just be bringing five other kids into that same mess. He was always worried about his students in dangerous situations, but he knew from experience that his kids could handle pretty much anything as long as they worked together, so he had given in to their begging.

    After giving Burnet a quick call to tell her where they were going, because some more backup was always nice, Kukui took the rest of his students to the Altar of the Sun. When they first got there, Kukui had no idea what to expect. He had tried to be mentally prepared for what may or may not happen, but there was no way that he could ever be ready for this nightmare.

    This wasn't supposed to happen. None of this was supposed to happen.

    "Th-they're gone." Kukui stared, horrified, at the lingering signs of the Ultra Wormhole in the sky. His students, his kids, they were all in there, and there wasn't anything that Kukui could do to help them. He was completely useless. "They're...they're just-"

    "Kukui," Burnet's voice sounded muffled, almost as though he was wearing headphones and was hearing her at a distance. When Burnet took his hand it was almost like he was being grounded back to reality, and he didn't know if that was somewhere he wanted to be right now. "I know you're worried about them, but we can still help them."

    Kukui blinked and finally forced his gaze away from the sky to look at his old friend. "How?" He didn't say it in defensive disbelief, but in desperate curiosity. If Burnet knew how to help the kids, Kukui needed to hear it.

    "Here," Burnet helped Kukui to take her bag off his his back. She laid it on the ground and began to pull machine parts out. Kukui didn't know what she was up to, but he was eager to help her. He knelt on the ground next to her and took over emptying the bag as she began to put them together. As she worked, Burnet spoke to him.

    "The kids are resourceful. They'll watch out for each other." Burnet said gently.

    "I know." Kukui said quietly as he focused on just getting Burnet's gear out of her bag. It was somewhat grounding to have something to focus on. "I just...they're just kids. They shouldn't have to deal with this by themselves." There was a reason why Kukui had come here, so that he could help them. He couldn't really do that now. "I never should have left them."

    Burnet put her hand on Kukui's arm, and he realized with a start exactly what he had said. "I-I didn't mean-"

    "It's okay," Burnet assured him, and that just made him feel even worse, because he could tell just how sincere she was. "I know what you mean." Burnet was completely understanding about Kukui's thoughtless admission. She knew, probably better than he did, that he didn't really regret leaving the kids to fend for themselves for a few minutes so he could help Burnet. He just regretted the results of his choice.

    "I...I don't know what to do." Kukui choked out. He brought a hand to his face and pinched the bridge of his nose. He couldn't do this. He just...he couldn't. His goal as a teacher had always been to teach his students the skills they needed in life so that they could take care of themselves. He was always looking for chances to give his kids the opportunities they needed, but he still prefered for them to be situations that he had at least some kind of control over, just in case. Here, he didn't have any control at all, and it made him feel sick.

    Burnet smiled gently at him as she began to assemble her machine. Kukui didn't know about how her device was supposed to be assembled, or even what its purpose was, but he helped how he could by handing her tools and pieces when she asked for it.

    "I knew I shouldn't have brought them." Kukui said. He would be horrified to just find Lillie and Gladion in danger, but with all of the kids in trouble, he felt like he was living a nightmare that he just couldn't wake up from.

    "So why did you?" Burnet asked. Her tone was gentle and quiet. She wasn't accusing him of anything, she was just curious. Or maybe she just wanted to keep him talking because it was keeping him from panicking and shutting down completely.

    "...Ash really wanted to come." Kukui said. "He was just so passionate about it." The night before, Kukui had come to be really sympathetic to how Ash felt about helping Lusamine. It had seemed like a good idea at the time to give Ash the chance that he needed to help his friends, because it just felt wrong to ask a child to not help someone else. Even if Kukui knew that it would be dangerous, he hadn't really considered those things last night.

    At this moment, Kukui wished that he hadn't put off his problems. He should have checked in on Gladion and Lillie last night. He should have made sure that Ash and the others stayed behind. And most of all, who should never have left them on their own, even if it had been just for a little bit.

    "I should have known better." Kukui said. "I've been a teacher for years, and I still care too much about letting my kids do what they want."

    "That's what makes you such an amazing teacher." Burnet smiled gently. "You're giving them the freedom to grow as individuals."

    "But that shouldn't ever be more important than keeping them safe." Kukui looked up at the Ultra Wormhole longingly. He wanted to be with his students. He needed to be sure that they were safe. "I'm the adult. It's my job to keep them from doing things that are too dangerous, no matter how much they may want it."

    "Kukui, you need to stop blaming yourself." Burnet said so sternly that Kukui turned back to her in slight shock. Once she had his attention Burnet's eyes softened. "Look, I don't know these kids nearly as well as you do, but what I do know is that if anybody can save Lusamine and come home safely, it's your kids."

    Kukui blinked. He wasn't so sure, but Burnet sounded so confident. And he had seen his students get through some pretty incredible situations. "I hope you're right."

    "I am right." Burnet smiled broadly. "Now come help me finish with this." Kukui went to Burnet's side and supported the structure so she could make the adjustments that she needed to make.

    Burnet worked in silence for a few minutes, but every once and awhile she put a hand on Kukui's own. She was the one doing the real work to bring the kids and Lusamine home, and she was still taking the effort to comfort and ground him. Kukui honestly didn't know what he would do if she wasn't here. He suspected that he would completely breakdown, more than he already was.

    Kukui didn't know what Burnet's plan for bringing the kids home was, but he just had to trust that it would work. He didn't know what the kids were going through, but he had to trust that they would work together and could handle everything that came their way.

    He had to trust that they were safe, because there wasn't anything else that he could do.
  17. Gazi

    (Litleo ♀)
    Level 9
    May 27, 2018
    Dawn Stone ★★★★Legendary Triforce ★★Reaper Cloth ★★★
    Chapter 17
    Kukui smiled to himself as he reached his arm over the back of the couch and around Burnet’s shoulders. He could see her grin as she leaned against his shoulder and grabbed his hand. She pulled his arm around her. Both of their smiles only broadened when they caught a glimpse at the wedding fingers on their hands.

    They were married. Kukui still hadn’t fully processed it. All he knew was that he was the happiest that he could ever remember being. It just felt like a dream. Kukui knew that this honeymoon phase would wear off eventually, but he was going to enjoy it while he could, and he knew that Burnet would do the same.

    “Wow, you two look happy.” Ash grinned excitedly at the two of them. Kukui laughed and held out an arm to invite Ash over. The boy smiled broadly and sat on the couch next to Kukui.

    “It’s been a pretty happy day.” Burnet squeezed Kukui’s hand and leaned closer to him. “You kids gave us an incredible wedding.”

    “You really did,” Kukui agreed. “We couldn’t have planned it better ourselves.” Considering their plans had been to keep it low-key, as they were both too busy and inexperienced in the wedding planning department, it was completely true.

    Ash laughed somewhat sheepishly and kicked his legs a bit. Kukui and Burnet exchanged glances. Ash seemed to be somewhat distracted, like there was something on his mind. After a moment Ash looked up at the two of them. “Hey, can I ask you guys something?”

    Kukui put his hand on Ash’s shoulder in what he hoped was a supportive way. “Of course,”

    “What’s going on?” Burnet asked.

    “Well…” Ash pulled on the hem of his shirt before he looked at them with wide eyes. “How did you know that you wanted to marry each other?”

    “...uh,” Kukui looked at Burnet, but she looked as shocked and thrown off as he felt. “Well, I knew I wanted to marry Burnet, because I loved her, and I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her.”

    “That was sappy,” Burnet teased with a light laugh. Ash giggled along with her, and Kukui found himself chuckling as well.

    “That doesn’t make it any less true,” Kukui pointed out. Burnet just shook her head and kissed his cheek.

    “But how do you know that you love each other?” Ash asked. “Like, how can you tell?”

    “That’s...kinda hard to explain,” Kukui laughed as he tried to figure out just what he could say. How does one go about explaining romantic love to a child?

    Burnet came to Kukui’s rescue. “It’s just something that you know when you feel it.” Burnet said. “Trust me, it’s a little hard to miss.”

    “I guess so,” Ash rubbed the back of his head. “But have you only felt like this towards each other? Is it...wrong to like more than one person?”

    Burnet’s eyes widened. “Of course not!”

    “Though people usually stick to just one person at a time.” Kukui said. Burnet rolled her eyes and elbowed him lightly.

    “Stop confusing him,” Burnet scolded gently.

    “All I mean is that I love Burnet more than I’ve loved anybody else,” Kukui turned so that his full attention could be on Ash. “But I have been with other people, and I did love them.” In a way, Kukui still felt love for them, but it was different than the way he felt about Burnet. This wasn’t the time to talk about that with Ash. Maybe it would be good for Kukui to talk about this with Burnet someday, so that they could better understand each other, but he wasn’t going to talk to Ash about exes and old crushes.

    “How did you know that you didn’t want to marry any of them though?” Ash asked with sincere curiosity.

    Now, this was a question that Kukui could answer, because it was something that he had thought carefully about before even proposing. “Well, with the others, we had different dreams and different goals in life. For awhile we supported each other and tried to help each other with our dreams, but eventually our journeys just took us to different places.”

    “...Oh,” Ash blinked as a small, sad smile crept onto his face. “Yeah, I get that.”

    “But with Burnet, we still have our different dreams,” Kukui turned back towards his new wife and smiled fondly at her. “But now, part of my dream is to achieve it all with her at my side.”

    Burnet hummed happily and held Kukui’s hand. She then turned to Ash. “Where’s all this coming from? Do you maybe have a crush on somebody?” Burnet’s little teasing tone was enough to cause a blush to come to Ash’s cheeks.

    “Wh-what? No!” Ash objected before he lowered his gaze. “I mean, maybe? I don’t know…”

    “That’s nothing to be ashamed about,” Kukui assured his young student. “Believe it or not, it can sometimes take a long time for crushes to actually build up.”

    “Is it better to happen that way than it is to happen quickly?” Ash asked. From what Kukui had heard about Ash’s friends, he knew that the kid was thinking about Brock.

    “It’s just different,” Kukui said. “I don’t think there’s any right or wrong way to develop feelings for somebody.” There were definitely wrong ways to express these feelings, but Kukui didn’t think that any kind of emotions, romantic or otherwise, were inherently right or wrong.

    “Okay,” Ash nodded, hopefully because he understood. “So how does somebody get feelings for someone else?”

    “Well, uh, like you said, it can sometimes happen instantly,” Kukui rubbed the back of his neck. “But usually these feelings are like evolved forms of a different kind of relationship.”

    “So, from friends?” Ash asked.

    “Or admiration,” Burnet added.

    “Or even hatred or rivalry,” Kukui said, “It can build up from anything, really.”

    “Oh,” Ash thought about their words for a few moments. “I never really thought about that before.”

    “Have you thought about relationships often?” Burnet asked. Ash shook his head.

    “Not really,” Ash said casually, completely unashamed, which was fantastic. Ash was just a kid. There was nothing wrong with him not thinking a lot about these kinds of relationships. “But I kind of have, a little bit, I guess. I mean, it would be kinda weird if I didn’t.”

    Kukui frowned slightly. “Why would it be weird?”

    “Because Brock talked about love all the time,” Ash said. “Even Misty did every once and awhile. I never really got it, but their talking about it got me thinking about it...or, at least, it got me thinking about why I didn’t think about it.”

    Kukui bit his lip and exchanged a quick glance with Burnet. “Ash, there’s nothing wrong with not thinking about these kind of things. Especially at your age.”

    “You’re young,” Burnet said gently. “There’s no rush. And if you never get into this kind of relationship, or if you never want this kind of relationship, there’s nothing wrong with that.”

    “I know,” Ash said easily. “But...what if somebody else wants a relationship like that with me?”

    Kukui raised an eyebrow. “Someone’s had a crush on you?” That in and of itself wasn’t all that surprising, as Ash was kind, fun, enthusiastic, and was just as quick to make friends with girls as he was with boys, which was something that a lot of little girls liked in boys. What Kukui was surprised about was that Ash had knowledge about a crush. Ash clearly wasn’t the quickest to recognize or care about subtle romantic signs, so whoever liked him would have had to make it extremely obvious for him to even know about it, and that wasn’t something that children did very often.

    “A couple of people,” Ash nodded before his face scrunched up slightly. “Actually, there’s one of my friends, and my Bayleaf, and another girl...or maybe she was a Latias, I don’t really know.”

    “...Your Bayleaf?” Kukui asked. He was much more confused about this possible Latias, but the Bayleaf was much easier to comprehend.

    “Yeah, she really likes me...a lot.” Ash laughed and scratched a hand in his hair. “She loves to cuddle, and gets jealous when I give anybody else attention. It was really hard to figure out how to train her.”

    “That sounds...interesting.” Kukui barely covered a laugh of his own. He felt bad for the Bayleaf. Ash obviously cared for her, like he cared for all his pokémon, but he probably care for his Bayleaf in the way that she cared for him. Unrequited love was painful.

    “What about your friend?” Burnet asked.

    “Oh, Serena,” Ash smiled. “She’s awesome. I didn’t even know that she liked me, but right before we said goodbye she, uh, kinda kissed me.” Ash looked slightly sheepish, a little embarrassed, but not ashamed. But he wasn’t blushing at all.

    “She kissed you?” Kukui raised an eyebrow. This girl sounded much bolder than he would expect most kids to be. “What was that like?”

    Uh, I don’t really know,” Ash laughed and rubbed the back of his neck. “I was kinda surprised and, uh, confused, I guess. I just didn’t see it coming at all, and it still feels kinda weird.”

    “You might change your mind about that when you get older,” Burnet said. “Or you might not, and there’s nothing wrong with that.”

    “Yeah, I just feel kinda bad,” Ash frowned slightly. “I know Serena really likes me, and I don’t want to hurt her feelings.”

    “Ash, I need you to listen to me carefully, because this is really important, okay?” Kukui said seriously. Ash blinked and looked him in the eyes. “I don’t want you to ever feel obligated to return someone’s feelings because they’re your friend. I understand why you might want to agree to be in a relationship with them to make them happy, but it’ll just hurt both of you in the end. If you don’t like someone that way, you need to be honest with them, and yourself, understand?”

    “...I think so,” Ash nodded. Kukui breathed a sigh of relief. Romantic relationships were some of the most intimate and fulfilling relationships that a person could have. It was important that it benefitted everybody involved, that they were happy and satisfied with the relationship.

    “If a friend has feelings for you, you can just let them down gently, if you need to.” Burnet said. “There’s nothing wrong with just being friends.”

    “No, I guess not,” Ash smiled. “Thanks, Professors,”

    “Anytime,” Kukui said. “I mean it, if you ever have any questions about anything at all, I want you to know that I’m always here.”

    “We both are,” Burnet said, and even though she didn’t know Ash as well as Kukui did, he could tell that she was just as sincere as he was.

    “I know,” Ash said. He stood up and turned towards them with a slight bow. It was more of a Kanto tradition than an Alolan one, but Kukui recognized the gesture of appreciation. “I will,”

    Kukui desperately hoped he would. As Ash’s teacher and guardian, he wanted Ash to know that he could trust him, especially with personal issues like this. If Ash was curious about anything, whether it involved his personal feelings, or how to deal with a specific situation, Kukui would do anything he could to help him figure things out.
  18. Gazi

    (Litleo ♀)
    Level 9
    May 27, 2018
    Dawn Stone ★★★★Legendary Triforce ★★Reaper Cloth ★★★
    Chapter 18

    “Alola, class!” Kukui greeted his students cheerfully. As always, they greeted him back and turned their attention to him, ready for their lesson. Kukui was not usually the strictest or most punctual of teachers. He rarely ever started his classes on time, because he felt like his main goal as a teacher was to help his students learn about the world and how to deal with any problems they may face. So if they were all talking about something when he got to the school, he often stayed outside the classroom and let them talk for a bit. As far as Kukui was concerned, their pre-lesson conversations about their lives were just as valuable to their learning as any lesson that he could plan out himself.

    Sometimes though, they had a lot that they had to get through that day, and would need all the time they could get. On these days Kukui had to cut their conversation short, and he always felt bad about it. Still, he had to prioritize, and often those longer lessons were the most important ones, the ones that he wanted his students to really take to heart. And this particular lesson was no different.

    “Nurse Joy told me that you all did a fantastic job at her Pokémon Center yesterday,” Kukui grinned proudly at his students.

    “It was a lot of fun.” Mallow said, and Ash nodded eagerly.

    “Yeah, but I never realized just how hard it is to take care of pokémon all the time.” Sophocles added as he put a hand on Togedemaru’s head.

    “Most jobs are harder than they seem,” Kukui said. “It’s why I wanted you guys to work at the Pokémon Center for the day, so that you could get some real life work experience.” And so that they could see just how important it was to take good care of their pokémon, as well as themselves.

    “I also wanted to get you guys thinking,” Kukui went to his desk and grabbed a short stack of papers. “How many of you know what you want to do with your lives? What career you’ll be aiming for?” Ash’s hand shot into the air, and Mallow’s wasn’t far behind. Sophocles also raised his hand confidently. Kiawe slowly half raised his hand as he stared intently at his desk. Whatever career he had in mind, it was something he was slightly embarrassed about.

    Lillie didn’t raise her hand, and she almost looked shocked about it, like she had never realized that she didn’t really have plans for her future. Lana didn’t raise her hand either, but there was a passion in her eyes that Kukui knew all too well. He knew what she was thinking about, for some reason though, she didn’t raise her hand. Maybe she felt like what she wanted to do wasn’t a ‘real’ career, and that was okay. This was the whole point behind this lesson today.

    “Alright, I want you guys to keep those careers in mind,” Kukui went to his students’ desks and put one of the sheets of paper on each of their desks. They immediately looked over the paper as he made his way back to the front of the class. “This morning, I want you all to answer these questions. You have until lunch to do this. After that, I’ll be talking with each of you individually about your answers.”

    Lillie raised her hand. “Um, why are you giving us so much time to do this? There’s only two questions.”

    “I want you to all have enough time to think about and answer these questions the best that you can.” Kukui explained with a gentle smile. “This is a straightforward assignment, and fairly simple, but that doesn’t make it easy. If you can’t answer one or both of the questions, that’s just fine. That’s why I’ll be talking with each of you about it. I just want you to do your best, okay?”

    “Yes, Professor,” The students all said in unison as they got to work. Kukui stepped back and let his students work. He usually helped his students as much as possible when he gave them an assignment. This time, he wanted them to do it by themselves. This was their work, he didn’t want to influence their choices in any way. He knew that they could do it on their own, and they had never let him down before.

    Kukui only wanted them to answer two questions. First, he wanted them to name a career that they may want to explore that directly involved pokémon. Second, they had to name a different career that they could do without working with pokémon. They were in no way obligated to actually explore these careers. Kukui wasn’t going to check up on them again in ten years to make sure that they had gone through with one of these options. This whole thing was for their sake.

    Kukui watched in slight amusement as the kids worked. Ash quickly got started without thinking twice about it. He answered one of the questions, and then seemed to lose full steam. Ash just stared blankly at the paper, as though hoping that something would come to him. Mallow was much the same way, though she wasn’t nearly as enthusiastic with answering the question, and didn’t seem nearly as lost.

    Lillie and Kiawe were more consistent about their focus on the assignment, though neither of them seemed nearly as confident as Ash and Mallow had been. And none of them was as confident in answering the questions as Sophocles, who was able to answer them both almost immediately. Lana seemed to be the most unsure about the assignment. She hadn’t even tried to write a single thing down, she just stared out towards the ocean, a distant look in her eyes.

    Just by watching his students working, Kukui knew in what order to talk to them in. And he could even make an educated guess on which child he least looked forward to having this conversation with. Still, it had to happen.

    When lunchtime rolled around, Kukui decided that he might as well get started with these talks with his students. He had planned on waiting until after lunch, but when he saw how Lana stayed just where she was while the others pushed their chairs into a circle and began to talk about the assignment.

    Kukui grabbed the kids’ papers from their desks, and one quick glance at Lana’s paper showed him just what was on her mind.

    “Lana, would you come join me in the hall?” Kukui asked gently, without even a trace of disappointment or anger in his tone. He needed the girl to understand that she wasn’t in trouble.

    Lana silently got up from her desk and followed him out of the classroom. In the hall, Kukui made his way to the railing that looked out over the schoolyard. He sat down on the ground, and without being asked Lana sat down next to him. The two of them sat in silence for a few minutes. Kukui had been Lana’s teacher for long enough to know that she was a really quiet child, even when she was a good mood. If she was going to talk, it had to be on her own terms. He had to wait for her to begin talking.

    “...Professor?” Lana began quietly. He gave her his full attention. “I’m sorry for doing the assignment. I tried, I just…” She let her voice die off.

    “It’s okay,” Kukui was quick to assure her. “We can work this out together.” Her handed Lana back her blank paper. I noticed that you began to write some things, but seemed to change your mind.” There were erase marks and crossed out words on her paper. It was like she had juggled ideas a bit, but had ultimately decided against them.

    Lana nodded and kept her gaze focused outside. “I know what I want to do, but it’s not a real job, so I didn’t think it counted.”

    “Of course it counts,” Kukui said. He was almost shocked at her doubts. “What do you want to do?”

    “I want to explore the ocean,” Lana said, and finally Kukui could see that passion return to her eyes. “My dream is to discover a new species of water pokémon.” If anybody could do it, it was Lana. Nobody cared more about the ocean and water pokémon than she did.

    “Well, that on its own may not be a job,” Kukui admitted. “But there are plenty of jobs you could do that would give you the chance to achieve your dream, and I could see you doing any one of them. Can you think of any?”

    Lana frowned thoughtfully. “I could...be a fisher,” she said, more confidently than he had seen her all day. “Or a trader. Or a deep sea treasure hunter, like Kanoa”

    “You would be great at any of those,” Kukui smiled encouragingly. “And even if those aren’t traditional jobs, it doesn’t matter. If everybody was traditional, nobody would do anything differently.” He stood up and held out a hand to help Lana up. She smiled and accepted his hand. “You should do whatever makes you happy, no matter what others may think about it.”

    “Thanks, Professor,” Lana smiled slightly. She looked at her paper, a small bit of curious excitement in her eyes.

    “Go ahead and keep that with you,” Kukui suggested. He walked her back into the classroom, and she eagerly joined her classmates. Kukui stayed in the doorway. He watched his students as they interacted with each other for a few minutes before he turned his attention to the remaining papers in his hands. Some of the answers were ones that he had expected, others were surprising, to say the very least.

    What Kukui was somewhat amused about was that there was that of his six students, only one of them had actually answered both of the questions. “Sophocles, you’re up next,” Kukui said. The boy got up from his chair and confidently followed Kukui out into the hallway. He didn’t seem the least bit nervous or embarrassed

    “Well, you seem to know just what you’re doing.” Kukui commented.

    “This assignment was easy,” Sophocles said proudly, in a tone that was very close to bragging, but wasn’t quite there. “I’ve known what I’ve wanted to do since I was little.”

    “An astronaut, huh?” Kukui grinned as he looked back at Sophocles’ answers. “You’ve been inspired by Molayne, haven’t you?”

    “Yep,” Sophocles said proudly. “I’ve always loved space. We know that there are at least some pokémon that come from space, but I feel like there’s a lot more than what we think.”

    “Probably,” Kukui said. There were a lot of things in the pokémon world that they still didn’t know. Kukui was excited for Sophocles. The boy had a curious mind. If he explored his fascination with science and space, Kukui knew that there was a lot that he would discover. “As for your second job, it looks like you want to explore your Charjabug Racing hobby.”

    “There are professional Charjabug racers.” Sophocles said matter-of-factly.

    “I know there are,” Kukui held out his hand defensively. He wasn’t trying to make his students second guess what they wanted to do with themselves. That was the last thing he wanted to do. “I just want you to keep in mind that being a professional Charjabug racer is a lot different than just being a casual racer.” Not that Kukui had ever been a Charjabug racer, let alone a professional one, but he imagined that it was similar to Battle Royal, which Kukui was all too familiar with.

    Sophocles blinked. “What do you mean?”

    Kukui sighed and rubbed the back of his neck. “Well, for one thing, you’ll have a lot of people who look up to and admire you. And also a lot of people who may not like you very much. Both types of people will probably try to talk to you like they know you, even if they’re complete strangers. It’ll just be part of the job.” A lot bigger part of the job than it should be. Kukui swore that as the Masked Royal he was seen more as an icon than a real person. That was part of the reason why he kept his identity secret, so he wouldn’t have to deal with it in his day to day life.

    Sophocles frowned slightly. “I never thought about that before.”

    “But if you want to be a Charjabug racer, then I say go for it.” Kukui said with a broad grin. “I just want you to make sure you think about what you would be getting into.”

    “I will,” Sophocles promised. Kukui handed him back his paper, just like he had given Lana’s to her, and planned on giving the others theirs too. He didn’t need their papers. This whole assignment was for their benefit anyways.

    “Can you send Lillie out? Kukui asked. Sophocles nodded as he returned to the classroom. A moment later Lillie came out, clutching Snowy tightly in her arms. Lillie looked slightly nervous, but she held her head high and walked with purpose. She was a timid girl, but she knew what she was doing.

    “You wanted to see me, Professor?” Lillie asked.

    “I just want to get a general feel for what you want to do with yourself,” Kukui said. He didn’t have to look at Lillie’s paper to recall what she had written down. It was memorable, and so like her. “So, have you thought a lot about becoming a therapist for people and pokémon?”

    “Um, a bit,” Lillie’s face went slightly red and she averted her eyes. “I don’t know if it’s a real job, it’s just...I was afraid of pokémon for so long, but I still loved them so much. I didn’t...I didn’t want to be afraid anymore.”

    Kukui felt a slight pang in his chest. Lillie was so strong. He felt horrible that she had to deal with being traumatized for so long, and he felt even worse that there hadn’t been a lot he could do to help her. While he had been able to support Lillie, it had ultimately been her own personal battle.

    “I-I know that I’m not the only person who has been afraid of pokémon,” Lillie said somewhat shyly. “And I know that there are pokémon that are afraid of people. And I just want to help them get past the fear and live happily with each other.”

    Kukui smiled proudly. “I think that sounds like a fantastic idea.” He looked down on Lillie’s paper. “Do you want to tell me why you tried to erase ‘scientist’ from your paper?”

    “Oh, well, I, uh, I’ve always wanted to be a scientist ever since I was a little girl,” Lillie said. “I just don’t know if I actually want to do it,”

    “Is this about your mom?” Kukui asked. Lillie’s sheepish expression confirmed his suspicion. “Is this because you don’t feel like you can be as good as her?”

    “Not exactly,” Lillie began to stroke Snowy’s fur. “But my mom...well, she’s really busy, and never seems to have time for anything else. She’s been doing better, but there are still a couple of days where she doesn’t come home at all. I just don’t want to end up like that.”

    “I understand,” Kukui said, and he did. It could be really hard to balance work and home. Some people struggled with priorities more than others. “But just because you’re a scientist doesn’t mean you have to let it consume your whole life. I mean, on top of being a teacher, I’m also a scientist, and I still have time for Burnet, who is also a scientist.”

    “I, I didn’t think of that,” Lillie admitted.

    “No matter what job you have, at some point you’re going to make sacrifices, and difficult decisions. I’m sure you’d be able to figure it out.” Kukui handed Lillie’s paper to her. “I don’t want you to not be a scientist just because you’re worried about this. You’ll figure things out.”

    “I suppose you’re right,” Lillie didn’t sound as sure as he was, but he knew that she wasn’t just going to ignore what he had said. He had given her something to think about, and that was what his entire goal had been.

    “Just think things through, and you’ll be just fine,” Kukui smiled encouragingly. “Can you go get Kiawe for me?”

    “Yes, Professor,” Lillie smiled gratefully. She made her way back to the classroom. A full minute later Kiawe still hadn’t come out, and Kukui was just about to go in to find what was taking so long when Kiawe came out of the classroom. Kiawe looked reluctant and seemed to dread this conversation even more than Lana had.

    Kukui raised an eyebrow at his student. “You know, if you want to be a dancer, you’re going to need more confidence than this.”

    Kiawe took a deep breath and straightened up as he steeled his expression. “Sorry, Professor, you’re right.”

    “If dancing’s what you want to do with your life, then you shouldn’t be ashamed of it.” Kukui advised. It wasn’t something that he had necessarily expected from Kiawe, but that didn’t mean that it was something that he couldn’t do. If Kiawe wanted to dance, Kukui would support him all the way.

    “You-you don’t think it’s silly?” Kiawe asked in an almost shy tone that just didn’t suit him at all. Kukui needed to boost his confidence. He wanted to see Kiawe being strong and proud again.

    “No, I don’t,” Kukui said honestly. “But even if I did, it shouldn’t matter what I think. You shouldn’t let what others think or say affect what you want to do.”

    “I guess not,” Kukui said as a small smile came onto his face. He seemed more relaxed than he had been before.

    “Can I ask where this is coming from?” Kukui asked. He doubted that Kiawe’s desire to be a dancer had shown up over night.

    “Well, it started when Mimo started taking dance classes.” Kiawe smiled fondly as he always did when he talked about his little sister. “I helped her practice her dances, and I liked it a lot more than I thought I did. It wasn’t until after I got Marowak that I really got into.”

    “Marowak?” Kukui’s eyes widened in alarm. “Please don’t tell me you’ve been doing fire dancing.”

    “Why? What’s wrong with fire dancing?” Kiawe asked. That uncertain look returned to his eyes, but there was still a defensive, passionate fire in his eyes.

    “Nothing’s wrong with it,” Kukui said, and he meant it. “But don’t you think it’s a little dangerous to start off with?”

    “We’re careful,” Kukui said. “Me and Marowak only practice close to Wela Volcano, where there aren’t any people or pokémon around that we can burn.”

    Kukui relaxed ever so slightly. At least Kiawe was considering safety precautions, even if it wasn’t nearly as much as Kukui would hope for. “Alright, but what about you?” Kukui asked. Those who played with fire faced the very real threat of getting burned. Kiawe was basically a fire type expert, so he should know that better than anybody. “Are you being safe?”

    Kiawe’s gaze shifted slightly. “Mostly,” His tone didn’t really inspire a lot of confidence. “Okay, so I’ve been burned a little bit, but it’s nothing serious,” Kiawe said quickly. “We always practice near a river, and I started bringing a first aid kit,” Started, which meant that at one point Kiawe had burned himself badly enough that he had felt the need to bring some simple medical supplies.

    “Kiawe, don’t think that I’m discouraging you from exploring being a dancer, because I promise, that’s not what I’m doing.” Kukui said. “But I think fire dancing is a little dangerous. There are a lot of classic Alolan dances that you can learn, safer ones. And if you have your heart set on fire dancing, then have you thought about finding a professional to supervise and teach you?” Kukui would feel a lot better if Kiawe wasn’t teaching himself.

    Kiawe smiled sheepishly. “I’ll think about it,”

    “And what about your other career?” Kukui asked. Kiawe hadn’t written anything there, not even a single pencil mark.

    “I’d probably work on my family’s farm,” Kiawe said without the least bit of hesitation. So he did know what he wanted to do, he just hadn’t felt like writing it down, for whatever reason.

    “Just as long as you have a plan,” Kukui handed Kiawe’s paper back to him. “We’re done here,”

    Kiawe grinned slightly. “Do you want to see Ash or Mallow next?”

    “Mallow,” Kukui said without thinking twice. He had known even before he had handed out the assignments that his talk with Ash would be different from the others. Kukui knew that Ash knew exactly what he wanted to be, but he was just concerned that the boy hadn’t actually thought about what that would mean. It was a difficult topic to tackle, and Kukui wanted to give himself as much time as he could.

    Kiawe went to join his peers, and Mallow immediately came out to meet him. There was a near spring in her step, and she looked nearly as confident as Sophocles had been. “Hello, Professor,” Mallow greeted him cheerfully.

    “You look pretty happy,” Kukui said with an amused grin. “How was the assignment for you?”

    “Great,” Mallow said with a broad smile. “I’ve always wanted to work at my family’s restaurant, so that was an easy decision.”

    “I’m loving the confidence,” Kukui said. “But have you ever considered any other options?”

    “Not really,” Mallow said, which wasn’t a surprise to Kukui. Afterall, she had only written down that she wanted to work at her family’s restaurant. Kukui really admired her enthusiasm, but she was still really young. This was the time in her life for her to experiment and find what she loved. Kukui knew that she liked cooking, but there were so many other things that she could enjoy doing just as much, and she might never even realize it if she didn’t broaden her horizons.

    Kukui sighed. “I’m sure you will be a fantastic chef someday, but you have a few years before you have to worry about that. I think it would be good for you to take some time to discover yourself. See the world, learn some new techniques. Try some new things.”

    Mallow frowned thoughtfully. “Like Ulu?”

    “Yes!” Kukui grinned excitedly. “Just like your brother.”

    “I guess it would be fun to explore other regions.” Mallow considered his suggestion. “But what new things would I try?”

    “Anything you want,” Kukui said. “There are a lot of things that you can do in other regions that aren’t available in Alola. Like the pokémon league.” Kukui had been working on changing that, but it was still just a work in progress. “Or there are pokémon contests and performances.”

    “Oh, I saw a pokémon performance on tv once.” Mallow’s smiled. “It looked like fun.”

    “If you go to Kalos, you’d be able to compete in pokémon performances yourself,” Kukui suggested. “I think you would be great at it.”

    “Kalos?” Mallow’s eyes gleamed in excitement. “I’ve always wanted to go there. I’ve heard that the food there is incredible. And it would be fun to participate in a pokémon performance.”

    “Ultimately, what you do with your life is your decision. I just don’t want you to restrict yourself.” Kukui held Mallow’s paper out to her, and she took it happily. “Just think about it.”

    “Oh, I will,” Mallow promised. She looked even more excited than she had before. Kukui knew that she wouldn’t just consider his suggestion, but really take it to heart. He would honestly be surprised if she didn’t end up going to Kalos in the future.

    “Glad to hear it,” Kukui smiled gently. He walked Mallow back into the classroom. She eagerly rejoined her classmates and jumped right back into their conversation about their job opportunities. They all seemed to be oblivious of his presence, which was just how Kukui wanted it.

    “Professor?” Kukui grimaced slightly when he heard Ash address him. He knew that he could only avoid it for so long. He slipped a neutral expression on his face. He didn’t want to make Ash feel bad about what he had written down before they had even started talking about it. “Is it my turn yet?”

    “I guess it is,” Kukui said. He glanced at Ash’s paper, though he really didn’t have to. He knew all too well the two words that were written down there.

    ‘Pokémon Master’.

    Kukui had no idea how he was supposed to approach this conversation.
  19. Gazi

    (Litleo ♀)
    Level 9
    May 27, 2018
    Dawn Stone ★★★★Legendary Triforce ★★Reaper Cloth ★★★
    Chapter 19:

    Kukui had no idea how long his conversation with Ash would be. If they took a long time, Kukui didn’t want to leave the rest of his students just waiting in the classroom for them. So Kukui announced that they would all be spending the rest of the school day out in the yard. The other kids could train or play with their pokémon and each other. And Kukui hoped that Ash would feel calm and more open to what Kukui had to say if they were outside. Ash had nothing against being inside, but Kukui could tell that he prefered the fresh, open air.

    After giving the other students some basic guidelines to follow (no Z-moves, stay on school property, don’t wander off on your own) Kukui and Ash made their way over to the stream. The two of them went onto one of the bridges over the water. Ash hopped up to sit on the railing, and Kukui was more than happy to just lean against it. They sat and stood there for a few minutes, just watching the kids and pokémon play.

    Finally Ash got tired of the silence. “Professor?” He sounded unsure, almost shy, and Kukui hated hearing Ash use that tone of voice. It made him feel like there was something seriously wrong. “You look like you don’t want to talk to me.”

    “It’s not that I don’t want to talk to you,” Kukui said. “I just don’t know what to say.”

    “Oh,” Ash frowned slightly. “Was I that bad at the assignment?”

    “What? No, you did just fine,” Kukui said quickly. “This wasn’t an assignment that you could do wrong.” Lana hadn’t written anything down, and even she hadn’t done it wrong.

    “So, why are you so, I don’t know, cautious?” Ash asked slowly.

    Kukui took a deep breath. He was letting his hesitancy get to him, and it was getting to Ash. He needed to calm down and just let this conversation happen. “Sorry. I was just wondering how long you’ve wanted to be a pokémon trainer.” It might be easier to get into the conversation if they started off with an easier topic.

    “Oh, that,” Ash smiled broadly, that excited gleam came to his eyes that Kukui loved so much. “I’ve always loved pokémon. I used to watch pokémon matches on tv all the time. I loved playing with pokémon, and always wanted to get some of my own when I was old enough.” Ash smiled as he watched his pokémon chasing each other around, playing. “I always got in trouble when I was little because I kept on wandering off too far from home. There just weren’t many pokémon around Palette Town, or even any trainers.”

    Kukui smiled in amusement. He had a hard enough time keeping an eye on Ash now. He couldn’t imagine how much of a handful he would have been for his mother a few years ago, when he didn’t have pokémon training as a way to get his excessive energy out. “I bet as soon as you could begin your pokémon journey, you were ready to get out of there.”

    “Yeah,” Ash laughed slightly and rubbed his nose. “I mean, I love home, but there were so many things that I wanted to do, and I couldn’t do it at home.”

    Kukui put his hands in his pockets. “What kinds of goals were they?” Kukui playfully nudged Ash’s knee, though not hard enough to knock him off the railing. “Aside from becoming a pokémon master.”

    “Well, I wanted to compete in a pokémon league,” Ash said. “I still love doing it. I get such a thrill from battling strong trainers.” Kukui knew that much.

    “But there’s more than just that,” Kukui said. “If it was just battling in leagues, you wouldn’t stay here in Alola.”

    “It’s the pokémon,” Ash smiled excitedly. “There are so many pokémon here in Alola that I’d never seen before. I wanted to get to know as many as I could.”

    “That’s why you’ve been traveling from one region to another?” Kukui asked. “Because you want to meet new pokémon?” Ash nodded, and Kukui was beginning to think that he had more of an idea of what his student wanted from life. “Ash, I’ve never understood what you meant when you said you wanted to be a pokémon master. My closest guess was that you wanted to become a champion.”

    “That’s not really it,” Ash kicked his legs slightly. “I mean, it would be kinda cool, but I’ve met champions, and they’re always being bugged about challenges. I love a good challenge as much as the next person, but I don’t know if that’s what I want.” No, Kukui didn’t think so either. There was a lot of pressure on top.

    “So what do you want?” Kukui asked. “What does it mean to you to be a pokémon master.”

    “I want to meet all the pokémon I can,” Ash said. “I want to help them.”

    Kukui blinked. This wasn’t what he had expected at all. He supposed he shouldn’t be this surprised, but he was. “So when you say you want to be a pokémon master, it doesn’t mean you want to be the best trainer?”

    Ash laughed slightly. “I don’t think I would ever be the best. There will always be somebody out there better than me.” Kukui was impressed by Ash’s wisdom. He was smarter about this than most kids, or even adults were. It probably came from his experiences so far in the pokémon leagues.

    “You just want to work with pokémon?” Kukui asked for clarification, though he already knew the answer. “That’s what you mean when you say you want to be a pokémon master?”

    “”Uh, yeah, I guess it is.” Ash tapped his fingers against his legs. “I guess that’s not really a job, is it?”

    “Not quite,” Kukui agreed. “But there are plenty of jobs you can do that would allow you to do just that. Can you think of any?”

    Ash frowned thoughtfully. “I know there are lots, but I can’t think of any right now.”

    “That’s fine. How about we help you narrow things down a bit?” Kukui suggested. There were a lot of careers that Kukui could think of that Ash would be fantastic at, but he didn’t want to just tell Ash would he should do. This was ultimately Ash’s decision. “What exactly do you want to do with pokémon. Do you want to protect them? Train them? Raise them?”

    “I love doing all of that.” Ash said earnestly. He was quiet for a minute before his eyes brightened excitedly. “Wait, that’s what a pokémon breeder does, right?”

    “Right,” Kukui smiled. He thought that Ash would be a great pokémon breeder. “Do you think that’s something you might want to do?”

    “Maybe,” Ash said quietly, almost shyly. “But I’ve never thought about it before.”

    “The whole point of today is to get you kids thinking about these things.” Kukui said. “Is there anything else you might want to do too?” Kukui wanted all of his students to realize how many options they had.

    Ash was quiet for a few minutes as he thoughts things over. After a bit Kukui saw a determined, serious look come to Ash’s eyes. “Actually...You know, Professor, there are a lot of people out there who want to hurt pokémon, or they don’t care who they hurt. They just…” Ash trailed off and clenched his hands into fists. He was clearly very passionate about this.

    “You want to work to protect pokémon,” Kukui smiled gently. “I think that’s a great idea. There are a lot of jobs where you can do just that, and,”

    “A pokémon ranger,” Ash said without hesitation. He turned to look at Kukui, and there was determination, though also caution and slight surprise in his eyes. “I think I might want to be a pokémon ranger.”

    “For the record, I think you would be a great pokémon ranger,” Kukui encouraged. “But you don’t have to decide today. You have all the time you need to decide.”

    “Oh yeah,” Ash laughed. Kukui laughed with him and handed him his paper. “So, should I just write those down?”

    “Go ahead,” Kukui said. “And keep that paper with you too. You may come up with other things you want to do.”

    “Yeah, I guess so,” Ash smiled as he folded up the paper and put it in his pocket. “Hey, Professor, have you always wanted to be a teacher or a researcher?”

    “Not always,” Kukui said. “When I was little I was a lot like you. I wanted to see more pokémon and see the world. As I got older I realized that while I enjoyed training and battling, my favorite thing about working with pokémon was learning about them. I loved watching my pokémon and seeing their natural behaviors. I started learning as much as I could, and then teaching others about what I learned.”

    “That’s awesome,” Ash said. “So you think this is something that I’ll just figure out later?”

    “I’m sure you will,” Kukui said. “Nobody knows what you want to do more than you.”

    “Yeah,” Ash agreed. He hopped off the railing, and then leaned against it, same as Kukui. “I mean, I don’t really know what I want to do in the future. I just know what I want to do at the moment. Sometimes that means being at home. Sometimes that means joining a league. Right now that means being here, with all of you guys.”

    “And that’s fine,” Kukui said. “You can’t really live your whole life just living in a single moment, but right now, that’s more than okay. I actually think it’s great how you fearlessly do what you want.” Even if it could be worrying sometimes. “Very few people are that bold.”

    “I wouldn’t say I’m fearless,” Ash rubbed the back of his neck. “But if I always let my fear keep me from doing things, then I wouldn’t ever do anything.”

    “True,” Kukui agreed. Life could be pretty scary sometimes, but it went on, whether someone was ready for it or not. Kukui admired Ash’s go-to attitude. He could see it taking him far in life. Kukui could easily see all of his students going places. All of them had so much potential, and Kukui couldn’t wait to see what they did with it.
  20. Gazi

    (Litleo ♀)
    Level 9
    May 27, 2018
    Dawn Stone ★★★★Legendary Triforce ★★Reaper Cloth ★★★
    Chapter 20:

    Kukui considered himself a fairly fit person. He had stamina and endurance, and often enjoyed being active right along with his students and pokémon. However, if there was one physical activity that Kukui had never been able to get into though it was running. He could run just fine of course when he needed to, but he rarely went looking for opportunities to run. Kukui just liked to take things really slow and easy.

    There was just something about running that caused a feeling of urgency and panic. Even if Kukui was running late for something and internally freaking out a little bit, he tried to avoid running unless he was extremely late, which rarely happened.

    That wasn't to say that it never happened though.

    Kukui gasped for breath as he ran to the pokémon school. He wasn't just late, he was really late. Kukui didn't claim to be the most punctual teacher in history, but he had never been more than just a few minutes late. This morning was definitely a first, and it wasn't an experience that Kukui was eager to repeat.

    Kukui silently cursed himself as made his way to his classroom. He had gotten so used to Ash waking him up every morning before going off to school that he hadn't bothered to set his own alarm. So when Ash didn't wake him up that morning, Kukui slept in much longer than he should have. Not that he blamed Ash. Kukui shouldn't have to rely on a child to keep him in line. Kukui had to be responsible for himself.

    When Kukui reached the classroom he went ahead and went inside. His students had gotten more than enough time to socialize in his absence. "Alola, class," Kukui greeted his students.

    "Alola, Professor," All of his students said in unison...actually, now that Kukui took a second look he noticed that only five of his six students were actually there waiting for him.

    "What...where's Ash?" Kukui asked. It wasn't like Ash to skip school, and Kukui knew for a fact that Ash wasn't back at the house. But if he wasn't at school, and he wasn't home, where was he?

    "He's probably gotten to Ula'ula island by now." Sophocles said casually. He looked over towards Lillie, who nodded in agreement. Kukui stared at his students, almost frozen in shock.

    Kiawe noticed how confused Kukui looked. "Wait, did you forget that he was leaving today?"

    Kukui shook his head and swallowed stiffly. His mouth was incredibly dry and he felt slightly sick. "I didn't know that he was leaving at all." He said quietly. Now it was his students' turn to look at him in shock.

    "Wait, Ash...Ash didn't tell you?" Mallow asked, looking slightly concerned.

    "No, it...it must have slipped his mind." Kukui said quietly. He thought back to the last couple of days, trying to think of indications that might show that Ash had been planning a trip to Ula'ula Island, but he couldn't think of anything out of the ordinary. This was something that had come completely out of the blue for Kukui, and yet all of his students had known about it the entire time. Kukui really didn't know how he felt about that. "How long has he been planning this?"

    "Not too long," Lillie said. "Just the past couple of days."

    "He really didn't tell you?" Lana asked quietly, and she sounded so upset that Kukui found himself feeling guilty for letting his own distress show. They shouldn't have to deal with worrying about him.

    "No, but it's fine," Kukui smiled. "I'm just shocked is all. Now, enough about Ash. We're late enough as it is, so let's jump right into today's lesson, okay?"

    "Yes, Professor," His five present students said, and that was the end of that.

    Kukui kept his unease about Ash's absence to himself during the school hours. He gave the lesson that he had planned beforehand. All of his focus was on teaching the kids the life skills that they would need in their life.

    Once the class was over and his students went home for the day, Kukui let his mask fall. He sighed and slumped against the wall, feeling completely and utterly drained. He had put far too much effort into keeping his students from worrying about him, and he just didn't have the energy to keep up appearances now that there was no one around to do it for.

    Sometimes Kukui forgot just how draining it could be to pretend that he felt fine when that couldn't be further from the case.

    Kukui groaned and pushed himself away from the wall. He slowly made his way out of the classroom and headed back home. Now that he didn't have a lesson to focus on Kukui had nothing to distract him from thinking about Ash.

    Ula'ula Island. Kukui hadn't been told why Ash had gone there, but he could make a pretty educated guess. Ash likely wanted to take the grand trial on Ula'ula Island, same as he had on Akala Island and Melemele Island. Kukui just didn't understand why Ash was doing this out so suddenly, without saying anything to him about it. Ash had been more than happy to patiently wait for the opportunity to take the grand trials on Akala and Melemele islands, so why was he rushing it this time? Why couldn't he have waited just a few more weeks?

    Why couldn't Kukui have told Ash about the upcoming field trip to Ula'ula Island? If Ash had known that they would be going there shortly, he wouldn't have left on his own. Kukui had been wanting to tell his students about the trip he had planned to the Hokulani observatory and Starfall Hill, but he had kept quiet because things weren't set in stone yet. Kukui always got parental permission when the class was about to leave on a field trip, but this time it was even more important. Kukui knew that the trip he had in mind to the observatory was one that would definitely be emotionally trying for the kids, and he wanted to be sure that their parents all understood just what was going on, and why.

    Kukui had even gone as far as to call Ash's mother to get her permission on Ash's behalf. Kukui was Ash's guardian while he was in Alola, so in most cases he could give the permission if it was needed. In this particular case though, Kukui had thought that it would be better to be safe than sorry, and Ash's mother knew more about what the kid could handle than Kukui did.

    Kukui hadn't wanted to tell his students about the possible field trip yet, not until he knew that all of the parents were on board. Most everybody was okay with it, but Sophocles' parents were still a little on the fence about it. Kukui didn't want to leave anybody behind, but he wasn't going to take his students anywhere without their parents consent. So until Kukui knew that everybody was on the same page, nothing was final.

    Kukui knew exactly why he hadn't told ash about the field trip, but he still felt bad. He felt like there was something, anything more that he could have done.

    When Kukui got home he slumped onto the couch and put his arm over his eyes. He was far more exhausted than he should be. Kukui had been worried about his students before, but his concern and uncertainty had never left him feeling so drained.

    "Tough day at work?" Burnet's voice came from the kitchen. Kukui always felt calmer just from hearing her voice, to know that she was there. Burnet just had an air of control about her that said that everything was going to be okay. However, that wasn't what happened today, and Burnet must have noticed something was different. "Kukui, what's wrong?" He heard her approach and felt her sit at his side.

    "Did Ash mention going to Ula'ula Island to you?" Kukui said quietly. "Even just a hint?" He didn't know what he wanted to hear from her. If Burnet had been told about Ash's plans, then at least he had told one of them. But if Ash hadn't said anything to Burnet either, then at least Kukui wasn't the only one that hadn't been told. And he felt absolutely horrible for even partially wanting that option to be the case.

    "Of course he did," Burnet's tone was light, almost cheerful. "It must have been a week ago, probably shortly after he told you."

    Kukui slowly shook his head. He felt Burnet's hand on his arm. She gently pulled his arm away from his eyes. Burnet put another hand on Kukui's cheek and turned his face so he was looking her in the eyes. "Kukui, what's wrong?" She repeated her previous question, though her tone was more caring and insistent this time.

    "Was...was I the only one he didn't talk to?" Kukui asked quietly, though he knew that Burnet probably didn't have the answers.

    Burnet's breath caught in her throat. "Oh, Kukui," Burnet moved the hand on his arm onto Kukui's other cheek and gently ran her thumbs over his skin. "Did you not know?"

    Kukui let out a shuddered breath and melted into his wife's touch. "He...he asked me where he might be able to find the Ula'ula Island kahuna," Kukui had remembered that much during his walk home. "I knew he would want to take the grand trial, but I thought he had just wanted to know for future reference. I had no idea that he was going to…" Kukui scoffed and shook his head. He was letting his emotions get the best of him. He had to focus on what was important. "Do you know if Ash at least got to Ula'ula island safely?"

    "I made sure he got to the port safely this morning," Burnet reassured him gently. "If something happened to the ferry, we would have heard about it by now. Ash is perfectly safe.

    Kukui nodded to himself. That was good, that was a good thing. Ash was safe, Burnet had made sure of that. So why couldn't Kukui just feel better about this whole thing?

    "Are you okay?" Burnet asked quietly. Kukui wanted to nod, but he found himself shaking his head anyways. Burnet sighed and leaned forward so her forehead was resting against his.

    "I don't know why I'm so upset about this." Kukui muttered, more to himself than anything. "I don't really have any right to tell him what to do. I'm not...I'm not his father."

    "Hey, it's okay," Burnet shifted her position and brought Kukui's head to rest on her shoulder. She moved her right hand to his back and rubbed soothing circles. "You have every right to be upset." She understood how Kukui felt about Ash, how he considered their relationship to be. Burnet was more than supportive of Kukui's fatherly feelings, and even encouraged them. Kukui could talk to her about this, he could be open about it.

    "I know that I'm just Ash's guardian," Kukui said in a quiet, shaky voice. "Ash isn't obligated to make me a part of his life. I just…" Kukui let out a wounded noise that sounded like a cross between a laugh and a sob. "Is it selfish that I wish he did anyways?" Burnet didn't say anything. She just held him closer.

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