Chapter 36: Where Ginkgo and Sakura Dance
Fan Fiction inspired by Pokemon
Rating: Young Adult
[This is the Final chapter in this series.]
“It appears that about two hundred trainers were found in the compound,” said Prof. Juniper as she read a report at her desk. “Of the two hundred, there were only nine casualties among trainers and twelve pokémon. Fifty-four trainers are injured and none were been taken into custody.”
Professor Juniper put down the papers and looked at me.
“You should be happy to know you weren’t mentioned at all here, Prof. Ginkgo.”
I adjusted my glasses and looked at her in surprise.
“So what did they say about how things were resolved?” I asked.
“All that was mentioned was a trainer who fainted on the steps toward the top of the tower and a shattered orb that foiled Kanon Aizawa’s plans. The suspect in question was also found dead from stabbing herself in the stomach. Looks like you got away without getting caught. Of course, since the operation was a success, you’re not getting any recognition for helping us out either.”
“Well, that’s fine. I never did want to be in the limelight anyway.”
My superior stood from her desk and straightened out her chair.
“So, Professor, what are your plans now?” she asked me. “I could use a more professional assistant here in Unova and you need a job. How about working for me?”
“Thanks for the offer, Prof. Juniper, but I have my own personal projects to work on back in Kanto.”
“If you say so, kid. Just keep in mind that working on your projects and dissertations can be overwhelming if you’re doing them on your own. Trust me, I know.”
“Thank you for the concern, but I have been working with Prof. Willow from the Board lately. He’s looking for a contact within the Professors of Pokémon Studies who can act as a liaison among the remaining pokémon warriors and warlords. It seems there are more of them out there, even though their goals and activities are not as well known. Nonetheless, we are keeping a watchful eye on them.”
“That’s good to hear,” said Prof. Juniper. “If you have any concerns or would like to just have a chat, don’t hesitate to call me, okay?”
I stood and bowed to my superior. She in turn waved back at me with a subtle smile.
“You’ll be a fine professor, kid.”
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Spring of the following year had come. Things have quieted down since then as I continue to work in my private firm in Celadon City. After all the commotion in the Prof. Sakura case, daily routines have never felt more boring.
Erika continues to have me slaving away for her at the gym as a senior instructor for the poetry and tea ceremony classes. You would think that being surrounded by girls all the time would be bliss for a man, but it’s more like a hassle.
“So Shuichi, when are you going to find a girlfriend?” asked one of the junior girls.
“Get real, he’s never going to find one!” said another.
“Calm down everyone,” said one of the senior members. “Whoever she is, she will have to put up with all of us.”
“Yeah, and his really bitter green tea, too!” snapped another girl.
The girls laughed together, but at least they get along with me very well.
My two Vileplumes are now training with many of the other grass pokémon during the battle practice sessions. Kanon’s Vileplume even helps out in the green room where new pokémon are bred and raised for future members at the gym. She has been adjusting to this new lifestyle very well. My Vileplume, of course, continues to help me out with experiments at my lab. She’s always been my best partner, after all.
“Hey, Prof. Ginkgo! Good news!” said Brian over the video phone. “I just received my eighth badge here in the Unova region! You should’ve seen it, Emolga was amazing!”
“That’s awesome, Brian,” I said smiling. “So are you planning on registering for the Pokémon League tournament coming up?”
“Unfortunately they just had the tournament about a week ago, so I’ll have to wait. But until then I’ll be ready for them all. Watch me become the next Unova champion!”
Vileplume smiled and waved at the video screen as she saw Emolga in the background. Emolga also waved and continued to munch on the fruit he had been eating.
“By the way, Prof. Ginkgo, someone told me that all professors of pokémon studies have to give new trainers their very first pokémon. So you have been doing that, right?”
I smiled nervously.
“Since I’m still an adjunct professor in the field, they haven’t assigned me those kinds of tasks yet. However one of the members of the Board of Professors will be reviewing me later this week as I send off some locals here in Kanto with pokémon of their own!”
“That’s really cool! Too bad I can’t be there to help. Well, it’s time for me to go off and celebrate with some good friends of mine. Best of luck to you, Prof. Ginkgo!”
That’s right, spring is the season for new beginnings as new trainers receive their first pokémon and I go through another evaluation process to become a full-fledged professor in the field of pokémon studies. Spring is also a time for looking back to the things that have happened in days gone by.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
I arrived in Viridian City in the afternoon just before the sunset, a perfect time to see it. I came to one of Erika’s uncle’s estates and greeted the family. As I dashed toward the backyard, Erika was already standing on the porch, holding on to her enlarged belly.
“I knew you’d be here, Shu-chan,” she said to me. “Every year, you’ve come to pay my uncle a visit on this specific day.”
I joined Erika and gazed at the grove behind the house.
“It’s been seven years since then, and I have not missed it once,” I said. “No matter where I am in the world or what I am doing, I will always find my way here.”
Today is the anniversary of the day Mei Jia died. When she was still alive, we promised to come to this specific grove to watch the sakura trees bloom alongside trees that were native to where she had come from: the majestic ginkgo trees.
“So I came here to talk about the next group of junior candidates,” said Erika. “You think any of the girls will be strong trainers? Perhaps even worthy enough to become warriors?”
“Give me a break, Erika! How much more can I do for the gym?”
Erika smiled embarrassingly and waved her hand like nothing was wrong.
“You know I appreciate what you have done for me. I’m even considering letting more boys join the gym if they so choose. Besides, you’re a pokémon warrior now, and as my retainer, you have to help me with these matters.”
“Please, Erika, just for today, can we just not talk about business and watch the scenery?”
Erika and I turned to the grove as the sun had started to set. The blustery winds of the end of winter brushed passed the newly bloomed sakura petals that grew in the garden. The winds also caught some of the green ginkgo leaves and tossed them into a whirlwind together.
Ginkgo leaves and sakura petals. Only once a year do they intertwine in the wind, dancing together in this beautiful place. The mesh of pinks and greens together, the product of two trees: one known more for its beauty than its resilience, the other known more for its resilience than its beauty. And when they come together, words alone cannot describe the metaphysical resilience or beauty to be found.
“You’re still thinking of her, aren’t you?” said Erika. “That’s why you come to this place every spring.”
I stopped to think about Mei again.
“She was the most beautiful person I ever knew,” I said. “I regret that I didn’t know it back then, so I come here to feel like I can repent somehow.”
“Even so, Shu-chan, times change and all things must come to an end. Someday you will have to let go because it is natural for us to move on.”
“Yeah, well it hasn’t ended for me just yet. Mei was very important to me, even now.”
“Do you think that she would want you to suffer for so long, just for her?”
I turned to Erika and pondered the thought. Then I shook my head.
“You know, an end to one thing is only the beginning for something else,” she said. “Our lives are so full of events that overwhelm us at times, but as we finish one challenge or we think that our lives are finally brought back to normal, new challenges arise. And despite our hopes that we never have to face more problems, it is healthy to welcome these new challenges so that we can move forward.”
Erika rubbed her belly again.
“Oh, he’s finally kicking!” she said surprised.
Erika’s husband Jun had already left for another business trip, but since the last time he came back, Erika was left with their child in her womb.
“How are you so certain he’s a boy?” I asked.
“It’s just my intuition. Besides, I’m hoping he is a boy. That way he will have a fine Uncle Shuichi as a role model. By the way, how are your parents doing?”
I scratched my head in hesitation.
“As usual, they’ve been very busy looking for my future wife. I must’ve met at least five candidates in this month alone! Can you believe it, they even asked Yuki in Fuchsia City if I can marry her daughter. She’s only five years old now and Yuki was okay with it!”
“That certainly sounds like something Yuki would say. You’re such a lucky guy, Shu-chan.”
“Well I’m meeting my next candidate after the evaluation from the Board of Professors. I’m really not looking forward to another one.”
“Don’t give up so easily, all right? Who knows, maybe you will like this next one. Just keep an open mind, will you, Shu-chan?”
I nodded willfully, mainly to please Erika, but maybe she’s right. I can’t feel this way forever.
“Well I’m going back inside now,” said Erika. “It’s getting dark and my uncle says this grove is haunted at night.”
“Yeah, I wish.”
Erika turned away and walked back inside the house. I started to take my shoes off to follow her, but I turned back one last time to the grove.
A gust of wind picked up again and blew more sakura petals and ginkgo leaves. Then in the gleam of twilight, the image of a human appeared behind the blown leaves. Maybe this grove is haunted after all. I squinted to make out who or what was there.
And then I gasped. The image I saw was a familiar beauty I had known for so long. Of the many years I had come here, I had never seen her, but there was no mistake. She was here at last. And she smiled, looking back at me.
I waved back at the ghost as another gust of wind blew more leaves around. When the winds finally died off, the sun had set and the ghost disappeared.
“Farewell, Mei, my Sakura.”
And now a new journey is about to unfold, as I prepare to welcome new trainers to the Pokémon World.