continuum [chapter 1] CASH
#1
All Amel really wants to do is go back to bed.

He thinks about the safety of his home as he faces the raging Pokemon before him, holding out his hand and calling his trusted Raichu to his side. Electric types aren't particularly powerful against Fire types, but it'll have to do for now. They don't have any other choice.

"Sparky," Amel says decisively. "Quick attack."

This is going to be a long day.

---

This all started nearly a year ago, when Amel woke up exactly seven days after his seventeenth birthday. For seven long years, he'd had to watch and wait while his friends went on their own Pokemon journeys, leaving him behind. He had to listen to them brag about their adventures and everything they were doing along the way.

He is tired of it, and is ready to make his own path.

It isn't his fault that he's late, at least. No, he can blame his parents for that. They (at least, his mother did) wanted him to finish school before he went off on his journey, so he buckled down and graduated early at sixteen. Then they didn't want him going out into the world so young, so they pushed it back to seventeen.

Now that he's finally seventeen, Amel is going, whether they want him to or not. He's already made plans with his friend, Nikolas, to get going early, before all of the younger children start swarming.

So he gets up, flings himself out of bed, puts on his slippers and drags himself to the bathroom. He's never been a morning person, but he's always gotten up early over the years to help his younger siblings get dressed and ready for school.

Counting him, there are eight in the family; soon to be nine, actually. And to add to it, his family isn't conventional in any sense of the word.

When your parents are, quite literally, countries in human form, things get pretty crazy pretty fast.

Amel brushes his teeth and does his hair. The advantage to getting up before any of the other kids means that he's got the bathroom to himself for now. Some of his siblings aren't bad about hogging the bathroom, but others—such as Berenice—seem to take great joy in spending as much time in there as they can. So Amel savors the moments alone and looks at himself in the mirror.

'Looking at the face of the next Pokemon master,' he thinks to himself, a grin snaking its way across his face. Ever since Amel was old enough to crawl, he's heard the stories of his father's triumph through the regions. His status as a country didn't necessarily make the journey any easier, though; while he definitely couldn't be killed like a normal human, he was treated as such by everyone else. No short cuts, no cheats, no games.

It's actually kind of funny to think about his father being serious about something, but Amel knows that once he puts his mind to it, his father is unstoppable. Because whatever Alfred F. Jones wants, he gets. That includes the title of Pokemon master.

And Amel has dedicated his life to continuing his father's legacy.

His mother, on the other hand, preferred something a little quieter than a life of battle. He's a Pokemon breeder, and one of the best. He and his father have known each other ever since they were young, and Amel has heard the silly love stories they tell more than enough times to figure out how they ended up getting married.

Arthur always hoped that his children would choose to follow in his footsteps, as the man was petrified of battling and possibly losing one of his children during a battle, part of which has attributed to his not allowing them to set off on their journeys at the proper age. Amel knows he can take care of himself, but Arthur always has been quite the mother hen.

Finally pulling himself away from the mirror, Amel steps out of the bathroom, then goes back to his bedroom to change. He's running on autopilot at this point, torn between a state of disbelief and excitement, and a bit of shock. He still can't believe this is really happening. Seven long years of waiting has all led up to this moment.

The friend he's meeting with, Nikolas, was also barred from going on his journey until he too was seventeen. Even though he's a few months older than Amel, he's waited for his friend to catch up to him. It isn't surprising, really. Niko has very few friends, and it makes sense that he'd want to keep the few he has close to him.

Or perhaps there's a bit of his father's possessive nature in him. Either way, Amel can't find himself minding much. Niko is his very best friend, and has accepted him and stayed with him through thick and thin. Besides, every Pokemon champion needs a good partner, both human and Pokemon.

Luckily, Amel has both already.

He opens the top drawer of his dresser, where six cherry-sized Pokeballs sit, along with a new Pokedex and a few other necessities. One of the Pokeballs is marked with a lightning bolt sticker, and that marks the spot where his beloved Pichu rests.

As previously mentioned, Amel's mother is a breeder, and quite skilled at the art of getting Pokemon together (though he lacks those same skills when it comes to choosing human partners, it seems). When his male Pikachu met his father's female, and when Amel's parents began dating, it seemed inevitable that offspring would be produced. However, it took a while, and coincidentally the two Pokemon's first litter was born a few weeks before Amel's sixteenth birthday. As a gift to him—and perhaps as condolences for not following up on their promise of letting him go once he finished school—his father gave Amel the pick of the litter: a spunky little female Pichu named Sparky.

Amel loves the little thing dearly. After all, she is his very first Pokemon, and his pride and joy: the first Pokemon he has ever owned independently. He doesn't think that his mother's fat Persian, Tabitha, really counts as his first (though he did used to try training her when he was younger).

He lines up five of the Pokeballs on his belt, then stares at the sixth in his palm. Amel decides he might as well let her out, as she's been in there all night and needs to stretch her legs anyway. He expands the Pokeball to its normal size and presses the circular button in the middle to allow Sparky to come out. In a bright red beam of light, the tiny Pichu appears, and squeaks happily when she sees her trainer.

"Hello, Sparky," Amel says, a laugh tinging his voice as the excitable Pichu climbs up his pants leg, up his shirt, and finally stops to rest on his shoulder. "I see you're ready to start the day, huh?"

"She's not the only one." Amel whirls around in surprise to see his mother standing in the doorway, leaning against the door frame. There is a warm smile on Arthur Kirkland's face, though it doesn't quite reach his eyes, which are full of doubt. Truly, the British nation is easy to read, if you know how. "I knew it wasn't going to be much longer. You've always been impatient like your father."

Amel shuffles his feet, feeling a little guilty now at his plan to run off without even saying goodbye. Well, that plan is ruined now anyway. "I waited for my birthday, at least," he says quietly. "But—you said I could go, so I made plans, and I won't cancel them! Niko's probably waiting for me right now."

"I know, I know," Arthur sighs, moving away from the door and closer to his oldest son. "You know, there was a time when you couldn't even wait for your birthday. You came two weeks before you were due." He reaches out and lovingly strokes Amel's hair, which has been pulled back into a short ponytail.

"Yeah? That must have been something." Amel can't help but smile at his mother. Although he feels that he worries too much, he knows that it comes from a place of love. "But... really, Mum, I know you're worried. But I'll be fine. I'm seventeen, I'm almost grown."

"Yes, and I knew one day you'd leave home," Arthur says longingly. "Ever since you were a toddler, you've talked about how you were going to take over your father's legacy. He's proud of you, you know. For carrying on the family name."

Amel's heart races a bit at that. His father has never been one to withhold love or pride, often boasting about his children whenever he could. "Well, tell him I won't let him down."

Arthur gives one last smile. "Of course, poppet. I'll let him know."

Amel leaves the house that morning with Sparky on his shoulder, feeling the pride of his parents carrying him on.
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#2
Chapter 1 is ready to be graded.
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#3
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"Take Care of Yourself"

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