24 Chapter 24

A couple of days after the kiss, Emmet and Leaf navigated through the forest skirting Saffron City en route to Celadon, they weren't just meandering. The morning light was dedicated to Pokemon fitness—running, jumping, you name it. Then, as dusk approached, they shifted their focus to energy control, delving into the intricacies of their own unique abilities.

The pair's relationship had also grown like a well-watered Oddish. Hand-holding was now a thing, and the romantic sightseeing they did was more than just incidental. They were officially that new couple you'd want to avoid in public if you're not into public displays of affection.

Yet, Emmet found himself in an unusual situation. A bond between him and Leaf had been forming, which would typically be a cause for celebration. But there was a hitch—his EM could "leak" through this bond, potentially accelerating Leaf's own growth rate skill-wise. A double-edged sword, if you will, and Emmet wasn't quite sure how to feel about that possibility.

Emmet found himself in a mental tug-of-war. On one hand, if Leaf advanced more quickly due to the mysterious nature of their bonding, it would fuel his own ambition to stay ahead. A stronger Leaf would be a more challenging sparring partner, which was always good for his own growth. However, there was a downside. EM was a deeply guarded secret for very good reasons. If Leaf began progressing at an unnatural pace and drew attention to herself, it would be downright dishonest and dangerous for him to withhold the reason for her rapid advancement. He'd be putting her at risk by not sharing the EM secret, especially if her progress got noticed by those who might not have her best interests in mind.

It was subtle, almost imperceptible, but Emmet noticed something. Since their first kiss, which he suspected was the starting point of their bond, Leaf's Pokemon were growing a smidgen faster. It wasn't blatant, but Emmet had a well-honed sense for Aura. Perhaps it was the same Aura that allowed him to detect the minute changes in the Pokemon's life energy or perhaps it was because he was paying extra attention to anything that involved Leaf. Either way, he sensed it.

He weighed the pros and cons of sharing his secret. Opening up about EM could change the dynamics of their relationship in a way he hadn't planned. Would she feel indebted to him? Would she stay with him because of EM and not, you know, for him? It was a risk, but what was the alternative? Keep her in the dark and potentially put her in a precarious situation?

Emmet's own Pokemon weren't to be left out of this growth bonanza. It was just a few days since his Pidgey had evolved into Pidgeotto. But damn if that bird wasn't pushing boundaries already. Perhaps it was his EM getting more potent, or maybe he was subconsciously channeling it more effectively. Either way, his Pidgeotto was mastering control over Flying-type energy at an astonishing rate. The physical changes, too, were hard to ignore. If this kept up, they'd be looking at a Pidgeot in mere weeks rather than the standard months.

Sylveon and Firefly were turning into something like once in a century prodigies, and it was starting to freak Emmet out a little. They were popping off stat-enhancing moves as if they were born to do it, something you'd only see from Pokemon trained by the elite. They could use Agility and Swords Dance like it was second nature. Heck, Sylveon could even use Calm Mind mid Quick Attack. This was seriously advanced stuff, and definitely not something you'd typically encounter on the league circuit. He was pretty sure some of the stats enhancing moves of his Pokemon were not known to be learned by their species!

Mankey, on the other hand, was acting like an evolution diva. Emmet sensed the Fighting-type was itching to evolve, ready to take on his Primeape form any day now. Yet Mankey seemed to want it to be a momentous occasion—spotlight, crowd, and all. "I'll evolve when the time is right, and the audience is worthy," he could almost hear Mankey say in his little simian brain. Dramatic? Sure. But every Pokemon has its quirks.

Then there was Clefairy. The little Pokemon was nearly perfecting a move that closely resembled Gravity—the very move Emmet had in mind for specialized training. The way Clefairy's eyes narrowed in concentration, the soft glow that enveloped her—it wouldn't be long now. He estimated another day, maybe less, and she would have mastered it. Then they'd be adding a whole new dimension to their training regimen.

The day of reckoning was on the horizon, and Emmet could feel it. The rapid progress of his Pokemon couldn't stay unnoticed for long. Sooner or later, people would start asking questions, and dodging them wouldn't be easy, specially if the inquirers were holders of positions of importance inside the League. Of course he was pretty sure Professor Oak would stand by his side, but was it enough? Would he be forced to reveal the secret of EM? Would he be cornered into a position where he had to spill what he most wanted to protect? It was a ticking time bomb, and the fuse was getting short.

His spiraling thoughts got a jolt when Leaf bolted ahead toward a cliff overlooking the ocean. She stood there, cap in hand against the wind, captivated by the scenery: waves crashing against rocks and sunbeams dancing on the water like a parade of Staryus. Far away, Emmet spotted what he assumed to be Bill's Lighthouse—the famous location where Ash and company had witnessed the appearance of an enormous Dragonite. He walked up to join her, standing beside as they both let the wind rustle their clothes and fill the moment with a natural serenity.

"Wow, this is just... incredibly beautiful," Leaf exclaims, her eyes widened as they drink in the sun-drenched seascape in front of her.

Emmet turns toward her, his eyes meeting hers. "Yes, it is incredibly beautiful," he says softly, but his gaze lingers on her, making it clear what he finds truly awe-inspiring.

Reading his loving expression, Leaf blushes and giggles, realizing he wasn't just talking about the view. Acting on impulse, she grabs his hand and tugs him toward a slope. "Come on, let's get closer!" She leads him to an incline that seems manageable, a shortcut to the beach below.

Emmet chuckles at her spontaneous spirit. "Alright, let's do this. But first—" He releases his Pidgeotto from its Pokeball. "Pidgeotto, circle above us. Keep an eye out for any Pokemon that might be dangerous, okay?"

Leaf nods approvingly at Emmet's precaution and releases her Ivysaur. "Ivysaur, walk behind us, please. Use Vine Whip to catch us if we start to slip or trip. You're heavy enough and stable enough to hold us without getting pulled down." Ivysaur grunts in understanding, its vines already poised for action.

The descent to the beach went without much of a hitch, save for a moment when Leaf's foot slipped on a loose rock. Quick as a flash, Emmet reached out and grabbed her hand, steadying her, while Ivysaur deployed its vines to secure both trainers. "Nice catch, Ivysaur," Emmet said, grinning as he looked back at Leaf. She smiled, a little flushed but grateful for the quick reflexes of both her boyfriend and her Pokemon.

Once they reached the beach, they scoped out a good spot with some solid ground and a patch of grass near the cliffs. "Perfect for a camp," Leaf mused. It didn't take long for them to get to work, clearing away stray pebbles and twigs to set up their sleeping arrangements for the night.

As per their usual division of labor, Leaf took on the responsibility of feeding all their Pokemon. She began unzipping the numerous pouches on her backpack, bringing out a variety of Poke Puffs and berries. Meanwhile, Emmet focused on the camp setup. With a flick of his wrist, he manipulated Psychic energy to erect both their tents, effortlessly hammering in stakes and fluffing up sleeping bags with his mind.

Once he'd finished the tent work, he joined Leaf who was now sitting on the beach, gazing at the ocean. Their Pokemon feasted contentedly nearby, visibly pleased with the smorgasbord that had been laid out for them.

"You seem a little lost in thought," Emmet observed, sitting beside her. He could see a certain sadness clouding her eyes as she looked out toward the horizon. "Is everything okay?"

Leaf hesitated before responding, still staring into the seemingly endless stretch of water. "It's nothing... just something silly my brain conjured up," she finally said, her tone not entirely convincing.

"If it's on your mind, it's worth talking about. I'm here, and I won't judge. Maybe I can help sort it out?" Emmet pressed gently, wanting to offer his support.

Taking a deep breath, Leaf began to open up. "I sometimes feel inferior to you, Emmet. It's a weird, gnawing feeling that makes me doubt myself."

Before Emmet could react to her admission, feeling that stab of guilt, she continued speaking.

"You're just so... competent. It feels like you always have an answer to every problem that comes our way. Since that kiss, I've felt this pull, like a connection to you. And it scares me," Leaf said, her voice tinged with apprehension. "I'm afraid I might lose myself, that I'll become reliant on you for everything, even my own sense of self."

Emmet took a deep breath, wrestling with his own conscience. Finally, he said, "What you're feeling isn't some twisted addiction to me. It's likely an Aura bond we're forming."

Leaf snapped her head to look at him. "Aura bond? But my family tested me when I was younger, and like my parents, I showed no affinity for Aura."

Emmet looked genuinely surprised. "You know about Aura?"

"Of course. Being closely related to Gym Leaders means you get briefed on things like Aura. You never know when you might have to step in for them," Leaf explained. "My cousin runs the Celadon Gym, so I've had a smattering of education on various things, including Aura."

Emmet felt a wave of relief wash over him. Knowing that Leaf had some background information on Aura might make the next part of the conversation easier. Or so he hoped.

"It's good you know about Aura," Emmet began, "because that's likely what's happening between us. I've always had a strong affinity for Aura, which might be why we're forming an Aura bond more quickly than usual." He looked at her, trying to gauge her reaction.

Leaf furrowed her brows, clearly puzzled. "Wait, that's not how Aura bonds work. Sure, everyone can bond with Pokemon to some degree, but bonding with another human through Aura requires both parties to have a high affinity for it. Plus, it usually takes a significant amount of time together, like a couple of months at the earliest to show some signs of it," she countered, clearly invested in her understanding of the subject.

Emmet quickly corrected himself mentally. This might be harder to explain than he thought.

"Do you know of any other consequences or outcomes when two humans form an Aura bond?" Emmet asked cautiously, choosing his words carefully.

"When two humans bond through Aura, there's no turning back," Leaf explained, her voice carrying a heavy weight. "It's a lifelong commitment. Breaking the bond forcefully would result in severe emotional and psychic repercussions for both parties involved."

Leaf noticed Emmet's alarmed expression and went on to elaborate. "If we've somehow formed an Aura bond, then I should be experiencing a diluted form of your psychic abilities. That's just how these bonds work, they make so that any Energy Type affinity from either is shared between both."

To make her point, she picked up a seashell that was lying beside her in the sand. "Watch this. If we're bonded, I should be able to make this shell twitch at least a little," she said, her voice tinged with skepticism yet hopeful.

Leaf focused intently on the shell, her eyes narrowing as she channeled her thoughts. A tense silence hung between them and Emmet prayed to Arceus or any other divinity around that nothing happened.

Then, to both Emmet and Leaf's astonishment, the shell twitched.

"Fuck." Both thought simultaneously.

Both Leaf and Emmet were spellbound by the twitching seashell. Every so often, Leaf would take a deep, steadying breath, lock eyes with the shell, and make it twitch again. Even their Pokemon stopped eating and looked over, equally intrigued. "Okay, this isn't some weird trick, right? Because if it is, it's a really good one," Emmet finally said, breaking the silence.

Leaf turned to Emmet, her eyes piercing and her voice tinged with frustration. "Look, Emmet, it's time for you to come clean. I've been patient, I've played dumb, but enough is enough. If there's something I need to know, you better tell me now, because I can't keep pretending everything's normal when it's clearly not and it may be affecting me in more ways than I would like it to!"

Emmet's eyes widened at the unexpected forcefulness of Leaf's words. She'd never spoken to him this way before, and he was momentarily taken aback.

Seeing his surprised expression, Leaf let out a sigh and continued. "I've been traveling with you long enough to notice some... anomalies. Your Clefairy was freakishly strong even as a Cleffa. Your Pidgey? It became powerful enough to give my Pidgeotto a run for its money in just days. And don't even get me started on Firefly—she's a Charmeleon that took down Lt. Surge's whole three badge squad like they were fresh out of the Egg. Your Mankey, too, managed to get a grip on his rage issues so quickly it's practically unbelievable. So yeah, something's going on, and I want to know what it is."

Emmet raised his hand to interrupt her tirade, realizing the extent of his failure in keeping his secret under wraps. "Okay, okay, I get it. I've done a terrible job at keeping this a secret," he admitted. "But I hope you'll understand why I've been so cautious once I explain it all to you."

Leaf just nodded, her eyes still fixed on him. Her gaze seemed to say, "Well, go on then. The floor is yours."

Emmet looked at Leaf, his expression serious and filled with hesitation. "Okay, Leaf. The night before we started our journey, something happened to me. I can't fully explain it. I went to bed as usual, but when I woke up, I felt...different. Like I had some sort of power, but not like anything I've ever heard of before."

Leaf interjected, "Wait, are you saying you developed Aura AND Psychic abilities?"

Shaking his head, Emmet responded, "Neither, actually. I had no idea what Aura truly could do until you told me, in my mind it was just a way to share emotions or something like that with my Pokemon, and I definitely didn't have any Psychic affinity."

Astonished, Leaf remained silent, so Emmet continued. "Look, I've been calling it Efficiency Mastery or EM for short. Whenever I set out to train something—myself, my Pokemon, anything—my efficiency just skyrockets. The first time I felt it was in the most random place—a bath. I tried to lift a shampoo bottle with my mind, you know, pretending to be a Psychic. Then something nudged me to focus my thoughts in a certain way. These nudges kept coming, and before I knew it, I could levitate things with barely a thought. It was as if I had unlocked a latent skill, but at an incredibly rapid pace."

He continued. "It does not just give me the skill and experience on how to apply any skill, it makes me learn a lot after every mistake. If I try to practice throwing balls into a target, its not the usual process of improving little by little. It's like each throw will teach me just as much as 50 would and even my body would adapt itself to be able to make use of this new level of proficiency."

Leaf looked thoughtful. "I would've found that hard to believe if I hadn't just had a similar experience. But the 'nudges,' as you call them, didn't seem as strong for me. When I tried to focus on moving the seashell it was like something clicked in my head and it suddenly moved. It's hard to explain."

Emmet leaned forward, his eyes intense. "I have a theory about that. What if, just like how every human can form a minor Aura bond with Pokemon, we humans can form a similar, weaker bond with each other? What if our time together has allowed us to form such a bond, however minor? And through that bond, you gained a watered-down version of my EM. That might've enabled you to tap into your own dormant potential, like it did for me."

Leaf's eyes widened as she processed Emmet's words. "Wait, let me get this straight. You're saying that I got a diluted version of your EM, which caused me to develop an Aura affinity, which then strengthened our bond into a full-fledged Aura bond, which in turn made my version of EM even more potent, which THEN started me on the path to developing Psychic abilities just like you?"

Emmet's jaw dropped a bit. "Wow, you crammed a lot of speculation into a few sentences. But yes, those are essentially the broad strokes. You summarized what's likely happening pretty well."

Leaf paused, looking like she was deep in thought. "Okay, that's a lot. But what else can this EM do? Spill it. There's got to be more, right?"

For a moment, Emmet considered keeping quiet about the other aspects of EM. After all, he still had to protect some secrets, like the mysterious soul absorption. But he figured he might as well come clean.

Taking a deep breath, Emmet spoke. "Well, it's not just Psychic energy. I seem to have an affinity to all types of energy now. Watch this." He held out his palm, and a small flame flickered to life above it before he extinguished it with a wave.

Leaf's eyes went wide, and she started to speak. "What else can y—"

Interrupting her, Emmet said, "That's not all. The EM isn't just affecting me; it's also affecting my Pokemon. That's why they've been getting stronger at a rate that's almost scary. It's like the EM flows through our bonds and amplifies their abilities too."

Emmet sat there in silence, watching as Leaf seemed to turn things over in her head. He guessed she might have been expecting some weird Psychic trick as his secret, but definitely not something as disruptive as EM. She kept opening her mouth as if to say or ask something but changed her mind.

The moment before the silence turned awkward, Leaf finally looked up at him. Her expression was a total enigma, revealing nothing.

"So, let me emphasize," she began, her eyes locked onto his, "we now have a full-fledged Aura bond. You get that, right?"

Emmet tilted his head, puzzled. "Yeah, I understood that part. It's probably why all this weird stuff is happening between us. So what's your point?"

Leaf took a deep breath and said, "No, Emmet. What I'm saying is we have a FULL-FLEDGED Aura bond. Do you understand the gravity of that?"

He nodded, getting a bit frustrated. "Yes, Leaf, I get it. We've got this super bond thing going on. But what are you driving at?"

Leaf's eyes narrowed as she spoke, "Emmet, I'm telling you this Aura bond is for life. Don't you get it? We're basically married. And we're only 15!"

Emmet's face went pale. His eyes widened, and for a moment, he was speechless. Finally, he found his voice. "Fuck."


After the shocking revelation, Emmet and Leaf remained on the beach for almost a week, and conversation between them dropped to near-zero. It was as if someone had thrown a Snorlax-sized obstacle between them, and both were too stunned to figure out how to bypass it.

Making things even more complicated, Emmet's EM and Leaf's modified version seemed to work in tandem, supercharging their bond. The result? An unexpected intensification of emotions toward each other, as if someone turned the volume up on a radio that was already pretty loud.

Now, some might naively think that intensifying emotions are a good thing—like hitting a jackpot in a game of slots—but to Emmet and Leaf, this was far from ideal. EM had essentially railroaded their feelings, forcefully pushing them into a lifelong connection. The power was quasi dictatorial, muting their individual desires to back out or slow down the bonding process. It felt like they were emotionally chained to each other, a situation neither had signed up for.

Would anyone like the idea of sharing a kiss, walking hand by hand a couple of days and discovering they were now shackled to the person? Neither did both.

What about his mom? Would a sort of Aura bond form between them when he met her? What about if he made a friend in the future? Did it mean that he would have to avoid making connections for the fear of suddenly forming an unbreakable bond?

One thing became clear though, he needed to sit down with Leaf after she calmed down and learn all he could about Aura bonds.

This got Emmet thinking about the implications of EM on his Pokemon. He had always believed his team was free to choose their paths. If Firefly, or his Sylveon one day told him, "Hey, this isn't fun anymore," he would respect that and part ways as friends. But now? After what he'd just experienced with Leaf? He had to wonder if his Pokemon could truly make such a decision. Even his Clefairy, who wasn't exactly thrilled about battling, might find it impossible to leave his side under the influence of EM.

Emmet found himself sitting by the edge of the water, his Fishing Rod cast into the ocean. His fingers nimbly replaced the lure as If he had been doing that for years even if this was still his first week fishing ever. It had become his go-to stress reliever, pulling him back from the brink of overthinking. Meanwhile, Leaf was a few meters away, concentrating on floating pebbles around her with the newfound Psychic affinity. Both were engaged in their activities with a level of intensity that was part self-discovery and part diversion. It was almost as if they were metaphorically circling around each other, unsure how to bridge the gap that EM had suddenly created.

Every member of Emmet's Pokemon team was already in the loop about EM, so there was no need for a "birds and the Beedrills" talk with them. Leaf, on the other hand, had to sit down her team and explain the whole aura-bond-for-life thing. It was a long, complicated conversation that involved a lot of hand gestures and, oddly, a drawn diagram on the sand. She felt like a professor trying to explain quantum physics to a room full of Digletts. Credits where it was due, she succeeded and all seemed to get the gist of the powers and the importance about keeping it to themselves.

The reaction from Leaf's Pokemon was an amalgamation of shock, disbelief, and then joy. These critters realized that they were about to go on an evolutionary fast track. Emmet got the impression that Leaf had wanted them to be a bit more apprehensive about the whole thing, to mull over the broader implications. But either they didn't get it, didn't care, or found the high-speed growth curve too appealing to pass up. Emmet was betting on the latter, knowing the thirst for growth that Pokemon naturally had.

Leaf's Magikarp was on the brink of evolving after just a few sessions of physical training, and Emmet took it upon himself to help her prepare for what was coming. Gyarados were notoriously difficult to control, overwhelmed by their own intense emotions. Emmet explained how she could teach Magikarp to meditate on its emotions, similar to what he had been doing with his own Mankey. When he finished, Leaf thanked him quickly, almost curtly, and retreated to put distance between them. The abruptness stung him. She seemed to overlook the fact that he was grappling with the same bewildering circumstances as she was. They were both unwilling passengers on this ride, whether they liked it or not.

Emmet felt an abrupt jerk on his Fishing Rod, snapping him out of his contemplative daze. He tightened his grip and focused, pulling on years of EM training to engage his Psychic abilities. It was like he was wrestling with an invisible sea monster, his rod bending dangerously as he pulled against the force under the water.

His intense struggle didn't go unnoticed. One by one, his Pokemon started gathering around him, eyes wide and alert. Firefly was clearly ready to leap into action if needed. Sylveon strolled by his side, equally concerned. Leaf and her own Pokemon crew joined the audience too. What in the world of Pokemon could be putting up such a fight?

With a mighty yank and a surge of Psychic energy to not fall on his back, Emmet finally pulled his adversary out of the water. The splash was epic, like something out of a movie. Whatever it was, it landed with a flop on the sand, temporarily incapacitated.

Leaf, puzzled by the mysterious purple fish-like Pokemon, pulled out her Pokedex and aimed it toward the creature. The tension in the air was palpable as everyone waited for the device to chime in.

"No known data. Capture recommended for further research by Professor Oak," said the Pokedex. Leaf looked at Emmet, a blend of excitement and wonder on her face. "Well, aren't you going to catch it?"

Ignoring the Pokedex wasn't new for Emmet; it said the same thing about Sylveon. But when he looked down at the fish, its eyes met his—filled with desperation, as if begging for mercy or protection.

It struck Emmet that he was staring at a Feebas, and not just any Feebas—a shiny one. His mind raced to piece together the oddity of its presence. Then it hit him—something was very, very wrong.

Only a few days ago, the S.S. Anne should've set sail, filled with travelers and Pokemon Trainers from multiple regions. They'd been off the grid, totally disconnected from any news. If the ship had sunk, which was a possibility given the same happened in the TV Show, this shiny Feebas could be a refugee from that disaster.

During their brief stint in Vermilion City, Emmet had overheard discussions about envoys and negotiations of opening borders with Indigo, it wasn't far-fetched to think some Trainers from Hoenn or even Sinnoh were onboard. In hindsight, it all clicked. Team Rocket must've orchestrated the sinking of the S.S. Anne to achieve dual objectives: snatch high-value Pokemon and simultaneously create a diplomatic catastrophe for the Indigo League. It was a devious two-for-one deal, hitting both home and abroad.

Just as Emmet was contemplating what to do, a massive, scarred Gyarados burst out of the water. It fixed a menacing glare on the little purple fish, now flapping helplessly on the sand. 

The story unfolded in Emmet's mind like a movie reel. The shiny Feebas must've been on the S.S. Anne, either as an attraction or part of a Trainer's team. When the ship sank, it was thrown into unfamiliar, Gyarados-infested waters. Desperate for safety and likely starving, it had gone for Emmet's lure as a last-ditch effort to escape the jaws of a merciless predator.

Turning back to the desperate-looking Feebas who managed to bounce back into knee deep waters, Emmet couldn't help but ask, "Seriously, what could you have possibly done to tick off a Gyarados?"


Guys, relax about the romance, it is a plot point for EM, not a focus of this novel. There has to be ways for the character to explore EM to the fullest and I either had something a teenager would get himself into (romance) or I would have to pull something ludicrous to teach certain things about EM that Leaf's presence will make much more belieavable and interesting. Just please, trust that there is a plan. I did not expect such minor thing to get so much flak and I personally blame how bad other fics must have treated it for the reaction to be so extreme.

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