I don't own Pokémon.
I don't own Pokémon.
"Fuck!" my teeth dig into my lip as I spin around, searching the immediate area for anything. Anything at all. "Sumieri?"
"Gaaagh!" I almost rip a huge chunk out my hair right there and then, tugging it furiously with all my strength. "Dammit!" I move for a tree and throw my head forwards recklessly. "Dammit! Dammit! DAMMIT!" This isn't happening... this can't be happening... I feel a single tear form in my eye, skin trembling and shaking in an overload of guilt, shame and anger, all frothing and bubbling in me. it rolls down my cheek slowly, seeming to cling to each millimetre of skin for as long as possible, rubbing itself into me with my failure.
But who am I kidding? My sorrow, my disappointment, my angst is all my own. In the empty, pitch black darkness of a moonless night, nobody can see, and nobody can hear- you cry.
Sumieri... it was my responsibility to look after you, to keep you safe, and a fucking kid takes me out! And Cheri... I said you were my friend... I was supposed to look out for you, I left you with that kid... and now... I shudder harder, fists clenching uncontrollably with fierce rage.
"I bet Toby'll have good fun with her. Last little girl he got he fucked her too hard and she bled to death from the ass, and he's been itching for another play-thing."
"I swear to Arceus if I find you I'm snapping YOUR FUCKING NECK!" I scream into the air, disrupting a few bird Pokémon somewhere, stirring them in their nests and scaring them into the night sky with a great fluttering of wings all around. But my rage subsides under my guilt and sorrow. It bubbles up over top and drowns it out, snuffing that furious strength I still hold on to with my rage. My legs buckle- my will to stand breaking, and I fall. The sharp granules of clay give me no feeling significant enough to draw the slightest of my mind away from what I've done, other eye now becoming fuzzy with tears also. I always thought I was ready... I think as the waterworks begin. I always thought I was enough...
I've always had two sides to me. One was a little softer, a little deeper, but when shit hits the fan being soft and deep isn't enough. No! I place one foot on the ground forcefully, stamping it into the clay where my tears fell, smothering their wet splotches under my boot. No! I'm not like that! Fury boils in my blood again, reinvigorated by another rage inside me. My sorrow and sadness for Cheri and Sumieri fizzles out at the heat of my soul, now burning madly. That sorrow is replaced with hate and anger, but not at the boy, but at myself. You let this happen! You let them be taken away from you! You let a kid take them away from you! You let them take Cheri away to use her as a fuck toy! You let them take Sumieri! What will they do to her Ben? WHAT WILL THEY DO TO HER!?
"SHUT UP!" I roar at the top of my lungs, surely awakening every Pokémon in two-hundred metres. I break into a mad sprint, completely unsure of what I'm going to do. But I know where I'm going, and I'm going to do everything, even if I have to fight my way through every fucking Pokémon these team rocket punks have myself.
Each step pounds in my ears as I run, crashing into the path in time with my rapid heartbeat, urging me faster and faster to keep up with it as it hastens. The trees rush past me on either side, whatever sound their dark damp leaves may make drowned by the voices screaming in my head as I run with all the speed of the north wind itself.
In mere seconds at my speed I reach the side path. I cut across through the treeline, dashing and ducking through and around the bush with subconscious thought controlling my movements and bursting out onto the smaller path. My chest seizes, burning as my lungs struggled desperately for breath, but I push on without regard.
My torso feels as if it's about to rip in half by the time I reach the shack, but upon seeing it, it stirs me even more, pumping adrenaline through my veins more violently than before to force me on harder. I charge around the corner of the shack, now black cloaked in darkness with the thin grey outline of a smoky haze billowing from the chimney. The guy is home. I leap clear onto the deck and rush straight for where I can see an open doorway, and rush through with a yell.
The sole source of light in the shack is the fireplace burning and crackling methodically against one wall, and that is it. Upon entering I stop short, my vision once adjusted to darkness now blinded by the flaring glow of the flames. I don't know what I am seeing.
"Sumieri?" Ben went cold. All the feeling of adrenaline coursing through him, his heart pounding at his head violently, the bubbling and seething flames of fury, they were all eliminated in a second.
In the light of the fire, orange and dancing merrily on her fur, illuminating it in a dazzling hue of gold, Sumieri turned around.
"Ben." She said, blinking once as her lips parted, shock spreading across her face. "You're here..."
"I-i-i-" Strength passed, and weakness filled the void of anger past. Ben's legs gave way again, his furious side subsiding once again with an all-consuming sigh of relief. He fell onto the splintery floor heavily, his weight echoing loudly through the little room. "I came to get you..." If it wasn't already hanging to his knees, Ben's mouth would have dropped at the sight of what lay before him, beside Sumieri next to the fire. Still and unmoving, skin pale and orange in the wavering light of death, frisking their bodies in search of whatever life they had left.
"I was released to these strange people." Sumieri explained, still cold as ice, looking down at the two bodies beside her. "I killed them."
One was the grunt, the one who Ben had knocked out earlier in the day, the other, was the boy, barely ten. And to see the objects of his undying hatred lying lifeless before him, whatever rage he still bore was swept away without his noticing. "You killed them..."
"I did." Sumieri affirmed, walking a bit closer. "Are you alright? Ben?" Ben stared for a second, so shocked he didn't even notice Sumieri showed the slightest bit of worry over him.
"Yeah." He said after a second, regaining his senses. "Yeah, I'm fine." He lifted himself carefully to his feet again, steadying himself on a nearby chair as he teetered a little. "It was just a thunder wave, it didn't hurt me, but it was a cheap shot alright, paralyzing me."
"You couldn't fight back."
"No." Ben shook his head, turning his gaze back to the two lying before him, life staining the floorboards and pooling outwards. With his initial shock now passed, some of his rage managed to creep up on him. "I would have if I could."
"You weren't afraid?" Sumieri asked.
"I wasn't afraid of him." He replied. "I wasn't afraid of fighting him or his Pokémon, no, that I would have done if I could move..." Sumieri picked up on that Ben wasn't answering her question.
"What were you afraid of, then?" She probed.
Ben took a second to kick up a chair and sit, staring into the fireplace still raging and tossing light about scarcely. "I was afraid you or Cheri would get hurt." Ben only felt more and more awkward as Sumieri didn't respond. "Are you hurt?"
"It's not me you need to be worried about." Ben's gaze was torn from the fireplace and landed on Sumieri, searching her eyes desperately for answers.
"Where is she?"
"She's in her ball." Sumieri said, nodding to a pokéball sitting on a table beside Ben. "But... they did something to her..."
"Something..?" Ben already had a horrible inkling as to what "something" was.
"I don't know." Sumieri shook her head. "But something has changed in her eyes, and I would not release her until we are alone once more..." She turned her gaze to the bodies next to the fireplace. "She has a wild look in her eyes, and she is hurt on the inside and outside."
Ben stared at the pokéball in his hand, staring as if he could see through to the soul hidden within, tormented and destroyed surely. "You saw her?"
"I saw her, and I ran." Sumieri answered calmly. "I came back not five minutes ago. She was in her ball."
"Why did you return?" The whole time, Ben stared at the ball. "To save her?"
"No." If Ben knew any better, he could have sworn Sumieri was feeling shame.
"I don't know."
"To kill those men?"
"Yes." Ben nodded slowly, still staring at the ball.
"I would have done it too." He said. "I would have killed them too. I would have done it."
"Why?" Sumieri's face seemed to rise just the slightest at Ben's confession.
"Because of what they did to Cheri."
"You don't know what they did to Cheri."
"Yes." Ben pocketed the ball slowly, watching it as it disappeared. "I do."
There was a brief moment of silence. "What did they do?"
"You don't need to know, Sumieri." Ben stood up once more and took his stolen belt from the table, rapier still attached. "It would be better off if I never told you." He slipped the end of the belt around his waist and fastened it, removing Cheri's ball and replacing it on his belt.
"It would be better off if I never told you." My next question halts in my throat, and I swallow it quickly with a nod, agreeing with him. If you say so. He wants me to stop talking.
Ben grabs his belt with that sword from the table where the grunt left it and buckles it again. He takes Cheri's ball out from his pocket again and attaches it to his belt. He pats it a few times just to make sure it's there. He's making sure she's there. Of course he is. He takes my ball from his belt too, and it expands in his hand. "You've been through a lot, I'll let you rest."
"Okay." I hang my head in shame, speaking quickly, which is difficult for me since I naturally stretch my words, but I cut it short so he doesn't have to hear me more than he has to. I know what this is about. The two men... the two I killed. He thinks I'm a monster. But then again he always has. He doesn't want to see me now. He doesn't want my monstrous self around him. But perhaps he held just a little compassion in his cold heart, enough to at least make an excuse for returning me to save my feelings a little in place of the blunt truth. He didn't want me around, and if that's what he wants then that's my desire.
Sumieri disappears without a sign of emotion, standing rigid as the red flash surrounds her and sucks her away. I sigh and bring the ball up to my face. "Sometimes I wonder about you..." which is a complete understatement. I always wonder about what goes on in her head.
I replace the ball on my belt as I head for the doorway, pausing just to look at the two dead behind me for a moment.Evil hath many disguises. I remind myself fast I look at the kid, once so brightly animated in colour and life, now a pale shadow of his former self. "You brought this upon yourself." I tell him remorselessly, fear still etched into my mind for Cheri.
I gently push shut the door as I pass through it, closing the dead off from the realm of the living. Evil or not, respect the dead. I don't want them torn apart by wild Pokémon, however evil they were. Evil is the corruption of the soul, but once the soul passed on to the next world and the care of Arceus or Darkrai alike, those bodies are no more evil than I am.
I pull my pack onto my shoulder, putting all thoughts of the dead to bed as I set off back down the path to the main path of route one and start north once more. I have to be close to Viridian city. I would have reached it today if it wasn't for that mishap. But now I am restless, and sleep really isn't going to come easy to me until I know Cheri is okay.
My pokégear lit up with the figures 2:04 as I stepped foot into Viridian city. The street lights were fuzzy and blurry in my tired eyes and I squinted as I was free of the route one treeline. I really couldn't get excited at this time in the morning. I half walked, half dragged myself down the paved street, empty of cars save ones parked up close to the sidewalk and the occasional one whizzing past somewhere behind me.
A "Vacancy" sign just along the road is like a beacon for me, lifting a grin to my weary face as I stumble towards it, body heavy now with my day of "excitement". As I stumble in the front door a man looks up from the reception, greeting me with a sprightly grin that nobody should be able to manage at this time in the morning.
"Tired, eh?" He takes a key from a compartment just under the desk as I fumble in my backpack for a credit card of some sort. "Here, just take it and pay in the morning. Room four." I look from the key to his face unsurely. He grins and nods to the key.
"Thanks..." I take the key with a meagre smile of gratitude, then head back out the way I came and left. I find room four after a little squinting, trying to penetrate the blur obscuring my vision. After a few stabs the key finds the lock and slides into the door cleanly. I forget about the key in the lock as I lumber inside, just pulling the door shut behind me. I drop my bag and lose my belt as I head for the bed, then just drop onto it, and fall asleep on the covers.
Morning comes surprisingly easy. I had expected to be woken by the merry pounding in my head like a smack to the face by a Hariyama, but it all comes easy. I flip myself onto my back with a grunt, yawning widely and cutting my unconscious drooling onto the covers.
"Shit..." I rub the back of my head as I sit upright, looking around the room to familiarise myself with where I just slept. "What time is it?" I hop off my bed, only to be surprised by the absence of the floor meeting my face as my legs crumple beneath me, as I had expected. My first step forwards goes all according to plan, so I stride over to where my belt lies and pick it up, checking my pokégear. "Huh... 9:06..." I shrug and slip the gear heavy belt around my waist and fasten it. I then take Cheri's ball and sit on my bed, staring at the capsule in thought. Maybe Pokémon sleep in their balls at the same time we do, in which case Cheri would hopefully be snoozing.
I contemplate for a few seconds first, deciding if this is the right place to release her. Good as any. Gingerly, I tap the button on the front, facing the ball beside me on the bed. The red beam appears as normal, but I notice something off as Cheri's red form appears in front of me. Wait, that's not- Cheri appears on the bed next to me, curled up and asleep.
And she's a Luxio, I better mention that. She has evolved... She must have been in trouble to evolve so quickly, they must have really pressed her badly.
"Holey great fucking Arceus..." I jump up onto my bed and crawl to her, face contorted in disbelieving horror. "Cheri... what did they do to you..?" He fur, now longer, is matted firmly and stiff in patches. In other small patches, fur is missing, cut short. Her entire body is covered in gashes and cuts of all sorts with dried blood seeping onto it. "Shit..." My breath escapes me as I see her legs. Seeing how her hindquarters are tainted a deeper brown, I know what has happened. They did. "Cheri..." I gently scoop my arms under her and lift her into my lap, carefully as possible so I don't wake her. I wrap one arm under her neck and stroke at her fur softly, a small tear forming in my eye again with my guilt coming back. "How could they do this to you?"
"Lux?" She mews weakly at my touch, one eye opening a little. "Lux..?" She turned her head around to look at me. I see what Sumieri means. I remember a line from one of my favourite songs. "See the lightning in your eyes..." That wild look she gives me strikes me like a bolt of thunder. Those once soft, merry gold eyes, now wide and clinging to a harsh gleam, trembling fearfully.
"It's okay Cheri..." I croon as I hold her a little tighter. "They're gone-"
"LUX!" He breaks into a furious fit with her cry, squirming and struggling suddenly. I yell and hold her tightly, struggling against her to hold her down.
"Cheri! Stop!" I yell as her claws dig into my leg, ignoring the searing pain erupting throughout. "Stop dammit!" I grip my arm around her neck in a headlock and hold her into my lap by bending over her forwards, pressing my body down onto hers and pinning her.
"Luuuuuux..." She thrashes about in my grip, trying to tear herself away, but she can only throw her head about wildly. She tenses her muscles with one last cry, and looses a surge of electricity.
I've been hit by a lot of things before. I once fell a story when I was young and broke both legs, I've broken both arms on separate occasions, I've even had a finger nearly cut off by a rapier, but nothing, nothing hurt compared to what Cheri just did to me then. My scream of pain as my entire body convulsed didn't even reach my lips, sound lost in my throat as I collapsed, falling forwards onto Cheri, every nerve stinging and screaming at me to make it stop. It all just went over my head.
"Cheri..." I don't know why, but it was the first thing out my mouth as I woke. First thing that shocked me, pun not intended, was that, Cheri was still there. I thought that maybe she passed out, but then came shock number two. She was awake. Awake, and still wrapped up in my arms.
She shivers weakly in my grip, a low whimper just making it past her teeth. I must have passed out holding on to her, and she must be too weak to break free now. "Cheri..." I stroke one hand along her side as I feel her tense in my grip. "Please... settle down..."
"Luuux..." She whines again.
"It's okay..." I tell her. "I won't hurt you. I promise, I'd never." She cringes for a few more seconds, then slowly turns her head to face me, opening one eye to see mine, still holding that scared, wild look. "I know what they did to you Cheri." I whisper as I stroke her ear with what strength I have left. "I know what that Mightyena did to you, and it's understandable if you don't trust me, but I'm just asking that you give me a chance..." Her stare doesn't give up, but her body slows in her shivering and shuddering. "I said you're my friend, and you said you're my friend, remember? Friends look out for each other in times of trouble, you can trust me Cheri. I'm your friend." I stroke her again, right from just under her chin, along her neck and along her side. Cheri stares a little longer, then looks away with a little tear.
"Lux..." I sigh and give her a little scratch under the chin, then pull her towards me further and hug her.
"Come 'ere." I hold her tightly around the torso and neck, bringing her into me. She doesn't make any reply to me, still looking away. "I'm not going to let you go until you smile..." I tease, tickling under her chin. I notice her stir just a little at my touch, moving a little with a small sound. "C'mon... just smile... please? For me?" I know she's been through a lot, but I know if I can just get her to feel a little happiness around me I'll have myself set up well with her. I lie in our awkward silence, biting one lip. Like I have anything to lose. I lean in and kiss her neck, giving her a scratch under the chin at the same time. She spins around to face me with eyes wide, not with fear but rather surprise. I smile as warmly as I can as I poke and prod just under her neck with my thumb. I notice her lip just twitch a bit as I explore around, and press for that spot, tickling and rubbing at her, taking note of the place. She looks away as I continue quicker with more energy, going to work with my other fingers too. "Cheri..?" I rest my other hand on her cheek and turn her head to face me. She looks down just a little, lips curled up just a bit at the edges. I smile wider and sit upright with an inwards sigh of relief, still scratching her chin. "See? Isn't that better?"
"Lux..." She shrugs a bit, still looking down.
"I said you can trust me. Don't worry, I'm not letting you away from my side again." I rub my hand over the top of her head, tousling her hair a bit as she manages a proper grin, however much pain she is masking behind it. "Now come on." I stand up carefully and pick up her ball. "I'll take you to the Pokémon centre. They'll stop the pain and you'll feel much better." Cheri looks up at me with a scared frown, backing up a bit with her eyes quivering a bit more. "Don't worry, I'll be there with you." I assure her. She steps forwards with a nod, conceding. I expand herbal and hold it towards her. "Buh-bye Cheri." I say with a grin and wave. She smiles a bit just before she disappears.
I pack my things quickly and head out of my room to the reception. After paying for the room, and adding a bit onto the bill with my apologies for ripping the covers after my incident with Cherie, I head out for the Pokémon centre. I get somewhat of a rush as I step out onto the streets in the daytime, now with enough energy to be excited.
Viridian's really quite a pretty place in the daytime. Trees line the sides of the streets in front of all those little shops and businesses. I step across the road quickly to get over in front of a man on a bike. I watch as he heads down to the west and around a corner quickly. There aren't any traffic lights in Viridian, there isn't enough traffic to need them.
The Pokémon centre was just a twenty minute walk from where I was staying. It's a big, bright building, white with a curved red roof and the usual Pokémon centre sign out the front, glowing brightly so it can be seen at night, open all hours for trainers. A pair of opaque glass doors slide open at my approach, revealing the inside to me. Trainers of all descriptions sit around in the lobby, chatting to one another and smiling. About half-a-dozen of them, male and female, Pokémon standing beside them.
Nurse joy stands at the reception counter, as she is always reputed to. She flashes me that gentle grin she almost always wears and nods, her hands clasped behind her back.
"Hello." She greets me as I approach. She's about the same height as me. I'm a tall guy. "I don't think I've seen you here before, you must be a new trainer."
"Yeah." I nod as I place Cheri's ball on the counter. "Can you give Cheri a fix? She's a bit beat."
"That's fine then." Joy says. "Just let her out and I'll give her an evaluation." I scratch the back of my head nervously as I look at the trainers behind me.
"I'd rather let her out somewhere in private." I confess quietly, just loud enough for joy to hear. Her smile drops as she cocks her head, bright pink-red hair bouncing behind her head. I fix her a serious stare and nod, tapping my finger idly on the top of Cheri's ball. "Team rocket."
"Come with me..." She turns around and heads around the back of the counter, then leads me to another sliding door. I follow her down the corridor, stepping aside as another nurse joy wheels a Blaziken past of a stretcher, really looking like she's struggling to push. Joy opens a metal sliding door and leads me inside a bunkroom. She waits for the door to close behind me, then turns around. "All right. Let's see her." I nod and toss Cheri's ball once in my hand, then drop it beside me, freeing her at my side.
"Luuuuuuuuux..." She growls, stepping away from joy and pressing into my leg.
"Oh, my..." Joy stoops and slowly idles towards Cheri.
"Lux!" She barks, hugging closer to my leg and stopping joy short with her warning.
"cheri..." I crouch beside her and stroke a hand down her back to calm her. "She's going to make you better, you have to let her, kay?"
"Lux..." She whines, looking up at my face with her sad eyes.
"Don't worry, she won't hurt you." I look up at joy with a serious stare. "Will you, joy?" I let just enough menace slide into my voice to reassure Cheri, but not too much to scare Joy more than necessary.
"No, I won't." Joy shakes her head quickly in agreement.
Cherie sighs and nods, hanging her head as Joy approaches.
"This isn't good..." She remarks, looking Cherie over from all angles, parting her fur just a little with her fingers. I can tell Cheri isn't enjoying this at all, and give her a little pat on the head to calm her. "...did they..?" Joy clears her throat and stands. "Do anything to her? Anything... sexual?"
"I have reason to believe they did." I say with a nod, still patting Cheri as she licks my shoe idly.
"I think we can fix this up." Joy decides with another glance at Cheri. "But we'll need to start operating immediately." I nod and look down at Cheri.
"Are you okay with that?" I ask her. She places a paw on my knee with a whimper. "Don't worry, I'll be there the whole time." Cheri smiles just a little and licks the leg of my trousers. "Joy, is it okay if I watch over her through the operation?"
"It's not normal procedure..." Joy murmurs in thought.
"But this isn't a normal operation, is it?" I counter cleverly.
"No..." Joy murmurs. "I guess not." She nods. "I think I could pull some strings."
"How did this happen?" Another joy, visually identical to the first but a little shorter and probably about my age, asks as the two of us watch Cheri in her bed, surrounded by doctors and asleep under anaesthetic.
"A kid tricked me." I mutter bitterly. "He convinced me team rocket stole his Pokémon. I went and got it back and left Cheri with him for protection, and as soon as I returned he stuck me with a thunder wave and nicked everything I had."
"A kid?" Joy asked with a shocked stare at Cheri.
"About nine or ten."
"My god..." She shook her head sadly. "You try do a little good and it stings you right on the ass..."
"Every deed of kindness is repaid somewhere with hatred to equal extent." I say, quoting something I have learned from the past by heart.
"Every deed of kindness is repaid somewhere with..." Joy trails off, her eyes widening as she turns to me. She looks down at my bet, then up to me face with astonishment. "I remember that... on the news in that court case... You're Ben Raymond."
"That's me." I say with a nod, gritting my teeth.
"THE Ben Raymond, the Slayer and the Scyther case, you're that guy who..." She trailed off. "I probably don't need to tell you what you did."
"I did what I did." I sigh. "Some people didn't like it, they weren't there when that Scyther cut that girl's hand off."
"Is it true...?" She asks slowly. "You actually defeated it? With that?" She nodded to the rapier at my waist.
"I had another as well." I explain. "Mum always had me train with both hands; I eventually picked up on the trick to using two at once. If I couldn't dual wield the bastard would have taken me out in a second."
After a second of silence: "How did you do it?"
"I stabbed him." I reply sharply. "In the heart. He got angry that he couldn't kill me, he didn't think his move through and swung recklessly and gave me an opening. His own anger was his downfall. Hate is its own enemy, and can only be killed by itself, such is war. My hatred for him killed him."
"But you got out of it in the end." Joy says quietly, looking back to Cheri. "I was always on your side. That trainer looked shady anyway, and I can tell a shady trainer a mile off. You're not shady."
"Oh, I assure you I'm quite shady indeed." I respond with a little grin. "But enough talk of the past, it happened, it's over. I'm not dwelling on it." Joy nods.
"It's easiest to just ignore things that cause us pain."
"I doesn't cause me pain." I say, crossing my arms. "I'm usually modest about it, but in truth, I saved her. I saved her, and I'm proud of myself for that, and if every act of kindness really is matched by equal hate, then judging by how much some people hated me, I must have done something really good. This is what I tell myself when I think back, and then I put it to rest again." But now, I can't put something to rest. Suicune hates me. She wants to kill me. I must have done the right thing.
"You're a weird guy." Joy observes curiously.
"Aren't we all." It takes me a few seconds to register that. "Well, the weird part, not the guy part. I mean, you're not a guy..." And there goes the smooth deepness. Right out the window. "Crap."
After another hour of awkward silence on my part and cheerful amusement on young Joy's, Cheri is finally returned to her ball and given back to me.
I take her ball with a nod of thanks. "Thanks." I head on out behind the older Joy, younger in tow behind.
"You may want to keep her in her ball for a while." Older Joy explains as she returns to the counter. "She's going to be tired for a while, you'd be best to let her rest."
"If that's best for her." I nod in agreement. "And... I don't suppose you could tell me about this town's gym leader?"
"Aah..." Joy's brow furrows as she thinks. "That would be Giovanni. He uses ground type Pokémon."
"Dammit..." I murmur as I look at Cheri's ball.
"He is reputed to be the most powerful gym leader in Kanto." Joy continues, and I can tell where she is going with this.
"I'm not going to stand a chance." I realise with a sigh of irritation.
"I'd hate to dash your hopes, but no, you're not." Joy tells me reluctantly. "But Brock in Pewter would give you a good run. Even with his rock type Pokémon, if you train hard you can beat him."
"Brock, huh?" I murmur, looking up at the roof and contemplating. "Isn't it curious his name is Brock, like, B-rock, and he uses rock-type Pokémon?"
Joy stares blankly, blinking quickly. "I'm sorry?"
"Well, it's not like he was picked from birth to be the rock type leader or anything." I shrug. "It's just curious isn't it?"
"I'm afraid you're confusing me." Joy says blankly.
"Never mind then." I sling my bag onto my shoulder. "Looks like I'm heading for Pewter then."
"Not yet, are you?" Joy demands, looking shocked. "Your Pokémon's in no condition to keep you safe on the road there."
"I don't need a Pokémon to take care of me." I say, tapping my rapier with my fingers. "I can take care of myself." Joy eyes my sword suspiciously, nodding slowly.
"I see." She acknowledges. "But still, you'd be better off staying here for another day before setting off. It's quite a trip there."
"And the way there is full of scary bug Pokémon." Joy nudges the younger girl savagely. "Oh come on!"
"Ignore her." Joy says with an exasperated sigh. "Amy's just frustrated that I won't let her set off on a journey of her own."
"Mum, I'm sixteen!" Amy protests, rekindling an old fire once more as I step back a little, out of the way.
"And you're still not ready!" Joy whispers back harshly, facing her daughter now and bending over to her level, just half-a-foot shorter than her. "You're not capable of taking care of yourself!"
"I have Dev!"
"That's not my point!" Joy almost shouts back. "You can't take care of yourself! What if Dev got in trouble? What would you do then?" My heart jumps as Joy's hand flies out to point at me. "See him? He can take care of himself. Can you say the same?"
"Mum! He's a badass champion swordsman! Of course he can, don't compare me to-"
"What?" Joy stands again, turning to me quickly. "Swordsm- you're that guy from the court case."
"Yes." I sigh. I hate going through this twice in one day. "I'm that guy."
"You killed that Scyther when it attacked that girl." She reminds me.
"I know I did." I counter, becoming agitated. "I was there." Joy and Amy turn to one another, exchanging silent looks. Oh no... I think as I realise where this is going. Oh shit...
"I could go with him!" Amy begs, grabbing her mum's hand and holding it tightly. "Please?"
"You can't just tag along with a trainer like that." Joy pulls her hand away, to my relief. But no, Amy runs around the counter to me now.
"Please... it's soooooo boring here." She grabs my shoulders and gives me a shake, almost crying. I realise right now that I'm done for. Call me soft, but I'm like a solid limestone wall. You can hit me and hit me all you want, but as soon as you turn on the water I come crumbling down.
"I don't know..." I scratch my head nervously, unable to look away from those big, sad eyes begging me. "Ask your mother, see what she thinks."
"Please mum?" She rushes over to the counter to her mum, leaning across it towards her. "That guy said it's okay!" No I didn't!
Joy murmurs as she looks from her daughter to me and back, weighing things up. Oh, shit! She's going to say yes! "Well... it would be a chance for you to get out of the house."
Amy rushes to me and throws her arms around me in a big, tight hug, almost choking me in her embrace. "Thank you thank you thank you!" She drops her arms and jumps back, shock passing her face. "I need to pack!" She spins on a heel and disappears down the corridor.
"What... just happened..." I stammer, still frozen from her chokehold hug.
"You made her day, that's what happened." Joy smiles softly at the closing doorway after her daughter. "She's been wanting to get away from here for so long now." She shakes her head, running through all her fond memories probably. "Thank you for doing this for her."
"It's my pleasure." Firstly, that's not how I feel, and second, I probably shouldn't have used the word "pleasure" in that sentence.
"But you better not try anything." Joy warns with a joking smile and a wagging finger. "There are two of you leaving here, and there better be just two of you when you come back."
"Don't worry ma'am, I'm gay." I say sharply, despite the three gigabytes of evidence on my laptop hard drive to prove quite the opposite.
"Oh." Joy's smile drops, looking embarrassed. "Well that would explain the hair..." I'm going to assume by that you mean how immaculate it is. I think with an inwards frown, but grinning ridiculously on the outside. "Well just be careful around Dev, then." She winks outrageously. "He's a hunk."
"I'll remember that." I say with a scratch of my head and a stupid smile. Oh my god, please stop... I'm not saying that I'm against the bill passed three years ago condoning poképhilia , in fact in my Google image searches I've indulged a little myself, but what annoys me is when every woman begins going on and on about how hunky their Pokémon is. Keep it to yourself, or at least amongst close friends.
"I'm done!" The doors slide open after a minute and Amy charges back out, her uniform nurse robes changed for a white shirt and pair of slacks. From behind her, a Lucario charges out from the doorway. He slides to a stop as we see each other and immediately stare down.
He cocks his head slightly, then begins towards me slowly as Amy settles for a moment to watch him.
I've dealt with Lucarios before, and know what to do here. I drop my bag behind me and begin towards him also, face set expressionless. The entire building just seems to go silent as we approach one another, stony stares connecting us through the remaining distance. We both come to a stop simultaneously, just a metre apart. I drop down on one knee so my eyes are level with him. Equal height is a show of respect. He stares into my eyes, and I do the same, though lacking the aura reading ability his species is famed for.
Amy approaches me from the side with a smile, and taps my shoulder. I don't drop my gaze, but nod slightly to acknowledge her presence. "He likes you."
"How can you tell?" I ask levelly, still staring into his blood red eyes, still and unmoving.
"He told me so." The Lucario's lips curl upwards a bit into a grin, and he nods. I grin back a bit, and nod in return. He steps back as I stand up. I notice him looking at the ball on my belt as I do and wonder if he can sense Sumieri even in her ball, and just brush my jacket over it with a casual flick.
"Well... I guess this is happening." I sigh, looking from Amy to joy. "You two say your goodbyes, I'll be waiting outside."
One short reunion later, the doors of the Pokémon centre beside me slide open, and out comes Amy with a huge smile on her face. She stops and takes a deep breath in, then releases a welcome sigh. "This is so exciting!" She says with a big grin, looking around as if she has never seen this place before in her life and it's somewhere new to explore. Dev nods a little with a shrug.
I'm nervous as to how this is going to play out. Mainly when Sumieri becomes involved. She's usually on her own or just with me, how is she going to react when around Dev, and Amy, and Cheri all at the same time?
"Worried are we?" I look right with a jumpy movement. "Behind you." it takes me a second of confusion before I realise what I'm hearing.
"Forgot." I say as I turn to Dev. "Telepath, right?"
"You seem a little distressed." Dev says with a cheeky grin, ignoring my rhetorical question (not like he was going to answer anyway).
"I'm just a little curious as to how long it is going to be before I get sick of an annoying nosy voice prodding at my mind." I reply dryly. He picks up on it and grins a little wider with a grunt.
"You better get used to it." He tells me, strolling in my direction and leaving Amy to staring at the sky as if it had suddenly changed colour. He stops in front of me and cocks his head. "You're not really gay, are you?"
"That aura of yours can tell you a lot, can't it?"
"Are you gay?" He doesn't take the bait, and asks again bluntly, crossing his arms.
"No." I reply soon enough. "I'm straight."
"Thought so." He says with a nod. "You keep your hands off Amy and we'll get along fine, kapeesh?"
"You stop acting high and mighty and we'll get along without a certain Pokémon being disembowelled by a certain human." I say with a cheery grin, patting my rapier. "Kapeesh?" He cocks his head curiously as he explores my aura, watching it shift and change.
"I think we understand one another." He says with a satisfied nod to communicate a mutual understanding, and steps back. "Dev." He holds one hand up to me.
"Ben Raymond." As I reach for his hand, it shrinks back a little, and a look of surprise crosses his face. "Yeah, the very same." I sigh. "Look, I've been through it twice today already and I don't care for another run through it."
"Fair enough." He takes my hand and gives it a short shake, then releases. "Thanks for finally getting me out of there." He turns towards Amy with a smile. "It's unbelievably boring some days in a Pokémon centre."
"Same reason I ditched home." I say, technically truthfully. I don't add the fact that I'm trying to get as far away from route 21 as possible to escape a legendary with a desire to inflict grievous injury on my person. But he picks up on something, I see his left ear twitch.
"So where are we going?" Amy asks as she returns to the real world.
"Pewter." I say with a nod towards the north. Dev follows my gaze as Amy approaches.
"Then where?" She asks, stopping just in front of me.
"Wherever I want to go." I say with a grin, and begin walking. "Wherever the hell I want..."
Normally I might have a problem with a nosy Lucario probing my thoughts every ten seconds like a kid seeing the world for the very first time, but funnily enough I'm still far from that state of incoherent grunting that I fall into when I get pissed off, which isn't too often. As far as nosy Pokémon go, Dev's all right.
"How was route one then?" He asks as he looks around over top of the trees lining either side of the path. Their shadows are cast across the clay so shallowly they almost creep up the trees on the other side. What light there still is hanging, peeking through the leaves in stray breaches of foliage, is dim and orange, muffled by the clouds cloaking the western horizon.
"Just like this." I murmur as I look around, eyes half shut. Not... too... interesting......at all...
"How did you get through the journey?" He asks with a yawn, but fortunately it doesn't interrupt his telepathy. Good focus on his part.
"Cheri and I played "I spy"." I shrug, a small grin tugging at my lips. "She was insistent that I had cheated."
"Ah. Cheri." I'm not sure if it's just the air, or if I can actually feel Dev's aura press down on me a little. "I heard about her."
"It was a kid." My words echo just around myself, as if nobody but me can hear them. "A kid made his Pokémon do that to her..."
"Some people are just born bad."
"Nobody is born bad." I snap, jerking my head around and surprising him with my sharpness. "Nobody is born bad..." My tone eases off as I turn back to face where I'm going, but I won't let my eyes focus on anything. "We become bad under the influence of evil. Evil is not a genetic condition given to one at birth, but an infection, spread by the coaxing and grooming touch of hatred..."
"I was trying to empathise." Dev shrugs defensively. "Don't turn all "creepy deep and emotional" on me." I cock my head.
"I thought you would understand my "creepy deep emotionality", you didn't pick up on that while you were gutting my head and rooting out my personality?"
"I have better things to do than stare at your head all day, mate." He retorts levelly. Touché Messer Lucario... I concede with a grin. Sharp much. "I have a much more interesting time staring at that pokéball on your waist."
"Huh." I grunt with a small chuckle in my throat. "You're staring at my ball? Phew, that's a relief..."
"We both know this game doesn't play to your advantage." Dev reminds me as he strides a bit closer to my heels.
"Dev? What's up?" Amy clearly lacks volume control over her vocals with those plugs in her ears, almost yelling at the top of her lungs as she hurries to be part of the condensing party at the front.
I murmur just beneath my breath, then turn to Dev and fix him a blank look. "This pokéball contains the very soul of devastation itself, entrapped in mortal binds awaiting its release to raze the earth and wreak havoc and righteous vengeance upon all that stand in its way." and I say this in part, truthfully, since I may as well could be right. I can tell Dev is a little irked, squinting and probing my aura. As I turn away I hear the rhythmic patter of his pads behind me shrink in volume as he slides back to Amy's side, his footsteps becoming a lesser noise under the music blaring in Amy's ears, audible around her earphones.
"You're kidding... right?" I swear I feel a telepathic gulp from behind.
"You must be a pretty useless Lucario if you can't tell if a guy's lying." I laugh back at him, revelling in my victory.
What can I say? Scaring people is fun. So very, very fun...
Darkness has descended once more upon me... or should I say us? No, I'm still me and they're still them. No us. At all. Fortunately tonight brings me a little more peace than last night. I pat Cheri's ball just to reassure myself, smiling at the feel of her and Sumieri's bulges under my coat.
Amy stands in her sleeping bag, writhing like a Caterpie hanging from a branch as she changes, a look of ridiculously intense focus holding fast on her face as she goes about it. "I can just turn around." I offer, sighing and leaning forwards and placing my elbows on my knees, letting my fingers walk across the surface of the tree stump I'm sitting on.
"You'll turn around." Amy says as-a-matter-of-factly, still squirming.
"I won't." I say earnestly with a short shake of my head.
"I'm almost done anyway..." Her voice is muffled as she buries her head deeper in her bag.
"She grows on you." Dev inspects his palm as he leans against the tree next to me, then turns it over and looks over the back of his hand. Like there's anything of interest going on.
"So does cancer."
"Touché." He concedes with a slight grin, dropping his hand to his side again and sighing.
"All done!" Amy bubbles with a bright grin, dropping the sleeping bag around her and letting it fall to her feet like a great veil, revealing a plain white suit of pyjamas.
"The cheerfulness sometimes helps." Dev comments with a shrug, grinning at me sheepishly.
"Yeah, I'm sure it does." I reply dryly, turning back to Amy. "Remind me of that the next time I'm painfully depressed and we'll see how much her cheerfulness helps."
"Are you always this cold?"
I laugh sharply, shaking my head as the irony sinks in. "Sumieri's rubbing off on me I guess."
"Yeah. Sumieri." I say with a shrug to Dev.
"Who's Sumieri?" Amy chirps up as she moves into our conversation, shuffling between us in her sleeping bag and looking between us with the kind of perplexed stare you'd receive from throwing a brick at a Bunneary.
"My Pokémon..." I sigh. I should have known I wouldn't get away with this.
"What Pokémon?" it's worth a shot...
"A Zoroark." Dev and Amy look to one another with shock, then back to me.
"I didn't want anyone to know I had a Zoroark." I confess untruthfully. "You know how people feel about them." I know Dev's fully capable of sensing my lie, but as long as Amy doesn't find out I feel I should be okay. Dev seems like the kind of guy I could maybe trust if I had to.
"They don't like Zoroarks." Amy points out unhelpfully, nearly drawing blood from my lip as I bite it in a desperate attempt not to yell "no shit!" in her face with volume to put an Exploud to shame. I'm not normally such a bitchy person, but then again today has been... stressful, to say the least.
"No, not really." I humour her with a faked pathetic shrug. "Can we not talk about it? I don't like to give it too much thought."
"Oh..." Amy realises, slowly nodding, and then chirping up again: "Okay." She turns around and takes a long look at her sleeping bag, the kind of look somebody would give seeing a random Bunneary pass them, then walks towards it suddenly. Dev and I stare after her as she goes, then turn to one another simultaneously.
"You're gonna tell me at some point." He says as he sits down, crossing his legs and focussing his eyes on mine. "Whatever's in that ball, it's powerful. There's only so long I can go blindly with something like that on your belt. It makes me edgy..." He gives the ball a suspicious glance, then looks back at my face for a reply.
"She's powerful..." I agree calmly, nodding. "I don't know how powerful, but I know that she is, and the more you know about her the more danger you are in."
"I eat danger for breakfast." Dev retorts with a confident nod, then his eyes avert, deep in thought. "...and cornflakes... mmm... yummy..."
"You eat people food?" I ask curiously.
"Just cornflakes." He grins playfully as his tail sweeps across the ground behind him. "...and chocolate..."
"Isn't chocolate bad for Lucarios?" I lean towards him a bit, folding my arms again and sitting my elbows on my knees.
"Like a bit of decay's going to kill me." He snorts as he pats the ground in a steady rhythm to preoccupy himself. I grin at his remark and nod, then turn to Amy for something to preoccupy myself. She's sitting crouched next to out campfire, holding a pot in one hand.
"Can we trust her to use that?" I ask warily. "You know, to not burn herself or set the forest on fire?"
"No worries." Dev rests on his back, gazing up at the stars. "If there's one thing Amy can do, it's cook."
"How many things are there that Amy can do?"
"Just one." Dev grins. "But she's damn good at it."
"Well that's a relief." I place one hand on my stomach, encouraging me enthusiastically. "I could eat a Rapidash." Dev's tail ceases, stopping where it is resting no the ground. He looks forwards at me curiously.
"A whole Rapidash?" My stomach grumbles again in answer.
"Belly say: yes." I translate with a grin.
"That's sick." He shakes his head with a repulsed frown, then sits up again.
"It's just an expression." I defend myself dismissively.
Dev doesn't let go. "It's a sick expression." He remarks distastefully, eyeing me accusingly. "Eating a Pokémon? It's not just an expression; it's a shining example of human expression over Pokémon!" I raise an eyebrow and lean back on my stump now, watching Dev stare at me.
"I didn't pick you for an activist."
"Activists hold up bitchy signs and sing songs." He says with teeth bared just slightly. "I kick ass, take names and give them a god-damn earful!"
I grunt a little with a grin. "A psychic scolding? Intense. Remind me not to get you riled."
"I don't think we'll have need for that." Dev's composure flashes back in an instant with a calm shrug. "I actually know a lot about you. I followed that whole court case on TV, and I reckon you're a pretty honest guy. Not abusive, you're looking out for Cheri like I've never known. Most guys would have left their Pokémon and ditched after something like that happened to their Pokémon."
The mention of Cheri occupies my mind so much I don't notice Dev's eyes avert to the ground briefly. I take her pokéball from my waist and hold it in front of my eyes, feeling its smooth, metallic texture against my fingers. I weigh my thoughts up for a second, easier without Dev's gaze on me. She's been resting for a while; I figure I could at least let her have a rest out here.
I flick the button before my mind can turn on my decision, and a red laser flashes from the front of the ball. I can tell by the way the laser forms that she's been asleep, and of course as the glow fades in, leaving black and blue fur in its place, my suspicions are confirmed. I grin and lean forwards, placing my hand gently on the soft, longer fur on her head.
"Wakey-wakey Cheri..." I ruffle her lush fur with a smile, now enjoying her presence since she's free of injury. Her fur, now sleek and smooth is glossy, letting the campfire flicker in each random gleam in the blue and black.
She pries an eye open warily. "Lux?" She mews as she turns her head to see me, smiling at her.
"Hey Cheri." I greet her with calm joy, petting her further to ease her into her new environment.
"That's Cheri..?" Cheri jumps at me. I almost cry out in shock, but she leaps into my lap and spins around quickly with a growl, flattening her ears along her fluffy head and baring her teeth at Dev. "I'm sorry." Dev smiles nervously and shuffles back on his haunches.
"Whoa..." I place an arm on Cheri's back quickly, pressing it down a bit as she arches it. "Settle down Cheri... this is Dev..."
"(What do you want?)" Cheri demands, fear and anger pumping through her veins at breakneck speed.
"Idunno. A cookie?" Dev replies simply. Cheri 's growl lowers a bit as she eases into my lap, laying down, but still glaring at Dev, gold eyes fixated intently. Dev scratches his neck, turning his gaze to me now with a sheepish grin. "She... uh... doesn't like me, does she?" The message is probably private to me.
"No..." I observe, stroking experimentally down Cheri's back. Her rump raises a little to meet my fingers as many Pokémon would.
She turns to me with a little mewl of "lux" and nuzzles into my side. I keep patting her, determined to keep her happy some way or another, but I just shrug to Dev.
"Dinner time!" Cheri leaps around and is standing in a second, hissing at Amy and halting her with her glare. Amy almost drops the plates she's carrying as she approaches, shrinking back at Cheri's jump. "Um..."
"Settle down..." I assure Cheri as I stroke her heavily, almost pressing her down into a lying position. "She won't hurt you." I look back to Amy with my best reassuring smile, allowing Cheri to settle in my lap. "She's a bit jumpy." Amy nods slightly, confused by Cheri's unstable mood, and approaches carefully. She places a plate of sliced berries on the stump beside me, then a plate of cornflakes on the other side. Dev grins seeing this, but his smile drops as Amy hands him a plate of berries too.
"Sorry Dev." She smiles apologetically and ruffles the short fur on his head, making him shy away with a huff of irritation. "We don't have enough human food to feed three."
Dev swings to me with a hateful stare, eyes narrowing at me as Amy walks away. I ignore him and prop my plate of cereal with my spoon, sinking the little pieces beneath the surface of the watery powdered milk formula. "Breakfast for dinner... weird..."
"Trade?" Dev offers his plate up with a hopeful grin. I look from my plate to his and back, cocking my head.
"Okay." I shrug, and hold my plate out to him.
"What?" He recoils a bit and his smile drops.
"You said trade."
"I was just kidding." He grins jokingly. "I'm fine with this." He sounds like he's trying to reassure himself the way he looks down at the berries on his plate.
"Dev." Dev meets my glare reluctantly, smiling awkwardly. As calmly as possible: "Give me your fucking berries."
"Why?" He spits back, probably regretting his offer of a trade now.
"Because if I wanted to eat sun-baked grains in piss-weak milk, I would have brought sun-baked grains and piss-weak milk." I state. "The day I eat this over a plate of decent food is the day hell freezes over, so give them here."
"These are berries." Dev reminds me unsurely. "Pokémon berries...?"
"I like Pokémon and I like berries. Gimme." I make a sharp "come here" type motion with my free hand. Dev looks between our plates again, and grins. He gives his to me and takes mine with a wider grin.
"Thanks." He says as he digs in eagerly, tail wagging behind him. I nod and throw a berry into my mouth, grinning at the strong, sweet flavour and that odd tinge you get that puts other humans off the things, but I love it. Dev's right, Amy does know how to cook, it seems she's grilled or cooked or done something to them the way they're slightly browned. Cheri in my lap eats up too, seemingly quite content in spite of what just happened to her. She dives into her food with a low purr, body vibrating slightly in my lap. Kind of a pleasant feeling. Welcoming. Homely, in a nomadic sense.
As I eat, I feel Cheri rub against my belt, against Sumieri's ball. Sumieri... I look down at my waist with a sudden feeling of guilt, then to m empty plate.Shit. "Amy?"
"Mmm?" Amy murmurs through her mouthful of cereal, looking up at me from her cross-legged sitting position.
"Any more of this stuff?" I hold the plate to show her with a grin. She stares for a few seconds, then nods, and murmurs something else. "Sweet." I pick up Cheri's plate before she can finish scraping the plastic off the surface in her tongue as she attempts to clean up every last titbit of food from the plate, receiving a squeak of irritation from her. She leaps onto the trunk beside me as I stand and follows as I head back to the pot beside the fire.
I tip half of what remains onto one plate, piling it up, then head away from the others.
"Ben?" I stop on the spot. "Where are you going?"
"I'm taking Cheri for a little walk." I reply over my shoulder. "Have to make sure she's fit and able." I head quickly for the bush line before Amy can probe further.
I head into the bush a good fifty metres, carefully remembering each significant tree or rock to remember my way back, and then I arrive at a clearing. I take my second pokéball from my belt and toss it.
For some reason, I always expect something to go wrong every time I release Sumieri, like perhaps a completely different Pokémon to emerge, but as I see the red glow grow quickly and take shape, my fears sink once more for another day.
"Sumieri." I say, approaching her from her side as she stares into the dense, dark growth. She turns to me as I come closer, and I see her muzzle twitch slightly.
"You smell of people." She remarks. "Other people."
"I do." I say in my best attempt to imitate her cold, bluntness. Cheri clings close to my leg, watching Sumieri closely. "What of it?"
"Nothing of it." She answers quickly. I nod and place my plate of food on the ground in front of her.
"Sorry about being late." I apologize, watching her lie down and eat. "I didn't want people to see you."
"Okay." She says, and continues eating. I bite my lip in frustration and sit down, looking up at the sky barely visible between the lush canopies overhead.
"Nice sky, huh?" I say almost in a dream state, grinning lazily. "There's your aurora..." I point out the twisting, tangling ribbon way above, just visible behind the leaves and branches above me.
"Yes. There it is."
"Yes... there you are..." I grin as I watch the two below me, blissfully unaware of my presence. It's almost unnerving seeing the young one before me like this, unaware. I feel like she's going to sense me at any second, like her mother can, but no. She doesn't. "So... it's Ben is it?" My lips curl into a grin, legs shake a bit in excitement. "Mm-mmm! The mistress will be pleased with me..." I slink back into the shadows of the treetops, a low, cruel hissing laugh slipping between my teeth.
As I fall from the treetops my body shifts, I feel my tail and leaf on my head shrink back, then fur forms around my neck and rear, long, fluffy fur. I hit the ground softly, and scarper away into the night.
"Mistress Suicune... you will gain favour with me now... you must..."
Probably needs more sex, drugs and asskick. I'm planning on definitely adding two elements later on. These are early chapters and subsequently lacking in the asskick department. It's too early to just bring in sex as of yet, but I'll probably get there. I realise I have a habit of starting stories boringly... damn... *shrugs* You know, this is like, 20,000 words without a single Pokémon fight... I'm not sure if I should be proud of myself for adding length to the story or annoyed at myself for dragging it out.
Since everything else's on hiatus, I'm going to try and commit myself to two projects.
I'm racking my brain for a new plot for something, and I might just have something else to work on too.
Stay safe. Comment and so forth. Criticise, we learn from our mistakes.