Hello~ It's been a very long time since I posted on these forums, especially in this section. I'm trying to get back into reading/writing fanfic, so hopefully I'll be able to help others with their writing somehow and get some constructive criticism myself.
This will be an OT journey fic, with each chapter told from the point of view of a pokémon belonging to the main trainer. The point of view will rotate but will not go in any specific order, and the pokémon will be identified (by nickname) with the chapter name.
Rated PG-13 for language, violence, and some mature themes.
Any and all comments are appreciated.
Mind led body
to the edge of the precipice.
They stared in desire
at the naked abyss.
If you love me, said mind,
take that step into silence.
If you love me, said body,
turn and exist.
— "Vertigo" by Anne Stevenson
I never saw him coming.
Was I too young? Was my tail not yet long enough to help me stand higher to watch for danger? Who was to say that my tail was going to grow any longer? And how old was I, anyway? Younger sentret had always been susceptible and vulnerable to such restrictions, but we had no developed, concrete idea of age, just loyalty and ability. I only knew that I was old enough to be shunned by my clan and I was old enough to be blamed for the catastrophe that preceded the banishment.
Was it sleep deprivation? I was alone, after all. There was no one to switch shifts with because no one wanted to defy the clan and end up in my position, too. I could have dozed off without realizing it, and snapped back awake and pushed back the memory into the back of my mind just as quickly... But I'd trained for much of my life to do this. To protect. Sleep was never an issue, not even when I failed—once. Just once. After standing guard almost all day, every day, nothing as pathetic as sleep should have interfered.
It always seemed like there was some kind of opposition to every aspect of my life. It always seemed like life and fate were trying to show me that things could never go completely right or completely wrong, that it all fell somewhere in between and that was how it was meant to be. I never questioned this idea until now, when I thought that I should've felt his presence or smelled him or seen him. He still would have attacked. He still would have taken and given... everything. But things would have made some sort of sense if I had seen something, anything.
It's funny, I guess. Humans are supposed to make some kind of mark when walking through the forest like the one I lived in. They're supposed to snap twigs or leave footprints or mess with the branches and leaves on the trees simply out of boredom. Even if the human that attacked me hadn't done any of this, I still should have seen his shadow with help from the few sun rays pouring through the tree canopies. Or a blur as ran behind me because he was... fast, so very fast.
This human, he was different.
I first noticed that he wasn't just another pokémon when he suddenly came from behind me and swung his leg out to hit the side of my tail as quickly and as hard as he could, causing me to immediately lose my balance and fall face forward into the ground. And as I fell, I was expecting to see claws. Paws. Not human flesh caked with dried dirt and blood.
To say that I was a bit surprised would be an understatement. Before, I was walking around the forest, making sure that everything seemed peaceful. I thought that I was paying attention. Not only had he attacked me after being completely undetected, but I had never seen a human attack anyone before. Only pokémon seemed capable of and willing to face the challenge in the past. I didn't know how to react to this new situation. So I simply remained where I was, silently hoping against hope that he would realize that I wasn't worth the effort and walk away. And then it hit me that this human was a threat to my clan. If he was willing to hurt me, then he would be willing to hurt any other pokémon. And they didn't know he was here. Of course I was the only one that knew he was here.
And of course I was choosing to just... lie on the ground. Though my intentions were true, my confidence was gone. There was no one to cheer me on from the side, no one to acknowledge my efforts, no one to come and assist me at times like these, when things were going wrong.
I didn't really know what else to do. What could I do? Scream? My clan would ignore me and think that I was looking for attention or help for absolutely nothing. I could run to them, but I would probably lead the attacker straight to them. Unacceptable. But I couldn't attack, that much was clear. I didn't know how to track him, I couldn't even see him move properly, and I didn't feel that pokémon and humans should fight. For a moment, I wished that I had had previous experience with fighting humans, but that seemed to be the same as wishing for more attacks on my clan, so I pushed the thought away.
Suddenly, I realized that time had passed, and the human had done nothing else. Time was passing with him standing silently nearby and with me doing nothing but thinking too much. He was most likely waiting for me to do something.
Eventually, I lifted my head up slowly, carefully. The view before me was skewed since mud clung to my face. All I saw were bits and pieces of branches swaying with the wind, bits and pieces of trees just sitting. And watching. Just as they always do. It was all so peaceful and life was so easy for them and they didn't even know it and that would never know and I would always, always know and—
And maybe, just maybe, there were bits and pieces of a stream in my view. Water moving gently in the only direction it knows, going nowhere at full speed. I might have been imagining it, and I sure hope that I was, because if that were true, that would mean the attacker was very close to my clan and I didn't want that. I didn't want that at all.
There were no signs of the human's presence. Fate had sent danger my way and didn't want me to see it, apparently.
I thought that my attacker was still behind me, because it didn't make sense for him to send me sprawling toward the mud only to leave. Finally, I stood up, clenching my tiny hands. I turned around quickly and pulled my fist back, intending to use my sucker punch attack, but no one was there. Briefly, I thought that I had fallen over on my own, and that I was torturing myself by creating visions of a human, believing that it would waste its time on me before realizing its mistake, since no pokémon in the forest would make that mistake ever again.
But those thoughts were interrupted when, from the corner of my eyes, I saw him trying to kick me from the side this time. I didn't even have time to move an inch from my new position before he was pinning me to the ground with his foot. And he bent down, tried to pick me up with his hands. This was the only honest attempt I made during this so-called battle: I bit him. I bit him hard and he didn't cry out but he stopped trying to pick me up and instead, he pressed his foot down harder. And harder. Sharp pains coursed through my jaw; sharp pains flowed through my body so effortlessly, yet in deformed rhythms. I sank further and further into the mud, an everlasting reminder of what defeat really is. And I screamed. I wailed.
My cry echoed and echoed and time passed and it was still just the two of us at the end of it all.
No one was coming to help me and I wasn't going to help myself and finally, finally, he stopped pinning me down and he stepped over me, turned to face me. And he stood there, his fist raised, blood seeping down his right hand to his elbows and inevitably to the innocent forest floor. His tense face had no clear expression; his dark eyes showed no feeling. And I knew, I knew that he was trying to say that he was waiting for me to do something. That he thought I was too slow and needed some kind of false hope.
I didn't move. I didn't say anything. I was giving in, and at the same time, I wasn't. He could have me, as long as he left my clan alone.
Eventually, he moved toward me again. Slowly. Carefully. He shouldn't have been giving out second chances. But he did and I didn't take them as he pulled his arm back and as his fist collided with my body with more force than I could ever imagine a human having. The world seemed to be spinning as I fell back into the mud and saw the sky looking down on me instead of the human. And then there was nothing.
Before I fainted, I could have sworn I heard him sigh and look... disappointed. That was the very first emotion I saw from him, and I will always remember it. But I didn't know what he was expecting. Pokémon are supposed to fight other pokémon, not humans. Was this guy a trainer? He couldn't have been, and maybe I just hadn't spent enough time with him yet, but there was nothing else truly... off about him at this point. Except for the emotionless face and the fact that he wasn't wearing shoes because he was kicking me around, he looked somewhat like all the other young trainers that passed through here with his unkempt black hair, a plain black t-shirt, and shorts that were frayed at the bottom.
Had he not attacked me, I would have thought that he was just like everyone else.
He was different, though.
His movements: silent, yet loud enough to shake the earth and throw it off balance. His words: non-existent, yet sharp enough to break the skin.
When I regained consciousness, I felt a dull, soft throbbing on the side of my head. I was able to open my eyes, though it didn't help the dizziness that accompanied the pain. Confused at first because everything seemed blurry, I kept blinking and my vision slowly became clear.
The first thing I noticed was that the mud on my face was gone.
The second thing I noticed was that I was propped up against a tree and I could see the area where my body was facing the ground not long ago.
And third? My attacker was sitting right next to me, just staring off into the distance, seemingly unaware of my awakening. I thought that I would have been better off unconscious, or at least with my eyes pasted shut. I did not want to see what he was capable of doing next.
I was able to relax, however, when I was able to understand that the forest, aside from our pathetic battlefield, was left untouched. My clan wasn't running around, some panicking at the idea of danger, some preparing to fight. But if they showed up and saw this human next to me, this human so calloused and dirty and void of emotion, they would know that he was some kind of fighter. And they would hate me even more for allowing this threat to be let free.
I wanted to just get up and run. Physically, I didn't know if it was possible. The human had come pretty close to successfully crushing my skull, after all. I was also tired and lacking in energy and motivation. He would catch me easily. What I also wanted to do was tell the human that it wasn't his fault that I wanted to run, that it wasn't his fault that I didn't want to give him a second chance. That it wasn't his fault that I thought I deserved to be attacked the way I was. Of course, I didn't think that he would understand me anyway. In the end, everything I did would have been in vain.
Realizing this, I sighed. I didn't mean to. I really didn't.
Before, the human was just leaning against the tree and he had his arms wrapped around his legs, holding his knees close to his face, his left hand holding on his right wrist. His bloody wrist. And he seemed all right, aside from the dark, dark red painted on his skin. He really did.
But I sighed and that slight noise made him turn his head in my direction immediately and he stared at me with those cold, dark eyes and with a face that I couldn't quite read, no matter how hard I tried or how badly I wanted to. And the grip on his own hands tightened around his right wrist and didn't seem to want to let go as he allowed his knuckles to turn white. White as snow. Whiter than white. I should have been scared. Anyone else would have been scared, but all I could think about was how he was threatening the circulation to his hands by doing so and it wasn't his fault at all. Somehow, it was mine.
"You're awake," he said after a few more moments of nothing.
So much for running. I jumped a bit when he spoke, because I hadn't even thought about him trying to communicate with me and I wasn't expecting his voice to sound both hollow and childish at once. I wasn't sure how that was possible, but that was the best way to describe it at the time.
Moments before, I was regretting making a sound, but now, I wanted to say something again. That, again, it wasn't his fault—but that wouldn't mean anything. What would I have told the children from my clan to do? I would tell them to play along. Get on his good side, act cheerful, and leave whenever the right opportunity presented itself. An opportunity that showed no potential for revenge, anger, or other threats.
"Stating the obvious, are we?" I said, trying to ignore the pain in my jaw, trying to make myself feel lighthearted in order to offer him a somewhat sincere chuckle or smile.
"Yes, I guess I am."
"Look, I—" I cut myself off when I realized that he had actually responded to me. Understood me. Did he, really? This human was different, yes, but it didn't seem likely that he would mistake a genuine, happy response for some sarcastic and somewhat insulting comment directed at him. And suddenly, nothing made sense again.
"Why... Why do you understand me?" I managed to ask even with his stare burning holes into me again and again.
"Am I not supposed to?"
"You're... not supposed to know what I was saying, no. New trainers come by here with their pokémon all the time. They have to try to read their pokémon's body language and gestures first, and the language will come in time, I assume, since I've seen older trainers come by, too... I don't understand..." I stopped myself after I realized that I was rambling.
"If it helps you, I can pretend to not understand."
"If it helps me to do what?" I asked, shifting uncomfortably against the rough trunk of the tree.
His answer sort of explained why he felt the need to attack me earlier. He wanted to test my strength. The outcome, apparently, was that I was weak. That, I could understand, at least. But there was something missing.
"Why would you need me to get stronger?"
Perhaps the only time he couldn't seem to look at me that day was before he answered, "We're going on a journey. For the badges here in Johto. I'm sure you've seen others do it, right? They told me to go and find the first pokémon I saw and capture it, and that was you. The meeting was different than I expected, but... you'll have to do."
"I still don't—"
"You're my first pokémon, Senori."
The human sounded so sure of himself, but I wasn't sure at all. This would mean leaving my clan. Not that they wanted me, but I was convinced that they still needed me. All of them. They just didn't know it. I couldn't leave and come back to find them maimed or eaten or burned to the ground with the rest of the forest or anything else. The blame would go to me—again. No, no, no. And who was Senori? Clearly, it was me, but that wasn't my name. I had never heard it before in my life, but there it was, directed at me, as if I had possessed it my entire life. But the finality of his words almost made my heart stop. Almost made everything seem okay and... real.
I decided to start with the idea that was most likely to help me keep my sanity.
"Um... I'm sorry, but that's not my name. I'm usually called—"
"I don't care what anyone's called you. Your name is Senori," he interrupted, his gaze focused on me once more.
"Fine. It doesn't matter, because I'm not going anywhere with you." I paused for a moment, realizing my quick temper toward him could get me into more trouble if I wasn't careful. He didn't reply, just smiled slightly, as if what I was saying meant nothing. After a few moments, I smiled, too, and continued, "You didn't even catch me in a pokéball. All trainers get their first pokémon in New Bark Town, anyway, which is very close to here. I don't know who helps you start out, really, but I'm sure you can ask around."
The human's eyes widened, as if what I had said now was some kind of revelation that needed to be made known to the entire world. "But that's not what they told me to do. I just listened. I just listened..." His voice trailed off, and he appeared to be lost in thought before he came up with what he thought was an appropriate response. "You're coming with me, and I'll get a pokémon in... New Bark Town, too. That way, I'm doing it right for everyone."
I wondered why this boy didn't know how to start his own pokémon journey properly. Every child always talked on and on about how they imagined their first day as a trainer ever since they learned about the idea of going out, raising all of their favorite creatures and making friends, and becoming so free, so independent, so strong. I started to think that, maybe, his parents kept him sheltered from the idea... but I didn't see how that was possible. There was no way that he would not have heard the fact that he could leave for his journey at the age of ten. Maybe his parents forbid him to go, but he went anyway, and he didn't want to talk to whoever gave out starting pokémon, and he was feigning innocence, but...
I was getting nowhere with these senseless thoughts. That was my problem: I thought too much, and I knew next to nothing. All I knew was that I wasn't leaving with him, and that I would have to get him away from me and out of this forest somehow. Someone else would have to take care of him. There's always someone who wants nothing more than to hold someone else's hand until they know it's time to let go.
"Okay," I said, and realized it was the wrong thing to say when his eyes brightened, just a little bit. "Um... I'll go with you to New Bark Town and see what I can do about helping you get that real first pokémon in your first real pokéball. But then I'm out of here. I have family and friends that I need to stay with."
In response to the last sentence, the words stuck in my throat while his face contorted with fury and he clenched his fists again. "You can't go," he said firmly, looking down at the ground. "You can't ruin this for me. You can't."
"Ruin what? Your journey? There are plenty of other sentret on the other side of Cherrygrove, if you really want one. Just... It can't be me."
"It has to be you. There is no one else but you." He stopped, reached into his pocket and I could feel myself tense up quickly. He pulled out a small object shaped like a cube. It had smooth, rounded corners. It was white with a varying amount of black dots placed randomly on each side. I didn't know what the black parts meant, but it seemed harmless enough, so I relaxed and settled against the tree once more. I remained calm even as he forcefully handed the object to me.
"What's this for?" I asked, struggling to hold it in my rather diminutive paws.
"It's a standard six-sided die. Roll it."
"Excuse me? Roll it?"
"I don't know what you mean..."
"Just roll it. Throw it. Whatever. I can't do it for you or it won't mean anything."
"It's been with me for years. It lasted all this time, survived all the obstacles thrown its way, only to end up in your hands. Only you can roll it." He pushed the paw holding the die toward my chest, causing me to feel a pressure similar to when his foot was pressed against my body. My bones ached, and somehow, I felt my heart when I thought that it was gone. "There is no one else but you," he added, placing emphasis on each and every word.
"What happens when I roll it?" I asked, not quite ready to give in. I was never sure of others unless I knew them personally. I was always careful to not get caught up in someone else's lies or bad intentions. I was sure that here was some good in everyone, but this belief couldn't make me any less wary of him. I didn't trust him and I kept wanting to ask and ask and ask, which made sense, but I wanted to learn more and I didn't know why.
"You'll see that I am right."
I couldn't gather the courage needed to ask anything else. I thrust my paw forward, releasing the object, my eyes never leaving it. It rolled around in the grass before determinedly landing on the side with a single black dot on it. I didn't feel a thing, but his smile was so, so wide, and I was more interested in the object after seeing him like that.
"See? You're number one. There is no one else but you. Even if that pokémon from New Bark Town is supposed to be my first, it won't be. It never will be." He reached forward and grabbed the die delicately, as if he was scared that it might break if he wasn't careful. He held it up high, toward the small amount of sun that was able to pour through the tree canopies. "I'll keep it in my pocket so that you'll always know, Senori. And so everyone else will know. Let's go. Now."
I was reluctant, I swear. I always wanted to be loved, needed. I couldn't help it. I was especially desperate since that terrible incident. And being called number one, well, that fit right into my desires. But I wanted to be loved by the family that I grew up with. The members that I swore to protect from the moment they were born. But they weren't there when this human came to me and they weren't here now and who was I to say that they would definitely be with me at any point in the future? This was my chance. My opportunity. Not theirs. Never would it be theirs. I knew all of this, but I still didn't want to go.
"...Okay. Let's go. But, um... I'm sorry, but I don't know your name." I paused. Stay optimistic. Stay happy and believe in fate. For them, forever and always. "Should I decide it for you?"
And I started to think that, maybe, I was unsure about him and didn't want to leave because—
"My name? My name is Sai."
—I just didn't want him to be right.
We started walking, away from the site of the attack and away from my clan. But I didn't say good-bye. Not yet. We'd have to turn around and come back, and then... Well, I didn't know what I would do then. I tried to turn around to look back, as if it really was my last time seeing this place, but Sai was blocking my way.
"I'm carrying you because it will go faster," he said, annoyed by my constant movement. "From here on out, you could just walk and suck it up."
I wanted to protest and say that he was the one who had caused the pain to begin with, and that if he hadn't come along and ruined everything, then I'd be just fine.
"So... why can you understand me already?" I asked instead.
"That doesn't matter. Are we close yet?"
"It sounds to me like you just don't know. You don't have any kind of explanation, do you?"
Sai stopped walking abruptly and turned me around to face him, obviously not caring about causing further wounds. He was frowning and his eyes seemed even darker than before, and I thought that he was going to explode and attack me again, but he didn't. He set me down on the ground quickly and ordered me to keep walking.
"You can suck it up now rather than later, then. Don't complain. It was your choice," he said, and then waited impatiently for me to start moving.
I took a few steps and realized that I couldn't quite walk straight. I wondered how Sai ended up by me and still didn't know how to get to the two closest cities. I wondered if I was even taking Sai down the right path toward New Bark Town, because if I wasn't... He got angry fast. Real fast. And I didn't want that.
"So what starter pokémon are you thinking of choosing when we get there, anyway?" I asked, trying to distract myself from that thought.
"I don't know. Does it matter?" he asked curiously.
"Well, yeah. They're different types, all with different strengths and weaknesses. Some specialize in attack while others specialize in defense. There's a lot of things to consider."
Sai didn't say anything for the longest time, and I shrugged it off, thinking that he was just daydreaming about what he'd get. I didn't know then that he had no idea what starter pokémon were even available. I never thought that his lack of knowledge could go this far.
"And you're going to help me, right?" he finally said, throwing me off guard when I was already dizzy to begin with. I almost toppled over, but regained my balance and absorbed his words.
"Help you do... what?" I asked, thinking about the last time we talked about helping each other through lack of communication. The conversation didn't look too hopeful.
"You'll tell me about each of them. The pokémon. And then I'm going to watch them and I'll decide from there. The one with the most potential will join us."
"The most potential for what? Actually, nevermind that! You can't just... watch them!" I cried, stopping and nearly falling over again. He stopped, too, and once I knew I was holding his attention, I continued, "Most trainers just walk in, knowing who they want, and they take that pokémon along with any other items the person gives them, and that's that. They're so excited about it and they blabber on about it for hours when they pass this forest. It seems like it's all a part of the journey. Why are you making this so complicated? Why are you the only one who doesn't know what to do?"
Sai paused. "As long as I get the pokémon, it shouldn't matter, right?" he said slowly. "It's still starting out the correct way."
"I suppose that's true," I said quietly, reluctantly, unsure of whose rules he was so determined to follow until the end.
"And you're going to help me, right?" he repeated with that same hollow and childish voice. Like he was embarrassed to ask for my help but he needed it more than anything else in the world so he gave in and asked anyway. And I didn't know why he needed this help. I wouldn't know why for a very long time. Once, I thought that I accepted once more because of my penchant for taking care of others. I thought that it was because he both wanted and needed me, unlike my clan. Or it was because I was afraid of what he'd do to me if I didn't. It would take time until I realized how wrong I was.
"Don't worry. I'm going to take care of you," I said.
My voice was so, so cold.