An older woman stood behind a counter, dusting off a bottle. Her face was worn and scarred, deep wrinkles lined her once beautiful face. Times were hard, and only the strong survived past their youth.
Marts were no longer a place for Pokemon trainers to converge and buy items, now they were dingy stores which sold daily and rare items for expensive prices, sometimes - if Nick was lucky – items which could also be used on Pokemon.
The shop-owner was in deep thought when the door was opened; the bell rang out alerting her to the stranger's presence. She quickly stowed the bottle beneath the counter.
The person who walked in looked just below six foot, a large cloak was wrapped around him. His hood was pushed back revealing shoulder length hair matted with dirt and grime, perhaps thirty years ago the mart-owner would have been surprised about this, but nowadays this look was the norm. Tess knew all the locals of the town just by looking at them; and this person was definitely not someone she recognized.
The young trainer looked around the store, taking in the view. He noticed the place was covered in a thin layer of dust, and small cracks lined the walls. At one end of the shop was a counter, in front of that were a few chairs for customers. Behind the counter Nick could see bottles of alcohol and other drinks, this place was not just a normal mart. Although compared to a lot of the stores he'd seen this place was paradise.
Nick walked up to the counter and sat down. The stool was old and rickety, each movement made it sound like it was groaning in pain. Apart from the echoing sound there was no noise in the mart, finally the older women looked up and spoke"Why are you 'ere?"
Nick raised an eyebrow feigning puzzlement"I'm here to get some supplies."
Tess' eyes narrowed, she had been on this earth far longer than this child, and she wasn't going to be played."Don't be arrogant with me…, I know your type. You little muks think you rule the world just because you've seen some things, well let me tell you somethin'… you're not the only person who's been through a lot."
A look of anger quickly flashed across the trainer's face, he quickly stood up and looked eye to eye at the mart-owner."You shouldn't be so quick to judge."
She was about to come back with a retort when she caught sight of something on his person, three little poke-balls were clasped on to his belt. Tess' eyes widened slightly in shock, the person she had been just shouting at was a Pokémon trainer, she would have to be more cautious.
Nick noticed the sudden change in Tess' behaviour, and he cursed silently to himself."Look I'm not going t-"
"It's my fault," she interrupted"You're the only trainer I've ever met, I didn't realize."
This whole thing sickened him, this women – his elder – was afraid of him, he had been quick to anger and now he was ashamed of his behaviour, lack of interaction with others had left its mark. Nick stood backwards from the counter trying to diffuse the situation, he didn't have much time.
"I am sorry, all I wanted to do was buy some Iron and maybe some medical supplies or two, I didn't mean to scare you," He tried his best to speak in a calm and controlled voice, not wanting to cause trouble, he'd arrived at the mart for a reason and he couldn't leave until he got what he came for.
Tess slowly shook her head, she was getting too old for danger and excitement, the reason she had opened up this mart was to settle down and live her life. Long before opening this place she had her fair share of trouble, and she certainly didn't want any of that here.
"Calm yourself down lad, I'm not gonna go off crying for the border guards." Tess spoke softly, as if she didn't want to be heard. "We get a lot of shady visitors in this city, this place attracts all kind of scum." She took a moment to clear her throat."No offence of course."
Nick looked straight at Tess; even though she had just insulted him he could see she didn't feel guilty, and that look is what made him make his mind up.
"I know... and you know that you meant what you just said, let's just get this done with. I'm sick and tired of being treated like dirt, just please give me the supplies and then I'll give you the money."
The mart-keeper stared directly back into the trainer's eyes, he was right of course, no-one respected trainers and for good reason. Trainer's allied themselves with Pokémon - enemies of humans, and for betraying their own kind they deserved everything they got.
Tess was the first to break eye contact; although he was just a teenager she could see he was carrying a great burden, that was something she could relate to. Without a word Tess grabbed a bottle of Iron from behind the counter, quickly followed by the medicine bottle she had been cleaning earlier.
The young trainer observed the merchandise which had been placed in front of him; it all seemed to be of satisfactory quality. Nick reached into one of his pockets and pulled out all of the money inside, he placed it on the counter for her to see. The trainer watched as Tess began counting the money, it seemed to be enough but he knew these poke-mart owners could be trouble.
"You're a couple of dollars short." The mart owner had just finished counting the money; it was obvious she believed he should pay more than necessary. Even though she seemed weary of the Trainer's presence, she didn't seem to be too bothered about over-charging him.
Nick gave her a disgusted look,"you got to be kidding me, even by the most luxurious of mart prices that money is enough."
"That may be true, but you're forgetting one thing."
"And what's that?"Nick was getting aggravated at this point.
"You're a trainer."
"And?" he jabbed back with venom in his voice.
Tess made a rather unattractive snort "I'm not stupid kid, I know what your gonna use that Iron for, and you look perfectly fine so you must need those medical supplies for somebody else... something else"
The trainer turned away from Tess, trying not to lose his cool."Look, I know you don't care about Pokémon or other people, but I do. If you sell me this medicine you'll be saving a life."
Something about this person unnerved her; he wasn't like other people in this world, it seemed like he had something he cared for, even if it was a Pokémon"I'll tell you what kid, I sell you this and you do me a favour, okay?"
"Anything." he replied, unable to keep the desperation from his voice.
Tess grabbed all the cash from a top of the counter, nearly twice of what the items were worth, although Nick didn't even flinch as all the money he had was being taken. Carefully the mart owner scrunched up the Poke-dollars, making sure not to tear any of the precious money.
"I'll give you these items if you promise never to come to this mart again. Scratch that, I'll give you these if you leave this town now and never look back."
Relief flooded Nick's face, out of all the possibilities he could have thought up this was the least damaging. With great enthusiasm the trainer grabbed the items from the desk"Thanks... and don't worry, I'll never step forward in this ****-hole ever again."
Tess couldn't help but grin as the teenager placed the items into his cloak; it seemed as if she had just given him the world. The teenager had just begun to leave the mart when Tess spoke up"Your friend…I hope he gets better."
Nick stopped as she said this, his hand hovering over the handle. He had never expected for her to say something like that, it had taken him entirely by surprise. Maybe there was hope for the human race yet.
The mart owner continued to watch as he turned the handle meaning to leave, but just before he left the shop he muttered three words.
"So do I."