Here be Chapter three
Gone but didn't forget
Oak ran down memory lane, recalling the days of harsh rain and snow and whatever else Arceus could throw at him in one day. Wrestling Kangaskhan for food, not to capture them, putting out fires on tents and homes in the middle of a battle gone too far, having to fight through sickness and sometimes life changing blows from wild creatures or even the worst of human kind. The professor was lost in retelling his old stories of youth, attempting poorly in relaying the methods of survival to the three while giving into to self praise.
As the old man told his tales, Melody had been writing down every detail she could gather in a three ring binder she had been keeping in her back pack, along with pencils and other utensils of the like. Many times she would raise her hand and ask the Professor to stop or repeat what he just said. This was done to Zanas's displeasure, as for once he was enjoying Oak's long winded speeches. It took a lot of lip biting for Zanas not to scream at the girl to stop asking so many questions and just listen. But in time the Professor had filled his speaking quota, and slumped in his chair and caught his breath. After so many hours of talking, silence filled the room, but it was a welcomed silence. Oak turned to face the clock just above his closet door, seeing the hands point to twelve in the morning.
"My goodness is it already that late?" The professor blushed, as he scratched his head. "Sorry for keeping you three here so late, I never get lost in my own self praise for so long."
That's a lie Zanas thought, and as he and Gary met glances, he knew his friend was thinking the same.
"I don't mind at all, professor." Melody chimed in with an honest tone. "Those were interesting tales, but I actually have a few more questions about how you managed to bring a Kangaskhan down by yourself. If you don't mind keeping me longer that is?"
Does this girl want to be here all night? Interesting stories aside, I wanna live my own adventure not hear any more of his. Zanas and Gary looked between Melody and the old man, seeing the all-too-familiar twinkle in his eye. He was ready for round two, now with a Q and A. The boys jumped from their seats and quickly gave their goodbyes to Melody and Gary's grandfather in incomprehensible mumbles, then bolted for the door like there was no tomorrow.
Zanas and Gary were greeted by the outside world with a cold breeze and the sound of crickets in the background, with the occasional light flickering in the distance from the insect Pokemon of the grass and trees. Zanas leaned backward, attempting to pop his back after sitting in place for so long, seeing a small figure fall off his shoulder along with his brown fedora.
"Hey?!" Prince jolted as he thumped on the ground. The purple rodent quickly shifted to his feet and looked at his surroundings, shooting out questions left and right. "Who? Where? What? How?!"
"Calm down buck-tooth, we're just outside the lab." Zanas assured the Ratatata.
Prince looked at Zanas for a moment, still registering the words. His breathing slowed to a normal pace as he sat up straight and proper. "I can see that now." Prince's eyes went wide and his elegant stance broke as he seemed to realize the time of day. "How the heck long did that old coot keep us in there for?!"
Zanas walked over to Prince after picking up his hat, readjusting it on his head, forward then pushing it back to just above his bangs. "About four or five hours. You should of stayed awake. Things got interesting." The boy stretched his arm out for Prince to climb back up on his shoulder, petting the rat to calm his nerves. "But I give you credit for not begging me to leave for those four hours."
"Well what kind of a proper beeing would I be if I didn't understand the virtue of patience?" Prince moved his front paws, motioning with his words to appear as elegant as he sounded.
Zanas flicked the rodent's nose. "You'd be the same spoiled rotten rat but even more insufferable."
"Count your blessings for my perfect nature then."
Zanas shook his head and went back to petting the Pokémon on his shoulder, as he turned to Gary, who was squatting down to pet his Squirtle's underbelly. Gary turned to Zanas, as if feeling the boy's gaze on him and rolled his eyes toward the blue turtle. "I'm starting to see why you complain about petting Prince so much."
Zanas smiled as he let out a sigh. "Welcome to the world of a Pokémon Trainer. Hust a fancy title for a personal petting machine."
Gary shook his head and stood up, his Squirtle looking up at its new master with big open eyes. Zanas stared at those eyes, large and black with open wonder…like a puppy. He looked to his friend with confusion written all over his face. "Gary, how old is that Squirtle?"
Gary looked back to his partner Pokémon and shrugged. "Maybe a couple of months."
Zanas walked over and took Gary's place, petting the Squirtle's under shell. The water Pokémon didn't resist and laid back, rocking back in forth in delight. "He's cute."
"Yeah he is." Gary confirmed, kneeling next to Zanas. "But he's a bruiser as well. I tried to tell him not to do something earlier today and he tackled me."
Zanas laughed at this, Prince crawling up and laying in the indent in the boys fedora to stay a part of the conversation. "You got brought down by a baby Squirtle?"
"Ha, hardly." Gary picked up and rolled the Pokémon over with his foot. "Mikey knocked the wind out of me but that's about it." Gary grabbed Mikey by his swirled blue tail and lifted him in the air. "He's pretty immobile when I do this." The Squirtle fidgeted and tried desperately to fight back, its voice resembling that of a small boy to Zanas's ears as it grumbled and whined.
"You really think you should be holding him like that?"
Gary set the shelled creature down as Zanas spoke, Mikey quickly retaliating with a tackle. Gary took the shot hard in the stomach and fell back a couple feet from where he once stood, Mikey flying with him as Gary held him close. Zanas started to run to his friend, but the spiky-haired boy put his hand up before Zanas got too close.
"It's fine." Gary groaned, getting back on his feet. He reached a hand down to Mikey, who flinched, expecting to be hit for his retaliation, but instead was pet gingerly. "I shouldn't have done that. I'm sorry." Mikey closed his eyes and rubbed against his trainer's hand, easily forgiving him.
Zanas relaxed and smiled watching the two accept the other apology quickly. "He seems perfect for you."
"You think so?" Gary jumped to his feet placing Mikey on his head like Prince, only unlike the rodent, Gary had to hold Mikey in place for fear of him rolling off.
"Sure. You're both stubborn and have a bad temper."
Mikey glowered at Zanas for the insult, Zanas surprised that a Pokémon so young could even comprehend what he was saying. Smarter than you look aren't you.
Gary took the insult in a more lighthearted manner, but his expression still showed his hurt pride. "Hey I'm not that bad am I?"
"The sleep over on NewYears three years ago."
Prince snickered at that memory. "Your first fight over a female, and you came out on top."
Zanas smiled snidely and bumped his fist with Prince's paw in triumph, as Gary set Mikey down. "Yeah I did get pretty pissed off that day and you beat me up pretty bad." Gary spoke with held back anger as he lowered his face from sight. "You apologized for weeks afterword's, but then…"
Zanas groaned and rolled his eyes as Gary lifted his head, revealing a wide smile of pride that had been hiding behind his feigned gloom. "I got the girl to kiss me in the end and all you got was the title of school bully."
"You can go straight to the Distortion World you jerk."
"Come on and make me fedora boy!"
The two glared at each other, both balling one hand into a fist and reaching behind them for their PokeBalls, just like they had done when they were busy pretending. The difference this time was it was for real. Zanas clicked the mini ball in his hands and enlarged it, pulling his arm back to throw and release his new partner, while Gary pointed toward Zanas and opened his mouth to shout a command to Mikey, who looked all too ready for a fight. This is for real. My first batt-
"Oh no you don't!" Prince shouted, pushing Zanas's fedora over his eyes just before he released the PokeBall.
"Hey, what gives?!" Zanas shouted, dropping the ball as he used both hands to rip Prince off his head. Prince held onto the fedora in his mouth looking at the boy with a blank look.
"It's late, I'm hungry, and we have to get up early tomorrow. Postpone the match."
"Like hell I will!" Zanas shouted. "We've been sitting on our butts for hours now and now is the time for a fight!"
"Hell ya!" Gary cheered, pumping one arm in the air. Even though Gary could only heare one side of the conversation, he still sided for a brawl. Mikey was even copying his trainer's motions and repeating his "Hell ya!"
"No." Prince said, pushing his paw into Zanas's right eyes, forcing it shut. "You will feed me now. Beside's we don't even know how much of a fight your new partner will have in him. Plus we don't even know what Pokémon he is."
Zanas glared at prince with his free eye but eventually subsided with a sigh. He's right. We could be at a huge type disadvantage and not even know it.
Zanas put his hat back on and let Prince back on his shoulder. "Another time." Zanas groaned
Gary shook his head but didn't seem too upset. " Im guessing Prince said no?"
Zanas nodded, glaring at his very needy Ratatata.
"Your just a slave to your pet aren't you Zanas."
Before Zanas or Prince could come back with a smart remark, Mikey grabbed at Gary's pant leg, pointing to his mouth and belly. Zanas and Prince laughed and gave a simultaneous "Awww" As Gary blushed and waved them off, returning his partner after promising him food. "Looks like we're both slaves."
Gary laughed turning toward the lab. "I gotta get my Grandpa out of that building so he can get some sleep. We've all got a long day tomorrow." He walked a bit closer before turning around to Zanas, who had leaned down to pick up the dropped PokeBall, finding it hadn't opened yet. "You got the PokeDex and the trainers badge right?"
Zanas pulled both the red tablet device and his card from his pockets just to prove he had them. Gary nodded and waved Zanas off without looking at him. Zanas turned to walk but halted instantly when Gary quickly shouted "Smell ya later Zanas."
He turned to curse his friend out, but the spiky haired prick had already run inside the lab building. Prince was laughing and desperately clinging to Zanas's shoulder now, unable to control himself. "He'll never let that go, haha!"
Zanas groaned, thankful that the black night would cover his red blush as he stormed home. "I'm surrounded by so much love in this town!"
The door creaked loudly, sending chills down Zanas's spine as he pushed the frame open. He always hated that sound. It was almost as unpleasant as fingers rubbing on a balloon or a foam noodle kids played with in pools. Prince shook his head as he leapt off the boys shoulder, running toward the kitchen, calling him over to feed him. "I demand sustenance!"
The rest of the house was similar to all the other homes in Pallet town. Kitchen in the back left as you come in, living room and TV in mid right. The only difference was the hard wood floors that replaced the usual carpet flooring, that and the recent lack of furniture and curtains and the fact Zanas couldn't see anything in front of him. He reached for the light switch to his left, warning Prince to be ready for the sudden flash. The switch flipped and made a plastic clicking noise, but there was no light from the ceiling fan. As Zanas focused his sight toward the fan, he noticed that there were not light bulbs installed. Zanas groaned, but not like usual. This was more silent and contained, but also more revealing. You even took the bulbs from the fan? I knew we were worse off then you told me.
"Here what I say?!" Prince yelled. "Hungry!
"Alright, alright." Zanas walked to the kitchen and kicked the door to the spin around drawer his mother always called "Lazy Susan". As the door spun around, Zanas was surprised to find both the upper and lower racks to the drawer bare. "Damnit" Zanas slammed his hand on the table, not feeling the cool granite top on his palm, but instead felt paper under his hand. Zanas squinted his eyes, to see the paper better; able to make out letters, but not clearly enough to read what exactly was written. Next to the paper was a cardboard box about the size of the TV the once took up an entire desk.
Prince, used to walks and hunts in the dark, leapt up to the table with ease, and sniffed the box. "Food?!" The rodent cried as he jumped inside and began devouring anything he could.
"Arceus Prince you act like I never feed you."
"I said I wanted food didn't I?" Prince mumbled with his mouth stuffed.
Zanas nodded. "Ya…ya you did."
As Prince pigged out in the box, Zanas leaned against the table, scanning the house as his eyes adjusted to the dark. It was just as empty as he had left it early that morning, and just like before, it didn't feel right. She really wanted out of this town. Zanas thought. No goodbyes or arguing him not to go. Was he really the only thing keeping her grounded in this place? Maybe it was best she didn't stay. No use trying to convince her otherwise and there was defiantly no need to be teary eyed before tomorrow.
The box next to Zanas continued to jerk around as Prince crawled inside. Zanas chucked and reached in to pull the rat out. "Will you wait for me to get you a bowl or something before you eat evrything?"
As Zanas placed Prince on the table the Pokémon drug out a black hat from inside. Zanas eyed the head wear then took it from the Pokémon, still having trouble seeing anything past the dark of the night. Even so, he didn't need eyes to tell what style of hat he was holding. "A fedora?"
"And by the smell I think it's brand new." Prince added "Maybe a couple days old."
Zanas eyed the hat, and then placed it on the table, reaching in to see what else was hidden inside. "Food…lots of it…a back pack…a map of the island…and money?!" The box was full of things that Zanas, or any other trainer would need to start out their travels. Was he supposed to see this earlier? Was she still home when he was cleaning up Oak's office?
Zanas stared at the content of the box, holding both the hat and the back pack, managing to make out the dark green color of the pack as well as the PokeBall symbol in the middle. When he looked up, Prince was smiling snidely. "What?"
Prince shook his head and made a clicking noise as he sat up proper. "You are such a mama's boy."
"Bug off rodent." Zanas pushed Prince back his hand, but the Pokémon held on. "You can't hide that smile from me, your relieved she didn't just leave you. You were probably going to cry."
Zanas waved the rat off. "Please. Me cry? Not gonna happen anytime soon."
"Mhm" Prince smiled and continued to give Zanas a look that made the boy want to pound him.
"Don't test me buck-tooth."
"Whatever." Prince jumped from the table to the boy pocket, pulling the PokeBall out. "Shall we see what surprise is inside?"
Zanas nodded and clicked the PokeBall to enlarge it. Without hesitation Zanas clicked the button again and the PokeBall opened, instantaneously releasing a burst of white light leaping to the floor. Zanas and Prince winced and covered their eyes, not ready for the sudden flash. For a long moment the two didn't dare open their eyes, until Zanas heard a yawn come from just in front of him. A light reddish orange lizard, with big orange eyes and a fir tipped tail sat on the ground, looking up to Zanas with the same open wonder that Gary's Squirtle did. The face wasn't like any kind of scaly creature Zanas had seen. It was rounded and cute like a human baby, but he could clearly see the scales that ran down it's body.
"A Charmander." Zanas breathed. Silence over took the house for the briefest of moments before Zanas knelt down to the baby, beaming a wide smile. "Hey there little guy." He spoke in a soft friendly tone as he slowly reached his hand out and pet the Pokémon. At first the creature growled, its eyes taking a more feral shape. Prince jumped back a bit, looking between the trainer and Pokémon. "Um Zanas?"
The boy ignored his friend and continued to pet the youngling, who continued to growl. Zanas pulled his hand away and stared at the fire type. "Your grumpy aren't you. Why's that?"
The Charmander didn't answer, instead a loud growl could be heard but not from the baby's throat, but it's stomach. Zanas jumped to his feet, now able to see thanks to the lizards flame, and reached in the bag to pull out a can of Pokémon food, as well as two small dishes. "If that was your only problem you should have just asked."
Zanas poured the dry food for both the baby and Prince, and took turns petting each as they ate. The fire spitter had stopped growling and instead moved its body with the hand that feed and pet it. Once both had finished eating, Zanas reached out his hand to the babe, quickly being licked and snuggled. Prince jumped from the table and stayed close to Zanas as the new born finished eating. "See, nothing to be afraid of."
"Hmm." Prince inched closer to the Charmander, and sniffed the creature, backing away as the Pokémon did the same. Both stared at each other with wide eyes for a long moment. Then the baby, closed its eye's and smiled, lifting a paw up. Prince jumped back, growling, expecting to be scratched. But when the Fire type lowered its paw and tilted its head in confusion, prince realized it meant no harm.
The rodent walked back and lifted a paw, motioning for the Charmander to copy him, which it did. Prince then slapped his paw with the younglings and smiled. The Pokémon looked at its paw then back at the Ratatata and raised its hand outward toward Prince high pawing the royal rodent again. Prince nodded and stood tall facing Zanas. "I never believed this one was trouble."
Zanas shook his head, not wanting to argue with his friend. The boy stood and looked among the things he had pulled out of the box, able to see more clearly now thanks to the Charmander. He reached for the new fedora, and just like Prince said, it was brand new, the tags still attached to the fabric. Zanas removed the stickers and tags, and examined the hat. It was similar to his brown one in style, with the indent on tope that bulged out when worn, and the dip in the front that gave it its specific look. Unlike the other hat it was all black and no other notable designs except for one.
A purple design that looked similar to the ghost Pokémon Haunter was sewn in the right front side of the hat. The design looked just like the creature with a upside down triangular body with two claw like hands that had not attachment to the body what so ever. To make out a mouth and eyes, the designers had left open sockets and gap in place. It was a clever design, one that Zanas hardily approved of. "Not bad mom."
Zanas looked over the rest of the items, the food all was canned or packaged so that it could be stored and cooked for later, and the back pack looked the same in the light as in the dark. Zanas's eyes skimmed over what was left from the box with little interest until his eyes fell upon the note once more. He could make out the words now and read it. He took the letter and squat down to the other to Pokémon, reading the letter to himself as he lightly pushed the Charmander's tail closer toward him.
"I don't know what you did but Oak probably has you cleaning up another on of his messes again. The house isn't going anywhere and your room will be kept the same. Sleep well and get rested before you leave tomorrow. The box has everything you'll need. I don't agree with you going on this journey. I never will. But I won't stop you. I won't support you all throughout this but if you ever get into trouble that you can't handle please come home or call me. I love you. Be safe for me."
The note was short, but it said enough. Zanas held the note tightly in his hand as he forced back his tears. No way was he going to cry in front of Prince right now. He folded the paper up and placed it into one of the multiple pockets of the back pack, before loading up the food in as many folds as he could. When he finished he turned to both Pokémon, petting them both but turning to the Charmander. "Were gonna go on one heck of a journey tomorrow. We wanna travel the world, and do some battling along the way."
"Not to mention meet as many women as possible." Zanas flicked Princes nose, but the rat smiled anyway.
"So Duke. Wanna come with?"
The Charmander titled its head for the first time since Zanas spoke. "Duke?" It questioned, with a child's voice.
"That's your name from now on. It's a brave name for a brave guy like you."
Prince snickered. "Not to mention the name of a failed star."
Zanas chuckled. "Well this Duke can bring back the name and make it awesome again." The boy turned back to the youngling and raised an open palm like Prince had done before. "So what do you say?"
The Charmander bit its claw, pondering the offer as best it could. It looked to Prince still questioning its choice, as the rat gave a claw up and nodded his head. This seemed to be enough to sway the fire type as he quickly smiled with an open mouth and pawed the boy's hand. "Well I guess you're in."
Duke nodded his head, smiling with his eyes closed. "You know," Prince said as he pointed to the newly named Duke. "He technically didn't 'Say' anything."