Walking through the Corona forest, a sharp realization cut into Chrome.
This is the longest amount of time he has ever spent around a girl at once.
Taking in the severity of multiple situations since his journey, he didn't once stop to focus on the things that he should have reacted to as a normal teen. Although, being thrust into a Pokemon journey, being attacked twice and winning a Gym battle seemed quite huge in comparison.
Only now, as Marie clung to his arm, did he realize that he was a 15 year-old boy. The fluctuating nervousness of his body's electrical current put Pichu to sleep. The little mouse never seemed more comfortable with Chrome's worry.
Like any young girl, it was only natural that Marie was afraid of Bug Pokemon. Even Melancholy used to say that they bothered her. Though, Melancholy never showed her fear as much as Marie did. Marie kept her eyes close, hoping only for Chrome to guide her as she hugged his arm tight.
Chrome found it fairly cute, if not embarrassingly cute.
However, Chrome didn't have the gull to tell her that they would likely be camping out in the forest for the time being. It seemed almost endless and it was already nighttime. They'd only get lost walking around in the night.
Eventually, Chrome spotted a nice open spot with lots of space and not too many trees. Here, he stopped walking. Soon after Marie opened her eyes, she figured out what this meant.
MARIE: No! No! No! Please don't!
CHROME: Sorry, we don't have much of a choice. It's either this or chance walking around in this forest for an extra long time. At least this way, we get some rest.
MARIE: We could use Ponyta and Cyndaquil to light the way!
CHROME: That's asking for a forest fire, though. Not to mention, they'd both get worn out after awhile.
MARIE: Oh yeah, you're right.
CHROME: You were prepared to camp out, weren't you?
MARIE: Well, yeah . . . I just didn't think I would do it in a forest.
CHROME: According to the map on the PokeGear, it's the only major forest in the region.
MARIE: Yeah, this PokeGear is really helpful. Too bad the compass doesn't work too well around Pichu.
Pichu became unnecessarily defiant since they entered the forest, even refusing to stay in his pokeball despite the fact that it messed with the compasses direction. It left Marie and Chrome walking in a straight line to avoid accidentally skewing off the path.
CHROME: Sorry about that.
MARIE: I guess it's not your fault. More importantly, how are we going to keep the bugs away?
Chrome grabbed a few branched and a couple of rocks and using Cyndaquil, he erected a fire. Though he never actually camped anywhere, he could still remember his mom teaching him how to get a strong fire going.
CHROME: There. The fire should keep any bug Pokemon away without burning us to a crisp. If you're still scared of them, you can keep clinging to me.
MARIE: [blushes] Stop making fun of me!
CHROME: Huh? I wasn't making fun of you.
MARIE: Wait, you were serious?
CHROME: Pretty much, yeah.
Marie's face showed a mixture of embarrassment and confusion.
MARIE: Chrome, you don't find anything unusual about that? Clinging to you while we lay down?
CHROME: No, not really. It's natural to be close to someone when you're scared.
Chrome actually meant that. Marie couldn't comprehend a teenage boy without ulterior motives inviting her to get closer to him. Especially considering where she came from. She tried to shrug it off, but she was especially embarrassed at thought of it. Even after Chrome actually laid in his sleeping bag, she would turn to him, actually considering getting closer to the boy.
MARIE: Chrome, are you awake?
CHROME: Yeah, can't sleep.
MARIE: Me either.
CHROME: Bugs still getting to you?
MARIE: It's not just the bugs, Chrome.
CHROME: . . . I know. I couldn't stop thinking about what Inspector Jen said either.
MARIE: Didn't you wonder what could have happened to us if we loss?
CHROME: Yeah. For now, I'm just glad we won. But . . .
MARIE: But what?
CHROME: I think about the trainers that didn't win. Imagine how many that must be. Being shacked up and then shipped out against their will.
MARIE: I never thought about that. Having their Pokemon stripped away from them and all . . .
CHROME: Yeah . . . but most importantly, they lose the freedom that they so badly wanted. Leaving their home to adventure around with little creatures who endanger them just as much as the ones they battle.
Marie didn't like the tone that Chrome's voice started to take. There was a strong reason for that. As he talked, Chrome realized that Faust and Melancholy were out there. Melancholy likely didn't venture past Nova yet, but Faust was out here for two years. Chrome didn't hear a single word from him in those two years. It's what kept him up. Secretly, he wanted to cling to his mom like he did whenever he had a bad enough nightmare as a young child.
Faust, a slave? Faust, a prostitute?
Marie got out of her sleeping bag and started approaching the hurt Chrome.
MARIE: Chrome are you-
Suddenly, a flash of light came from up the path, followed by an unusual cry of a Pokemon.
Chrome hurried over to the distress, not once thinking about it. Marie hesitated, but soon ended up tailing him.
The sight that they saw soon quelled the worried Marie. However, the same couldn't be said for Chrome. He noticed the green lab coats quite well. Though neither of them were the same person he met at the start of his journey, he knew all too well. It was the Green Team.
MARIE: I guess some scientists are doing research out here.
Marie began to approach the two Green Team members before Chrome grabbed her by the arm and pulled her back. Judging from her reaction, he could safely assume she didn't know about the Green Team either. Though Marie was confused, she didn't voice her confusion. Instead, she looked at Chrome's expression and kept quiet.
The Green partners, picked up a pokeball from the ground. From what Chrome could figure, they just caught a Pokemon.
The first guy released the Pokemon from the ball. Chrome deferred to his pokedex to find that it was a Spinarak. Soon after, he could feel Marie clinging to him again. He figured it was just her fear of Bug Pokemon.
He was wrong.
He looked up to see they made an incision into the thorax of the Pokemon and one begain examining the inside with his fingers. It was clear against the wishes of the young bug Pokemon, but the Green Team member continued. He then spread the cut open and began examining with his eyes. The cut leaked with blood at a steady pace, but the two seeming scientist continued with whatever investigation they had. The first guy signaled the second guy, who proceeded to pull a syringe from his coat.
They stuck the syringe deep inside the Pokemon, who began to cry out in pain. It was the same cry that drew them to check out the problem in the first place. After extracting whatever it was that they were digging for, the began to talk, all while leaving the Pokemon to bleed out. Soon after, they tucked the syringe in a case and walked away, leaving the Spinarak to die.
Chrome started out towards the Bug Pokemon, but he could feel Marie pulling him down. Her eyes watered and her grip on his arm was tighter than before. As he tried to pry himself from her, he felt her pulling him, urging him not to leave the safe hiding. Eventually, he broke free and ran towards the dying Pokemon. In a panic, Chrome returned it to it's pokeball.
MARIE: [still crying] What are you doing?
CHROME: Maybe if it's still in the pokeball, it won't bleed out.
MARIE: Those guys could come back!
CHROME: I know, but I can't just leave it!
MARIE: Why not?
CHROME: I just . . . I just can't.
Tears started to fall from Chrome's eyes. He didn't want to feel helpless. He didn't want to abandon this dying Pokemon just because he didn't like them. He didn't want to feel the way he did. At the least, he wouldn't abandon Spinarak like Faust abandoned him and Melancholy.
When Chrome released the Spinarak from the pokeball to check on it, he was relieved to see that it patched itself up using String Shot. He then returned it to the pokeball and he and Marie returned to the campfire.
The events that passed didn't help their sleeping troubles in the least bit. Marie found herself staring at the night sky trying to erase the troubles from her mind. As she turned and looked at Chrome, she could see the despair in his eyes as he stared at the pokeball containing the rescued Spinarak. Marie rolled up her sleeping bag and joined Chrome, hugging him tightly. She didn't know Chrome for very long, but being close to him helped her fall asleep. Chrome continued to stare at the pokeball while Marie slept and clung to him again.
It wasn't Mom. It wasn't the same at all.