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"Leaf is a headstrong girl with a desire to study Pokémon under her idol, Erika of Celadon City. However, her overprotective parents have tried to shy her away from Pokémon ever since she was little for unknown reasons. Leaf knows that she has the passion to become a Gym trainer for Erika, and she hopes to someday embark on her own journey to prove herself and to gain the recognition she desires."
- [ Chapter 1 ] -
Leaf irritably chewed on her straw, flicking the straw’s wrapper with her fingernail. Her father gave her a predictable “I know why you’re upset but pouting will not make a difference,” smirk while he ordered their lunches. Leaf looked over at the table of girls where her irritability had sprouted, and stared at the cheerful bunch with a potent mixture of disdain and jealousy.
They were trainers are Erika’s Gym, and no girl in Celadon City wanted to train with Erika more than Leaf did. The girls were all about her age, thirteen or fourteen and not only did they have their own Pokémon already, but they were good enough to become Gym trainers. Her father remained silent until their lunches arrived, which he responded to enthusiastically by unraveling his cloth napkin with gusto. Leaf ate her fettuccine alfredo slowly and without much enjoyment, the bitter taste of jealousy shrouding her senses like a thick fog. Unable to ignore her pouting much more, Leaf’s father finally tried to start a conversation, being mindful to deter the topic from Pokémon.
“Have you seen your one friend lately? What was her name, Aqua?”
“No,” Leaf growled, wiping her chin, “she left to take on the League like a week ago.”
Leaf could see the disappointment cloud her father’s face at his failed attempt to take her mind off of Pokémon and traveling. She imagined the gears turning in his skull as he tried to retrace his steps with a counter question or another topic, but he settled with one brief nod and then took a large bite out of his chicken parmesan.
He spoke up suddenly: “You know, I forgot to tell you. Your mother wanted to take you to the Department Store later on today, do you feel up for it?”
Leaf nodded, not looking up from her food.
“She said to meet her at the fountain. I’ll walk you there when we’re done eating, then I’ll head home. Do you girls know what you’re going to buy?”
Her father sounded at ease now, glad to find something to talk about that could get a positive, non-Pokémon related reaction. Leaf just shrugged, thinking of something to satisfy his questions, “Maybe some new running shoes. My old ones are getting pretty worn out.”
He nodded approvingly, seemingly satisfied with his attempt to turn the conversation around. It was short-lived, though, as soon enough he was paying the bill and they were walking out into the sunny, bustling streets of Celadon. They made their way through the crowded streets of Saturday shoppers, gamblers, and other individuals seeking to throw their money around. Soon enough they were approaching the fountain, where tourists gathered around to take pictures or wait for others. Leaf’s father had left quickly, and she sat on the edge of the fountain with her elbows on her knees and her head in her hands, looking around for her mother.
She was spotted first, but not by her mother. The group of girls that had been having lunch in the same restaurant as she and her father recognized her and made their way through the crowd to approach her.
“Hey,” one of the girls spoke up, she was a confident girl with olive skin and shiny black hair, “you’re a trainer, right?”
Leaf was caught off guard, and fumbled with her words, “Ah, no. I mean, not yet. I will be soon, though.”
“‘Not yet?’” The girl repeated, confused, “How old are you?”
“Eleven,” Leaf quickly lied, “and I’m on vacation, so I haven’t had a chance to get my starter Pokémon yet.”
“Oh, sorry.” The girl apologized half-heartedly, “It’s just we thought you were a local trainer and the Gym Leader in this city is looking for some more trainers… And, it’s a girls only Gym so we thought we’d ask. Sorry to bug you.”
They left as quickly as they’d approached, disappearing into the crowd but leaving a heavy weight in Leaf’s heart. Erika was looking for more Gym trainers…? Before she had a chance to dwell on it any longer, her mother appeared breathlessly before her, beckoning her to follow her into the Department Store.
Leaf trailed after her, answering her mother’s questions about dresses and socks and bracelets with such a morose tone that her mother stopped in the middle of her question about whether the pink-tipped socks or the blue-tipped socks were preferable to interrogate her daughter on her attitude.
“Okay, Leaf, what’s the deal? Why are you giving me such attitude?” Her mother snapped, shaking Leaf from her melancholy.
“I’m not,” she protested, then lied, “I’m just tired.”
Her mother eyed her suspiciously, not believing her but not wanting to press her any farther in a public setting, either. She threw one of the pairs of socks into the cart without looking and pressed on into the shoes section. Leaf perked up and looked around for the first time since they entered the Department Store, and her mother caught on with a smirk.
“How about this,” she proposed, “I’ll give you next week’s allowance in advance, and you go ahead and treat yourself to some retail therapy, whatever you want. I’ll go ahead and do my own thing.”
Leaf beamed, her mother handed her 4,000 Pokédollars, and she was soon bounding through the shoe aisles in search of some sneakers. She found a cute pair with a pink band across the top that were on sale for only 2,000 Pokédollars, so she held the box tight as she flew through the different floors, making another purchase of a white and pink-banded boater hat that she felt matched her new sneakers marvelously. She was left with 1,000 Pokédollars to spend, and an idea on what to spend the remaining money on sent a chill down her spine.
She found herself descending the floors almost as if her body was out of her control, she was constantly wary of where her mother was, and when she passed the fourth floor and saw her rifling through the different patterned stationery on display, she dashed down to the second floor - the trainer’s market. She sheepishly browsed the shelves where different bottles and cans were lined up with large labels and warning labels on the back that Leaf felt she would have needed a magnifying glass to read the extensive warnings, “...for Pokémon use only! Use only if your Pokémon exhibits the following symptoms…,” and so on.
Leaf eventually spotted the Poké Balls. Lined up neatly behind the counter, she was mesmerized by all of the available types and yikes - some of those prices. She carefully stepped up to the counter and the young employee smiled down at her, “Do you see anything you like?”
“Um,” Leaf started, but felt timid all of a sudden, what was she doing there?! “May I have a Poké Ball?”
“Just one?” the employee asked, curious. “Most trainers buy several at a time, but if it’s just one, that’s no problem.”
He turned and pulled open a drawer underneath the Poké Balls on display. He pulled out one before Leaf interjected, “I mean, five!” She put her money on the counter and glanced over her shoulder wildly before the employee could turn around and grow suspicious.
He slid the money off the counter and into his register seamlessly, and she fumbled to stash the Poké Balls into the bottom of her messenger bag, which seemed to amuse him. He bid her a good day and waved farewell as she climbed the stairs up to the fourth floor to meet up with her generous, oblivious mother.
I like the plot of this so far! I already have a disturbing theory in mind for why Leaf's parents wouldn't want her to be like her idol, Erika. But I'm probably wrong!
Your writing seems pretty good except for one formatting issue. When you format dialogue, each new speaker is a new paragraph, and it's much better to put dialogue tags after someone speaks rather than before. For example, this:
- [ Chapter 2 ] -
Leaf was in her bedroom, her door closed. She tossed her messenger bag on her bed and carefully opened it, pushing aside her wallet, a hairbrush, and other knickknacks and swallowed nervously when she found the Poké Balls. She pulled them out and inspected them, it was different than holding the Poké Balls of her friends’ Pokémon - these were hers. She ran her thumb over the crease in the center and rested it on the button. Her mother called her down for dinner and she jumped, nearly dropping it, before stowing it into her pocket and rushing downstairs.
Her parents were already sitting at the table, pouring their drinks. Leaf sat at her place and started eating, her mind buzzing. Her palms were clammy and she fumbled with her fork, but her parents were so engaged in their own conversation that her distress remained unknown to them. It had to be tonight, she thought, now or never.
Her mind was in overdrive, she debated whether she should leave before her parents finish dinner or after when they retired to the living room to drink coffee and watch television, she decided that it would be easier for her to pass it off as if she were going to bed or the bathroom, and leave while they were busy. She was very conscious of the Poké Ball in her pocket pressing against her hip, and as small as it was she felt as if it was a meter in diameter and was constantly worried of her parents noticing it, as impossible as that was with her sitting at the table.
Dinner ended soon enough, and just as she predicted, her parents were brewing their coffee and making their way into the living room, not for lack of trying in persuading Leaf to join them. She assured them that she was going to bed early as she had a headache, and hid in the bathroom. She decided to wait a few minutes to make sure they settled down and found something engaging to watch, and splashed water on her face to try to settle her nerves.
Why is this is stressful? She took a deep breath, and splashed her face again. She had been around many Pokémon in her life, her neighbors had some, and all of her friends made it a point to show everyone their new Pokémon before they left on their journeys. Yet, she had never been around wild Pokémon, at least not that she knew of.
She decided that it was time, and stepped out into the hallway. She heard the television in the living room and crept through the house, slipping out the front door and closing it behind her. There was no going back now. Her stomach dropped when she realized she had forgotten the other Poké Balls. She dismissed it though, deciding that she only needed one Pokémon for now to start her journey with.
Her house was next door to the Pokémon Center, where her mother worked. The path next to the Center opened up to Route 7, where she knew wild Pokémon dwelled, as she had seen many trainers come through there and straight into the Pokémon Center on the days she went to visit her mother at work. She started walking, with that same out-of-body feeling she had in the Department Store, towards the edge of the city and onto the path leading to Route 7. A few people bustled in and out of the Pokémon Center, and she darted into the shadows to avoid being seen. A slender person in a long trenchcoat with a hat stepped out of the Center and paused, glancing in Leaf’s direction. Leaf quickened her pace and suddenly she had reached the Route, trembling when the path turned into dirt. There were no more fancy cobblestone paths and brick walkways out here.
Leaf wandered around for a bit, making sure to stay on the path with the Celadon City lights just behind her. When no Pokémon appeared after several minutes, she realized she had to make this quick and stepped off the path into a patch of overgrown grass. She walked along the perimeter of it, ensuring that the path stayed in sight. A burst of flame suddenly flared up from the grass, singeing the blades. Leaf screamed and stumbled back, tripping over an overgrown root. A fierce bark echoed and a Growlithe bounded through the deep grass, growling.
“Acid!” A woman’s voice called out.
Confused, Leaf pushed herself up into a sitting position and stared wide-eyed as the Growlithe was doused in a foul-smelling slime. Leaf crawled away, terrified. She started to push herself up and run but when she turned around and saw what had happened, she stopped in her tracks.
The Growlithe had bolted away, leaving drops of the Acid attack in its wake. Leaf was dumbfounded when she realized what had happened. The mysterious trainer from the Pokémon Center who had spotted her leaving the city… it was Erika. Something must have intrigued her to follow Leaf, though she couldn’t blame her, she had resorted to hiding in the shadows and sneaking around so late at night.
“Who are you?” Erika demanded. There was no sweetness in her voice that Leaf had heard when she was interviewed on television. Leaf was taken aback, and didn’t answer immediately. Was this really her?
“I said,” Erika spoke up more loudly, the volume surprising Leaf, “who are you?”
“I… I’m Leaf.” Leaf announced, shaken from her stupor.
“What are you doing out here?” Erika retorted, without missing a beat.
Leaf’s heart sank, she had always imagined the first time she would meet Erika in person would be when she appealed to her to become a Gym trainer… Not when she was cowering on the ground from a Growlithe in the middle of the night.
“I was just trying to catch a Pokémon.” She replied truthfully, afraid of Erika’s interrogative nature.
Erika didn’t reply, but instead narrowed her eyes as if she were inspecting Leaf. She recalled her Gloom to its Poké Ball, and placed the Poké Ball carefully in her front coat pocket.
“Come with me,” Erika beckoned, and she turned around, facing the lights of Celadon City. Leaf dashed up to her side, but remained silent. She glanced sideways at Erika, who remained austere and stared forward.
“Are you the daughter of one of the nurses at the Pokémon Center?” Erika inquired, she kept her gaze straight ahead in the direction of the city, but tilted her head slightly in her direction.
“Yes,” Leaf admitted, thinking it wise to stay honest at this point. Erika just nodded her head and fell silent for the remainder of the walk. Soon enough, they had reached the Pokémon Center where Erika lead Leaf inside. Leaf’s heart sank when she saw her mother’s co-worker, Nurse Linda, standing behind the counter and beaming at her upon her entrance.
“Miss Erika! What brings you back so soon?” Nurse Linda greeted her warmly, failing to see Leaf who had attempted to hide behind the Gym Leader.
“I found one of your Nurse’s children sneaking about.” Erika returned Nurse Linda’s smile, and her voice had softened. Nurse Linda peaked around Erika’s shoulder and was visibly startled at the sight of Leaf.
“Leaf!” Nurse Linda nearly shouted, appearing terrified. “Where is your mother?”
Leaf pursed her lips and looked down at the ground, ashamed. Not only did Erika have to save her, she had to recognize her from all those times she visited the Pokémon Center, and turn her in. She felt the urge to cry, and clenched her teeth. The women seemed to sense her shame and instead addressed each other.
“She was trying to catch a Pokémon, but she had no Pokémon with her so I tried to help her.” Erika explained solemnly., “But I have seen her here before, her mother works here?”
“Yes, she does. She lives next door, actually. Thank you, Miss Erika, I can take care of her from here.”
“If it’s just next door, I can take her home on my way out.” Erika bowed gracefully to Nurse Linda, then turned to Leaf.
“I apologize if I scared you, or if I came off as impolite in any way.” Erika stated, then she continued, “There have been reports of malicious activity from a syndicate in the city, involving Pokémon. I didn’t know if you were involved or not, but I saw you outside of the Pokémon Center and thought you were suspicious. I apologize again for my misjudgment.”
“O-oh, it’s no problem.” Leaf stammered, baffled at the Gym Leader’s sincerity. The two stepped out of the Pokémon Center, and Leaf glanced down the road at her house, where the window glowed blue from the television. Her parents didn’t seem to notice her absence, yet.
“I apologize if this is not in my place to ask, but why were you attempting to catch a Pokémon without one to battle with?” Erika mused, walking slowly.
“Um… about that,” Leaf murmured, “I’m not supposed to have a Pokémon. My parents won’t let me have one. That’s kind of why I was sneaking around.”
“Why would they not permit you to have a Pokémon?”
Leaf wanted to let out her frustration at her parents then and there as she would with her friends, calling them dumb and claiming that they didn’t understand anything, but she bit her tongue and decided that she needed to remain respectful around Erika.
“They think they’re dangerous, or something.” Leaf answered, honestly. Her parents had always warned her around Pokémon, even her friends’ Pokémon.
“Hmm.” Erika thought for a moment, “I would have to disagree. Pokémon have saved my life before.”
“Really?” Leaf asked in awe. “How? What happened?”
Erika just smiled at her and didn’t answer, and then they had reached her doorstep. Erika rapped her knuckles on the door, and Leaf’s father opened the door then gawked. He called for Leaf’s mother almost immediately and stared dumbstruck, trying to figure out why Erika, the city’s beloved Gym Leader was standing on his doorstep with Leaf, who was supposed to be sleeping in bed. Leaf’s mother’s head appeared just over her father’s shoulder, and instead of the bewilderment her father had greeted them with, her mother looked downright vicious.
“Leaf!” Her mother screeched, making her grimace and even her father cowered, though that may have been because he received a direct blow with her standing over his shoulder.
“Mom…” Leaf started to explain, but Erika spoke up.
“Nurse… Rhonda, is it not?” Erika smiled, and continued when Leaf’s mother nodded curtly, “I think it would be wise to give Leaf a Pokémon, as protection. It appears to me that she has a desire to be around Pokémon.”
“I appreciate your sentiments Miss Erika, I really do, but I feel this is something that needs to be addressed parent to child.” Leaf’s mother snipped.
Erika nodded then bowed, “I apologize for the intrusion, Nurse Rhonda. Please consider my word, and if you would like any assistance at all then you know where to find me.”
Erika seemed to glide down from the doorstep and down the path, disappearing into the nightlife of Celadon City. Leaf turned back to her parents, fearful, although the lack of expression on their faces concerned her. Her mother stepped back into the house and her father pushed the door open farther to let her in. She entered the house silently, fearful of her repercussions.
She stood in the hallway, just outside the living room where her mother had sat back down on the couch with her coffee, sipping it thoughtfully. Her father cleared his throat and her head snapped up in their direction, the look in her eyes daring him to say something in Leaf’s favor.
“I knew this day would come sooner rather than later.” Leaf’s mother whispered, sipping her coffee once more. She sighed and set it down, motioning for Leaf to join her. Her father nudged her shoulder and she stepped forward as he followed her in. Leaf sat on the recliner next to the couch, not quite wanting to be within arm’s reach of her mother.
“Leaf, I know how you’re feeling, but we’ve tried to keep you away from Pokémon for a reason. They’re dangerous.”
“But, Erika said--” Leaf started to retort, but was hushed when her mother raised her finger, indicating for her to wait.
“I know how Erika feels about Pokémon, Leaf. I’m a Nurse at the Center, I see her on a regular basis. She fawns over them in a way I’ve never seen.”
“Leaf, your mother and I have talked about this before,” her father interjected, yearning to say something, “we know how you get around Pokémon, and we just worry for your safety is all. But, we have also talked about--”
“No,” Leaf’s mother interrupted, nudging her husband, “Leaf, it’s too dangerous, end of story.”
“What were you saying, dad?” Leaf asked, pointedly ignoring her mother. Her mother turned to face her husband, with a look that said very clearly, I dare you.
“You know your cousin, Fire, my sister’s son?” Her father spoke up, ignoring the offended look on his wife’s face. “He just received his starter Pokémon last year, in Pallet Town. Pallet Town is a much better place for kids to start their journeys than Celadon. It’s much more rural, and the Pokémon in that area are domestic enough where you wouldn’t be in any real danger.”
“Yeah…?” Leaf pressed on, she felt as if she knew where her father was steering this conversation, and eagerness bubbled up inside of her. Her mother remained silent, not even attempting to mask her disapproval. She knew that this was something they must have discussed before, though, because her father rarely countered her when it came to Leaf unless he was very serious. Plus, her mother should be having a temper tantrum right now. She was only ever this silent when she secretly agreed.
“We’ve talked to your aunt and uncle about you staying, whenever the time comes, to possibly get a Pokémon and train… you know, for Erika’s Gym. We know you want to train as her protégé.”
Leaf was floored. Twelve hours ago, when she was sitting morosely with her father in that restaurant having lunch, she would have never expected her day to turn around like this. And yet, here she was, discussing with her parents about her plans to become an official Pokémon trainer.
“We’ll call your aunt and uncle tomorrow,” her mother finally spoke up, though she kept on airs that she seriously disapproved of the situation, “and we’ll see if they’ll still let you stay, until you can get your Pokémon. You must stay with your cousin, though, he’s already had his Pokémon for a while now.”
Leaf was speechless. Still astounded at how events had turned, she reassured her parents that she would be careful, safe, and smart during her travels. Her parents walked her to her bedroom, possibly afraid that she might dart off into the night again, and bid her goodnight. Leaf closed her bedroom door behind her, her heart pounding.
Her parents were really going to allow her to become a Pokémon trainer.
Well, that turned around quickly. But I still feel like there's more to why Leaf's parents didn't want her to have a pokemon. Did something happen to Fire? Will Leaf's motivations change after she starts her journey? I'm very curious! You're doing a great job, especially with building suspense.
It looks like you've fixed your formatting issue. I didn't notice anything.
- [ Chapter 3 ] -
A week had passed since Leaf’s fateful encounter with Erika. Her mother still seemed rather conflicted, alternating between reminding her to eat balanced meals one day to dramatically voicing her concerns if she were to get lost the next day. Her father stayed resolute, he was supportive and reminded his doting wife not to fret when she would work herself into a tizzy about Leaf’s well-being on her journey.
The day before she was set to take the train to Pallet Town, her mother came home from work with a devilish grin and the attitude of someone who knew some juicy gossip. Leaf was curious, but her mother refused to tell her what she had learned at the Pokémon Center that day, satiating her daughter’s curiosity by telling her that she would find out very soon. Leaf pouted, but her excitement for the next day quickly dissolved that feeling.
Leaf slept restlessly that night, tossing and turning and squeezing her eyes shut tight in hope of bringing on sleepiness, but it never came. She eventually gave up and turned her lamp on, crawling out of bed and sitting cross-legged in front of her packed messenger bag on the floor. She emptied out everything she had packed earlier in the day to make sure everything was there - the five Poké Balls she had bought last week, some Potions that her mother had picked up for her from her work, a map of Kanto that her father brought her from his office, and the white boater hat she had bought last week as well. She decided that she would wear her boater hat tomorrow when she got on the train, and set it on top of her new sneakers next to the bag.
She replaced the Poké Balls and Potions and unfolded the map, carefully spreading it across the floor and lying down on her stomach with her head propped up in her hands, inspecting the map carefully. She had put a small star sticker over where Celadon City lay on the map, as her final destination. Her parents made her agree that she could travel through Kanto - until she returns to Celadon City, where she will stay as a Gym trainer. She counted the cities that she would be traveling through, only four, excluding Pallet Town. She traced her finger along the string of Routes connecting all of the cities, the region seemed so much smaller than she imagined when it was drawn out on a piece of paper like this.
She didn’t have much knowledge of Kanto outside of the immediate area, and some of the big cities like Saffron City, and monumental areas like the Safari Zone in Fuchsia City, and the Pokémon Tower in Lavender Town. She noticed a little island just south of Pallet Town that she had never heard of before… Cinnabar Island? Leaf furrowed her brow, she knew that her geography knowledge of Kanto wasn’t the best but she at least knew all of the cities by name.
She wondered if someday, in the distant future, she would be able to travel across the sea to visit Cinnabar Island, and the other far off cities like Fuchsia City and Lavender Town, for that matter. She had only ever been to Celadon City and Pallet Town on the occasions that she visited her cousin, aunt, and uncle. She had another older cousin from her mother’s side of the family, but he lived in another region, apparently. Her father took the occasional business trip to Saffron City or Vermilion City for its port, but for Leaf, her whole world was Celadon City. She rested her eyes, and eventually her hand slipped from under her chin and she fell asleep on the floor, the map of Kanto spread underneath her.
Leaf woke to the sound of her mother knocking on her bedroom door, calling her name.
“Wha-... Yeah?” Leaf mumbled, wiping drool from her chin. She pushed herself up from the floor, her back aching. She turned and saw that the sun had risen and light was filtering into her room from her curtains. Suddenly wide awake, Leaf stumbled up onto her feet and folded up the map, stashing it in her messenger bag. She quickly changed and brushed her hair out, then set her hat carefully on her head, inspecting herself in the mirror. Her long, brown hair was unkempt from sleeping on the floor and she had slight shadows under her bright green eyes, but overall she was excited, and she felt ready. She slipped on her sneakers and slung her messenger bag across her shoulder and bounded out of her bedroom and down the stairs.
Her mother was fussy, she was straightening up the living room and wiping down counters in the kitchen and her father sat at the dining room table, shuffling papers in his briefcase. He stood up as soon as Leaf made her appearance, and Leaf’s mother nearly dropped a vase when she saw her.
“You’re up already?” Leaf’s mother inquired, replacing the vase to the coffee table.
Leaf nodded, grinning. Her father clasped his briefcase and walked over to the doorway, pulling down a jacket from the coat rack.
“I have to go to work right after I drop you off at the station,” he explained as he forced the jacket on, “I’m running a little late so we have to hurry.”
“Oh, right.” Leaf said, she was caught off guard, and turned to face her mom awkwardly.
“Oh, Leaf…” her mom sniffed, walking forward to hug Leaf tight, kissing her cheek repeatedly. She swayed on her feet, not letting go until Leaf’s father cleared his throat. She wiped her eyes hurriedly, and gave Leaf a weak, encouraging smile. Leaf’s father bustled out the door, with Leaf following him on his heels.
“Call me as soon as you get there!” Her mother called through the door, stepping out onto the porch to watch them walk down the path, and then turn the corner going to the train station.
Leaf and her father jogged through the morning commuters towards the train station, the morning air was still damp and chilly, and Leaf shivered, wishing she had brought a jacket to cover her bare arms. The train station soon loomed before them, a hulking shadow with the sun rising behind it. Leaf’s father pulled her train ticket and a small handful of money from his pocket and took her wrist to place it in her palm. She held it tightly, while he gathered her into a hug. He kissed her cheek and wished her good luck on her travels, and to call her mother the moment her train reached its destination, and again when she reached her aunt and uncle’s house. She assured him she would, and just like that he was gone, jogging back through the crowd of morning commuters to get to his office.
Leaf took a deep breath, suddenly afraid of how alone she was. She inspected her ticket thoroughly, and looked through the line of trains for her platform. She was so engrossed in her mission of boarding her train on time, that she almost didn’t notice when someone tapped on her shoulder.
She did notice, however, and gasped when she saw her greeter. Erika smiled warmly at her, wearing the trenchcoat and had she had been wearing that fateful night a week ago. Leaf was about to call her name in excitement, but realized that Erika must dress as she did in public to avoid too much attention. She smiled widely at her, unable to contain her excitement.
“Leaf,” Erika said, speaking quickly as she knew the limited time they had to talk, “I learned from your mother in the Pokémon Center that you wished to train as one of my Gym trainers. Is this true?”
Leaf blushed, that was a goal that she openly shared with everyone, but she wasn’t expecting Erika to find out until she decided to go through the process of becoming a trainer. She would have found out sooner or later, though.
“Yes,” Leaf replied, “I mean, I love Grass-types and you’re the strongest trainer in the city.”
Erika smiled more at her, not at the mention of being the strongest trainer but when she proclaimed her love for Grass-type Pokémon.
“Which starter Pokémon do you plan on choosing from Professor Oak, then? Bulbasaur?”
“U-um, yes, of course. It’s so cute, and Venusaur are super strong.”
“I trained a Bulbasaur a very long time ago.” Erika reminisced, she started walking along the platforms, and Leaf followed. “What’s your platform number?”
“12,” Leaf answered her, glancing at her ticket. “Do you use your Venusaur in your Gym?”
“Sometimes,” Erika hummed, “I mostly use him for breeding, however. I supply Professor Oak with well bred Bulbasaur, once in a while.”
“You’re joking.” Leaf gawked, staring at Erika.
Erika shook her head, “I have been in contact with Professor Oak earlier this week, and one of the Bulbasaur that I bred will be waiting for you when you go to his laboratory.”
They stopped walking when they reached platform 12, the train hadn’t started boarding yet but a sizeable crowd was standing around it.
“Erika, thank you so much. That means a lot to me, knowing that my Bulbasaur will be from your Venusaur.” Leaf bowed unexpectedly, remembering Erika’s mannerisms in the Pokémon Center and around her parents. Erika giggled, waving her hand dismissively.
“It is the least I could do. I told your mother about the plans yesterday, and I think that reassured her of your safety. Anyway, it is not uncommon for Gym Leaders to help Professor Oak in his studies. Misty, the Gym Leader of Cerulean City, has given him Squirtle to distribute to new trainers. I don’t know if Blaine of Cinnabar Island has given him any Charmander, though…”
“Blaine? Cinnabar Island has a Gym Leader?” Leaf inquired, curious.
“Yes, of course.” Erika answered, “Ah, your train…”
Leaf turned and saw that passengers were now starting to slowly proceed into the train, one-by-one as the conductor began checking tickets. Startled, Leaf started rushing toward the crowd, with Erika gliding at her heels.
“Well, I guess I’ll see you later.” Leaf said, “Thank you so much again for the Bulbasaur, I promise I’ll take excellent care of him or her.”
“I know you will,” was all Erika said as she waved, then turned and left the train station.
- [ Chapter 4 ] -
Although Leaf was tired from her restlessness the night before, a majority of her train ride was spent with her face against the window. She was lucky to get a window seat, as the train was packed with travelers and she wanted very badly to look outside at the passing countryside. It was very heavily forested, and she was lucky to see many different types of Pokémon bounding around in the woods. The train stopped at Viridian City, where everyone had gotten off at. Leaf remained in her seat, confused. Wasn’t the next stop to Pallet Town?
“Excuse me,” she tapped on a conductor’s elbow, who was standing behind the crowd of people pushing to get off the train, “when will we be leaving for Pallet Town?”
The conductor chuckled, “Whenever you want. Pallet Town is about a half hour walk from here, the train doesn’t go down there, it’s too small of a town.”
“Oh,” Leaf mumbled, pulling her map out of her bag and hoisting it over her shoulder. She inspected the map carefully, the path between Pallet Town and Viridian City was marked as Route 1, and it did seem relatively small. Leaf gulped nervously, wondering if she were attacked by another Pokémon, if someone would save her again.
She wandered off the train platform and looked around, Viridian City was much smaller than Celadon City, yet pleasant in its own quaint way. Leaf wondered how tiny Pallet Town must be if the conductor said it was smaller than Viridian. She had only been to Pallet Town a handful of times in her childhood, when she was very small and didn’t venture much farther than her aunt and uncle’s house.
She found a sign pointing off towards an open field that read Route 1. She glanced into the horizon and saw rooftops just over one of the hills, it really wasn’t that far of a walk. She adjusted her messenger bag to sit across her chest so she wouldn’t have to keep pulling it up her shoulders, and set off. The field did have many Pokémon, yes, but they were small Pidgey and Rattata, the kind that Celadon had in its city on a regular basis. Feeling more at ease, Leaf worked herself into a jog to reach her destination faster.
In about a half hour, as the conductor had said, she was walking down a cobblestone path in Pallet Town, looking around at all of the small, cozy homes with their white picket fences and gardens, sitting on little hills. Professor Oak’s laboratory was definitely the biggest point of town, it sat on the largest hill and loomed over the little town, although not in an imposing way. She followed the address that her mother had written on a piece of paper for her, and soon found her aunt and uncle’s house. It was a little yellow house with a big bay window in the front, and a garden along the side of the white picket fence. A little outdoor seating area was around the side of the house towards the back, with a big umbrella stuck through the center of the table. She recognized her aunt and uncle sitting at the table, so she opened the gate and made her way around the house.
“Hello?” Leaf asked timidly, her aunt and uncle were looking out over the hills and mountains in the distance, but at the sound of her voice they turned and jumped up almost instantly, rushing over to greet her with enormous hugs, kisses on her cheeks, comments on how big she had become, how long her hair had grown, asking how she had been doing and how her parents were, and whether she knew which Pokémon she would be choosing when she went to Professor Oak’s laboratory later on in the day.
“Today?” Leaf stammered, taken aback by their last question.
“Well, only if you want to go today, of course,” her Aunt Jean assured her, “there’s no pressure to get your Pokémon immediately, but the sooner the better, you know? So you can start bonding with whichever you choose before you start traveling.”
Leaf hadn’t thought of that, she really hadn’t thought of how long she would be staying with her relatives, or if they expected her to leave as soon as she’d come to visit. She started feeling guilty, wondering if one week notice was enough to let her relatives know she was coming to visit, but her parents were the ones who arranged everything and they reassured her that her Aunt Jean and Uncle Ron were more than happy to have her stay with them.
“Where’s Fire?” Leaf asked abruptly, noting his absence.
“Oh, he’s sleeping in. I’ll go wake him up to come say hello.” Uncle Ron stated, and went through a side door that Leaf hadn’t noticed before.
“Are you hungry, dear? Have you eaten yet?” Aunt Jean asked her warmly, she pulled up a cloth covered basket that had been sitting on the table, and pulled it back to reveal steaming, aromatic cinnamon buns. Leaf grabbed two hungrily and started shoving them in her mouth, until she caught her aunt’s eye and gulped quickly, causing her to cough. Her aunt patted her back until she got the food down, and Leaf grinned nervously.
“Sorry,” she apologized, “I just didn’t have time for breakfast this morning.”
“Oh, it’s fine hon. Do you want something to drink?”
Leaf nodded as she took another bite and followed her aunt into the house from the side door, which led directly into the kitchen. Her aunt poured her a glass of water from the tap and Leaf gulped it down heartily, taking another hefty bite of her cinnamon buns. Uncle Ron came down the stairs into the living room, with Fire trailing after him, his feet dragging on the floor. He looked like he had been sleeping on the floor as Leaf had last night, he wore wrinkled plaid sweatpants with an equally wrinkled gray long-sleeve shirt and his red hair was tousled up at odd angles.
“Hey, Leaf,” he yawned, scratching his ribs. Leaf waved with her free hand as she finished chewing her food.
He sat at the dining table and grabbed an orange from the fruit basket in the middle. He waited for her to finish her own breakfast and started peeling his orange before he asked, “What’s up?”
She gulped the last bite of her bun, “Not much. What about you? I heard you already have a Pokémon.”
“Oh, yeah.” He answered, his nonchalant reply concerned Leaf a little bit, “I got a Charmander from Professor Oak last year.”
Leaf was unsure of how to respond to that, her parents had told her that he received his starter Pokémon last year but she was unclear on why he hadn’t left to travel yet, didn’t all trainers want to travel and beat Gym Leaders, or travel for the sake of growing stronger and catching new Pokémon?
“Do you have him or her with you?” Leaf asked, wanting to see her cousin’s Pokémon.
He chewed an orange slice while he nodded curtly, “Yeah, but his Poké Ball is upstairs. You’ll see him later.”
Leaf nodded, she leaned against the counter and held the edges with her hands, unsure of what to do. She still had her messenger bag slung across her so she shrugged it off and set it down next to her. Fire continued to munch away on his orange, and detecting her timidity he spoke up.
“So, uh, how has Celadon been? This place must seem so dead compared to that.”
“I like it here, though,” Leaf admitted, “it’s much more quiet. Our house is right next to the Pokémon Center so it can get kind of crazy.”
“Still has to be better than this ghost town.” Fire grumbled, tossing his orange peel in the trash can. He wiped off his hands, then said, “Do you want to unpack or do you want to go straight to Professor Oak’s lab?”
“You guys weren’t messing around when it came to getting me my first Pokémon.” Leaf laughed, “Your mom said something about going to the lab, too. Are your parents going to come?”
“Nah, it’s just up the road. This isn’t the big city, you know.” Fire chuckled.
Leaf’s aunt and uncle came in from outside at that time, with her Uncle Ron carrying the basket of baked goods. Leaf’s stomach growled a bit, still twinging after her measly breakfast, but her excitement and nervousness at going to Professor Oak’s laboratory so soon made it subside easily.
“When can we go?” Leaf asked, her voice high. As eager as she was to get her first Pokémon, the same thought struck a fear of worry in her as well. Would the Pokémon like her? What if the Pokémon didn’t listen to her?
“Let me just get dressed, I’ll be back in a second.” Fire called, already heading upstairs. Leaf pulled up a seat at the dining table, watching her aunt and uncle. They both turned once they heard Fire’s footsteps fade up the stairs, and glanced at each other. It was a subtle enough look to intrigue Leaf, but not blatant enough to make her question it.
“Do you know which Pokémon you’ll be choosing, Leaf?” Aunt Jean asked cordially, catching Leaf off guard.
“Oh, um, Bulbasaur.”
“That’s a solid choice,” Uncle Ron piped in, “though not as common as Charmander or Squirtle.”
“The Bulbasaur I’m getting today is supposed to be bred from Erika’s Venusaur.” Leaf added, “She said she made arrangements when I ran into her at the train station.”
“Look at you,” Aunt Jean teased, “making connections with the Gym Leaders already. You’ll be taking on the League in no time.”
“Oh… No, I mean, I’m not going to take on the League.” Leaf corrected her, feeling small under their confused stares.
“Oh.” Aunt Jean mumbled, flustered, “I’m sorry dear, my mistake. Your mother just told me that you would be traveling but she didn’t say how far or anything, so I just figured.”
Before Leaf could reply, Fire was bounding down the stairs in purple cargo pants and a black polo t-shirt. He was adjusting the items in his fanny pack when he walked in the room, looking down. He didn’t look up or acknowledge his parents as he walked over to the side door where a cluster of shoes sat, and he kicked on a pair of black loafers.
“Are you ready to go?” He asked, only glancing at his parents in a wide, sweeping gaze.
“Yeah, I guess so. I have all my stuff with me.” Leaf said, standing up from the table. Aunt Jean stood up with her, and walked her to the door. They stepped out into the blazing high noon sun, and started down the path towards the road.
“I’ll have lunch ready for you two when you get back!” Aunt Jean called, leaning out the door. They waved and started down the little path, towards Professor Oak’s laboratory. Fire dug his hand into his fanny pack and pulled out a Poké Ball, which he clicked open and before Leaf could comprehend what had happened, his Charmander was bounding up the path alongside them.
“He’s so cute!” Leaf exclaimed, bending down to reach for him. Charmander bounded back excitedly, his eyes wide and his tail wagging. He reached out and touched her outstretched palm and jumped, squeaking in the process.
“He likes you.” Fire chortled.
“You think?” Leaf asked, scratching Charmander’s chin.
“I know,” Fire corrected, grinning. “I’ve had Charmander for a year now, we’re pretty close.”
“Yeah?” Leaf asked, she stood back up and started back down the path, with Charmander darting around their legs. “Do you think my Bulbasaur will like me?”
“Well, yeah.” Fire laughed at the question, “Pokémon like their trainers on instinct, they only hate them if their trainers abuse them.”
“Abuse them?” Leaf frowned. “Who would abuse their Pokémon?”
“Criminals.” He scoffed, he bent down to scoop Charmander up in his arms, keeping an eye on his swaying, flaming tail. Leaf fell silent at his answer, remembering what Erika had said that night she found her on Route 7. She had thought she was part of an evil syndicate… The rest of their walk remained quiet after that, though thankfully it wasn’t much longer that they were approaching the gate to Professor Oak’s. It was open, and seemed more for decor as the open iron bars were becoming wrapped in vines and other shrubbery. They started up the steps towards the looming building, where Leaf would soon be meeting her first Pokémon.
You know, there are lots of pokemon fanfictions that follow an author's interpretation of what happened to a PC of his or her choice. But those stories rarely end up being interesting. You've been doing a really great job of building tension and using the POV character's view of the world to keep things fresh and exciting. Who knew that rice paste could write so well? *shot*
I have to say, I'm curious as to where this story fits in the timeline. Does Red exist here? If he does, is he champion? Is there a Team Rocket, if Fire mentioned criminals?
Hey, I just happened to stumble upon this, and honestly, it's the first new story to catch my eye in quite awhile. Bonus points for starring my fave Pokemon character.
Let's see if I remember how to review - my skills with reviewing stories has become rusty from not reading a whole lot.
I like it so far. I think it's a unique twist on the traditional "getting a starter Pokemon" story - Leaf's goal of being one of Erika's students is an interesting take on things, as well as having to go from Celadon to Pallet to get a start on her journey.
I also liked Erika's explanation on where professors get their starting Pokemon, and why they don't use said starting Pokemon themselves.
Somewhat more confusing is her mother's argument that Pokemon are dangerous - as a Center nurse, one would think she' have a better understanding of the whole trainer-Pokemon relationship (barring the possibly that she witnesses Pokemon attacking trainers on a regular basis on the job, which that possibility could suggest her stance on the issue.)
Another thing that is concerning, and this is a personal thing, is the fact that Fire is still in town. It sounds like this is a setup for the two of them to travel together, which to me is something that I personally don't like to see - too many times, the boy/girl traveling together is a setup for a romantic subplot between them, which I see as a distraction from the main plot. Again, this is a personal preference thing, though I've seen it used so much that seeing Leaf embark on her training alone would actually be the less-common route to take. But if that's the route you end up taking, I'll be fine with that too (I might not be so fine with seeing Red though, as I absolutely despise him lol.)
And now for questions and speculations: Leaf's goal of being a student of Erika wouldn't require her to earn badges, so I wonder if she'll skip them or just go ahead and battle them to gain battle experience (on an aside, grass would do very well against Rock and Water and would resist Electric attacks, so she wouldn't have too much of a problem with the leaders on the way to Erika.) And, I wonder if her goal wouldn't change along the way - maybe she gets wrapped up in traveling and training that she decides to go all the way to the League. Only time will tell...
In closing, I think you have something interesting going here, and I'll be checking in from time to time to see how things develop. Thanks for giving me something new to read and keep up with!
- [ Chapter 5 ] -
Leaf’s knees quivered when Fire knocked on the massive front doors to the laboratory. She held her breath when a lock clicked from inside and the doors opened. Professor Oak looked down at them, and the sheer authority of him intimidated Leaf. Fire waved nonchalantly, and Charmander gripped the professor’s pant leg with joy. The hard expression on Professor Oak’s face softened when he bent down to scoop up the Charmander in his hands.
“My, he’s gotten so strong!” Professor Oak proclaimed, “You’re doing a very good job raising this Pokémon, Fire.”
“Thank you, sir.” Fire’s body language was casual around the professor, yet he still addressed him with respect.
“Come in, come in!” Professor Oak cradled Charmander in one arm and beckoned them in with his free hand, they stepped into the laboratory and he shut the door behind them. Leaf was impressed immediately upon entering the building, bookshelves towered up to the edges of his cathedral ceiling, and each one was packed with thick books and journals. A few quiet assistants busied themselves with reading and writing among the main room. They waved amicably to Leaf and Fire, who returned the gesture.
“Now, I take it that you must be Leaf.” Professor Oak beamed, addressing Leaf directly. She was flustered and felt it wise to not choke on her own words, so she nodded.
Noting her shyness, Professor Oak continued, “Erika has already contacted me about which Pokémon you intend to choose for your travels. Has she spoken to you at all?”
“Yes, just this morning.” Leaf blurted out, “I plan on choosing the Bulbasaur she bred.”
“Excellent!” Professor Oak exclaimed, “Do you know how many trainers I’ve had come to see me when they have no clue which Pokémon they would like to be partners with? Oh, the hours I’ve spent waiting for them to decide!”
Professor Oak laughed to himself, and led them up a flight of stairs to the second floor. The entire lab was open and spacious, the second floor was more like an upper level that looked down on the hall below. A few complicated machines circled this level though, and there was a long table underneath the high, magnificent windows on the far wall. Leaf glimpsed out at the view and was breathtaken, Professor Oak had a large pasture where Pokémon roamed about freely, grazing or playing or swimming in a small lake on the edge of the pasture. Just on the horizon, Leaf could see the sea glimmering under the sun.
“Wow.” Leaf whispered, taking in the view. Professor Oak chuckled knowingly and positioned himself next to the table. He set Charmander down, who ran to Fire’s side, clutching his pant leg. Leaf looked down at the table and noticed that three Poké Balls were lined up neatly in a row.
“Now, Leaf, are you ready to meet your new partner?” Professor Oak held up the Poké Ball closest to him, on the left. Leaf gulped, and stretched out both of her hands. Professor Oak set the Poké Ball gingerly in her hands, her fingertips trembled once he let go. She felt across the center of the Poké Ball until she found the button in the middle, held her breath, and pushed it.
Leaf nearly yelped when a flash of red light beamed to the ground, revealing a plump little Bulbasaur. Leaf exhaled, and let out a nervous laugh.
“You can give her a nickname, you know.” Professor Oak stated, glancing down at the Bulbasaur, who turned to Leaf and gaped her mouth in delight.
“Really?” Leaf asked, she thought for a long moment about what to call her new friend, but once an idea for a name struck her, she knew it was the one.
“Rafflesia,” Leaf said, she looked down at her new Bulbasaur, “How does Rafflesia sound?”
Rafflesia, her Bulbasaur, wiggled her body eagerly as if in agreement. Fire, however, let out a barking laugh.
“Isn’t that a really gross flower? It smells like trash, right?”
Leaf blushed, “Well, yeah it’s not the best smelling flower, but…”
“Bulbasaur and its evolutionary line are related to the rafflesiaceae family,” Professor Oak informed him, “I think it’s a very appropriate name for her. You must have studied botany and Pokémon with Erika, Leaf.”
Leaf blushed even harder, she didn’t correct him of the fact that she had only just met Erika last week, and studied botany in her free-time in preparation of becoming a Grass-type trainer. Admittedly, she didn’t know that Bulbasaur and its evolutions were actually related to the rafflesia plant, but she couldn’t deny their similarities.
“Leaf, I understand that you’re only going to be traveling as far as Celadon?” Professor Oak inquired, looking thoughtful.
“Yes, sir.” Leaf nodded. She bent down to let Rafflesia sniff her hand, before petting the top of her head gingerly.
“It’s entirely optional to you, although it is recommended that when a trainer applies to study under a Gym Leader, that they have at least several badges; the more, the better.”
“Really?” Leaf had scooped Rafflesia up into her arms at this point, and was scratching her scaly chin.
Professor Oak nodded. “It’s not necessary, although it does increase your chances of being accepted. The Gym Leaders you would encounter before reaching Celadon are Brock, Misty, and Lieutenant Surge - all would be at a disadvantage to your Bulbasaur.”
Fire looked away from the two, looking out of the grand window solemnly. Professor Oak cleared his throat and Fire glanced back at him.
“However, it’s entirely optional. No trainer is obligated to take on the League’s challenge. It’s only a recommendation.” Professor Oak finished, rather awkwardly. Leaf could feel the tension emanating from Fire, and quickly accepted Professor Oak’s recommendation. She thanked him repeatedly as she and Fire turned to leave. They bid farewell to the assistants, and were soon standing outside in the bright sunshine.
Rafflesia leaped down from Leaf’s arms and her bulb twitched, opening slightly. She soaked in the sun’s rays graciously, which amused Leaf. She kneeled down to scratch the Bulbasaur’s scaly chin once again, before Fire spoke up.
“Hey, Leaf. When do you plan on leaving?” His tone was quiet, yet firm, taking Leaf aback.
“Oh, well… I was thinking within a week or so. Why?”
“You should train your Bulbasaur before you go, so you don’t get knocked out too soon. I could help you.”
“Really?” Leaf stood up excitedly, Rafflesia looked between the two trainers calmly, while Charmander bounded on his heels.
“We should battle. It’s the only way to strengthen your Pokémon.”
“Oh…” Leaf looked down at Rafflesia, who smiled up at her. “But wouldn’t that be unfair? Rafflesia is still so little, and you’ve had Charmander for a year and he’s a Fire-type. I wouldn’t stand a chance.”
“You won’t know until you try.”
Leaf’s silence was enough of an answer, to which Fire shrugged and recalled Charmander to his Poké Ball. Leaf pulled her Poké Ball out, intending to recall her new Bulbasaur as well, but decided she wanted to spend as much personal time with her as possible.
Fire had already started walking down the path, with Leaf trailing after him. She felt guilty at declining her cousin’s offer to battle, he did have a point, she would have to battle to strengthen Rafflesia. She knew, however, how much of a disadvantage she would have been at. Surely he knew that as well?
When they arrived at his house, her Aunt Jean and Uncle Ron were nearly flying out of the house, excitedly crowding around the little Bulbasaur and admiring her. Fire stepped around them and went into the house, not looking back once. Leaf furrowed her brow, puzzled; why was Fire suddenly in a sour mood? Had she done something to offend him? She wondered what had happened or what had been said to make her cousin so bitter. Her curiosity was shaken from her, however, when her Uncle Ron was asking her if her Bulbasaur had a nickname.
“Oh, yes! Her nickname is Rafflesia.”
“That’s such a fitting name,” Aunt Jean, who was holding Rafflesia, cooed. Leaf smiled at their praise and enthusiasm, though it made her wonder if her parents would have reacted the same way, if they had been here.
“Why don’t you go on up to the guest room and get settled in, and we’ll all have dinner together later tonight.” Uncle Ron suggested, placing his hand proudly on Leaf’s shoulder.
Leaf had tried throughout the remainder of the day to talk to Fire, whose responses to her attempts had been noncommittal and no less curt. She eventually gave up shortly before dinner, with the resolve that a group meal would help open him up.
Aunt Jean had prepared the dining table already by the time Leaf had finished washing up. She offered to help, but her aunt shushed her and told her to wait. Leaf stood awkwardly in the corner, and was thankful when her aunt asked her to pour water into the glasses set out on the table. Fire and Uncle Ron joined them, and soon after they were all sitting down for dinner, serving themselves.
Her aunt and uncle were talking animatedly, offering food to each other and to Fire and Leaf. Fire, however, slouched a bit in his chair and poked at his food. This scenario seemed familiar to Leaf, and suddenly she felt like an outsider looking in, that night a week ago when she had been planning to capture her own Pokémon. Leaf was concerned, her cousin seemed so amicable just this morning.
“Leaf, dear, when are you going to leave for your journey?” Aunt Jean interrupted Leaf’s thoughts, catching her off guard.
“Less than a week, or so.”
“That’s so soon!” Uncle Ron blurted, though the smile on his face betrayed him. “You’re going to be quite the trainer with that motivation.”
Leaf beamed from the praise, though she heard a soft tch noise coming from Fire. Her smile faltered. Did motivated trainers really turn down offers to battle?
“I’m done.” Fire murmured, pushing his plate aside. He stood up and left, his parents watched him leave with hurt expressions.
“I have to use the bathroom really quick.” Leaf bolted out of her seat and after her cousin, who was beginning to climb the stairs.
“Fire!” She called, “What’s wrong?”
Unsatisfied, Leaf pressed on. “Why have you been ignoring me all day? Is it because I didn’t want to battle?”
“No.” Fire answered, continuing up the stairs and turning out of sight down the hall. She heard his door shut loudly, and silently wondered if he was lying, and if she should have battled him. Unsatisfied, she quietly climbed the stairs and approached his door, hesitating. She heard Charmander squeak up at his trainer, to no response.
She didn’t stay there long, not wanting to keep her aunt and uncle waiting. She turned and tip-toed down the stairs silently, deciding that she had made the right choice and that her cousin would just have to deal with it.
Don't worry, I'm still reading this
Wow, some trainers take hours to decide on a Pokemon? Yes, I can see how any professor would get frustrated by that.
I kind of have the feeling that Fire's sudden change in attitude has something to do with the reason he's not left town, as he was acting all aloof and withdrawn before even approaching Leaf with the battle proposition. Perhaps his parents have not allowed him to leave town and he's a bit jealous that his cousin gets to do so soon after getting her Pokemon, while he wasn't given that opportunity. I found it strange that he'd still be at home a year after getting his starter, but his attitude here suggests that the decision not to set off might not be a voluntary one.
In any event, there's plenty of Rattata for Bulbasaur/Rafflesia to beat the stuffing out of, so she can get in a good amount of experience before leaving town. Pidgey could be a bit more challenging, but even so...
Tensions within the family aren't going to help, and hopefully the situation with Fire isn't going to hinder training too much - otherwise that bridge might have to be crossed before training can even begin...
- [ Chapter 6 ] -
It had been several days since Leaf arrived in Pallet Town and obtained her Bulbasaur, Rafflesia. Leaf had been using her free time, when she wasn’t helping her aunt and uncle around the house, to train Rafflesia on the outskirts of town. Leaf was thrilled to come home that day with her Bulbasaur in her arms; she had just learned Leech Seed, an indirect move that drained the opponent’s health, and was eager to share the news with her family.
Fire remained as silent as he was the day when Leaf arrived, shortly after she received her Bulbasaur. He stayed in his room mostly, which greatly concerned Leaf but didn’t seem to phase Aunt Jean or Uncle Ron, who said the behavior was typical of him. Yet, Fire had seemed happy to see her when she first arrived. Charmander was as enthusiastic as ever, however, and didn’t hesitate to play with Rafflesia every chance he got.
Leaf pushed the gate open with her hip, kicking it closed with her heel and bounding across the yard. Her uncle was away at work, but Aunt Jean was crouching in the garden, pulling weeds from the dark earth. Leaf set Rafflesia down in front of the garden, and she bounced between the plants to nibble on the weeds.
“That’s one way to get it done,” Aunt Jean laughed. She shook her gloves and slid them off, standing up and rubbing her back.
“Would you like some lunch?” She asked casually, wiping sweat from her brow. “Not that your Bulbasaur needs anything now.”
“No,” Leaf replied, “Where’s Fire? Rafflesia learned a new move and I wanted to show everyone.”
“Oh, really!” Aunt Jean exclaimed, looking down at the nibbling Bulbasaur fondly, “I’ll go get him, he was just in the kitchen.”
Aunt Jean shook her dirty gloves again then walked across the side of the house, entering through the side door into the kitchen. Leaf kneeled down in the grass next to Bulbasaur, who was now stretched out in the sun. Fire and Aunt Jean emerged from the house after a few moments, and approached Leaf. Rafflesia stirred and looked up at them.
“Rafflesia just learned Leech Seed,” Leaf announced, smiling. Aunt Jean clasped her hands together excitedly and Fire looked on, curious.
“Go on, show them.” Leaf nudged Bulbasaur, who jumped up. Thin, snake-like tendrils erupted from the sprout of her bulb and slithered down her sides into the earth, they reappeared a couple feet in front of her, coiling and springing about in search of a Pokémon to drain energy from. After a few seconds, they disappeared back into the earth, then coiled back into the center of bulb.
“That’ll be really useful,” Fire commended her, his praise wasn’t false nor did it carry any sarcasm. Leaf grinned at her cousin, maybe he really wasn’t mad at her.
“Thank you,” Leaf muttered, “She only just learned it this morning, she’s growing so fast already.”
“You’ve only had her a couple of days, too!” Aunt Jean added, beaming. She pet Rafflesia gingerly on the top of her head before slipping her gloves back on, and crouching down in front of her garden.
“If you two want me to make lunch, just let me know.” She reminded them, turning to face them again before resuming her gardening.
“I’m going to go out training,” Fire piped up suddenly, as if it were an afterthought. Leaf hadn’t noticed that Charmander’s Poké Ball was fastened to his belt hoop and she watched as he opened the garden gate. Leaf stepped forward as if to follow him, she thought that training with her cousin might help to work him out of his perpetual moodiness.
“I won’t be gone long.” He looked Leaf straight in the eye, his jaw set. His curt tone and daring expression intimidated her into stepping down. He closed the gate behind him, and set off down the dirt road towards Viridian City.
The sun was beginning to settle down into the horizon, grazing the mountaintops to the west. Leaf could see the silent concern in her Aunt Jean and Uncle Ron’s eyes; Fire had not returned since earlier in the afternoon, and he was usually home before dusk. Leaf offered to look for him, but knew it would be foolish for her to do so, as she risked getting lost in the unfamiliar territory after dark.
Aunt Jean was lingering around the kitchen, peering out the side door every few minutes. She liked to start on dinner well before dusk but she was holding off, waiting for Fire to get home. Soon the sun was sinking fast behind the dark mountains, and Uncle Ron was pulling a windbreaker over his shoulders and grabbing a heavy flashlight from under the kitchen sink.
“He couldn’t have gone any farther than Viridian City,” Aunt Jean murmured, mostly to herself. Uncle Ron just patted her shoulder gingerly and promised that he would return - with Fire - before it became too dark. Leaf stepped into the doorway when he was leaving, wanting to join in his search.
He glanced between his niece and his wife, his lips tight as he decided. “Alright,” he sighed in his resolution, “grab the spare flashlight under the sink. Bring your Bulbasaur with you.”
Leaf bounded for the sink and crouched down, grabbing one of the heavy flashlights. Bulbasaur’s Poké Ball was nestled in her skirt pocket, and she patted it reassuringly. Soon she was walking down the dirt path with her uncle, gripping her flashlight tightly.
“Don’t turn it on until it gets too dark to see the path, when we leave town. The streetlights will be coming on soon.”
Almost as if on cue, the streetlights flickered on, humming. They followed the path until it was enveloped in darkness at the town’s border. Leaf fumbled for the switch on her flashlight, switching it on when her Uncle Ron turned his on. The light from their flashlights flickered across the grass as they continued forward.
“Fire!” Uncle Ron bellowed, cupping his free hand around his mouth. “Fire!”
“Fiiire!” Leaf followed suit, the fields of Route 1 were solemn and empty, except for the occasional rustling in the grass of wild Pokémon, who skittered away under the invasive beams of their flashlights. The lights of Viridian City were growing closer as they continued their search across Route 1. The sky had darkened quickly, and they were soon in complete darkness, except for the deep navy tint in the sky to the west, hazily outlining the mountains.
They soon heard the crackle of gravel on the path ahead of them and aimed their flashlights down the path, illuminating Fire. Immediately when they saw him, they knew something was wrong. Charmander was not outside of his Poké Ball, as he usually was when Fire trained, and Fire’s pants were caked in dirt and ripped around the knees. He held his arm out over his face, and they lowered their flashlights just enough for him to see them.
“What happened?” Uncle Ron demanded, rushing forward and placing his hand firmly on his son’s shoulder. Fire winced slightly under his grasp but attempted to keep a straight face, his jaw set and his eyes averted.
“Nothing, I just ran into some wild Pokémon.” Fire replied, curtly and quietly. Uncle Ron looked down at him, his gaze disapproving of the answer, but he kept the discipline minimum. He helped Fire pull his arm across his shoulders and they staggered back the path that he and Leaf had traveled. All three of them remained silent, except for the occasional sharp intake of breath from Fire when he stepped on his right foot. Uncle Ron’s head snapped in his direction every time it happened, but he didn’t say anything.
Soon the house was in sight, and Aunt Jean, who had been standing by the gate, gasped loudly and rushed out onto the path to take her son in her arms. He flinched at her embrace and when she pulled away, she stared at him wildly.
“Do you have any idea what time it is?” Leaf was taken aback by how softly she spoke to Fire, yet fiercely. She found her quiet criticism to be more powerful than the booming sound of her own mother’s yells, and looked away from them as they spoke.
Fire didn’t reply, but Leaf could see her give his shoulders a firm shake in her peripheral vision.
“What did you think you were doing? How did you get hurt like this?”
Again, more silence. Aunt Jean dropped her arms at her sides in exasperation and instead, pulled the gate open. He walked through it with Uncle Ron and Leaf following him in, and Aunt Jean closing the gate behind her. Leaf felt as if she could feel the pure, raw feeling of anger and concern coming from her aunt behind her, and took care to remain out of the picture as much as possible.
When they were all in the kitchen, the extent of Fire’s injuries became much more clear. He had a long, deep bruise that has blossomed across his forearm and he had small scratches across both arms and his face. Some of his hair was plastered to his head in a thick coating of mud and dirt, and the way he favored his left foot and limped slightly gave Leaf the impression he had hurt his right foot or ankle.
Aunt Jean quickly yet silently rummaged through her kitchen and pulled out a sizeable first-aid kit. She opened it and pulled out an assortment of gauzes, tape, ointments and other clear liquids.
“Is there anything I can do to help?” Leaf asked, the forceful silence in the room unnerved her, and she wanted to busy herself with something to ease the tension.
“Yes, actually,” Aunt Jean still had that powerful echo in her voice, although she did sound noticeably softer when speaking to Leaf, “go into the laundry room and get a fresh set of clothes for Fire. I’m going to have to work on these holes and wash what he has on.”
Leaf nodded and left the table, glancing at Fire as she passed him. He was looking away from his mother, staring at the ground with his jaw still set. She had an ominous feeling about the way he refused to look at anyone, and couldn’t help but to wonder where Charmander was.
She had just stepped out of the kitchen when she heard Uncle Ron behind her say to Aunt Jean, “I’ll help her find his clothes.”
She paused in the living room and turned around, as he stepped through the archway. They made their way across the living room and past the staircase, where the laundry room was tucked away in the opposite corner of the house.
“Leaf, I want to tell you something about Fire.” Uncle Ron said abruptly, closing the laundry room door behind them, yet leaving it open a crack.
“What is it?” Leaf asked, curiosity overwhelming her.
“You may or may not know already, but Fire has depression.” Uncle Ron explained, a deep frown creasing his face.
Leaf did not reply, but her eyes widened. Uncle Ron took the cue, and continued.
“You know that he’s had Charmander for a year… when he got his Charmander, he left town to travel that night. He didn’t even try to spend time with his Pokémon, he just left as soon as he had his bag packed. He came back home within a couple of days, and didn’t tell us much about what happened while he was gone.”
“Um… why are you telling me this?”
“Because, Leaf, ever since he came back home he has refused to go back out and travel. I think what happened tonight might have to do with whatever is keeping him from leaving. I know you’re planning on leaving soon, and I want you to consider taking Fire along with you, just to face whatever has been tormenting him at least.”
Leaf looked down, her mind racing. She didn’t know what to make of this revelation, so she rebounded with a question.
“How do you know Fire is depressed?” Leaf asked, she had to admit to herself that the news did not surprise her; even after a mere week spent with her cousin, it explained his sullenness and isolation.
“It was diagnosed,” Uncle Ron answered, sighing, “we noticed his behavior a few weeks after he came home, and we suggested a therapist. He didn’t hesitate to go initially, but he refused to follow up after a few sessions.”
“Oh…” Leaf trailed off. She let the news soak in for a moment, before she grabbed a pair of folded purple pants that she recognized as Fire’s on the dryer.
“I’ll ask him if he wants to,” Leaf said hurriedly, “but in the end, it’s up to him.”
Uncle Ron nodded and grabbed one of Fire’s black shirts from a basket. He pushed the door to the laundry room open and walked out, leaving Leaf to trail after him with a new, heavy weight on her shoulders.
I know that this story isn't at all about battling, but I feel somewhat disappointed that I didn't get to see Leaf's first battles with wild pokemon. Then again, I can tell that this story is more about the psychology of this family at the moment.
Fire doesn't seem to abuse his Charmander in any way, and yet he doesn't want to spend time with it and would rather go out with the danger of wild pokemon attacking him. And yet he wanted to battle Leaf using Charmander. I have no idea about his psychology.
I'm sorry that this review doesn't have any substance to it. I guess I just wanted to let you know that I'm still reading and enjoying this fanfiction.