A/N: Hello, dear readers, and welcome to my first fanfic. This is just an idea that I've had in my head for awhile and finally got motivated enough to write down. Be harsh - I need the criticism. Also, in case anyone cares, I'm using my FireRed game as reference for most description of towns, buildings, items, etc. And I don't own Pokemon in any way, shape, or form, although I sure as heck wish I did. The guy must be frickin rich.
Rated PG-13 for language, violence, "dark themes," and to be on the safe side. There's nothing major.
WARNING - This fic does indeed contain many "cliches," including but not necessarily limited to: Eevee, Team Rocket, and (a bit later on) The Magical Traveling Trio(c). If you decide to continue on despite this, I do hope that you enjoy it.
Spoiler:- PM List!:
And so, without much further ado about nothing, I present to you:
Sebastian McDuff was not having a good day.
Or, more precisely, he was not having a good couple of days, because yesterday hadn't been so hot either. That was using hot in the slang sense, of course, because it had most certainly been hot in the temperature sense. And, of course, he had been wearing a suit. His best suit, in fact, that was now not really his best suit seeing as the slog through Viridian Forest hadn't agreed with it at all.
He wouldn't have had to slog through Viridian Forest, however, if the Viridian Gym Leader had bothered to do his job, but no, the little b*stard had been gone. Perhaps out on a Sunday stroll, who knew? He sure didn't! So he had had to go on a Sunday stroll of his own through a Weedle-infested, Butterfree-possessed hellhole of a wilderness, getting lost of course, because that just put the icing on top of the proverbial cupcake, didn't it? And getting lost meant that he had had to spend the night in the Mew-forsaken cesspool, sleeping on the ground in what had so recently been his best suit because he, of course, hadn't packed a sleeping bag, because he hadn't planned on needing one. That was what Pokémon Centers were for, right? Well, not if you couldn't reach one before dark! Ha ha, joke's on you! the forest chuckled as it sent every single one of its Caterpie to invade his personal bubble during the night. That was what he had woken up to on this fine Monday morning - a living, squirming coat of Caterpie.
And there was no coffee.
But wait, there was more misery! Because now that he had finally found the exit, the wonderful light at the end of this very leafy tunnel, guess what?
His Pokémon was refusing to follow the plan, that was what!
"We've been over this, Nana!" he cried, waving his arms in exasperation. This waving was actually quite dangerous, because he was wielding an evil-looking spike with a poison sack at its base. "But hey, I'll spell it out for you again. I've got plenty of time! My reservation at the Center expired, mmkay, and some Pidgey-toting newbie has taken it by now. That means that even though I finally got to the end of this forest I don't have a place to stay. Following me so far? Well, here's the catch: if you let me poison you with this, I'll get the sick-Pokémon priority rooms I know for a fact every Center has. Got it? I know you want to stay in a nice clean room tonight just as much as I do, which means you want to go along with this plan just as much as I do. Right?"
He glared at the beast, daring her to contradict him. She did nothing of the sort, simply sat in front of him with her bushy, black, yellow-ringed tail curled primly around her neat little paws. Her large red eyes stared up at him innocently and her bushy ringed ears lay flat against her head, the very picture of a poor pathetic victim. He wasn't fooled. He had taught her that trick himself (and teaching puppy-dog eyes to an Umbreon was no mean feat).
"Look, the only way we're going to get a decent bed and a decent meal tonight is if you do this. It'll hurt less than a Poison Sting, I swear!"
He reached towards her slowly with the Poison Barb, carefully edging closer to her leg -
She scooted back smoothly, then resumed her puppy-dog stare.
He ground his teeth in frustration, scowling hard enough to give himself a few new wrinkles. He squatted down and looked the creature straight in the eyes. "Alright, let's just have it be known that I am NOT spending another night in this thrice-damned forest," he hissed. "You ARE going to let me poison you, whether you like it or not. So are you going to make this easy, or are you going to make this hard?"
She stuck her little pink tongue out at him.
She yelped and tried to evade him, but he had caught her by surprise. He wrapped an arm around her firmly and attempted to poke her with the Poison Barb in his free hand. She wriggled and snapped, making herself a hard target.
"You just hold still you ungrateful little - OW!"
He fell back on his rump and let the Umbreon go in his surprise, and she skittered a safe distance away. He paid no attention to her, having eyes only for the hole in his hand where the Poison Barb had pierced his skin.
"Aw, sh*t," he said.
He leaped to his feet, sending leaves flying, and danced around aimlessly with his hand around his injured wrist, wondering what the hell he was going to do. What the hell was he supposed to do? Of course he couldn't remember a damn thing from that mandatory Pokémon Appreciation class now that it would actually come in handy.
Antidotes. Those cured poison, right? Would they even work on humans? Worth a shot.
He dove for his near-by gym bag and rummaged through it, the fingers on his left hand already beginning to go numb. Spare suit (now his best suit), other clothes, bags of food, bottles of water, a Potion or two, toiletries...
No Antidote. How could he not have an Antidote? Was he stupid? He must be, Mew dammit!
He closed the gym bag in disgust and slung its strap over his shoulder. He would just have to hope that he could reach a Pokémon Center in time. He fumbled under his jacket at his belt, the clumsy poisoned hand making the simple task of grabbing a Pokeball a major chore.
"Of course it was my left hand, of course, I'm left-handed, how many people are left-handed in this world? I just had to be one of them. And why was I holding the thing in my right hand anyway?" he growled to himself.
Pokémon poison was the fastest acting in the world. He didn't have much time.
He finally got the Pokeball he wanted off his belt and threw it to the forest floor with a cry of triumph. The creature that emerged could only be described as a fuzz ball; a fuzz ball with three sharp beaks on three heads that dangled from the ends of three long necks like dandelion stalks, the whole thing held up by a pair of ostrich legs that could kick you into last week. Dodrio, in all its feathery glory. He slammed the empty Pokeball back onto his belt, then scrambled onto the bird and held onto the middle neck for dear life.
His arm was beginning to throb, his head was beginning to whirl. Sh*t, sh*t, sh*t.
"Get to the Pokémon Center, you puffball. It's that way," he ordered, wincing as he accidentally pointed with his bad hand. "Go as fast as you can." He turned to Umbreon, who was watching solemnly nearby, and glared daggers at her. "I hope you're happy. Follow this birdbrain and make sure he goes in the right direction. If the heads start fighting, bite him. And make sure I don't fall off!"
He spurred the Dodrio into action with his heel. The bird squawked and began running, the Umbreon following along behind. He made sure that they were heading in the right direction - which they were for now, thank Mew - and then slumped down on the bird's back, closing his eyes and fighting back a wave of nausea. He grimaced, feeling the shudders coming, his legs beginning to twitch.
Then the poison hit in full force and, in true Pokémon tradition, he fainted.
It was his first mission, and he was equal parts excited and bundle of nerves.
He watched as the van full of illegally-obtained (i.e. stolen) Pokémon backed into the alley, its tail-lights washing the brick of the buildings a bloody red. This light was like-wise reflected eerily off the black outfits he and his companions wore as they moved quickly to secure the shipment, rolling the truck's back open as noiselessly as possible. His suit was new and felt foreign against his skin as he worked. Oh, but it filled him with a sense of power, that suit, made the thrill of belonging to this group more concrete, more complete.
But then came shouting from the front of the alley - cops! Everything became a whirl, a confusion of fleeing bodies and advancing figures, black and faceless. Cops! Where had they come from? How had they known? This wasn't supposed to happen! he thought as the yellow headlights of the van glinted off drawn guns. I don't understand, we were never caught! he pleaded soundlessly as the pop! of firing bullets filled his ears. He turned to run, to escape with the rest of his team, but he was too slow, too slow! He was struck again and again and again and...
He started awake, attempting to sit up. He wasn't happy to find that he could only manage a pathetic little flop; he felt weaker than a day-old Magikarp. Guh, what a dream, he thought hazily.
He surveyed his surroundings from his reclined position, and discovered with relief that he had made it to the Pokémon Center. The whole place gleamed with the pure white of total sanitation. Hospital beds stretched as far as the eye could see, some hidden by concealing curtains. As far as he could tell, he was the only human stupid enough to wind up here; all the occupied beds were so occupied by Pokémon, mostly the newbie kind like Rattata and Spearow. He was in Pewter, after all - Newbie City. The only mobile Pokémon back here were the Chansey, who bustled about busily, checking in on their patients and doing whatever nursely things they did. A few Nurse Joy milled around as well, making sure the Chansey were doing their job. Most of the Nurse Joys, however, would be up front, consoling the grieving trainers of the infirm Pokémon and manning the front desk. Thank Mew for that; he didn't know if his poor poison-addled brain could handle that much pink in one place.
He gave sitting up another shot, and was pleased to find that he actually could. He gave himself a quick once-over, making a face at the IV in his right arm. His left arm he wasn't quite ready to see, and avoided it. A quick glance underneath the thin bed sheets revealed that he was naked from the waist up. He was not very pleased about that; who knew what they had done with his jacket and dress shirt? Even though the suit they belonged to was no longer his best, he could have still cleaned it up and made it almost as good as new. He needed two suits, that was the thing, and he didn't have the money to buy a new one. Well, at least he still had his pants and by extension his dignity, a small blessing in a world where blessings seemed to be scarce. His belt, complete with Pokeballs, was on the bedside table, and his battered, travel-worn gym bag was on the floor next to the same. His shoes rested on top of the bag, not nearly as shiny as they had been when he had first put them on.
Nana was sleeping on his feet, a comforting, curled-up ball of warmth. He reached with his good arm and scratched behind her ears the way she liked; she stirred, woke, and stretched thoroughly with a massive yawn. Then she realized who was currently within strangling distance - the man that she had put in the hospital. He grinned at the deer-in-the-headlights expression on her face. The Umbreon, perhaps misjudging his grin as maniacal, jumped down from the bed and retreated a good distance away, watching him warily for any signs of murderous rage.
"Don't worry, I'm not going to kill you," he reassured her, still smiling. "The whole thing was my own stupid fault. And a bed is a bed, right? Not what I had in mind, of course, but still a good night's sleep."
She stayed firmly put, clearly not trusting him with her life. He didn't blame her.
"By the way," he added, glancing at the Umbreon sidelong, "did you by any chance bring that Poison Barb with you?"
She shook her head slowly.
"Yeah, silly question," he sighed. He sure as hell wasn't going back into that forest, so it was gone for good. The Poison Barb trick had been one of his better ideas, too. It meant a guaranteed stay at any Pokémon Center, as long as the stupid Pokémon let itself be poisoned! Oh well. At least he wouldn't put himself in the hospital again - or at least, not for the same reason. Never put yourself in the hospital for the same reason twice, that's what he always said. That's what he would say if the topic ever happened to come up, anyway.
"Ah, Mr. McDuff. Good to see you awake," said a beaming female voice. He could tell that she was beaming, too; the smile was perfectly audible.
He turned to the Nurse Joy and slapped a smile of his own on his face. "Good to be awake, Miss Joy."
"Wonderful!" she said, then took a chart out of the foot of his bed and began scribbling on it. As she did so, she started the conversation in a different direction. "You made quite a spectacle of yourself, Mr. McDuff. People didn't know WHAT to think when that Dodrio of yours raced through town!"
He put on his shamefaced face; it was one of the best shamefaced faces around, if he did say so himself. "Yeaaah, about him. Did you get him back in the Pokeball alright? He can be a little...feisty."
"Yes, he is a bit snappish, isn't he? You do know that there are laws against letting an aggressive Pokémon loose on the world at large?" she asked, pausing in her scribbling to give him A Look.
Wow, the nice Nurse Joy sure disappeared fast. He was reminded eerily of his mother, who had always acted her nicest when he was in the most trouble. She would smile and say, 'Hello dear, how are you?' and feed him cookies and then - BAM! Nice Mom was gone and Mean Mom took her place, b*tching and moaning about how she knew for a fact that he had broken her vase yesterday, yes she did dust under the couches every once in awhile and just imagine her surprise when she found the pieces of her very best vase, the one her grandmother had given her, and he was grounded for a month!
"Is that a trick question?" he countered, grinning his most winning grin.
"Look, Mr. McDuff," she said, placing the chart on the bedside table with a snap. She was dropping the nice act. Uh-oh. "The Chansey are over excitable as it is, and when a vicious three-headed bird comes knocking on our door we don't take kindly to it." She held up a hand to stop his protests, continuing, "I'm sure that he probably saved your life by carrying you here, and I'm also sure that he listens to you and wouldn't hurt a fly if you were conscious, but please have more courtesy towards the Center staff in the future, alright?"
He nodded humbly at this thorough scolding. Arguing was NOT what you did in a situation like this.
"Good. Now, as for your poisoning, I'm not going to ask how that happened," she said, giving him another Look. "The Antidotes were able to flush it from your system, whatever it was from, and partially reverse the effects."
"Partially?" he squeaked. Partially? What the heck were Centers even for if they could only heal you partially?! 'Oh, sorry Mr. Doe, but we could only sew your ear back on partially.' 'We could only partially treat your illness, Mrs. Peabody, sorry about that.' 'Oh, no, we only partially removed your appendix, kid, and as for that broken bone...well, who needs two arms anyway?'
"...not as effective in humans, but nothing should be permanent, I assure you," he heard the nurse finish as he snapped out of his half-treatment nightmare.
"So...I'm going to be fine," he hazarded.
She nodded. "You're going to be fine."
"Well!" he exhaled. "That's a relief!"
"Hmm," she replied. "Let's get a look at that hand, shall we?"
"Oh, uh," he stammered, for once not having to feign his reaction, which was right now one of extreme reluctance. "It's not rotting off or anything is it? I'm a bit squeamish, you see."
"No, it's not rotting off," she assured him, seeming faintly amused. "Just a little swollen."
"Hmm," it was his turn to say. Her definition of 'a little swollen' and his definition of 'a little swollen' were probably two entirely different things.
They were, it turned out.
His hand looked about twice its normal size, and oozed yellow stuff out of the puncture wound. It was also a nasty reddish-purple discoloration that looked seriously wrong. He felt his stomach turn a few sympathetic somersaults. The destruction ended just past his wrist, however - thankfully enough, his arm seemed fine.
"Not as bad as I thought it would be," he managed breathlessly.
"No," Nurse Joy agreed. "In fact, it's looking very good. That swelling will go down by the end of the day. You'll feel a few side-effects, but you could leave right now if you wanted. I certainly wouldn't stop you."
"Side-effects such as...?"
"Weakness, nausea, dizziness, mild pain, and a craving for carrots," she ticked off on her fingers, sounding as if she was reading off the back of a medicine bottle.
She shrugged. "We haven't figured that one out."
"Well," he said, swinging his legs out of the bed, "thank you for your expert care, Miss Joy, but I think I will be leaving at that."
"Ow!" said Sebastian as she yanked the IV out of his arm. He rubbed the resulting hole sourly, thinking nasty thoughts. It was time to get out of here.
He stood up. A little shaky, sure, but otherwise peachy keen. Slow and steady, just one step -
"Whoops," he said to the Rattata that he was now sprawled across. Luckily that next bed over had been there to catch his fall, yeah?
The Rattata gave him a glare that said, 'If I wasn't loaded up on enough drugs to make me immobile, I would Hyper Fang you right now.' He scrambled off of the bed as quickly as he was able, leaning on the wall for much-needed support.
Perhaps leaving wasn't in order, after all. No need to be hasty.
He turned to the Nurse Joy, who was scribbling on the chart again, ignoring him completely. "Uh, I was going to rent a room here anyway. Could you help me take my stuff upstairs? And help me get upstairs while you're at it?"
"We're currently booked, actually," she said coldly. "But," she continued, looking up from the chart, "given your condition, I'm obligated to offer you a room usually reserved for the trainers of sick Pokémon. That means" - she stabbed the air with her pencil and glared to drive the point home - "that I'm doing you a favor, Mr. McDuff. You better not make me regret it."
"No, ma'am. Of course not," he said meekly. He would be a good little boy, to be sure.
"I'll get a Chansey to give you the key and help you with your things. Have a nice day, Mr. McDuff."
She left with a flick of her bright pink curls. Sebastian was not sad in the least to see her go.
"What a piece of work, eh?" he said to Nana.
The Umbreon didn't respond, opting instead to shrink further into the corner she had squished herself into and shoot mistrustful looks in his general direction. Oh, boy. He needed to make this right before it became a problem.
He kneeled down to the Pokémon’s level and said earnestly, "I'm sorry, okay? I mean it. I was an a**hole, I admit it. I was wrong to force you into anything. That's not what we're about. So don't be mad, alright? If I ever do it again, feel free to bite me. Hard."
She thought that over for a moment.
"As many treats as you can eat for a week?" he offered, holding out his good hand.
Nana grinned a lopsided Umbreon grin and butted his outstretched hand with her head, all forgiven. He scratched her behind the ears again and grinned a grin of his own. Good ol' Nana. He could always rely on her.
"Chan sey, chan?"
He stood up carefully and turned around to face the round, pink, smiling thing that now confronted him. The Chansey handed him an envelope that contained a card key to his room.
"Thank you," he said, pocketing it. In the process he realized that he still had no shirt on. "Oh, uh, would you happen to know where my shirt and jacket got to?"
The Pokémon shrugged, or at least he thought that's what she was trying to do. "Sey. Chansey."
"Um...right." He picked up his gym bag and set it on the bed, then got a T-shirt out of it and pulled it on. That done, he asked the Chansey, "You're here to help me get to my room, right?"
The Chansey nodded rapidly, her smile growing to epic proportions. She took his gym bag, shoes and belt and stuffed them into her egg pouch for easy transport.
"Wonderful. Hope you don't mind if I lean a little."
He took an experimental step and almost crashed to the nice clean floor, the Chansey catching him just in time.
"Make that a lot," he amended as he straightened himself, relying on the pink ball of happy to keep him upright. "To the room!" he cried, gesturing grandly. "Come on, Nana."
And so they went.