Hey everybody, fellow pearlshippers especially. This will be a multi-chapter fic, so please, read and check back until it says, the end, at the bottom. Comments and constructive criticism welcome! Please post to your heart's content, but no flaming please.
I do not own pokemon or any related characters or terms. I own all of my OCs and plots.
The whole fic is now R rated.
It was far too early in the morning for her to be hearing anything. Unfortunately, life was imperfect, and she rolled over in her bed with an irritated moan to try to block out the rock music coming from outside. Finally, she was unable to bear it any longer and sat up. A quick, reluctant glance at the clock only confirmed her opinions about proper waking hours. She yawned, stretched, and looked around the small, cozy room blearily. Her pokémon were, amazingly, still asleep in their beds. Hoping she would not wake them, Dawn slipped out og bed onto the hard wood floors. As she opened the closet for her usual apparel, the song outside ended, bringing a flood of seemingly unnatural silence. She was about to breathe a sigh of relief when the next tune began. Louder than its predecessor, she swore the noise would crack the glass pane. Shaking with barely controlled irritability, she stiffly dressed, a sour look permanently plastered to her face. And still, her pokémon slept on. The fact that they were undisturbed only added to her growing mood.
She moved through the motions of the morning routine mechanically, all the while thinking of how to confront the culprit who had ruined her sleep. When she finally made her way downstairs, she was unsurprised to find Brock already awake, though barely. “Morning,” he said dubiously, clearly having been woken by the music as well.
“Where is he?” she asked her friend, her bad mood brushing away all remnants of grogginess. Brock lifted a limp finger to point to the back door of the Pokémon Center. Maybe if he’s training I won’t… she thought to herself, opening the door. Any meandering thoughts of forgiveness vanished in that instant. For there before her, rocking out to a stereo and air guitar, with Buizel and Pikachu as conspirators, was Ash Ketchum. The song reached a high note, at which Ash screamed out with the singer, and Dawn could not control the complete disintegration of her earlier attitude. It always happened this way, Dawn being unable to be mad at Ash, at least where her pokémon were not concerned. The song ended, also ending the album, and Ash turned to his pokémon congratulating them on a job well done.
“Great pace guys,” he said to them, patting each on the head. “We’ll practice our battling after lunch.” He stood, recalled Buizel and allowed Pikachu to rejoin him on his shoulder. “Oh, hey Dawn. I’m surprised to see you up so early.”
“No thanks to your music,” Dawn said sarcastically, still slightly bitter.
“Aw, come on, it can’t be that loud,” Ash replied. Dawn merely rolled her eyes.
“I’m surprised Oshawott wasn’t with you,” Dawn began as they walked back into the Pokémon Center lobby. “He always seems to want to do that sort of thing.”
“He does,” Ash replied, “but that’s our early morning warm up.”
“Emphasis on ’early’,” Dawn said in a continuing streak of sarcastic remarks.
Ash paid it little mind and continued, “Buizel was the only other one up besides me and Pikachu, so he joined in.”
“Who is that artist anyway?” Dawn asked, as they sat on the sofas to absently watch the morning news report before heading out.
“Who? John Haley?” Brock answered for Ash. “You’ve never heard of John Haley?” For once, it was Ash and Brock lecturing Dawn on something in pop culture, rather than the other way around. Dawn smiled at the irony. “He’s one of the biggest rock stars in the world.”
“Rock music really isn’t my thing,” Dawn half-giggled.
“But John Haley’s the best,” Ash implored her. “He’s done some softer stuff too you know.” There occurred a pause in their conversation as all three carefully watched the weather forecast. “You know Dawn,” Ash said idly as they all moved back up the stairs for those pokémon still asleep, “what kinda music do you like. You’ve never really said.” Dawn did not immediately reply. She knew Ash would not question her silence, as they were trying to wake the pokémon so they would return to their pokéballs, but Dawn was secretly wondering how he would react to her answer. “So,” he said as Pachirisu disappeared into the ball, “what kind of music is your favorite?”
“I really don’t have a favorite,” Dawn said awkwardly. “It’s not that I don’t like music,” she said hurriedly in response to the shocked look on Ash’s face, “but I really just decide what I like on a song-by-song basis.”
“Weird,” Ash said half to himself. “Okay then…” But he was cut off as Brock rushed up the stairs, fear darkening his face.
“Get back up the stairs!” he shouted at them. The authority and real concern in Brock’s voice caused Ash and Dawn to run hurriedly back to her room. “Stay away from the windows.” Brock told them.
“What’s going on Brock?” Dawn asked, her voice becoming tinged with worry.
“Pikachu, Piplup, you two had better get under the bed,” Brock told the two pokémon.
“Pip!” Piplup protested to Dawn, Pikachu doing the same to Ash.
“No go un…” she began to order her prideful pokémon, when she was stopped mid-sentence by an explosion of brick and glass coming through the window. “Go!” she screamed to Piplup. Both pokémon now obeyed.
“So what’s goin’ on Brock,” Ash re-asked Dawn’s question breathing heavily after the explosion.
“There’s a heavy fight outside,” Brock said, now beginning to calm down now that he knew they were all okay. “Some sort of trainer battle, but not like any I’ve ever seen. They’re not battling for fun, that’s for sure.” True to form, Ash carefully pulled away the shredded curtains to see the outside.
“Ash,” Dawn said worriedly, suddenly more concerned for him than she ever had been before. The feeling made her blink in surprise, but it was quickly overlapped by their very real peril.
“One of ’em’s got a Meinshao,” Ash whispered to them. “I think its Swift is what hit the window.”
“What about the other guy?” Brock asked.
“Nothin’,” Ash said. “His pokémon must be unconscious or - ooh!” Ash winced.
“What, what!” Dawn hissed, trying to be as quiet as possible, while feeling a resurgence in her earlier feeling. “Are you okay?”
“No need to worry,” Ash said, using her common phrase. “That guy tried to fight the Meinshao on his own.”
“Not - smart,” Brock annunciated.
“Do you think it’s okay to go outside?” Dawn asked.
“Should be,” Ash said, holding out a hand to help her up. He had done so numerous times, but for some reason, Dawn blushed and felt quite giddy despite the circumstances. She took his hand anyway, though she turned her head to keep him from seeing her blush. “C’mon Pikachu,” Ash said, urging his pokémon out from under the bed. The electric pokémon slid out, Piplup close behind.
“Let’s go,” Brock said once both trainers and their pokémon were settled. “I need to talk to a trainer that would allow his pokémon to strike another human.”
“Gotcha Brock,” Ash agreed. “If he’s some sort of criminal, I’m sure the three of us can deal with him.” Dawn did not voice her own opinion, despite it concurring with her two friends’. She was too busy contemplating the strange sensation she had experienced upon taking Ash’s hand. It was unlike any other, and to be honest with herself, she had a sneaking suspicion about its source, though she would rather not admit it. Of course Ash was handsome, cute too, and of course she had thought so from first meeting him, but that had never flowered into anything. At least, not until now. “Dawn,” Ash said coaxingly. “I thought you were coming.”
Dawn shook her head, if only to clear it of confusing thoughts that would best be sorted out later. “You alright?” Ash asked.
“Sure,” she said, “no need to worry.” For once, she honestly did not mean it. Her thoughts were drifting to her possible feelings for Ash once again before they even exited the Center doors. Once they did though, those thoughts were thrown by the wayside by the Meinshao’s trainer. He could not have been older than eighteen, just two years older than her and a year older than Ash, but he had the weirdest aura about him. It was of course helped by his grey trench coat, all black suit, and grey fedora, but he gave off this sense of otherworldliness that Dawn could not quite latch onto. He had not seen them yet, as he was busy handcuffing his opponent.
“Shao!” his Meinshao, now revealed as a girl, yowled. She pointed an arm in their direction, and his head followed its lead. Dawn and her friends stopped dead, for no other reason than uncertainty.
“Oh,” he said, sounding genuinely surprised. “Who’re you guys?” His voice was deep, and had a strange, menacing gurgle in it. However, this was completely contradicted by his friendly tone. Dawn let her confused surprise show with an arch of one eyebrow.
“Who’re you?” Ash asked aggressively. “Did you know you hit the Pokémon Center?”
“And why would you let you Meinshao hit a person?” Brock added in, though not as fervently.
“Sorry if you’re confused,” the trainer said, “but you’re seeing this all out of context. He’s a career criminal, having stolen just about every kind of valuable at one time or another.”
“So you’re a member of the International Police,” Dawn said, fondly remembering the eccentric Looker.
“No,” the trainer said flatly. “Though the IP did give me the contract.”
“So you’re a bounty hunter,” Brock said, realization dawning in him.
“Sort of,” the trainer replied. “I’m actually a pokémon trainer first and foremost. I just do this sort of thing to keep my skills honed.”
“Really?” Brock said in disbelief, not of the stunned kind.
“Mm,” the trainer replied. “So now I’ve answered your queries, who are you guys?”
“I’m Ash Ketchum, from…”
“Pallet, in Kanto,” the trainer said suddenly, and becoming rather cheery. “I know you. Well, I know you by reputation anyway.”
“Me?” Ash said in confusion, pointing to himself.
“Pika?” Pikachu repeated.
“And you,” the trainer said, nodding toward Dawn, “You’re Dawn Berilitz, from Twinleaf in Sinnoh.”
“Wait, how do you…” Dawn yelled, bordering between shock and confusion. She was already becoming irritated by this trainer’s overbearing manner, and by Ash’s frown, so was he.
“And you are Brock from the Pewter City Gym,” the trainer finished, pointing at Brock. “I am Jerda Foks, and have been trying to find the three of you for two weeks now.”
“Wait, what?!” all three of them said. Jerda sighed as his Meinshao came up, unconscious criminal in her arms.
“Professor Oak is a good friend of mine and when he couldn’t get a hold of you, he called me and asked me to look out for ya, being I was in the area and all,” Jerda said.
“Is the professor in trouble?” Ash asked, concern lacing his every word. “He wouldn’t try so hard to get into contact with us unless there was.”
“Oh no, nothing is wrong, quite the opposite actually,” Jerda replied. “Why don’t I tell inside the Center. I’ll need to call Officer Jenny for the bounty and wait up there anyway.”
“Sure, if Jenny’s gonna be there,” Brock said, his voice melting like usual.
“Ignore him,” Dawn half-laughed when Jerda eyed Brock like one would a mental patient. “He’s always like that.”
“Don’t worry,” Ash joined her, “his pokémon won’t let it go anywhere.”
“To each his own,” Jerda shrugged, walking between Ash and Dawn while Brock and Meinshao followed.
Once in the Center, Brock, Dawn, and Ash took some couches well away from everyone else, making sure to save a seat for the mysterious Jerda Foks. Both Dawn and Ash kept peering over the back of the sofa to watch him as he made his phone call, though it yielded no result. “Come on you two,” Brock said, calling them both back to the moment. “Surely you don’t think he’s that interesting.”
“No, it’s just like, aw I dunno,” Ash began but ended lamely.
“Me too,” Dawn said, and upon agreeing with Ash, noticed how close she and he were sitting. That same jolt of passion attempted to redden her face, but Jerda saved her by coming over to their corner.
Everyone was diverted to him as he said, “Well, Jenny’s on her way, and by the sound of it, I should be able to tell you why the professor asked me to come calling.”
“Sit down,” Brock motioned courteously to the seat across from the sofa. Jerda thanked him with a nod, but before lowering into the chair he laid six poke balls out on the table between the furniture.
“Would rather not sit on them,” Jerda replied in response to their faces. He made himself comfortable, smoothing out his coat before continuing. “I would like to reiterate, for you Ash,” he began, “that nothing has happened to the good professor. I wanted to make sure you understood, since you seem to care about him a great deal.”
“I do,” Ash said. “Without Professor Oak, I wouldn’t be here on my quest to become a Pokémon Master.”
“A Master, hm,” Jerda contemplated, “Well, if that be the case, it’s no wonder the old man sent me to find you.”
“C’mon,” Dawn said, frustrated. “Would you just tell us already?”
“Guess I have been beating around the bush,” Jerda said, mildly embarrassed. “But enough of that. Ash my friend, I would like to formally invite you to one of the greatest gatherings of pokémon trainers in the world: the Pokémon Consortium!”
“Huh,” Dawn said, the dramatic effect Jerda had intended completely flying over her head.
“NO WAY!” Ash hollered overly loud. “Brock, Dawn, you know what this means?”
“Yeah!” “No,” Brock and Dawn replied respectively, and in completely different tones.
“Dawn, you’re a Coordinator only, right?” Jerda asked, even as Brock and Ash began to grow huge grins of excitement.
“Uh-huh,” Dawn said, still confused.
“Then I’m not surprised you’ve never heard of the Consortium,” Jerda answered. “Only hardcore Gym and League challengers know anything about it.”
“Dawn,” Ash butted in, unable to contain himself any longer, “the Pokémon Consortium is an awesome event for only a select few trainers. Just being asked to come is like when you and Buneary were asked to be Pokéstylists with Paris!”
“Oh wow!” Dawn burst out, “That’s great Ash!”
“Will he be battling at all?” Brock asked Jerda, the quickest to gain control of himself.
“It’ll be entirely his decision,” Jerda said, “unless of course he is asked to explicitly.”
“Do you know where it’s bein’ held?” Ash asked Jerda in a rush of excitement and energy.
“ ’Course,” Jerda said rather smugly, “since I’m going too.”
“Wait, you?” Dawn asked, unbelieving. “I’ve never even heard of you, and the way Ash is talking, I would have heard of you somewhere if you were to get invited.”
“I don’t have to get an invite,” Jerda waggled a finger at them, sounding exasperated. “I’m one of the founders.”
“Whoa!” all three shouted at once.
“And, I’d like to travel there with you,” Jerda continued. “The old professor usually doesn’t make recommendations, so when I heard your invite had come via his suggestion, I had to take the measure of you myself.”
“That’d be great,” Ash said. “You gotch yourself a deal.” They shook on it, and Jerda excused himself to check on Officer Jenny’s arrival time.
“This is just great Ash,” Dawn said. “You’ll actually get to learn from someone like, well, how strong is a guy like him supposed to be?”
“Wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise by tellin’ ya,” Ash replied. “Let’s just say I wouldn’t expect to win our first battle, if we have one.”
“As a founder of the Consortium, I’d say he’s probably stronger even than Champions,” Brock added.
“Is that even possible?” Dawn asked. She, during her travels with Ash and Brock, had met both Sinnoh’s Champion, Cynthia, and its Elite Four members. To think there were trainers even more powerful than that was difficult to even fathom. “But why have a Meinshao?” she asked after a pause in their conversation. “I can name a few other fighting-types that have more raw strength.”
“Meinshao is famous for speed,” Brock explained. “A trainer that uses a Meinshao isn’t going for pure power, though I admit, it would be difficult to use a fighting-type not based in overwhelming strength.”
“Do they hold contests at the Consortium?” Dawn asked tentatively. She was more than thrilled to be traveling to a gathering of strong trainers, but the fact remained that she needed to keep her skills up outside of simple training.
“I dunno,” Ash said, genuinely concerned for her sake. “I really never thought about it before, since it’s mostly about regular battles.”
“Hey!” Jerda shouted at them, far more commanding than he had been since they had met him. “Officer Jenny’s about to arrive, and to make this as quick as possible, I would like it if you were not talking.”
“What’s that got to do with…” Dawn was about to protest, since she saw no good reason to have to be silent, but Ash pulled her down by the shoulders. The gentle, yet firm, grasp of his hands on her skin completed melted any resistance she might have provided, and she came down with a thump.
“It’s alright Dawn,” he said in a whisper. “I’m sure there’s a good reason.” She was staring into his eyes, so pure and brown, and was unable to look away. “Dawn,” Ash said, moving to the side in an attempt to jolt her out of whatever she had fallen into. The whole while, his hands never left her shoulders. His eyebrows were furrowed, adding to his charm, when the moment faded. “Oh, sorry…” he laughed, removing his hands and blushing from both her reaction and his lack of understanding. It did not escape Dawn that Brock was smiling in a pleased way after watching their exchange. When she turned to see his expression more closely, he winked in a knowing way and stood up to stand by Jerda.
Officer Jenny entered the building as formally as Dawn had ever seen her. Ash and Dawn rushed over to stand by Jerda on his other side, as much to control Brock as to be ready when the turnover was complete. Luckily, the former was not necessary, as Brock was controlling himself all on his own. It was impressive for him, Dawn thought, even with the twitching and shivering. “Officer,” Jerda politely saluted Jenny. “Did you not bring a member of the IP with you?”
“It wasn’t necessary,” Jenny assured him. “The representative at our station gave me your pay.” She extracted an official looking envelope, bulging slightly, and handed it over to Jerda. He gazed at it for a few seconds, then without even opening it, looked up.
“Everything seems to be in order,” he said. “Thank the IP for the contract for me.”
“Will do,” Jenny replied. “Where is the culprit?”
“In the back with Nurse Joy,” Jerda promptly answered. “He tried to resist, and well, ended up with three broken ribs, broken chin, broken knee, and let’s see, am I missing anything? No, I think that’s all.”
“Dang,” Ash whispered to himself, echoing Dawn’s thoughts.
“Alright, thank you for taking such a wanted man off the list,” Jenny said, going to the back.
“Well, I’m done here and now we’re wasting daylight,” Jerda said to them. He retrieved his pokéballs, then taking an easy stride, led them off into a soon to be dusk sky.
From then until they made camp, no one spoke. Dawn could feel Jerda’s odd atmosphere blanketing their whole group, and it was this feeling that kept her quiet. She assumed this was also the case with Ash and Brock, especially since even Pikachu and Piplup were silent. However, she could not say the silence was entirely unwelcome. It allowed her to dwell and ponder over her true feelings for Ash, whatever they were. She finally came to the conclusion that she did indeed have feelings for him, but was at a complete loss at how to express them. She considered asking Brock for advice, but was quickly reminded of the all too frequent results of his method of approach. Still, he remained her best option for advice between her three traveling companions.
So when Jerda finally stopped walking, she was relieved for more than one reason. “This clearing should offer enough cover for a camp,” Jerda said, mostly to the air. “Come on out,” he said after a pause in which he retrieved a pokéball. From within the capsule, a Flareon was revealed. “I’ll go collect some firewood,” Jerda said. “Don’t worry about that till I get back.”
“Sure,” Brock said, sounding easier than Dawn felt. “Don’t take too long though. I’ll start getting us some dinner, and it’ll be better the sooner I get it warm.”
“ ’Course,” Jerda replied, motioning for his pokémon to follow him deeper into the woods. When Dawn felt he was finally out of earshot, she let out an audible sigh and fell back onto the ground.
“You can say that again,” Ash agreed wearily, falling onto his back next to her. Dawn idly thought how beautiful the stars were tonight. “I thought I was gonna explode,” Ash continued. “What is up with that guy?”
“I keep wondering that myself,” Brock mentioned, his head still bowed over his dinner prep. “His name rings a bell somewhere in the back of my head the more I think about it, but I just can’t place it.”
“At least his pokémon seem happy,” Ash said. “I only put up with him ’cause of that.”
“Does he remind you of Paul a bit?” Dawn asked him. It had finally come to her who he was most like. His air of being definitely matched Paul’s.
“Eh,” Ash shrugged, unsure.
“I would say it’s the other way around,” Brock said. “Paul imitating him, rather than him imitating Paul.”
“When you put it that way, it makes sense,” Ash said. “How do you think he’ll battle? I can’t get a read on him yet.”
“Hard to do when he won’t speak,” Dawn said. “But he seems the type to plan four or five steps ahead before making a move.”
“When on the level he is, that can backfire,” Brock said. “I once saw a short, TV Consortium match. Jerda wasn’t in it, but the two trainers that were battling were forced to constantly focus on the present because of the battle’s ferocity. The pace simply forbids thinking too heavily about the future.”
“Well, that ought to suit Ash,” Dawn said, bumping him on the shoulder with her own. “He always battles in the moment.”
“Thanks Dawn,” Ash laughed, “I think.” Their talked drifted to more inconsequential topics until Jerda returned. His presence was announced by snapping twigs and leaves as he emerged from the forest just as Ash was about to ask her a question. They all immediately became silent, and watched as he set his load of logs and kindling off to the side of the camp.
“You all could do with easing up around me,” Jerda said as he prepared the wood. “What were you going to ask Dawn, Ash? Don’t worry, I was listening to your conversation for a good five minutes before I came out.”
“Why would you do that?” Ash asked, suddenly furious. He stood up, postured aggressively.
“We do have a right to privacy you know!” Dawn stood up as well, as much to support Ash as to better see the exchange.
“So this is how you want it?” Jerda asked nearly surprised, as he drew a pokéball. “I listened because I am interested in your character.”
“You could have just asked!” Dawn said, horrified to think what Jerda might have heard if she had gone with her gut and confessed her feelings to Ash only moments before.
“In my experience, people never give you truthful answers right off the bat,” Jerda countered.
“That doesn’t change anything,” Ash said, drawing his own pokéball. “If I don’t tell you something, it means you aren’t supposed to hear it.”
“A battle will be the only real way for me to read you anyway,” Jerda said. “I should have asked for one far earlier.”
“You speak my mind!” Ash shouted. “Let’s go Torterra!”
“Good choice,” Jerda said, “but so is mine. Knoma, show ’em how!”
“What!?” Dawn yelled, confused on Jerda’s type match-up, Knoma being a Floatzel. “He could have chosen anything, but he went with a water-type?”
“Jerda knows what he’s doing,” Brock said lowly and concerned. “Not only does he throw Ash off his game with an odd match-up, but he shows his knowledge of pokémon as well.”
“How so?” Dawn asked, curious.
“Wait a moment,” Brock told her, then cupping his hands so Ash and Jerda could hear him, asked, “Do you want me to referee?!”
“No!” Jerda spoke first. “Ash, this is a no-holds-barred, one-on-one. Give me your best shot.”
“I would anyway!” Ash said. “Start off strong! Energy Ball!” Dawn watched as Jerda did nothing, then gasped as Knoma leapt out of the way of the spinning Energy Ball in the nick of time. What was even more amazing, Jerda had not even given a command.
“See,” Brock said, “Jerda knows Torterra is a slow pokémon, so he countered with the super-fast Floatzel. Never mind that Foatzel can learn some powerful ice-type moves that will really hurt Torterra even in a single hit.”
“Come on Ash,” Jerda taunted him. “There was no way Energy Ball was going to hit and you know that. The move itself was impressive, but stop wasting time trying to intimidate me and Knoma. If you want to do that, actually land a blow.” Dawn was expecting Jerda to give a command next, but he did not. Nevertheless, Knoma activated an Aqua Jet, surging toward Torterra with unmatched speed.
“Why is he letting her just fight without commands?” Dawn asked, shocked that so strong a trainer considered commands irrelevant.
“I don’t think he is,” Brock said. “Look closely, that stance is not one of a trainer that doesn’t care. No, I think he might be like Annabel, Kanto’s Battle Frontier Battle Tower Frontier Brain. She was psychic and could speak to pokémon mentally. I think Jerda can do the same thing. If Ash can’t figure it out, he’s sunk.”
“Ash!” Dawn shouted at him, “Jerda’s psychic! He’s talking to his pokémon in their minds!”
“Well no wonder…” Ash said. “Thanks Dawn!” He finished, winking at her before returning his attention to the battle. In that simple gesture, Dawn thought she was so warm in the face, Brock would think he was next to a heater. “Torterra, watch that Floatzel’s every move. We won’t know what’s comin’ until right before! Take the Aqua Jet!” Torterra groaned audibly as Knoma made contact, something Dawn had not been expecting from the massive pokémon.
“That Floatzel must be super strong,” Dawn said, more to herself than Brock.
“Retaliate with Razor Leaf!” Ash said. He was confident now. Knoma was too close to dodge, and he could not help but smirk when the first Razor Leaf connected. But his smirk quickly faded as it was the only one to connect. As soon as it could, Knoma dropped on all fours, allowing the attack to pass harmlessly over her head.
“Now we can go on the offensive,” Jerda actually spoke, “Use Aqua Tail on the legs!” Knoma obliged, smashing the powerful physical water move onto all four of Torterra’s limbs. The massive pokémon, unable to regain balance, toppled onto its side.
“Ah! Torterra! You have to get back up!” Ash urged his pokémon.
“Now finish it,” Jerda said, before Knoma leaped onto Torterra, then struck with an Ice Fang on Torterra’s exposed belly. The large pokémon bellowed from the attack, then slowly faded into unconsciousness. The moment she knew her opponent was defeated, Knoma jumped away, back to Jerda’s side.
“Torterra,” Ash comforted his pokémon. “You did your best, we just weren’t able to adapt fast enough.”
“Is Torterra alright, Ash,” Dawn asked him, as she and Brock had come over as fast as they could at the battle’s end.
“Good job girl,” Dawn heard Jerda say to Knoma, and turned to watch him. He was down on the pokémon’s level, stroking her back and muzzle in praise.
“Raar!” Knoma replied happily, nudging her trainer with her snout.
“Yes, I love you too,” Jerda answered. “Now, go and introduce yourself to Ash.”
“Ash,” Dawn said, calling his attention to the approaching Knoma as he was still occupied checking Torterra for any serious injuries.
“Mm,” Ash said, looking up for Dawn.
“Raa!” Knoma said for Dawn, holding out a fore paw for Ash.
“Hi,” Ash said, taking the paw. “You’ve got a neat name ya know.”
“Your Torterra is fine, I’ve already checked,” Jerda said, following Knoma. “So now you know. I have earned my right to do as I see fit. In time, I imagine you will as well, but for now, you must still train and grow.”
“Thanks for the battle though,” Ash said, having already lost interest in the reason for the battle. “Your Floatzel is awesome. Where did you come up with her name?”
“Not sure,” Jerda replied. “She’s actually only one of two of my many pokémon with a name.”
“Are there any tips you could give me for battling?” Ash inevitably asked.
“I could, but I’d rather wait until later,” Jerda said. “It’s always best if the trainer has plenty of time to think over the battle himself before receiving advice.”
“Sure,” Ash replied. “So…you want some help with getting the fire ready?”
“If you want to help,” Jerda answered. From then on, it seemed the battle had been the key to breaking open the barrier between Dawn and her friends and Jerda. While they ate before turning in for the night, he talked openly with them about some of the more memorable battles he had been a part of, as well as the more difficult training trials he had had over the years. When Brock suggested they all let out all of their pokémon for the night, Jerda agreed, save for his sixth ball. The five he did let out were Flareon, Knoma, Meinshao, a Luxray named Degh, and Porygon2. All were friendly with the exception of Degh, who chose to stay close to Jerda rather than associate with the other pokémon. Jerda was not only interesting to listen to, he was a good listener. He was interested in many of Ash’s battles with various Gym Leaders, often citing differences from when he had battled them. He did not know as much about Contests, to Dawn’s disappointment, but was just as interested in how certain matches had played out.
But even with much of the wall down between them, Dawn still went to sleep uneasy. Along with refusing to allow his sixth pokémon out and not saying what it was or why, there was a definite aura of half-truth about him, like he was only telling part of the story. She couldn’t complain though, as he was now far more engaging than when they had first met. But just before falling into true sleep, Dawn’s final thoughts were of Ash, and how she would definitely ask for Brock’s advice on approaching him with her feelings.