Disclaimer: I do not own pokémon or any of its related enterprises. They are the property of their respective owners. The first five chapters were beta'd by the amazing Farla. (Yes, that Farla.)
Author's Note: I started this story back in 2005 and have been working on it, albeit slowly, ever since. My aim was to create a fun and realistic story that centred around an OT. I don't know if I succeeded, but it's been a fun ride so far. You'll notice that the chapters improve drastically as we go along - though all chapters have been extensively edited time and time again - but they could always be better, so I appreciate comments.
Chapter One: No Questions Asked.
The soft sound of footsteps made its way across the path, voices following suit. Two figures moved under the scorching sun, both talking avidly and obviously disagreeing over something. One was male, tall and lean, the other female, much younger and a lot shorter. They were closely followed by a rattata, the thing desperately trying to grab onto the hem of the male’s coat. The man, looking about twenty, glanced down at it and laughed at the critter’s attempts before reaching down and allowing the rattata to climb onto his shoulder.
The argument continued, with comments thrown back and forth but nothing particularly informative. The rattata tried paying attention to what its owner was doing, but soon sleep seemed just as interesting and it closed its eyes. Seconds later it could be heard snoring quietly.
Nothing could keep it awake, not even the buzzing of life around them. Pidgey could be seen flitting through the trees, striking up conversation with each other and occasionally swerving out of the way of a stray branch. Bugs, sprawled across the rugged bark of trees, watched with large, blinking eyes as the strange humans wandered through their home. A dusty road twisted through the trees, never in a straight line, and curled around everything in its path as sentret bounced alongside They ducked behind bushes every time the humans glanced their way, constantly out of their reach. As the road continued – its uneven width suggesting pokémon had created it through endless months of following its course – so did they, watching with keen eyes until the tall ones were safely out of their territory.
The two paid no attention to this, however, as they had been in the forest quite a lot and knew everything by heart, even the sounds of elusive pokémon. The forest, lying on the edge of Sunbark Town, had been their training ground for years and both knew their way around quite well. Its rocky patches and long, endless roads made it ideal for practising moves, or enjoying a run. Even better, they wouldn't have to worry about accidentally hurting someone, for the forest was vast and Sunbark Town very small.
So every day at noon they went up there to train the young man’s pokémon, with the little girl watching and the pokémon steadily growing stronger. It was a good thing, as it would be for any future pokémon trainer, that the young girl had such a wonderful role model. A role model very much annoyed with his sister's constant badgering.
“Amy, I am not going to visit Mum and Dad any time soon.”
“It’s a ten minute walk!” the girl whined, eyes pleading.
“You know that’s not the problem. They’ll ask me to stay longer and I always have trouble refusing them,” the man snapped. “I have to train this rattata before its owner returns and I really don't have the time to go visit our parents and risk having to stay there for another two weeks.”
The man turned towards her, arms crossed. “Don’t 'but' me, Amy; you will have to wait 'till Mum’s birthday.”
“But that’s another three weeks!”
The young man sighed, mentally cursing his parent’s wish to have another baby ten years after they had conceived him. He loved his baby sister, of course he did, but she was the epitome of little girls: annoying, whiny, and possessing the most innocent brown eyes he had ever seen. He had to make sure that he didn’t look into those eyes right now, or he’d be sold, he knew it. She was giving him stiff competition, though, for he heard soft sniffling coming from behind him and felt a light tugging on his arm.
“Don’t start, Amy, I’m serious. For once you'll have to wait or do it yourself.”
He knew that comment would have an effect on her. After all, she wasn’t known for her outgoing personality, especially when it came to their parents. Why she wanted to go on a pokémon journey was beyond him, for she never fared well alone and had the amazing ability to give up the moment something went wrong. He gave her two days before she'd call him to come get her.
No doubt she had a vision of heroic deeds, or catching legendary pokémon and winning every battle, as opposed to the reality of days of travelling, seeing more weedle than you had ever hoped to, and losing constantly to trainers more experienced than you. Perhaps this would be a good lesson for her and make sure she started seeing things in perspective. He'd always hoped she'd learn to appreciate the life she had with her parents, for it included many things that he'd missed while he'd been away. It was a life that did not include pokémon overly much, but they their parents were certainly loving and would no doubt welcome her starter pokémon with open arms.
“All right,” came the soft reply, mumbled though lips that were no doubt pouting again. He knew it. How he managed to deal with her, he’d never know, but then she was his sister, so giving up on her was unthinkable.
“Come on, sis, you can carry rattata for a bit.”
Knowing it would cheer her up, he handed the sleeping form to her, seeing rattata’s paws tangle in her dark hair to steady itself. A yawn left it as eyes opened just a bit to see what this sudden change was. Assured that it could do no harm, it closed them again, continuing a favourite activity with relish. Sleeping after a long day's work – especially under the soft cover of long, brown hair – had never felt so good.
Quietly removing chocolate bits from her dress, Amy made no attempt to be social. The candy she'd been munching down had stained her clothes horribly, but nothing compared to the idle chatter going on around her. Her mother, clad in a garishly yellow garment that stung at Amy's eyes, had somehow decided to spend the entire afternoon talking about the new flower shop in town, as opposed to more important matters. Matters that included Amy and her going away.
She had been waiting tirelessly for Derek to ask her to leave the room. She knew that if he really planned to talk to them, then he wouldn’t want to have her there. It was a special talk after all and special talks were always done without the person being discussed present. Perhaps they would even agree on a gift for her. Something special to give her when she left. A Great Ball, maybe, or perhaps even an Ultra Ball. She knew Derek owned a few, so perhaps she’d receive one of those to carry with her and catch pokémon with. It wasn't like he needed them these days, busy as he was with other people's pets.
So there she was, waiting patiently for the wonderful events that would no doubt change her life. After all, she knew these things tended to do just that. She'd heard many a tale of young boys and girls going out into the world and becoming famous. She just didn't yet know what she'd be famous for.
“Father, Mother, if I can interrupt for a moment?” Derek said calmly, taking his spot next to Amy on the couch once he'd grabbed a cup of coffee. Knowing that some chocolate bits would no doubt now adorn his backside, Amy quickly looked the other way.
Her parents, happily absorbed in their story about kind Miss Milden and her flower arrangements, looked up at them and smiled.
“Of course, what’s the matter?” her mother asked, curious.
“Well, Mother, Amy came to me with a request. She wanted me to ask you if she could start her own pokémon journey.”
Amy stared at her brother with huge eyes. This wasn’t how it was supposed to go! She wasn’t supposed to be there and he shouldn’t have mentioned that she had asked him. It was all wrong! His request was wrong too! He should have asked nicely, with a flourish, and charmed her parents with the wonderful ways of pokémon. Or maybe all the adventures she’d embark on, once a true pokémon. Instead he hadn’t. Now what should-
“Of course, we expected she would want to,” her mother interrupted Amy's train of thought.
“I see no problems with that, unless you do, Derek?” Her father this time.
Derek looked slightly uneasy about something, but still managed a smile. “Not particularly, Father. Every ten year old mildly interested in pokémon goes through this; it’s a vital part of their growth.”
That was what Derek should have said during his request, but apparently it wasn’t even necessary to roll out those kinds of guns. Unlike the way she had imagined it, her parents had agreed to it far sooner than expected. Instead of making a fuss about their baby girl leaving, they simply nodded their heads and discussed various options with Derek regarding a starter.
Amy was dumbfounded. If she’d known it would be this easy, she might have asked herself. The daunting part of the whole wish to become a pokémon trainer had always been convincing her parents, but obviously they didn’t seem to mind. Perhaps those conversations they’d had with the neighbours had changed them a bit, or maybe they chose to live without pokémon for a reason other than hatred for the creatures. She'd never really thought about it, but it made sense, otherwise they wouldn’t own Growlithe. Amy suddenly realised how little interest she'd shown into her parent's lives and how little she actually knew.
It was all too confusing, but at least she was allowed to go on her pokémon journey. Scratching her head, she smiled at her parents, appreciating their trust in her. Even if she hadn't expected it.
“Well, then, I’m going to New Bark Town in two days, seeing as I have to deliver that rattata to its owner, so that would be the perfect opportunity to take you there,” Derek commented, smiling at the eager look on his sister’s face.
“As long as you come back to stay with us for a while, son. We haven’t seen you in months,” their mother responded, as they had predicted. Amy didn't feel an ounce of regret at putting Derek in such a position - he'd been less than forthcoming about this, after all - but she did feel slightly grieved that he was going to spend time with Mom and Dad while she would be alone. Somewhere deep down she'd hoped Derek would accompany her for the first couple of days, at least, but it seemed she'd be truly on her own for the very first time. Jitters ran up her spine at the very thought.
Catching the roll of the eyes her brother sent her, Amy could do nothing but think of the journey ahead. She had no idea what to expect, but she knew it'd be adventurous. She couldn't wait.
Her brown eyes – bright with fascination – rapidly followed the movements in front of her, as her mind assessed the situation with practised speed. Derek had asked her to stay with him the last two days, adamant as he was that she should learn more about pokémon care. Two hours trying to mould disgustingly smelly pokémon food into blocks had left her needing some fresh air.
So they'd headed outside and back into the forest, ending in her watching a short training session Derek was having. Both his pokémon were being trained to power-up their existing moves and it was rather fascinating to her.
He had the rattata with him again and the purple menace was trying desperately to overpower the bellsprout facing it. It was no use, however. No, indeed, Derek had trained the grass pokémon expertly, so it absorbed all the attacks aimed its way and turned it back on the poor opponent with equal force. As the rodent darted around, the grass pokémon remained stoic and relaxed.
The rattata was getting tired from all the running it had been doing, but the bellsprout only seemed to become more confident. Biting and slashing, the rattata tried its all to do damage to the plant, but Amy noticed that none of the attacks really seemed to hit. Instead they glanced right off and the rattata was bounced back.
“See, Amy? Pokémon battles are not all about power, it’s also about strategy and defence. There are several ways to train a pokémon, but the most important thing is to enhance their strengths and improve their weaknesses,” Derek yelled, waving a hand at the two in front of them. “For instance, I have taught this bellsprout to rely on his expert blocking skills, yet also told him how to shield himself against fire attacks. He still has the disadvantage, but his expert defensive manoeuvres could prove to be useful in any battle.”
Amy nodded, absorbing the data and trying to remember all the things he had said that day. All information had revolved around pokémon, of course, mostly centering on food and pokémon health. She had even received some of the pokéblocks they had made together. They caused her bag to reek of wheat and grain, but were more than worth it if she could improve her pokémon's diet.
Stretching her legs, she watched as her brother recalled the bellsprout and gave the rattata a pat on the head. The pokémon had improved drastically over the two month period he’d been with them, but even Amy could see that he was still a long way from being ready to evolve, which was all its owner cared for. The rattata was cute, but its evolved form was so much more powerful and Amy could appreciate the dilemma.
Her brother walked up to her, face suddenly very serious. “Now, just some theoretical questions. You have a battle against a rock type and you have the choice between a bulbasaur, a squirtle, or a charmander. Which would you choose?”
Amy bit her lip. “Either the bulbasaur or the squirtle, seeing as they are grass and water and therefore more effective against rock.”
“And which of those two?”
It was a tough question. What was the difference between the two? They were grass and water, both would be excellent against rock. Amy frowned, trying to remember what she’d been taught. At the same time her brother was eyeing her calmly, petting the pokémon on his shoulder. He didn’t seem nearly as frustrated as she was.
“Because water is more effective than grass?”
“But, Amy, a starter pokémon like squirtle wouldn’t know any water attacks yet. It learns those at a later stage.”
That was right, she had forgotten all about that! But then it would be the same with bulbasaur and charmander. None of them would know any elemental attacks, so then what was the difference?
“Squirtle, because rock pokémon rely on their defence and squirtles can lower that with a tail whip.”
“Correct, but not quite. Not all rock pokémon rely on their defence. Not solely, that is. Squirtle is the right answer, not only because he has a defence-lowering move, Tail Whip, but he also has a better defence, at that time, than bulbasaur does.”
Amy nodded, trying her best to remember it, but she knew that would be a problem. Whenever she needed to remember something, she forgot. It had happened often enough that she'd been sent out to get something and had to return half an hour later to ask what she had to get again.
“It’s important you think about these things, Amy. The same goes for your choices: cyndaquil, totodile and chikorita. You can, of course, choose the pokémon you like best, but you could also try to see what lies ahead of you. What is the first gym you will come across on your journey?”
“The gym in Violet City. Falkner and his flying type pokémon.”
“Correct. Now, none of those pokémon have an advantage against bird pokémon. In fact, chikorita would have a disadvantage, so it would not be a good pick, especially seeing as the gym following that houses bug pokémon and it would have a disadvantage to that as well.” Derek sat down beside her. “That leaves us with totodile and cyndaquil. Now, you know how popular cyndaquil is, because he looks cool and is a fire-type pokémon, however my favourite would be totodile. Yes, cyndaquil has an advantage over the bug pokémon later on, but cyndaquil’s only other strength is his speed while totodile’s attack and defence are so much stronger than those of cyndaquil. Not to mention that he tends to have better endurance, so he can take so much more.”
Amy pictured the creature in her mind, complete with gaping mouth and sharp set of teeth. Chikorita, or even cyndaquil, were so much more elegant, but she didn't want to end up stuck in Violet City forever, or forced to challenge bug pokémon – of all creatures – forever. Maybe she would have to take a different route instead and not rely on the one suggested by the officials. It wasn't against the rules to have a different approach, after all, and it wouldn't change much.
“So you would choose totodile?” she asked, a bit unsure. Derek seemed exactly the opposite.
“I would, he is so much more versatile. He may be the slowest of the pokémon – and only a little when it comes to chikorita – but he has an excellent defence that makes up for that and any hit will count with such an attack force. Plus, he'll be able to ferry you across water once he grows up. Wouldn't that be amazing?”
“But totodile turn into those ugly croconaw.”
She could see Derek glare at her for that statement, not that she hadn’t expected it. Both cyndaquil and chikorita were so much cuter, not to mention their evolutions didn’t turn into a dumb looking pokémon like croconaw. No, in fact all of chikorita’s evolutions were downright adorable, with their huge eyes and lovely plant-like features. And cyndaquil and quilava had such lovely faces.
“This isn’t a beauty contest, Amy. If you’re planning on being a serious pokémon trainer then you’ll choose with your mind instead of your eyes. Otherwise you might as well become a coordinator. There's nothing wrong with that, but then you should forget about gym challenges altogether.”
She knew he was right, of course. With pokémon it wasn’t all about appearance, but she just didn’t know if she could love a totodile. She wasn’t a big fan of water-pokémon as it was – the cold and dark depths of the ocean weren’t particularly appealing to her – and a totodile wasn’t exactly cuddly.
She'd considered becoming a coordinator, too, but had decided against it when she saw Derek's beaming face after she'd won a mock-battle. His dream had been to become a champion and she would try to finish what he'd started. Even if he was happy where he was, she knew he still thought about those days on occasion.
Amy had high plans. She wanted to be like her brother, an excellent trainer, and catch hundreds of pokémon. She wanted to travel to every known city and meet countless people on the way. Thinking about it, she realized that perhaps she would have to make choices she didn’t like if she wanted to achieve that. According to her brother – and he knew his stuff – totodile would be the best starter pokémon, so shouldn’t she trust him?
“All right, totodile it is, then,” she muttered, shrugging slightly.
Derek smiled down at her. “Good girl.”
They continued training for another hour, this time with some of Derek's own pokémon, before returning to Derek’s house to have dinner. As they went Amy could hear rustling and the occasional twig breaking, but whenever she turned nothing was there. Derek, on the other hand, seemed to know exactly what pokémon had made what sound.
“How can you tell?” Amy asked curiously.
He shrugged. “If you spend enough time here you can hear the difference between rattata and the heavier sentret. Or what bird-call is from a pidgey instead of a spearow. It just takes time.”
Amy nodded, listening intently in the hopes of figuring things out. However, no matter how hard she tried, all sounds kept sounding the same. Sighing, Amy followed her brother down the path and towards his little cottage.
Enjoying the meal and the comforts of a warm and pleasant room, Amy set herself in front of the fireplace. She could feel the excitement roar through her, knowing that she only had to wait another day before setting out on a journey that might define. Just one more day.
Feeling two soft forms press against her side, she looked up to see rattata and her brother’s own typhlosion nestling themselves next to her. Their fur felt soft under her fingertips as she softly petted them, though she could also feel the slight warmth coming from typhlosion's back. If she wanted to, the creature could scorch the entire house.
Amy petted the fire pokémon’s head calmly, reminding herself that even though she adored cyndaquil and its evolutions she’d choose the totodile. She could always come home and borrow typhlosion, couldn’t she? Derek had never made much of a problem of it that she took typhlosion for a walk now and then. Or maybe she could take Bella with her, the nidoqueen that had been her constant protector whenever she went into the forest alone. Derek's pokémon had always been kind to her, so she didn’t foresee any trouble whatsoever
She knew Derek had gotten himself in quite some trouble when choosing cyndaquil as his starter. The little fire-pokémon had done its best to win every battle, but their first gym battle had been a disaster. Cyndaquil had received blow after blow from the strong beaks of Falkner’s pokémon and the stories her parents told her about the guilt her brother had felt while watching his pokémon lie in the pokémon centre made her doubt if she could manage such a thing at all.
He had returned home for a while after that, visiting his mother and newborn sister while he filled the empty spot his father had left when he'd gone to the Kanto region on business. During that stay he had trained cyndaquil, exhausting the both of them, which had resulted in a clear victory two months later. He had finally beaten Falkner and with his father back home, he could continue his journey. Amy still remembered the smile on her mother’s face when she told her the story of his victories. She had been most proud, even when Derek returned for good a year later. Gym battles hadn't been for him.
Yawning lightly, Amy looked at the pokémon next to her, both sound asleep. An image of herself with her own pokémon in front of the fireplace flashed through her mind, though the image didn’t include a totodile. Maybe tomorrow she would work on appreciating the pokémon. Now all she wanted was to sleep, and so she did.
She didn’t notice Derek put a blanket over the three of them, while shaking his head sadly and walking to his own chair. Looking at his sister, he sat down and pulled a blanket over himself, closing his eyes.
The next morning Amy awoke to the smell of freshly picked berries and deliciously crispy bacon. Hurrying to the dinner table, she saw that Derek had already prepared breakfast and was now busy feeding his pokémon. Hearing her pull a chair back, he turned his head, smiling.
“Ah, I was about to wake you. Food got to you, eh?”
“Yes, that’s the thing I will miss most when travelling - your amazing cooking.”
Her brother laughed merrily, giving her a pat on the head as he ambled past her and into the kitchen. She could hear him rummaging around while she ate, but had no idea what he was up to. She figured it out soon enough when he left outside with a large bucket in hand and started bathing a rather reluctant rattata.
Amy enjoyed the breakfast very much and at first didn’t notice the small bundle of papers next to her plate. As she picked them up and skimmed through them, she saw it was all centred on totodile. Apparently Derek had printed some information out for her, so she could learn about her new companion.
‘Wouldn’t it be a laugh if they didn’t have any left,’ she thought, but immediately scratched that thought. After all, totodile were not popular pokémon and no doubt there would be plenty left to choose from. The professor would make sure of that.
“Read it through, I’ll test you on it in a few minutes.”
She did as told and finally discovered the world of totodile and its evolutions. Impressed by its wide range of attacks, she no longer doubted that choosing the water pokémon would be the way to go.
The day was spent much in the same way as the day before it had. Derek had brought out some of his water pokémon and pitched them against some of the pokémon Amy might encounter. Though Derek didn't own a totodile, a whooper was as close as they could get and certainly did the job. He even allowed her to have a go herself, but his pokémon won every single time. Amy wasn't surprised.
Eventually, tired from a day filled with quizzes and vital information she had to remember, Amy said goodnight to Derek very early and jumped in bed at a quarter to nine. Information was buzzing through her head, begging to be remembered and put to good use. It was only after she fell asleep that this stopped and was replaced by wonderful dreams of herself winning battles and catching legendaries. For the first time since she’d decided which pokémon she’d take these thoughts and dreams actually included a young and cheerful totodile. Licking her hand, its eyes were big with merriment and its tail pounded the ground.
Derek was left preparing the things for the next morning, knowing that all he had tried to teach her still wasn’t enough. All those years of taking her with him had only resulted in knowledge slumbering in the back of her mind, knowledge she hadn’t used or didn’t want to. Hopefully she would find it soon enough, for he was worried that even with his help he could not keep her from feeling an utter failure. Like he had.