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Chasing Clouds

Umbreon Ruler

Swim for your life.
Violence, language, and sexual content.​

About the Story
I'm writing this story in an effort to describe a journey without evil teams
or a main character's centuries-old connection to a legendary Pokémon or any of the
other plot points that have become common in this genre. An adventure is made up
of moments, people, and feelings that may not be epic, but are always important,
at least to the ones they affect. Hopefully I'll be able to capture the experience
of traveling the world with both human and nonhuman friends and keep everyone
interested enough to stay with it.

The Author's Note
Hey, everyone. :)
This fic is partially based (mostly just character names and a few other details) on an
old fic of mine, which was unfortunately never finished. I do intend to see this one through,
though, even if it takes me years to complete. I can't always promise the fastest updates as
far as chapters go, but if you're willing to stick it out with me I will get them done and out to you.
Thanks for reading.

PM List
Aura Master
Punk Lion
Shadow Lucario
Willow's Tara

Chapter List
Chapter 1: Keep Dreaming, Kid
Chapter 2: The First Night Before the First Morning
Chapter 3: Where the Ocean Meets the World
Chapter 4: Liars and Believers
Chapter 5: Into the Sky
Chapter 6: Violet Zephyrs Comb Green Fields (Coming soon)

Chapter One​

Keep Dreaming, Kid

Six alarm clocks were placed at various points in a young man’s room, ticking almost simultaneously, off by just a few fractions of a second. They were all set to ring at seven in the morning, one hour before Professor Elm gave away his “starter” Pokémon to three beginning trainers.

In addition, there was always fun to be had around the Professor’s large ranch for the people not participating in the giveaway, as local businesses would set up booths and contests for small prizes. It was safe to say that the entire town came to this famous festival.


The alarms of all the clocks fused together to create a constant, wavering drone, loud enough to not only awaken the boy, but also the entire household and its neighboring families if even one window had been open.

“Uuugh…” He sat up, his blue eyes weighing down the pink bags underneath and his scrappy brown hair sticking in every direction except down. He looked sadly at the large space between each clock, knowing that he had to cross the entire room if he ever wanted the ear-splitting noise to stop. Drudgingly, he plopped his bare feet onto the cold wooden floor and began shutting off each of his annoying reminders.

After brushing his teeth, he opened the drawer he had set aside for this day and retrieved the outfit his mother had picked out for him: pressed khaki slacks, a white collared shirt with a blue-and-black tie, and a pair of dark brown socks and shined tap shoes which he had used some years earlier and now pinched his toes slightly when he wore them. But tennis shoes were his only other options, which his mother insisted wouldn’t do when he met Elm. She somehow always managed to fake high class while sticking to her budget.

A little annoyed at his parent, the boy put on his itchy clothes and stuck an almost empty wallet into his pocket. He then grabbed a comb and halfheartedly attempted to tame his hair, which worked out well enough to create a clean image. He adjusted his tie and forced a smile, imagining himself taking a Pokéball right from the hand of Professor Elm. His stomach bubbled anxiously.

Meanwhile, down the stairs, across a hall, and through a door, a woman in her mid-thirties, sharing the same hair and eye color as the boy a story above her, was piling an obscene amount of scrambled eggs onto a large blue plate, next to several strips of bacon and three freshly-buttered biscuits. A pitcher of orange juice sat in front of a glass filled with the same contents.

She smiled, sat the pan aside and looked proudly at her work, examining every detail to make sure that nothing was missing from the morning arrangement. “Danny!?” she called, apparently satisfied. “Breakfast is ready!” After a few moments, she heard sharp tapping coming from the staircase, then down the hall, and finally in the dining room section of the kitchen, where her son now stood. “Sit down, sweetie.” She pulled out the large wooden chair and brought forth a bib, which she tied around Danny’s neck as he sat, and a washcloth, which she placed on the boy’s lap, out of her apron pocket. “You don’t want to ruin your nice clothes,” she mumbled, straightening his collar.

“Mooom,” he whined, swatting her hand away. “I can eat on my own. I’m going to be doing it for the next few months.”

“I know, I know.” She was agreeing, but still scrutinizing his posture and fork technique. “But I doubt you’ll be wearing the only clean thing you own while you sit in the woods inhaling convenience store candy bars,” she teased.

They went on like this for several minutes while Danny continued to eat, imagining the things he would experience after began his journey. They were all mostly good, of course, and the only scenarios with any negative aspect naturally ended with him saving the day or using a clever idea to overcome the problem.

“We’d better go,” his mother said, waking him out of his daze and taking off her apron. “We want to make sure to get there early. If your name’s at the bottom of the pile, people say there’s a better chance that it’ll get picked.” The pile she was referring to was actually a spinning cage where one wrote their name and some basic information on a card and entered it in the starter Pokémon giveaway. Up until now, Danny had tried to avoid considering the possibility of him not winning, however logical it was that his name wouldn’t be randomly chosen.

“… Okay…” he answered, suddenly feeling sick. They both moved to the old red pickup truck sitting next to the curb outside and drove to north Newbark Town, where they found hundreds of cars parked in the enormous field at the entrance to Elm Ranch. Danny and his mother parked uniformly and got out of the vehicle, smoothing out their shirt and dress respectively.

“Look, they’ve got a Ferris Wheel this year!” the woman exclaimed, squinting into the distance where the apex of the bright red roller coaster could be seen. “Let’s hurry!” She motioned at him as she quickly walked down the aisle between the cars, Danny following rigidly behind.

So many people,’ he thought, swallowing. ‘I bet at least half of them are here for the contest. I… I can’t win.’ He stopped cold, wanting to turn back and wait until next year, when the odds would surely be better. He only started to move again when his mother called him forward, and the two went to the fair grounds together, where she helped him enter the Pokémon contest at the gate.

He handed the card to the greasy man behind the counter and watched as he stuck it through a slot and into a metal cage filled with too many papers to guesstimate. Forcing himself to look away, he entered the busy and festive area, which only made things worse when he saw the many children and teenagers enjoying the delicious, fattening food and large space to play in.

“Mom?” He turned around and paused as he saw that she had already joined a group of her friends. “I’m just gonna find a place to sit and wait,” he finished, despite the fact that she was too far to hear.

He found a bench near the temporary fence, bordering the enormous pine forest, which was always off-bounds due to the wild Pokémon living there. He seemed to be the only person sitting down, as everybody else was in the dance contest, throwing Pokéballs through tires, or any of the other many activities.

Danny, on the other hand, chose to wait silently.

It was about half an hour of sitting before the crowd became silent as Professor Elm, a tall skinny man with bushy light brown hair, awkwardly walked on the white wooden stage pushing a short podium with three Pokéballs sitting at the front, followed by a large man carrying the cage full of entrants. This was happening directly across the field from Danny, so he had to stand on the bench to see over the ocean of local heads.

“Um… hey, everybody,” the Professor said into a microphone, waving quickly. “The time’s here again. Three of you lucky kids will be getting a Pokémon.” Even though it was said almost in a way to play down the excitement, the crowd erupted anyway, causing Elm to blush and smile. “Y-yeah,” he mumbled. “Anyway, let’s get to the drawing. We’ve got a lot of entries this year, huh…?” Several scattered claps and shouts spilled from the people. “Uh… so…” He walked to the cage and took hold of the wooden handle, spinning it clockwise to cause the entire container to spin with it, shuffling all of the cards. Finally, he stopped turning the knob and opened to the little door at the front. “Here we go,” he said, leaning forward and sticking his lab coat-covered arm deep into the pile of papers. He selected one and lifted it into the open air.

“Ahem…” He unfolded and read it, then smiled. “The first winner is… Alec Tally!” Everyone cheered as a boy about Danny’s age walked on the stage with his fist raised in triumph. He had feathery blonde hair and was wearing a clean blue jacket and a pair of black jeans. He made his way to the stand on which the Pokéballs awaited in a triangular arrangement and selected the one closest to the crowd, holding it high above his head as everyone in the audience clapped and shouted. He then sat in one of the three chairs set out near the back.

“Next…” Elm repeated the same steps as before, soon holding a new entrant’s name in his hand.

Danny was wringing his hands uncontrollably, refusing to breathe until the name was called. He tried to convince himself it would be him, but he had no hope.

“Lucy Ellender!” A tall, skinny girl emerged from the screaming people in tight, ripped blue jeans and a white bedazzled tank top. She had piercing green eyes that were hidden behind large sunglasses, and appeared a few years older than Danny and the last boy. Combing her long black hair behind her ears, she stuck her finger over the two remaining Pokémon, hovering over each for just a second before plucking up the one on her left. She held up the ball proudly next to her face and walked coolly to the chair beside Alec.

This time Danny heard nothing while the cards flipped among each other while they were shuffled. A sharp ringing clouded his hearing and he could only rely on sight to interpret the drawing. Just like before, Elm pulled out a folded piece of stiff paper and unfolded it.

“Our third and final winner is…”

These words came fuzzily at first but slowly became clearer to Danny as he focused on the note card. ‘That’s not my card,’ he thought hysterically. ‘My card was bent on the corner. Oh God, it’s not me. I’m not the winner. I can’t believe I didn’t win.’ He was breathing harder now, as if he had just run several laps on the school track. He closed his eyes to calm himself and listened intently to the double speakers projecting the Professor’s words.

“Ronald Wallace!” A T-shirted boy with gelled red hair ran onto the stage, pumping his fists. He wasn’t much older than Danny, but had clearly already taken the full frontal force of puberty, as was evidenced by the number of pimples on his face. He snatched the final Pokéball, played a quick game of hackey sack with it, and then jogged to the remaining chair.

“Thank you to all the contestants this year!” Elm smiled into the microphone. “The festival will be going on all day, so please enjoy yourselves as long as you’d like.” He turned to the kids, said something to them, and left with the winners following him.

Meanwhile, Danny sat stonily on the bench, still gaping at the empty stage. He only moved when his mother came over to console him. After a few hugs and kind words, she rejoined her friends, leaving her son alone to sulk. Eventually, however, he got thirsty and decided it wouldn’t hurt to find a concession stand.

The festival had been expanded since the previous years. Businesses from as far away as Goldenrod had come here to take advantage of the light mood and open wallets. This made for an interesting choice of refreshments. Everything from Moomoo Milk to Purified Rage Water could be found with the various vendors but Danny ultimately decided on a bottle of Softies Cola, since he was never allowed to drink soda at home. The bubbled crispness of the dark liquid excited his lips and tongue and gave him the energy not to return to his bench. Instead, he continued to explore the grounds, sipping on his drink.

He saw a petting zoo, which didn’t help to cheer him up, a small roller coaster made primarily for young children, and lastly, a forest.

A forest just outside the designated fair area. A forest that no one was allowed to enter, except the Professor himself. And while he looked into the pine tree’s branches, through the clusters of needles and over the hills and mountains, he heard the echoing shriek of a wild Pokémon.

Needing no further convincing, he jumped the fence and quickly entered the woods.

Sunlight had to fight to get under the trees and to the sparsely scattered grass, which made the small trail Danny was on difficult to follow. He continued forward through the darkness, though, and eventually reached a small clearing with a lazily flowing river cutting through it. Thankful for the higher visibility, he knelt at the shore and studied a dam, made of sticks, mud, and various other bits of natural debris, which separated one side of the water from the other.

As he looked closer, he could see a small underwater alcove in the side of the construction. Resting within it, three white eggs about the size of his head could be seen through the water’s surface. He leaned forward and focused on them, and as he did, he could’ve sworn he saw one of them wobble.


Danny’s head snapped up and on the opposite bank a short purple ape stared back with large, devious eyes. Apart from his crooked smile and lack of any digits in the places one would expect, the strangest thing about it was the peach-colored hand that was attached to the end of his long, wobbling tail. Its fingers appeared poised for snatching.

Keeping an eye on the boy, the monkey slowly crawled across the dam and eventually stood above the eggs.

“No,” Danny said, moving closer. “Shoo! Shoo!” He threw his own hands into the air and did manage to scare the wild Pokémon away, but not before it grabbed one of the unhatched babies. Before it could be stopped, it had disappeared into the wilderness.

“Hey!” he yelled, stepping onto the damp mud bridge. “That’s their egg!” He pointed to the stream where he assumed the rightful parents were. “Get back here!” He had to balance himself and move carefully, but he made it to the other side and sprinted into the trees.

It appeared that the forest on this side of the river was even darker, and it was no easy feat for Danny to follow the Aipom’s trail. Luckily, however, its recent loot was both weighing and slowing it down, so the noise it made as it climbed from branch to branch gave its location away.

Several minutes went by during the chase, neither side gaining the upper hand. To Danny it seemed as if they had been going in circles when he saw the dark form of his target drop somewhat awkwardly to the ground in front of him, egg still in tow, and start the pursuit anew on foot.

Grunting, Danny dived forward, hands outstretched, and landed with the milky white treasure in his grasp. In the first few moments, he could already feel it trembling slightly within the soft shell.




Within seconds, a shower of nearly identical monkey Pokémon came raining down from the trees, landing on Danny’s back and shrieking aggressively, causing him to lose his grip.

“Agh!” He threw his hands over the back of his head and began rolling around to shake off the angry Pokémon. Eventually they cleared off, leaving mud on the back of his shirt but no serious injuries. When he looked up, there was no sign of either the egg or its captors. “No,” he coughed, getting on all fours and then climbing to his feet. “Where’d that thing go?” He stilled himself and focused on the noises of the forest, hoping to hear a clue, but the only sounds he heard were in the distance. Resigned, he turned around full circle, realizing for the first time just how far he had run, how long it had been, and how dark it was getting. Not to mention the cold.

He stepped forward and stopped, instead moving to the left. He stopped again, however, looking behind him to see if he could perhaps remember any specific trees.


He whipped around. The sound wasn’t far. Just a few hundred feet away. Forgetting about his predicament, he ran in the noise’s direction and soon found himself looking through the bushes at a scuffle between two Aipom. That was the first thing that caught his eye. The second was the egg, sitting about three feet to the left of their small fight.

It was now or never.

Heart racing and adrenaline beginning to pump, he lunged through the thorny twigs and scooped up the round object, sparing no seconds to make a getaway. It was a few moments before the squeaking of a wrestling match changed to the howling of yet another chase, only this time the predator and prey had been reversed.

“Ow!” A swiftly thrown acorn had just hit Danny in the middle of his forehead. Another then beamed his arm and soon after yet another bounced off his back. ‘They must have friends all over the place!’ he thought frantically, his heartbeat synchronizing with the baby creature inside the shell pressed against his chest.

Then, almost in slow motion, he watched a nut fly down from the branches and make direct contact with the prize he had just acquired, leaving a dent and a rip in its soft milky covering. Through that hole, he could’ve sworn he saw a tiny black eye looking back at him, but he was forced to look away when a branch swatted his face.

The barrage become heavier and the breathing down his neck became louder the farther he ran. If he had had any time to think about anything other than dodging obstacles, he would’ve mentally cursed his mother for forcing him to wear his nice clothes, as is was becoming increasingly evident that they were not made for running long-distance through the woods.

Just as he was beginning to consider giving up and throwing himself to the beasts, the choice was made for him: a vertical rock wall stood in front of him, ending his race.

Too fatigued to fight it any longer, he turned around to accept his fate. He wasn’t prepared for the jolt through his stomach, however, when he saw the dozens of pairs of eyes looking at him through the brush.

The number of thoughts that flickered through his mind were too great to be counted. No one would ever know what happened to him; if anybody did find him, he wouldn’t be the honorable egg-savior, but rather the disgusting but sharply dressed trespasser; how his skeleton might be used as a jungle gym set for the Aipom, and slowly each bone would break until there were none left and they dumped his crumbled remains into the river; and many, many more.

He didn’t even notice that the moonlight that cut through the small opening he was standing in was illuminating the now-shaking and tearing egg in his arms, sending bits of its shell wafting to the ground as it left a small, blue, innocent Pokémon in its place, only about twice the size of a human fist. It had no arms or hands, two stubby toeless feet, and a long, white paddle-like tail. Its most striking feature was the little black swirl on its stomach.

Danny let go in his shock, allowing the creature to land soundly on the grass at his feet. “Poli!” it peeped, oblivious to the surrounding danger. Within moments, the thumping of Aipom falling from the trees and onto the ground could be heard, and their harsh growling slowed to a more steady, relaxed breathing.

“They’re… asleep…?” he asked himself, looking down to the newborn. A smile spread across her large pink lips as she stared at him innocently. “You?” He grinned and picked her up, surprised by her slick, oily skin. ‘I guess I'd better find my way back,’ he thought tiredly.

He walked aimlessly for about an hour before he saw fireworks through an opening in the treetops. He then walked in that direction for another hour or so before arriving at the festivities once again. He hadn’t been missed much, it seemed, as everybody was still partying. His mother was apparently the only one who had noticed, and she was horrified when she saw what had happened to his clothes. After he explained, she seemed to cool down a little bit, but still encouraged him to explain the situation to Professor Elm, who had retired early to his home. He agreed, and soon found himself standing outside the man’s large wooden double doors. A large gulp traveled down his neck.

“Poli?” The Poliwag, still in his arms, looked up questioningly.

“It’s just…” he started, keeping his voice down. “I wasn’t supposed to be out there. I’ll probably have to return you, or even worse…” He considered the possibility of never entering another starter Pokémon contest, but quickly shook the thought away. Taking a deep breath, he grabbed the thick rope hanging down and pulled it slowly, listening distractedly to the deep echo of the bell. He then heard quick footsteps from inside and the left side door swung open to reveal a short, thin, balding man in a white lab coat.

Adjusting his glasses, he asked, “Yes?” in a nasally voice.

Danny quietly explained that he was there to speak to the Professor, so the aide led him inside and to the office. Elm was working inside, and appeared a bit annoyed at the interruption.

“Um… sir?” Danny started, clutching Poliwag a little tighter. “I… I have something to tell you…” He started from the beginning, explaining how he felt when he didn’t win and how he just wanted a Pokémon and what he saw at the river and that the reason he chased was because he didn’t want to egg to be eaten or break. The man listened intently through the entire story, nodding occasionally but mostly devoting himself to hearing everything correctly. When Danny finished, there was silence for nearly a minute.

Finally, Elm leaned back. “You said you were holding Poliwag when it hatched?” Danny nodded quickly. “So you were touching it?” He nodded again. The professor sighed and shook his head. “There’s nothing we can do, then. As inconvenient as it may be… you’re the new father.”

Danny was a bit taken aback, and looked down at Poliwag for some kind of confirmation. “You mean… I’m a trainer?”
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Backstreet's back
Even in the first paragraph I can tell that this story is going to be really, really awesome. I mean... six alarm clocks? No oversleeping possibility - that's nice. And the little notes about the festival were interesting too, but I think they could have been put somewhere else considering they don't have much relevance to the rest of the paragraph. I like the words you use; they seem like they're subtly finding amusement in their story, even though nothing really goes so far as to poke fun at it. The obscene amount of eggs, hair going every direction but down, and so on. Props on that!

The 'pile' concept also interests me. There's no way only three Pokémon could be given out to a town full of Trainers every year... and a lottery sounds like a good way to get more Pokémon handed out, ahem, fairly. (However 'fair' a game of luck can be.) I like the characterization of Elm; unlike a lot of other stories, you really played up the fact that he's easily unnerved, and it works well for our klutzy Professor. Even though the chances were incredibly slim that Danny would be one of the three people picked, it still impressed me somewhat that you denied him a Pokémon up on a glitzy stage with people cheering in the background.

Strangely enough, while I was reading the Aipom scene I was also listening to the Lugia movie's OST - Harmony Disturbed fitted each action perfectly as I read it. :3 Just thought you'd like to know.

I liked his way of getting a Pokémon; though I've heard other reviewers suggest that the Trainer get their starter Pokémon from their parents, out in the wilderness, or some other unorthodox method, I've never actually seen it in use. And by the looks of things you did it pretty well - I can't wait to see how Poliwag will treat his Trainer now he's convinced the boy is his daddy. XD

Overall: good job! I'll keep reading this.


Shadow Stalker
This story was really interesting. I like how you managed to avoid the cliche of him arriving at Elm's late, all the starter's gone and him just receiving a random pokemon. It has become way to common since the anime. You are very descriptive. After your description of Poliwag, I knew exactly what creature it was. I loved that you did not tell everyone what exactly was happening. You showed us through dialogue, the character's thoughts and actions. I believe I am going to subscribe to this thread and read some more.

Shadow Lucario

Lone Vanguard
Umbreon Ruler! You've returned to the world of the living. I grieve with you over your recently deceased fic. :'( Well here we are with a new fic! Ah, Danny-boy. Will he be like the previous Danny? The same question applies with Poliwag.

This is the only mistake I found

Too fatigued to fight it any longer, he turned around to accept his face.

It should be fate.

Starting up a PM list? I'd like to be on it.

Umbreon Ruler

Swim for your life.
Thanks for the reviews! I might start a PM list. It depends on if enough people are interested.

Giratina! said:
I mean... six alarm clocks? No oversleeping possibility - that's nice.

I always thought that I would do if I were in that situation. So I made Danny do the same. ;)

Giratina! said:
And the little notes about the festival were interesting too, but I think they could have been put somewhere else considering they don't have much relevance to the rest of the paragraph.

Now that I'm reading it over, I think you're right. I'll need to get that fixed soon.

Giratina! said:
The 'pile' concept also interests me. There's no way only three Pokémon could be given out to a town full of Trainers every year... and a lottery sounds like a good way to get more Pokémon handed out, ahem, fairly. (However 'fair' a game of luck can be.)

I didn't really intend for it to be in addition to the starter Pokemon, but rather the way Elm decides who gets starter Pokemon. I just assumed that it would be a more sensical way to do it considering the fact that a hundred children could show up at a professor's door.

Thanks for reading! I hope you can keep coming back. ^^

@maxelle: Thanks! Hopefully I can keep you hooked.

Shadow Lucario said:
You've returned to the world of the living. I grieve with you over your recently deceased fic. :'(

Yes, it's quite sad. I'll miss the old thing. :/ About Danny and Poliwag, there'll be a few differences (For instance, before it seems like Poliwag wasn't devoted enough to Danny, considering he was like her parent, but in this fic that'll be played on a little more), but they'll mostly be the same characters.

I'll fix that mistake as soon as Serebii lets me (I'll be lucky to get this post through).

Umbreon Ruler

Swim for your life.
Oh... this isn't late or anything, is it? :p My bad.

I am unable to edit my first post (and have been for quite some time), so for a while that'll stay the same. And now it appears I have to all the HTML codes by hand, since the buttons aren't working. :/

Bear with me.
Chapter Two
The First Night Before the First Morning​

Warm night air flowed through the open windows of a red pickup truck heading down one of the more worn roads of Newbark Town. There were no other vehicles within its dim headlights’ vision, as the majority of the other residents were still celebrating the annual Pokémon celebration at the Elm Ranch. The people inside this particular truck, however, felt it necessary to leave early, as special circumstances made them feel as if they had worn out their welcome.

These circumstances included the facts that Danny, the boy sitting in the passenger seat, had snuck into the out-of-bounds mountain area and gotten into a chase involving wild Pokémon and had committed what some might call theft, as the egg he was working to protect had hatched in his arms and would go nowhere without the person it considered its parent. That Pokémon, a baby female Poliwag, was now lying on her adoptive father’s lap, lulled to sleep by the gentle vibrations of the engine.

It had been a silent ride for the most part, as neither Danny nor his mother knew exactly how to comment on the day’s events. At last, one of them spoke up.

“So what do you want to do?” the woman asked. “About the Pokémon, I mean.”

“Professor Elm said she wouldn’t be happy living anywhere else,” he answered, referring to the Poliwag, “so I’m gonna keep her until she’s old enough to live on her own.”

There was silence for a little while again. “What does she eat?”

“He said mostly water plants and stuff,” Danny mumbled. “But he also said I could pick up some baby Pokémon food at the store, and she should be able to eat that.”

She nodded and glanced at the hatchling.

“I…” he started, looking down. “I was planning on still going out to get badges and everything.” His mother’s eyes widened and she turned her head toward him.

“Excuse me?” she gaped. “It was one thing to let you go with a professionally trained Pokémon from Elm, but there’s no way you’re going out there with nothing but a baby Pokémon to protect you, and not even a very strong species at that. The answer’s no.”

“But mom, I’ll-”

“I said no,” she said stiffly, ending the matter.

No one spoke the rest of the drive home.

When they arrived at their sturdy two-story house, Danny immediately stormed up to his room, slamming the door behind him. He sat Poliwag on his bed and fell into his spinning desk chair, watching as the little aquatic Pokémon arranged the blue sheets into a more cozy arrangement with her feet and tail and finally drifted away again.

His gaze then moved toward his window, facing the west. A sturdy, fully-grown tree nearly touched the glass with its mighty branches and because of the house’s old design, there was no screen to keep bugs out. Danny had used this exit many times as a younger child, but had had no need for it in more recent years. That had changed the moment his mother said “no.”

He changed into more casual clothes and snatched a large, empty black backpack out of his closet and snuck downstairs, making sure beforehand that no one was in his path. Using only the refrigerator light to maintain secrecy, he packed all of his favorite foods from around the kitchen into his pack, leaving out anything that needed to be kept cold in order to stay fresh.

He then crept back up to his room, avoiding the one squeaky step out of a habit he had formed over the years and began putting clothes and other necessities, including the money he had saved and hidden in a small box in his closet, into the bag, which he had refused to pack the night before, not daring to jinx the contest.

Next, he opened his window and observed the night. It was clear and warm with the slightest breeze to keep the branches quivering under the great moonlight. He could still hear traces of the still ongoing festival a few miles away but other than that, there was silence. His stomach erupted with excitement as images of all the things he would do flickered through his mind.

Not wanting to waste another second, he threw on his jacket and backpack and began awaking his new Pokémon. “Wake up,” he whispered. “C’mon, Poliwag, wake up.” It was then that he realized she had no nickname. He thought for a few moments but came up with nothing suitable. ‘I’ll think about it,’ he promised himself, rocking her softly and watching her dark eyes open. “Ready to go?” He smiled and lifted her up, holding his finger to his lips to signal their need to stay quiet.

She smiled back and together they slipped out the window, officially beginning their journey together.

The moment his black tennis shoes touched the grass, he ran silently to the fence, hopped over it and to the street, and sprinted away from the house he had lived in his entire life.

He didn’t leave Newbark Town immediately. Instead, he went to the all-night market, where one unlucky middle-aged woman was stuck working, missing out on the fun at Professor Elm’s ranch. Avoiding any eye contact with her, since he knew his mother could have friends – otherwise known as spies – anywhere throughout the town, Danny made his way down a few aisles before finding the Pokémon care section. He grabbed several jars of baby Pokémon food and took them to the counter, looking at his feet as he mumbled “I’ll take this, please.”

It took a large chunk of his money, but he knew it would last several weeks, in which time he knew he would probably be winning enough battles to support himself completely. Once the transaction was finished, he dropped them in his backpack and hurried out the sliding glass doors, his Pokémon in his arms.

He exited the town as fast as he could, allowing himself to take one last look through his living room window as he passed by the house. It was dark, which was strange, considering his mother would usually be watching television with him at this time. It would be a long time before they sat down together and did something like that. He wondered if she had noticed he was gone yet, and what she’d do when she did find out.

He forced himself to look away and continued walking, somewhat more sullen than before. The only things that kept him moving were the clear mental images of sunny beaches, forests teeming with wild Pokémon, and the crowded arena in which he knew he would eventually perform his winning battle in the Pokémon League.

So he left Newbark Town, headed west for horizons and territories unknown to him, and vowed not to return to his hometown until he had something to justify his leaving and highlight his homecoming.

Route Twenty-Nine’s few cleared paths were scenic and bright under the stars, but the rest was heavily forested and dark. Lucky for him, though, he had often camped here during previous summers, and knew the lay of the land moderately well.

But, of course, this time he wasn’t camping – he was surviving.

He tramped forward, getting whipped by long, thin branches and tripping over bulky roots sticking out of the ground. The Poliwag had taken a couple swift hits as well, and hadn’t stopped wailing since first contact.

“Waaaaaag!” she screamed, Danny rocking her briskly as he walked, careful to avoid any further reasons to cry. He was completely exhausted and the first drops of regret were beginning to soak into his brain, which were easy to ignore since his Pokémon and the trail called for all of his attention.

“Shhh,” he pleaded, beginning to notice how tired he was getting. “Just… fall asleep.” He fell to his knees and leaned back against a rather thorny bush. It ripped little holes in his shirt and scratched his back, shocking him just enough to get back on his feet.

Suddenly, a rough gust of wind cut through the trees, almost knocking Danny back over. He forced himself to continue walking despite the still ongoing windstorm. The swift breezes were almost cutting, causing him to flinch every time one whipped past his face. He could only imagine what his Poliwag was going through, since the volume of the storm blocked out her cries.

The first thing he thought of was to find a shelter. He knew there was a cave somewhere nearby and he would be able to find it if he could just get his bearings. “Hold on!” he screamed to his passenger, letting go of her with one arm to dig around his backpack for a moment. Eventually, he pulled out a small yellow flashlight and shone it out in front of him, seeing only vigorously shaking trees. ‘Okay,’ he thought, attempting to center himself as he squinted at each surrounding object. ‘I camped in this area with Dad in… fourth grade, I think.’ Memories of the trip came back to him, most notably the cave they had found an injured Pidgey in. He started to remember more and more details about that place: the steep hill he had slid down, accidentally finding the landmark; the two incredibly enormous trees just outside the mouth where they had set up their hammock; how he felt when he saw the moon hovering over Cherrygrove’s far off string of lights bordering the ocean when he sat on the craggy roof of the cavern.

A warm calmness inflated inside him and he grinned. However, that was quickly wiped off of his face when the wind nearly toppled him yet again and he was shaken back to reality. Thinking fast, he set down his Pokémon, taking to time to comfort and assure her he wouldn’t be long, climbed onto a large nearby rock, and directed his flashlight to shine just above the treeline. In most places, its glow disappeared into the black sky, but finally he saw it appear on a dark thin figure towering into the sky, next to a form just as large not six feet away. Those were the trees he and his father had swung between, playing card games.

“See that!?” he exclaimed, shaking his flashlight toward the destination. “That’s where we’re going!” He looked down for his companion, but saw not one life form in the grass. “P-… Poliwag!?” he screamed, jumping down. “Girl!? Where are you!?” He knew it was useless. He couldn’t even hear himself and he doubted a creature with no visible ears would possess better hearing ability. ‘Alright, okay, yeah.’ He got down on hands and knees. ‘She couldn’t have gotten far, all I have to do is look around and I’ll find her no problem. Don’t panic, don’t panic, don’t panic…’ That phrase repeated in his mind for the several minutes he crawled around on the ground, finding nothing but sharp pebbles that stuck in his palms. Before he knew it, he was panicking.

He jumped to his feet and searched a wider range, still coming up without the Poliwag. His breathing had gained speed and intensity but as if on cue, just as he paused between a wheezing inhale and a throaty exhale, the wind itself became silent for a moment as well, and the only sound left was a high pitched crying noise to his left about a hundred feet. He wasn’t even sure he had heard it as the gusts picked up force again but it was the only lead he had.

Sprinting, he darted around the trees and hopped over the low-lying bushes, swinging the light panoramically, soon catching a glimpse of blue sitting behind a tree.

“Poliwag!” He landed on his side next to her, gently taking the baby in his arms and rocking her. He could see that she was still crying but his great relief watered down what would in any other circumstance be annoyance. He stood up, tightened his grip around her slightly, and trekked back to the rock he had stood upon so he could find direction toward the cave. Once he did, he slowly trudged through the woods, down the same familiar hill, and gratefully into his temporary home. The sound of the wind had been severely reduced but the Poliwag’s crying had been multiplied by the echoes reaching farther back into the darkness than Danny cared to go. So easing her discomfort became his top priority.

For several minutes he fed, cradled, and spoke to her, slowly calming her down. When she was finally quieted, he propped his flashlight up against a rock and turned it on, illuminating the chamber. For the first time in a while, he had a clear view of his Pokémon. Her eyes looked worn and tired and showed signs of falling asleep soon.

“Sorry,” he whispered, leaning back against the wall. “I don’t even know if you wanted to come out here. I guess… I didn’t really think this out, did I?” She made no noise. Unsure of whether to go home or wait until the morning and press on, he pulled his backpack next to him and looked into it for a bottle of water. Instead, he found a deck of red cards within a small box whose edges and corners had been worn white by the years. On the front was “CHLOE LaROUGE” in bold letters and an illustration of a nude woman whose hands and legs barely covered any explicit parts of her body.

He weakly grinned. His father never did let the fact that he was only a child stop him from doing anything. That was why he and Danny’s mother had fought so often when he was still around. The memory of the spectacular view snapped him out of his unhappy memories.

“This’ll make everything worth it,” he promised, setting the box down, lifting the Poliwag up, and walking out of the cave and up the somewhat steep rocky wall that led to the roof. It was difficult with the wind and only one hand, but he made it, and the sky opened up to him. Thousands of stars glittered above his head and faded away as they neared the glow of Cherrygrove City, miles in the distance but still managing to make itself known.

“Told you!” he yelled over the wind. “Isn’t this-”

“Hoo!” Something hit him hard in the back, followed by another similar attack to his right side. Swearing, Danny looked all around him and saw at least a dozen pairs of glowing red eyes perched in the trees, all facing him. Each had its turn diving towards him. He screamed each time he was pummeled but kept Poliwag under him, shielding her from the blows.

Why are they doing this?’ he shouted in his head, glancing up. There, black against the moonlit rocks, was a small round form bouncing around desperately. If he hadn’t been holding his own little Pokémon, he could’ve confused the two. “Agh!” He was sure he’d felt a beak hit his back, no doubt ripping extra holes in his shirt.

“Hoo…” The trembling noise came from the creature in front of him. He then saw the silhouette of its tiny wings, flapping hopelessly each time it hopped. Suddenly he realized what was happening.

“It’s a baby,” he said aloud, scooting back quickly as he attempted to find the way back down. After a handful of frantic seconds, he was vertical, struggling to find hand and footholds as fast as he could. After a single moment’s hesitation, he had to watch two red eyes fly directly into his, knocking his face back and sending him to the ground.

Everything immediately went black…

“He’s waking up.”

After what seemed like mere moments, the darkness faded and Danny found himself looking at a close pair of green eyes, reflecting the wavering light of a nearby fire.

“You OK?” The person sat up, revealing herself to be a teenage girl with smooth, fair skin and silky black hair tied into a ponytail. He recognized her from school – and anybody in Newbark High would, as she was top in her class and the recipient of numerous awards – but more recently, he had watched her enter the stage at Professor Elm’s festival the previous day.

“L-… Lucy?” he stammered, slowly leaning up and finding himself in a small clearing in the forest, just big enough for the three large tents located there and a decent fireplace in the center. It was very cozy.

“Yep.” She grinned. “You’re Donny, right?” she asked knowingly. “We have Biology together.”

“Danny,” he corrected, after a short pause. He questioned where they were and she explained to him that the three winners – Alec Tally and Ronald Wallace were listening from a distance – had decided to travel together and had set up camp here for the night. Danny wasn’t surprised. All three attended with school with him and were known to be quite wealthy and well-adjusted. His eyes narrowed as he considered for the first time the possibility of the contest being rigged; the thought of a Cyndaquil scuffling, a Totodile waddling, or a Chikorita trotting behind him made him sick.

“We saw your flashlight in that cave and grabbed all your stuff.” She motioned to the blue tent where a backpack sat. “What happened to you?”

“Where’s my Poliwag?” he asked, ignoring her question.

“You mean Chloe?” Ronald, the spiky red-headed boy asked in a cracking, friendly voice. “She’s asleep in the tent.” He nodded toward a red tent to his left as he waved his hand experimentally through the fire.

“Ch-Chloe?” Danny stammered. “I hadn’t named her yet.”

“That’s what we’ve been calling her,” Lucy explained. “After Chloe LaRouge… your… um… deck of cards.” She blushed slightly and avoided eye contact. Danny blushed too, remembering the woman on the front.

“Oh… that… that was my dad’s from a long time ago and he just gave it to m-”

“Dude, it’s cool,” Alec interrupted, flipping his blonde hair gently. “My dad’s got a stack of magazines in his closet that-”

“I should go,” the poor boy muttered quickly, standing and gathering his things. “I’ll just grab… Chloe.” He tried to unzip the entrance as fast as he could but the handle got caught in the metal teeth, forcing him to frantically jiggle it before it finally released and opened. Inside, the Poliwag lay within a multi-patched quilt, silent and at peace. He felt guilty for pulling her out of it, causing her to jump and squeak, but what he wanted most at that moment was to distance himself from everyone around him. He was angry with them for winning the contest, embarrassed at the deck of cards, and exhausted and sleep-hungry.

Without so much as a goodbye, he took the fidgeting Pokémon back into the darkness, thickets, and quiet, leaving the group of winners to roast marshmallows as a celebration of their first night out.

Danny, on the other hand, unable to relocate his cave, sat at the foot of a large tree, under a blanket and gnawing on a cracker as Chloe lapped up creamy baby Pokémon food from a small glass jar. At the exact moment he began to comfort himself that the night couldn’t get any worse, he felt a drop hit his nose at an angle. Steadily, more and more rain began to fall, bringing the dark forest to a grayish glow as each bead of moisture bounced off of every visible surface. Danny sighed and leaned his head back against the trunk. He wasn’t surprised he had forgotten to pack an umbrella.

“Okay,” he whispered. “I get it… I’ll go home.”

“Poli! Poliwag!” Chloe had chosen to look on the brighter side and was currently jumping around in the mud and rain, peeping jovially as she splashed herself in a puddle. She seemed amazed at her barely visible, cloudy reflection and delighted in the fact that it laughed back at her. Every pitter and patter against her smooth, now damp, skin seemed to energize her further. As he watched, beginning to smile, he realized that this was the first time on their journey – and in her entire life, even – that either of them had truly been happy, with absolutely nothing to prevent them from enjoying the moment. Apparently it was catching on, as Danny couldn’t help but let out a chuckle. Giggle after guffaw, it was soon unstoppable, and he was doubled over with laughter, wetting his back. He had soon thrown off his blanket and shoes and himself was enjoying the mud between his bare toes. Memories of wet, early mornings in his front yard slipped into his mind with every drop.

If anyone had seen them, it would have been only the misty silhouettes of two mysterious creatures of the forest experiencing the rain together for the first time, shedding all inhibitions and doubts in the world and taking just a few minutes to love life the way it presented itself to them. Hair stuck to his forehead, one decided to continue what he’d set out to do, while the other, younger and only just having found out about weather, never needed any convincing.
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Shadow Lucario

Lone Vanguard
Great chapter Umbreon Ruler. The only mistake I could find was in the beginning when you said Pallet Town instead of New Bark Town. The description was excellent, as was the word choice. One of the things I love most about this chapter is the mother's reaction. In most other fan fictions the mother would have just let them go on a journey, but Danny's mother has a realistic reaction. As always, your writing is superb. Finally we learn the origin of Chloe's nickname. Did the other Chloe get her nickname from the same source? If you ever start an PM list I would love to be on it.

Shadow Lucario

Lone Vanguard
Shadow Lucario: I'm glad you liked it. :) I'll correct that, assuming I'm able to. No, the other Chloe didn't. Different realities, same names. ;D

I'll start a list. So far it's:



Nice. So far it's a very exclusive list. XD

Willow's Tara

The Bewitched
Ever since DarkPersian's fanfic ended about a year or two ago I have been looking for a fanfic that I want to read, a journey one and I think I may have found that story:) (No offense to anyone else). Mind putting me on the PM list?

Loved the story, pretty good, I have a feeling that somewhere in the fic that Danny will catch an Umbreon, hmm;).
The mother's reaction is realistic, although alot of fics seem to have parents with no names but I think we will see more of her right?
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Punk Lion

Dark Trainer
Hey, you've got a nice start to a promising story here. I agree with Shadow Lucario, I like how the people in your story have more realistic reactions. Especially his mother, as I've always kinda found the pokemon games to be lessons in bad parenting *grins*.

If you've got a PM list, I'd love to be on it.
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The Humanoid
I love it so far.
It's very descriptive, characters are believable, and I really like how you're kind of personalizing the Pokemon world. (Elm's ranch, the lotto, the all-night store) It's not the same, cookie-cutter, "wake up late to rush to x-person to be given traditional Pokemon" fanfic.

You've got a good start here. Kind of makes me want to start on my own fic. I, too, have made several attempts at them with none succeeding past like, six chapters.

I wish to be on the PM list.
Poliwag is a cute Pokemon. C:


I can't believe I haven't posted in this thread yet! D:

Wow, there are so many improvements, it's astounding! Even though I only vaguely remember It Begins, I know you're so much better at writing now.

I didn't catch any typos, and I'm a Grammar Nazi, so that's good. xD

I love the realism flowing out of the chapter, like other people said. It's so realistic, and you could really relate to Danny's emotions and actions. That was definitely one of the highlights. I adored that rain part at the end of the last chapter, too, it sounds like fun to be dancing in the rain with a Poliwag!

Very creative way to start your story, as well. Those poor kids who don't win the lottery. Bad luck will keep you grounded in New Bark. =/

I'm just repeating what everyone else said, so I'll just leave you be. ;)

*tacklesquishhugs* I miss you 'cause we haven't talked in foreva, dude! ^^


Umbreon Ruler

Swim for your life.
rawr?! said:
um hello! I just read those chapters... and i really loved them. you use intense discriptive words and um... yeah its a great story. if you could add me to the pm list...

Good! You're on the list.

Willow's Tara said:
Ever since DarkPersian's fanfic ended about a year or two ago I have been looking for a fanfic that I want to read, a journey one and I think I may have found that story (No offense to anyone else). Mind putting me on the PM list?

I'm honored to be compared to such a fic. ;) You're on the list as well.

Willow's Tara said:
The mother's reaction is realistic, although alot of fics seem to have parents with no names but I think we will see more of her right?

Of course. It's not often that a child runs away with no consequences. At least not where I'm from. :/

Punk Lion said:
Hey, you've got a nice start to a promising story here. I agree with Shadow Lucario, I like how the people in your story have more realistic reactions. Especially his mother, as I've always kinda found the pokemon games to be lessons in bad parenting *grins*.

It's a good thing no adults play the games. *shot*


Duckie said:
I love it so far.
It's very descriptive, characters are believable, and I really like how you're kind of personalizing the Pokemon world. (Elm's ranch, the lotto, the all-night store) It's not the same, cookie-cutter, "wake up late to rush to x-person to be given traditional Pokemon" fanfic.

I've done that start before. I'm trying to move away from that, as entertaining the past can be. :)


Blue_Mew22: *superflyingtacklehugs* You have many paragraphs so I won't quote. ^^ Good memories of that fic, but at the same time bad, since... you know... it was terrible. XD

I'm trying to write this fic in a way that emphasizes the little things, and I think dancing in the rain would be something I'd like to do. :B

Glad to talk to you again. Neither of us really post on LJ anymore so I never know what's going on with you. D:

About 2 pages into the next chapter, which is a pretty fast pace for me. Let's hope I finish soon.

Shadow Lucario

Lone Vanguard
Good memories of that fic, but at the same time bad, since... you know... it was terrible. XD

I liked it -.- Anyway, good luck with your chapter. I know how hard it can be to get a chapter out on a date you've picked out. Take your time and flesh it out. That way I won't have to go to town on you ;)

Umbreon Ruler

Swim for your life.
You know, I had written about nine pages of this within a week of posting the last chapter. I was so excited, thinking "I'm gonna post this so fast!!!" I was wrong. Of course, it didn't help that this is probably the longest chapter I've written for anything. 16 pages, which might not be a lot for some people, but for me it's practically a six-part special. ^^

Shadow Lucario: I like it too, but I definitely see its flaws looking back. :)

Wellll, here it is (if any of you happen to be left):

Where the Ocean Meets the World​

Several cottony clouds drifted lazily over Cherrygrove City, shadowing select parts of its modest buildings, neatly designed streets, and rolling waves, which lapped the almost empty shore. People and cars drifted from block to block at various speeds and directions, none going anywhere particularly more interesting than the beach or work or home. Due to the lax nature of the town, it wasn’t hard to be the center of attention there, and a community picnic at the nice, green park currently held the honor.

The celebration was an all-day affair, designed to greet the soon-coming new trainers from Newbark Town to a warm welcome as they began their journeys. It wasn’t quite as popular as the festival in neighboring Newbark Town the previous day, but it still managed to draw a considerable amount of attention, particularly from the vendors returning to their hometowns.

On a great hill overlooking the city, three attractive new trainers stood proudly, Pokémon by their sides, surveying the activity going on below. They were truly dressed for success, wearing buckling, zipping gear that only the finest of travelers would need or be able to obtain while each of their battling partners had their own signifying clothing, whether it was a bandana around a neck, a vest encircling a torso, or arm-length gloves with finger holes allowing the creature’s claws to stick out. They were the poster teens of trainers, perfection with Pokéballs, soon-to-be masters of their trade. Before long, everyone in Johto would know their names.

Meanwhile, lying in a puddle, Danny was sprawled out, snoring loudly next to his Poliwag, Chloe. He was speckled with mud and had several scratches all over his face and arms and holes in his shirt and jeans. He had sunk into the wet earth several inches through the night and it had engulfed his fingers and most of his hand, leaving just a small white piece of his palm exposed to the air.

Finally, he stirred, cracking the dusty, brown cakes all over his body, which the sunlight breaking through the thin forest canopy had dried hours ago. He sat up, feeling the soreness in his back awaken with a start, and looked around, recalling the events of the night. It all seemed like a dream now that the trees and paths could be seen clearly, so much so that he wondered if it had really happened. The pain in his nose, however, was enough to convince him.

He groaned and looked at his Pokémon, just as dirty and tired as he was. His movement appeared to have awoken her, though, as she was squinting at him with her shiny black eyes. It reminded him even more of the night before. Then, the realization that he had run away, without telling a soul, truly sunk in, and he felt like someone had punched him hard in the gut. Had his mother noticed yet? If she had, there was no doubt that she had either called the police or taken the search into her own, just as capable hands. If the latter was the case, she would probably be tearing through the woods soon, as it wouldn’t take her long to comb through Newbark’s many gossips, who would most likely somehow have information on his disappearance through their own sources, and so on.

“Let’s get going,” he said hastily, standing up against the weight of the dried mud on his backside. He lifted Chloe up gently and dusted her off. He then made his way tiredly to a nearby tree and collected his things, which had largely avoided the rain sitting at the base of the large oak, but was still slightly moist. Working fast, he found the nearest hill and observed his surroundings. At a low point in the treeline, he could see the tips of Cherrygrove’s short buildings. ‘That’s where we’re headed,’ he thought excitedly. He had been to the city on a couple of occasions but never on foot. He and his mother always traveled on the one unkempt, overgrown road connecting it to Newbark Town. It was gratifying to know that he had gotten there with just the things on his back and his Pokémon.

A little spring in his muddy step, he set off to the west, wondering what adventures Cherrygrove held for him.

Alec Tally, Ronald Wallace, and Lucy Ellender had already discovered the joys of city living. There was an enormous reception upon their arrival, involving baked goods from the locals, several gift packages from the Pokémart, and passes for a free night’s stay at various nationwide hotels. They and their Pokémon had ridden the small train encircling the park while music played and confetti was thrown without mercy, the three winners laughing all the while. They were challenged to a friendly three-on-three volleyball game down on the beach, which they had won graciously. Finally, Lucy had treated the crowd with a small acoustic set of original songs practically made to sing along with, Alec playing guitar and Ronald manning the tambourine, all instruments of course being provided by the willing residents. This had all happened before noon, and the threesome had just hit the final note of their closing ballad as Danny was cresting the same hill the winners had arrived on, covered with the filth he had slept in and carrying the equally unkempt Chloe.

He was not greeted as the others were, instead just entering the city calmly and unannounced. Of the few people who weren’t enjoying the miniature celebrities, none appeared to have noticed him and if they had, no indication had been shown that they would prefer his company over their daily routines. He didn’t mind, though. He wasn’t even aware that Cherrygrove held this celebration, so he had nothing to be disappointed about.

Remembering one important rule of being a Pokémon trainer, the first place he looked for was the Pokémon Center. Even though he had been here a few times before, the layout of the city was still basically a mystery to him, so he relied on directions from uninterested passersby to find the two-story, red-roofed, white building, bearing a large “P” glued to one of its sliding glass doors and a “C” plastered to the other. The blast of air conditioning as he entered the place was a welcome reminder that basic comfort still existed in the world.

He had only visited a Pokémon Center once before in his life, when he and his mother had encountered a desperate new trainer with an injured Pokémon years ago, and was surprised to find that the layout had greatly changed. The floor had transformed from stained linoleum into smooth white tiles and a second floor had been added, reachable by an escalator to his left. The entire lobby appeared quite a bit bigger as well, holding a large counter directly in front of him, behind which a nurse uniformed lady with pink hair sat, two glass picnic tables to his right which two teenagers currently lounged on, discussing their day so far, and a row of fancy computers, presumably for access to the Global Pokémon Network, where trainers could store any extra Pokémon they acquired that they didn’t wish to carry around.

Chloe was taking everything in excitedly, squeaking occasionally when she noticed something particularly interesting.

Suddenly aware of how dirty he was and how pristine everything around him was, he carefully tiptoed toward the nurse, who hadn’t stopped staring at him since he walked in. One side of her lip was curled slightly as she eyed his crusty clothes.

“Can I help you?” she asked with a hint of disgust in her tone, trying to discreetly push the telephone out of his reach. Her white outfit was neatly pressed and her skin was almost as fair as the eggshell wallpaper surrounding her. A nametag with “Joy” printed in script was pinned to her chest.

“Yes please,” he answered, being apologetically polite. “Do you have any rooms available?”

She instinctually typed a few numbers into her computer and seemed slightly crestfallen when she saw the results that popped onto the screen. “Yes… we do,” she sighed, looking back at him. “Can I see your trainer’s ID?”

This caught him a bit off guard. He wasn’t technically a trainer, since Professor Elm had never certified him. There were special buildings where one could earn a license, but he didn’t know the nearest one or exactly what acquiring one would entail.

“I don’t… have one,” he said slowly, hoping that would make it better. He knew it wouldn’t when Joy suddenly appeared to be restraining her jubilation.

“Ooh, sorry sweetie, but these rooms are only for licensed trainers.” She shrugged her shoulders in an almost sarcastic disappointment. “You can try the Motel Twin down the street. They accept pretty much anybody.” She nodded sweetly and turned away, considering the matter closed.

Danny knew the Twin’s reputation. It got its name from the twin bed each room contained, which was basically its only luxury, if one could even call it that. The rooms didn’t even have their own bathrooms. Most people considered it dangerous to stay there for more than a night, as rumors held that the employees there would mug their customers without a second thought. The worst part of it was that he knew he would probably be staying in one of the shagged, stinking rooms that night.

“Do you at least have a shower I can use?” He was trying for anything now, motioning pathetically to his dirty clothes. She looked back at him, rolling her eyes slightly, and paused a moment before answering.

“Right there,” she heaved, pointing to a door labeled with a mixed gender sign. “Take some soap.” She pointed halfheartedly to a basket with small, individually wrapped bars. He took one and headed for the bathroom, suddenly being stopped by a large, pink, round Pokémon with a pouch on her stomach and wearing a nurse’s cap. She was reaching her stubby arms for Chloe, shouting “Chansey!” in a loud, high-pitched voice. Confused, Danny handed her the baby Pokémon, watching in shock as she was carried away into a backroom. Assuming the nurse’s cool reaction meant that this was normal procedure for a Pokémon here, he continued to the bathroom, only to be interrupted yet again by Chloe’s wailing from the room. Worried, he pushed open the door and his Pokémon sprinted out, throwing herself at his legs, causing Joy to cringe as the dirt was shaken loose and onto the floor.

He picked her up and cooed at her, ignoring the Chansey when she emerged soon after, visibly upset. “I’ll just take her,” he said embarrassedly to the entire room, which had been watching.

He spent nearly an hour enjoying the hot water, something he knew he might not have access to for days or even weeks at a time. He tried to get Chloe to face away from him, since he didn’t quite feel they had reached the level of being comfortably nude around each other yet, but she simply stared like any small child would.

When he exited, he felt brand new, as if all his troubles had been washed away by the flaky complimentary soap. He was wearing a fresh set of clothes and his old ones, which he had rinsed and wrung out as best he could, were hanging off of the straps at the bottom of his backpack to dry. Chloe had been scrubbed as well and her blue skin reflected clearly each of the fluorescent lights brightening the room.

“Thanks for coming!” Joy said the moment he walked out of the restroom. “Enjoy your day.” She stared into his eyes aggressively, wearing a plastic smile as she silently scrutinized him. He quickly shuffled outside, shocked briefly by the sun, and wondered what he was to do next. Then, across the street, he noticed a bright flyer advertising the park celebration which he hadn’t been told about.

“I guess I’ll go to the park.”

Meanwhile, as Danny had assumed, his mother Suzanne was tearing through the streets of Newbark Town in her red pickup truck, following her latest lead. She had gone to bed the previous night without speaking to her son, so the morning brought to her the news that he had run away. Mixed with rage and worry, she had made two calls: one to the police as a backup plan and the other to one of her closest friends, Debbie Clyde, who was known to be quite the gossip. Debbie directed her to Trudy McCoy, who had heard from Gladys Rhine that Danny had been seen sneaking down Main Street. Suzanne followed his path through town with help from her many sources and eventually ended up at the same convenience store Danny had visited to buy baby Pokémon food. The cashier gave her the number of the woman who worked the graveyard shift, who vaguely recalled Danny leaving and taking a sharp right, which would put him on Trump Avenue. Luckily, Rhonda Beck, whom Suzanne had gone to high school with, lived in the center of the aforementioned avenue, and reported seeing a dark figure creeping about, but by the time her husband had gone out to confront him, the apparent criminal was in the distance, turning down Madison Street.

It had been an exhausting morning, but after hours more of sleuthing, her worst fears were finally confirmed: Danny would have had to have left for Cherrygrove. He could be anywhere from the forest to leaving the beach town. Now panic-stricken, she sped off through the woods, down the bumpy, overgrown road, scanning the trees for any sign of her missing son.

Trees were surrounding him, but they were planted by the hands of man and farther and fewer in between than the forest. People also filled the grassy, sunny park, mostly following three newcomers to the city, who were currently sitting on a picnic table, recounting their first night on the road to the eager listeners.

Danny recognized them immediately, rolling his eyes at their evident popularity. He didn’t understand how anyone could like people who so clearly seemed awful to him. Annoyance pricked at him as he considered the fact that he was a much better person than any of them and how, if the world worked fairly, he would be the one with an enormous following and an official starter Pokémon and a trainer’s license.

“They’ve been here all freakin’ morning,” a teenager’s voice muttered beside him. He turned his head to see a young girl, roughly thirteen years – younger than he was – old, with blonde, ponytailed hair falling about to her waist. Danny couldn’t tell if she was being serious, as he didn’t think anyone in the entire town would have a bad word to say about the three winners. “I just came here to win the Pokégears but they haven’t stopped talking long enough to let the contest start.” She folded her thin arms.

“What Pokégears?” he asked curiously, wanting to take a conversation with a fellow-hater as far as possible.

An eyebrow was raised above the top of her aviator-styled sunglasses and her mouth opened slightly. “You don’t know? The scavenger hunt? Winner gets two free Pokégears? What are you even doing here if it’s not for that?” Her tone was acquiring disgust. “Don’t tell me you’re one of their fans,” she finished scathingly.

“Oh, no,” he answered quickly, preferring not be mistaken for something like that. “I just got here. I started my journey yesterday. I’m Danny, by the way.” He held out his hand politely, smiling.

She checked the white watch on her wrist impatiently and sighed, ignoring the boy’s innocent advances. “Didn’t really come to hear about you,” she mumbled. Danny wasn’t quite sure if it was directed to him or Lucy, Alec, and Ronald.

“And then we got here,” Alec finished, shrugging and barely audible because he was so far away. “You guys have been really cool. Thanks.”

As the crowd dissipated, a larger, balding man made himself known by calling out: “Okay, everyone, it’s time for Cherrygrove’s annual Pokégear scavenger hunt!” On cue, the people clapped and cheered and the girl standing next to Danny walked toward the announcer. He followed.

The contestant hopefuls had the rules explained to them – the locals knowing them by heart at this point in their lives – and Danny was disheartened to find that only ten entries, teams considered one, were allowed to enter, which would be decided by a drawing. He considered himself in need of some kind of win right now but hadn’t had much success with luck lately. His stomach filled with fluttering dread as he watched a couple of attractive women hand out small paper slips to at least fifty people and he squeezed Chloe a little harder against his belly to calm himself. She squeaked and he eased up a bit.

He got his. The number eight was painted on it with thick, black lines.

Once everybody had one, a cage achingly similar to the one used in Newbark Town was spun and ten balls with numbers printed on them were collected from inside and put into a bowl the man was holding. “Our ten entry numbers are…” He raised his eyebrows and plucked out one of the plastic orbs. “Six…” He continued to draw and read the numbers aloud. “Twenty-nine… sixteen… eleven… forty-three… eight…”

Danny’s heart almost stopped. His shoulders drooped in relief and he laughed once, audibly.

“Three…” the man went on. “Thirty-one… forty-nine… and… ten.” He beamed and handed the bowl to one of his lady assistants. He requested the winners to gather round him so he could explain the directions of the game in detail: contestants were given a single clue as to where they would find the first golden Pokéball, six in total. Each Pokéball held another clue, leading to the next and so on. The first person or team to acquire all six of them and report back to the park would win two brand new Pokégears. Each competitor’s individual set of clues would be color-coded, so no cheating would be possible. Once the explanation was over, Danny was given his first hint.

It was printed on light blue paper and laminated. It read: “This will be fun, good luck to you, your target’s safe with Pikachu” in small black font. Danny suddenly realized that the only knowledge he had of the town’s geography was what he had seen on the way to the Pokémon Center and then to the park. He looked down desperately at Chloe who was staring at him, overjoyed to be on an adventure with her father.

Unbeknownst to the boy, the young girl he had met earlier was looking at him several feet away, scowling slightly. She glanced at her own number: an unsuccessful twenty-three. Then, taking a deep breath and removing her sunglasses, she smiled brightly and walked to him. “Hey, Randy!” Her voice was a much higher pitch and more bubbly than it had been previously. “Congratulations on getting picked!”

Danny’s head snapped up in surprise and Chloe looked slightly wary. “Are you talking to me?”

“Of course!” She slapped his arm playfully.

“My… my name’s Danny,” he said doubtfully, as if he still wasn’t sure she was talking to him.

“That’s what I said.” She smiled so large and sweetly that Danny wondered if he had misheard. “So anyway,” she went on, “what’s your first clue?” He showed it to her and her blue eyes lit up. “Lucky you, getting an easy one, huh?” She winked and nodded. “Well, I’ll see you around, Danny.” She giggled and turned to leave, but was stopped by Danny’s hand, which transformed her grin from one of friendliness to triumph.

“Actually…” he began, a little embarrassed. “I don’t know the town very well. I’m not sure if this is against the rules, or whatever, but would you…?” His mouth was left agape. Chloe squirmed in his grip as the girl turned around and held out her hand, much the same way that Danny had done before.

“Teammates?” she asked, arching a single eyebrow. Her new team member grabbed her hand hardily in confirmation. “I’m Samantha,” she almost whispered, putting her glasses back on. “Let’s get going.” Then, head raised high, she walked away as Danny followed, ignoring Chloe’s occasional uneasy peep.

Samantha led a purposeful path, taking as few turns as possible, and they soon found themselves in front of a larger-than-life porcelain statue of a yellow, mouse-like creature standing on its hind legs and holding a large plastic menu in its paws, eternally excited with wide eyes and erect, pointed ears. In its mouth was a speaker, slightly lower than Danny’s head. The look-alike was standing to the side of a white-bricked building with “Pikachow!” arching over the entrance in bright red letters. Judging by the hamburger and ice cream posters in the windows, Danny assumed it was a fast food restaurant.

“This has gotta be what they meant,” Samantha stated, eyeing the fake Pokémon. “I’ll check the top half…” She looked at her partner. “… and you can take the bottom.” Ignoring the annoyed look she was receiving, she circled around, looking for any crevices where a Pokéball replica could be hidden. The boy set Chloe on the ground, crouched down, and carefully examined the smooth, shiny area.

“See anything, girl?” he whispered, crawling around the Pikachu’s left leg. Chloe remained silent, staring coldly at Samantha, who was standing next to Danny’s head. She appeared to be getting frustrated.

“It’s not here,” she snarled, punching the thin zigzag tail sticking in her face. She stepped back when it cracked and the tip fell off, bouncing on the pavement.

“What did you do!?” Danny hissed, looking back to make sure no cars were pulling up. Samantha controlled a laugh and walked away quickly, around the corner in no time, headed for the door. Danny chuckled, picked up Chloe, and ran after her.

They were washed with the smell of greasy, lovable fast food pouring into the entrance area from the tables of hungry customers and the kitchen behind the order counter. Compared to the comfortable, warm aroma, it was a surprisingly clean establishment, gleaming under the hours of care by employees. The cashier, wearing the traditional Pikachow cap and yellow overalls, stared at Samantha, who in turn stared greedily at the plastic case containing the children’s meal toys, a collection of cheap Pikachu dolls with assorted poses and functions. Danny joined her and saw the item of her interest: a golden Pokéball sitting between a figure releasing a lightning bolt and another in sprinting position.

“I’ll distract the crowd,” she whispered. “You know what to do.” She sauntered toward a high-set circular table directly under a flat screen TV and sat on one of the tall red chairs.

“I… don’t know what to do,” Danny trailed off, looking at Chloe for guidance. She offered nothing so he looked at the case, pondering a solution. Before anything came to mind, he heard a large crash and followed by every employee in the kitchen running out, ending up around Samantha, who was crying over the shattered television at her feet. The reactions were a mixture of consoling and scolding and the patrons watched interestedly. Danny, after recovering from a momentary shock, gripped the edges of the plastic covering and pulled as hard as he could. It slipped off easier than he had expected and he ended up falling to the floor, the toys spilling on the floor. No one noticed over the commotion surrounding the TV, so he grabbed the Pokéball and ran out.

Samantha exited shortly after, yelling “I’m so, so, so sorry! Just call my parents with that number I gave you! They’ll take care of everything, I swear!” Then, she looked at Danny, who was sitting on a bench, waiting. “You got the Pokéball, right?” He nodded. “Good. What’s inside?”

He had forgotten to check in all the excitement. Curious now, he pressed the button of the front of the ball, which caused to top half to lift on a hinge, revealing their second blue-colored clue:

“You got the first, just five to go, the gold is hidden with the ‘dough.’”

“What do you think?” he asked, after reading it aloud. “Like a bakery or something?”

She shook her head. “‘Dough’ is in quotes, so it’s probably not literally talking about dough. All I can think of is money, which probably means the bank. Let’s go. Cherrygrove only has one.”

Danny was impressed. He knew he had made the right choice by including her in the hunt. He took the ball and put it in his bag.

The arrived at the bank – a two story, red-bricked building, with “Johto National Bank” hanging over the glass doors in thin, silver letters – a few minutes later and entered with fervor. Danny followed his partner as she marched to the counter, cut in front of a couple of people, and leaned against the marble, looking the teller straight in the eye the entire time.

“Excuse me, young lady,” the blonde woman started carefully, her pencil-thin eyebrows curving over her green eyes in worry over a possible conflict. “You need to wait your-”

“We’re looking for a golden Pokéball,” Samantha interrupted. “We know you know where it is, so let’s make this as simple as possible.” She snapped her fingers and opened her palm. The woman’s face was glowing now and she appeared to be holding back laughter.

“We have it,” she grinned. “But first, I’ve got my own riddle, okay?” Samantha’s face was frozen into a stony look. “Let’s say I have two coins, okay? One of them is not a quarter… I mean a nickel…” Her nose scrunched up as she thought, and then she nodded and continued. “Okay, one of them is not-”

“I told you you’d mess up,” a jolly female voice from the back chided, causing the bank teller to erupt in adolescent giggles.

Danny grinned as he realized he knew the answer.

“Shut up,” she teased back, looking down in embarrassment. “Okay, okay, one of the coins is not a nickel. And together, they add-”

“Give me the damn ball,” Samantha snapped, nearly touching the glass as she leaned forward. The poor woman looked absolutely crushed and stared back, frightened.

“I’ve got it,” she mumbled, barely above a whisper. She reached under the counter and retrieved a golden Pokéball, identical to the one the pair had found in the fast food restaurant, and placed it through the opening in the barrier. “Please enjoy your day…”

“Thanks,” Samantha replied dryly, picking it up and walking past Danny, who was mouthing “sorry” and making apologetic gestures to any one who would look. He then followed the girl outside, where she had already opened the ball.

“You’re on a roll, so take it easy, enjoy a ride in Carriage Three,” she read. “Any idea what this means?” She looked up to see Danny shaking his head regretfully. “Of course not.” She rolled her eyes and focused back on the clue. “What has carriages…?” she thought aloud, crossing her arms. “Trains… it could be the train in the park… but I don’t think they’re numbered…” Danny gently bounced Chloe as he waited for a conclusion to be reached. “The amusement park has lots of rides,” she continued, face beginning to brighten. “It’s gotta be something there!” she announced. “Which would explain why all rides are free today.” She smiled triumphantly and turned to leave, not making sure Danny, who once again marveled at her mind, was following.

The amusement park was moderately far compared to how close the last two locations had been. But it still didn’t take more than twenty minutes for them to arrive at the purple-and-yellow gates, greeted by a similarly-dressed man grinning at them.

“Enjoy the park!” He raised his arms grandly. “Today, everything is free! Go CRAZY! Ride EVERYTHING! YEAH!” Samantha appeared not to even notice him while Danny stumbled by, looking away uncomfortably from the flamboyant gatekeeper.

The place wasn’t very big. A few roller coasters, blow-up slides, carnival booths, and a Ferris wheel were the only contraptions on the grounds, which themselves were littered with cigarette butts and gently tumbling pieces of garbage. It all appeared to have been set up the night before, but Danny wasn’t sure. However, it was filled with people, which meant many lines extending from each attraction.

“You take the red and blue roller coasters,” Samantha ordered, “and I’ll take the yellow one and the Ferris wheel. I think those are the only things here with carriages.” She briskly walked off, leaving Danny and Chloe alone.

Meanwhile, the road was beginning to get smoother as a red pickup truck sped through the forest. The trees were beginning to clear and Cherrygrove City was visible through the dirty windshield as Suzanne Carson heatedly drove down her son’s cold trail. When she finally arrived within the city limits, she sloppily pulled into the nearest parking lot she could find and accosted the nearest person she could find for information on her son.

She did this several times and found no concrete leads. Eventually, though, her search led her to the Pokémon Center.

“Excuse me,” she began in an aggressive tone, addressing the same Nurse Joy Danny had met that morning. “Have you seen a teenage boy? Brown hair, about as tall as me, probably carrying a Poliwag around. Sound familiar?”

Joy remembered vividly the muddy boy who had tramped in, dirtying the floors, counter, and even the bathroom door. She spilled everything she knew, which wasn’t much, but she did recall him taking a left as he walked out the doors. That was enough for Suzanne to latch on to. She left without a goodbye and was soon down the street.

Danny, having forgotten about his mother for the moment, was in line for a red roller coaster, which was now wiggling around the track’s curves and bumps. He was in the next group to get on.

When the machine pulled into the waiting shed with a hiss, Danny discretely hopped in front of a few people and dived into the third cart, quickly plopping Chloe down next to him to discourage anyone from sitting there. He then leaned down, feeling the sticky floor for the Pokéball.

He ignored the voice and continued searching.

Sir?” it repeated nasally, this time with more force. Danny looked up at the skinny teenage attendant, annoyed. “Pokémon aren’t aloud to ride. Please remove your Poliwag.”

“Just a second.” Danny returned to his hunt as Chloe peeped worriedly. By this time, the employee had signaled to the security team posted there, who had moved to cart number three. “It’s not here,” he mumbled, rising to the surprise of people surrounding him.

“Excuse me, sir,” one of the guards started in a deep, gruff voice. “I’m afraid you’ll have to exit this attraction.”

Danny was in no position to argue. He picked up his Pokémon and hopped out, onto the cement. “This ride sucks anyway,” he said bitterly, throwing a dirty look over his shoulder as he walked away, pretending not to notice the giggles from the people waiting in line. “At least we know it’s not there,” he whispered to Chloe.

During the small fiasco, Samantha was screaming, hands raised, as her yellow roller coaster twisted around the loop. She had discovered quickly that the Pokéball wasn’t there, but decided to stick around for the ride. When the train of cars slowed to a stop, she hopped out and headed for the Ferris wheel.

It wasn’t very big and only had about eight roofless carriages and its purple paint had either rusted over, peeled off, or faded white. She wasn’t exactly sure she wanted to risk her life on the possible deathtrap, but figured the possibility of a free Pokégear outweighed the dangers.

She waited in line, allowing people to cut in front of her to ensure she would get number three. Finally, she was able to step into the cart, ignoring the worker’s helping hand. She stretched her legs across the seat, replying that she rode alone when another person attempted to join her. When the small door was shut, she began searching. She was digging under the metal seat, she felt a round, smooth object wedged between the bench and the curved floor. With a little force, she plucked it out and brought it into vision with a smile.

Found it,’ she thought, secretly pleased with her correct assumption that it would be in the theme park. “Okay, I’m done,” she announced, hurdling the wall enclosing her just as the machine creaked into motion. People watched with confusion as she walked away, looking for Danny and leaving an empty spot behind her.

When she found her partner, he was being forcibly escorted out of the blue roller coaster’s premises by a bulky security guard. Chloe was in a panic, waddling behind him as fast as she could. His face contained a mixture of anger and guilt and when they reached the beginning of the line, he was shoved, almost to the point of falling.

“… I couldn’t find it,” he muttered, picking up Chloe as Samantha stood with her arms crossed. “I didn’t even get a chance to look on this ride since-”

“Relax,” she interjected, revealing her recently-found treasure. “I got it. ‘Halfway done, you’re doing great, attract your prize with expensive bait,’” she recited. “Do you need me to explain this one to you?”

“A… bait shop?” Danny answered, unsure of himself. He relaxed when Samantha nodded in confirmation and the two left the theme park, boy following girl as she led the way.

The Fish’n’Dangles Bait Store was barely more than a tacky shrine to the institute of fishing. The door was the mouth of a large red fish – a Magikarp – which was built into the side of the building and various other species of fish were painted along the walls, ignoring any sense of color scheme or style in order to accurately depict schools and habitat. The inside was slightly more professional: rows and rows of fishing poles, types of bait, and even special suits for wading into the fishes’ territory. Overall, it was a world unfamiliar to both Danny and Samantha so their first stop was the cashier.

“What’s your most expensive bait?” she asked, abruptly cutting in on his magazine flipping.

The obvious day job teenager looked up with a slight attitude, one eye hidden under his dark brown bangs. “Check aisle six…” He returned to his reading.

Samantha smiled politely and rested her arms on the counter. “You didn’t answer my question. What is your most expensive bait?” A drop of venom had slipped into her tone.

He looked up again, caught slightly off-guard by her sharpness. “Uh… Mashnelle River Bait… aisle six.” She nodded sweetly in appreciation and the teenager waiting until she had walked away before he began reading again.

She strolled down the row, fingering every item she passed until her hand rested on a smooth wooden box with “Mashnelle” apparently hand-carved into the front. She twisted the metal lock and lifted the lid, peering inside. “This one was easy.” She grinned and retrieved yet another Pokéball. “They didn’t even try with this one,” she said smugly, taking out their newest clue. “‘You’re getting hot from all this running, heat up some more with artificial sunning.’”

“Artificial sunning?” Danny asked, looking at Chloe for backup. “Like tanning? I bet they mean a tanning salon!” He was in a tizzy over his fortunate discovery. “Are there any tanning salons in Cherrygrove?”

She nodded, somewhat perturbed at the fact that Danny had solved the puzzle before her. “Yeah… they… they’ve got one. Let’s go.” She walked by him, assuring herself that he just got lucky.

The heat was beginning to become apparent, especially on Chloe. Her skin had become sticky and she was panting uncomfortably. Danny’s arms were sucking against her, smacking every time he shifted her around. He was getting worried.

“Samantha, I think we need to find a fountain or something for Chloe. She needs water.”

“I’m sure there’ll be a bathroom or something at the tanning salon,” she replied. “We’re just a few blocks away.” They had already traveled many blocks, as their destination was on the opposite side of town as the beach, which they had been close to.

Danny held out a few minutes longer, but when Chloe audibly squeaked in despair, he knelt down and threw off his backpack. “We have to stop,” he announced, digging for something in his bag. “She’s miserable, can’t you tell?” Just as Samantha had rolled her eyes, he pulled a water bottle into the sunlight, quickly unscrewing its plastic lid. Comforting his Pokémon with baby talk, he allowed her a small drink by pouring the liquid between her lips and then wetting his hand, he rubbed her. She seemed almost instantly cooled and refreshed and her heavy breathing gradually slowed and calmed. Gratitude showed in her eyes as she looked at her trainer.

“Let’s go,” Samantha cawed, placing her hands just above her hips. Danny ignored her, picking Chloe up and hugging her. The three of them then continued onwards, arriving at the Secret Grove Tanning Salon in minutes. Unlike the last establishment, this one was rather plain, its only defining feature being the surfboard-turned-sign above the old wooden door. The rest was simply white, square, and unassuming. The inside, however, was a different story.

It was a teen scene if there ever was one. A trendy mixture of pop and rock music played loudly through white speakers mounted at every advantageous point, artistically-designed couches of perfectly-meshing colors were against each wall, and the two employees there were attractive, fashionable young women.

“Hey, guys, what’s up?” the brunette one asked, speaking clearly despite the gum in her mouth.

“Not much,” Danny instantly responded, smiling and stepping up to the front desk. “Me and my friend,” He gestured to Samantha, “are just out on the town today.”

“Cool, cool,” she said plastically, tapping an ink pen against the counter. “So what can I get ya?”

“What would you say is your best tanning oil?” Danny asked, setting Chloe down in front of him. The other girl, a blonde, plucked a black bottle off of the shelf on the wall and brought it to his attention.

“I always use this,” she said, calling attention to the bronzed area between the bottom of her small shirt and the top of her tight, denim shorts, which Danny gladly observed for a sustained period of time. “But it kinda has a vanilla-ish smell, so maybe…” Her fingers wiggled as her hand climbed the products. It settled on a white bottle which she pulled down. “Maybe you’d rather have this. It doesn’t really have a smell, so it’s more guy-ish, y’know?”

“Oh yeah, lotsa guys use that one,” the first woman agreed, taking it from her coworker. “Is this what you want?” she asked, perfectly trimmed fingernails hovering over the cash register.

“We’re not here to buy anything,” Samantha cut in, bumping Danny out of the way. “We’re just looking for a golden Pokéball for a contest. Do you have it?”

“Oh, you mean this thing?” the blonde asked, opening a drawer and lifting out yet another Pokéball. “Some weird guy dropped this off yesterday.”

“Yes, that’s it,” Samantha said greedily, holding out her hands. They gave it to her and turned and walked. “C’mon, Danny,” she said, stopping him just as he began his goodbyes. He paused, disappointed, and left with Chloe.

“You could’ve at least let me-”

“‘You’re very close so don’t stop now, just surf as far as they’ll allow.’” She looked up from the slip of paper. “This is obviously the beach.” No one argued, so once again, in the heat, they walked all the way across town. More than once, they had come within close contact of Danny’s mother, sometimes being just a block away or right around the corner. Luckily for the young trainer, neither of them knew and they never met up. He had all but forgotten about his mother coming after him when they arrived at the beach.

Samantha had donned her sunglasses and was now examining the horizon. The sun was about an hour away from sinking out of view and its rays were reflecting down the water, reaching the shore on the backs of gentle waves and ripples and fading into glistening twinkles on the sand. One thing disrupted its path, and Samantha focused on it: a buoy with a rope extending from both sides, curving around until both of its ends also met the shoreline.

“There,” she declared, pointing to the marker. “That’s the swimmer limit. That’s ‘as far as they’ll allow.’ Get it?” She looked at Danny.

“… yeah.” He nodded, not quite sure why she was asking him. They stood in silence for a few seconds.

“Well? Go,” she ordered, pointing to the sea. “I’ve pretty much done all the solving, gotten nearly all of the balls, and now it’s your turn to do something. Now go.”

The boy looked around at the several people tanning and swimming and whispered, “I don’t have a swimsuit.” His partner snatched Chloe away, who clearly objected.

“You’re a guy! Swim in your underwear. Trust me, everybody can keep their eyes off your shrimpy little body,” she scoffed, sauntering toward the water and setting Chloe down to splash around. “It’s all about how bad you want the Pokégear!” she shouted, kneeling. He quickly followed and ended up beside her.

“Do you really think it’s out there?” he asked, fidgeting. She assured him it was, and surprised herself with the fact that Chloe was actually having an enjoyable time under her care. Finally, Danny stripped to nothing but his boxer shorts, blushing heavily the entire time, and ran waist-deep into the ocean as fast as he could. “Keep going!” Samantha called, absently bouncing Chloe up and down.

Sighing, he dived into the salty water and began paddling with no particular form. It was several hundred feet to the floater and the last significant exercise he had done since summer started was walking around town all day with Samantha, so the swim took a lot out of him. When he arrived at the buoy, he was panting and had to cling to its slimy crevices to rest for a moment. He was relieved to see the golden Pokéball wobbling, half-submerged, in front of him, attached to the plastic float by a thin chain glued at both ends.

He grabbed it and it broke off easily, the sealant apparently weakened by the harsh water. Not wishing to waste any more time rocking, he took a breath and began swimming back, forcing his arms and legs to keep going when they began to weaken. After what seemed like hours, he crawled back on shore and lied out on the sand, forgetting his previous inhibitions.

“Took your time, huh?” Samantha asked, taking the wet ball from his hand. She popped it open and found a laminated blue slip, just like the clues. “‘You’re completely done but it’s not over yet, head back to the start even though you’re wet.’ That seems like a pretty lazy rhyme,” she criticized. “But at least we’re finished. Get dressed and meet me at the park.” With that, she left. Danny allowed himself to relax for a few more minutes before dressing, picking up Chloe, and going back to the park.

A large group was gathered around a central location when he arrived and the voice of the same man who had distributed the clues could be heard congratulating the winner on their great success.

“And so,” he shouted, “it is with great honor that I present you with two brand new Pokégears!” The crowd cheered and Danny forced his way through them just in time to see Samantha receiving two plastic cases tied together with assorted ribbons and bows. She was enjoying the attention, as was evident by her giggles and waves. “I’m sure I speak for everyone when I once again extend a wholehearted congratulations to you!” The people clapped a moment longer before dispersing, leaving Danny, Samantha, and Chloe alone.

“We won!?” he asked, looking at the prizes excitedly.

“Yup,” she answered, pulling away. “Here.” She tossed one of the trophies to him. “You get pink, I get blue, my favorite color, cool?”

He looked at the hot pink plastic beneath the clear casing unhappily, wondering whether he should argue the point.

“Welp, I’m off to the Pokémon Center,” she said, slapping his shoulder as she walked off. “You’re welcome.”

“Wait!” Danny spun around as she stopped and turned toward him. “You can get into the Pokémon Center?” She nodded in annoyance, clearly ready to be going. “So you must have a trainer’s license.” Once again, she nodded. “I know this is way out of line,” He stepped closer to her, “but would you be willing to let me stay with you tonight? I don’t have a license so I can’t get in myself or else-”

“I don’t think so,” she said sharply, preparing to leave.

“Please…” His voice strained with sudden desperation. Samantha peered over the rim of her glasses, examining his face for a moment before settling on the strap of his backpack, which she knew to be full of goods.

“… sure… you can stay with me.”

Willow's Tara

The Bewitched
To be honest I actually forgot about this fanfic because it's been two months since it was updated lol. Anyways it was a good chapter, not much to say around this time but I have a feeling the mother's going to be on his trail until the Pokemon League am I right?

Shadow Lucario

Lone Vanguard
So you've returned from the dead...again. It was nice to see your name on the PM I received. Anyway, I didn't really notice any grammar errors so that's good. The return of Samantha, but much older. I feel as if she hasn't changed much :p Danny's mother must be furious and I don't want to think about what she's going to do to him if she runs into him. To end this, it was a nice chapter. Kind of obvious that Danny and Samantha are going to be traveling mates, but I'll leave that to you.

Umbreon Ruler

Swim for your life.
Yes, I'm still alive. ^^;

Willow's Tara: Yeah, sorry about that. If you haven't noticed, I have a tendency to procrastinate. :p And about that... you'll see.

Shadow Lucario: *nods to everything you said* Pretty much right on the money. ;)

The next chapter was going to be very short, but then I realized that basically nothing was happening. So I decided to combine it and Chapter 4 to make it slightly less boring/fillerish. I'll try to get that out fast for ya. ;D