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Last Trip of the Day [one-shot]

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Dramatic Melody, Dec 3, 2019.

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  1. This is a revision of a one-shot I wrote earlier this year, which was a gift to someone who gave a prompt of “a Pokemon-ized version of an everyday job.” It maintains the same premise as that original draft, but I expanded on the overall story, particularly the introduction.

    It revolves around a Pokemon pun that I am particularly proud of, so there’s that ahaha. It’s also somewhat connected to a different one-shot I posted here several months ago. Thank you for reading!


    Last Trip of the Day


    “Thanks for riding with Accel! Have a nice day!”

    He slammed the car’s door as his reply, and he rushed inside the building like his life depended on it. And, sure, it might have, seeing as he was dressed formally and he was tapping his phone incessantly throughout the trip, but it’s not my fault that the traffic in Route 4 was bad this time of the day.

    But, of course, to him this whole ordeal was my fault. And the one-star rating and zero-Poké tip I got a few minutes after was his big middle finger.

    “Asshole,” I said as I tossed my phone on the passenger’s seat, hearing it tumble onto the floor. If he really wanted to be in Castelia in a half-hour, why didn’t he book an Accel earlier? Did he expect Route 4 to be light in one of the busiest hours of the day? Did he expect me to suddenly bring out a Braviary that can fly us to his destination? Maybe he should’ve booked an Escab instead—

    Trub

    I heard Burt growl behind me, and I can feel him crawl on top of my head. I wasn’t sure how he manages to climb these seats with his small limbs, but he’s definitely the most persistent Trubbish I’ve ever seen.

    “Yeah, yeah, I’ll calm down,” I assured him, taking a deep breath. Burt had gotten used to keeping my temper in check after I dealt with particularly rude passengers. Whether it was insulting me for how slow I drove, boasting how better their lives were than mine, or blaming me for the traffic I somehow caused, some passengers really hit the right marks in getting me as pissed off as possible. And they’re always in the winning side, since anything I do in retaliation would mean I lose my job.

    So Burt’s been helpful in reminding me that they’re just passengers that I won’t see after the trip ends, since the Accel app already does the work of preventing me from matching with old passengers who gave bad ratings. The feeling’s mutual anyway, so their one-star ratings are doing me a favor in the long run—even if it meant needing to suck up to other passengers so that my overall rating doesn’t fall below 4.5.

    “Thanks, Burt,” I told him. “Could you pick up my phone?”

    Trub! He replied as he jumped off my head and waddled below the passenger’s seat beside me. Once he held it up to me, a notification popped up with a brand new passenger request, the phone’s vibration making Burt groan happily.

    User #542003. Castelia City Gym to Nacrene City Gym.

    “Huh, that’s a two-hour trip,” I said to Burt. “Should we take this? That’s gonna be really tiring for us. And we don’t even know who we’re picking up since they don’t have a photo.”

    Trub? He said as he waddled his way up to the cup holders below the dashboard. Ever since he found out that his body fits perfectly in those two cup holders, it’s been his preferred spot in long rides.

    “But… it will put us over quota,” I said after thinking about it. “And it can be our last trip of the day. We can head home early for once!”

    Trub! I heard Burt say excitedly. I’m sure he was just as exhausted as I am for having to hang out in an overworked car all day, dealing with indifferent passengers at best and rude passengers at worst. We’d usually stay out until midnight just to hit our income quota for the day, only to start it all over again the next morning. So getting back to Lentimas and crashing in our bed before midnight would be a big deal.

    “Alright, let’s do it,” I said as I accepted the request and made my way toward the gym. “Let’s just hope the passenger isn’t as bad as that last one.”

    ***

    When we arrived at the Castelia Gym, the only person waiting outside was a bodyguard who looked as tall as a Tyranitar, maybe even taller. If he was my passenger, he would probably be in the indifferent side of the indifferent-to-rude spectrum, but spending two hours stuck in a car with him wasn’t something I was looking forward to.

    “You’re the Accel driver?” he said in an almost inhumanly deep voice as I stepped out of the car.

    “Y-yeah,” I replied. “Should we go soon?”

    “Oh, no, I’m not your passenger,” he said, and I had to hold back my sigh of relief. “He’ll be here in a couple of minutes. Do you mind waiting?”

    “N-no! Not at all!” I said, my optimism startling him. “If you don’t mind, I’ll let my Trubbish out of the car for some fresh air.”

    He only grunted in reply, which I took as a yes. I opened the door and called Burt out, and he made a happy growl as he looked at the tall buildings and the rows of people in a hurry all around us. As much as I hated driving in Castelia because of how congested and busy the streets would get, Burt always liked being surrounded by the city and its different immensities. That was a pretty good silver lining to think about when it took us half an hour to get from Central Plaza to Route 4.

    Two minutes turned to three, so I took out my pocket notebook and began tallying all my rides for the day as I finished the can of Soda Pop I opened in my previous trip. Luckily, Mr. 30-minutes-from-Nimbasa-to-Castelia was the only jerk for the day, so his 1-star rating didn’t hurt as much as he wanted to. I only wished admin allowed us to bring beer into the car, so I could drown out all of his ramblings and expletives.

    Four minutes turned to five, and I wondered what was taking this passenger so long. I didn’t mind too much, as I appreciated any prolonged time where I could stand and stretch my legs. Burt always liked waddling around, too, and he was happily munching on my finished soda can. But I did want to get home sooner than later

    Since the passenger booked a ride from the Castelia Gym to the Nacrene Gym, I assumed it was one of those overachieving trainers completing their badge quests. They were relatively common, and those were always pretty harmless passengers. A lot of them would just go on and on about their previous or upcoming battle, and I’d just nod and give scripted words of encouragement. I’ve adapted to them after the hundredth gym challenger that I’ve had as a passenger.

    But this trip was going to be a first for me, in more ways than one.

    “That’s a cute Trubbish you have there!”

    I turned to thank whoever compliented Burt, but my gratitude got stuck in my throat. In front of me was none other than Mr. Burgh, the Castelia City Gym Leader. He was wearing his signature green-and-red outfit, complete with his red jeans with black stripes and his green shoes with red stripes. Behind him, the bodyguard that acknowledged me earlier was carrying a bunch of easels and paint buckets, with another guard carrying several luggage bags that looked like they had to be forcibly sealed.

    “Uh, th-thanks, Mr. Burgh,” I said with as much respect as I could give. “Y-you’re, uh, you’re done with your Gym Leader duties for the day?”

    “Yessir!” he said with way too much energy for that time of the day. “And now I’m headed to Lenora’s place! I’ve been hit with the typical artist’s block again, so I think a change of surroundings is in order!”

    Wait, Lenora’s place? I said to myself. Does that mean

    “Can you open up your trunk?” he asked, snapping me out of my daze. “I don’t think all my things will fit inside your car.”

    “Y-yeah, of course, Mr. Burgh,” I managed to cough out. I was still trying to comprehend that the Castelia City Gym Leader that I didn’t notice Burt approaching him and playing with one of his shoes.

    “Burt, don’t—” I began, but one of the bodyguards handed me a bunch of bags to load into the car, preventing me from doing anything.

    “Aww, you’re so cute!” I heard Mr. Burgh say. “You like these shoes, don’t you? My Dwebble plays with them a lot, too.”

    Burt hummed happily in reply, much to my relief. Unfortunately, his fascination of Mr. Burgh’s shoe left it covered in grime, its bright green color losing its luster.

    “Alright, Burt, back in your Poke Ball,” I called out quickly as I took out his Poke Ball from my pocket. “S-sorry about that, Mr. Burgh. I p-promise he won’t bother you anymore—”

    “Wait, don’t call him back!” Mr. Burgh cried out. “I just met him!”

    I quickly pocketed the Poke Ball as I watched Mr. Burgh pick Burt up from the ground, prompting a soft growl from the Trubbish. “His name is Burt, right? What a lovely name! Can’t he join us for the trip?”

    “Oh, uhmm, of course,” I blurted out. “W-whatever you want, Mr. Burgh.”

    The four large pieces of luggage took up all of the space in the trunk, so his easels and canvases had to be jammed into the back seat, which only left the front seat for Mr. Burgh. So not only will I be having a Gym Leader for a passenger for the first time, he’ll also be sitting next to me for at least two hours.

    “Is everything in the car?” Mr. Burgh asked the bodyguards, to which they gave a synchronized nod as a reply.

    “Sweet!” he said. “Let’s go—oh, what’s your name again?”

    “A-Al,” I stammered out. “It’s Al.”

    “Alright, Al. Let’s get going!”

    ***

    Mr. Burgh was as animated of a passenger as I was expecting him to be. No, scratch that—he was even more animated than I could ever imagine. It turned out that I didn’t have to worry about carrying the conversation in the two-hour drive, as his stories and ramblings about his job, his Pokemon, and his art projects were more than enough to keep him entertained.

    The first thing he mentioned was how he had been using ride-hailing apps for a while now, saying it was more convenient than having to hire a driver who he would only need a few times a month. “I couldn’t pass on using them—they’re named after two very good and powerful Bug-types!” he added. He said that he preferred using Escab over Accel, but he wanted to try out Accel this time to “spice things up.”

    It was a common thing I heard from cranky passengers, that they liked Escab more than Accel. Truth be told, the only reason I chose Accel over Escab was because they were the one who called first after I applied. But I’d bet 1,000 Poké that Escab passengers complain all the time that Accel is better than Escab.

    Mr. Burgh talked a lot about his projects, too. He was rambling about how he had new ideas for the layout of his gym, how he wanted to do something with silk and cocoons. “And I was imagining this whole collage of color in my room, where I battle the challenger,” he described. “Like, splashes and mixtures of different colors on the walls and on the floor. It would look exquisite!”

    So yeah, Mr. Burgh took care of all the discussion points by himself. Well, most of them.

    “Art, it’s a great way to unwind, you know?” he said while I was just about to exit Skyarrow Bridge. Burt was laying on his lap, enjoying the frequent pets he was receiving from his new friend. “Being a Gym Leader can get hectic, so it’s nice to go back to something that both soothes and challenges me. You get what I mean?”

    “Uhh, y-yeah,” I said, caught off guard by the non-rhetorical question. I’d been getting by with nods and mm-hmms up to that point. “Driving’s kinda the same, I guess. It can get difficult, but it also calms me down.”

    “Yes, exactly!” he said with such glee that it took away any drowsiness I was feeling.

    “Hey, how about you?” he suddenly asked. “What’s going on in your life, Al?”

    “Me?” I said, mentally preparing my usual answer to the question. “Well, I’ve been an Accel driver for a few months now, and it’s been alright. The income’s not bad, and at least I get to spend a lot of time with Burt.”

    “I can see why that’s a big positive!” he said as he proceeded to rub Burt’s back. I’ve never heard Burt make happier noises than when Mr. Burgh was petting him. “What were you two doing before? Did you go on a badge quest?”

    “No, we’re not strong enough for that,” I replied almost automatically, prompting a shocked expression from Mr. Burgh.

    “Oh, come on now, don’t say that!” he said with a hint of authority in his voice, as if he’d given this speech to several trainers before. “Being a Pokemon trainer isn’t all about strength. There’s also the bond you build with your Pokemon, and your bond with Burt is one of the best I’ve ever seen!”

    “Th-thanks, Mr. Burgh,” I said with a smile. “That means a lot coming from you.”

    “And I mean it!” he continued. “Not a lot of trainers can get their Trubbish to control their odors when they’re with trainers they just met. That tells me you two have been through a lot together!”

    You have no idea, I almost said out loud, but I managed to catch myself.

    “So yeah, what were you doing before this?” he persisted. “If you weren’t collecting badges with Burt, what type of journey did you have together?”

    “I, uh…” I mumbled out, afraid of how he’d react if I told him even a fraction of the truth.

    “I’d rather not talk about it, sorry,” I finally said, which prompted a shocked reaction from Mr. Burgh. He continued to observe me, which was a bit unsettling, so I resorted to focusing on the road.

    “Mmm…” he started after a few minutes. “Was it bad?”

    “Very,” I said almost automatically.

    “I’m sorry.”

    “Don’t be. It’s not your fault.” I should’ve ended it there, but then I blurted out, “It’s all mine, really.”

    “Hm?” he said. “Why would you say that?”

    “Huh, w-well…” I began, but I knew elaborating on it would only make things worse. It was the first time I had someone important as a passenger, and I didn’t want to screw this up, for his sake and mine.

    “N-nothing,” I said as firmly as possible. “It’s nothing.”

    “Mmm…” he said, still observing me. “Alright then.”

    All I heard in the next few minutes were the car’s engine, Burt’s soft growls, and the cries of wild Pokemon outside.”

    ***

    “You have really nice hair, you know?”

    Mr. Burgh’s compliment caught me off-guard. We were halfway through the road bordered by Pinwheel Forest to the left and the open sea to the right, and I was lucky that traffic was relatively light or my sudden impulsive brake would’ve thrown off a car behind me. Not only was it the first thing Mr. Burgh said after a prolonged period of silence, but no one has ever said anything nice about my orange hair. Most of the passengers who did point it out said it made me look like a clown from Nimbasa’s amusement park.

    “Is it natural?” he continued. “It’s such a nice shade, like the sunset, or leaves during autumn.”

    “Nah, all my team—” I stopped before I realized what I was saying. “I mean, uhmm, all my friends before had it dyed this color, so I joined in the fun. And I, uhh, I like how different it looks, so I kept it.”

    Truth is, I don’t have the money to have it recolored or removed, and whatever they used back then made it so that it didn’t come off even after multiple showers.

    “It’s certainly different!” he said. “I can’t really think of anyone else with that hair color.”

    I wished he didn’t think too hard about it. But of course, he did.

    “Oh wait, that’s not true!” he blurted out. “I’ve seen that hair color before, and—”

    He ended that sentence with a loud gasp that startled Burt, who was still hanging out on his lap. Mr. Burgh looked at me like he just figured out a puzzle—a really bad one. Of course, I’ve revealed too much, and I had no one else to blame but myself. As always.

    “You’re…” he began, his tone much more wary. “You were one of them, weren’t you?”

    I nodded in reply. “But that’s all in the past,” I quickly followed up. “I’ve moved on, I swear.”

    “And… this Trubbish…” he said, looking down at Burt, who looked just as worried as I did.

    “I didn’t steal him, I swear,” I interrupted, my hands firmly gripping the steering wheel. “He’s been with me since I was 11. I had to hide him from my teammates, too. I didn’t want them to take him away from me.”

    “How did you join them?” he asked, almost ignoring my previous statement. I could feel the anger in his voice—so much for ending this day on a high note.

    “I believed in their cause,” I said, truthfully. “I didn’t think Pokemon were supposed to be used for battling. Burt’s only battled a couple of times, and that was before I joined them. But I didn’t expect to have to...to have to steal in order to further that cause.”

    “And how did you leave?”

    It was a question I expected, but he said it with such force that it still caught me off-guard. “Well, after what happened in the Pokemon League, a lot of us left after what Lord—after what Ghetsis did there.”

    “Mmm, I can imagine,” he said, his eyes closed and his right hand on his chin. “I was there you know? I’d been asked by Bianca to stop the team, and I showed up with the other Gym Leaders.”

    “I remember,” I said. “I remember it like it was yesterday, since it was your Leavanny that defeated my—no, the Scrafty I stole.”

    I felt him staring me down after I said that. I couldn’t bear to look at him, but I could feel it. It was like he was bringing back all the regret and frustration and guilt that I thought I’d already left in the past. But, of course, I could never get over it. If all those trainers—those victims—couldn’t get over what happened, what more someone who helped make it happen?

    “But all that’s behind me now, I swear,” I said, forcing myself to keep my eyes on the road. The road was about to lead to the Pinwheel Forest’s exterior, so we were only 20 minutes away from the destination, thankfully.

    “It’s something I deeply regret doing, but it’s something I know I can’t change,” I continued, realizing that this was the first time I had ever talked about it so openly to another person. “And it hasn’t left me, really. It took me many months to get up and move on from what happened, and I know that’s nothing compared to the pain all those trainers must still be experiencing.”

    Trub! I heard Burt say, giving me a small push of confidence.

    “I’m lucky that Accel gave me a second chance,” I said. “It’s not much, but it’s something else. And I still have Burt with me, so we’re gonna make sure we don’t screw it up from now on. Sure, everyone would think it’s a half-assed apology for what I did, but it’s one I intend to stick with. And I really am sorry, for everything that I did.”

    I heard a quick gasp from him after that. I took a quick glance, and he had set down Burt on the floor and reached for something in the back. Moments later, he had a pencil and sketchbook in hand, and turned to a blank page and started drawing.

    “Wha...what are you—”

    “Shh!” was all I heard from him, and that was that.

    ***

    The rest of the trip remained that way. I kept on driving, he kept on drawing, and no other words were spoken, except when he requested that I drive a bit slower so that the car wouldn’t sway too much. Burt managed to climb on top of the headrest behind Mr. Burgh, but the Gym Leader shortly put him back down on the floor and wagged his finger in disapproval.

    Nacrene was much quieter than Castelia, with all the people we saw outside either workers who were walking home or townspeople who were closing up their shops. It didn’t take us long to get to the Nacrene Gym, and amazingly, Mr. Burgh stopped sketching the moment I pulled on the handbrake.

    “Thanks for the ride, Al,” he said casually, almost like the last half-hour didn’t happen, as he opened the door.

    “Th-thanks for choosing Accel, Mr. Burgh,” I managed to say.

    “Can you stay for a bit? The guards will take a while to unload all of my things. You can shut off your engine first.”

    “Y-yeah, of c-course,” I said as I turned off the engine.

    As if on cue, two bodyguards who looked just like the ones back in the Castelia Gym came out and started bringing Mr. Burgh’s items inside. I saw Mr. Burgh was talking to Mrs. Lenora, Nacrene’s Gym Leader, and Mr. Hawes, her husband. He looked like his usual cheery self, but part of me was still worried that he would tell them all about my criminal past.

    It took a good five minutes before all of Mr. Burgh’s things were brought in, and I saw that he was still talking to the couple. I thought about approaching him to give another quick thank you, but I didn’t think he wanted to talk to me after what he’d found out. No one ever did.

    So I marked the trip as complete in the Accel app, placed Burt in his favorite spot, and started the car.

    Not even ten seconds passed by when I heard loud knocks on the passenger door. I looked out to see Mr. Burgh waving at me with a piece of paper in his other hand.

    “Wait! Don’t go yet!” I heard him yell.

    I set the car on neutral and stepped out, confused at what else he wanted from me.

    “You wouldn’t leave without getting your tip, right?” he said with a smile as he handed the piece of paper to me. “So here!”

    “Th-that’s too nice of you, Mr. Burgh,” I said as I started to hand back the piece of paper. “B-but I don’t think I deserve—”

    “Of course you do!” he interrupted. “That was a very eye-opening ride, Al. I’ll definitely use Accel more often because of it.”

    “That’s...that’s great to hear, Mr. Burgh,” I said, still confused. “Thanks again for choosing Accel, and I hope you have a good evening.”

    “You too!”

    He gave a final wave as he ran back inside the gym. I waited for him to disappear before going back into the car.

    As I sat down, I unfolded the piece of paper Mr. Burgh gave me, and out came several Pokébills. They were worth 1,000 Poké all in all, and they fell on my lap like they were nothing.

    But what was more intriguing was the piece of paper itself. The pencil sketch was in black and white except for my hair, which was colored orange. I was carrying Burt, who looked like his usual cheerful self. I was leaning on the car, and I looked happy. Unusually happy.

    It took me a minute to notice that the car’s tire was running over a headpiece with the insignia of the old team, and that Mr. Burgh had written something in the lower right corner.

    He wrote, “Apology accepted.”
     

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