Well, here's my second fanfic. I hope everybody enjoys.
The automatic doors opened just in time to avoid being smashed by the oncoming trainer. The rain was coming down in sheets, and this particular trainer and his Pikachu didn't want to spend another minute in the biting wind and icy sleet. The doors, oblivious to the harsh elements outside, closed behind the pair with a quiet whoosh.
Tanner shook himself forcefully, throwing water off his cloak. His Pikachu followed suit, and gave an amusing sounding 'brrrrr' as its rain-soaked fur flipped side-to-side. Without thinking, Tanner began walking towards a stone fireplace in the wall, still trying to get the water out of his clothes. A blazing, orange fire was in the hearth, and there were various other trainers sitting nearby in large, cushioned chairs.
Stepping just in front of the fire, Tanner put his hands close to the fire to warm them. As he rubbed his hands, Pikachu sauntered up beside him and sat down on the hearth. With a contented 'chaa!' he leaned forward, as close to the fire as he could safely get.
Tanner stood in front of the fire for several more minutes, and looked around his surroundings. It was an older Pokémon Center, with hardwood-covered walls and stone tiled flooring. It gave the whole place a rustic and comfortable feel, especially since the lighting was soft; most of the light was from the fire.
As he looked around a little more, he spied a…bar? Sure enough, that's what it looked like. Peering towards the wall, he could see an ancient looking bar, like what you might see in an old western movie, running parallel to the hardwood wall on the far side of the room. Tanner's eyes flicked towards the ceiling, where he saw a chalkboard sign advertising meals, lemonade, sodas, teas, and coffee. Bit unusual to have a soda bar in a Pokémon Center. With a shrug, he walked over to a high stool and sat down. Pikachu looked up from his heat bath, and bounded up onto Tanner's shoulder as he sat down.
Cleaning glasses behind the bar was Nurse Joy, dressed in her usual nurse clothing. She looked up as Tanner sat down, and flashed a smile that Tanner recognized instantly as the same smile every Nurse Joy in every Pokémon Center gave when greeting a new trainer. "Would you like anything, dear?"
Tanner grinned. "Iced lemon tea, if you don't mind."
Joy nodded. "I'll have a glass for you in a second." She turned and walked down the length of the bar, and passed through a swinging door that Tanner assumed led to a kitchen.
Pikachu hopped onto the bar and looked around curiously. As his eyes followed the smooth wood of the bar he was sitting on, Pikachu noticed a red bottle sitting next to an abandoned plate several stools down. "Pika!" he squealed happily.
With two long leaps, Pikachu crossed the distance to the bottle in an instant. Picking it up quickly, it bounded back to Tanner. With another excited "Pikachu!", Pikachu popped the lid of the ketchup bottle and started sucking the ketchup straight out of the bottle. Tanner watched his Pokémon with an amused expression. "You could have at least waited for a plate or something, instead of licking the ketchup right out of the bottle. Now someone's going to have to wash that thing."
Pikachu paused in his rapturous feast just long enough to stick out a ketchup-covered tongue at his trainer. With a sigh, Tanner turned to a menu sitting in front of him.
As he looked over the various food choices, the stool next to him was pulled back with a slight screech on the stone tile. An older man sat down with a grunt before he picked up another menu. Tanner looked at the man for a moment before turning back.
A moment later, Tanner heard "Pikachu! Pika pika, chu!". Turning his head, he realized the voice had not come from his own Pikachu. A second later, another Pikachu jumped up onto the bar, on the older man's side. As Tanner watched, the other Pikachu, which seemed to have several gray hairs in its yellow coat, cautiously approached Tanner's Pokémon, who was still eating ketchup out of the bottle. Looking up from his ketchup meal, Pikachu watched the newcomer approach. When there was little less than a foot between them, the new Pikachu seemed to ask, "Pika? Pi pi, pikachu chu?" With a happy reply, Tanner's Pikachu passed the ketchup bottle to the newcomer, who seemed to enjoy eating ketchup just as much as the first Pokémon. The Pikachu, which was slightly larger than Tanner's, happily began slurping the ketchup.
"Pikachu, that was rude. Don't go asking other Pokémon for their ketchup bottles." The older man spoke now to the Pikachu with gray hairs. The man then turned to Tanner and tipped his hat in apology. "Sorry about him. He's addicted to ketchup, and he doesn't like to miss a chance to have some."
Tanner grinned. "No problem. I know what you mean." He jerked a thumb to his own Pokémon. "My Pikachu's the same way. Can't seem to get enough of it, and the only thing that makes him happier is finding other Pokémon who think the same."
The man laughed in pleasure. "It's kind of hard to find Pokémon who enjoy eating ketchup, isn't it?"
"A little. I've seen Pokémon who will only eat turkey smothered in mayonnaise, so ketchup by itself isn't quite so strange anymore."
The man chuckled at that. Tanner noticed that he had more than a little gray in his black hair, and that he slightly favored his left leg, holding his foot above the ground next to the stool legs. "You seen much action?"
"Hmmm..." The older man rubbed his chin with a hand. "A bit, yeah. Used to be a quite a hotshot trainer. Competed in a few leagues over something like seven regions. Caught about a hundred different kinds of Pokémon before I challenged the Elite Four back in Kanto. That's my home region." He gestured towards his leg. "But, age seems to be catching up with me. My leg's getting a little stiff, and I'm more comfortable back home with my friends than hiking through the wilderness."
Tanner nodded. "I can understand that. I've still got a bit of a ways to go, but I'm hoping I'll be able to become the Champion in the next few years."
The man's eyes seemed to shine at that. "A lot of people have that dream, you know. And some are better than others at getting there."
"I know. My dad says it's the path most traveled. But, if there's a chance I can do better, then I'll take it."
As he said this, Nurse Joy came back with a tall glass of iced tea. Setting it in front of Tanner, she said, "Anything else?"
Tanner shook his head, and Joy turned to the older man. "What about you, sir?"
Shaking his head, the man said, "No thanks. Just stretching my legs after dinner. I'll be going to bed in a little while." He then gestured around the room. "I like this place. I've been in a lot of Pokémon Centers, but I've never seen anything quite like this."
Joy nodded with a smile. "Oh, yes, we spent quite a lot of time to make this Center as comfortable as possible. After all, we're in the middle of the wilderness, so trainers have to have someplace they can go and relax."
"Hear, hear." Tanner raised his iced tea in a toast before sipping it.
Joy inclined her head gracefully. "Thank you. Well, if you gentlemen need anything, just let me know." She then turned back towards the kitchen, where the smell of cooked food was wafting towards them.
After a few moments of silence, Tanner asked the man, "What're you doing now? I mean, I guess you're not training actively now."
"That's right. I'm mostly studying Pokémon in their natural environments."
"Are you a professor?"
The man laughed again. "Oh, no, I'm not a professor. I mostly send my observations and data to Professor Max from Petalburg City, over in Hoenn."
"You know Professor Max?" Tanner asked in surprise. His Pikachu looked up from the bottle of ketchup he had just taken from another seat at the bar.
The man chuckled. "I told you I've been to a lot of places. I've met quite a lot of people in my travels. Max is an old friend."
Tanner nodded in understanding. "I've heard that Max knows more about Pokémon than anyone else in Hoenn."
The older man replied, "Probably. He's always been knowledgeable about Pokémon, even when he was a kid." He seemed to look off into space for a moment. "It's funny. He knew more than I did at times, but, at the time,he was more interested in becoming a Gym Leader than a Champion. I suppose that's because his father was the Gym Leader of Petalburg."
"Norman, you mean?"
The man nodded. "You know about him, too?"
Tanner grinned. "I know every single Gym Leader and Champion of the past forty years." He paused for a moment. "Better make that fifty. I know quite a bit about that kind of thing. Knowing the skills and Pokémon preferences of past Gym Leaders and Champions makes it a little easier to expect what I might be up against now."
With an odd light in his eyes, the man asked, "Has it worked out for you so far? I mean, knowing about previous Champions and such?"
Tanner nodded. "Yep. It's helped me win most of the badges of this region. Just three more to go, and then I'll be on my way to the League."
Pikachu added, with a happy tone, "Pika! Pikachu pi!".
The man smiled peculiarly. "It's been a long time since me and Pikachu have won badges. I guess it's a little late for us." He leaned back with a small smile. "It's good that trainers are still interested in winning badges, becoming Champions, and gaining fame..."
Tanner shook his head. "I don't know about that last part. The fame seems to get in the way. I mean, if you're the Champion, it's kind of hard to go around and talk to people normally, right? After all, being famous makes people act differently towards you. They don't usually see the real you, just the image that gets set up after you earn a title."
The man was silent for several long moments. When Tanner sipped his drink again, the man said quietly, "Yes, it was kind of hard that way."
Tanner set his glass down as he swallowed. "Sorry? Didn't catch that."
The man shook his head and smiled again. "Nothing. Just an old man talking to himself."
The two Pikachus watched the exchange with interest. When it appeared as though the two humans would remain silent, they turned back to their ketchup bottles with relish.
After several minutes, a voice from across the room called, "Ash! We're going to bed! You coming?" Tanner and the man looked over their shoulders to see two people standing by the stairs that lead to the Center's guest rooms. Of the pair, Tanner saw that one was a tall man with tanned skin and carried a large, battered pack in his left hand. The other was a shorter woman, with short red hair, which had the faintest of gray in it. She jerked her head towards the stairs and smiled, as the other man began walking up.
The man beside Tanner smiled in return, and waved a hand. Sliding off the stool, he said to Tanner, "I'd best be going. Misty doesn't like to be kept waiting." He then turned back to the bar. "Come on Pikachu. Let's go." The Pikachu with gray in its fur set down its ketchup bottle and jumped onto the man's outstretched arm.
Tanner frowned in thought. "Misty? That sounds familiar..." He tapped his chin in concentration. With a start, he exclaimed, perplexed, "Wait a second. You mean Misty, the fourth Sensational Sister of Cerulean City in Kanto?"
The man called Ash touched his hat in salute. "Goodnight, and good luck on your journeys." He then turned and walked to the stairs, where the red-haired woman waited.
Tanner sat back in surprise, his mind whirling. Misty, one of the previous Gym Leaders from Cerulean City...the man beside her had looked familiar as well...his mind clicked, and settled on a picture Tanner had seen several years ago. Brock, the previous Gym Leader of Pewter City. And...someone named Ash.
With another start, he looked back to the pair by the stairs. As they started up the stairs, the man named Ash turned back and waved. Tanner, in a state of shock, slowly returned the wave. When the two had disappeared up the stairs, Tanner turned to his Pikachu, who was eyeing him curiously. "That couldn't have been Ketchum? Could it?" he asked Pikachu vaguely, his mind still scrambling to catch up.
Pikachu just shrugged, and returned to his ketchup. Tanner sat there, his hand on the ice tea glass. With a shake of his head, Tanner downed the last of his iced tea, and set the glass down with a gentle chink. "Ash Ketchum." With a chuckle, he turned to his Pokémon. "I guess legends aren't really that different from the rest of us, are they?"
Pikachu agreed with an enthusiastic "Pikachu!"
Did everyone like it? Ridiculous question, really. Did some people like it? Go ahead and be honest, I'm writing fanfics for experience in the writing field, and reviews would be appreciated.
For those of you who have read my first work, "Before The Match", I'd like to say that I've written myself into a corner. I've found myself unable to come up with a suitable storyline to develop and explain my trainer's character, so I'm leaving that particular work as my first attempt at writing a real fanfic. Thank you all for reading, and please review. ;)