by Jedi Amara

Author's Note: This is one of the stories written in the first half of 2005 that I am currently archiving on FFN. A one-shot as usual. For me, this is a rare full first-person story; most of mine that include first-person perspectives are mixed first- and third-person POVs, so enjoy. In time-honoured tradition (ie. like two of my previous fanfics), Jordan and Jake are named after pop-punk band members - New Found Glory's lead singer Jordan Pundik and Something With Numbers' vocalist Jake Griggs. Katy is named after Katy Steele, lead singer of the Western Australian alt-pop band Little Birdy. Music I was listening to while writing this: Brock Downey - "Where U Go" CDS; New Found Glory - "Catalyst". Anything else? Nah.

Disclaimer: Same as usual. I don't own Pokémon etc., I do own my OCs (NOT the TV show)... yeah, I'll admit I thought OCs were something to do with "The OC" the first time I saw the initialism... well, I don't own "The OC" either, now that I've mentioned it.


"It sucks to be you," I told Katy gleefully. She didn't say anything, just gazed at me balefully from those big round eyes. As usual, the friendly joke had gone right over her head. I patted her absentmindedly on the trunk; she let out a gentle noise, almost like a Persian's purr, except friendlier. Although, I had to admit, I hadn't seen that many Persian - it was pretty much the boss's, and that one I had run into out on the street with its trainer one time when I had been doing the grocery shopping. That particular experience hadn't done much to foster my (basically non-existent) love of Persian; big Whitey (that's what I'd named it in my head) had chased me down the street, claws out, making me drop all my bags. Talk about trainers not being able to control their Pokémon! I got in trouble for coming home without the shopping, too. Well, it wasn't my fault that the trainer had been some spoilt rich kid who refused to pay up. You would think that, with all that money, he could afford to spare some. Mom managed to scrape together a few meals, but we had gone a bit hungry that week - as we had several times since then. It had been like that ever since Dad walked out.

Dad - I didn't really remember him that much. After all, the guy had just gone out and not come back when I was six. All I could really recall of him was a big shape giving me rides on his Donphan and taking me out for a burger once in a while. And come to think of it, I didn't even know if that had been him or one of Mom's boyfriends. She had gone through a lot of them around that time - trying to replace Dad, or drown out the memories of him. I don't know if it worked, but after a couple of years she'd stopped going out. She threw herself into her work and didn't pay much attention to me and Jordan, except when she needed us for something.

I missed Jordan sometimes. Three years younger than me, he was living my dream - out on the road with his team, travelling and battling. While we were really close, I had to admit that I did resent him sometimes, just for being able to go out and do that. I really did wonder if he appreciated what he had and what he was allowed to do, being the younger kid. Pokémon training - it had been my dream since before I had been old enough to understand what it really meant. Later, after my dad left, I found out that he had been an excellent trainer in his youth, although he'd been perpetually unsure of himself and his abilities. Perhaps those insecurities had carried through to his adulthood, been the reason he had left us. In any case, I'd wanted to become a trainer when I turned ten, but Mom had other plans for me. "I need you to help with the business," she'd said, and being the oldest I'd had to acquiesce. I didn't really mind the work (although cleaning was always exhausting), but sometimes I wished that we could work somewhere else - not in this cold, hard, factory-like building, hidden as it was behind a mask of emptiness. A hideaway, really - or hideout. Perhaps it was a facade for something not so nice, but I didn't know - all I knew was that we were never allowed to call the boss by his real name, though everyone knew it was Giovanni.

I'd never been allowed to have a Pokémon; Mom said it was too much work and too expensive to keep one, even if I was going to look after it all by myself. I knew I could take care of one, though. It could eat my food - I didn't need to eat so much. I was big for my age anyway. Mom had other ideas - not even a Mr. Mime who could help in the business was the right Pokémon for her family. That's where Katy came in.

Katy was, technically, an "illegal immigrant". I'd smuggled her into the house, in a way. That is, she was always right under Mom's nose (or maybe not quite, but definitely very visible) but Mom never saw her - or never saw what she really was. I didn't understand how Mom could be so sharp-eyed about a speck of dust left after my vacuuming and so blind when it came to Katy - who was, after all, bigger than a fully-grown Ivysaur, and bright blue to boot - but it was definitely a bonus for me. I made a special pet of Katy - working in HQ, as everyone called it, wasn't a great job for a 15-year-old, since there was never anyone else of the same age to talk to. Katy filled that gap in my life, became the friend I needed.

Bending down from my perch on the edge of the desk, I rubbed Katy's head, muttering softly to her.

"Now, if you're good, you might even grow up to be a big strong Donphan... now, wouldn't that be nice?"

Katy didn't respond - but then again, she very rarely did. It didn't matter - I talked enough, and thought enough, for both of us. I grinned - it was nice to have some time to myself, just to spend with Katy. Time was a commodity that I never had enough of - there was too much work to be done.

"Jake! Are you talking to that vacuum cleaner again?"

I sighed, stood up and went to see what my mom wanted this time.