Dedicated to Farla, god/ess of Pokefics.

Standard issue disclaimer in this spot, please.

This was written after reading a variety of fanfictions on a variety of topics. I came to think about the general, accepted view of the pokemon world. Everyone turns out to be a trainer, sooner or later. What if someone din't want to? Just wanted to see the world and everything in it? It got me thinking about how this would happen. ANd yes, I'm not the best writer around, and yes, this has probably been done before, and yes, it's probably boring.

Still, not all stories are the action packed do-or-die the pokemon world seems to be filled with. Sometimes it really is a dull place. Sometimes it's not. Sometimes, just sometimes, it changes in a huge way. This is a story about change, because of change, for change, I suppose. And world views. And a lot of other, uninteresting things. I'm striving to take a magnifying glass to
the Pokemon world and see what it's like in greater detail. Hopefully I succeed, but time will tell or not, I guess.

As a side note, I'm not entirely happy with the title. It'll work, for now. At least until I find one that fits better.

A story about journeys and the ones we take as we live. A story about change, not necessarily always good. A story about growing as a person, even if the growth isn't in your control. A story about Ren, who probably doesn't know as much as he should. Still, we live and learn.

"Do you want to come with me?" asked the giant, towering up into the morning sky. The shadow it cast conveniently hid face and distinguishing characteristics, leaving it a blank, human-shaped blob in the dappled sunlight.

The caterpie, tiny by comparison to normal caterpie, trembled in terror before the giant. It was only a tiny pokemon, after all. Its outlook on life was tiny to match. So it had barely managed to get out of the way of the giant, and had dropped to the forest floor and instinctively raised the pronged faux-tongue atop its head. Instinct kept it frozen that way – perhaps the intruder would think it a snake and flee. Not so, but this giant was odd. Not different in any way the caterpie could see, though it couldn't see much.

Hands descended from the sky and carefully scooped up the tiny worm pokemon, cradling it gently. There was the feel of slight movement, and then the feel of cool leaves.

"No? Then be safe." The voice sounded like thunder, but a benevolent kind. It sounded vaguely like god. Then the giant was gone from the caterpie's view. After a time it relaxed, little by little. Then it set its jaws to the leaf and began to chew.

That was then, and this is now.

The day started like any other day. The sun rose, pidgeot serenaded the dawn with harsh screams and fierce taunts to their age-old opponent fearows, and Ren had woken up in a tangle of blankets. Like every other day he got dressed and half-heartedly checked his appearance in the mirror before opening his bedroom door. A blast of hot air rushed in, sweeping aside the cool temperature of his room. He groaned, waving a hand at his face to try and get some air flow going. His brother must be home.

"Can someone please tell me what the typlosion is doing on the kitchen table," he asked, pinching the bridge of his nose in an attempt to dispel the fog of sleep from his mind. His brother flashed him a wicked grin and turned back to said typhlosion – bits and pieces of training gear strewn across the normally neat dining table and room. Ren cautiously poked a foot at the armlet on the ground. It rolled away from him and he snorted, turning into the kitchen.

"Why do you feel it's needed to strap these things to your team anyway," he asked, staring dispiritedly at the open cupboard. Noodles for breakfast again, he thought as he snatched the only chicken noodle packet from the shelf, wonderful. When the muffled response from the dining room came he paused as he poured the dried noodles into a bowl, flicking the kettle on as he turned.

"Repeat that? I can't hear you through the damn wall," he called, leaning into the doorway to glance at whatever his brother was doing.

"I said," his brother shot him a nasty look before continuing "Mom has gone out for a while and she asked me to remind you to water her garden." Ren's look of abject terror got him to chuckle. "You'd best do it, you know. You forgot last time and you know how that went."

"Uh huh. Don't remind me, Dominic. It was just as much your fault as it was mine. Not to mention you're the one that told me chlorine was good for the roses." Ren returned his brothers look, then turned back to his makeshift breakfast.

The water was almost boiling by the time he looked back, and it steamed as he poured it into his bowl. The satchel of powdered flavouring was added and the whole thing was left to sit for a few minutes. Ren buttered himself a slice of bread and retrieved his bowl, stopping in the kitchen doorway to watch his brother affix a heavy pair of armbands to his typhlosion. The powerful fire type seemed amused by the attention it was getting from its trainer, but the wisps of smoke rising from about its fire-less shoulders seemed to indicate irritation.

"Why do you do that, Dom?" Ren asked, placing his bowl down across from his brother before taking a seat. Dominic looked up as he finished locking the bands on.

"Well, it helps promote growth in the special defence areas. Brick here has trouble with special attacks, so I thought I'd give him some training to help balance that." Dom patted Brick affectionately on the head before helping the fire pokemon to the floor. He gathered the various equipment strewn across the table into a neat pile, placing his portable Item Storage Device beside it. Not as useful as the proper item storage system developed by Silph Co., but far more easy to carry about than the enormous amount of items most trainers had on them at all times.

Ren ate his breakfast in silence, grunting a goodbye to his brother when he left to go shopping at the towns market with Brick. He took time to have a quick shower, struggling into his clothes still damp. He spent time in front of the bathrooms mirror, just staring.

He was pretty average. A little on the heavy side of weight, perhaps; and about five foot ten inches in height, if he stood straight. His hair was a dirty kind of blond, and not really remarkable. It was clean, and tidy, but he didn't take any pains beyond tying it back. His eyes were a blue-grey colour, normally dulled with disinterest. His complexion was fine, bar the occasional outbreak of zits, which is fairly normal for someone around the age of eighteen. He yawned at his reflection and started the housework.

It wasn't that he was bored with everything; he just wasn't interested in training pokemon. It was fine for some people, he mused, but he would rather draw or read. With his washing done and hung on the line he took a moment to look at the back lawn and his mother's garden. It definitely needed water, the roses looked half wilted and the azaleas didn't look much better.

He spent five minutes searching for the hose, only to find it rolled neatly up and hidden in the garden itself. It must have been his brother's tentacruel. The thing had an unhealthy fascination with neatness. He uncoiled it and attached it back to the tap, struggling with the fixture for a few moments before he got the water to run. He watered the back lawn, taking care not ruin his mothers carefully constructed plant bed, then reeled the hose out so he could reach the back fence.

Right beyond it stood a tree. It wasn't special, or strange, or different. It was just a tree, one he spent his childhood climbing. It was a nice tree, too, but had an annoying tendency to shed its leaves right into his back yard. It had begun to regrow the star-shaped leaves, shiny new growth gleaming in the sun. There was a small swelling at the roots, one he hadn't seen before. Was it new? Or had it always been there and he'd just never noticed? He wedged the hose between two fence railings, leaving it spraying water at the tree. He slowly climbed over, leaning towards the wood-like lump.

It growled. He leaned away, and cautiously reached for it. It growled again, a bit more intently. He paused, considering what to do. Just as he was about to poke it gently it shuddered, and he backed away. It swelled, and he realized it was standing up. Colour flushed into the wooden top, revealing a nut brown shell speckled with green spots. Two stumpy feet worked to extract it from the ground, and it turned a angry face on him.

"O-oh. You're a," he paused, trying to remember "a shroomish." He crouched to get a better look, grinning. "You're pretty cute, y'know." The shroomish made an odd grunting noise. It sounded like someone had stepped on a mushroom. "I'll just leave you alone then." As he stood the tiny mushroom pokemon waddled over to the spray of water from his hose and sat, watching him. He climbed back over his fence and leant on it, returning the shroomish's gaze. It wasn't often a shroomish would get so close, especially in town. It wasn't unheard of, but the little pokemon preferred the quite forest over Petalburg. Sure, the town was quiet even on the busy days, but the forest exuded damp silence.

He lost track of time watching the shroomish. The sun was beating down harsh when he realised he'd been drifting, and he made a quick dash for the tap – just in time to see his mother turn it off. He grimaced, trudging back through muddy sludge and grass to reach her.

His mother was a woman of steel and fiery determination. A business woman, working for Silph in Rustoboro. She was slender and tall, with slate grey hair tied back into a severe bun and with soft brown eyes that seemed out of place. She gave him a bright smile as she turned up the stairs, casually undoing her suit jacket and loosening the tie she wore.

"Thanks for watering the garden, Ren, but next time try not to turn our back yard into a swamp." His mothers voice was very much like the woman – steely but tempered with a warmth that stemmed from her motherly instincts. He grinned at her through the doorway, wiping his feet on the doormat to remove some of the mud.

"I kind of got distracted by a shroomish," he said, closing the screen door as he came through. His mother shot him a curious look before struggling to remove her jacket, grunting in annoyance. It took her a few moments to get it off, and she tossed it onto the table in a huff.

"You got distracted by a pokemon? Hallelujah! Does this mean the sun's going to fall out of the sky? Should we get ready for the end of life as we know it?" She gave him a smug smile. "You're the only one in the family that doesn't have a pokemon, you know. Not even as a pet." Her smile shifted to a happier set, and she leant against the dining room table. "Did you want me to find you a pokeball so you could catch it?"

Ren shook his head. "Don't want to be a trainer. I just want to watch them. They're interesting and fun." His mother nodded, reaching down to undo the laces on her boots so she could remove them. He retrieved a cold water bottle from the fridge and poured two glasses, handing one to her once her boots were off.

"I know, I know." She smiled. "There's been talk of a pokemon gathering in town today. We could go if you like; there are probably some rare types to be seen." She paused long enough to drain the glass in one go, sighing happily as she set it on the table. "If you give me a moment to get out of this stuffy suit, that is."

Ren considered it – laze around all day and get nothing done, or go do something interesting. Curiosity battled procrastination and won. He nodded, returning bottle and half-empty glass to the fridge. His mother left for her room to get changed, and Ren went to the bathroom to clean his feet of the sticky, drying mud.

It didn't take long to lock the house and get to the small gathering of trainers and townspeople. The mild roar of the crowd was comforting, in a way. People gave wide berth to the more dangerous pokemon species; there was a steelix curled up beside its owner, teeth bared and making low, and warning growls. On the opposite side of the cluster of trainers was a large armaldo. This attracted Ren's attention – armaldo were extinct as a species, so the trainer must have been lucky enough to find a fossil. He made his way towards it as his mother went in the opposite direction, seeing an opportunity to stir up some business.

"An anorith? You must've been lucky," he said, taking the cautious approach and announcing his presence to both the trainer and the pokemon itself. The ancient once-fossil turned on him, raising its claws. Its trainer tapped it, and it lowered them, slouching on the spot. Ren took a moment to admire the sheen of the pokemons sturdy outer shell, and the glaring red eyespots.

"Oh, no. I traded for it. The original owner didn't want it, which confused th' hell outta me, y'know. Who wouldn't want an armaldo?" The trainer grinned, holding out his hand to shake Ren's. As they shook, he tilted his head to indicate the Plate Pokemon. "She's a beauty though, right? Got me through some tough times."

Ren couldn't help but agree – while a strange choice to some, the armaldo truly was a sight to behold. He and the trainer, later introduced as Mark, chatted for some time before Ren was called away by his mother. He bid Mark a happy stay in Petalburg and hurried to his mother's side, dodging the swarm of hoppip on the way there.

He was introduced to Norman, the gym leader of Petalburg. He felt a little awkward and out of place standing with his mother as she chatted to the professional trainer, and let his mind wander. He looked around, noting the gathering was slowly breaking up – how long had he stood and talked to Mark? It must have been a while. He blinked as two trainers squared off. Maybe the gathering wasn't disintegrating, just making room. He excused himself from his mothers and Norman's company, and hurried over to join the crowd on the edge of the makeshift arena.

He struggled to push through the pack of people to get closer and see what was happening. By the time he reached the inner edge it had already started, pokemon roaring and screeching challenge to the opponent. He noticed Mark at one end – his armaldo was in the fight, battling a crawdaunt who belonged to someone he didn't know. He admired the sleek body and jagged pincers of the shellfish, drawing similarities between his friends trusted companion and the angry looking Rogue Pokemon.

A girl was acting as referee – he recognised her from Norman's gym. Stacey or Tracey or something like that. She called the battle to order, typical one-on-one fight, whoever's pokemon faints first is the loser. Ren held his breath as the pokemon charged, heart hammering in his chest.

The battle rushed by in a blur, attack and counter attack, near misses and direct, critical hits. It didn't last long, despite armaldo's type disadvantage. Mark must have used a TM on his armaldo, since it had finished the battle with a sudden and unexpected iron tail attack. The roar of the crowd interrupted Ren's thoughts, and he snapped out of his daze. Mark was shaking hands with the loser, offering the other trainer a revive. His opponent seemed unhappy, but not angry. I would be too, Ren thought, if my partner had lost.

The rest of the day passed in the quiet glow of a setting sun. Mark was invited to dinner by Ren's mother, who took them up on the offer. He promised he'd be over by nightfall, but he had to take his pokemon to the pokecenter for a checkup. Ren stopped in briefly at home with his mother, gathering up a pencil, a small drawing pad and a can of softdrink into a small bag. He waved to his mother and his brother as he left again, heading towards the ocean.

He sat on the rise that overlooked the shore, feet dangling about a foot or so from the sand. The sun stained the calm waves a deep orange, and he cracked open his drink as he watched it set slowly. It had been a good day, he decided as he opened his drawing pad, fishing around from the nub of pencil in his bag. He forgot everything but the way the sun kissed the horizon, thinking about what it would be like to travel the world, see new places.

He was broken out of his thoughts by a soft peeping at his side. He glanced down, startled by the shroomish from his back yard. He sat still for a few moments, and watched as the mushroom pokemon craned back to stare him in the eye.

"Hey, you." He murmured, turning his attention back to his pad, drawing the setting sun and the surf and everything else he could think of. From that one moment, a tiny spark was planted in his heart and soul. A tiny spark that swelled under the thoughts of what might be out there, waiting for him on the horizon. It was a nice thing to think of. Grand adventures in new places with new people. New things to see and know, newer ideas and thoughts to collect.

He decided he wouldn't mind seeing it. Maybe one day soon.

(And maybe, a tiny part of him thought, he could take You the shroomish. But he couldn't hear that tiny part, buried deep below the budding wanderlust.)

All stories start somewhere.

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