The town was nothing major. This town was the same as all the ones before it, after it, and next to. That was the way human towns were. Sure, sometimes this town or that had a fancy this or a fancy that. Or Town A would have this mountain while Town B had this coastline, and then Town C – Town C had both. But in structure, each was the same. The cities were built on using Pokémon, not working with Pokémon. Buildings were placed haphazardly, sprawling out in the form of human greed for wanting more land, more, more, and more. Already having so much, why did people need more? This took away the Pokémon's habitat. This took away… well, eventually this would take away everything, would it not? All the towns were the same.
Just because at first glance they looked different, did not mean they were.
And this was what N had been thinking as he walked down yet another concrete sidewalk burying the fine greenery. In cities like these, only the opportunistic Pokémon would thrive – everyone else had to make do with what little space they had left on the outskirts. Hide in long, tall green grass and hope that no trainer came along to capture the Pokémon. Take them away from their habitat, from their home, from their families… did trainers not take these things into account? Trainers just blindly captured these animals with so little regard to their homes. None of them ever thought about these things, just as no one thought about where to build what in cities. Humans only thought about what was beneficial to them immediately - not everyone in the long run. Disgusting, really. Hands in his pockets, the man frowned when he noticed a few kids chasing a frighteningly skinny Lillipup down the street with sticks.
Everyone had to eat.
One hand reaching up, he clicked on the small ear phone. "Grunt, can you hear me?" A woman's voice responded with an attentive, 'yes sir.' "There's a Lillipup heading down Heliotrope Avenue, east. It's hungry. Please leave something for it. See if it has any siblings or eggs that may need something else as well. Try to… persuade the children harassing it to leave it alone." His voice was swift and commanding, and he gave her no chance to respond as he promptly hung up on her. This was their job – polite formalities were not a necessity. As he neared a four-way, N paused before continuing through the street to the other side. Hurtling down the street in his direction, in a panicked waddle was an Oshawott. Long Willow Street was just meeting with Heliotrope Avenue as an intersection, perhaps the most fitting place to meet anyone. Squatting down to peer at the incoming Pokémon, N furrowed his brows.
The otter-like creature was in a rush, and people jumped aside as it flew down quickly as it could go. What was it running from? Zorua poked her little head out of N's ponytail, only to jump out to land delicately onto the pavement. Between the two, the Oshawott skidded to a halt realizing that the man and his Pokémon would probably not let it through. "Is something wrong?" He inquired, and offered out a hand to the creature. He doubted it would hop into his arms, especially if there was something – or someone – it was trying to escape. "Osha-Osh! Oshawott…!" Came a hurried voice, awkward and abrupt as the water-type panted between words. "Move, move! I have to hurry, before he catches me!" The rushed words came tumbling out.
N narrowed his eyes, and motioned for the Oshawott to hop aboard to get away. The creature fervently shook its head. "You don't know where I'm going!" It scolded. Not too far away a young man's voice could be heard calling for the Oshawott. Probably an owner this poor creature was attempting to run away from. Barely five minutes, and the young man had already witnessed his second Pokémon suffering some form of abuse.
"I'll take you somewhere safe." N promised softly, using the most gentle voice he could manage. The Oshawott appeared taken aback, surprised N had understood it. Hearing the other summon, the creature snapped back to reality and fervently shook its head further.
"No no no, I want to show him something! But he won't let me! Oh… I got it! If I tell you where to go, will you take me there? You need to be able to run really fast, my trainer is quick!" The otter-like creature requested, hopping up and down in excitement. Not even waiting to receive a response from N (who was now the confused one), the Oshawott clambered up his arm. The Zorua, curiosity piqued, followed after until the young man now had a Pokémon on each shoulder.
"I don't understand." N finally admitted, and instead of doing as the creature asked he patiently awaited an explanation. The Oshawott whined, and then tried to clamber away only to have the Zorua bark a request of her own – would the Oshawott please explain before running away? Her owner was awfully worried for it. The otter Pokémon shifted, uncomfortable and tried to find a quick escape. By the time Oshawott relented in explaining, his trainer had arrived in a panting but relieved mess.
"There you are!" The young man sighed, and gave an appreciative though lop-sided smile to N. The green-haired youth gave a wary nod of his head. "All right, no more chase for you! We need to get back." The young man told the Oshawott, and N was trying to decide if the voice was intended to be stern or not. If it was, the boy was doing a terrible job of it. The Oshawott shook its head – again. The boy's shoulders slumped while he frowned. "But, I really need to get you back…" He sighed, and looked to N who until then had been ignored. "Thank you for catching him, sir. C'mon Oshawott." And the boy reached over to grab his Pokémon; only instead N plucked up the small creature and held the confused otter Pokémon over his head.
"It wishes to show you something, I think." N stated simply, and the Oshawott nodded its head in hurried agreement. The brunet stood there, somewhat dumbfounded with his arms reaching up for the Pokémon. N was not much taller than the other, but what little difference there was made enough difference in the brunet being unable to reach. "Pokémon know a great many things… perhaps you should follow Oshawott instead of restraining him?"
"I-I'm not trying to restrain him…" The young man stammered, staring up at the other with wide eyes. "It's just, he's my only Pokémon right now," N narrowed his eyes slightly at the wording, "And he needs Nurse Joy to look at him. Earlier, his foot…" The boy trailed, and pointed with a finger at his Pokémon. N glanced up, and the Oshawott flushed while trying to hide the incriminating injury. "I don't want his foot to get infected." The brunet finished explaining.
"…I see." N sighed, and brought the creature back down to the other young man. Delighted at having Oshawott back, the brunet hugged the Pokémon tightly who gave a theatric sigh. Only to pout in N's direction and the green-haired man attempted to ignore the stab of guilt. Even so, at least the creature exhibited no signs of feeling betrayed – on the contrary, he at least understood that ultimately this was what was best for him. "You and Oshawott should be more careful in the future. Take potions with you. Antidotes. There is not always a Poke Center around to take care of injuries."
"Thank you, again." The boy repeated, and with a final smile he turned around to head back the way he came. N shrugged, indifferent to the boy. There was something he was curious about though. What had the little Pokémon wanted to show his trainer so badly? N could do little more than wonder, and he resumed his inspections of the town whilst the Team gathered. His father would give the speech, people would listen… well, and they would emulate listening. Only time would tell if anyone actually heard.
The next day, Ghetsis commanded people's attention with his booming voice and philosophical comments suggesting and implying ideas few ever bothered to consider – "They are living beings from whom we humans have much to learn. Tell me, what is our responsibility toward these wonderful beings called Pokémon?" The group did not know, and the puzzled suggestions were proof enough. More hours training? More hours studying? …Liberation? "That's right!" And he continued on, informing and guiding the Trainers to the only proper conclusion. N stood amidst the crowd, listening quietly while his eyes scanned and wondered if anyone was truly hearing. He spotted a familiar shade of blue – could it be?
"We sincerely appreciate your attention." Ghetsis ended at length, and with a sweep of his arm was quickly surrounded by Plasma members to guide him safely from the town. A few speeches ago the man accidentally caused a riot, and since then the police had been wary of these gatherings. There was also the issue of the group being called a gathering of crackpots – those people were deaf. They had no idea what Team Plasma was trying to do, what the goal's intent was.
"Did you see…?" The Oshawott inquired of its owner, who glanced at the little Pokémon perched on his shoulder. The brunet scratched beneath his chin, and the little creature gave a small sigh. What did the Oshawott mean? Was Team Plasma what he wanted to show his Trainer…?
"Your Pokémon… just now, it was saying…" N began, and the boy snapped his attention to the other man with startled eyes.
"Oh, it's you again." The tone was pleasant, almost happy. The Oshawott made a small sound, no real meaning other than to express he was happy as well. Next to him was another young man, about the same age with short black hair. He wore glasses and a raised brow, eyeing N with curious but wary eyes. Scrutinizing, trying to take in what he could for future use.
"Slow down. You talk too fast." The other young man interrupted, and took a step closer to the one with the Oshawott. Although he was a few feet away N could hear him whisper to the other, "You know him?" The brunet nodded, and quickly explained that the green-haired youth was the one who helped him track down Oshawott. "I see. Well then, thank you. Although… what's this about Pokémon talking? That's an odd thing to say."
"Yes, they're talking." N confirmed, and felt his shoulders droop slightly as he realized something – and it was not that he disregarded the thanks. "Oh." He adjusted his hat, and looked between the two. "Then you two can't hear it, either… how sad." The other two young men appeared puzzled, and rather than elaborate or explain himself the green-haired man jumped subjects. "My name is N." Introductions were always a good way to throw people off – compulsive manners were helpful at times.
"My name is Cheren, and this is Touya." The raven-haired one replied immediately, not even batting an eye at this. Instead, his brow remained raised but his expression somehow more critical. Perhaps this one is not so easily thrown off… and perhaps both of them had heard. "Since we're divulging random information about ourselves, we were both just asked to complete the Pokedex and we just left on our journey. My main goal is to become the Champion, though." There was a hint of an ego at the end. N logged that information into his memory bank, in case he came across these two again.
"The Pokedex, eh? So… You're going to confine many, many Pokémon in Poke Balls for that, then. I'm a Trainer, too, but I can't help wondering… Are Pokémon really happy that way? Well, Touya, is it? Are you strong?" N asked, quirking a brow at Touya. He hated that terminology, but while undercover as just a regular trainer that was what he had to use. Otherwise, he would gain suspicion and curiosity. So there he was, asking the question that sent his blood boiling every time he heard it. The brunet grinned awkwardly, and scratched the back of his head with a light tinge on his cheeks. All the while, Cheren watched in the background wondering what kind of crazy people his childhood friend was going to end up befriending along the way.
"W-well… me, not so much." Touya admitted, and N's brow rose further. Well, better this than some gloating narcissist. "But, I'm trying my best to get stronger! My Pokémon on the other hand… they're a lot stronger than me. I've been trying to keep up, but they just keep getting better and better. I'd like to catch up to them soon, though…" The brunet was rambling, jumping from one strand of topic to the next in the same subject but N was paying little mind to the words. The only thing he could hear the other's voice saying was still, My Pokémon on the other hand… they're a lot stronger than me. The possessive was still there, the Pokémon still belonged to Touya… but at the same time, at the same time the boy was not judging his strength based on his Pokémon. And his voice… the brunet sounded so proud, like a parent telling another how well their children were doing. Finally, the ramblings ended. "So, uhm… why?"
N smiled. "Oh, I was just curious… if you would be interested in a battle?" He raised up a Poke ball. "I want to know if they are as strong as you say. And hear their voices…" I want to know what they think of you…
"Uhm… Oshawott?" The brunet asked, looking to the otter Pokémon who gave a determined nod. The creature patted his trainer's head, disturbing strands of brown hair before hopping down to do his most intimidating version of a glare. N chuckled.
"Was your Oshawott just giving you a pep talk?" N inquired, even though he already knew the answer - yes. "Let's go, Purrloin!" And out from the Poke ball came the feline, languidly stretching before getting into a ready stance.
"W-well… battles consist of two pieces… the Pokémon's strength and the trainer's tactics." Touya started, but immediately quieted and seemed to try and divert his attention solely on the battle. The Oshawott gave what probably sounded like a war cry to his trainer's ears, but to N's it was a simple: We can do this! Plural – the trainer and the Pokémon.
At the conclusion of the battle, N was able to surmise three things: One, he needed to get his Purrloin to a Poke Center – she was not hurt too badly, but there was no sense in not being sure. Two, Touya was one of the few trainers that actually needed his Pokémon rather than wanted. The Oshawott was the boy's confidence, always taking a brief pause to assure his trainer that they were doing well. Touya had incredible trust in the Pokémon, and the Pokémon even more phenomenal trust in Touya. The third was that the brunet was a surprising tactician, but only if his Pokémon gave him the okay that he was. He would make a powerful trainer in the literal sense of the word, not the main stream definition.
Pokémon learned from their humans – what was effective, what was not, and when the best time for this or that was. But trainer's had to be dedicated to their Pokemon, to helping them – not using them. If Touya could stand on his own two feet, without Oshawott's assistance, he wondered how much better the Pokémon would have performed. The fact the brunet actually cared about his Pokemon was further expressed in that he was not the one running around challenging people. In short, N was intrigued by the boy. "Wow! You're Purrloin is amazing!" The brunet commented, affectionately petting his Oshawott's head (of who was now happily nibbling on a special treat for doing so well). The otter paused in its munches to make a sound at his trainer ("I'm more amazing!") who laughed. "You're both amazing!" The brunet amended.
The boy could not hear the otter's voice, but the two could still communicate, in a way. The two could never hold a conversation, but the basics could be expressed. More than N could say of most trainers he had met while undercover. "Thank you. Hear that?" He asked, and looked down at the Poke ball his Purrloin was now resting in. "So, mind if I ask why Oshawott isn't in his Poke Ball?"
"Not at all! I just, uhm…" Touya looked to the side, and bit his lower lip as he mulled over his answer. N wondered if the boy was trying to find a good starting place to try and explain himself, only to becoming a blabbering mess all over again. "I just…. Don't know what it's like in there?" The brunet finally offered, looking to the other young man as if he had a better explanation for the brunet's own actions. Both of N's brows went up. "A-and besides… fresh air is good for Pokémon, right? Right, Oshawott?" Now Touya was looking to the Pokémon for confirmation, who nodded once more to assure his trainer. The boy really needed some confidence. Unable to help himself,
"I imagine Pokémon like Trubbish would probably disagree about needing fresh air." N teased, maintaining his smile so the brunet knew there was no offense intended.
"Trubbish? …oh! I completely forgot about them… you're right. Oh, but… I still think it is probably cramped in there. Haven't you ever wondered?"
"How Pokémon fit in here…" Touya trailed, and retrieved one of his Poke ball's– probably an empty one, as Oshawott remained indifferent to its appearance. "It's so small! You know, when I was little I always thought it had something to do with Palkia, because Palkia can distort space and stuff… so I thought, maybe Palkia is involved with the Poke balls? But then I got older and thought, why would Palkia do that? I couldn't think of an answer, and a lot of the books explaining how it works are really, really technical and I don't understand them at all… uhm, am I… am I talking too much?"
"No no, you're fine." N nodded to him, and the brunet gave a relieved smile. In a way, yes the boy was talking too much – but N was finding he did not mind. The thoughts were interesting, and reflected some of the green-haired man's own curiosities when he was not busy. How did Pokémon, regardless of size and weight, fit into Poke balls anyway? His body gave a jolt, as he suddenly came to life and remembered he had Purrloin to tend to. How had I forgotten? He wondered, concern brewing at recollection. "But we – I – should get my Pokémon to a Center. Thank you for the battle and for the… the thoughts." With a nod, N hurried away while the brunet and Oshawott remained standing there. At first the other young man's retreat was so sudden he had little reaction other than to say a quick, "Good bye!" After that though, emotions returned and he suddenly felt panicked.
"I-I was talking too much! Again! Ohh, stupid stupid…!" As he berated himself, his Oshawott reached forward to try and offer a reassuring pat.
"Osha, Oshawott… Osha." Came the otter's words, and his trainer sighed as his shoulders slumped again.
"You're just a good listener." Touya said quietly, putting away his empty Poke Ball so he had a free hand to pet the other with. "That's not a bad thing – but talking too much is. If you talk too much, you never know if someone wants to say something… or if you're taking advantage of a good listener."
"It's not intentional!"
"No – it isn't! I promise! Y-you can interrupt me all you like when I do, though!"
"What's that sigh for? H-hey! Oshawott, that's my hat…! Give it back! P-please?"
"Mmrrmmphh!" But Touya, you don't take advantage of me at all… I like hearing you talk, because I know it means you're comfortable with me. Watching these proceedings, Cheren sighed.
"Touya… that was one strange guy." Cheren muttered, scratching his head as he tried to make sense of what exactly just happened.
"Mmm? Well… he seemed nice enough…" Touya started, but quieted as he tried to figure out how to explain why he thought so to his friend. He knew he should probably start by reminding the other that N had helped him find Oshawott… Cheren walked over and patted the brunet's shoulder, offering a half-smile.
"A bit like Bianca, huh? Strange, but nice. But… I wouldn't worry too much about him. Odds are, you probably won't see him again. Lots of Trainers out there… Anyway – never forget. Trainers and Pokémon help each other out. I think you and Oshawott are doing a great job of that so far." He grinned, and released his hold on the brunet's shoulder so he could start walking away. He gave a small wave. "Listen, I'm going on ahead. I want to battle the Gym Leader – loitering around here wondering about strange guys and the ethics of Pokedexes won't help me with that."
"All right! If you see Bianca along the way, tell her I said hi!" Touya called after his friend, with Oshawott making small sounds in addition to the farewell.
Disclaimer: Do not panic - I do not own Pokemon, nor am I affiliated with it in any way other than being a consumer of its merchandise.
A/N: Mmmm. So yes. This is essentially a "re-imagining" of the game, concentrating predominately on scenes with N and Touya. Through I will sprinkle some scenes that were not in the game, if only to add some spice to prevent this from being stale (not to mention every Pokemon game is going to be different. Just because I am determined to have the coolest Blitzle ever does not mean you want anything to do with a Blitzle - even though Blitzle is an electric zebra of DOOM). Also, I apologize this was a bit awkward - I am not yet accustomed to how to display N and Touya's personalities. Until I am comfortable with them, they'll be a bit stiff. Lastly... I so badly wish to add Bianca/Touko in here. But we shall see how THAT goes...
Minor Edit: I corrected some SERIOUS spelling and word errors. See, the title is both symbolic and an inside joke about the fact I really did write the first chapter in bits and pieces. This final product was my pasting them all together, and some weird issues came up as a result. I just noticed, so this chapter should be clearer now. I also tried to make this more double-spaced, so the text is easier on the eyes.