Woo! Thanks to Zangoose-Kira and Oxenstierna D. Yuki-Rin for reviewing. :3 Hopefully this chapter will be all right! Enjoy! Now that I have some extra time, I should be able to upload a few more chapters.
For the most part, lunch started out smoothly. Edwin and Trudy were getting to know each other quite nicely, I had a seat beside Sidney and Sherri, and the two brothers were talking quietly with each other across the table. Zweilous was asleep, half of his body beneath my chair, the other half beneath Sidney's chair. Absol was sunning himself on the large, flat window sill, while Swellow was being fed affectionately by one of the waitresses.
"So when will we find out which Elite Four member we'll be paired up with?" I asked, taking a swig of my soda. There was nothing like good, cold soda pop slipping down the back of your throat. It was cold enough to jolt you, but not so cold that it hurt. It was a soothing syrup for me, anyway. Sidney was busy pouring himself a little bit from each pitcher, mixing it all together with a spoon, and taste-testing it to decide which flavor he needed more of. He paused in his experimenting to answer my question.
"Well, since Wallace and the other three are waiting for us in Petalburgh, I'd imagine we'll find out when we get to Petalburgh! But there's no rush," he added, stirring the drink mix again, before tossing it back. He gained a disgusted look, shaking his head. "Eh. Too much cherry." He picked up the orange pitcher, pouring a little bit into that to water down the cherry flavor. "Anyway, the Elites pick whichever trainer they like best. The Champion decides right after the names are drawn."
I glanced at the other trainers. "Do you know who the Champion picked?"
"Ya never really can tell with Wallace," Sidney replied, taking another drink of his concoction. With a satisfied expression, he took another swig, and then another.
"If he's anything like Alder, he'll be a handful for the lucky trainer that becomes his pupil," I remarked, shaking my head.
"Wallace is cool, don't get me wrong. He's just a little strange, but I guess all of us Hoenn natives are." He wiggled his eyebrows, setting the glass down on the table. "What I think is gonna be rough on you five is the fact that you have to catch all new pokemon to be able to compete in the tournament. You're only allowed to keep one of your current pokemon on your team. But then again, that's how you prove your strength. Know anything about Hoenn pokemon?"
"Not really," I replied, brow furrowing.
"Then this'll really be a test of strength," said the Elite, folding his arms.
Before I could give a reply, something very hard and very swift connected with my shin, making me jump at least five feet, bumping the table. Kat shot me a dirty look from across the table, a look intensified by his brother. If looks could kill... Let's just say, it wouldn't have been a pretty end for me. Trudy stopped short, turning to look at me with a quirked eyebrow, frowning. "Butch? What was that?"
"I'm not sure," I admitted, face turning bright red. It was like a mushroom cloud spreading across my face - I knew because I could feel the heat seeping through my cheeks. "Pardon me for one moment." I ducked under the table, looking beneath my chair to see if Zweilous was playing around, but the dual type was sound asleep, his wings twitching occasionally. I returned to my original position, shaking my head.
Kat snorted, rolling his eyes as he turned back to his brother, resuming his speech in a low tone of voice.
"You okay?" Sidney's eyebrow was quirked, like Trudy's.
"I think so." I reached down to rub my shin, only to feel the same hard, swift...whatever it was, slam into my hand. "For the love of-!" I pulled my hand away, nursing it as another mushroom cloud of crimson burst across my face. This time, even Sherri turned to look at me, her expression skeptical. "I swear, I'm not screwing around." I gestured to the big red splotch on the back of my hand, which thankfully wasn't the bandaged one.
"Really, if you're just trying to get attention," Kat started, folding his arms. Something flashed behind his eyes, something twitched at the corners of his mouth. A smile?
"I'm not, really!" I scoffed in frustration, an exasperated sigh accompanying it.
"Maybe it's Zweilous," Edwin offered, glancing at my chair.
"It's not - he's sound asleep!" I responded, rubbing my hand. "Oww... That really freaking hurt..." The rest of the group returned to what they had been doing for the second time in the span of five minutes. "That's weird..." I wondered if maybe I was just having some freakish muscle spasm, which scared me a little bit, so I slid my hands into my pockets to avoid hitting someone in the face.
Sidney gave me a sideways glance. "You sure you're okay? We can always get Nurse Joy to take a look at ya..."
"No, I'm fine." I dismissed the offer, shaking my head again. "I think it's just some weird little spasm. Like when you're just sitting there and then suddenly your leg or something starts to..." I trailed off when I felt something rubbing up against my foot, making me jerk it backwards to avoid the contact. I looked under the table, only to see that everything seemed to be in order. No one's feet were in my own little bubble of space. "I think I'm going insane."
"Well, that's cool," Sidney stated, a strange expression on his face. "I've never met anyone that can go from fine to insane in twenty seconds."
Kat glanced at me once more, although he continued speaking to Jayden as he did so. "Why do you keep looking over here?" I snapped, rubbing my forehead exasperatedly.
"I'll stop when you stop acting like a freak."
"I'm not acting like a freak - I'm just..." I didn't have any other way to describe it, though. This freakish occurrence.
"Fight nicely, children," Sidney practically chirped, as if he was interested in the tension between Kat and me.
I started to say something else, when the touchy feely thing came in contact with my foot again. I tried to move my chair backwards to get away from it, only to have it backfire horribly, since I had failed to remember that Zweilous was still perched beneath my chair. The pokemon screeched when the legs of the chair started to force themselves upon him, so he scrambled out from his safe haven, snapping his jaws blindly. It took a moment for me to steady the chair, to recover from the surprise, but it gave me enough of an opening to see another foot sliding back under the table.
"Kat!" I was practically steaming, my hands balling up in my pockets.
"What?" His reply was indignant, yet I could see that cocky flash behind his eyes.
I paused, my brow knitting as I thought to myself for a moment. There are always better ways to get back at Kat. So I merely sighed, rubbing my temples, almost crushing them beneath my fingertips as I tried to cool myself off. "Nothing; nevermind..." Another indignant snort followed as he turned back to his brother, who seemed completely oblivious to what was going on around him anymore, astutely focused on the conversation with his brother. With another sigh, I looked over to Zweilous, whose wings were arched and heads tilted to the sides, his blindness getting the best of him.
Pulling the berry pouch from my pocket, I plucked a few out to lure Zweilous back towards the chair. Sidney swallowed another bout of the soda pop, watching as the dual type eased himself towards me. It reminded me of the first time I had seen him, running around, slamming into walls. It had taken Cinccino's Cute Charm ability and a few tries with the use of the move attract, but eventually we lured him into a corner and caught him.
"Which pokemon d'you plan to keep on your team?" Sidney questioned, setting his glass down.
"I don't know," I answered, feeding the berries to Zweilous quickly so he wouldn't bite at my fingers. "Maybe I'll use Empoleon, since we've been together so long. Why?"
"You should keep Zweilous," he replied, sounding very sure of himself, yet still with that same casual assurance he always seemed to carry about himself. "That way you'll be able to trust each other. After all, there's no better trial of trainer and pokemon than facing new tasks." I had a sneaking suspicion that he was thinking of Absol, but didn't think to ask him, nor did I have the mind to.
"Are you sure?" I didn't know why I was asking this question, I thought, mentally facepalming.
"Completely." It was another sure reply from the master of dark types.
I looked back down to Zweilous, whose two heads were fighting with each other. "I watched a show on the Pokedex Channel where they featured Hydreigon and its evolutionary relatives... Hydreigon have three heads, but the two that act as its hands don't have brains."
After lunch, our small group meandered our way towards the beach, which was dotted here and there by tubers and their Marill. There was a small little shop at the end of the beach, which, as Sidney explained it, was a place people battled, with the winner receiving soda pop. Docked on the shore was another boat, which made my stomach churn, especially considering that this one was smaller and therefore closer to the water. Bleck.
"This trip won't take as long as the last one," Sidney remarked, walking towards the boat with his hands in his pockets. "I usually sleep in the spare quarters below deck."
"Sleep sounds wonderful," Sherri chimed in listlessly, yawning and stretching. Trudy traded glances with me, as if sending that silent message that a new personality was showing itself. "I can never seem to get enough sleep..." Her wide green eyes were sleepy now, lids half closed, a Roserade having appeared at her side. It seemed as if she even had pokemon that each personality preferred.
"Well, this is the best way to get a little Skitty-nap in," Sidney added, nodding. As if right on cue, a tall, curly haired man (although his hair was crushed down and poofed out on the sides by his hat) leaned over the railing of the boat. He had a wildness about him that danced in his eyes like shadows dance across the walls, or like flames of a campfire licking upward as they consume the darkness of night. It was far different from the other captain; he was stiff and restricted, but this one... I shuddered at the thought that maybe this wouldn't be such a smooth ride.
The steps up to the boat were lowered, although it wasn't too far off from the ground. We piled up the steps with Sidney leading the way, Absol right behind him, its soft footfalls echoing his own. I had recalled Zweilous back to his pokeball, even though now I found myself mulling over the Elite's words, stirring up the desire to strengthen the dragon-and-dark type. I still had a pouchful of berries, and that was how my mother had trained Lillipup, by rewarding it with berries when it did something good.
Speaking of mom... I needed to call her when we reached Petalburgh. My mind shot in all sorts of different directions now, exacerbating my headache, so as we traveled across the water, I rubbed my temples, despising the thought of the blue, blue water around me, all the while enjoying that salty sea breeze. There was something about that sea breeze, a something that made the trouble of traveling by boat worthwhile.
"Butch..." The voice brought me out of my silent reverie; I tilted my head up with a questioning look, only to find Trudy standing before me.
"Oh. Hey. What's up?" I moved over so that she could sit on one of the crates beside me. With light, feathery steps, she came to the crates and took her seat, settling in comfortably as she glanced over her shoulder at the glittering water, reflecting the clouds.
"What was all of that at lunch today?" she queried, her brown eyes scrutinizing my countenance for a silent answer.
"I'm not really sure," was all that I could begin with. After a brief pause, I continued, "I think Kat was kicking me, though."
She quirked an eyebrow. "Are you positive that it wasn't Zweilous? Edwin had a point, after all."
I shook my head fervently. "No, no; it wasn't Zweilous. He was sleeping like a baby beneath my chair, and besides, it felt like I was being kicked, and I saw someone's foot sliding back under the table. I'm sure that if it was Kat - assuming it's not because I'm just insane - he was only doing it to make me look like an idiot." Trudy sat and thought for a moment, digesting my explanation.
"I suppose," she finally answered; however, it seemed as if my testimony had not sufficed.
"Trudy - it's not important. Whatever the cause, it's over now. Besides, I've been meaning to ask you what you think of Edwin." I hadn't expected the swift change of subject to fly with her; yet, as soon as I said his name her cheeks lit up with a bright shade of pink, one I'd never seen on her before, which surprised me. "I assume that you like him, then?" Her palms flew to her cheeks, covering her blush.
"Well, he's nice, and - oh, I think he's smart, too; he would be a good choice for holder of a pokedex - that and the fact that he..." She trailed off, her blush only intensifying, visible through her fingers as it spilled across the rest of her face. "Why don't we talk about something else - like a good book, or our pokemon? I haven't met yours and you've not met mine..."
I smiled at her sheepishly lost expression, her hands twitching between her pokeball belt and her tinted cheeks as she rose from her seat on the crate beside me. "It's fine," I responded, waving my hand. "We don't have to talk about Edwin anymore if you don't want to." She seemed relieved at my words, even though her hands still strayed between the belt and her cheeks.
As if some other force were at work in Trudy's favor, Sidney appeared from below deck, making a gesture for us to come towards him. "We're almost to Petalburgh. It'll only be a few more minutes. Could you tell the boys for me? I have no idea where they are." Before we even answered, the pink tuft of hair was disappearing below, receding into the depths of the boat once more.
"He certainly has some faith in people," Trudy commented, shaking her head.
"I want to be trained by Sidney," I told her, standing up. "He seems cool. That, and he's already helped me out with Zweilous."
"You'll need all the help you can get when it comes to the little devil, especially when he evolves," Trudy agreed as we started off to find the boys. "Hydreigon aren't the most well-tempered pokemon. The brainless heads don't help, either. They'll just snap at you, whether or not Hydreigon sends the signal to do so or not."
"It's going to be very interesting..." I admitted, more to myself than to Trudy. To tell the truth, I was afraid of Zweilous. Despite the feeling of pride towards him that sometimes stirred itself up in the pit of my stomach, I was aware of a fear towards him that felt natural and completely unnatural at the same time. Natural - I deemed it so because it felt like the effervescent instinct of preservation had appeared within me. He was a dangerous pokemon, one that could easily snap, still wild at heart. Yet, I found it to be unnatural nonetheless because we were partners, and partners are supposed to coincide with each other well, to trust one another, and trust for him was something I lacked.
We rounded a corner, spying Edwin first, who was perched at the railing, looking down at the various water-dwelling pokemon which we came upon since the boat was in more shallow water. Kat and Jayden were tucked in a corner, hidden by a shadow, speaking in the same low voices as before. I wanted to know what they were discussing, to know what was running through their minds, or at least Kat's, but I let it go as I walked towards them, breaking from Trudy for a moment.
"We're almost to Petalburgh," I started, only to stop a few paces away from them.
"All right," Kat replied hastily, dismissing me with the wave of his large hand. Had I been closer to him, I could have sworn that I saw flecks of sweat on his forehead and an unfamiliar nervousness in his usually caustic auburn eyes. Jayden spared a glance backwards, his dark eyes and stiff expression sending chills down my spine, enough to make the sea breeze suddenly uncomfortable, making me shiver.
"Is everything okay?" I couldn't resist asking, or taking another step forward, for that matter. Jayden's eyes immediately flicked away, locking with his brother's, whose eyes darkened with something akin to fear mixed with anger.
"Yes, everything is fine; now leave. We're trying to have a private conversation."
I stepped back, drawing away from them, shaking my head. Turning on my heels, I felt one of the pokeballs on my belt twitch slightly, the beast inside itching to escape. Zweilous wanted out, and if I didn't let him out, he would force his way out. Panicking slightly, I fumbled for the ball on my belt, second-guessing myself as to whether or not it was a good idea to let him loose like this. To remedy this fear, I dug my fingers into the berry pouch, readying myself to lure him closer and keep him calm.
The bright red light materialized to become Zweilous, who I was quick to bait with the berries. He took to them well, scarfing them down wholly. I don't even think he bothered to chew or taste them; he just swallowed them and purred for more. If purring is even the right word, I don't know - the sound that rumbled from within his chest sounded pleased enough.
As I crouched there, timidly stroking his wings and necks, I looked out towards the fast-approaching land. It seemed like a comfortable place to live, what with a fisherman lazily sitting on the sand, casting his line into the water. Trudy and Edwin had immersed themselves in the water types, while Kat and Jayden continued their secretive conversation. Sherri, I guessed, was still 'Skitty-napping' as Sidney had put it. I wondered how much longer it would be until we docked, relieved at the idea of dry land.
My wondering ceased after only a few minutes, for we slowly pulled up beside the dock, gaining the attention of the fisherman. Sidney and the captain appeared soon after, followed by a still sleepy Sherri, who corrected Trudy, saying that her name wasn't Sherri, but Emily. I got to my feet, taking my eyes off of Zweilous for but a moment to survey our surroundings a little more thoroughly, excited to see another new town.
Sherri, or Emily, as she was called now, approached me, stopping beside me to follow my gaze, yawning quietly. "I wonder where we'll be sleeping tonight... I hope the beds are comfy..." She stared off into the distance dreamily, her Roserade wearing a serene expression.
"You're making me sleepy," I said, her yawning becoming contagious. "It's not even two o'clock yet."
Emily simply laughed, her eyes moving between Roserade, the shore, and me. I glanced down at her Roserade, my own eyes shifting over to Zweilous, expecting to see him there, waiting for another berry or to see his two heads fighting. However, he wasn't right behind me like he had been just a few moments earlier. Instead, he was behind a rather unsuspecting Kat, his lips seemingly curled back into a pair of devious little smiles.
"Zweilous, wait-" I turned on my heels, ready to bolt towards him, but before I could even make a move, Zweilous had knocked Kat clean off of the deck, right over the railing. There was collective gasp as even Sidney's eyebrows shot up, my feet carrying me to that end of the deck, one hand coming to Zweilous' wing to pull him back, gaining a nip at the hand, which I ignored. Jayden leaned over the railing, as did I, my heart racing, waiting for Kat to surface, pangs of fear striking me throughout. A hundred different things probably crossed my mind in the time span of seconds, just watching the surface of the water, until finally - finally, he surfaced.
I let out a sigh of relief, my hand at my forehead, the panic subsiding. At once, the captain was beside us, checking to see if the trainer that had gone overboard was all right.
"Butch!" Kat's fist came down on the water, sending it splashing and rippling once more. He had a few choice words for not only Zweilous, but for me as well for letting the thing get so close to him.
"Sorry..." I tried to apologize, only to sound feeble like a lost child. I turned to Zweilous, who was snickering, both heads having grins plastered to their faces. This time, when I recalled him to his pokeball, I ignored the twitching. I didn't feel like making the same mistake twice. Jayden whipped around, moving towards the now-lowered set of steps, eager to retrieve his brother from the water. I followed suit, with Trudy, Sidney, and Edwin just behind.
The fisherman assisted with getting Kat out of the water, even offering the sopping wet boy his jacket. Kat just shook his head, his shirt stuck to his frame, his hair a mess. Sidney had me wait a few yards away, something I didn't protest to. It was probably best just not to get involved or risk making things worse. As I stood and watched the others help Kat, a shadow cast over me - literally. I turned my eyes just slightly, only to see a rather tall figure towering over me.
"This is why you never take your eyes off of a pokemon you don't trust, not even for a second." Dressed in a cape, wearing no shirt, accompanied by boots, and tattered looking pants with a sea captain's hat stood a very imposing looking man. His arms were crossed, his expression scrutinizing. I averted my gaze, scratching my head, suddenly finding my shoes so very interesting.
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