AN: I didn't give up on this! I just had a hard time writing it, because of the whole camping thing. I'm gonna try my best to make the next chapter take less than a million years, all right? Sorry about that.
I awoke the next morning with Bubbles's face staring at me. I grumbled.
"Have you been watching me all night?"
"No, I've been making sure April doesn't come in and see you as a Ditto. It'd be easier if you didn't have to change back…"
"You can't expect me to pull limitless amounts of energy from nowhere, Bubbles."
The Vaporeon huffed, sitting straight up. "Unfortunately."
I yawned. Then, I began to take on the human shape I was beginning to become accustomed to. I had convinced Bubbles that it was impossible for me to transform for indefinite amounts of time, so he allowed me to take on my original form while I slept. I still felt like a prisoner under his watch, however. Perhaps if I had battle experience, I'd be able to defeat him and get away… though that seemed unlikely.
Once I had finished, I was about to get up to go out of the tent, but the Vaporeon stopped me.
"What is it?" I asked, discontented with the fact that Bubbles had not left me alone since I had revealed my real form to him.
"Humans wear different clothes every day. You should change them," he replied.
I shrugged. I glanced at the small pile of clothing April had bought the day before and "changed into them" the same way I had at the department store. Once I was finished tweaking the clothing, I turned to Bubbles, who nodded, finally satisfied.
"Go on, then," Bubbles said, and he and I walked out the tent's door outside into the grassy clearing.
April was already outside, sitting on a rock next to a small fire. Bubbles was right; she too was wearing different clothing than yesterday. I made my way around the fire to see what she was busy doing and discovered that she appeared to be cooking food.
"Oh, hi Mark!" she said, glancing up from the utensils she held in her hands. "I'm making eggs. How do you like yours?"
"Er…" That was an egg on the… whatever it was? It certainly didn't look like one; it was all white with a yellow center, like a daisy with one, enormous petal all the way around. Regardless, I wasn't very comfortable with eating eggs, out of respect for Nidorina, who was a good friend as well as a mother. I frowned. "Are you sure that's an egg?"
April looked at me as if I were the stupidest thing on the planet. "Of course it's an egg! I mean… how could it not be? My cooking's not that bad, is it?"
Bubbles walked up, slinking around April's legs. "They're not baby Pokémon, if that's what you're concerned about. They're just the eggs Chansey make all the time – for food. Don't worry about it."
I hardly trusted Bubbles, but judging by the size of the "egg" April was cooking I supposed it was too small to be an unborn Pokémon. "Uh… of course not. I'm kidding."
April rolled her eyes. "So, how do you like your eggs?"
"Um…" I glanced at Bubbles again.
He sighed and said, "Sunny side up."
"Sunny side up," I repeated. April nodded and took out another egg from her container of food supplies, cracking it and letting it fall next to the already cooked one. It sizzled upon landing.
Smiling at me, April tapped an adjacent rock. "Why don't you sit down?"
I did so, watching Bubbles weave around his trainer's legs several times until coming to a stop and lying across her feet.
"So," she was trying hard to make conversation, that much I could tell. Well… talking to her wasn't exactly my favourite thing to do, but there didn't seem to be much else to do while one was camping.
"So," I said. "Um… can I ask you something?"
"Hm? Sure," she replied.
I didn't know why I was speaking, but I was. "I've noticed… none of the trainers - or anyone else really - none of them seem to want to catch Ditto… unless they're "Pokédexing", or whatever it's called. Do you, er, know why?"
I suddenly felt extremely embarrassed. Why had I asked that? I already knew why…
"Well, isn't it obvious?" asked April, laughing a bit.
"Hm?" I asked.
She poked at the cooking eggs. "People only catch Ditto for the one thing it's good at – breeding."
I was so taken aback, I nearly fell off the rock I was sitting on. I stared at her. "Wh-what? What are you talking about?" It was all I could manage to stutter out.
She shrugged. "Well, Ditto can breed with practically anything, right? So people catch them to make baby Pokémon. But why are you asking, anyway? Haven't you known that since, like, the first time anyone ever told you about Ditto?" She raised both her eyebrows.
I blinked several times. I had known my species was unpopular with Pokémon trainers, but never in my life had I suspected my species would be subject to something as… as disrespectful as what April had just told me about. I shook my head.
"That can't be right… That just can't be right," I muttered. Bubbles snickered from below.
"What's the big deal?" April asked.
I frowned. She really didn't see anything wrong? But she seemed to be a nicer human than usual… "Well, I just… I don't think the Ditto as a species would appreciate what the humans want with them," I said, a deep disgust invading my voice.
April's eyes softened. "Huh? It's not that cruel, is it? I mean…"
"April, if you were captured and told to mate with several others just because you could, would you think it's okay?" I said, narrowing my eyes at the grass at my feet.
She made a sound in disgust. "Of course not! But Ditto… They're Pokémon, not people… they don't think like us."
I snapped my head back to face her, my mouth opening slightly. "What?"
"Well, their brains are different, right? They wouldn't think the same way a human would," April argued.
I closed my mouth. "Obviously not," I said. I then stood up and began to stalk off in some direction.
I heard April get up and run after me. "Mark! Hey, wait!"
I whirled around. "What?" I asked bitterly.
"Why is this so important to you?" she asked, her voice barely masking a whine.
I didn't answer her.
April huffed and walked right up to me, arms crossed. "Look. I don't know when you became some crazy nut, Mark, but I'm sorry if I offended you. I didn't realize the new Mark was a total tree hugger."
I wanted to continue frowning, but curiosity got the better of me. "Tree hugger?"
"Yeah, I totally understand now. You've changed; it's hard not to notice. You must have had some epiphany or something in a dream, right? So I get it if you want people to be nice to Pokémon. Makes sense."
April was completely off her rocker. I told her so. "You're insane."
"Well then, what brought on this new mindset of yours? Mark, I'm just trying to figure out what had to happen to get someone like you to do a complete one-eighty!" Her eyes were attempting to pierce through me, as if she could figure it out by giving me a hard enough look.
"Someone like me," I said, almost unable to control my urge to scoff. She knew nothing… absolutely nothing…
"Yes, someone like you! The stoner who sat in the back of the room, barely managing a passing grade, who took the first chance he got to run out the door with his Pokémon and never look back! Mark…"
She clenched her fists, her nasty glare suddenly diverting to the ground as her expression began to falter. "I thought I was your friend. Can't you just tell me what happened to you?"
She was upset, I could tell. I heard her sniffling slightly, though she seemed to be trying her best to hide it. I frowned. It wasn't really the fairest thing to do, standing there and hearing her talk to someone who wasn't even there. At the same time, however, I was still as angry as I could be and wasn't exactly about to apologize and tell her the truth.
Had it not been for Bubbles's sharp teeth digging into my leg, the scene would have probably lasted longer.
I winced, uttering a cry in pain. Bubbles had a strong bite, and no amount of shaking off was going to do me much good. I glared at him. "Get off!"
The Vaporeon eyed me, his intentions clear enough even for April to understand. He wasn't letting go. Instead, he held fast, his glare growing more intense by the second.
April moved a few steps towards me, looking quite miserable. "Look, Mark. I'm sorry if I… t-tapped a nerve or something. Please don't be mad at me…"
I turned to look at Bubbles once again, and met with a still angry face. I sighed. I supposed there was no other choice…
"Fine," I said, not really agreeing at all. April and Bubbles lead me back to the campfire and I sat down, resting my chin in my hands. I gave a glance to the eggs, which were horribly burnt as a result of being left unattended. A distraught April began to scrape the spoiled food off of the pan.
"Mark?" she asked after a few moments. "I'd… I'd like to talk to you about what just happened."
I didn't bother looking at her. "No."
"Come on, Mark… I said I was sorry. I just want to know where this is coming from. Just… please, tell me."
What was there to tell? Bubbles would have forbid me from saying anything that would alert her to my non-human origins. There was no possible way to make her understand. None at all.
"…This has something to do with why you don't have any Pokémon with you anymore, doesn't it?" April asked, this time with a little more confidence.
I looked at Bubbles. He scowled. "Just make something up. Mark had all sorts of problems; anything you say would make sense."
Obviously Bubbles wasn't aware of my lackluster lying skills, but with a glare that heavy I knew I had no other choice but to do as he said. Wearily, I turned my gaze to April.
"Have you ever met a Ditto?"
Bubbles took to biting my leg once more as April blinked in confusion. "Uh… no?"
"Well… neither have I," I said, hoping that would make Bubbles loosen his grip. He did, however reluctantly, but his eyes continued to burn at me. "Though, um, I read this book once…"
April laughed, though her tone was still somewhere between upset and nervous. "You read a book?"
…Was that not what humans did in their spare time? Perhaps my story would have more flaws than I thought. "Um, yes. It was a book about, er, a Vaporeon," I said. "And how he belonged to a trainer, and though his trainer cared about him very much, the language barrier caused her to say a lot of things that he found offensive."
Bubbles's expression was now lazily incredulous. "You've got to be kidding me…"
"Are… are you talking about me and Bubbles?" April asked. "You… you think I'm offending him?"
"Anyway," I continued, slowly realizing that my story's point did not relate to my situation at all, "the book said that sometimes, humans take things for granted about Pokémon that they shouldn't. Like Pokémon not thinking the same way. Because I think we're more similar than you think."
Nervously fidgeting her feet, April frowned and said, "So you're saying…"
"Would you ever force Bubbles to mate with someone else just to make a baby Eevee?" I asked.
"No," April answered, looking crestfallen.
"Then why in the world would you ever go and catch a Pokémon just to put them through something like that? Had you raised them, and cared for them like you do with Bubbles, then you would understand that you should never, ever force someone to do anything like that." I felt like I was scolding a small child; April looked incredibly upset. I took that as proof that I had gotten my point through to her.
Feeling one last detail bugging me, I added, "Of course, there is undoubtedly a Ditto somewhere in the world who would be okay with something like that, and I'm just as sure there are humans in the world like that as well. But assuming an entire species would willingly do that is very prejudiced."
April nodded, wiping her eye. "Okay. I get it, Mark. I'm sorry for upsetting you. And Bubbles," she looked at her Vaporeon, "I'm so sorry if I ever hurt your feelings. I love you so much, you know?"
Bubbles's contemplating face instantly brightened as he gave a happy "Vayy!", completely meaningless to both himself and I. For April, however, it was an encouraging sound, something that would most likely keep her happy and bubbly for the rest of the day. And a happy April was better than a sad April, at least in my book.
After finally eating a hearty breakfast (which was really quite tasty; eggs were probably one of the best foods I'd ever eaten in my entire life), April cleaned up and started to dismantle the tents. Assuming we were leaving for elsewhere, I decided to help.
"Where are we going?" I asked while attempting to untie one of Bubbles's knots. It was really quite tight for someone who had only his teeth and no thumbs.
April grinned. "I never thought you'd ask! How do you feel about kayaking?"
"Kayaking" was a completely foreign word to me. "What is that?"
Shaking her head, April sighed. "It's like canoeing."
Well, that was a start. I was aware that a canoe was some kind of boat. I had never been near water deep enough to carry a boat, though, and I hardly knew how to swim. It would be different if I just transformed into Bubbles, but I couldn't exactly do that all of a sudden and expect April not to notice, could I?
I heard Bubbles laughing, and glanced down to my right to see him shaking his head at me.
"Oh, you're in for a wild ride. April is a terrible captain," He grinned evilly.
I frowned. Something in the Vaporeon's eyes told me he was completely and utterly serious.