Okay so I'd like to thank two of my rev- oh wait, my ONLY two reviewers for their support! Especially ampplaca1 who actually pm'd me! Thanks for the encouragement! and here's the next chapter!
Nine Years Later
A single maple leaf drifted down from the sky, separating itself from its warm colored nest among the branches of a great maple tree. Floating and twirling as a small summer breeze blew through the air, the single leaf glowed in the sunlight, seeming to bask in its flight of freedom. And it glided. It was swept away from the tree, away from the branch, and away from the never ending sea of duplicates.
Sharp green eyes tracked the leaf's twisted path through the wind, watching every sudden drop or loop in its journey. Finally, the leaf landed softly on a bed of raven locks, highlighted against the black backdrop. Small fingers reached above it, gripping it softly on the stem, before lifted it against the sun.
Anastasia examined the maple leaf above her, outlined by the light streaming from the crest of the sky. Her eyes traced the journey of each small vein twisting just beneath the surface, before glancing at the tree right above her. No doubt the thing had come from there. How odd. The leaves weren't supposed to start their journey down till autumn.
"Anastasia, you know you're mother doesn't like you doing this." The girl ignored the small Riolu laying next to her, still too caught up in staring at the leaf above her. It was an oddball that was for sure, and even as she squinted at it closer she could see a small notch at the tip of the leaf.
"Do you even care?" the small Pokémon pressed on, but by the glazed look in his eyes Anastasia could tell he didn't care much either. So she merely shrugged and blew softly at the leaf, allowing it to continue its journey when a stronger breeze blew through the clearing, carrying it away.
The leaf, amusingly enough, was only carried far enough to land in the center of the Riolu's forehead. Scowling up at it, Riolu quickly brushed it off before turning his head to completely face his friend. "You could give me a response that was at least one syllable you know. Those aren't too difficult to form, I hear."
Anastasia shrugged off the obvious sarcasm. You already know I don't care. What else do you want me to say? Her soft, bell-like voice echoed through her friend's mind in a bored tone that gave nothing away.
"Well, look at that! I got a whole sentence, it's a miracle!" Riolu gasped in feigned surprise, throwing his paws up dramatically. The Pokémon, if anything, had a mouth on him. That combined with his never ending wit and wonderfully bright personality pushed other Pokémon away from him like a plague.
The girl didn't reply, instead she merely rolled her eyes and continued to bask in the warmth of the sun, and revel in the solitude of the forest.
It wasn't often she was able to escape away and come to the forest like this, at least not as often as she would have liked. It was only due to her mother's inference that she didn't actually live out here, but she still made it priority to come as often as possible.
For nine years she'd been coming here and over that time, not much had changed. The same strong oaks stood in the same places, their branches only extending so far out that it left a natural skylight forming in the center of the small clearing. A few newer and smaller bushes marked the passage of time, but not much else had changed. No, nothing had changed, but something was missing.
"You know she's not going to show up." It wasn't a question; it was a statement, plain and blunt as usual. She scowled. Riolu had an annoying habit of knowing exactly where her thoughts were straying and having the perfect timing at interrupting them. And judging by the look on his face, he knew it too.
And you know I don't really care. Not about that or about what my mother thinks. She replied sharply, rolling over on her side to ignore him. Was it childish? Yes. But again, did she care? No.
Riolu sighed heavily, but made no move to talk to her again. He knew by know that his nagging was just an empty act, simply going through the motions so later he could shrug and say Hey- I tried.
Anastasia curled a bit in on herself before turning back over to face Riolu. I really thought she'd come this year. She let her small thought echo through clearing, startling several dozing Pokémon out of their slumber.
Riolu heaved another sigh "Me too…me too. But," the small dog Pokémon sat upright and stretched out before hopping to his feet and trotting over to where Anastasia still lay down, "we still have to head back sometime today, and who knows what kind of tongue lashing your mom's gonna give you." He shuddered comically a bit at the thought.
Anastasia glanced up at the hand her friend was holding out to for a second, before sighing and letting Riolu pull her off of the ground. Okay, we'll go back. But just know that you're the one she's going to give a lashing to. Remember, she thinks that you're the responsible one between the two of us.
He snorted as they started their trek through a well worn path out of the clearing. "I wonder why? It's not like you go disappearing into dangerous Pokémon infested woods every other day-" A thin, whip-like branch snapped into his face, abruptly cutting off his sentence. He scowled at Anastasia's deceptively blank face as he sped up to keep pace with the girl's slightly longer strides. "See what I mean? Very mature Anastasia."
She didn't reply beyond a slight twitch at the corner of her mouth, instead starting to hum a soft tune. She ducked under familiar branches and leapt over several large tree trunks in her path, smiling and nodding at any and all Pokémon that crossed her path, though she never spoke to them. Then again, she rarely 'spoke' to anyone anymore.
Anastasia took the quickest path, she knew the woods by heart, and soon the trees began to thin out rapidly before cutting off altogether into an open grassy field with a bright blue sky overhead. On a slight hill a few meters ahead, a small cottage completed the scenic "cottage in the woods" view. To her though, it was generic and a little more than dull; nothing like the quiet mystery of the woods surrounding her house.
Anastasia grimaced at the sight of smoke puffing out of the stone chimney and glanced up at the sun. Crap. It was higher than she suspected. That meant her mom was home.
"Thought you didn't care Anastasia?" And there was Riolu, picking up on her every little thought again. How annoying.
She glared at him and snapped Now who's being childish? Ignoring his still present smirk, she fixed her face into an expressionless mask. Usually this was the best method when dealing with her mom; or anybody for that matter.
Anastasia reached the back of the house and glanced through the back window. Mary Whitford was facing away from her, looking for the most part as if she were laboring over dinner. Taking the old band-aid advice into account, Anastasia quickly and as coolly as possible opened the back door and stepped through the door, rubbing her dirty tennis shoes against the floor mat, looking to the entire world as if nothing was wrong.
Riolu followed after her, glancing briefly at Mary, before seating himself at the table next to his companion. They both sat in silence for a moment, letting Mary undoubtedly stew for a bit longer before the inevitable and metaphorical "bubble to burst" and-
"So how was your day Ana?"
-officially come crashing down in the most anti-climatic way possible. Riolu, who had previously been covertly covering his ears with his paws in preparation, blinked dumbfounded at Anastasia. "Eh?"
It was…fine She stated hesitantly, eyeing her mother. This was it? No Mary-famous-tongue-lashing? No grounding from the woods or reading for a month? She sniffed quickly at the food sitting on the counter, suspicion floating in her eyes. Had her mom taken something?
Mary smiled and turned to her daughter, "That's wonderful sweetheart. Dinner will be ready in a few, Can you set the table?" Before Anastasia had a chance to reply, her mom had turned back to the food over the oven, a silent dismissal.
Anastasia frowned a bit, but stepped out of her chair and began rummaging through the cabinets for dishes anyway. While her mom was acting unusual, the silent dismissal made it clear that she was not getting away with her little adventure. Far from it.
She handed off the plates to Riolu and scrutinized her mother. The woman seemed nervous, not angry though. The nervous clicking of her nails against the spatula made it obvious enough and she constantly shifted from one foot to another, as if debating over something. If there was one 'social' thing Anastasia was proficient at, it was reading people.
She glanced at Riolu. The Pokémon twitched his head in her mother's direction.
Anastasia narrowed her eyes, and firmly shook her head no. Riolu glared and jerked at Mary again stubbornly motioning yes. Soon, both of them were involved in a fierce battle of wills, Ana not willing to actually instigate a conversation and Riolu determined to know what the heck was going on.
"All right you two," Riolu jumped a bit in surprise while Anastasia just looked at her mother, "how about we all just sit down for dinner without fighting for once," Mary sighed and motioned for everyone to sit down while she served the food.
The small family sat around the table and ate in silence, the apparent taboo subject hanging in the air. The meal was…awkward at best and as soon as she had finished, Anastasia hopped up from her seat and motioned for Riolu to follow her out.
"Ana," she turned to her mom. The woman had stopped eating entirely, not that she had been eating much during the meal to begin with, and was wringing her hands around the fabric of her skirt. "Please come and sit down. There's something we need to discuss."
Slowly, Anastasia lowered herself into the seat, and waited for her mother to continue. "First, Ana, the woods…" she trailed off tiredly. Obviously, they had been through the motions a fair number of times.
Mother you knew I would be in the woods today. I go every year. Anastasia's thoughts drifted for the first time, and once again studied Mary's shifting eyes. And that's not what you want to talk about, is it?
Mary was caught off guard at her daughter's blunt jab at breaching the subject. Though, she supposed she should be used to it by now. The girl had a way with words after all.
"No," she sighed, "It isn't. You're almost thirteen Anastasia. You're father was twelve when he left on his Pokémon journey and," she paused, looking down at Anastasia's dangerously blank face, "He had hoped you'd do the same."
It was rare that Anastasia was ever caught off guard, and even when she was she rarely showed it. Her cool, expressionless face irked most people to no end and it became something of a sport to the rest of the youth in Twinleaf town and the areas surrounding it to see who could get the best reaction from that strange 'Psychic' girl down the road. Until recently no one had ever accomplished in extracting anything remotely resembling an emotion, due to the combined efforts of Riolu chasing them off with a vicious force palm and Anastasia's normal charming demeanor.
Of all the people that would finally make her crack, Anastasia had certainly not expected it to be her mother. No, she was fairly certain it would be Anthony Rogers. The kid never shut up.
As her increasingly widening green eyes stared blankly at her mother, Anastasia was certain she should've inspected her mother's food closer. She had to have taken something. Riolu next to her was similarly sitting agape, at a loss for words.
Y-you want me to go on a journey? Her thought process even missed a step, her echoed tones escaping louder than she meant them to judging y her mother's wince. Like dad? The last thought drifted across almost as an afterthought, whispering quietly.
That was the heart of the issue after all, the reason for the twisting and long since buried nervous ticks of her mother's. They, as a family, had not truly or openly discussed Mark Whitford for over six years. Seven, she automatically corrected herself, almost five years since he had disappeared in exactly a week. He left on business, leaving with nothing but an "I'll be home faster than Rapidash."
He never came back.
The cheerful attitude in the house all but vanished in the following days. Mark's employer had called saying that Mark had never shown up to begin with and after months of the resident officer Jenny searching, they just…stopped.
Mary started work back up again, finding a small job at the Poke center to provide some extra money for her and her daughter. They had enough saved up that they would never be in want, but that was never the real problem.
Anastasia became even more withdrawn than she had before. Her brief spout of excited communication with her new talent all but stopped, and she began spending hours in the woods alone. When she never came home one night, Mary frantically searched throughout dawn, and when she had finally found the girl curled up with her Riolu in the notch of a tree, had collapsed and pulled her into her arms, weeping. After that, she forbade any more excursions into the forest. It never really worked out.
"You're father had already discussed you going on a journey, even right after you were born for Lugia's sake. It was the first thing he said," she smiled faintly at a memory. "We had both agreed that by your twelfth birthday, you'd be long gone, seeing the world with your own eyes." Mary drew a deep, shuddering breath and looked Anastasia in the eyes. "It's a bit late I know, but, I'd at least like to keep my promise to him on one thing."
Sharp green eyes gave nothing away, and a pale face remained likewise blank. The silence drew on for a few minutes before Anastasia stood up slowly and walked calmly to her room, Riolu trailing after the short girl by habit. Even after Mary heard the room farthest down the hall close softly, no emotion betrayed, she remained frozen at in her seat.
She brought her hands up to cover her face, breathing deeply before she stood and robotically began to clean the table of the nearly uneaten dinner. She knew this was unexpected, in fact she had not even thought of it until she had come home to an empty house, and missing hiking boots by the back door. That had been, perhaps, the straw that broke the camel's back.
Even after her mind had been made up, she still hesitated on how to tell her daughter. Mary never knew how the girl would react, but she had a guess.
And it turned out to be dead right. Maybe she knew Anastasia better than she thought.
Her mind was a whirlwind of thoughts and carefully concealed emotions, inducing a headache worse than when she was surround by crowds of people's thoughts. Laying face up on her back, Anastasia didn't even see the blank ceiling that she her eyes were listlessly focused on. Instead, her mind was flashing back and forth between the few memories she had left of her father.
The man was the metaphorical keystone to their odd little family, his humor and easygoing attitude keeping the peace and comfort close in the home. Anastasia was always faintly annoyed with her father's rambunctious behavior, his acting more childish than she was, and had ever been. But deeper than that shallow pond, she admired her father and loved him deeply.
To know that he had wanted an adventure like- that- for her was beyond comprehension. When she was a child, if she ever strayed beyond his sight, Mark Whitford usually became a weeping mess of parental worry, even more so than her mother. Oddly enough though, he didn't have many issues with the Pokémon in the surrounding forests that her mother had- still has.
She let her mind wander to what had prompted her mother's suggestion. Yes, it was probably a combination of it being one of her father's last ideas for her future, but her mom would have held no reservations about keeping that information to herself, Anastasia was certain. So what was it?
"It was probably because she saw you had snuck off to the woods again," Riolu commented idly from his seat at the foot of her bed. Anastasia raised a brow at him and he shrugged nonchalantly, "You were broadcasting. And you know what it does to her when she sees you gone every other day when she gets home." He snorted, "Honestly I'm surprised she hasn't locked you up in a panic room by now."
She's doing the exact opposite in fact Anastasia tossed the thought at him. But, I'm not concerned about that. My only question is why now? If there was one thing she couldn't stand (which there were actually a multitude of things she couldn't stand) it was not understanding something.
Riolu shrugged again. "Like I said, it was probably finding you gone again. The 'last straw' if you will. And you know that several of the kids in Twinleaf town are going to start their journeys tomorrow. That's probably why she brought it up tonight."
Anastasia sat up and quirked her head quizzically at her friend. What do you think, Riolu, about going on a journey?
"It doesn't really matter what I think. You're too stubborn to care either way." The Pokémon crossed his arms and looked away nervously. His deep maroon eyes shifted back to her soon though, an unfamiliar emotion filtering through them. "But… I think you should go. Be honest, the only reason you haven't left yet was because of Mew, and she's obviously not coming back."
She scowled and flopped back onto her bed, glaring up at the ceiling. You don't know that. The thought was sharp and angry, but at the same time held doubt in the undertones. She could come back next year.
Riolu smirked. "There's that stubborn streak. I told you what I said wouldn't make a difference." But all the same, the dog Pokémon sighed and scooted further towards the sulking girl. "Look Anastasia," And immediately the girl flicked her eyes at him. He never called her by her full name. Not anymore. "Mew hasn't come for the past few years, four now actually, and she probably won't again. If you think about it logically (which was the only way you ever think) the best chance we might have at finding Mew is to go looking for her." Riolu gave her a toothy grin, "And I know you wouldn't mind leaving on a journey. The village kids annoy the Mankey out of you as it is."
Anastasia roller her eyes at Riolu's jab, but didn't deny it. If she was honest with herself, and she usually was brutally so, she would love to go on a journey. Being cooped up in a small village, the same faces passing by and mocking every day got old, real fast. Add that to the fact that she had always been naturally curious, and loved Pokémon more than people, and she got one recipe for a trainer on the go.
Riolu could tell he was wearing her down, but he knew that the choice was ultimately hers and no force on earth could make her change her mind. "Just think about it okay?" He asked softly, sliding down the side of her bed and onto the floor.
Anastasia didn't reply, but instead pushed herself under the covers and curled up into their warmth. Riolu flicked the lights to her room off, before snuggling into his own hand made bed on the window seat.
A few minutes later Anastasia saw the lights to the hallway shut off and heard heavy footsteps drag their way to the room across from hers. Obviously, Mary had been waiting for her daughter to reappear with an answer, but Anastasia was determined to think this through thoroughly. Mary's buzzing nervousness and curiosity would just have to wait.
The black night enveloped most of her senses and quickly soothed her with its embrace, but Anastasia knew she would be getting little, if any sleep at all that night.
Mary glanced up at the clock nervously the next morning for the thirteenth time. Huh she thought ironically the same age Ana will be if she decides to go. As soon as it popped into her head, Mary glanced at the slow ticking clock again, this time for the fourteenth time.
Mary had had a sleepless night, not as bad as the few she had had after her husband's disappearance or Anastasia's first escape, but still a small enough amount to make dark circles appear under her eyes. As soon as the sun's morning rays had seeped through her window, she was up throwing a robe on and heading stealthily for the kitchen, hoping her daughter would be there.
She knew it was a baseless hope, for Anastasia avoided the morning like the plague, if it was possible. After all, she couldn't sneak off to go to her favorite pastime or whatever she did in the woods until her mother had left in the afternoon, and years of developing those sleeping habits had a detrimental effect on the girl's mood in the morning, if it had ever been good to begin with.
But still she found herself sitting in the largest and comfiest chair in the living room adjourning the kitchen, a steaming cup of coffee clutched nervously in her hands as she watched her daughter's bedroom door like a Noctowl.
Anastasia always kept her bedroom door closed; another quirk to her extreme introverted personality, and literately hissed at anyone who tried to prevent her from doing otherwise. So Mary had no idea whether or not her daughter was pacing around the room (which she highly doubted from the composed almost thirteen year old) or merely sleeping in late.
She glanced at the clock again. Thirteen till Eleven. She nearly laughed at the mocking device ticking back and forth at her.
At a tiny squeak, her head whipped around to see her daughter walking out of her room, still dressed in pajamas. So she had been sleeping after all. Though if she was awake this early, it must've meant that she didn't have the best of nights either, not that her daughter showed it. Her skin was its usual flawless ivory, no purple bags under her eyes and her raven black hair was meticulously pulled into a low Ponyta-tail, not a strand out of place.
She glanced once at her mother, before moving to the kitchen to grab herself a cup of coffee, straight black unlike Mary who had loaded hers down with sugar and cream.
Finally, she sat down on the sofa to the left of her mother's armchair, blowing over the rising steam of her cup. "So Ana," Mary prompted after a moment of silence, "have you decided?"
Riolu trudged out of their shared bedroom and plopped down at the foot of couch. "Riolu Rio Lou Ri Lo," he muttered and Anastasia shot him a brief look of annoyance before settling her cool gaze on her mother once more.
Yes, I'll go.
Mary felt the relief wash over her and soon it was replaced by a novel and surprising rising of excitement. Her baby was going on her own journey! A wider grin than she could ever remember having split her face so much that it almost hurt. Practically dropping her cup on the side table, Mary snatched her daughter's wrists and began leading her back to her bedroom.
"Well then what are we waiting for? You've got to go get ready as soon as possible!" She chirped happily. This was actually happening! Everything she and Mark had once talked about was coming true!
Anastasia deadpanned. This early?
"Oh and while you're getting ready, I'll start packing you're backpack with all of the necessities you'll need. I once went on a journey you know, it's how I met your father in fact, even though mine was a bit short lived-"
"-I know exactly what you need. A sleeping bag, money- yes a lot of money for food, you can't be lugging tons around all the time- and you'll need to go visit Professor Rowan as soon as possible or all of the starter Pokémon will be taken-"
Mom, I don't need to visit Professor Rowan for a Pokémon. Riolu's obviously coming with me. Mary finally heard her daughter and stopped short of stuffing her through the bathroom door to look at her questioningly.
"What do you mean? Of course you need to visit Professor Rowan, if for nothing else other than supplies."
And those supplies don't require me to be there two hours before I even get up do they? Anastasia's face was as grumpy as Mary had ever seen it and Mary had to chuckle at it. It was the most emotion her girl ever usually expressed and it had probably more to do with her overeager nagging than her lack of sleep.
"I suppose not Ana. But," she waved her finger threateningly at her daughter, "I will come and get you in an hour at most anyways, so you might as well get a head start. The early bird catches the worm after all."
Did that bird happen to be a psychic that could sense the worm at any time of the day?
Then I don't see a reason in getting up this early.
Riolu watched the mother-daughter stare down from a safe distance away, making sure he was out of range from any sparks that might fly from their gazes. Grinning, he made a silent bet on which one of the two headstrong females would win. He went with the safest bet.
Anastasia kept her cool mask on as she exited her house from the front door at twelve o'clock exactly, but anyone who knew her well enough, meaning Riolu, would tell by the glint in her eyes that she was not happy.
In contrast to her brood mood, Riolu skipped happily behind her, waving a cheery farewell to Mary still standing at the door. His bets rarely went wrong in a situation that involved those two people arguing, and like always, Mary had prevailed on top.
Anastasia shifted her orange backpack up a little higher on her shoulders, glancing back behind her at her mother for one final time, before taking off towards the road at the end of their long winding driveway.
Their house was situated on the outskirts of Twinleaf town, away from the bustle of the tiny community and instead in the secluded privacy of the forest. It was maybe a half a mile's walk to get to the town and from there she could buy a bike from the large sum of money her mother had given her, and ride it the rest of the way up to where Professor Rowan lived in Sandgem Town.
Against her wishes, her Mother had convinced her to go visit it the Old Pokémon Professor before she started her journey, only saying that she was going to call in a 'family favor' to help her get started.
Anastasia scowled. She didn't like dealing with people who studied Pokémon like lab rats, a goodly Professor or not.
"So what are we grabbing from the old coot?" Riolu asked, jogging up to her side and attempting to keep stride with her slightly longer legs. Anastasia was very small for her age, but her legs still were far longer than any Riolu's.
No idea. Mom just said she was going to call in a 'family favor', or were you to busy eating to pay attention? She poked lightly at him. Though she didn't show it, she was glad someone else shared her dislike of the man, as nice as he was. Rowan, when Anastasia had first befriended Riolu, had been the man to examine him for diseases of any sort and made the mistake of getting too personal for the dog Pokémon's liking. Though it was a weak force palm at the time, Anastasia had heard that it left a rather beautiful shiner for at least a week.
"Great," he grumbled, "can't we just not visit him and say we did?" Anastasia smirked, but it died on her face just as quickly as it had been born and a blank mask replaced it. "Ana?-"
"YO! PSYCHIC CHICK!" A brown haired boy dashed up and around the bend from a driveway that the duo had just passed, waving his arms madly above his, brown curly hair tangled madly from his full on run. Almost imperceptivity, Anastasia picked up her pace, her face a cool mask of obliviousness to the voice behind her.
"HEY! WAIT UP!" The boy had finally caught up to the pair, gasping for breath and jovially clapped the girl on the back, completely unaware of the murderous intent leaked at him from that same girl. "Ha…haa, I finally…caught up to…you!" He bent over for a bit, trying to regain his breath while Riolu and Anastasia simply continued walking.
"Hey!" Finally Anastasia turned to scrutinize the boy with shrewd eyes. For all that his slight frame suggested, Anthony Rogers was not a runner. In fact, he wasn't really athletic in any way shape or form, just really skinny. Freckles dotted the boys nose and face, just under his too-bright blue eyes, glinting with boundless energy that was absolutely useless in anything physical. His perpetually upturned and twitching mouth relayed his never ending happiness and chatter box tendencies and over all he had an aura of the perkiest person on the planet.
He annoyed Anastasia to no end.
"So what are you doing out in public Ana-stasia," he added on the last part to her name quickly when a cold glare fixed on him. "I mean, you rarely show your face around your own house, much less in society so what gives?" He flashed her with what she suspected was supposed to be a charming smile. In reality, it made him look like a mentally disabled and fluffed up Bidoof.
The boy was the closest thing to a neighbor the Whitford family had, only living a little ways up the road, and both of their mothers had developed a close friendship. To their utter dismay, their children, or at least Anastasia, had not.
So, in accordance to what she normally did when asked a personal and or annoying question by an imbecile, the girl turned and completely disregarded him.
Anastasia had long sense realized that the best way to get people to leave you alone was to ignore their existence entirely. Most people found it unnerving or extremely rude. Key word 'most'. Anthony was not 'most' people.
"Come on, I know you can do that freaky mind talk…thingy." He finished gesturing vaguely to her forehead.
Fine, what do you want Rogers? Anastasia asked turning to face him coolly. Riolu glared up at the boy with enough annoyance for the both of them. She made the words sharper than necessary in his mind and was satisfied when the boy's eyes widened a fraction before wincing.
"Uh, never mind. Don't err-talk or whatever. It kinda freaks me out, kay?" He waited for her to reply, and continued on nonetheless with just as much vigor when she didn't. "Well, I was just wondering where you were going and all. I mean it looks like you're headed to town, but hey, with you it's anybody's guess and-."
Anastasia ignored the annoying twerp and began walking towards her original destination, the boy's chattering becoming no more than a buzz in her ear.
"He's not leaving," Anastasia glanced down at Riolu's ground out statement.
"Can I Force Palm him away?"
Unfortunately, no. Remember the last time that happened? By his pained expression, it was clear to her he did.
"It won't hurt this time…much. At least I'm fairly sure he won't end up in the medical center."
As enticing as that sounds…well actually it might be worth the trouble this time.
"-so the only thing I can think of, is that you're starting a Pokémon journey too! Am I right? Only three kids get to go every year after all." Anastasia glanced back at Rogers' hopeful expression bouncing back and forth between her and Riolu. Apparently her carefully crafted mask must have given something away, because immediately after, the boy whooped and hopped around like a ridiculous three year old. "Ha! I knew it! You know I'm starting today too, me and Kyle both."
Hm, she actually hadn't known that. Her Mother had mentioned a few other kids starting, but she hadn't been specific, and probably for this exact reason, Anastasia realized with a grimace. If she had known Anthony Rogers would be stalking the routes from now on, she would have never agreed to go.
"So I'm guessing you're headed up to Professor Rowan's lab to get a starter?" Next to her Riolu growled menacingly and Anthony quickly backtracked, holding his hands out in placation. "Oh, I mean of course you already have your Riolu so…I guess not?"
She didn't answer, instead rolling her eyes at him as if saying 'no-duh'. Of course, he didn't pick up on it.
"Well don't you need to go to his lab anyways? I mean, my older brother, you remember Gray right, he told me that Rowan hands out some important stuff that you can't buy in a market or anywhere else, so you should probably visit him." He stopped and gave her an inspiration struck look that made her cringe. "Hey, if you want we could visit him together! I mean-"
Anthony, thanks, but no thanks, she quickly refused, regardless of the freaked out look he gave her when her thoughts echoed, If kids who grow up nowhere near a Pokémon Professor can start their journey and be just fine, I'm sure I can do without visiting him. And then inspiration struck her. Besides, you're running late and I'm in no hurry. Don't you still need to get a starter Pokémon?
Horror flashed across the teen's face. "Oh crap! Thanks for reminding me Ana!" He ignored her scowl at her name and the equally livid look he sent her when he gave her a heavy clap on the back again. He turned and sped off ahead of her, turning back to wave. "I'll see if I can find you later on the trail then, oaky?" He didn't wait for a response, and soon he was out of sight.
"Hopefully he'll either be eaten or get lost somewhere and then get eaten," Riolu commented lightly from beside her and then he grimaced. "We still have to go to the Professor, though, right?"
Yeah, my mom will probably call and check just to see if we did. She doesn't trust me, remember? She gave Riolu a calculating look, smirking But that doesn't mean we can't take out time and show up when all the other kids are long gone and Rowan's waited a good long while.
Riolu gave her a nasty grin in return, almost feral in his enjoyment. "Want to go visit Shinx? I think he'll be around the pond on the opposite side of the city around now. And if he's not there, we could always just wander around looking for him."
You read my mind.
Shinx was, in fact, not at the pond. Nor was he anywhere at the many other numerous locations they looked, but by the time they were finished with their search it was almost four in the afternoon. Anastasia considered that long enough for the good Professor to wait, and by the time they had actually made it to his lab, it was four thirty, on the dot.
The door swished open in front of her, a breeze blowing in from behind her and rustling the papers on Professor Rowan's desk, alerting him to their entrance. The aged man looked up and gave a strained smile at the sight of the stony faced raven. The corner's pulled down even further beneath his beard when a small Riolu popped out from behind her.
"Ah, Anastasia," he said amicably, "I was afraid you weren't coming. You're mother said she had sent you out this morning."
She shrugged in reply.
Professor Rowan, an experienced scientist of evolution, was kind and patient, despite the heated dislike Anastasia continually rained down upon him. Or maybe it was because she constantly sought to disrupt his work that he became so patient.
He was older, about in his late fifties or early sixties, with spiky white hair that came down and stretched into a short beard on his chin. Wise blue eyes bored out from beneath his bushy eyebrows that seemed to know everything about a person with just one glance.
Whenever he turned that judging gaze on her, that above all else, ticked Anastasia off.
But again, despite Anastasia's open hostility towards the man, he never became enraged to short. He treated her with the same, frank politeness that he gave to everyone else. If there was one thing Anastasia had to admire about the man, that was it.
"Shall I suppose you 'got lost' then? Or did you get distracted yet again for," he glanced at his watch, "almost four hours." He gave a heavy sigh and stood from where he still sat at his desk to approach the grinning duo, clasping his hands behind him. "Hello Riolu, you're looking well today."
"Riolu Lii Rou-"The Pokémon was elbowed halfway through his response by his partner, much to the Professor's surprise. But Rowan pinched the bridge of his nose when he caught the upturned corners of her mouth.
Good afternoon Professor. She finally replied. To the man's credit, he never once jumped at the intrusion to his thoughts, which was better that most, sometimes even her mother did. I want to get this over with quick; Mother said you had something for me.
Rowan nodded, leading the pair to a table at the center of his lab. A single red Poke ball rested in a scooped impress on the table. Beside it was a bag. "Yes, I do. Since there are –were- a total of three of you leaving today, I have the last starter Pokémon here that I would insist you take, but-"he quickly continued with a silencing look when Riolu gave a menacing growl, "I know that you would stubbornly refuse, as always, so I'll skip that bit of wasted words and move onto the supplies that you will need."
He lifted the pack and held it out to Anastasia. It was smaller than her own, almost as small as a purse, and green, with a little symbol for Rowan's lab stamped on the front. "This contains a five Poke balls to get you started, a Pokedex, and a few medicines just in case. The medicine was a bit of extra help your mother asked for as a favor." He handed it to the girl, pointing out a small clip as he did so. "This is so you can attach it to your bag if it won't fit inside. I would recommend that if you don't have room you make room, but all the same the clip is just in case."
Anastasia nodded. Is that it then Professor? And with a glance at the man's solemn face, turned to leave without another word, calling over Riolu who had been making faces at the last, lonely Poke ball.
"Good Luck Anastasia," pausing at the door and a tad surprised, she turned back towards Rowan. He had returned to his desk and was shuffling through some papers, not once glancing up at her. "Maybe with you gone, I can finally get some work done without any more Beedrill swarming my lab looking for their stolen honey."
She smirked. But you have to admit, it was a great chance to study the aggressive tendencies of Beedrill up close and personal. Once in a lifetime opportunity right there, Professor.
He shot her a flat, withering look. It was as close to annoyed as she'd ever seen him. "Yes, but one I'd have rather missed, thank you."
Riolu snickered beside her Anastasia turned, shaking her head, and left the Professor and his goodbyes behind her without a reply.
When the door swished closed behind her, Anastasia was left staring at an empty dirt road stretching on in front of her until the tree line seemed to cut it off in the distance. She glanced to her right, the path she had come from. If she strained her eyes, she could barely make out a trail of smoke rising from the middle of a seeming forest.
"You're mom must think we're already on our way. Don't worry, she'll be fine."
…You're irritating sometimes.
Riolu just grinned at her.
And then sharp jade eyes trained on the path ahead of her and she stepped forward. Inside, a ball of tension that had been wound up, as hard as she tried to prevent it, slowly came undone, sending butterflies swirling through her stomach and tingling down her fingers as if they were caught in a breeze. And, no one but Riolu around to see it, Anastasia grinned, taking another step.
I'm coming Mew!
A/N: Okay, so this was a while in the making, and I'll be honest, I have a vague story line, but when I say vague I mean vague. Like, I don't even know what Pokemon she's going to get yet! I have an idea for the trip to the next town and the next town, but thats about it! So if you have any ideas or suggestions you'd like to see in here, feel fre to message me! Or, if you're a funny person who's good with funny lines, feel free to message me those too or to even be my beta! It would help a lot!
And of course, as always, please Review! I think they actually made that review button bigger...