About the Chapter Title:I got the idea for the chapter title because, since Ivory picked Snivy, that means Cheren and Bianca picked Tepig and Oshawott, so I paraphrased a line from a Robert Frost poem for the title. I know that Oshawott is a water-type pokémon, but it can learn ice-type moves (for example, Ice Beam is a very effective move for a water-type pokémon, I've always found, esp. against the Elite Four). So the actually line of the poem goes something like "Some say the world will end in fire, and some say in ice." I just paraphrased it.

Author's Note: andsomehow, miraculously, I've managed to do another chapter in less than a month. This never happens, so yay! Consider it a Christmas gift. And if things seem to be moving a little slow to some of you, I promise things pick up once Ivory gets on the road (which should happen next chapter or the chapter after that). So...yeah. Hope everything's good with you guys. Of course reviews are love. Hugs!

- LA

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ChapterThree
Some Say Fire, Some Say Ice

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"So," Cheren said after long moments of silence punctuated by happy pokémon sounds. "How about a Pokémon battle?"

Galen's eyes, russet with glints of sunfire and ruby, slanted to the human boy. Narrowed in consideration. Ivory felt the sudden tension rolling off of her new pokémon and flicked a warning glance at Cheren, who seemed oblivious. The sixteen-year-old girl wasn't sure challenging her right now was a good idea. She didn't have Galen's trust; what guarantee did she have that her little Snivy would actually fight Mulan, Cheren's Tepig, instead of attacking Cheren?

And if he did attack Cheren, what would happen to him? The laws about how to handle pokémon who attacked humans were brutal. A brief image of Galen being put down like a rabid animal flashed through her mind and she bit her lip to hold back a cry of denial.

When Cheren made a subtle move toward Ivory, Galen released his trainer's wrists and brought his vines up, almost like fists. The soft fuzz covering the green whip-like vines stood at attention, seeming to transform into thousands of tiny white thorns in a split second. The long, verdant ropes writhed on the air like snakes. The burgundy eyes like redwood sap began to burn, those ruby flecks in his gaze almost glowing. A strange, chittering sound rumbled in the thin, amber-scaled chest.

Mulan, Cheren's Tepig, suddenly narrowed her eyes and pawed at the wooden floorboards of Ivory's bedroom. The little fire-sow hunched down, almost squatting, watching the Snivy intently. Bianca's Oshawott just watched the other two pokémon from the safety of his Trainer's shoulder.

"Cheren, wait," Ivory said sharply. "No. Look at Galen."

The Trainer boy finally did take his eyes of Ivory to glance at the grass pokémon. His eyes widened. "Whoa." Cheren took a step back. "He looks...mad."

"I think he thinks you're threatening me," the girl replied, her voice soft. "Or him. Or both of us. Galen," gently to the little grass serpent. "Galen, it's okay. Cheren won't hurt us. It's okay."

Galen gave Ivory a wary look before glaring at Cheren. Two jade buds on his vines burst open, spilling out razor-edged leaves of vibrant emerald green. Galen made that chittering warning sound again. Cheren tensed, unsure if he was supposed to run or do some kind of submissive gesture or what to keep the Snivy from attacking. Ivory's entire body tensed, ready to lunge between her friend and her pokémon.

Just then a dash of pale blue and white zipped in between Galen and the human boy. Yoichi, Bianca's Oshawott, held up both paws toward the snake pokémon and the boy and chirped, "Osha, osha! Wott-wott osha!" Galen cocked his head. The vines lowered a little. Yoichi plucked the golden shell from his belly and held it up for Galen to see. "Osha," Yoichi chirruped. He wiggled the shell. Sunlight spread across the pearlescently aurulent surface before glinting on the sharpened edge like light on a freshly-honed sword blade. "Osha-osha-oshawott!"

"Snivy," Galen muttered, and lowered his vines. With a shrug of his tiny shoulders, the snake added, "Snivy, snivy."

Sensing disaster had been avoided—for the moment—Ivory let out the breath she hadn't realized she'd been holding and flopped down across her bedroom floor. Bianca sank down onto her best friend's bed. Cheren's back thumped against the wall and he slid to the floor when his legs buckled.

"Jeez," he mumbled. "He was going to attack me. What just happened?"

"I think..." Bianca trailed off as her Oshawott scampered over and began butting his head against her fingers, which lay limply on her knee. "I think Yoichi was explaining what a pokémon battle is to Galen. I don't think he's been trained to fight like that."

"Is he wild?" Cheren asked. "Feral, I mean?"

"Osha," Yoichi cried, tugging on Bianca's fingers with his tiny white paws. Ivory saw that he'd sheathed his shell in the furry half-pouch on his pale blue belly. "Osh," he added, wiggling. His flat beaver-like tail drummed on the floor. He gestured to Galen. "Oshawott, oshawott!"

Cheren shoved his glasses back up the bridge of his nose. "Bianca...is he saying what I think he's saying?"

Shoving her hands through her golden hair and knocking her beret to the floor, Bianca said, "I...don't...know. Um...Yoichi? You want to battle Galen?" The blond girl's mouth fell open when the water pokémon did an abrupt backward somersault and made a vibrating cooing sound like a happy Pidove. "I guess he does."

"Okay, seriously, Bianca," Cheren replied sharply. "Even though they're still weak pokémon, you shouldn't have pokémon battles inside a house, for pity's sake!"

"You challenged Ivory first!"

"I was going to suggest we take it outside before her Snivy went nuts on me. And that's another thing! Her Snivy isn't ready to do battle with another Trainer. He's just as likely to attack you as your Oshawott!"

Bianca stood up and popped her hands on her hips. "Don't be a worrywart, jeez! These little ones are weak, like you said. We have to let them battle so they'll get stronger. And Yoichi explained everything to Galen, so he won't freak out and try to hurt me. Right, Ivory?" When the other girl didn't respond, Bianca glanced at her friend. "Ivory?"

Ivory didn't answer. She simply stared hard into her pokémon's eyes. Galen gazed calmly back at her. Gentle warmth seeped into her chest as she maintained eye contact with her new partner. Finally, Galen inclined his head just a little, as if to say, I'll go along with this...for now. He turned to Bianca and her Oshawott.

"All right!" Bianca bounced up and down, pumping her fists in the air. "My first battle and it's with my best friend! Yes! All right, it's settled, Ivory. Get ready for your first pokémon battle! Yoichi, attack!"

All playfulness slipped away from the fuzzy little water creature at the word attack. His ultramarine eyes narrowed, pupils dilating with a rush of adrenaline, and he squared his shoulders. Galen straightened up, lifting his chin in challenge. The sunlight filtering through clouds, trees, and bedroom curtains danced across the golden scales, giving them a sheen like green moonstone, and spilled like water across Yoichi's pearl-white fur, bringing out pale blue highlights.

Getting to her feet, Ivory said, "Okay, then. Let's do this. Our first battle, Galen, attack now!"

The Snivy and the Oshawott charged across the room and slammed into each other with enough force that Cheren winced and Mulan, the little Tepig, squealed and raced behind Cheren's updrawn legs. Before any of the teens could say a word, Yoichi and Galen separated. Yoichi slid across the floor with a scrabbling of moon-white claws. Galen lashed out with his short vines, snagging a post of Ivory's bed to keep from colliding with the wall. With an excited chitter, Galen launched himself across the floor. Yoichi gave a little yelping bark and raced toward his opponent.

At the last second, Galen lowered his head and rammed the scale-covered crest of bone on his skull into Yoichi's face. The Oshawott yelped. Scrambled backwards, a paw clapped to its dun-colored nose. Bright red blood trickled from one nostril.

"Yoichi!" Bianca cried. "Oh, no! I won't let your Snivy get away with that, Ivory! We're gonna win this match!"

Save your breath, Ivory thought, but said nothing. She didn't want to talk about winning. She wanted to watch Galen attack with a liquid grace that should've been impossible in a pokémon so young. He was only, what? A level five? Yet he'd twined and twisted through the air with all the grace and fluidity of water. She didn't even bother shouting out orders. She could feel her pokémon, feel what he was going to do before he did it. Watching him left her breathless; mentally moving with him through the battle left her heart pounding with a constant surge of adrenaline.

"Galen, keep it up!" Ivory called. "You're doing great!"

The Snivy flicked his palmate leaf at her, but it wasn't a dismissive gesture. More like a child taking a moment out of its busy life to wave at its parents. Inexplicably, Ivory felt the urge to laugh.

But then, with a little growl, the blue otter pokémon drew his edged clam from its place on his belly and leapt toward Galen. The Snivy braced for the tackle, dodging at the last second in a flash of sunlight on green and gold scales. Yoichi barked and kicked out with his long leg. The blow caught Galen in the belly. With a hissing yelp, the grass snake went down on hands and knees. The Oshawott moved in for another attack.

Galen chattered angrily as the water monster's golden clam smacked him in the shoulder, the back, the eye. Yoichi was young enough, Ivory realized, that he didn't actually know how to use the weapon he'd been born with. He could only bash away with it.

That didn't stop him from accidentally slicing through a few layers of scales with the clam and drawing glistening, golden blood from Galen's shoulder. Ivory cried out her pokémon's name. The Snivy screeched in surprise and pain before scuttling back in order to get a breather. One of his vines hastily wrapped the wounded limb.

"Galen," Ivory cried. "Galen, are you okay?"

He turned just enough to look at her over his shoulder. He nodded once, sharply. A thin dribble of blood seeped from between the thin vine twined around his bleeding arm. Fluffing out his scaly golden crest, he turned back to the Oshawott. Baring his teeth, he raced to tackle the water monster again.

Yoichi tried to dodge left. Galen feinted toward him. Yoichi scrambled to the right. The Snivy followed. Back and forth, back and forth they went, in a mad dash to be the first to land a hard tackle to the floor. The Oshawott panted with the effort of remaining just out of Galen's reach. Drying blood crusted his nose and a patch of white facial fur. Ivory noticed the wound in the young Snivy's arm began bleeding more heavily as the game of chase continued.

An opening presented itself. When her pokémon didn't move to take it, she realized Galen's eye had swollen shut from when Yoichi had hit him with the clam. He couldn't see the opportunity to end the fight once and for all. Ivory yelled, "Galen! Tackle left!"

The Oshawott tried to block the tackle with the clam—both monsters were too close to bother with dodging—but Galen hissed and slammed into the otter with as much force as he could muster, just barely avoiding the last-second defense of the sharp seashell. Yoichi yelped and went flying. He thumped hard into the floor and slid a couple feet, coming to rest at Bianca's feet.

"Yoichi!" Bianca dropped to the floor and lifted her pokémon, cradling him to her chest. "Yoichi, say something!"

Cheren hastened to his friend's side. He pulled something small and round from his pocket and put it in the Oshawott's slack mouth. With gentle fingers, he forced the pokémon's jaw to move up and down, making Yoichi chew whatever Cheren had put in his mouth.

Ivory held her breath. Had Galen seriously hurt the other little creature? What had Cheren given him?

After what felt like a small eternity, Yoichi stirred. Mumbled, "Oh...sha..."

The Trainer boy pulled another small, round thing—Ivory realized it was some sort of healing berry—from his pocket and popped it into the Oshawott's mouth. This time Yoichi chewed it himself. Bianca spat on a handkerchief and gently cleaned away the blood from the pocket-monster's nose. Cheren gave him two more berries to chew. Looking much better, the Oshawott sat up.

"Osha-osha," Yoichi chirped. He looked around, then hopped down out of his Trainer's arms. Still bruised, fur still mussed, he had enough strength to shuffle over to Galen. Placing his white paws together, he bowed in the style of bushido. "Oshawott," he said solemnly.

Galen blinked and made a soft chitter-chattering sound. With his uninjured arm across his belly, he bowed too. "Snivy."

With that, Yoichi limped back to Bianca and clambered into her arms.

"Ivory, catch!"

She barely managed to catch the small, white leather pouch Cheren tossed her. She saw that one side was embroidered with a pokéball and a red cross decorated the other side. When she loosened the red drawstring, she looked inside and found more of the small berries. Pulling one out, she offered it to Galen.

He turned up his nose.

"No, look," Ivory murmured. Galen eyed her warily as the human girl popped a berry into her mouth. Her teeth pierced the dark blue skin. Sweetness flooded across her tongue. Almost immediately after swallowing it, the dull ache of her wounds from the previous day faded a little. She smiled. "See, it's okay. It'll make you feel better."

This time Galen took one of the berries and nibbled on it. When nothing drastic happened, he gobbled it up and held out his claws for another one. Three berries later, the cut on his arm had almost completely healed, his bruises were half-faded, and he no longer moved as if he'd pulled a muscle in his leg from all the jumping and dodging. One of his vines brushed against Ivory's knuckles in silent thanks. She smiled wider at her Snivy and tossed the bag of berries back to Cheren.

"Your room's trashed," her friend said. He'd managed to coax his Tepig out from behind his legs. "Told you battling inside was a bad idea. And now you owe Ivory five-hundred yen."

Bianca couldn't suppress her wince. "I forgot about that. Um...we'll stop by my house on the way to the professor's place and I'll pay you back then, okay?"

"Sure." Ivory shrugged. "As long as the pokémon are okay, I don't care." She was only going to take Bianca's money because those were the rules of pokémon battling—getting a cash prize when victorious against a trainer was standard operating procedure. "And I don't care about my room, either. I'll clean it later. Good job, Galen," she added to the grass snake. He blinked at her as if to say, Well, what did you expect? She grinned. "That was a great battle."

"Hey, Cheren!" Bianca cried suddenly. She cuddled her Oshawott on Ivory's bed. "How about you battle, too? That way we each get to experience a battle before going to see Professor Juniper."

The Trainer boy glanced at his other friend and smiled, a smile that said, It's only fair. Ivory sighed. She didn't want to tax Galen too hard. He was still a baby, and he'd just had a really hard battle. His injuries might've healed, but that didn't mean he had his stamina back, and Mulan was fresh from the pokéball.

But when she opened her mouth to refuse, Galen gave her a look she felt down to her bones. The russet-red of his eyes, once burning with shards of ruby fire, now softened with a faint sheen of gold and umber. His palmate leaf trembled like a real leaf in a stiff breeze. That vine snaked out and caressed Ivory's knuckles again. Excitement gleamed in his gaze. Now that he'd discovered pokémon battling, he liked it.

"You up for this?" His Trainer asked quietly. Galen studied her. "I won't make you fight if you don't want to."

In answer, the grass serpent turned to the fire-sow and hissed at her. Mulan snorted and pawed the floor with one tiny black hoof. When the two Trainers gave the order to attack, Galen screeched and dashed toward Cheren's Tepig. She squealed and charged.

Ivory felt that strange sense of knowing she'd experienced in the first battle as Galen leapt over Mulan's back and raked her with his claws. The stubby claws barely broke the skin. Tiny beads of dark blood bubbled up along the scratches. Mulan squealed again. Rocking forward onto her front hooves, she kicked out with her hind legs and caught Galen in the belly. The Snivy wheezed and fell back.

"Galen, get up!" Ivory yelped. "You can do it, come on!" She knew grass-types were weak against fire-types, but that was all she knew. Did that weakness only apply to type-specific attacks, or did that carry over into actual species types, too? Would Galen lose to Mulan because he was a grass-type and the Tepig was fire?

"Get him, Mulan!"

Mulan reared back on her hind legs and brought her hooves crashing down toward the floor. At the last second, Galen rolled out of the way. Twisting to his feet, he scrabbled on scritching claws toward Mulan. The Tepig lowered her head and charged.

This fight took much longer than the battle between Yoichi and Galen. The dodging game came back. Ivory knew as she watched her Snivy trip and stumble over his weary little feet that she'd been right to worry for his stamina. He needed rest, or a Pokémon Center, not back-to-back battles. Although she knew she'd be expected to face off against Trainers out in the world who had more than one pokémon. Galen needed to build up his endurance. But her heart wrung with pity and heartache when her Snivy tripped again and fell to the floor, gasping for breath.

Mulan shuddered, her muscles threatening to cramp from the brutal exertion. Her corkscrew tail dipped low, the unlit heart-shaped flame-bubble at the tip actually touching the wooden floorboards. She took a quivery step toward the exhausted Snivy.

"Come on, Mulan!" Cheren cried, actually pumping his fists. "Take him down! You can do it! You can totally take him!"

Instead of cheering or crying or coaxing, Ivory knelt to the floor. She didn't know as much about pokémon as Cheren did, but she knew a few things. In an isolated place like Nuvema Town, you had to know the very basics in order to survive a trip to the grocery store. So she knew that snake pokémon felt vibrations through the ground, and that they communicated much the way rabbit-type pokémon did—by thumping the ground in certain rhythms.

Ivory stretched out on her floor and began thumping her fist rhythmically against the wood. Galen had already shown her that he'd ignore her sometimes when she spoke to him. He was tired, nearly spent. He'd probably ignore any kind of pep talk she tried to give him. But maybe he wouldn't ignore this. So she beat her fist in a thud-a-thud-thudthud rhythm on the wooden floor.

And Galen opened his weary eyes and looked at her. She kept thumping the floor. Just like she'd felt every move he'd intended to make before he made it, she could feel his exhaustion dragging at him. Biting her lip, Ivory tried to smile encouragingly while continuing the rhythm.

"You can do it," she whispered. The wood was cool and smooth against her cheek. "You can do it, Galen. My brave warrior." Thud-a-thud-thudthud. Thud-a-thud-thudthud. "I know, I know that you're tired, but just give it one more try and you can rest for awhile, okay?"

Mulan took another limping step toward Galen.

Galen heaved himself to his feet. The Tepig gave a little oink! of surprise and backed up a step. Galen turned to look at her. Then, making that angry chitter one more time, he lunged for Mulan and slammed into her side with one muscled shoulder, driving her back against the entertainment center that housed Ivory's television and Nintendo Wii.

The Wii tilted on its shelf and toppled out of the entertainment center. It smacked into Mulan's tail, pinning it to the floor. She squealed in pain, kicking her little hooves. Galen body-slammed her one more time.

She didn't fall prostrate to the floor as Yoichi had. Instead, she merely squealed and grunted before hunching down and refusing to move.

"Mulan!" Cheren cried. He reached for the heavy machinery pinning his pokémon, but to his surprise, Galen wiggled himself beneath the white box and hoisted it off of the frightened Tepig. Then the grass snake gently butted his head against hers in encouragement. Mulan wiggled her hindquarters. Realizing she was no longer trapped, she hopped to her feet and turned in a circle, trying to see her tail.

Galen staggered back to Ivory. She crouched on the floor, wondering what would happen now. There was no Pokémon Center in Nuvema, and Galen was her only pokémon, making it dangerous to travel through Route 1 to the nearest city for medical help for him. Well, it didn't matter. If she had to put off leaving until Galen was better, all rested up and whatnot, that was fine.

The Snivy sighed heavily and started to fall to the floor. Ivory stretched out her arms, catching him before he could smack face-first into the wood. Lifting him into her arms, she cradled the exhausted grass snake to her heart.

"Good job, Galen," she whispered to him. He made a little hmmm sound. Ivory rubbed his scaly head with her cheek. "Good job."

TBC

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Author's Note:so that's chapter 3. I hope you guys enjoyed it. First time writing a pokémon battle. Hope I did okay. Merry Christmas, everyone! Happy holidays and ho-ho-ho and stuff (to quote the Grinch). Not sure how soon I'll be able to update again. Luckily I'm on vacation right now. Sort of. So I've got a little more time than normal to write fanfiction. Yay! Hopefully I'll have the next chapter before the end of January, lol.

Hugs!

LA