BREAKING NEWS: I AM A TERRIBLE PERSON.
Quick thing to cascadenight: Thankee for reviewing so quickly. I had an English teacher tell me I got overly descriptive and wordy, but whenever I write sometimes I feel like I'm making it lack so much from purposefully laying off on description that it goes bland, so thanks for the compliment. Ahaha, yes, be hooked on the S.S. Kingdra! Let us sail away on the open shipping seas!
AND NOW, BACK TO OUR PROGRAM.
The sun was hanging low on the horizon when Misty came back from the river again, this time carrying the remaining ripped up clothes they had left and refill some of their water. They were dripping and heavy in her hands, but at least they were relatively cleaner, and she set about hanging them up on branches around their shelter to dry. In between the trip there and back Lance had managed another fire, despite the concussion hindering his ability to focus, and it was burning healthy and strong when she finished hanging the clothes.
"Miss me?" she idly teased, settling beside him to watch the fire. He was mid-bite on a Pecha berry when she plopped next to him, and something akin to an amused smirk lifted his lips as he munched.
"Hard not to." he answered back, "Want some?" he asked, offering the fruit that, now that she looked at it, had been skewered.
"Gimme." She'd take it over coconut any day, she admitted to herself. She got a few mouthfuls before she handed it back to him. Misty stared at the fire for a few minutes, glancing back and forth once in a while between it and Lance. It had been a few hours, and while she didn't want to traumatize him, she wanted to know what it had been about, that breakdown from earlier.
"You feeling better?"
He nodded at the same time as he gave her an affirmative "mm-hmph", biting into the fruit, chewing, and swallowing. Misty told herself she was only slightly distracted by the working of his jaw, or that trickle of fruit juice that fell down his jawline that she followed past his adam's apple.
"Do you... wanna talk about it?"
He swallowed, and shook his head. "Not really."
Stupid question, Misty told herself. But she heard a heavy huff of breath and looked back to Lance who appeared to be weighing something in his head.
"I...I've made mistakes. Mistakes that have gotten people hurt, gotten people..." he swallowed hard and wrestled with himself to try to go on, but nothing came out. It wasn't necessary though, Misty's head had already filled in the blanks.
"I knew him when I was twelve. Just started my journey as a trainer, we met on a route near Cherrygrove. Punk kid, really energetic. But, he had a real good bond with his pokemon. " Lance said. He paused to gather his thoughts and words carefully, "Nothing could faze him, I swear. Win or lose, Joey didn't care as long as he had his Rattata, and Cherrygrove keeping its endless supply of ice cream. He was overwhelmingly positive and overwhelmingly talkative, that sometimes I wanted to beat him with a pillow to shut him up."
Misty tried not to laugh, but she could picture a faceless, skinny little kid like that. It hurt to realize something happened to that boy though, and she knew the truth-or as much as Lance can let himself say-was coming. "Sounds like quite the kid." she said, slipping her hand into his for wordless support.
"Yeah... we met some bigger, older kids though. Real impressive battlers, great with strategy." he finished bitterly "They decided to take us 'under their wing', wanted to show us how to battle big, and eventually catch real impressive pokemon. Joey had bad vibes but I was too stupid to understand what they were talking about. By the time the first battle was over and they had taken this old man's pokemon it was too late. We tried to back out, Rattata was grabbed and..." his jawline tightened and he struggled to spit out the phrase, " was 'made an example of'." He looked like he wanted to stop, tried to stop the cascade of words but a grim glint of desperate determination had settled in his eyes, something cold and hard and painful.
"So Joey tries to call for help, we try to run and the older guys-I'll never understand how they got their hands on it, but I shouldn't be surprised now that I think about it. This was a year before the League had finalized the outlawing of firearms, you know."
Misty clenched his hand in hers, just at the same time as a cold had clutched her stomach up. "Lance, you don't have to say anymore, it's okay."
"No, it's not. It's never going to be okay." he said softly, "Because I was too stupid and ignorant to understand what was going on, I let Joey and his pokemon suffer. I hurt people... "
"Lance, what happened to him wasn't your fault."
"Debatable at best, but the older kids certainly are."
Misty could feel the growing ball in her stomach meaning she was going to very much regret asking, "What do you mean?"
"I made Dratini use Thunder Wave on them."
"Over, and over." he bit out, "Did you know it takes up to four consecutive Thunder Waves for the arms and limbs of the human body to be permanently paralyzed?" he said, in an almost detached and trivial manner but she saw straight through the facade and was horrified by what was underneath. "Five if you want their nerves to fry and try to make them permanently feel pain instead of being numb. But the police had finally arrived before I could find out what a sixth or seventh time would do."
She probably should have gotten up and ran to the other side of the island far away from him, that would have been the logical thing to do. But instead, as she was prone to do-six years by Ash's side probably messed up her priorities anyway-Misty did the less logical, far worse thing and pulled her hand out of his so she could, for the second time that day, wrap him up in her arms and bury him in a hug. There was no hesitation on his part to wrap his arms around her back, but by the sound coming from his throat, he was in caught up in a chaotic mess of conflict and she didn't blame him one bit.
"You're supposed to be all the way on the other side of this island screaming to get away from me." he choked.
"I know, I'm stupid, now keep hugging me and cry yourself out."
"You're bossy." he managed with a weak laugh-mixed-sob.
"So you really don't need me to tell the obvious; that's a terrible, horrible thing to do to someone, even though they were terrible people themselves. So, here's a counterpoint. Lance, you were twelve."
"Yeah, twelve. I should have done the once and been done there but no, I didn't, I couldn't. I became more a monster than they were, and the police found out they were junior grunts for Team Rocket for Arceus' sake, back in its early days. Any other kid wouldn't have done that."
"You. Were. Twelve!" Misty shouted in his ear, making him flinch, "You had just watched them kill someone, in front of you. That's messed up, that would have messed up anyone! That would mess with anyone's head, make them do things... jeez, Lance I... I'm sorry."
"Why?" he croaked.
"For making you tell me all that! I'm sorry, I just thought whatever had hurt you earlier needed to be let out but I had no idea it was something like this, something this bad." she said, feeling her limbs try to loosen but his only tightened around her, he wasn't quite ready to give up her warmth yet. She tightened her arms around too.
"Those rocket kids are still alive, right?"
"Yes. Two of them are stuck in a hospital for the rest of their lives while the rest have permanent paralysis in their arms or legs."
Lance shifted his head aside, "What do you mean, 'good'? Misty, I put two of them in a hospital. For Life."
"You didn't kill them." she offered.
"I would have." he shot back angrily. "If the police hadn't come when they had and gotten me, I would have, Misty. I was..."
"A traumatized twelve year old boy who had just seen his friend and pokemon shot and killed before your eyes by a bunch of no-gooders. It wasn't the right thing to do, but I can't totally blame you for it. You made them hurt, you made them pay for what they did to Joey."
"Would you have done it?" he indignantly snapped at her. He pulled away to examine her face, "Would you have done that?" She knew what he was doing then, trying to make her really consider, and then say she wouldn't have done what he had and hurt them. So Misty thought about it. She let herself imagine a bunch of older people standing before her, let herself pretend-watch them kill Ash, and then imagined Brock, and Tracey, her sisters, right in front of her too. She let herself simmer over those images and what it would have done to her.
"I would have them suffer, Lance." she said, fixating him with a burning stare. His eyes widened a fraction in surprise, so she continued, "If you think for one moment I wouldn't try to avenge my friends, then you don't know me at all."
Silly Lance forgot he was talking to fire-tempered Misty, not some super innocent sugar queen. That or I'm making her way to sympathetic? I swear to god this and the last chapter were supposed to be a short, quick Lance-has-a-mental-breakdown-but-we-all-get-better and it spiraled out of control. Whatever, I shouldn't complain because, HELLO, multiple updates, AND I get to cripple myself and everyone around me with feels? Sign me up. And thus my interpretation on why exactly Joey and his top percentage Rattata NEVER showed up in the anime EVER, NOT EVEN ONCE.
In todays news story, I give us a history lesson. The english dub banned the one episode that had guns in it. Since guns don't show up any other time in the anime (that I know of), I've deduced that the pokemon world either a) has no guns, or b) used to have guns. Since civil wars feature a lot in the various pasts of regions, it made sense to me that after a particular war, that the owning, distributing, and production of all guns and firearms were eventually banned throughout the regions, at varying times. Unfortunately, Kanto didn't put any effort into actually enforcing this law until a series of gun or firearm possession coinciding in certain cases of murder and civil violence and organized crime (including the Joey-Lance incident) convinced them to put a stop. So no guns.
This does not reflect my own personal view on gun/firearm possession, laws, or gun control, this is just what I decided made sense to apply to the verse I've created.
As always, reviews are very much appreciated. You are also free to hit me up on the PM if you have any questions, or just want to chat.