A/N: My goodness, this isn't the best piece (and I said I wouldn't make anything else unless I finished a story), but when you're not feeling well a nice one-shot is sure to shed some light in the dreary moments, ne? Refreshes the mind from having to keep track of multi-chaptered stories and offers a bit of rest, at least for me. I liked the game and I do think that this pairing has potential, though I'm still trying to understand the characters (you will be able to tell by the poor creativity). I'm not sure if I'll make another Pokemon fic, but well we'll see later on. This was made purely for fun (really short to my standards), so it may be a bit off and well, I'll let you be the judge of the one-shot. Do try and enjoy.
Disclaimer: I don't own Pokemon
She couldn't believe it; there was absolutely no way she could've lost sight of her dear pokemon going after that Plasma member, but the collar in her hand and the faint footprints in the forming mud proved otherwise. Mei was breathing heavily after trying to catch up to them, but a turn and twist later she quickly lost sight of the heated chase. Her Growlithe's bark or the man's shouts could no longer be heard as the rain fell in a downpour over the forest; wild pokemon scurried away in their haste to find shelter leaving her to stare at the blue collar held lightly in her hand. She could feel her lip tremble slightly at the memory of Hugh's words back at Floccesy Ranch when the owner's Herdier went missing. He was absolutely furious at the thought of losing pokemon and had taken care that his pokemon were not so weak as to fall in Plasma's hand, not after what happened to his sister's Purrloin, but her Growlithe...
He was the only pokemon she had aside from her starter and they were just becoming great friends, he was warming up to her quite well until that run in with the Grunt. They could be telling him lies about the relationship between people and pokemon and make him fight on their side. Fear rippled through her entire being bursting her with a bit of energy that she used to dart through the trees and shrubs of the wilderness, scanning every possible ground her eyes could to catch sight of her companion. Panic and adrenaline pumped through her veins as she tried to find them, ignoring all the scratches and stabs of branches and thorns around her even bumping into trees and stumbling over roots.
"Growlithe!"she called out. "Growlithe, come back please!"
Not one single bark reached her ears, no other rustling of leaves mixed with her own, there was no sign of her dear Growlithe anywhere. "Stupid Plasma..." she whimpered as her feet slowed to a halt. The winds became colder and the rain fell harder; her throat burned with each breath she inhaled, her chest was too tight and fatigue weighed down painfully on her limbs. She walked over to a nearby tree as tall and large as the others and leaned her back against it. Water mixed with her tears as she thought of what might happen the next time she'd come across the puppy pokemon that just might be in the clutches of ruthless members or worse, she could come across a forced evolution. Angrily she shook her head and pushed herself off the tree with new determination welling up from within her.
"Growlithe!" she shouted over the low rumbles of thunder, startling a few sewaddle watching curiously from the saftey of the hollow places in the trees. A gasp escaped her as a thought struck her. Stopping herself from breaking into a sprint she reached into her bag and pulled out her Xtransceiver with shaky fingers and tried to call her friend, hoping they might be able help. Unable to remain still she trotted through the forest again, waiting for anyone to pick up, yet there was nothing but static coming from the device.
"Ohh..." she moaned in despair. She was scared that they might have caught him, scared that he would be forced to take away other pokemon from their trainers, scared that he wouldn't be the same playful puppy she had met in Virbank City, the same puppy that helped her gain the badge from the City Gym leader. What scared her most of all was the sight of her best friend looking down at her with disappointed and hateful eyes for allowing such a thing to happen in first place. She sniffled and tried to wipe away her tears. Small fits of coughs tore at her sore throat as she began to walk blindly in search for an end to the forest only to stop in her tracks at the lack of droplets hitting her head.
Her vision was blurred from the darkened sky and the falling rain, but there was no way she could mistake the spikey mass of dark blue hair. Before she could utter a sound she felt something warm and soft touch her cheek. She blinked several times until she could clearly see the familiar grinning smile of her Growlithe licking excitedly at her face. Her eyes were wide as she took in the sight of his messy wet fur and mud covered paws patting eagerly at her shoulders for a hug that usually awaited him after doing a good job of chasing away the bad guys. Her mind was blank as realization dawned on her.
"I found him fighting one of the Plasma guys, two against one, at a clearing. I took care of them though and he only has minor injuries, so there's nothing to really worry about." the male said softly, taking notice of deep irritated scratches covering her forearms and the state of her body in general, including the tears in her clothes and the dirt smudging her face. There was nothing but silence and the hiss of the rain that remained in between them.
"Mei?" he whispered keeping his hold on Growlithe in one hand and the umbrella in the other hovering above them.
When her arms came up, it looked as though she would take her pokemon from him, but just as he let go of it he felt arms loop under his own and hold onto his back, trapping the Growlithe in between the embrace. His eyes widened at the feeling of the cold temperature seeping past his jacket and touching his skin. The Growlithe didn't seem to mind being caught in their hug and continued to squirm in his place, trying to lick more at his master's cold face half buried in his fur and half into the chest of the teenage boy that found him.
"Mei, are you alright?" he asked again.
She only whimpered in reply, unable to find the words to speak and could only hold on to the both of them. Hugh sighed and touched a hand to her shoulder; she was far too cold and wet to stay in the rain while he was fine keeping under the umbrella and Growlithe was a fire type, perfectly capable of bringing up his own temperature and possibly her own as long as he was dry, but he didn't want to risk her getting sick anyway.
"There's a pokemon center just out of the forest, let's go there."
He didn't bother waiting for a reply and instead gently moved her closer to him so he could move the umbrella over the both of them. Mei had finally removed her arms away from him to hold onto her Growlithe who cheerfully wagged his tail at being held and loved, still insisting on licking her face. Muddy paw prints adorned her once light clothing and a few sticks and leaves clung onto her hair and visor hat from her running around. A smile would slip on her lips whenever her eyes met with her pokemon's only to disappear a moment later. He could feel her shiver ocassionally against his side and knew that it would only be a matter of time before she would get a cold; something that would most definitely not be good. So, like a gentleman that he was, Hugh nudged the handle of the umbrella into her palm so that he could shrug off his own jacket and zip it over her body including her Growlithe who barked happily at him and he smiled in return.
They entered the Pokemon Center and was welcomed to stay for the night, healing and resting their pokemon for the following day. Still, Mei remained silent and it was unnerving Hugh greatly. He thought that if he gave her some space she would return to her cheerful self, but all she did was sit and ignore the hot cup of tea in front of her, watching the pokemon interact and play with each other. It wasn't until they were given a room to stay at for the night that Hugh decided to confront her about the earlier events.
"Mei..." he called softly and was at least greeted with a look of acknowlegement from the girl. Her hair was down and her hat was placed on a seperate bed and his jacket was placed on the other bed beside it. "What happened earlier with Team Plasma?"
For a moment, she didn't say a word and looked over to where her two pokemon were sleeping on the bed, huddled together in peaceful slumber.
"He tried to steal an elderly man's pokemon, so I tried to stop him." she lowered her head as if in shame. "He made a break for it and Growlithe..." the fear of almost losing her pokemon came back, but she held back against the sting of tears.
"I was scared that he wouldn't come back..."
She bravely looked up at him with glistening eyes. "...and I was scared that you would hate me for almost losing him..." she whispered and he looked back at her in surprise that she thought he would hate her. A thick silence engulfed the entire room for a time, Mei had lowered her head again and was about to say goodnight when she felt a weight fall beside her on the bed followed by a pair of arms wrapping around her shoulders. Her head instantly shot up and moved to stare wide-eyed at him, but he was much taller than her and was resting his chin at the top of her head. She wasn't able to see his face and therefore didn't know what expression he had. She didn't know what to do at that point, so she simply sat there and allowed his embrace to comfort her.
"I won't lie to you and say I wasn't mad when I saw Growlithe fighting without you." he said evenly. "When they ran away with the others I snatched your Growlithe and I was sure to give you a lecture. Had I not been there when I was, your pokemon would have gotten severely hurt and forced away from you just like Purrloin. But then... when I saw you there lost in the forest dirty and wet..." he shook his head in disapproval when he glanced at the small bandages covering her scratches. "I just wanted you to be happy again."
He wouldn't say what was already obvious. He wouldn't say that he wanted so badly to make her stop crying and see her face beaming up at him in happiness. He didn't want to make the same mistake of not being able to protect another pokemon from being taken away from his loved ones. A shadow fell over his eyes at the bitter memory.
"But I just want to be with Purrloin!"
No, there was no need to reprimand Mei for any reason, he should be the blame. It wasn't really her fault and pokemon were not expected to stay at their trainers heels where they could see them. There should be freedom and no restictions, sometimes one would have to let go in order to find their place, but at least their bonds would remain and nothing would change that. He was in the wrong for saying that pokemon should be kept in tight leash, but that didn't mean he wouldn't be part of the solution and correct the mistakes. He helped her Growlithe and he was sure to help Purrloin too, for his sister and soon she could be with it again. All would be well.
Mei turned around to face him and finally sent him a shy smile. "Thank you, Hugh..." she said softly and he blinked in confusion making her giggle. "I promise I'll return the favor and help you get your sister's Purrloin back." he gave her a smile in return and playfully patted her head, messing up her already messy hair and merely chuckled at her.
The next morning they had gotten ready to depart for their next destination with hugh being the most hurried one. He had his belongings all packed in his bag and returned his pokemon into their pokeballs. Mei's Growlithe was just about to be placed in his pokeball as well, but the puppy was quite energetic for being up so early.
"Growlithe, I need to put your collar back on!" she whined as she tried to catch him, but he merely jumped from one side to the other avoiding her hands and pulling her into a game of tag.
"So I'll be expecting to see you win another badge at the next gym, right?" Hugh asked with no real need to just simply holding up a conversation before they parted.
"You bet!" she replied successfully grabbing her pokemon and giving back his collar with a heart stitched onto the side just small enough to avoid being a nuisance. She stood and took a moment to admire the accessory before grabbing the pokeball from her bag. "Come on Growlithe." she called only to see him ignore her and run up to Hugh standing by the door with a grin and wagging his tail, looking back at Mei as if expecting her to follow. She huffed at his energy and smiled, she went towards the door, nodding her head at her friend in thanks for holding the door open, but just before they left she turned and looked over Hugh's shoulder to wave goodbye at Nurse Joy sitting at the front counter with her Audino.
Growlithe finally made his move once he saw his trainer turn her back to him and swiftly ran up to push her back, shoving her right into Hugh. Nurse Joy and her Audino both let out a soft gasp and placed a hand to their mouths in surprise at the sight. A blush heated Mei's face at seeing Hugh's face so close to her, that alone would have been enough to make her flustered and red, but the feel of his lips on hers was pushing it way too far and it didn't help that neither made a move to part. Growlithe on the other hand barked happily at the two and merely sat back and watched.
It was Hugh who gathered enough sense to move away slowly, a faint blush appearing on his own cheeks at what had happened. He blinked several times trying to come up with something to say, but when he opened his mouth to speak he was interrupted by a body falling to the ground with a dull thud. Mei fainted.
"Oh boy..." he sighed and quickly went to lift her off the floor, letting go of the door and heading towards the Nurse. "Miss, there's another pokemon I need you to see!" he called loudly with the blush still present over his glaring face.