He had nowhere else to go.
His parents had always called him an impulsive child, willing to play the high and slim stakes to satisfy his desires, even at high costs which could have cost him dearly. He always snorted and rolled his eyes at their concerns. If a kid couldn't have fun at others' expenses, then life wasn't worth living. Terrance was his name, and mischief was his game. And his parents had no choice but to cave into his game. The other kids had no choice but to cave into his game. They didn't want to face the 'or else' option given to them if his game was not played.
The only one who ever had a way out was his older sister. She was that spacey science brain who was trying to get a science brain degree in college or something, the details of which slipped his mind. Even though he was about a decade younger than her, he was still smart enough to realize that she was kind but also a flake. Often her flakeness would be so visible that she would try to put her textbooks in the refrigerator. For as long as he could remember, he swore himself to be her Sir Lancelot (or at least that's what he thought it was, not being able to read English really well). At day he would terrorize the other children. He'd pull up their pants, kick dirt into their faces, punch them for their lunch money...as he grew older, a lot of those rituals didn't change. Yeah, he added more swirlies and noogies and once hung one of those damned jocks by a tree branch.
Yet at night things took a different mood. When the children were gone and his parents were at work, he would often take residence in his sister's room. There was a lot of girly stuff and sometimes she'd bring her equally girly, flaky friends over, but on those quiet days she'd often show him her science research. Most of the time he couldn't comprehend it, since it had a lot of numbers and English and squiggly words to it, but he understood the basic concept: dreams. She was studying something about the world of dreams, which made sense considering her flakeness and that pink, floating blob of a pokemon that liked to bother him when he took his quick snoozes. He knew she would be successful, and on those days he felt equally successful. He was the aggressive Sir Lancelot and she was the fair maiden princess, and they would sit together on her bed with their pokemon, laughing as they exchanged stories of their long days. She never judged him for his impulsiveness or aggressiveness or mischief.
But things were different now. He could never take back that day where his impulsiveness screwed him over and his patience snapped, where he had tried to apologize to his sister for the scrambled research that was scattered about in her room, defecated on or eaten. His only thoughts then were to punish his only pokemon, the good friend and mischievous Trubbish, who was burping up his sister's half-eaten eraser caps. He ignored her screams as he dragged the pokemon into the kitchen and stabbed it with a butcher knife, to punish, to apologize, to make that thing know it was wrong to cross his sister...and himself. He continued to stab it well after it stopped twitching, well after his hands were soaking into blood, well up until his sister yanked him off the pitiful thing and threw him outside onto the cold pavement. Only then did he realize that he had gone over the edge, and he continued to scream toward the house, screaming his sister's name until his parents came back home.
And then he ran. Ran until he made it to the ships, and then he took the first ship toward Johto with only the blood-stained clothes on his back and the change in his pocket. He would never be able to go back and apologize to his sister now. He was a fifteen year old stowaway with no plans for the distant future or even the next day. Life sucked.
Impulsive child be damned.
This was his second night on the ferry. He had managed to scrape up some money for a couple of cheese sandwiches and sat on the deck, sighing as he watched the endless ocean rock back and forth. He could not live his past life anymore. He could never go back to Unova. He couldn't even use his real name. No longer was he Terrance, the crazy delinquent outcast of science geeks. His English sucked, but he managed to make something for himself. Proton. And he snickered at this. What kind of parents would name their kid Proton? Not stupid people, that was for sure. But Proton had to stick. He wasn't about to think too much over this.
And so Proton nibbled at his cheese sandwich, enjoying the solitude that bloodied clothes gave a kid...no, a guy. A couple of those high-society chicks had tried to offer some of their husbands' fresh ironed shirts, but he had to decline. Iron-pressed shirts gave him the itches. He kept his distance from the ladies, anyway, preferring to hang out with the sweaty sailors until they, too, were repulsed by his stench. He would've thought that those sailors knew the smell of blood from their constant fighting above the room where he stayed. He would've thought he was good enough to become a sailor himself and stay forever bloody, too, but he had sunk too far. There wasn't too many options for a pokemon murderer.
The thought disturbed even him. Did he even have any options now?
"Hey, you gonna catch a cold like that, yeah?"
Proton almost choked on his sandwich. There was a guy sitting by him now, snickering. Some loser with a ridiculous haircut and beard...purple hair? Who was this loser? He put down his sandwich and glared at the loser, snorting. "I wouldn't worry about me, guy," he said, spitting on the deck. Boy, did his English really sucked. "You want a piece of me?"
"Frenchman, huh? Yeah, I know French. Bonjour, oui oui, yeah? You know that those hicks from Johto don't know a lick of French, yeah? I've dressed up as a bunch of French guys and stole from Jotes and they never notice. Perfect place to play French Robin Hood, I guess."
What was he talking about? This guy was acting like he owned the ship and was even trying to take Proton's untouched sandwich. Proton smacked the guy's hand away from his meager dinner. "Don't."
"Whatcha gonna do if I don't don't?" the loser sneered, pressing against Proton's knuckles. Gonna make me stink as much as you? I guess that would be kinda bad 'cause then I couldn't get the ladies, but I'm civilized. I wash my clothes."
Proton took back his rebloodied fist that had smashed against the loser's nose. He made up his mind. He wouldn't regret anything now. Now that he was a new man, he could really do what he wanted. And he couldn't let some loser with a crappy haircut get away with stealing his only couple of sandwiches. After all, he was always the guy who made others play his game before his mistakes. He could still have the game in his favor now.
But he let out a squeak as one of his arms was pulled back farther than it should have. The loser was pressed against him, clicking his tongue in mock sympathy as one of his hands reached the untouched sandwich. "Dang, you got a fast temper, Frenchy," he tutted, taking a bite out of the sandwich, "but you gotta remember, you still look like a kid, yeah? You need a couple of more years before sparring with the real boys."
That loser was eating his sandwich. "I am a real boy! I'm fifteen, now let me go!"
"Fifteen? Ooh, I'm shaking in my boots. I got this boss guy who's shorter than me but twice as old as you, and he almost clocked me last week 'cause I tried to hit on his lady. You think I'm scared of a punk?"
"You think you should've let him fight his lady's fights for him, guy?"
His arm was released, and he rubbed it while the loser laughed. "Nah, I would've still gotten my ass kicked. Ariana's probably a better punch, too. Would've been sore for days." He laughed again, placing a hand on Proton's shoulder. "Now let's get you some better slop, Frenchy. This cheese tastes terrible."
The days passed on the ship. The loser wasn't that much older than him but was a hairy mother. His name was Petrel, and was the self-proclaimed master of disguises. There wasn't a lot about Petrel's past that he shared. Like Proton, he'd been on his own from an early age, though his motive swung on the lines of picking up "the best smoking-hot chicks". He often traveled from place to place on business, that business sounding pretty shady. Proton didn't care if the guy was a crook, either. He knew he wasn't a saint.
And this shady business kinda sounded appealing, at least from what he imagined. Whenever Petrel was actually at home, he shared an apartment with two other people in the bustling city of Goldenrod. They were the people who had almost 'clocked' him, both comrades for a few years now. Archer was a calm, reserved man who often had a chivalrous side to him, and Ariana was his ill-tempered, on-and-off girlfriend. The three of them often had adventures when at home, terrorizing the local bars and other shady hangouts. Yeah, and a couple of times they had landed in jail for their recklessness, but they were always bailed out by their dependable boss. It was the type of life a guy like Proton could live now that he had no more restraints.
No more restraints, and no more worries. And Petrel didn't pry into his business like a brownnosing jerk. If he didn't want to continue on with his own stories, there wasn't any pressure. Besides, they had more fun when they weren't telling stories. Being serious was too boring. Since Petrel worked well with disguises and he worked well with picking locks, they spent the next few nights busting into the different rooms on the ship. High-class, low-class, smelly, drunken sailors - no one was safe. They were able to steal food, money, jewelry...and Proton liked it. He was practically in heaven when he managed to nab a nice, holey pair of blue jeans from one of the sailors' cabins. Although he came from a city, not many people there liked dressing down. He could finally start feeling at home. And Petrel was a lot of fun hanging out with when making this mischief. Well, he couldn't exactly call stealing 'mischief', but it was still harmless...for the most part. There were a couple of guys they had to handcuff to their beds so they wouldn't blab, but that was okay. They'd get uncuffed eventually.
And the more he did this with Petrel, the more he craved it. It was exactly the kind of impulsive lifestyle that an impulsive guy like him needed to balance him. No science stuff, no medication, no real rules or guidelines to stifle him. Only the basics, added with some good old-fashioned loyalty and mischief to the mix. It wasn't too much to ask for, really. A new identity with a new mission. Whatever shady business Petrel did, he was sure he could manage it, too.
On the last day that they were on the ship, Proton sat on Petrel's bed, watching the older man smoke by the window. Petrel was actually serious for once, flicking the cigarette ashes into the actual ashtray instead of the floor, deep in thought. Upon seeing Proton's gaze, he stared back and chuckled once. "I never asked you this, Proton, but you are a kid. Where you gonna go?"
Proton shrugged and laid back against the blankets. He shut his eyes. There wasn't much thought to the question. "Dunno. Guess I'll be a drifter. You gonna go back to Gord'nrod City, guy?"
"Damn, your English needs work. It's Goldenrod, Frenchy. But yeah. Gotta report back. Rumor has it that my boss might stop by and stuff. He doesn't stop by too often 'cause he's Kantonian and all, so it might be important. Why?"
This was his chance. To start anew, to set his new identity into stone. "Wondered if you needed a partner. I could use some work."
He thought he would make Petrel's day and make the guy dance in those loser boots of his. That would've been sensational. But Petrel's face had fallen, and he smashed the remains of his cigarette into the wall. Never on their days on the ship had Proton see the man look so hesitant. Petrel was sighing, running a hand through his hair, acting like he was...concerned? Guys like him couldn't get concerned. "You're cute. Really, you're frickin' adorable. Are you serious?"
"I'm always serious, fucker. Answer my question."
Petrel shook his head, leaning against the window, shaking his head again...disapproving. "Look, Proton, what we did these past couple of weeks was fun. I had a grand time. I did. Really had a bundle of joy playing Frenchman's Robin Hood with you and stealing all of that lingerie. I...can't-"
"Can't what? Play your big boy game?"
"I already told you the first day! You're still a kid! I'm not even stupid enough to let a kid tag along with me as a partner!" Petrel snapped. "Shi- you don't even know what I do every day! I only told you the thrilling car chase stories! I never told you all the other things I do with my time besides picking up chicks and getting wasted!"
He placed a hand on Proton's shoulder, and Proton remembered the first day they had met, when his sandwich was stolen by that punk loser. It was a bloody time where they had somehow bonded. Over a sandwich. Over a meager, tasteless cheese sandwich. God, this was really the life. He breathed lightly as the older man placed his other hand on the other shoulder. Those hands were so bony, almost feminine. "Look, you don't even know what Team Rocket is made out of," he continued in a softer voice. That voice made Proton want to punch him again and again. "You know we steal things like we did here, yeah? But the main things we steal are pokemon. They're not animals, they're not people, they're things. And those things make us a lot of money.
"We do what we have to in order to steal them. We rob from Pokemon Centers. We rob from little kids that just get their starter pokemon. We rob, and we rob, and we never get sick from it. One time a group of us were in Lavender Town in Kanto, and there was this Marowak and her baby Cubone, and...and, ahh, man, that was probably our first murder, man. That thing was only trying to protect her young, and man, Proton, we weren't even supposed to be out there. It was supposed to be some other guys' mission, and we were the ones who were stuck there. Imagine having to stay in disguise for a month as the Kantonian police are looking for you. Imagine innocent people throwing rocks at you and wishing you were dead. Imagine you wishing you were dead. You couldn't stomach stuff like that."
It set him over the edge, and before Proton knew it he had knocked Petrel to the floor, his face red with rage. It was like repeating his screw-up all over again. "You don't know me!" he snapped. "You wanna know why I'm in this ship? You wanna know why I'm going to live with a bunch of cross-eyed farming, small-town hicks? You wanna know why my clothes were bloody?" He was on top of Petrel now, and his hands were on that loser's neck. That stupid, pathetic, pitiful loser. He would have his final satisfaction now, the satisfaction of the past "It's because I'm just like you, guy! I hurt the only people I loved and the only thing I had! I'm a reckless, impulsive son of a bitch! I got nothing left, nowhere to turn to!"
Petrel wheezed and coughed as Proton let go. Violence really did feel good. "So don't tell me I'm not good enough to play your big boy game just 'cause you think I'm a kid, guy. I'm a new man now. Still think I'm a kid? I'll convince you."
"You're in," the older man croaked, coughing as he attempted to laugh. Laughing. That guy was laughing. And...crying? "but I can't do again what you did. You really do got a fast temper, Frenchy."
"I'm not sure if I can do that again, either. But I'll do what I need to survive now."
Proton rolled off of the older man, and Petrel stood up, wiping his face as he grabbed a towel and headed off to the bathroom. Really, he was even more pathetic when he looked so serious and shaken up like that. Before he closed the door, he pointed a finger at Proton, crooked and unsteady. "Oh, yeah. Don't ever try that crap with Ariana. You'll die," he warned, chuckling, slamming the door behind him.
With the loser no doubt crying his eyes out in the bathroom, Proton reclaimed the bed and stuffed his face into the pillows. No, he didn't think he had in it in him to become a cold-blooded murderer. Violence, yeah. It wouldn't bother him to cut open a few things. And it wouldn't bother him to steal a few 'mon. Because, he thought to himself, life still sucked. His life would never go back to the way it once was, no question about it. He would never go back to terrorizing kids on the playground or talking science stuff with his sister. He would never go back to being a Sir Lancelot or any knight in shining armor.
Proton was his name, and he needed a new game.
What I do instead of doing homework. Oops.