For the Love of Food!

Summary: He joined Team Rocket because he was promised food. A Rocket Grunt tries to confront the HGSS protagonist when Team Rocket takes over the Radio Tower. One-shot. Rated T for language. I do not own the cover image.

Disclaimer: I don't own Pokémon. I do not own the cover image used for this fanfic.

"Get out of my office, punk!" The suited man yelled rudely at my face. With a single glance at his bodyguards, I had my sorry ass thrown out of the building by men who probably never had to think for their jobs.

How hard could it be to find a job? Those were my first thoughts when I was off to live on my own after my parents stopped caring about my well-being. With a high school diploma and no college degree in sight, I was naturally shunned by nearly every job I attempted to apply for. Secretaries looked at my résumé, well, more like a half crumbled up stationary paper I stole from the Pokémon Center's front desk, and instantly sent me out without another glance. I suppose having skills in playing the drums and naming every superhero doesn't amount for much in the working industry. Even the department store wasn't impressed that I would handle money and demanded to see my college degree. Um, all you do is count money and deal with the customers. What? The few places that did accept me as an employee were only interested in taking me in as a temporary worker. I think you can guess how that turned out.

Anyway, I was walking down Goldenrod City with my shoulders down when I recognized the Goldenrod Department Store from a distance. The place was never completely quiet. Even at night the store was still open with some workers having night shifts. It was tall, beige colored, had shiny glass windows lining up on each floor with a red rooftop. Trainers by the dozens rushed in and out from the tall building with their purchases in hand and Pokémon walking besides them. Mothers held their children by the hand and buy them gifts from the store. Pokedolls and Pokeballs always sold out quickly and had to be restocked several times a day. The building had huge banners displayed on the sides with big letters exclaiming that Battle Items and Moomoo Milk were on sale for fifty percent off.

My stomach gurgled at the thought of Moomoo Milk. I haven't eaten since yesterday's lunch because I ran out of money from spending it on rooming at the Pokémon Center. My stomach scrunched up and continued growling, ignoring the stares of people passing by the bustling city. I clutched my stomach as if it would relieve the pain.

I spot a purple colored rat waiting in front of the Goldenrod Department Store. The little guy was small, maybe about a foot tall. He had red eyes, sharp fangs, curled up tail and a beige underbelly. In between his fangs was a white rice ball with seaweed on it. It was onigiri. I felt the line of my lips form into a wide grin.

"Kora!" I sat down on the ground and rubbed the Rattata behind the ears, "Didn't think you would get so much this time!"

Kora beamed and let me run my fingers through his fuzzy fur. I took the onigiri from his mouth and broke it in two and hand it to the pokemon. Kora gave me a strange look and shook his head. He pushed the food to me with his small paws. It hurts so much to see how generous this Pokémon was. He unofficially became my partner in crime after I saved him from a few kids picking on him, shortly after I was kicked out of my house. Kora was fairly small for his own kind and was fast on his feet, very useful for stealing food and winning battles.

"The elevator woman gave you more food today?" I guessed and took a bite from the rice ball. It was a little too salty for my liking, but it was better than nothing.

My taste buds recognized the taste of pickled plum and salmon stuffed inside the rice ball. I told myself not to eat too quickly, but my mouth got greedy and was already half way through with the good stuff. My cheeks puffed out like a Pachirisu. so I started chewed slowly. Can't let that happen. It would be a waste of food if I was to choke on it while eating. I can see it on the news, 'Nineteen year old male died from choking on onigiri'. Kora must have played cute with the one of the department store workers. I'm sure there was someone out there who fell for the tiny rat as cute and innocent. I took a huge bite from the rice ball and savored the taste into my memory.

"Got rejected again?"

I didn't have to look up to see who it was. Her name is written with the kanji "jasmine" and reads it as Mari. A pretty name for a pretty woman. Not that she knows that. She was a blond woman wore a simple uniform of navy blue blazer and a skirt. She dressed smart. Then again, she was living with her parents and had the money to afford college while working part-time at the department store. She had a stern look on her face. The makeup on her face made her pale green eyes stood out and they were glaring at me.

"Shouldn't you be working?" I snarked back at her.

"I'm the elevator person," she rolled her eyes. "All I do is ask people where they want to go and announce the floor." She put on hand on her hip, "Besides, it's my lunch break."

"Oh, right." I stood up, "Thanks for the lunch." I held up the half eaten onigiri for her to see.

"You can come over to my place and…"

"I won't accept charity!" I interrupted her, "But thanks for giving food to Kora." I lowered a part of my body to swoop up Kora into my arms. The purple rat looked at the two of us nervously.

"No wonder you got rejected," she mumbled. "Your attitude and the way you're dressed…"

She examined my very lazy outfit of a worn down black hooded jacket and a pair of jeans worn over my tall lanky body. The wardrobe I had with me was very limited with the little money I earned from my temporary jobs. I managed to get my hands on pants, but I couldn't afford to buy the upper part of it. At one point, I did get the upper part of the suit, although it was the wrong color. An office worker at one of the many places I attempted to apply work for struggled to keep a straight face when I walked in with a blue top and an orange bottom. All of my clothes were in my backpack along with some life necessity items like matches and a Swiss Army Knife. I tried to ignore the sad look Mari had and turned my head away.

"Mari…I'm sorry…" I mumbled, "I'll find a job soon, I promise." I quietly bit off from the rice ball. The taste of pickled plum still lingered in my mouth.

"That promise is only to yourself, not to anyone self." She said softly, "If you're having problems, come to me."

"I shouldn't be bugging you," I sat up and started walking the opposite direction. "I'm wasting your lunch break." Maybe it was a bad idea to go meet her again. She gained nothing from knowing me. I have no job and I wasn't from a rich family or anything.

"At least give me a good-bye!" She shouted to me. Her ponytail flowed behind her in the warm summer's breeze.

"I'll see you tomorrow anyway!" I hollered back, "Thanks for the food again!" I took a last bite from my food and swallowed it with much gusto.

"Where are you going?" Mari called after me.

"To find a job!" I looked back at her and kept walking. She yelled something to me, but I was too far away from her to make out what she was saying. I yelped when I suddenly lost my balance and fell down on my butt.

"Hey, watch where you're going, Pinky!" A man's voice growled.

I held my breath back when I recognized his uniform. I forgot the fact that the nearest police station was maybe several blocks away from me and that I could easily run away from this guy with the help of my Pokémon. Kora could have served as a distraction and bite his hand or something. My palms were sweating. Shit.

I heard the organization came back when news reported that Azalea Town's Slowpoke went missing, but I didn't think I would have to face them myself. The person wore an all black uniform of a cap and a red-letter R on his turtleneck. He looked like he could be in his mid or late twenties. It was hard to tell with that black cap casting a shadow over the upper part of his face. Team Rocket!

I rubbed my pink hair with annoyance and argued, "My name isn't Pinky!" Yeah, talk to the big guy like it's nothing. Am I stupid? "My name is Dai-"

"Well, you're in the way." The man interrupted me, "Unless you want to join Team Rocket and make some money, get lost!"

"Money?" My eyes widened.

When was the last time I had enough money for renting an apartment? It's been so long. The temporary jobs were only enough to give me room at the Pokémon Centers on lucky weeks when the place wasn't jam-packed with trainers. I envied those young trainers. Most of them ranged from ten years old to their late teens. They were still young enough that they were financially supported by their families. All I had was Kora, who was the first Pokémon I caught when I first lived on my own. When I was desperate, I would find a trainer and battle the poor kid with Kora and win some money. I felt bad for taking money from a child, but I was hungry and I needed a roof over my head. Sometimes, I'm not as lucky and run against the occasional trainer who can actually battle. I once traveled across the region with a different team like those kids did, but that was a long time ago. My old team was the only reminder to my parents that I ever existed.

More than once did Mari find me sleeping on one of the park benches with my jacket as my blanket when she was walking back from work or college. She offered me a place to stay, but I would nearly always reject the invitation. I couldn't find the heart to take advantage of staying at her place and being a freeloader, although my stomach would sometimes win and made me choose to come with her. She paid an apartment for rent because she was staying in Goldenrod City for college, far from her hometown.

"What are you staring at?" The black clad man gave me a funny look.

"This job pays people with money, right?" I looked at him with my dark-colored eyes.

"Of course it does," he said in a tone that suggested that he thought I was stupid. "With all the business Team Rocket partakes in, we have tons of money to pay for our grunts!"

"Is there food?" I asked hopefully. My Rattata gave me a weary look.

"What are you, stupid?" He was clearly not in a good mood and pulled me by the collar,

"Look, are you going to join or not? Yes, there will be food! Can't have starving workers if we want to get anything done."

The last part of his words failed to reach my ears. Food. There was going to be food. And lots of it from what it sounded like. For the last couple of weeks, I have survived on meals from the soup kitchen nearby. Sure, the food was decent, but after staying there for a while, it became too familiar. I memorized the menu by heart where I knew which day clam chowder was going to be served and what time the kitchen distributed granola bars for breakfast. Kora would sometimes come back with a few berries for the two of us to eat and maybe even a loaf of bread. Of course, Mari would find some way to get Kora to take food from her because she knew I would say no to her.

The thought of all the food I could eat if I joined. Platters of curry rice stacked on top of clean sleek countertops. Miso soup freshly cooked with its warm smell rising from the porcelain bowls. Pickled fruit and vegetables soaked with salt, lining up as side dishes to salted salmon and tuna. Endless supplies of rice balls of different kinds. Dessert would be red bean paste stuffed dumplings and some fruits. All of these meals ending with a cup of tea to wash it all down. My mouth watered at the mere thought of it.

"What are you smiling about?" The grunt's words snapped me back into reality. He was still holding the collar of my shirt underneath my hooded jacket. I realized that I was drooling during my fantasy and wiped it off with my hand.

"Looks like I will get a job," I said with a distant smile.


"I'll join your stupid little cult," I cackled. His response to my smart ass remark was a punch to the face.

I gained a lot of nicknames in the past few weeks. New Kid, Kid, Newbie, Strawberry Shortcake, Pig, Loser, etc. There were two nicknames I couldn't stand being called. One of them was Pinky. The other nickname was-

"Oi! Onigiri Boy!"

I groaned, "For the last time, my name is Dai-"

"Whatever, loser," the grunt laughed. "Did you hear? One of the Admins got his ass handed by a kid."

"Quit making up stuff," I grumbled while readjusting my cap. My skull feel so stiff with the cap sitting on my messy hair. "Don't you have some five-year old to pick on?"

I grabbed an aluminum ball out of my backpack and unwrap it to show a few rice balls. I took a huge bite out of it and chewed on it as quickly as I could before swallowing. It wasn't my fault I always had rice balls as a snack. They were easy to make and carry around for these types of missions.

"Har, har." the grunt said sarcastically. "Boss said he needed some grunts to stop the intruder from ruining our plans. You're back up. Now go back up the higher ranks."

It has been exactly two weeks since I joined Team Rocket. I gingerly tugged on the collar of the black turtleneck uniform all grunts were required to wear. It felt odd wearing the Team Rocket uniform when I was a homeless bum a couple of weeks ago, surviving on lunch leftovers of a department store worker. The grunt and I were stationed in front of the Goldenrod Game Corner while the rest of the organization spread out in other parts of the city. The grunt and I were merely novices. We were given the easy job of stopping anyone from entering the game corner. It was unlikely that anyone would be in the mood of gambling during a crisis like this.

Just as planned, Team Rocket had successfully taken over Goldenrod City. The invading organizing blocked the Pokémon gym from access. There was a call from earlier that the gym trainers inside were rebelling against the grunts, but were struggling to keep up against the number of Team Rocket members. Grunts were already sent to the edge of the city to prevent anyone from entering or exiting the big city. The news of some kid defeating one of the Admins seemed laughable. A strong trainer would have to conveniently be in Goldenrod City when Team Rocket took over. What were the chances?

"Why don't you go?" I took off my cap and fanned myself with the black cap and casually wondered where Mari was now. She was still at work. Was Team Rocket ordered to blockade the department store too?

"You're a stronger trainer than me, Pinky." The sly fool told me. "Someone's gotta make sure no one goes into the game center."

He was a stupid coward who always expects people to do the dirty work for him and get the credit for it. Oh, you wish, buddy. Not going to work on me. This grunt had a thick build and easily towered over most people. He used his size and brute strength to scare his opponents. He could easily break me like a twig if he chose to. Guy doesn't score too high on the intelligence scale.

"Don't call me that," I growled.

"What? Onigiri Boy?"

"That, and don't call me Pinky!" I automatically tugged on my coral pink hair with some self-consciousness. I hated how it was feminine that color was. "So there's an intruder in the Radio Tower," I said.

"That's right," he nodded.

"Funny how all it takes for Team Rocket's fall is getting defeated by an eleven year old again," I smirked. "So much for being the all mighty Team Rocket." Kora, now evolved to a Raticate, laughed at my comment. The Pokémon was now more than twice the size of Rattata and was brown colored with longer whiskers and teeth.

"Are you mocking Team Rocket?" The grunt shot a nasty look at me. His face turned to a shade of red and spouted out curses of frustration at me and at the situation. I ignored his fuming until he said, "You act so high and mighty for a newbie." He said this with his teeth clenched together, "Why don't you go defeat that intruder if you think you're so great?"

"You're making a big deal about a kid," I said coolly.

"If you defeat him, think of all the food you can buy with a promotion," he said with a weird grin.

Stupid bastard.

"So you're the brat that intruded the Radio Tower," I took a bite from a leftover rice ball I still had. "Kora, go fight! For the love of food!" Kora bare his fangs at the eleven year old child. We were on one of the tower's floors, a little below where the Boss was.

"Wait, what?" The trainer looked at me strangely and threw me a gesture of 'you're crazy'.

The eleven year old called out the Pokémon. Before I could even register Kora's opponent, the Pokémon charge directly to Kora with glowing fists and smacked him in on the side. I watched in horror as Kora flew across the room and smashed through a desk and knock down a few lamps. Broken glass littered the floor with other trash and debris. Several Rocket Grunts nearby saw the damage done and rushed in to back me up with their Pokémon in hand. Several Ekan slithered on the floor with some Koffing shooting out dark gas to confuse the intruder. Voices around me shouted out various commands, but my mind blocked it all out. Under all the commotion, I cried out Kora's name and ran towards where he fell. I saw the child run upstairs while taking down several Rocket Grunts with the Pokémon that defeated Kora. The same grunt I talked to earlier rushed in and shouted my name several times, but I didn't care. I found Kora lying on the floor with horrible bruises and hugged him.

"You're going to be fine, buddy." I sobbed and took out a water bottle and poured it over his wound. Part of his skin was cut open from the rash attack. He was bleeding. "I'm sorry for getting us into this stupid mess…"


A Month Later

I took out a mop and swept it across the already gleaming white tiled floor. Earlier, I finished cleaning the men's bathroom and believe me, it was a lot of work and I'm not looking forward to doing it again in a few hours. I lift the mop, dumped it into a bucket of water, and gave it a few seconds to soak in the soapy water. The room had clean white walls and green colored tiles with comfy chairs set up next to a few potted plants. Someone turned on the television displayed at the front of the room, but no one was watching it. Aside from the occasional cries of patients or family members, it was a quiet afternoon at the Goldenrod City Hospital.

The sun was about to set at the horizon through the glass windows of the waiting room. There were tons of buildings blocking part of the sun, but it was still a nice sight. There were a few visitors who would come by, but for the most part, there weren't a lot of people. Most of them were in a rush to get to their destination and hardly acknowledged my existence. I mean, who would pay attention to a hospital janitor? Visitors ignored my presence and stepped aside or lift their foot up and allowed me to get my job done.

Once again, Team Rocket fell thanks to a young trainer. After the battle with the kid, I rushed out of the tower and found myself running to the department store of all places. Mari found me still crying with Kora in my arms and got out of work early to help me heal the Raticate. Without any arguments, Mari dragged me to her apartment and threw some clothes at me to change into. I had to remove all evidence that I was ever affiliated to the well-known evil organization through some paperwork and loopholes. Mari and I haven't talked in weeks because of my position as a grunt. It felt awkward to see her again. I was too thankful that she didn't push me on the reasons of why I joined Team Rocket and allowed me some personal space to recover from the tower incident.

I was an idiot for joining them. What a fool I was. I remembered how watery my eyes got when the Rocket Grunt mentioned food. Did I really get myself into this mess because of food? Was my voracious appetite that bad? The image of curry and miso soup popped up in my mind again. My imagination got ahead of me and conjured those wild fantasies of buffets à la carte. I could taste the food just thinking about them. I looked down with shame. Maybe I should have just accepted Mari's food and get on with finding a job back then. This job, Mari helped me get in. She coached me for the interview and made sure I dressed right. She helped me more than I gave her credit for.

I finished mopping the floor of that particular room. Being a janitor wasn't much to brag about, but at least the hospital promised to keep me as a permanent employee. I liked this job. It was a disgusting job, but it gave me plenty of time to think. It made me think about what I've done in the past. I'm planning to go to a junior college in the city. Maybe finally get that damn college degree so I can get a proper job that doesn't involve sticking my hand into a toilet bowl. If I save enough money, I might be able to start next month. I was thinking of later applying for the nursing program at the higher universities.

Shadows began to cast against the building. I slowly walked to the janitor's room located off the side of the room and put away my stuff. I squeezed out the excess water from the mop and placed it next to the rest of the cleaning supplies. After changing out of my uniform and cleaning my hands, I went out of the room and exited out of the hospital. I checked my watch for the time. Seven thirty, yikes! I was going to be late! I was supposed to be making dinner tonight. Mari won't be too happy… I shield my eyes with one arm from the sun's rays. He was there waiting for me.

"Raticate!" His brown fur grew over the spot where the cut was. The scar was sewn up and made him look like a war veteran returning from an operation. Even after that battle he was still eager to fight for me. He was always by my side since I was forced to be on my own.

"Let's go home, Kora." I smiled and with the two of us walking home together.

Author's Note:A story of a man and his Raticate. This almost makes me learn to like the Rattata line. Almost… So be sure to leave a review for this fanfic please. I want to hear some of your thoughts on this. Constructive criticism is appreciated. Who can guess the Rocket Grunt's name? Anyone who guesses it correctly gets 100 points to Gryffindor/Ravenclaw/Hufflepuff/Slytherin. Can we stop stop for a moment and talk about how a Rocket story is posted on Friday the 13th? I didn't realize that until after I posted the story online.

I'm currently doing a pokemon collaboration fanfic called Disappearance: REWRITE with LunarAbyss. Check out the story under the account name "Mitsukiharu" and feel free to leave a review. The fic is heavily based off the game's mechanics and characters and is about Red and Green looking for the culprit who made the legendary pokemon disappear. LINK: www. fanfiction / s/ 9430714/1/ Disappearance-REWRITE (remove spaces)