I'm still pretty new at the whole writing thing, so if you're one of those people with high standards either wander off now or please provide some feedback on how to make it better. I've dealt with enough jerks elsewhere... and considering I couldn't figure out a way to write the summary without it sounding cliched is enough of a kick in the head, thanks.Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.---
Less Than Isolated
Jay looked around the outpost that acted as a final rest stop for anyone venturing into the Viridian Forest. It had vending machines in the far corner, some benches, a public restroom, a small area that acted as a Pokemon center even though it couldn't handle anything too serious, and three video phones along the wall with dividers between them. Jay was standing at the far left phone, tapping his foot impatiently as the sixth ring sounded. He was about to just give up when the screen flickered from the waiting picture of a spinning pokeball to that of a tan, furry face.
"You've reached the Carrison residence, how may I direct your call?" Roufas said, somehow retaining his serious demeanor as Hickory scampered up his back and perched atop the Persian's head.
Jay shook his head at the pair of them. "Roufas, how many times do I have to tell you not to answer the phone at other people's houses?"
"I knew it was you because of the incoming call's location message, Lana went off to answer the door and technically, Hickory's the one that answered. He pushed the button." Roufas replied.
"Only because your paws are too big to just hit the answer button!" Hickory piped up.
Roufas twitched his head, making the Rattata grab some fur to keep from falling off. "Quiet, you."
"Well, I was only calling to see if you got back okay, anyway." Jay said, glancing over his shoulder to see if anyone was watching him. There were only a couple other people in the building, one was snoring on a bench and the other seemed to be having a struggle with one of the vending machines. No worries about being thought of as nuts for the moment. "It may not have been far out of town, but considering how little you leave the house I wondered if you could handle the walk. You gave the message and your pokeball to Lana for now, then?"
Roufas gave him an annoyed look. "Yes she got the note, and stop saying I'm out of shape."
"That's right!" Hickory squeaked. "He's in great shape! A perfect circle around the mid-YIPES!" Hickory flew out of sight as Roufas shook his head.
"That's enough of that." Roufas said, looking off to wherever Hickory landed.
Jay tried to keep from laughing. "It's times like this I'm surprised you haven't eaten him by now."
"It wouldn't be worth it. Not enough meat on him to even be a snack." Roufas shrugged.
"Aww, don't be cruel, Rou." Hickory said, climbing back up the Persian. "You know you wouldn't eat your best buddy!"
Roufas sighed. "You and Gail should both be thankful I prefer seafood over bite-sized critters and poultry."
Hickory seemed to flatten himself against Roufas' head at Gail's name. "I really wish she felt the same way..." He mumbled.
Roufas looked as if he was going to speak, but his ear twitched and he looked off at something. He waited a moment before moving away from the screen and Jay heard a door click open.
"Roufas, you better not going after my little buddy again." A stern voice said. "What in the... Jay?" Lana appeared on the screen, looking rather confused.
"Hey Lana, hope you don't mind Roufas playing receptionist. I taught him how to answer the phone at my place and hang up on unwanted callers."
Lana remained dumbfounded for a moment before speaking. "Why did you go off on your own? You should have at least taken Roufas for protection from wild Pokemon!"
Jay rolled his eyes. "Good God, you sound like my Mother. Are you going to grill me about bringing along clean underpants next?"
From somewhere off-screen, Hickory squeaked. "Underpants? Where?!"
"Pipe down, Hickory." Lana scolded him. "Seriously, Jay. You should come back. We can all go on the trip in three weeks or so, I don't know why you're being so stubborn about the date."
Jay scratched his head, wondering how much he should say. "You know how I disappear once in a while when we're up here? Either alone or with Mag?"
"Well, I made a promise to someone shortly after we started coming here. I'd visit them every June to see how they were doing." He explained. "Three weeks would be too late."
Lana stared at him. "You never mentioned that before."
"That's because the someone in question isn't too fond of most people. Took me a while to earn his trust, and he the only reason he sees Magnus is because he wanted to meet the person that could cause all the chaos I told him about."
"He's not some creepy old forest hermit is he?" Lana asked, looking a little worried.
"No, he's... well, I'm not sure how old he is." Jay thought about it for a moment. "I'd guess a little older than me, but since he has a family it's tough to say."
Lana's jaw dropped open a bit at that, but before she could say anything another voice forced its way in. "Jay! What in the world do you think you're doing leaving Roufas behind?!"
Jay cringed as Tracy's face moved in beside Lana's. "Oh, sorry Mom, the place is closing, gotta run!"
"Don't you dare-" Her protest ended along with the picture of her angry face as Jay pressed the disconnect button. He was probably going to regret hanging up on her when he got home, but that wasn't for another week. Maybe she'd have cooled off by then... though Jay doubted it.
"Moms..." He muttered in annoyance, walking toward the exit. It was going to be dark soon, and he wanted to find a place to set up the tent before then.
Jay hurried down one of the small, lesser-used paths off the main one that led through the forest. It branched off in more directions than he could keep track of, and half of them weren't on any map since they were made by Pokemon. He may not have known them all, but he knew the route to his group's normal campsite so well he could find it blind... and given how quickly the light was fading, he may have to do just that.
Building to a sprint despite the weight of his backpack and the box in his hand, he arrived at the campsite just in time to see the sun disappearing behind the treetops. The small clearing in the trees was, as usual, empty. Jay set his pack on the ground, dropping next to it and opening the box the tent was in. He removed what looked like a smaller, yellow box and rotated it in his hands, trying to remember how to set it up.
"I know there was a latch or something..." Jay mumbled, feeling the corners. One of them clicked and the tent suddenly expanded, smacking him in the face when it popped open and out of his hands. Rubbing his nose where one of the poles in the tent had hit, he got up and rolled it so the flat part was on the bottom. After taking the metal hooks from the box and sticking them into the ground at each corner of the tent to make sure it wouldn't blow away, he took a step back and looked at it.
It looked like half of a cylinder, standing about four feet high and was as blindingly bright yellow as the sun. Why Magnus liked the color so much was beyond him... Jay always commented that it looked like one of those snack cakes he ate. No point in making the reference now, though. Not since he was the only one there.
Grabbing his backpack, he unzipped the tent and crawled in. He untied his sleeping bag from the pack and rolled it out, then practically dumped his the contents of his bag onto the ground, trying to find something edible that didn't require cooking. Building a fire sounded too bothersome at the moment, he was too tired from being woken up too early and all the rushing around.
Sorting through what he had, Jay settled on a bottle of water, bag of chips and candy bar he had gotten from the outpost vending machine. Worrying about nutrition was for those still halfway conscious. He noticed one of the things that had tumbled out of his pack and let out an irritated groan. A pokeball. He forgot his crazy Mother said she had put some in there. Leaning back a little, he raised one foot and stomped on the offensive little ball. Part of the tent fabric was pushed into the soft earth along with it. Jay grumbled something rude, pulling the ball out of the hole it had made and throwing it back into his pack. He may not have liked the things, but he couldn't deny how durable they were.
After finishing his poor excuse for a dinner, he dropped onto his sleeping bag, not even bothering to climb into it before drifting off to sleep.
Jay departed the campsite the next morning a little after dawn, after setting up a spot for a campfire and discovering how little he had in the way of food. Daniel was always the one who brought that, not to mention cooked. However, since the "Campfire King" as Magnus called him was off to a tournament, Jay was going to have to make do with what he could get.
Heading into the forest, he stopped by the few berry trees he knew of, gathering up an assortment before making his way to an old picnic table that, judging by the condition, had been long forgotten by whoever set it up. Brushing away some fallen leaves and dirt, Jay dropped the berries into a pile, apart from one pecha he set in the middle of the table. Taking an oran from the pile, he tore it in half, flinging each piece in opposite directions. All he had to do now was wait. Good thing he had brought his book along.
It wasn't long, maybe twenty minutes, before he heard something move in one of the trees behind him. He closed his book, setting it onto the bench next to him as a voice rang out.
"Death to the pecha!" It cried, and something yellow slammed onto the berry in the center of the table, splattering everything around it, Jay included. Both the attacker and mutilated fruit rolled off the table, landing on the opposite bench.
Jay grinned, wiping some of the pecha juice off his face with his sleeve. "As crazy as ever, I see."
"Crazy? Please. I just like playing with my food." The arrival said, his voice muffled since his mouth was full.
"How mature of you."
"Aw, can it." A spiked, fuzzy face poked up from the other side of the table, pink smears from the pecha juice blending with his yellow fur and making an unusual pattern across his face. "Magnus not with you this time?"
"Nope, I'm on my own up here. Which is proving to be a problem since I forgot a lot of things. Like food." He sighed, leaning on the table. "I'll probably have to head home in a couple days because of it, but I might be back up in a month or so. Depends on when the others are free."
The Jolteon smirked at him. "Coming up here all alone? And you call me crazy."
Jay offered a glare in reply. "I swear, Zed, if I hear that from one more person I'm gonna snap. I can take care of myself... or should I prove it to you again like when we first met?"
Zed pulled his ears back. "I'll pass. I get a headache just thinking about it. I'm surprised you didn't break my brain with that punch..."
"Would anyone even be able to tell if I did?"
"Shut up and gimme an oran."
Jay chuckled, picking an oran berry out of the pile and tossing it at Zed, who jumped up and caught it in his front paws, only to topple over backwards onto the ground when he landed. "Graceful as ever, too."
A rustle and voice from the bushes made both of them look. "Damn shrubbery, outta my w-AH!" A teen with short black hair fell out of the bushes, landing on his face. "Ow..."
"You alright?" Jay asked as the unexpected arrival pushed himself up.
"Yeah, just a little pissed off." He sighed, brushing the dirt off his red shirt and blue jeans before removing the sunglasses from his shirt pocket and frowning. There was a crack down the middle of the right lens and the left had completely shattered. "Man, I just got these too."
Zed hopped onto the table, fur bristling. Jay could hear the faint crackle of electricity building, sparks flickering between the tips of the Jolteon's spiked fur.
Right into combat mode whenever someone comes along... Zed must run into a lot of trainers in the forest or something. Jay thought.
"You know how much farther it is to Viridian City, and the general direction? I got kinda lost when I decided to look for that odd Pokemon everyone's been talking about." He sighed, running his fingers through his hair. "Leave it to me to get sidetracked when I'm trying to get somewhere."
"Odd pokemon?" Jay inquired.
"You don't know? The rumor in Pewter City was about a pokemon in the forest that was out of its element." He explained.
"What does that mean?"
The teen sighed and straightened his hair again. Jay figured it was a nervous habit. "You know, like something you wouldn't find here. Bugs, birds..." His eyes stopped on Zed for a moment. "...really pissed off looking Jolteons, they're expected in a forest, even if rare. They were on about something that doesn't fit the setting."
"Hm..." Jay pondered it for a minute, before rasing his hand and pointing with his thumb. "Viridian's that way. Two hour walk to the outpost, another one or so to town."
"Thanks." He said, walking off in the direction Jay told him.
It was a couple minutes after the teen departed that Zed's fur began lower, the pent up energy receding. "Who the hell was that?"
"No idea." Jay shrugged. "What's this out of place Pokemon he was talking about, though?"
"I haven't heard anything about that." Zed sat down on the table, staring at one of the chesto berries. "Jenna might have, I'll have to ask her when I get home."
"Ah, yes. The hot-blooded mate of yours. She still fond of me?"
"Fond of setting you on fire, maybe." Zed laughed.
Their conversation continued for a long while, Jay offering up tales of Magnus' absurd antics and Zed telling stories about his wife and daughters. The latter made a point of also saying how annoying it was that he still hadn't gotten a son after three attempts, but that continuing to try was great fun. Jay quickly requested a topic change after that.
It was getting dark by the time Jay returned to his campsite. Wondering for a moment where the day had gone, he dropped his backpack onto the ground by the unlit campfire and began rummaging through it. Three bottles of water, a bag of marshmallows and a couple pechas he picked up on the way back was all the food he had. Talk about not thinking things through.
Getting up to see Zed was the important thing, though. Since he'd gotten to do that, maybe he'd just head home tomorrow. Making the trek back to Viridian just to pick up supplies would kill another day, and the camp would be boring on his own. Leaving tomorrow sounded like the best option, he'd be back up here with his friends in about a month anyway.
An annoyed, familiar voice came from the trees to his left. "Ah, dammit. You again? I'm going around in circles. Thank you very freaking much Gil for screwing up my sense of direction."
"What did I do?" A second asked, sounding genuinely confused.
Jay glanced at the teen from earlier, who was staring down at a Psyduck and looking very frustrated. "Don't give me that look. Don't hit your head again either, I'm tired of the flying lessons."
"Flying lessons?" The Psyduck wondered.
The teen sighed. "Nevermind... just... rest up for a while, alright?" He aimed the pokeball in his right hand at the Psyduck, who returned to it in a flash of light. Placing the ball into the holder on his belt, he turned to Jay. "Mind pointing me in the direction of town again?"
Jay gestured to the narrow path. "Follow that and it'll take you to the main road. Take a left from there."
"Thanks again." He said with a wave, coming to a stop at the edge of the path. "Mind if I ask you something else?"
Jay opened one of the bottles of water. "What?"
"Your Jolteon, why'd it look ready to rip my throat out earlier?"
"My... wha?" Jay blinked, then realized the misunderstanding. No reason to tell him the truth, he was a trainer after all. "Zed's paranoid and over-protective, he considers everyone he meets a threat at first. Sure did when I first met him... he only threatened to rip your throat out, with me he actually tried."
"Sounds like an aggressive partner to have." He mumbled, glancing over his shoulder. "You should be careful around Pokemon like that, I know how vicious some can get."
Jay raised an eyebrow at him, but didn't push the subject. "Trust me, I know. I've had some bad experiences. Not with Zed after the first meeting, but with others. Others that had less reason to come after me. He had something to protect... they didn't."
It was the teen's turn to offer a curious expression. Jay expected a question about it, but one didn't come. "I'm Simon."
He blinked, taken off guard by the sudden introduction. "Jay."
"Always nice to meet a fellow trainer with the common sense to be cautious. I meet very few like that."
"I'm not a trainer." Jay said quickly, a hint of anger in his voice.
"Oh?" Simon watched him, surprised by his reaction. "What about... Zed, was it?"
"Zed's a friend, not a... trainee. I don't beat up free Pokemon and stick them in those things." He gestured to the pair of pokeballs on Simon's belt. "I don't make them fight with other Pokemon just for the hell of it or some idiotic notion of being a 'Pokemon Master'. And I sure as hell don't use them as tools like some twisted bastards might!" His voice built to a yell as he went on, and he had gotten to his feet without realizing it. He took a few deep breaths, trying to calm down and feeling very embarrassed he'd let something that was meant to be a compliment get to him like that.
Simon's reaction wasn't what he'd expected. He laughed. "Passionate about your beliefs, aren't you? I can understand that. Going by that definition, I'm not a trainer either. I didn't catch these two, I adopted them from a shelter for abandoned Pokemon. I haven't even considered capturing others... Sil and Gil are the best companions I could get."
Jay stared at him and slowly sat back down, thinking. A person that thought like that wasn't something he came across very often. The only other person he knew that even came close was Magnus. Figures he went and bit the guy's head off. "Sorry... I didn't mean to snap like that, it's just..."
"Don't worry about it. I'd actually love to stay and chat, but I have a schedule to keep." He started to leave again, but Jay stopped him after noticing something odd about his story.
"Hold on a sec. Before, you said you were looking for a Pokemon, but now you're telling me you don't capture Pokemon. That makes no sense."
"That? I just happened to comment that if there was a Pokemon out of place in this forest it was probably lost or abandoned. It was a mistake to say that to Sil, who conned me into coming to look for and help it. I don't know how the hell she always does it. Psychic manipulation, maybe... or just that expression telling me it's the right thing to do." Simon sighed, running his fingers through his hair and glancing at the path. "A voice of conscience that doesn't use words... that sums up Sil pretty well."
Jay grinned. "I wish I knew someone like that. The only advice I get either comes from people freaking out over nothing, or from Roufas who points out what I'm doing wrong with little regard for manners."
"Damn it." Simon muttered. "Figures I finally bump into someone worth talking to. I really do have to be somewhere though, and there's already a chance I'll be late."
"Better get going then, I'm stubborn about punctuality too. If you're ever passing through Pallet, look me up. It's small and I'm the only Jay in town."
"I'll be sure to do that." He said, before taking off down the path at a sprint. "Farewell!"
"Bye!" Jay shouted after him. Taking a drink, he turned to face the campfire again. Maybe, just maybe, there were a few people that could be designated trainers but he could still get along with other than Daniel and Sam.
Jay zipped the tent three-quarters of the way closed, remembering how stuffy it could get when fully sealed. It would have been pitch-black if not for his flashlight, which was flickering and dim. "Figures I forgot batteries too." He complained, switching it off and climbing into his sleeping bag in the darkness.
He wasn't sure how long he slept, but a voice coming from somewhere nearby woke him up. It was still impossible to see, but Jay thought he could see a light in the forest through the tent's material.
"Damn it all! How could I lose it?! It was right freaking there!" The voice snapped. It sounded like a boy, and human, but it certainly wasn't Simon. "Just my luck. I find the stupid Pokemon and lose it."
Find... do they mean the one Simon mentioned? Jay wondered, sitting up. That's when he heard something moving... something in his tent. He froze. The sound had come from the corner of the tent, but he wasn't sure if it would attack if he moved or if it was simply hiding. Talking to it might help, but the person outside was still near enough to hear.
Slowly moving his hand along the edge of the tent next to him, he found his flashlight and flicked it on. It may have been dim, but it was enough to illuminate the interior of the tent. He didn't see anything at first, then noticed his backpack and spare clothes in the corner were piled about three times as high as they had been. It was hiding, then. That was a relief.
Jay heard footsteps outside getting closer, so he turned and stuck the flashlight along with his head out of the tent, making the person approaching stop. "What's all the damned noise about?" He asked, putting his best angry face on.
The stranger looked a few years younger than him. A trainer too, judging by the pokeballs on his belt. "You seen a Pokemon run by? I've been chasin' it for an hour!"
Jay glared at the kid. "I was sleeping, so no. I don't know how anyone would seen anything given how dark it is around here, anyway."
"Crap! Thanks for nothing... I gotta find that thing!" He said, running off into the shadows.
Jay pulled his head back into the tent and zipped it shut, thinking about how stupid it was to be exploring a forest at night. Not to mention why he disliked most trainers in the first place, most he had met had a similar temperament as that kid. The sound of footsteps and shaking leaves faded into the distance, and Jay aimed his flashlight at the pile. "He's gone, you can come out now... and don't worry, I'm not like him."
The pile shifted a bit, and the flashlight went out. Jay swore, smacking the thing in a vain attempt to get it to work. A light suddenly filled the tent, and he looked up in surprise. The head and burning tail of a Charmander was poking out of his spare clothes. He instinctively scooted a couple inches back, dropping the flashlight.
Oh hell... He thought, a chill of fear crossing his body. ...why did it have to be one of them?