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.---
A trio of gunshots rang out from the television, getting Jay's attention. The image made him wonder just what the hell Roufas had turned on. It was a Lucario in a trenchcoat and fedora, holding a smoking revolver. The image switched to a Meowth and Skitty running away as another shot hit the ground between them.
"You can't run forever, Theo!" The Lucario shouted, firing again.
Jay rolled his eyes, recognizing the name. "It's already time for your crazy shows, Rou?"
"Quiet. They're supposedly killing off a main character this week and I don't want to miss it. They just better not get rid of one of my favorites, like most of these shows do." The Persian said, not taking his eyes off the TV.
"It's only Wednesday, what could you miss?"
Roufas only shushed him again in reply and Jay shook his head. If "Nine Lives to Live" was on, it was past noon... and Simoon was still asleep. She'd gotten up late the past couple of days as well, which made Jay wonder if there was much of a time difference between here and her home. Searching the map to see what listed islands it would be morning for right now, he heard his bedroom door creak open.
"Good afternoon." Jay said as the Charmander wandered into the living room, eyes barely open and one hand tugging lazily at the purple, gemmed collar around her neck. "If it's annoying, you can take it off. It was only a favor."
"Like you said, it's safer this way." Simoon replied, yawning.
He gave a slight nod, remembering his explanation that if someone did see her, the collar would make people think she was already with a trainer and Jay could say he was just looking after her for someone. Of course, that was only half the reason. The other half was for his own peace of mind. The stone set into it was special, it prevented evolution. As long as she was wearing it, there was no chance of suddenly having a Charmeleon in the house, which would be a hell of a lot harder to live with than a Charmander.
That's when a connection crossed his mind. "Is it keeping you awake at night? You've been getting up late ever since agreeing to wear it."
"No." She glanced at the couch for a moment, then sat on the floor next to Jay. Apparently the climb required more energy than she could muster. "I'm just not used to the sleeping conditions yet."
"It was your idea to sleep in my closet. If it's too small, I can move you somewhere else." Jay offered.
"Maybe it's the same reason I stopped sleeping in your room." Roufas suggested.
"I doubt it. The reason you stopped was because you evolved and got too fat for us to share the bed anymore."
Roufas scowled. "It's a double bed, so if you didn't have to sleep in the middle... but that's not the main reason I stopped anyway. It was the racket you make every night."
"I don't snore that loudly." Jay grumbled.
"Yes, you do. You keep me awake when I'm out here sometimes."
"Sound is one thing, but it's too quiet." Simoon mumbled, struggling to stay sitting up. "Everyone back home slept in the same cavern. Jay's snoring is nothing compared to them."
"Well, that's... interesting." Jay said, not sure how he should feel about a comment like that. Looking back at the monitor and going to click on the next island's info, he froze upon feeling a sudden weight on his left thigh. Simoon had fallen back to sleep, tilted over and was now using his leg as a pillow.
Roufas noticed and chuckled. "Well, at least one of you is getting comfortable around the other."
"Yeah. Great." Jay sighed, shaking his head and forcing his fingers to start moving again. "I just wish she could stay awake long enough to look at a few of these islands and tell me if we've found her home yet."
"I doubt she slept well after leaving, so she's probably just catching up on the rest she lost." Roufas suggested.
"I don't think it works like that, Rou-" A knock on the door interrupted him. Jay quickly looked from it to Simoon and swore under his breath. "J-just a minute!"
Simoon yawned, half-opening her eyes and looking at the television. There was a human in front of a picture on it this time, gesturing in an unusual fashion.
...and tonight, thunderstorms will roll in from the south, lasting throughout most of tomorrow. The human said. For our five-day forecast... The sound cut off, four red letters appearing at the bottom of the screen.
"First a charmander, now storms. Jay's going to have one hell of a time sleeping peacefully tonight." Someone sighed.
Simoon froze. That voice wasn't Roufas, and Jay had never referred to himself like that before. She tilted her head a bit, looking at the human sitting on the couch only a few inches from her feet. He was focused on the TV and his face was obscured by long, puffed out hair that was almost the same shade of orange as her scales.
Roufas' voice came from the other end of the couch. "No kidding. I hate when there's thunder. Jay usually stays up until it passes, then he's next to impossible to wake up in the morning."
"That... was an agreement, right?" The human asked.
Jay's voice came from the next room. "Yes it was, coupled with a complaint about my sleeping habits." He walked in from the kitchen, giving the TV an irritated look. "Freaking weather. I'd planned on going to the store tomorrow."
"I suppose it is a bit far to walk or bike in the rain." The other human commented.
"Yeah, let's go with that." Jay muttered, glancing at the pair of them, then noticing her. "Finally awake again? I'll get you something to eat." He said, vanishing back into the kitchen.
The other human turned to look at her and grinned. "Hey, good afternoon! I'm Magnus, Jay asked me to help with getting you back home. Apparently I'll also be staying here for a while since it's going to rain and I'm not supposed to get my cast wet, but I'm sure we'll get along just fine!" He said brightly.
Simoon just blinked at him, not sure how to react. She hadn't been given a greeting like that before, on her home island or off.
"Mag, I know how giddy you can get around Pokemon, but you might want to calm down." Jay called out from the other room. "If you're not careful you're going to scare her, get fried and end up back in the clinic. Not to mention I'll have to figure out what gets scorch marks out of couch fabric."
Magnus glanced at the doorway to the kitchen, answering in the same cheerful tone. "Glad to know you care, buddy!"
Roufas leaned out to look around Magnus and at her. "Don't worry, he can be a little too enthusiastic, but he's harmless to anyone other than himself. He also can't understand a word we say, so keep that in mind."
She stared for a moment, then nodded.
Magnus turned back to her, still grinning. "Alright then, I... wait, this won't work." He scratched his head, glancing over his shoulder. "Hey Jay, you almost done in there? I kinda need you to play translator."
"Just a minute, geez." Jay replied, something clattering in the background. "Simoon just woke up, I'm sure she doesn't want to play twenty questions with you right away."
Regardless of Jay's comment, they all spent the next few hours talking, though it took her a while to get used to Jay having to repeat most of she or Roufas said for Magnus. The main impression she got about the new human was that he was reckless, since most of his stories involved him getting hurt or in trouble one way or another. Occasionally taking Jay along for the ride, like during his recollection of when they were both arrested in Viridian City last year. They also went over most of the pile of island information Jay had gotten, but came up empty.
It was after dinner by the time the conversation was brought to an abrupt stop by the rumble of thunder in the distance.
"Damn." Jay muttered, his eyes going to the window. "Here it comes."
"Just try to ignore it. Not like you can change the weather." Magnus said, considering for a moment. "Though that would be cool. Imagine calling up a blizzard and having a snowball fight in July."
"No thanks, I like the cold as much as storms." Jay muttered. Thunder sounded again, twice as loud as before, and his face paled slightly. "On second thought, snow doesn't make that sound. Cue the blizzard, Mag."
"It was hypothetical, Jay." Magnus chuckled. "Besides, every type of weather is good for something."
"What in the world could thunder and lightning be good for?"
"That's obvious." He smirked. "Right Roufas?"
"Of course." The Persian agreed, hopping off the couch and going over to one of the cabinets by the television.
"Oh... hell no." Jay said, quickly getting up heading down the hall. "I don't need more nightmares on top of what I already have, thank you very much."
"Come on, Jay, they're just movies!" Magnus called after him.
"You and Roufas enjoy yourselves, I'll be in my room. Simoon, I suggest you join me."
Simoon looked from Jay to Magnus, unsure of what they were talking about.
Magnus just grinned at her. "Don't worry, we'll start you off easy, right Rou?"
"As easy as we can, given the selection." Roufas hooked a claw onto one of the movies lining the bottom shelf and tugged it out onto the floor. "Actually, I've got just the thing."
Jay was on his bed, so absorbed in the book he was reading he barely noticed the rain pounding against his window or the thunder that sounded occasionally. Though the flash beforehand and ones close enough to make the house tremble were hard to ignore. He turned the page, wondering how Ranger Jones was going to escape the raging Golem, when his bedroom door creaked open. Glancing up from the book as the door shut back around, he saw Simoon heading toward the closet, looking unsteady and distracted.
Jay frowned, having an idea of what was on her mind. Knowing how jumpy she could be, he tried to keep his tone natural. "Simoon-"
The Charmander flinched to the side, bumping into the wall as she turned to face him.
"...uh, I was going to ask if you were okay, but I don't think I need to now." He sighed, shaking his head. "Damn Magnus, Roufas and their horror movies. You remember I told you most of what you see on that box isn't real, right? It's just for entertainment."
She stared at him for a few moments before speaking. "H-how is that sort of thing entertaining?"
He shrugged. "Got me, I prefer comedy or action movies."
"Next time, I'm making sure you pick one then." Simoon gave a shaky breath. "If I ever want to risk looking at the thing again after that."
"I know what you mean. I remember when Magnus made me watch one, claiming he was starting me off easy... had trouble sleeping for a couple days after that."
"I believe it." Simoon took a couple steps toward the closet, stared at the partly open door for a moment and turned away from it.
"Let me guess..." Jay said, watching her. "...psychopath with a knife in the closet?"
"Same one they showed me first." He shuddered at the memory. "Gory as hell."
The charmander glanced over her shoulder and fidgeted uncomfortably. "Um... Jay, would it be okay if I sat with you for a while?"
His fingers twitched a little, tapping the cover of the book. Old, well-established fears made him want to say no, but he knew where she was coming from. After watching the same movie, he didn't want to be alone in the dark either. "Alright, I don't see-"
Not waiting for the rest of the sentence, she started to climb up the side of the bed. Unfortunately the blanket she grabbed to pull herself to the top wasn't held down and she toppled backward onto the floor as it slid off.
Climbing really isn't her strong point. Jay thought, trying not to grin. "You okay?"
"Fine..." She muttered, keeping her eyes on the ceiling.
"Let me help you up, I don't need to worry about you getting another head injury." Taking his book in one hand and offering the other down to Simoon, a flash of lightning lit up the room and he suddenly found himself somewhere else.
Jay was on his knees, cold rain beating down and thunder raging overhead. He was staring down at a charmander half-coated in mud, blood staining its left leg, which was twisted enough that even a glance would tell you it was broken. The weight in his hand that was once a book was now a muddy stick, stained red at the end. The little Pokemon looked up at him, pain, fear and his own distorted reflection in its eyes. Light overtook the scene and thunder clapped loudly in his ears.
When the light faded, he was looking at Simoon, who was sitting up on the floor and watching him with a concerned expression on her face. "What's wrong?"
He dropped his book, jerking his hand away from it as if it had burst into flame. "I... I just..." Taking a couple shaky breaths, he tried to stop himself from trembling. What the hell was that?
"It's nothing. Forget it." He muttered, carefully picking her up and setting her on the bed.
She frowned at him. "You're getting scared of me again, aren't you?"
"I'm scared all right, but not of you." He said, glancing at his hands. Just myself...
"Don't you remember? We're supposed to be trying to help each other." She reminded him. "Tell me what I can do."
He sighed. "Nothing, really. Besides, you've got enough problems of your own. You shouldn't be concerned about mine."
"In case you've forgotten, I can't seem to solve my own problem, that's why I've got you helping." She said, a hint of irritation entering her voice. "Which means it's only fair I help with yours."
"Right, sorry." A weak smile crossed Jay's face. "And thanks, Simoon. I really can't think of anything you could do, but I'll keep it in mind. Right now, I think I just need to try and get some sleep." Laying back and switching off his bedside lamp, Jay closed his eyes, trying to sort through his thoughts more than sleep.
Jay awoke on his back, his right side unusually warm. Starting to sit up, he stopped when he noticed the weight on his arm. Lifting up the blanket, he found Simoon curled up against his side with her tail wrapped around his wrist.
"Too early..." She grumbled, burying her face in his shoulder and muttering something he couldn't understand.
Body tensing up as his natural fear kicked in, Jay tried to slide away only to find her claws had been hooked firmly into his shirt. Wondering what he was supposed to do now, he gulped, reaching for her claws with his free hand and cautiously trying to pry himself loose.
Simoon shifted, a soft growl being the only warning before a small flame escaped her mouth and singed two of his fingers.
Giving a yelp of pain and surprise, Jay jerked away out of simple reflex, right off the edge of the bed. The now awake and flailing Charmander quickly followed, since her tail was still wrapped firmly around his wrist. Only a few seconds after the resulting crash Roufas hurried into the room, took one look at the pair of them on the floor and practically choked on a laugh.
"Whatever comment you have, keep it to yourself." Jay muttered crossly. "Are you okay, Simoon?"
The Charmander looked terrified, grasping onto the blanket that got pulled down with them as if her life depended on it. "W-What happened?" She asked, her voice shaking.
"You burnt my fingers, we fell off the bed and I bonked my head on the bedside table in the fall."
"The usual abrupt awakening routine around here, really." Roufas said, not bothering to hide, or even lower, the amusement in his voice.
"You're not helping, you know."
"I'm not trying to."
Jay frowned at the Persian, automatically lifting Simoon in his right arm since she was still attached to his wrist and stepped around the oversized feline. It was too early for him to put up with Roufas' comments or anything else. "Whatever. I need some coffee... and aspirin."
Staring up at him as he yawned and walked down the narrow hallway, Simoon's sleep-hazed mind started to clear. She noticed where her tail was and the small holes in the side of his shirt the size of her claws, along with the earlier mention of his burnt fingers making her realize just what had happened. She must have been dreaming of home and mistaken Jay for her brother. Feeling rather embarrassed, not to mention sorry for burning him, she uncurled her tail. "Jay, I..."
He gave a tired-sounding "Hm?", glanced down at her and yelped in surprise, apparently forgotten who or what was in his arm.
The next thing Simoon knew she was in the air, for the second time in less than five minutes into the day, spinning and flailing. Jay shouted something she barely heard over her own frightened cries and felt something press against her back a moment before she collided face-first with something far softer than the wooden floor. Taking a couple seconds to get her bearings, she realized she had "landed" upright, her hanging tail being the only thing touching the ground.
"Shi... Simoon, are you okay?"
Looking up, she saw what she had hit was Jay's chest, the expression on his face and pounding of his heart making her think he was just as, if not more, shaken by the last handful of seconds than she was. "Y-yes..." Was all she could mumble in reply, staring at him.
"Good... I'll... I'll go get your breakfast ready, alright?" He said, very carefully taking his arms from her back and setting her on the floor. She just watched in silence as he got off his knees and slowly make his way to the kitchen. Even though he seemed to be far more skittish, he really did, in some odd way, remind her of her brother.
The rest of the day was uneventful. As thunder rumbled outside, the four of them chatted inside again while going over a few more print-outs of islands with no luck and in the evening Magnus and Roufas once again broke out the horror flicks. This time, however, Simoon hurried after Jay when he retreated to his room.
Once there, Jay dropped onto his bed, slid halfway under the blankets, took something off the table and started staring at it. Unsure of what to do herself since she wasn't tired and didn't want to go anywhere near the other two when they were watching that sort of thing, Simoon looked at the human curiously. "What are you doing?"
Jay twitched at her voice, but she had gotten used to him being jumpy around her she barely noticed it. "Just reading a Ranger Jones book."
Tilting her head and having next to no idea what he was talking about, something else she had kind of gotten used to, a piece of his sentence stood out to her. "Ranger?"
"Oh, Pokemon Rangers are people that try to help and protect Pokemon and their natural habitats." Jay explained, closing the book. "They have Pokemon to help them like Trainers, but usually only one or two. In tough situations they might have to capture others for help, but they're normally released again afterwards. Battling's not a big thing for them either, unlike most trainers who are obsessed with being the very best or some such nonsense."
Simoon blinked at him. It was pretty obvious by his tone Jay had some amount of admiration toward Pokemon Rangers. "Is that what you are?"
He hesitated, taken off guard by such a question. "Me?"
"You're helping me, is it because you're a Ranger too?"
"That's not... I'm not even close to being one. Sure, I considered it a long time ago, but I'm not the outdoorsy type to begin with. I'm more of a..." He glanced at the book in his hand. "...well, a bookworm."
"That doesn't change that you're trying to help me, though. If you're not a Ranger and don't want to be one, why take the time to help someone you're obviously scared to even be around?"
Jay sighed, scratching his head. "Well... because I can." He frowned, looking down at his blanket. "I mean, it's..."
Simoon waited, watching him shift uncomfortably as he tried to think of an answer. She honestly didn't care too much about the why herself. For help getting home, she'd take any aid she could get, and Jay was probably the best she could ask for, but she couldn't help being curious about his reason for doing it.
"I don't know how to explain it, exactly. It's just something I've done ever since I can remember. I'd find a Pokemon in trouble and just help any way I could without really thinking about it, like an instinct or reflex." He explained, keeping his eyes down.
"You've done this for a lot of Pokemon?" She wondered.
He shook his head. "Actually, I've never put this much effort in before. Usually it was just a bad situation that could be resolved in a couple hours, if that. A few took a day or two, like with Zed, but those were odd circumstances. Then again, they can't get much odder than yours, so it taking a bit longer is to be expected."
She nodded, still unsure about his motivations since she didn't make much sense of his rather vague explanation, but figured it was good enough for now. "You really think we'll find my home island?"
Jay shifted more. "I hope so, for your sake. We've gone through most of the list, but you know what they say... it's always the last place you think of looking."
By the next morning, the storm had passed. Not that the lack of lightning and thunder did much for Jay's mood. Ever since that sudden flash of memory, nightmare or whatever the hell that had been entered his mind, he'd been unable to get it out for more than a minute or two at a time. Luckily nobody seemed to notice him being preoccupied by it, or if they did they just hadn't said anything.
Sitting up in bed and rubbing his eyes, he glanced at the clock. It was still kind of early, but Roufas usually came in before now to wake him up for breakfast. Figuring Magnus must have taken care of it again, he slowly crawled out of bed and changed into something he hadn't been wearing for two days and nights straight. Stopping by his cracked closet for a moment, he could hear Simoon's faint snoring from inside. Aside from yesterday, she'd always woken up around noon, and he hoped that would be the case today. He was all out of suitable food for her, so with a little luck he could make it to the store and back before she was awake.
Quietly heading to the living room, he found his two best friends out cold with static on the television. Magnus was sprawled out on the couch, with his casted leg hanging off the side, and Roufas was equally sprawled out on top of him. How Magnus could breath under that my Persian was a mystery, but Jay couldn't help chuckling at the pair of them. Switching off the television, he slipped on his shoes and left his current roommates to doze in peace.
He considered taking Magnus' motorcycle to the store, but decided against it since the garage door was sticky and far from quiet. Besides, it wasn't like he was in that much of a rush. A walk might even help him clear his head.
Starting down the sidewalk, his thoughts once again drifted back to that memory. It had to be a memory, it was far too real to him to just be a nightmare. When could it have happened though? The only forest he ever really went to was Viridian, but it didn't have Charmanders. Then again, I did meet Simoon there... He considered, but decided one in that place was crazy enough, two was just plain absurd.
Trying to think back, the only place he ever remembered visiting that had fire types around was Cinnabar Island when he'd gone to see one of his cousins on a family trip. Even then, he didn't see any new ones. The only odd Pokemon he had meet there was Teal, who'd taken a shine to him for some reason. Making a mental note to stop by her little nook to say hello sometime soon since it had been a while and she lived just down the coast from Pallet, he tried to think of other places.
A hard pull on the collar of his shirt snapped him back to reality and made him stumble back a step. Barely two seconds later a car whizzed by in front of him, right where he would have been standing.
"Are you trying to get yourself killed walking around in a daze like that?" The person that grabbed him snapped.
He just blinked, looking from the car as it sped off to the girl that had saved him. "Oh... thanks, Lana."
"Is that all you have to say for yourself? Damn it Jay, you scared the hell out of me just now!" She shouted again, visibly shaking.
"I'm sorry. Really." He said trying to get his thoughts straightened out. "I've just had a lot on my mind lately, wasn't paying attention."
"That's obvious." She grumbled, trying to calm herself down. "Where are you going this early, anyhow?"
"Just to the store." He said, thinking it was a very good thing he didn't try to drive Magnus' bike this morning if he couldn't even focus on walking.
"Good, me too." Lana grabbed his wrist. "I'll go with you and make sure you don't try to walk into the middle of the street again."
"That's probably a good idea." He said with a forced laugh and she started tugging him along.
The shop wasn't too far from where they had met up, once inside they began gathering up their things, Jay doing it rather mindlessly as he went over that memory again.
"What's got you so distracted, anyway?" Lana asked as they left the store together. "You only get that look on your face when you're deep in thought about something, and I'm here to talk with if you need another opinion on it."
"Unless you know a good way to dig up memories, there's not all that much you can do." He said, staring down at the pavement. "I think I've remembered something that must have happened a long time ago, but I can't remember anything aside from bits and pieces." Wait... pieces... that nightmare of a Charizard chasing me and the Charmeleon biting my throat... those took place in a rainy forest too, could they be connected...?
"I can't really help you there, but if you tell me about it you might be able to remember more. Talking about things can help."
"I think it already did." He muttered, beginning to drift off again.
"That's... hey, where are you going?"
Jay looked up, then glanced at the road sign. He was on the right street. "Home, where do you think?"
"You're looking after your Mom's Ninetales?" She wondered, though he wasn't sure why.
"Of course not, why would I be?"
"Well, why did you buy Pokemon food made for fire types then?"
"Oh..." Jay stared at the bag in his hand. "...um... I bought it by mistake, I guess."
Lana frowned at him. "You really are a terrible liar, you know."
I wish Magnus was here. He thought, sighing. "Okay, I'll tell you, but promise you won't tell anyone. Especially not my Mother. The last thing I need to hear is 'Oh Jay, you're so good with Pokemon it's obvious you were born to be a trainer!' and have her drive me insane until she gives up again."
She chuckled, grinning at him. "That does sound like her. Alright, I promise. Now what's going on?"
"I'm... looking after a Charmander for a while." He explained, trying to be as vague as possible.
"Oh? Who does it belong to?"
"Nobody you know. It's only for a little while longer anyway, she should be back home by Monday if everything goes as planned."
Lana nodded. "Are you sure your beastly Persian won't try to eat it while you're out?"
Jay rolled his eyes. "You're never going to let that misunderstanding between Roufas and Hickory go, are you? Anyway... they get along fine. Magnus is there to keep the peace too, if he has to."
"Mag's staying with you too?" She looked surprised for a moment, then faced the path ahead. "Well, I suppose that's not too surprising... he's probably better off there right now."
Jay arched an eyebrow. "What do you mean?"
"You know how big of a gossip my Mom can be, and from what I've been hearing about Mag's parents ever since his little accident... let's just say the situation at his house would be even worse than usual right now."
He nodded in understanding. It wasn't a topic brought up much between them, but they'd heard enough over the years most of it went without saying anyway. "I could use his help looking after Simoon this weekend, even if he is next to immobile. Have to ask him to stick around until then, at least."
Lana smiled and nodded. "Simoon, huh? Odd name."
"Don't look at me, I'm not the one who gave it to her."
"Can I come in and see her?"
"Huh?" Jay blinked, just now realizing they were standing at the end of his driveway. "Oh, I guess so. Don't you have to get that home though?"
She shrugged. "I didn't buy anything cold so I can afford a little detour. Not to mention after being cooped up at home all day yesterday, I could use some time with you and Mag."
"Well, alright..." He muttered hesitantly. "...just go slow when you see Simoon, alright? She's edgy around new people."
"I bet she freaked after meeting Mag then, he can get way too excited sometimes." She laughed.
"Isn't that the tru-"
Jay was barely two feet from the door when a duet of screams came from the other side. Frantically pulling the key out of his pocket and slamming it into the lock, not knowing what in the world he'd find inside that could cause a sound like that, he all but bashed the door open with Lana in tow. They both fell silent, dumbfounded by the scene in front of them.