Ch 3

It was strange, how quickly her life adjusted to keeping a tiny, hungry, yellow secret. To be fair, the little mouse actually didn't cause very much trouble the two days she had kept him at her house. He was usually quiet and, while not exactly easy going, he wasn't super high-strung either. Basically, the injured little electric mouse stayed hidden in her room while Red went about her day. Pichu didn't like it, but thus far had yet to get into more trouble than frying a couple of her children toys that were fancy enough to have electric parts.

Pretty, quiet, too. Red hadn't been forced to make one excuse to her mom for the past two days. Well, aside from squirreling food upstairs to feed the little guy. As mentioned above, he was hungry. Red had watched in awe as he ate twice as much as her regular meal size in just one sitting. It had been both inspiring and terrifying to watch the tiny pokemon basically eat his weight worth in chicken pasta. Where did the little guy put it all?

Even more distressing was its apparent obsession with ketchup. Red had made the mistake of adding ketchup to the chicken tenders she brought up for lunch and now the yellow menace wouldn't eat anything unless it was sopping with the tomato condiment. Luckily, the chicken pasta was deemed acceptable without any extra toppings. Red didn't know if she could stomach watching him eat it with a gallon of ketchup on it.

Speaking of which, she was lucky her mother hadn't noticed that they were so low on ketchup. Red would be worried about running out, except the little guy wouldn't be staying much longer. He was all but fully healed.

Red silently marveled at how resilient pokemon were. They were capable of incredible feats of elemental prowess and endurance. They healed incredibly quickly, as evidence in Red's little Pichu.

No, Red corrected, not mine. He's leaving tomorrow, soon as it's light out. He can't be mine.

If only...

But, it would be wrong to keep him if he didn't want to stay, seeing as she had taken him in to help him. He hadn't had the option of battling for his freedom. And, besides, she had no pokeball.

The little guy could have honestly left this afternoon, but Red wanted to keep him just a little longer. He was so cute...

Except, as the sun slipped forther along the horizon, afternoon blue melting to sunset pink, then bleeding to midnight blue, Red knew that she could not steal away any more time from the hourglass. Tomorrow, as the horizon lit up with the rays of gone, she would take the little pichu up the dirt road, down the side path, and eventually to the forest that rests outside of Pallet.

Red wondered whether she would cry then. She was almost crying now, lounging on her bed and watching the little pichu toddle about her room. He was very curious, poking things and sniffing them. He was wary of her alarm clock, its pokeball shape no doubt reminding it of the threat of capture. He liked her plushy collection, often curling up among the stuffed pokemon dolls for a nap. He didn't seem to understand the TV. Whenever Red turned it on, he would sit, transfixed as the flashing colors bespelled him.

So many little details learned over the past few days, yet Red knew and yearned to learn the rest of her little friend's quirks.

She really hoped she wouldn't cry tomorrow. The little guy would get upset if she did, he got angry when she came back one day with a scraped knee. If she started crying he probably wouldn't be too pleased.

For only being in one another's presence for a scant time, Red and the Pichu were surprisingly close. Part of Red wished they weren't.

She sighed as she glanced over at the clock. It was nearing midnight. While Red wanted to stretch the last few hours out, she knew they both needed to be more rested, even if sleeping cut into her time with the cute thunder mouse.

Red reached out as the pichu toddled past her and carefully plucked him up off the floor- something he had eventually become used to over the last few days. She then laid him in the nest he had made out of his sleeping area.

Red smiled down at him softly as she said for the last time, "Goodnight, little one. Sweet dreams and happy nocturnal visions."

Red then moved to her own bed and climbed in, turning out the bedside table lamp, and plunging the room into almost total darkness. The light from the stars and moon danced down through her window, casting the room in blue silver light. Red glanced over to the Pichu, watching how his silver lit form slowly rose and fell with each breath.

For a moment, Red blinked her eyes, willing herself to remember this moonlit night and her tears away.

Her eyes closed as a lucky comet raced across the sky.

Red frowned softly at the soft yellow and orange light peeking out from the line of the horizon. For the day where she would have to give up a dear friend, it was horridly cheerful. Part of Red wished for a dark and dreary day, complete with storm clouds and lightning- it would match her sorrowful yet stormy.

She knew she was doing the right thing, but in this circumstance Red just didn't want to.

She wanted to be selfish. Just this once.

But selfishness could not possible excuse willfully taking the little pichu's freedom.

Red sighed and dropped her hand away from the window. The sun was just beginning to rise, gifting the beautiful rural community of Pallet with a new day. Time to get going, before the rest of the little town's inhabitants were up and about.

Red knelt beside the pichu's makeshift crib. Little guy was still asleep, chest still rising slowly and snoring sweetly. He even snored like a sweet baby.

Red smiled softly as she gently rubbed beneath his chin with her pointer finger- a ticklish spot of his. He stirred, letting out a soft, "Chuu?" at the feathery sensation.

Red kept tickling him under his chin, until he was letting out giggles in the form of 'chu!'.

Pulling her hand away, Red greeted the little yellow mouse, "Morning, sleepy head. I'm guessing you slept well?"

The pichu nodded, its mouth opening in a wide yawn midway through.

"Well," said Red, "Today's the big day, buddy."

The pichu snapped to attention, looking up at Red with big, dark eyes. Little sparks flickered around his red cheek sacs, a sign of his great excitement. One foot absently tapped the ground in restless energy.

Red turned away, letting her smile drop once her face was hidden. Was it too much to hope that he would have wanted to stay with her?

Red dragged her basket over by the straps while Pichu tilted his head curiously at it. In all the time he was resting in her room, Red had never used it. The basket was primarily for gathering herbs and flowers in the forest- which Red hadn't been back to since acquiring her new charge. She was starting to get a little cabin feverish, to be honest.

"Alright, little guy," Red addressed the cute pokemon. She reached out and began to peal away the very last of his bandages- band aids really, he hadn't needed big cloth strips since yesterday morning. The little mouse stayed patiently still, moving away to make her job easier. Red smiled as she pulled away the latex to reveal patches of healthy, healed skin and yellow fur. He looked so, so much better than when she found him.

So much better.

Once the last of the little band aids were removed, Red tipped over her basket, allowing the little mouse to look into its dim interior.

"I'm going to need you to stay in here for a little while, kay?"

At the electric monster's reluctance, Red reassured, "It's just till we get out of Pallet Town. I'll let you out as soon as I can. It won't be long at all."

Pichu still looked a little unsure, so Red tacked on, "Pallet's a really small town. And I live towards the edge."

Pichu stared at her eyes, seemingly to judge her intentions again. He did this from time to time. His gaze slipped once more toward her shoulder, before he nodded firmly at her.

And he walked into the basket.

Red sighed softly, she thought she would have to argue with him a bit more. Certainly, she would not have been comfortable in his place. It would be easy to trap the little guy in there. He was so tiny.

"I'm going to tilt it right side up again," Red warned.

She got a slightly muffled, "Piiii!" as a response, so she figured that it must be alright.

Gently, Red tipped the basket right side up. When she looked inside, she was greeted with a yellowed face and chocolaty brown eyes blinking at her curiously.

She smiled back. "Alrighty, Pichu, you may want to hang on, for this next part."

Red twisted on the floor so that her back was to the basket and slipped her arms through the straps. Their weight was familiar and comforting after so many years hefting the same wicker piece.

Red grabbed a crutch with each hand and braced it on the ground. Next was the hard part.

Red took a deep breath and let it out in a sharp whoosh! She threw her weight forward and pushed with her weak legs as hard as she could. She felt a dull pain throb throughout all the pins and bolts holding the weak bones together as she was leveled up into the air. The surgery was so long ago, but her legs still hadn't healed.

Upright on her crutches, however, Red found she didn't care. There is no such thing as a pathetic person, only small people who do small things. She found this very true in her own existence. In the little gits she gave to the village children and in how she lived. She may not be as capable as someone with strong, working legs, but there were plenty of things that only she could do.

Like taking her little friend back to his home.

She pressed forward and walked on.