I love all my Pokemon. And I do what I can to make sure I give each and every one of them their time to shine. But I'd be lying if I said there aren't times when they give me a headache.

Case in point, Ruth. Ever since she joined my team, she's been determined to win every battle she's been in. And normally, that would be great. But today it began to be a problem. See, I had her battle this other trainer's Raticate, and she started taking way more damage than I would have liked. So I decided to have her rest for a bit and let Pikachu finish the job.

She didn't like that one bit.

"I think you've had enough for today, Ruth, so return!"

"Chiko!" she cried out in defiance.

"Didn't you hear me?"

If she did, she didn't listen. She just kept attacking, even as she clearly got more and more tired.

"Okay, you did great, Ruth! Now return and let Pikachu finish this up!"

Unfortunately she not only disobeyed, but she jumped out of the way of my pokeball's beam when I tried to return her. I tried again several times, but Ruth just kept dodging. And even though I couldn't see them, I could tell that my friends, as well as my opponent, were all staring at us in bemusement.

And then as if that wasn't bad enough, the other trainer got called to dinner before we could finish our battle.

"What are you doing?" I asked as he returned his Raticate. "You can't just leave in the middle of a battle!"

"Sorry," the other trainer said, "but it's getting late, and I can't just stand here waiting for you to get your Chikorita under control."

As he rushed off, I lifted the pokeball once more and tried again. This time, Chikorita didn't try to dodge, as she was too busy glaring at the other trainer. My guess is that she was disappointed at not being able to finish the battle.

"Come on, Ruth," I said as I looked at the Pokeball. "We would have won if you had just listened to me."

As I looked at the pokeball wondering what could have gotten into my newest team member, I heard Casey's voice behind me.

"What's up with Ruth?"

I turned around to see my friends looking at me worriedly. Most notable was the little grass type in Casey's arms.

"Chiko? Chi?" asked Babe.

"I… think she's fine," I said as I tried to smile. I guess she really wanted to win the battle herself."

"Yeah, but don't Pokemon need to listen to their trainers to win?" Casey asked.

"Pikachu, Pi," Pikachu said, seemingly in agreement.

"Yeah," said Misty. "You of all people should know what happens when Pokemon don't listen to their trainers, Ash."

I grimaced at Misty's comment. I really hoped that I didn't have another Charizard situation.


Later on that night we headed to the Pokemon Center for the night. After calling Professor Oak to tell him about my progress, I helped Brock and Misty prepare dinner for our Pokemon teams. Casey wasn't with us though, since Nurse Joy had called her into her office for some reason.

"So, why does Nurse Joy want to see Casey again?" I asked as I filled a bowl with Pokemon food.

"From what she told me, I think the Pokemon Center is where she gets the refills for her prescription," said Misty as she passed me another bowl.

"Prescription?" I said. "Is that some new kind of Pokemon or something?"

Misty dropped the bowl she had been holding.

"She means that Casey's running out of her pills, so she's getting more," Brock explained.

"Oh."

Well, at least I learned something new today.

Anyway, Casey arrived just as we'd gotten all the food bowls served.

"Hey guys," she said. "What did I miss?"

"Oh," said Brock, "hey, Casey. We just finished serving everyone."

We watched as our Pokemon began grabbing their bowls and eating happily.

"So, how did it go with Nurse Joy?" I asked.

"It was okay," said Casey. "She just had me verify and sign some stuff, and then I got my pills."

"Oh, cool," I said. I was tempted to ask what she needed those pills for, but she really didn't like talking about it. And Brock and Misty both agreed that it was probably best not to bring it up unless Casey decided to tell us.

I don't know when she'll tell us, but I know she will one day. I just have to let her do so on her own.

Anyway, I looked over at the Pokemon as they happily ate their dinner. However, it didn't take long for me to notice that there was one of them who wasn't eating at all.

"Ruth?"

My stubborn little Chikorita was sitting far from the rest of the group, doing her best to ignore the rest of us.

"Come on, Ruth," I said. "Why don't you eat with everyone else?"

Pikachu walked over to her and offered her some food. However, Ruth flapped her leaf and swatted the pellet out of his paw.

"Ruth!" I said. "That was rude!"

She huffed, clearly not wishing to have anything to do with Pikachu.

"Ruth hasn't been much of a team player today," said Casey.

I wondered what I could say to Ruth to make her feel better. But before I could, someone else spoke up.

"Pokemon behavior is clearly driven by psychology."

I turned away from Ruth to see Nurse Joy looking at us. There was something different about her compared to the other Joys we'd met before, though. This one was wearing glasses, for one. She was also dressed less like a nurse and more like a scientist or something. She also seemed… smarter, I guess.

"Does that Chikorita belong to you?" she asked.

"Uh, yes ma'am," I said. "I'm Ash."

"My name's Misty," said Misty. "And I'll bet your name is Nurse Joy, right?"

"Correct," said Nurse Joy. "And I have a degree in Pokemon Psychology from Celadon University. I provide new and innovative counseling techniques and Pokemon therapy."

"You mean there's some kind of new Pokemon called Therapy?" I asked.

"Wow, you can really be a dork sometimes, Ash," said Casey.

"Hey!" I said as I looked over at her. "What's that supposed to mean?"

"It means that therapy isn't a Pokemon," Casey explained. "Therapy is when people get help with mental problems, like if they have something that's causing them stress or anxiety, or if they feel like there's something wrong with them, or if they need to change something about their life. It usually involves talking to the therapist about their problems, then the therapist can give advice or encouragement to fit what they need. And having someone to talk to is itself a way to cope with your problems."

"Oh," I said, now understanding a bit better. "That makes sense."

"Indeed," Nurse Joy said as she turned to Casey. "Hello again, Casey. Thank you for that helpful explanation."

"Very helpful," commented Misty. "You sure know a lot about therapy."

"Yeah, well," said Casey as she scratched the back of her head, "I… used to go to therapy. In fact, I still talk to my therapist sometimes. It's pretty helpful, actually."

I looked at her in surprise, and I could see Misty doing so as well. Honestly, I really hadn't imagined Casey being the type of girl to have some sort of mental problems. I wanted to ask more, but before I could do so, we were interrupted.

"My name is Brock! And I need you! For psychological counseling, I mean!"

Before anyone could say a word, Brock was between us and Nurse Joy.

"I have this feeling that's hard to describe. Like, my heart is filled with emptiness?"

Unfortunately for Brock, any further discussion was cut off by a rather swift bat to the head. He fell to the floor as Casey put her bat away.

"Your heart's not the only thing that's empty," she muttered.

Nurse Joy gave him an awkward smile as she looked down with a mixture of pity and bemusement.

"I'm sorry, but I'm afraid I only deal with Pokemon."

Whatever Brock said in response sounded more like a whine than anything coherent.

"Anyway!" said Nurse Joy, clearly wishing to put all that aside. "I have an idea, Ash. Why don't you and your Pokemon join me and we'll have a counseling session?"

"But I don't have a problem," I said. And I really didn't.

"Maybe," said Nurse Joy, "but I'm going to need your help to better explore the issues that may be causing your Chikorita's behavior."

"Oh," I said. "Okay."

I really hoped this would work out. For Ruth's sake.


"So, Ruth refused to return to her pokeball earlier today, when you were battling another trainer's Raticate?"

"That's right," I said as I finished recounting the events of the day. "Ruth had taken a lot of damage, and she was pretty worn out, so I wanted to return her so she could take a rest. But Ruth wouldn't let Pikachu take over."

A weird look appeared on Nurse Joy's face.

"I think I know the problem. Ruth was suffering from envy."

"Envy?" I said in confusion.

"She means that Ruth was jealous," said Misty.

"Jealous?" I said. "Of what? I give Ruth plenty of attention, so why would she be jealous?"

"You were going to substitute Pikachu right when Ruth felt she was on the verge of winning the battle," Nurse Joy explained. "Thus, it's understandable that Ruth feels that you trust and care for Pikachu more than her. That's why she's jealous."

"Oh," I said, suddenly feeling a pit in my stomach. I had no idea that Ruth would think that. I just wanted to make sure she didn't get tired out by the battle. To make sure she didn't get hurt too badly. But she ended up taking that the wrong way.

Thinking back, it suddenly makes a lot of sense. I remember how she was when I caught her. She absolutely would not give up even when I busted out Charizard. And she constantly tried to fight me off when I tried to help her. She's incredibly stubborn, so it makes sense that she would try to keep fighting even when she's taken too much damage for it to be healthy.

Don't give up until it's over, huh?

"I'm sorry, Ruth," I said quietly.

"Don't worry, Ash," said Nurse Joy. "I think we can work through it."


A short while later, we were led to the Pokemon Center's greenhouse.

"Why are we bringing Ruth here?" I asked.

"Because Chikorita are grass type Pokemon, they need lots of plants to be calm and comfortable," Nurse Joy explained.

"Well," Brock said as he scooted up to her, "I'm calm and comfortable around Nurse Joy, so that must mean I'm her type!"

Unfortunately for him, this only earned him a whack on the head from Casey's bat.

"And I'm calm and comfortable when I'm whacking you in the head, so I must be the head-whacking type!"

Nurse Joy chuckled nervously at this, then turned back to me.

"Why don't you try to return Ruth to her Pokeball now?"

Curious, I took out Ruth's Pokeball and tried to do so. To my relief, Ruth returned without giving me any trouble.

"Do you really think this therapy stuff will help Ruth?" I asked Nurse Joy. To my surprise, though, Casey answered for her.

"Don't worry, Ash. My therapist helped me a lot, and I'm sure Nurse Joy can do the same for Ruth!"

"Really?" I asked. "Well… I guess that's fine."

"Oh, I have no doubt that we'll be able to work out Ruth's issues," said Nurse Joy. "But for this to work, I think it's best if she stays in the greenhouse tonight."

"Okay," I said as I passed Ruth's Pokeball to her. I was about to leave when Casey passed me.

"Hey, Nurse Joy? Do you mind if I leave Babe here too?"

"Babe?" she asked.

"My own Chikorita," Casey explained. "They get along pretty well, so I think it might be good for them to be together tonight."

"Well, I suppose that makes sense," said Joy. "And it certainly wouldn't hurt for Ruth to have a friend nearby."

"Great!" Casey said as she passed her starter's pokeball to Joy. As she did, I couldn't help but feel a bit more hopeful.

If Casey thought it was a good idea, then I would trust her judgement.


Babe's POV


Ruth was having some problems with her trainer. I could tell that much. I didn't understand why, though. I never had trouble with Casey. So why is Ruth having trouble?

Maybe it's because she doesn't have Casey as a trainer. It might make sense, I guess. Casey is the best trainer ever! She's so wonderful! She's smart, kind, pretty, and really good at battles! And she taught me all about baseball!

She'd never have problems with Ruth!

Of course, from what I can tell, Ash is a pretty great trainer too. I do think most other Pokemon would be lucky to have him as a trainer.

Not me, though. I wouldn't trade Casey for anything. Casey is perfect.

Anyway, I was just about to drift off to sleep when I felt a wiggling nearby. While I couldn't see what it was, I could tell that it was most likely Ruth's Pokeball. Which was then confirmed when I heard the distinctive sound of a Pokeball opening.

Surprised, I decided to let myself out as well. To my surprise, Ruth was running off towards an opening in the greenhouse's door.

"Hey, where are you going?"

She turned to me with an excited look on her face.

"I'm going to have an adventure!"

"Why?" I asked. "Aren't you afraid of leaving Ash behind?"

"Nah," said Ruth. "He doesn't care what I do. He's got Pikachu, after all!"

I frowned. I know she didn't like Pikachu that much, but did she really think that Ash didn't care about her just because he had Pikachu?

"Well," I said, "is it okay if I come with you?"

"What about Casey?" Ruth asked. "Isn't she important to you?"

I flinched. I really didn't like the idea of leaving my trainer behind.

"Well… yeah," I admitted. "But I can't leave you either! We're Chikorita buddies, right?"

Ruth looked at me in surprise, then smiled.

"Yeah, we are," she said. "Okay, let's go!"

She then leapt out the door, and I followed her closely. We both ran together under the light of the moon, turning through the dark alleys of the town, as well as the grassy areas between streets. Finally, we stopped at an old abandoned warehouse.

"Oh wow!" said Ruth. "This is so cool!"

"Kinda creepy, though," I said nervously.

"Pfft, you have no sense of adventure," Ruth said as she bounced up onto a box. "I'll bet we can find a whole bunch of wild Pokemon to fight here!"

"What?!" I said in shock. "You want to be attacked?!"

"Yeah!" said Ruth. "And I can knock them all out! And then Ash will see I'm strong enough to win battles on my own! And then he won't try to replace me with Pikachu anymore!"

I looked at her incredulously. Was this what it was all about?

"So, you're trying to get stronger for Ash?" I asked her.

"Well, yeah!" said Ruth. "Ash obviously likes his strong Pokemon the most! And if I become his strongest Pokemon, he'll like me the most and forget all about that stupid Pikachu!"

"I don't think it works like that," I said dubiously. "After all, Pikachu is his starter. And you know how humans are with their starter Pokemon."

"Well, I can get stronger, at least!" Ruth said, her voice full of frustration. "And then Ash will care about me!"

"He does care about you!" I said. "Otherwise he wouldn't have used you to battle like he did!"

"Then why didn't he let me finish the battle?!" she snapped. "I could have beat that stupid rat!"

"No you couldn't!" I retorted. "You were too hurt to win and you know it!"

Whatever patience Ruth had vanished at that moment and she slapped me away with her Vine Whip.

"I COULD HAVE WON!"

I didn't bother responding. I knew she was too stubborn to accept when she'd been beaten, so it made sense that she'd never accept being switched out while she was still conscious. And it also meant that she would not admit that she may have been wrong.

At least, not without a fight.

"Then prove it!" I yelled as I unleashed a Razor Leaf attack, hitting her dead on. Enraged, she responded with a barrage of leaves of her own. I jumped out of the way, though I still got nicked by a few leaves.

Thinking quickly, I used my vines to grab an empty can. I then tossed it at her, causing her to stop attacking me and focus on the can instead. I then looked around, looking for something that could give me an advantage.

I then spotted a large pile of boxes, and an idea popped into my head.

"If you're so strong, come and get me!"

Ruth was too angry to think straight, so she cried out and charged towards me. Just before she could hit me, I jumped out of the way, letting her crash into the boxes. These then fell all over her, trapping her.

I took a minute to catch my breath, momentarily oblivious to Ruth's screams. I couldn't tell if she was shocked, scared, or angry. Probably a bit of all three.

"Babe!"

I then looked back when I heard her call my name.

"Help me!"

"What?" I said.

"I can't get out!" she said. "You have to help me!"

"Why?!" I snapped. "If you're so strong, why don't you get yourself out of there?!"

Ruth screamed out in frustration. I rolled my eyes and resolved to ignore her. After all, it wasn't like she was going to listen to me if I did help her. So as the mass of boxes continued to move, I looked away, not letting myself get distracted by it.

After a moment, she went quiet. That should have made it easier to ignore her, especially with how loud she had been before. And yet… somehow, the silence was much more noticeable.

Then, I began to hear soft sobs from beneath the pile.

I really wanted to just leave her there. She would have deserved it, with how she'd been acting recently. But I just couldn't bring myself to do it.

We were Chikorita buddies, after all.

Using my vines, I lifted the boxes one by one. Slowly, the pile got smaller and smaller. Finally, I could see my Chikorita buddy again.

I looked at Ruth as I finally freed her. She barely seemed to realize I had freed her. She was just sitting there, tears rolling down her cheeks.

"Are you okay?"

Finally, Ruth noticed my presence. She looked at me, her eyes still wet and full of frustration.

"It's not fair," she said. "I just… I just want him to like me!"

"He does like you," I said. "You're his buddy, aren't you?"

"Yeah, I guess," she said. "But I want to… I want to…"

As she trailed off, my eyes widened as I started to understand what she was saying.

"You like him… like that?" I asked.

"So what if I do?!" she snapped. "I've never had anyone like him before!"

I paused, not quite sure how to answer that. For most Pokemon, the idea of having a crush on a human was absolutely preposterous. But Ruth wasn't most Pokemon.

And… I wasn't either.

"Well, you're not the only one."

She stopped crying and looked at me.

"What do you mean?" she asked.

"You know what I'm talking about," I said. "Ash may be a great trainer, but he's not Casey."

Ruth stared at me in shock.

"Back when I lived in Professor Elm's lab, I didn't know who I would end up with," I said. "I just knew I'd be given to a new trainer as their starter. I liked to imagine that they'd be someone really cool, and that we'd be able to win every single battle together."

"When Casey chose me, she wasn't quite what I expected. But as I spent more time with her, I found out just how amazing she was. I found out just how cool and fun baseball was, especially when we sang the Electabuzz team song together. She taught me battle strategies that I would never have imagined before. And the more we trained together, the more I wanted to spend time with her."

I looked towards Ruth, who seemed to be amazed by what I was telling her.

"By the time we started traveling with Ash and the others, I was totally in love with her. At the same time, though, I could tell that it wasn't going to work out. Casey loves me, but not in that way. I'm her Pokemon buddy, nothing more. And besides, humans and Pokemon aren't built to be together like that. Well, most of us, at least. Maybe some of us could sort of make it work, but even then it would be super weird."

"I… guess," she admitted. "Maybe if I had been born as a human…"

"Hey, you're a great Chikorita," I said. "You're my Chikorita buddy!"

"Yeah," Ruth said as a small smile formed on her face. "I guess I am."

For a moment, the two of us sat together, not quite sure what else to say.

"How do you deal with that?" said Ruth.

"It's not easy," I admitted. "I still have moments where I wish I could be more than just her starter. And every time I look at her, it's hard to keep my emotions in check. Can you blame me, though? Casey is just… perfect."

"I know," Ruth replied. "Ash is perfect too."

"Not as perfect as Casey, though!"

"Well, you're wrong!"

"Maybe," I said cheekily. "But no matter how much I want it, I can't be with her like that. So I learned to be happy with what I have with her. I know I'm her first Pokemon, which means I was the one who taught her everything she needs to know about being a trainer. And I know that she'll always trust me in battle, and I can trust her. And anytime she needs someone to talk to, I'll be there for her."

"What kinds of things does she talk about?" Ruth asked.

"It's a secret," I replied.

"No, really," said Ruth. "What does she tell you?"

"I told you," I said. "It's a secret. And she trusts me not to tell anyone. I mean, If Ash told you something really personal that he didn't want to share with anyone else, would you?"

Ruth frowned as she thought about what I said.

"The point," I continued, "is that even if we can't be together like that, Casey still loves me. Because I'm her partner. And Ash probably feels the same way with you."

"Yeah," Ruth muttered. "But I'm not his starter. Pikachu is."

"Well, that just means you have to let him have his time with Pikachu," I said. "Those two will probably always be close. But that doesn't mean you can't be close with Ash too. You just need to trust Ash to do what's best for both of you."

Ruth looked down, unsure of how to respond. I could tell that she needed some extra encouragement, so I walked up to her and wrapped my vines around her.

"And no matter what, we'll still be Chikorita buddies. Right?"

She looked surprised for a moment. Then, she slowly pulled out her own vines and wrapped them around me.

"Yeah… Chikorita buddies forever!"

I smiled as we hugged each other, feeling happy that I'd managed to get her to listen to me. And I was especially happy to know that we were still friends.

Not to mention that hugging her felt… nice.

"Hey, Ruth?" I said. "Let's go back. Ash and Casey will be worried if we're not there tomorrow."

Ruth broke off the hug and pulled back to look at me.

"Yeah… I guess I shouldn't make Ash worry."

I smiled as she finally decided to go back. Then, we walked out of the warehouse together.

Our vines were intertwined the whole way back.


End Babe's POV


When we came to the greenhouse the next day, we were greeted by the sight of Babe and Ruth sleeping side by side.

"Aww! They're so cute!" said Misty.

"Yeah," said Casey. "They really make a great team!"

"True," said Nurse Joy. "It seems that Babe is a positive influence on Ruth."

"They really do seem to like spending time together," I said. "They've been like that since pretty much forever."

"Pika, pika," said Pikachu.

"Interesting," said Nurse Joy. "You know, it's often said that Pokemon reflect the emotions and feelings of their trainers. It's rather notable that both your Chikorita like each other so much."

What?

Surprised, I looked at Casey, who was looking at me with the same look on her face. I then looked down at Babe and Ruth, who seemed to be very happy with each other. I then looked at Nurse Joy, hoping really hard that she wasn't trying to imply what I thought she was implying.

"Uh, yeah!" I said nervously. "Casey and I sure are really good buddies!"

"Yeah!" Casey said quickly. "We're great friends! Just friends!"

The others looked at us with weird looks, and I really hoped for something, anything, to call away their attention. Fortunately, it was at that moment that a certain someone poked my leg.

"Chiko?"

I looked down and saw Ruth looking at me. While I couldn't know for sure what she wanted, I had a pretty good idea.

"Hey, Ruth?" I said. "Are you okay?"

"Chiko," she said, looking downwards.

"Hey, don't be like that," I said. "You're one of my partners, aren't you?"

Ruth looked up at me in surprise.

"I know I use Pikachu a lot," I said as I petted her. "He's been with me longer than anyone else. But that doesn't mean I don't trust you or my other partners either. If I didn't, I wouldn't even use you in the first place. And I know that I might give some orders that you don't like, but I never tell you to do something unless I think it's for your own good. If I just let you keep fighting when you're all worn out, you could get hurt pretty bad, don't you think?"

"Chikorita, Chi," she said, seemingly accepting my reasoning. Still, she didn't seem to want to look at me.

I frowned as I tried to think about how to cheer her up. I then realized that Pikachu was sitting on my right shoulder, right in view of Ruth. Of course she would've hated looking up at me!

Well, that could be fixed.

I leaned down and grabbed Ruth, then placed her on my left shoulder. Surprised, she looked up to see me smiling at her.

"There we go," I said with a smile. "That works a lot better, don't you think?"

"Pikapika!"

Ruth looked at me in surprise, then smiled as she snuggled up on my shoulder.

"Chiko!"

I grinned. While I doubted this would be the last time we had to deal with this, I certainly felt that Ruth would be more cooperative going forwards.

I then turned to Casey, who had Babe perched on her shoulder.

"You three look like you're getting along just fine!"

"Chikorita!" Babe said as he offered Ruth a high vine, which she happily reciprocated.

"It certainly seems that Babe has done some good for Ruth," said Nurse Joy. "Perhaps he could join us in our next session?"

"That would be great!" said Casey. "Don't you think so, buddy?"

"Chiko!"

I smiled. While I still didn't know much about this whole therapy thing, I do think it will help Ruth get along better with the rest of my team.

And I think Casey and Babe are gonna help a lot with that too.


A/N: This was fun to write! Like to get some thoughts of the Pokemon as opposed to their trainers. It really makes for some interesting reading, I hope!

Anyway, our two Chikorita buddies had some issues to work out. Particularly Ruth and her unrequited feelings for her trainer. As for Babe, I don't know how likely to have happened twice it is, but maybe it's a Chikorita thing.

On an unrelated note, the part about prescriptions reminded me of an old radio contest where people were given a word and had to decide if it was a Pokemon or a prescription drug. Maybe something to do in the future? (Considering the kind of person Ash is, it's certainly possible)

Anyway, hope to see you soon!