Pallet is a boring town.
I'm sure for some old fuddy-duddy it's a nice seaside retreat from the hubbub of where-ever-else in Kanto they're from, but for someone who has had to live there for ten years? Spend practically every second of their lives there? Yeah, boring.
There's nowhere to shop, nowhere to hang out and nothing remarkable around to lure someone even the least bit interesting in with. In fact, the most entertaining person here is probably my neighbor and all he's good for is throwing things at. Still, gotta get in a laugh somehow.
Not that sharpening my aim isn't important; at least, that's always my excuse for nailing Blue in the head with my rubber practice Poké Ball. It's not all lies though! If I have any hope of catching a Pokémon of my own, I have to be able to actually hit it with a Poké Ball and that's harder than it looks. So I practice my throwing every day. My dad had even made me a little wooden bull's-eye that we kept out in the yard for me to train with, but after awhile that wasn't good enough. Pokémon move and react so I had to find something that would do the same. So I have Blue.
I swear I'm not as mean as I sound, it's not like Blue's a compete angel either. He and I grew up like brother and sister, but it was never going to stay that way. I mean, we were only ever friends because there were no other kids our age in town - unless we wanted to hang out with the homeless tech-nerd, we didn't have much of a choice but to stick together. But there's only so much hot air a girl can deal with before she'd rather be on her own. That was me, sick and tired of Blue's nagging and bragging and picking on everything I did. So after we stopped being friends, I upgraded him to 'moving target' and haven't looked back since.
But enough about him. He's probably the least important person in his family. His grandfather, Professor Oak, is way more exciting. He studies Pokémon, like, all of them. He's been all over Kanto and seen all sorts of rare Pokémon and met all sorts of cool people. . . It's not fair. The only time I ever get to leave town is when mom takes the trip up to Viridian to get groceries or treats for Gaston, our Gastly. Those trips have become a lot less fun these last few years.
I really shouldn't say 'our' Gastly, though. Like my mom would ever let me have a Pokémon. Dad had promised me that when I was ten he would catch me a Pokémon of my very own for me to train. That way I could have some little bit of freedom; I'd be able to leave town, travel and meet new people, even help mom with her errands. . . it's not like it's a huge deal, pretty much every kid gets a Pokémon around that age. And now I am ten - I've been ten - and mom won't let me use any of her Pokémon to catch my own!
. . .
But I always have a hard time staying mad at her for it. You see, since dad went missing three years ago, she just hasn't been the same. . . neither of us have been, I guess. My dad really held us together. Mom and I have always got along pretty well, sure, but we would still butt heads every now and then. That's where dad's magic came in, calming everyone down with his easy smile, kind eyes and quick wit. And then one day he left for Cinnabar Island. He went there and never came back.
Without him mom has been a little less herself each day. Because of that, I can never bring myself to pester her about getting my own Pokémon, it's just too hard to have a real conversation with her these days. So I've begun pestering Professor Oak instead. He and his aides are always bringing Pokémon into his lab from all over for study or whatever. I know he has to have some Pokémon sitting in a corner somewhere he could give to me, just to get me started! But he always declines, talking about 'timing' and 'responsibility'.
But I know I'm ready. I mean, it isn't like I'm planning to make Pokémon battles my entire life or become some girl-hero taking down criminal organizations with the help of my trusty Pokémon or anything crazy like that. I just want some freedom.
And maybe to kick Blue's-
The front door scrapped open and shut with a loud reverberating sound, distracting me from my journal. My pen began to leave a messy ink blot as I closed my eyes and concentrated on the soft voices downstairs. My mother hardly raised her voice above a whisper, but I'd know the tone of the cheerful male voice speaking with her anywhere.
I felt a wide smile creep across my face. Maybe today was the day! Finally I had worn him down and he's here to deliver me a Pokémon!
I jumped up from my desk, capping my pen and shoving my journal into my top drawer with about a dozen other half-full, discarded notebooks. This time I'll stick with it though, this time I'll be responsible and write every day! "Heh, unless I'm too busy training my very first Pokémon, that is!" I cheered.
The next few minutes I was a whirlwind of clothes and excited giggles. After nixing about ten different outfits, I settled for something that I felt said, "I'm not expecting much to happen to me today, but hey, if you want me to go on my very first adventure, I'm ready!". It was a lot of pressure to put on a skort, a hat and tank top but I think they pulled it off.
Convinced I was looking optimal, I put on my brightest smile and made my way downstairs. As expected, mom was still in her PJ's, her hair unkempt, apron on, slumped over the dining room table idly watching TV. A usual morning then. "Good morning, mom!" I chirped as sunnily as I could manage, hoping to get any sort of reaction.
She continued staring at the slightly fuzzy TV screen, unfazed and unhearing.
I skirted around the back of the dining room as not to interrupt her as I made my way into the kitchen. Every morning mom would put on dads long grilling apron and take out something for breakfast. That's as far as she ever got these days, however. I don't understand it really, but I know it has to do with all the sad inside her messing with her head. I haven't figured out what to do about that, but eventually I learned how to cook. Making sure my mom and I ate was something I could do and I always thought that maybe one day really good eggs would be enough to make her smile again. It was the one dish dad had taught me himself.
I whistled while I cooked. I couldn't help it! I just knew the Professor had come by to talk about giving me a Pokémon and if anyone could convince my mom to let me have one, it'd be Oak. He was a respected authority on Pokémon, after all. He was someone even dad looked up too! Jittery with excitement, I plated our eggs and poured mom some coffee - fixed just how she likes it - and brought it into the dining room.
After a few minutes of eating in silence, I couldn't contain myself anymore and began chattering. "So mom, I heard Oak- I mean, the Professor- here this morning. I can only imagine what he wanted to see us about. . ." I paused, prompting my mother to fill me in. I wasn't surprised to be left hanging. "I think it would be totally great if it were like, something about Pokémon. You know, something to do with his studies? Like maybe he needs a hand around the lab or something? Or hey! Maybe, and I know this is crazy but, maybe he wanted to know what Pokémon I liked? Like for research-y purposes or something? Yeah. So. . . did he ask about me? Or say anything about Pokémon? . . .Like giving me one, for instance? Or maybe something about a journey? . . .Mom?"
She had stopped eating, not that she had done much more than touch her food. Her eyes drifted past me and locked on to one of our many family photos lining the dining room walls before finally speaking. ". . .Right. Everyone dreams of traveling. It said so on TV." Her voice was lovely. Maybe it was just because she was my mom, but I always thought she had the most beautiful voice of anyone I knew. Even as a whisper it was like sunlight shimmering off the morning dew.
I glanced over my shoulder at the portrait she was gazing at; it was of my father before one of his research trips. I turned back to my mother, giving her a reassuring smile and lied, "Traveling isn't what I'm really interested in. You know me, I just want to spend some time with Pokémon. Of my very own." I said sheepishly, quirking a smile at Gaston, who had phased into the room. He hardly ever left mom's side and I was thankful for it, he helped me worry less by keeping her company. Try as I might, I just couldn't keep my eyes on her all day, every day.
"Oh yes." My mother began again, a slight light registering in her chocolate brown eyes, "Professor Oak, next door, was looking for you." she said softy before turning back towards the Television. She wasn't really seeing the images before her, and I knew she was gone for the morning. Gaston gave me a knowing look and hovered over to her, taking his place as her silent little guardian.
I nodded and quickly cleared the table, forcing myself to keep from running out of the house and straight to Oak's lab right then and there. When I did make my way out of the house, the warm sea-air hit me, stealing my breath for a second. That was another reason to want to get out of Pallet, it was too hard to breathe half of the time.
After adjusting to the weather, I practically skipped my way to the Professor's. I gave a quick wave to one of the town ladies tending to the community garden, but didn't slow down. It was a little rude of me I guess, mom had always told me to show the utmost respect to my elders, but that lesson never really sunk in and I was in way too much of a hurry to care today. It took me no time to make my familiar way to the great yellow brick building that contained my hopes and dreams.
When I walked inside, I found it also contained my rival.
Blue stood at the back of the lab, looking expectant then disappointed as he saw me coming towards him. "Leaf? What are you doing here?" He asked, idly running a hand through his obnoxiously gelled hair.
He was always doing that. I guess it was a harmless habit but I found it irrationally irritating. "I came looking for Oak, imagine my misery to only find you." I said, arms crossed.
Blue gave me an insufferably snide smile, "Yeah, well, gramps isn't around so get lost."
"Don't have to tell me twice to get away from you!" I spun on my heel and stomped my way past the professor's aides and out the lab doors, leaving Blue and his snorting laughter behind me.
"What a jerk. . ." I mumbled to myself as I looked at the town around me.
Pallet is small, there weren't many places Oak could have wandered off to. All the same, I wasn't in the mood for a game of hide and seek. I grumbled as I spent my morning walking the town, looking for one very upsetting old man. Eventually I found myself at the edge of town, staring down the swath of tall grass that kept me from freedom.
"I can't believe that geezer stood me up." The excitement I had felt this morning quickly gave way to irritation as the day went on. There was no reason I shouldn't be allowed to leave town, I knew what was out there, I could take care of myself! If Oak and my mother weren't going to give me a Pokémon, then I'd have to catch one all on my own, with my bare hands if that's what it takes! I took a deep breath and steeled myself, preparing to tackle the first Rattata or Pidgey I came across.
Just before my white sneaker hit the ground, I felt a large hand grab my shoulder and a familiar voice bellow in my ear, "Wait! Don't go out!"
I shrieked in surprise and spun around, my right hand involuntarily turning into a small fist. I was an inch away from pummeling Professor Oak in the stomach before realizing who he was. The panicked, disapproving look in his dark eyes stopped me cold.
"You know it's unsafe in the tall grass, Leaf! You know wild Pokémon live there; that you need your own Pokémon for protection!" Oak's voice was stern, but not as scary as I thought it'd be. It didn't stop me from being mad, however.
I brushed off the Professor's hand. "Yeah, I do know that! Everyone knows that! I was going out there to get a Pokémon since no one around here will give me one. Besides, I wandered over here looking for you!" I shouted, all but fire pouring from my lips.
As angry as I was, without my hot words to fuel me, I slowly began to feel a little scared that my outburst would cast me out of Oak's good graces. Surely he wouldn't give a Pokémon to a child that throws tantrums like I just did? But who cares! I'll just go out and capture one myself in that case!
I met the Professors eyes; his were warm but betrayed little of what he was thinking, mine were all defiance and fire, so I hoped. Finally, Oak broke the tense silence that had built up between us. "Here, come with me." He said.
So I followed him. He didn't sound angry anymore but I honesty couldn't tell what he was going to do. By the time we made it to his lab, I was a jumble of nerves.
Blue was still waiting in the back where I had last seen him. He seemed relieved to finally see his grandfather, but his gaze immediately turned to daggers once it landed on me following behind. "Gramps! About time. I'm fed up with waiting!" He whined.
The Professor looked confused to see his grandson. "Blue? . . .Oh, yes! I forgot I had told you to come. Ha, yes, of course. Just wait there, hm?"
Blue rolled his eyes so hard it made my own hurt. "But I've been waiting!"
Oak waved his hands at his grandson in a conceding manner. "Patience, Blue! Now, Leaf," he continued, turning towards me, "there are three Pokémon here. Haha! Yes, the Pokémon are held inside these Poké Balls." He gestured towards the lab table on the far right of us where, sure enough, three red and white balls sat. Oak's voice then turned nostalgic, "When I was young, I was a serious Pokémon trainer." I heard Blue groan beside me, no doubt having heard about his grandfather's trainer days countess times already. "But now, in my old age, I only have these three left. You can have one."
And then everything went still.
I had a feeling that today was the day I would get a Pokémon. I had been trying for months to convince Oak to give me one. Even still, I wasn't quite prepared to hear those words. I was stunned.
"Go on! Choose!" The Professor encouraged me, amusement glistening in his eyes.
Blue was not so amused. "Hey! Gramps! No fair! What about me?" He asked, practically shaking with jealousy.
"Patience, I said! You can have one too in a second."
Blue huffed and turned to me. "Heh, I don't need to be greedy like you. I'm mature! Go ahead and choose, Leaf!"
On any other day I would have chewed Blue out for talking to me like that but I was still to astonished to function normally. So instead I quietly made my way over to the table and carefully picked up the first Poké Ball. Oak proceeded to tell me all he knew about his last Pokémon.
Bulbasaur can be seen napping in bright sunlight. By soaking up the sun's rays, the strange seed that was planted on its back at birth gets progressively larger. The plant sprouts and grows with this Pokémon. Very easy to raise.
As I went down the table and to each subsequent Poké Ball, the Professor continued his lecture.
Squirtle! After birth, its back swells and hardens into a shell. Squirtle's shell is not merely used for protection, however. The shell's rounded shape and the grooves on its surface help minimize resistance in water, enabling this Pokémon to swim at high speeds. It can powerfully spray foam from its mouth. Worth raising.
Ah, Charmander. It has a preference for hot things. When it rains, steam is said to spout from the tip of its tail. The flame that burns at the tip of its tail is an indication of its emotions, the flame wavers when Charmander is enjoying itself and if the Pokémon becomes enraged, the flame burns fiercely. The flame on its tail also shows the strength of its life force. If it is weak, the flame also burns weakly. Takes patience to raise.
I took my time to think about my choices. Charmander was cool, I had always wanted to raise a fire type, but. . . I feared the word 'patience'. I had waited so long to finally get a Pokémon that the last thing I wanted to do was train one 'patiently'. I hate to admit it but lack of patience might be the one thing Blue and I still have in common. There was always Bulbasaur. Grass types are interesting and Oak did say it would be easy to raise. . . but is that what I really want? No, I won't stand here and let both the Professor and Blue think I took the easy way out! My decision was made.
I reached for the middle Poké Ball and held it firmly in my hand. "This is it. This is the one." I said, a wave of certainty crashing over me. I felt so calm all of a sudden, like everything had led me up to this one, perfect moment.
Oak smiled, pride shining in his eyes. "So, Leaf, you've decided on the water Pokémon, Squirtle?"
"She's really quite an energetic Pokémon! Would you like to give her a nickname?"
"Tetrarch, sir." I said without hesitation. Some girls had baby names picked out, all I have ever thought about was my first Pokémon.
Blue snorted and made his way over to the table, grabbing the first Poké Ball. Bulbasaur. "I'll take this one then! Oh, and no corny nicknames for my Pokémon, thanks." He said, smiling.
Before I could counter, Professor Oak began to speak. "Looks like you can finally battle wild Pokémon now! In fact, you should even be able to make it to the next town on your own." He smiled knowingly. "I knew it was only a matter of time before one of you two decided to run off into the grass on your own, so I decided to take the responsibility of giving you each your very first Pokémon!"
I couldn't believe it. He had planned to give us a Pokémon all along. I thanked him profusely, if Blue hadn't been there, I probably would have cried. I always expected my dad to be the person to give me my first Pokémon partner but with him gone and mom in the state that she was in, Professor Oak was the next best thing. He didn't owe it to me either, not like he did Blue, but he did this for me anyway.
After a few minutes of gushing gratitude, I decided I had to show my mother right away! Maybe news like this would cheer her up. As I turned to leave, I heard Blue call out to me. "Wait, Leaf! Let's check out our Pokémon!"
I stopped cold. I felt a small smile flirting with my lips as I turned back to meet his eyes. "Are you challenging me to a Pokémon battle, Blue Oak?"
He shot me a wolfish grin. "Come on, I'll take you on!"
Something like a supernova of adrenaline exploded inside of me and I knew that this was the moment I had truly been waiting for. Mom could wait, freedom could wait, what I craved now was a battle.
So, with the release of X and Y and Origins, I figured what better time to revisit Pokémon Red and Blue (Leaf Green in this case)? Fair warning, I'll be updating this back and forth with my other story, The Path of Angels and Men for DQIX, so updates may get a little spazzy.