“Oh noooo, Bulbasaur is too easy, I want a challenge with my Pokémon. I’ll get Charmander.” Beth muttered irritably, scrubbing the smoky black ash off of her arms and face. The Pokémon in question was looking up at her innocently, completely unaware of what he’d done wrong. They were sitting on the side of a stream, not far from her hometown. It was Beth’s first day as a trainer. Already, her cheerful little starter had burned her four times, at least.
Sighing, she dunked her hands in the cool water, soothing the little burns on her palms. “Charlie, you need to learn some self-control with that fire of yours.” She said, more to herself than to the Pokémon. Upon saying the name, she heard her neighbor’s teasing voice in her mind. “Charlie? Charlie the Charmander? No wonder the thing’s being so difficult, it’s rebelling against its stupid name!” he’d said with a grin.
Irritably, Beth pressed her lips together, and splashed the water. She was only a day in, and already things were going nuts. Seeming to sense her frustration, Charlie scuttled over to his trainer, placing his little paw on her knee. Beth smiled. “Well, what’re we waiting for? Let’s go catch some Pokémon.” She said gently, standing up.
Charlie followed suit, skittering along behind Beth as they walked down the path. The girl was lost in her brooding over the difficult day she’d had, when a violent sort of squeak nearly made her jump out of her skin. Looking up, all she saw was a streak of violet. A Rattata! It was the first wild Pokémon she’d encountered.
“Charlie, go! Use scratch!” She shouted. The Charmander leaped forward, claws at the ready, when its opponent whipped its tail out, effectively tripping Charlie and sending him face first into the dirt. Beth sighed dramatically. “Get up, Charlie! Go at ‘im again!” Charlie got up, and shot a look that seemed almost like he was pouting. As if he was saying “I’m embarrassed and hurt, don’t you yell at me.”
Unfortunately, that pout gave the Rattata time to lunge forward and tackle Charlie. The Charmander wasn’t hurt too badly, but he ended up running away from his opponent for dear life. Beth groaned. “Idiot. Why didn’t I take the Bulbasaur.” She muttered, following after her frightened Pokémon.
When she caught up to Charlie, Beth found the creature happily gulping down treats being tossed to him by some guy with a Zubat. For some reason, the guy was sitting in a tree, and the Zubat was fluttering contentedly beside him. He looked to Beth, offering a careless grin.
“Is this little guy yours? He looked about ready to dig his own grave when he got to me.” The guy commented, chuckling, and tossing another treat down. Charlie caught it eagerly.
“Yeah, he’s mine. Don’t waste your food on ‘em, I’ve got my own.” Beth snapped in reply, irritated at how calm this stranger was, when she was in such a foul mood.
“Calm down, Chikorita, no harm done.” The guy replied easily, dropping carefully from the tree. “I’m Alistair. You can call me whatever.”
“I’m not a ‘Chikorita’, and I don’t want to call you anything. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll take my Charmander and be out of your hair.” Beth responded, reaching down to pick up Charlie, only to get burned by a flick of his tail. “Ouch!” she glared at her starter, who gave her a smug little look and snapped another treat out of the air.
“Sorry, Chikorita, but it looks like this guy wants to hang around for a while. What’s his name, anyway?” Alistair asked, laughing. Beth only glared more fiercely, silently wishing for a wild Drowzee to come out of nowhere and put him – she wasn’t sure if she meant Alistair or Charlie – to sleep.
“His name is Charlie, and mine isn’t Chikorita, it’s Beth.” She muttered in defeat, dramatically falling to sit at the base of Alistair’s tree.
“Aww, good girl.” Alistair said jokingly, tossing half of a sandwich to her just as he’d been tossing the treats to Charlie. Beth was about to throw it back, but a vague grumbling in her stomach kept her fingers clamped on it. “Charlie the Charmander, huh? I’d say that’s the most original name I’ve ever heard. It puts my Zubat’s Orion to shame.”
Orion appeared to flutter faster with pride at his name.
“There’s nothing wrong with my Pokémon’s name!” Beth whined, quickly checking her tone and looking away. “The real problem is with his skill. He’s about as useful as a Mudkip.” She sighed, unwrapping the sandwich and taking a melancholy bite.
“Oh, don’t say that. I’m sure Charlie’s got a ton of potential, if you’d just approach him right. I bet you wouldn’t get all those burns, too.” Alistair commented with a grin, kneeling down to scratch under Charlie’s chin. The Charmander happily leaned into the touch. “See? Y’just gotta be gentle with ‘em, that’s all.”
The fact that Charlie warmed up so easily to Alistair only further irritated Beth. She looked down at her hands, some of the burns starting to blister, and felt ready to cry.
Alistair smiled, more gently, and tugged the fingerless leather gloves off of his hands. “This might do ya some good. And next city you pass through, you ought to get some cream for those.” He said helpfully.
“At this rate, I won’t be anywhere near a city for a while.”
“Well, in that case, allow me to be your escort. Viridian city isn’t far from here.” Alistair offered a hand to help her up. After a long moment, Beth tugged on the gloves, sighed, and allowed him to help her up. With Alistair leading the way and Charlie eagerly on her heels in hopes of another treat, Beth started off, perhaps now her journey would really begin.