Mark poked his potatoes with his fork, wondering whether to tell his parents about today’s incident or just to wait until they found out. He was saved from making this decision when his parents appeared to notice his lack of appetite. They looked at each other - a tall blonde and a short, dark-haired man, - remarkably similar when both wearing that expression which Mark knew only too well.
“Mark,” said his mother, putting down her knife, “did something happen at school today?”
He looked up. “Well, I had Battling class.”
She leant slightly forward and brushed her long hair from her ears. This meant, as Mark had learned through the years, ‘Resistance is futile. Speak out or I’ll sigh and look at you with an annoying parent expression.’
“Mrs. Grodski told me off,” he said shortly.
He closed his eyes painfully. “For saying ‘whatever’.”
“In what context?”
Detective Mom on the case. Mark sighed before continuing.
“She asked me a question, I didn’t know the answer, and she started going all ‘Oh, you’re so hopeless! You can never answer questions! You’re going to fail! You’re blah blah blah blah blah!’” Mark imitated in the screechiest voice he could manage.
His mom smiled in that annoying parental way that said, ‘I always side with the teacher because she is an adult and you're just a kid so you can't be right.’
“You really should try to do well this year, dear…”
Mark sighed again and rolled his eyes. “I’ll try – if Mrs. Grodski doesn’t finish me off before the exams, that is.”
“Oh, she’s not that bad,” she said.
“She hates me,” Mark grumbled, folding his arms.
“She doesn’t hate you,” his mom said reassuringly. “She may not be your favorite teacher, but I’m sure she doesn’t hate you or anybody.”
“She does! I’d know!” Mark shouted across the table.
“Mark…” his father began.
“Goodbye,” Mark said loudly, standing up from his chair and storming towards the door. “Did I mention I hate you too?”
As Mark slammed the door behind him, he discovered two things. One: he had completely forgotten that it was raining and was greeted by the nasty feeling of his socks getting soaked with water. Two: there was an unconscious Charmander lying in the middle of the street.
Mark’s frustration at discovery number one was replaced by the funny feeling of having landed himself in an extremely cliché situation that was like cut out of Ash Ketchum’s biography; of course, the next thing that came to mind was: What the hell is a Pokémon doing here of all places?
From his Geography class, Mark just knew that for unknown reasons, something about North-West Ouen had creepy effects on Pokémon. No wild ones had lived there for as long as anybody could remember, and if Pokémon were brought there by trainers, they seemed to get unnaturally exhausted and weak after a few days. Sailance, Mark’s hometown, was in the very corner and stereotyped as a haven for Poképhobes; why a Charmander would have come there of all places was even more puzzling than why it was outside in this kind of rain at all.
The sound of a car snapped Mark back to the real world; whatever reason could be for this Charmander being there, it would certainly get run over if it wasn’t brought off the road, and even then, the tail flame that the little lizard’s life depended on had been reduced to less than a candlelight.
He ran into the street to pick up the Charmander’s limp body. Taking it towards the house, he stroked the warm, orange scales and vaguely remembered pointing at a Charmander in a picture book when he was little to announce to his parents that he was going to pick it when he became a trainer.
Opening the door with his right hand while securing the Charmander in his left, he stepped back into the house.
“I thought you hated us?” his mother said smugly, her back turned to the door as she ate; he could nonetheless imagine the expression on her face.
“Whatever… I love you again…” he said quickly in order to get to the point. “Mom… Dad… there’s a Charmander… it was outside…”
His mother looked over her shoulder with a blank expression; her eyes moved slowly from Mark’s soaked clothes to the lizard Pokémon in his arms. She let out a shriek as she jumped out of the chair. Mark’s father hastily came around the dinner table to see; his mouth fell open under the black mustache.
Rolling his eyes at his parents’ reactions, Mark started fanning the Charmander’s tail with his hand; he couldn’t think of anything else to do. Whether because of his efforts or simply because it was warm inside, the fire was restored within long. Breathing in relief, Mark shook his exhausted arm.
His mom looked shortly at the window; the street view was still blurred by a thick sheet of rain.
“I guess we will have to keep it inside for the night,” she said unsurely, biting her lip.
“I think it’s a he, Mom,” Mark said, pointing between the lizard’s legs.
“Oh, yes, of course,” his mother said, blushing slightly.
“He’ll have to sleep in something flame-proof, too,” he said, glancing at the fire that now burned peacefully on the Charmander’s tail tip. His mom hurried up the stairs to the kitchen.
“Mark,” his father said suddenly, speaking for the first time since Mark came back inside, “where did you find him exactly?”
Mark shrugged. “On the road just outside our house.”
“You are aware that this is the last place a wild Charmander would go to when it’s raining?”
Mark sighed. “Yeah.”
He knew that a trainer was probably out there looking for his Charmander; the excitement of finding a Pokémon right outside his house had just somehow made Mark feel like his life had changed forever.
“We’ll go online tomorrow and check if a trainer has reported a lost Charmander,” said Mark’s father decisively as his wife returned from the kitchen, holding a large pot. She looked questioningly at Mark.
“That should work,” he said, shrugging as he took the pot. “It’s got to be a bit uncomfortable to sleep in, but we can’t have him burn down the house.”
“Er, why don’t you just take him into your room and read or something, just to keep an eye on him?” his mom suggested, noticeably worried by the thought of the house burning down. “I need to talk to your father a bit, too.”
Mark eyed his parents suspiciously as they walked up the stairs, but decided that watching the Charmander was more important than listening in to conversations and carried the pot with the unconscious Pokémon into his room. Setting it down beside his bed, Mark picked up a book about legendary Pokémon that his parents had given him, and sat down on his pillow. He almost knew it by heart, but he could read it again and again without ever getting bored of it.
Secretly hoping that the trainer would take a while to find, he sank himself into the legend of Vaxil and the Color Dragons.