When Mark was out of the library, Charmander was sitting on the stone steps, his head resting against the wall and his eyes closed peacefully; basically, he was looking absolutely adorable, attracting quite a few ‘awww’s from passing people.
“Are you asleep?” Mark asked cautiously, poking Charmander’s shoulder. The Pokémon jumped, eyes opening wide.
“Wha… no, I was just… er, in deep thought,” he replied awkwardly.
“Right,” said Mark and grinned. “Shouldn’t we move on?”
Charmander stood up, and they walked out of town while dark clouds gathered above them.
Keep running, keep running…
Four small paws beat the ground soundlessly.
He had no idea where he was running, nor did he care.
It didn’t matter.
Why would it? He had better things to worry about.
A bright white lightning flashed with a terrible roar of thunder. He shrieked in fear, turned around and ran even faster in the other direction.
Small drops of water started falling, prickling down his beautifully light brown fur coat and soaking the soft, creamy-colored ruff around his neck. He shivered, but kept running.
It had started to rain. Charmander’s tail flame was spouting thick steam; Mark glanced worriedly at it every now and then as they walked down the road to Cleanwater.
“Are you going to be OK?”
“Yeah, I’ve been through more rain,” said Charmander casually, obviously referring to the one Mark saved him out of.
“If you think so,” said Mark doubtfully, still keeping an eye on his friend.
Should he give up all hope?
It… couldn’t be…
He was far too exhausted to run, but the knowledge that by every passing second, his greatest fear was more likely to have come true, drove him on.
His forepaw hit a small rock hidden in the wet grass. He tried to keep his balance, but tumbled over. He got up right away and despite the pain nailing his left front paw, he aced it and kept going at the same pace.
“Hey, Charmander, have you ever thought about evolution?”
“Yeah, why?” Charmander questioned.
“Do you want to?” Mark rephrased his question.
“Do you want to evolve?”
“Why are you asking?” Charmander said, puzzled, looking up at Mark.
“Shouldn’t I ask you?” Mark asked, raising an eyebrow.
“Of course you should,” Charmander said, looking down. “But most trainers wouldn’t, that’s why I was surprised. My old trainer wouldn’t.” He spat the last words in a resentful tone.
“Yeah, that’s one thing,” Mark said thoughtfully, “did your trainer release you?”
“No… not really…” said Charmander faintly.
“Well… he battled a girl with a Quilava once. Didn’t use me for it, he never used me at all. But she beat him and he showed her me, lied that I was level 15 like her Quilava was, and asked to trade. She bought it and decided to trade, she didn’t really appear to like her Quilava all that much for whatever reason. They just did an unofficial trade by handing each other the Pokéballs, and then my trainer quietly made himself disappear. Then it appears that when the girl registered me to her Pokédex and found out I was level five, she tossed the ball to the ground in anger and ran after my old trainer, so I popped out of the ball and was left there. Then I just walked off in a random direction, and ended up in that monsoon.”
“Oh…” was all Mark could say. He paused, then added: “He must’ve been a selfish little brat.”
“Yup,” said Charmander and sighed.
He was beyond exhausted. He was even starting to slow down. He tried to order his legs to speed up again, but they refused and answered simply by collapsing under him. He helplessly crawled a bit on through the tall grass, and to his horror he realized that he was lost either way.
It was too painful…
He eyed the road and the cars just a few meters away, and made his hopeless decision.
“Hey,” Charmander suddenly exclaimed, “did you hear something?”
“No,” said Mark.
“It was just, you know, a small rustle…”
“Like a Pokémon in the grass?” Mark suggested hopefully.
Mark stopped and looked around the dry grass on both sides of the road. Something moved, just a few inches from the roadside.
He carefully came a bit nearer, and saw that it was a little brown furball with long, rabbit-like ears. A thick, creamy ruff covered its neck and a bushy tail extended from its backside. It was flailing around a bit, apparently trying to crawl but not really being successful.
“An Eevee!” Mark shouted so loudly that the Pokémon made a desperate, yet unsuccessful attempt to get up and run away before fainting with fear. He quickly realized the mistake of his over-excitement, and started thinking about his next problem.
“Why do I have to run across an Eevee just when I don’t have any Pokéballs?” he moaned. “Just my luck…”
Exactly then, he caught a glimpse of something in the grass, a few meters away from the Eevee. It was a familiar red and white sphere…
He couldn’t believe it. A Pokéball was lying there, exactly when he needed it.
He quickly walked over to it, bent down and picked up the ball. It felt cold and metallic; a few grass blades were glued to its wet surface by the water. Nevertheless, it would work just as well. He took aim at the Pokémon.
“Pokéball, GO!” he yelled, just like he had seen on TV.
“What do you think you’re doing??”
Charmander jumped up and punched the ball away in the air so it missed its target.
“What was that for?” Mark groaned.
“What was it for?” Charmander snapped, raising up his tiny thumb. “One: He’s unconscious.” Charmander raised his forefinger, continuing: “Two: He’s obviously too young to battle at all, don’t you see how small he is?” He raised the third miniscule finger: “And three: He’s in an absolutely terrible state; he’s obviously been through h@ll before we came here.” He lowered his hand firmly. “Don’t you know the Agreement? If a Pokémon is caught while unable to put up a fair fight for its freedom, it is free to ignore or even attack its trainer until released back into the wild.”
Mark blushed; of course he knew this. The Agreement between Pokémon and humans clearly stated that Pokémon must only be caught while they were still in proper condition to battle. He had forgotten all about it in the shock of seeing one of the most sought-after Pokémon in the world.
“Also,” Charmander went on with folded arms, “he’s young enough for me to strongly suspect that he shouldn’t be wandering around on his own. I think he must have lost his mother.”
Mark now felt terrible about his foolish longing to throw a metal ball at the little thing. It could’ve died; what was he thinking?
“A male, you say?” Mark questioned.
“Yeah,” Charmander nodded.
Mark slowly walked towards the fainted Pokémon, bent down and touched the fur on the head. It was soft, thick and very smooth, but with a few twigs tangled in it. He brushed them off, and the Eevee’s body twitched a bit.
Carefully, he picked the Pokémon up. Its body was warm; Mark felt weird holding it. He stroked a few times over the fur on the head with some soothing words, and to his delight found that Eevee’s eyes opened a bit.
“Vuii!” he shrieked and weakly struggled to get away, but Mark held him tightly. Eevee seemed to find the warmth from a living body to be comforting and in the end just curled himself up in his arms.
For a few seconds, Mark just stood there like in a trance, but then snapped out of it.
“We’d better hurry to Cleanwater to get him help,” he said to Charmander before breaking into a run. The lizard followed on his heels.
A lone Pokéball was left by the roadside.