"Yea, you're right Eileen. Alright Croc, come over here boy." He said, Croc immediately came and stood behind his leg. He wasn't scared but he didn't like the fact he was obviously causing so much distress to the other trainer.
"If you want me to I'll order him back into his ball. He didn't know you wouldn't like him, so sorry about that."
"I know you aren't a fan of the ball buddy, but I'll let you out soon enough. For now though, let's just let her get comfortable." He replied.
Grrowl...? Hughes was confused as the other fire pokemon hugged him, looking around at the three trainers with confusion. Once the hug was done and the Charmeleon was back with it's owner Hughes went to sit next to his own owner who was trying to calm down the new trainer.
"See now isn't that better now that he's further away? Would you like to sit down or something Aeris?" Eileen asked with some concern, leading Aeris over to a table with chairs close to the food area. "Are you okay now, do you need a glass of w- uhh, maybe a soda or something?" she asked, taking a seat across from the frightened woman. This was certainly not how she thought she'd be spending the few hours of down-time before her match, but it certainly broke the monotony of the last few days.
"Hughes, go and get the grooming kit please. No sense leaving it on the floor," Eileen told her pokemon who grabbed the handle of the kit in his mouth and brought it over, letting Eileen take it out of his mouth before jumping up onto the seat next to her.
Once away from the water Pokemon, Aeris calmed down. Blaze stood beside her, giving her some support. Aeris looked at Eileen with a small smile that went away. "I'm sorry." she managed to say after a short while. "It's just that I'm so afraid of water, it's hard for me to even be around water Pokemon. I noticed you stopped yourself from saying water. It's alright if you say the word, but I prefer not being near the actual thing." She twiddled her thumbs.
"I would like some soda, yes. Lemon soda, if that's available. And you can tell Alan that it's alright if his Totodile is out of the ball, just don't have him near me. I-I'm certain he means me no harm, but I can't help my hydrophobia." She wasn't about to cry, but others might think otherwise judging by how she was acting and how she said what she said.
Eileen nodded and got up to go and get some drinks (along with checking out what was being cooked for dinner), telling Alan that Croc just needs to stay a bit far from Aeris while she or the Pokemon are around. Hughes was about to get up and follow Eileen before she told him to stay, the Pokemon making a whining sound as he laid his head back down.
Eileen got herself a free cup of water and bought a few different types of soda before looking over the food that was being put out for the trainers to eat. 'Mac and cheese again, shouldn't complain since I don't have to pay for it,' she thought as she headed back to the table, placing the drinks down for everyone to get. "So, Aeris, what are you doing here in Cerulean? Quite a bit of water here for someone afraid of it. Though your Charmeleon looks strong, so perhaps you are a trainer?" she asked, taking a sip of her water as she leaned back in her chair.
Alan replied with an okay before walking over, telling Croc to stay a ways away with spike. The Totodile smiled before biting Spike's stinger lightly and running off. He walked over to Aeris with a rather sheepish smile.
"Sorry, guess we got off on the wrong foot. I'm Alan, reporter and trainer. Currently following Eileen here as a story. Who are you?" he introduced himself properly.
Aeris took the lemon soda and opened it, taking a few sips from it. She felt a bit refreshed by it, and was feeling better. Even though water seemed to be a part of the conversation topic. "And I'm Aeris. Aeris Crimson." she said to Alan.
"Yeah, I'm a trainer. Got a few other Pokemon besides Blaze here." She petted the head of her Charmeleon. "I'm here with a small group of trainers. We're going around to each gym to challenge their gym leaders." She turned sour when thinking about Brock. "I don't even want to think about the first gym. Just a pervert that runs that." She shook her head lightly and smiled to the two.
"But I'd rather not think about him. Just need to focus on this gym. Wonder what kind of Pokemon we'll be facing here." She obviously didn't know about the gym in Cerulean, or she wouldn't be looking forward to it.
"Umm...It's a water gym Aeris. Cerulean specializes in water pokemon, I'm sorry. Figured I should tell you the truth, or at least warn you in some way." Alan couldn't help himself. Judging from the reaction to Croc, she would probably need a chance to gather herself for the coming gym.
"I'm sorry, but I figured you would want to know." He placed a hand on her shoulder in an attempt to comfort her through the breakdown he kind of figured would be next.
"Ah yes Brock. He was an interesting fellow. He even flirted with me though I put a stop to that once Hughes here beat his Onix and Rhyhorn, that was a good fight," Eileen mused with a smile on her face, fondly remembering her first gym battle against the rock type gym leader. She let Alan break the news of the gym type to Aeris, confirming what he said, "The gym leader here is named Misty and she specializes in water Pokemon. I'm pretty certain the battle will take place in a pool of water due to that, though it will be confirmed when I go to challenge her tonight. I believe Hughes is finally ready to take her Pokemon on."
Eileen took another sip before putting her cup back down on the table, moving it away from Aeris and closer to Hughes after a moment of thought. "You said you came here with a small group, where are they? I saw that one kid that you were hanging out with when I got here, but I haven't seen anyone else around the city that are new. We've certainly been here enough days to know who actually lives here and who is just passing through," she said, patting Hughes on the head a few times.
Her heart sunk when she heard what kind of gym this was in Cerulean. She put her hands over her head and put her forehead on the table. In a low voice, she just said "Oh no. Nonononononono. Not water Pokemon... anything but water Pokemon..." This time, she started to cry because she was sure this was the end of the road for her as a trainer. "I can't fight against water Pokemon... Much less in a pool of water..."
There was no stopping her crying. She wasn't crying loudly, trying to keep it as low as she could. Blaze felt heartbroken seeing Aeris like this and hugged her from her side. "Charme..."
Aeris didn't look like she was freaking out, but inside her, she was. She did not, under any circumstances, want to go inside the gym. No one could battle for her, and she wasn't likely to go there herself to challenge the gym leader, Misty. She had her eyes closed and the tears ran down her cheeks.
Alan sat down next to Aeris and hugged her. She seemed like she needed it with the small breakdown she was having.
"Hey, hey, it will be okay. We all have our fears and someday we all need to face them. You made it past Brock with a fire pokemon, surely you can face your fear. It won't be easy, but I'm sure you can do it." He said trying to calm her as he held her.
Eileen bit down on her lip to try to keep herself from smiling at what was happening. She wasn't even sure what she found funny or even if she did find it humorous at all, but she couldn't help but smile slightly at it. She took a deep breath, about to put her own hand on Aeris' shoulder until Alan hugged her, instead calmly saying, "Look it's alright, you don't have to battle her if you don't want to. If it's too much than just either wait to battle her until you're ready or just continue on."
Aeris barely registered that she was being hugged, but managed to wrap her arms around Alan and buried her face into his shoulder, still crying. "I don't... want to... skip it... but... I don't... want to go... and fight there..." she managed to say between her sobs. This would be the worst gym battle for her. She was just sure that she was done as a trainer then and there.
Blaze figured she needed the help of those two a bit more than from her. Even though Aeris could understand Blaze, a human would do a better job at calming her down than a Pokemon. She walked over to Hughes and Croc. She'd already said hi to Hughes with her claw and the hug. She extended her claw for Croc to see if he'd shake it.
"I know you don't Aeris, we all want to avoid what we fear. You can get through it though. You'll go in there, beat Misty and leave with your badge and pride knowing you faced your fear. Facing your fear will probably give you more pride than the badge ever could. I know you can do it." Alan said as he held her and began to rub her back in an attempt to help her calm down.
Croc was confused for a second as the pokemon held its hand out to him. After a second of thinking back to what Hughes had done he decided he should do the same. Croc grabbed the hand of the other pokemon, resisting the urge to want to play. It was obvious that his owner would want him to not do something like that right this second. Spike had landed next to Croc and was currently watching what was happening with some amount of interest.
"Maybe taking small steps would work. You can come watch my battle and just get used to the pool and Pokemon there; maybe watch from far away or something like that. Then watch some other trainers battle since I'll assume that the rest of your group will get here and battle. Maybe that will help?" Eileen suggested, not exactly sure what could be done for the scared Aeris. Eileen recalled that she hadn't been fond of water as a child, especially after her mother threw her into a deep pool to try and teach her how to swim.
'Let's just not think of that now,' Eileen thought with a frown on her face, hearing Hughes whine next to her. She looked over at him then at the clock on a wall, muttering something about feeding her only Pokemon as she opened her messenger bag to look for his food. She took out a few items that were in there on top of the food; a few of her notebooks, a golden nugget that she had gotten from a hiker after beating him, her Old Amber, and a Moon Stone. Once they were set aside she grabbed a bag of food and bowl, putting some food into the bowl before placing it in front of Hughes who began eating. Everything was placed back inside the bag, though Eileen was distracted for a moment when she saw a glint of something outside the Poke Center. She shrugged it off and put her bag back down next to her, telling Hughes to not rush eating otherwise he wouldn't be at the top of his game.
After resting his legs for a little while, Tyler got up and brushed the grass off his clothes. The Pokemon Center would be a better place to relax than the ground. Besides, he could sure use some food, and so could his Pokemon. "Hey, Tank," he said to his Nidoran. "How about we go to the Pokemon Center? We can get some food while we're there". Tank seemed quite enthusiastic about the prospect of food. "Ran!" he replied excitedly.
Tyler grinned. "Then that's settled. Let's head out". With that, he strapped on his backpack and headed off towards Cerulean City. The walk into the city was a brief one, and one thankfully free from deadly crime syndicates and exploding caves. From there it was a short distance to the distinctive Pokemon Center building. The door opened automatically as Tyler approached it.
He stepped inside to see...Aeris crying into a stranger's shoulders? She was obviously in distress, but over what? And who was this guy? Also, who was the woman who was also talking to Aeris? Only one way to find out.
"Uh hey, Aeris...you alright there?" Tyler asked. He then faced the two strangers. "Do you guys know her or something?" he asked on the side.
Aeris managed to calm down a bit. She was still sobbing a bit, but Alan and Eileen had helped with calm her down a little. She let go of Alan and wiped away her tears. "Thank you, both of you. I don't know how I'll get through this gym. I don't want to think too much about it right now. I mean, for one, two of my Pokemon are pretty much useless against Misty, no offense to either of them. And then there's my hydrophobia..." She shook her head and gave herself a slap on both cheeks. "Focus, Aeris! Focus!" She cleared her throat a little.
She noticed Tyler had joined them and looked at him with half a smile. "I was just informed what kind of Pokemon we'll be facing in this gym and they helped me while I was in distress. I'm very grateful for that." Her stomach growled a little and she blushed slightly, giving a nervous laughter. "I suppose I am a little hungry... I should go and check what they have. Eileen, would it be alright if you joined me?" She stood up carefully.
"We just met," Eileen replied to Tyler, getting cut off from introducing herself when Hughes jumped out of his seat and over the table to growl threateningly at Tyler. "Hughes, stop. Go back and eat," Eileen told her Pokemon who eased up and sat back on the chair to eat. She got up to follow Aeris to the buffet, deciding to introduce herself to the new trainer once she was done.
"I hope you're hungry for macaroni and cheese, because that's what they made tonight...again," she told Aeris as they walked over to the start of the buffet. She grabbed a plate and stuck to a salad, not feeling like having a hard night sleeping. "So what other Pokemon do you have other than your Charmeleon? Maybe you can come up with a good strategy to defeat Misty," she said, leaning against the buffet now that she had gotten her food.
Aeris grabbed herself a plate of macaroni and cheese and walked with Eileen back to their table. "Well, I've got Tristan, my Butterfree, Ekans and Xal, my Geodude. As you can imagine, using Blaze and Xal against Misty would be the worst thing I could do. And besides that, I don't want to risk having Blaze's tailfire get put out. Now that I'm thinking straighter than earlier, I figure using at least Tristan would be good, and Ekans might be able to help. But I'm just not sure how I can with just them two..." She took a few bites out of the macaroni and cheese.
"Exactly what was said earlier. we met and exchanged pleasantries, then she saw my Totodile and understandably freaked out. Then she found out that the gym is water and she freaked out even more so we decided to try and calm her down a bit." Alan said as he too went through his things to set out food for his pokemon.
"Care to join us for a bite? The food is alright here, but everyone comes here because it is free not quality." Alan said as he put the bowls down and stood up, looking to Tyler.
"It's possible, anything is when it comes to Pokemon. You'd be surprised at what they can overcome," Eileen replied as she placed her salad down and took her seat, quickly introducing herself to Tyler now that she was back.
"Your Butterfree and Ekans certainly are your best bet. I would say train up your Ekans a bit and use it for any of Misty's basic water-types. The Butterfree would be used for anything of hers that might be dual-typing, especially if that second type is psychic which it might be if what I hear is correct. It would simply be a safer bet. If you were a bit more bold than you could potentially sweep her Pokemon with just the Ekans, including dual-types, but you don't seem the type," Eileen commented, using her fork to get a good amount of veggies before taking a bite.
"I plan on battling her tonight with Hughes. The only thing I'm not sure on is if she'll use more than one Pokemon or if it'll be a one-on-one type. Hughes had to deal with two of Brock's Pokemon, but with strategy and skill he managed to beat them," she said, petting her Pokemon again.
"Uh, yeah. Why not?" Tyler replied to the stranger. "Oh, by the way, I'm Tyler Page". Tank came in from behind and nudged his Trainer in the back of his leg. "And this is Tank, my Nidoran," he added, pointing to the impatiently hungry Pokemon beside him. "Patience, buddy". Tank didn't seem satisfied with this answer and kept nudging at his leg. "Well...okay, here. Let me get something for you". Tyler set his backpack on the table and fished through it for one of the packs of Pokemon food. He pulled one out and opened it, setting it down for Tank to eat.
"Ha, he's also sort of a big eater," he quipped.
Jordan was taking his time enjoying being out in the open areas again. The fresh air, the sun dipping below the tree line, the fact that they weren't stuck in a cave anymore. He just wanted to soak it all in. Some people didn't share his view though. Red, Stick, Tyler and Fary had all headed into the city. He didn't spot Simon and Blondie but Rochelle was a little bit ahead of the pack. Might as well like catch up with her, I guess. See how she's doing. She was like away and stuff there.
Jordan hustled a little bit and caught up to the bandanna'd babe. "Hey, so like Rochelle," he started, surfer inflictions heavy. "Are you like, OK, and stuff? I mean, you were like gone for the whole day. And with those weird people and stuff. So...yeah, are you OK?"
"Honestly, Jordan... No," Rochelle answered, slowing down to match his pace. "When I found out who those Rocket thugs were, they knocked me out with Sleep Powder and stuffed me into a closet after taking almost everything I had with me. They would have taken my Pokémon and made them willing to obey Team Rocket if Tyler hadn't found me and broken me out. I don't know how I'm gonna repay him for that... and all that running burned me up. So tired. Once we get to Cerulean, I'm... I'm..."
She stumbled, tripping over her own feet, and only avoided falling by catching Jordan's arm. She immediately let go once she had regained her footing, and added, "Darn. Sorry, um... just exhausted is all. Almost fell asleep in the grass back there. But yeah. Tomorrow I'm gonna go find someone to report the Rocket activity to... and call my parents. They'll wanna know what happened." Rochelle had no idea how her parents would react to the news of her being captured by Team Rocket; her father would probably flip out, maybe even come to Cerulean via the Goldrenrod-to-Saffron Magnet Train to make sure she was alright.
Jordan was a little unprepared when Rochelle grabbed at his arm. He stumbled slightly but years of surfing had given him very good balance and he stayed up. Rochelle sounded as tired as she claimed.
"Well, we're like almost in the city. Look," they had come up to the main bridge that led into the city. "Man, seeing all this water makes me kinda miss the beach. I haven't hit it in like, a week. It sucks. But yeah, probably not as bad as being like captured, and stuff." It didn't take long to cross the bridge, and the red roof of the Pokemon Center was quite visible. "Here, I'll help you like, get to the Center there. Then you can sleep and stuff."
"Thanks... much appreciated," Rochelle answered quietly as the two of them entered the city and made their way to the Pokémon Center. The doors swished open automatically as they entered; Rochelle immediately spotted Tyler and Aeris talking with a couple of people she didn't know. Perhaps introductions would be made later on. Right now, though, proper sleep was her concern more than anything else.
"I'll, um, catch you all later, Jordan," she said, giving him a small wave as she headed for the accommodation wing. Once out of the main hall of the Center, she made straight for the beds, unceremoniously dumped her pack under one and ducked under the covers without bothering to properly prepare. The considerable warmth of the sheets helped lull her to sleep, which she accepted without a second thought.
"Oh sorry, name's Alan." He motioned to the pokemon that were busy eating at that moment.
"And those two are Croc and Spike. I'll let you figure out which is which." he said with a laugh. "So I'm guessing you're here for the gym battle Tyler?" He guessed.
"I'm mostly thinking how I'll be able to battle near a pool..." Aeris couldn't stop thinking about that it was over for her, but she tried pushing those thoughts away. "Ekans can probably swim, so he'd be alright, and Tristan can fly. Just so long as his wings don't get wet, he should be able to fight properly." She kept eating her macaroni and cheese. It tasted rather good.
She saw Rochelle and Jordan walk into the Center, and waved to them. Rochelle seemed to make her way to the back of the Center. For what, Aeris was a little unsure on, but didn't think much about it. Everyone was alright now, and there were new people to talk to and make friends with.
Blaze had walked back over to Aeris, glad to see that her Trainer was feeling better. She knew she wouldn't be battling in this gym, and frankly, she wouldn't have wanted to anyway. A water gym wasn't a place for a fire Pokemon.
Aeris reached for one of her Pokeballs, the one containing Tristan, and let her Butterfree out of his ball. He flew around, seeing the new place they were in, and flew over to Spike the Beedrill. "Free?" he said, simply wondering how this Beedrill would act around him.
As Rochelle headed into the back to catch some shuteye, Jordan caught Red waving at him. There were a couple other people there, who he didn't quite recognize. He stopped at the desk, talking to the Nurse Joy that was on duty.
"Hey, um, can you like, heal my two bros?" He held out Spike and Vicky's Pokeballs and handed them to the Nurse.
"Of course," Joy replied. "Shouldn't take too long. I'll call you when they're ready."
"Killer." Joy headed into the back room to begin the healing process. With nothing better to do, Jordan headed over to the growing crowd.
"Hey bros," he offered. Then he spotted the food. "Aw, what? Mac n' cheese? Where? Dude, I could totally eat like a tray of that!"
"You bet," Tyler replied to Alan. "I have a Pikachu and an Abra as well, so I have a fighting chance against Misty. But she's way more experienced than I am, so there's that". He shrugged. "In any case it'll be an interesting fight". With Tank occupied on his Pokemon food, Tyler decided it was a good enough time to get some of his own. "So, are you taking on Misty too?" he asked as he headed towards the buffet.
"Nice to meet you Tyler," Eileen replied, taking one last bite of salad before pushing the plate away from her. She watched Aeris wave at two people who had entered the Poke Center, answering the question of the blond man that had walked towards their table by pointing over to the buffet. Her attention turned to her Pokemon who had finished eating and was now looking at her expectantly. "Another member of your group I assume?" Eileen asked Aeris before adding, "I think there are platforms that Pokemon can stay on for the fight, which might be better for your Ekans. It's all up to you how you battle though. If you need help though you can come to me; I can never turn down coming up with strategies."
"Good job. You should rest for now until we're ready to battle," she told Hughes, petting him behind the ears before grabbing a wet wipe from her bag and wiping down his bowl. She heard Tyler's question as he got up to go get food, and responded, "I certainly am, and I'm pretty certain Alan will be too. The plan is to defeat the gym leader tonight once Hughes and I are nice and ready. We were going to do a few more rematches and do the battle tomorrow, but that didn't quite go as planned."
"Well kind of. Really I'm a reporter writing a column about the journey of Eileen here." He paused for a moment to thumb towards her.
"She's the daughter of a pokemon professor and so I've been something of a companion to her while I work. While I'm traveling though I'm also a trainer, once Eileen has faced them and I've written down what happened in the battle I face the gym leaders myself. Work comes first you know? So once she's fought Misty and won I'll take her on myself." Alan replied as he walked with Tyler over to the buffet and grabbed a plate. He, like Eileen, had gotten tired of mac and cheese so simply opted to make a very well dressed salad.
Beedrill. (Hello) The beedrill replied after eating a bit of food. It looked somewhat quizzically at the Butterfree that hadn't said much to it. Spike at the moment wasn't going to do anything, since the Butterfree wasn't doing anything or particularly out of the ordinary that would require a response.
"Yes, that's Jordan. I think he's a surfer guy, he never stops talking about the beach, and he talks strangely." Aeris giggled a little. "Well, if I could, I would try and find out if Ekans can indeed swim. But if he won't be able to, then those platforms would come in handy. Tristan will of course come in handy. I'll have to see about what I'll do. My main concern is actually entering the gym..." She looked sad for a moment before shaking her head slightly. She finished the rest of her macaroni and cheese. "That was so good. But I think I'll stop for now." She snapped her fingers. "I had an idea, if you don't mind. Why don't we have our fire Pokemon battle before you go to fight Misty? My Blaze versus your Hughes."
Tristan flew around Spike in a curious manner. He was used to seeing aggressive Beedrills, but he figured this one belonged to a trainer, since Spike hadn't attacked him yet. "Free. Butterfree." He poked Spike's 'nose' and giggled, smiling towards Spike. As much of a smile as a Butterfree can show.
Jordan didn't have to hear twice about the location of free food. He zipped over to the buffet as quick as a Diglett to scoop up some mac. "Whoa, I should probably like, let Vince bro out for some snackage." He reached for the remaining Pokeball in his pocket and released his original Pokemon.
"Scyther! Scytherscy! Scyther!" What the hell? What took so long? I was in there forever!
"What bro? You hungry? There's like food right here. Go for it, bro," Jordan told his Pokemon as he grabbed more mac.
Vince perused the offerings. "Scyscyther." Lame, it's already been taken care of. Vince stabbed a nearby apple with one of its scythes and took a bite out of it. "Scyyyyyyy." At least this is good. Vince then took its fruit over towards where the other Pokemon had gathered.
"Well that's good. Bro got something," Jordan finished loading up his plate before heading over for a drink.
Eileen laughed a little at Aeris' suggestion, shaking her head and replying, "Normally I would take you up on that offer since I rarely ever turn a battle down. However I won't for two reasons; one being that I don't want to over-exert Hughes at all before the battle just in case anything bad should happen, and two because I'm a very competitive person. That isn't really an issue as of now, but I have this idea in my head that your group could benefit having Alan and I join it. If that were to happen I'd rather there not be any issues that might stem from my inner need to be the best due to difficult upbringing."
"Anyways though, enough about that. So, sorry but I'll have to decline your offer. If you want to watch Hughes battle though you can always come and watch once we head out. The invitation goes out to everyone in your group," Eileen told the few others from the group who were within earshot. She figured that Hughes would be ready soon enough to battle, and she was starting to feel pre-battle jitters. 'The sooner this is done the sooner I can relax,' she thought, taking another sip of water.
Terinth emerged from Mt. Moon almost bathing in the light. She was glad to have escaped the dank caves, with the darkness surrounding her, to have entered the bright outside. She felt the cool air around her, with a light breeze blowing her hair and the soft ground replacing the hard rock she'd been running around on with the rest of the group. She almost dove headfirst into the grass, clearly happy to be outside and not stuck inside of the caves. As she layed in the grass, her pokemon let themselves out to enjoy the outdoors. As she lay down, she realized how tired she was from the running events in the mountain, and soon found herself drifting into the land of dreams.
As Terinth woke up, she looked around and saw her two pokemon lying next to her. Monk had been sleeping, but Lillipup hadn't, as usual. She rounded up her equipment and her pokemon, and they finally headed into Cerulean. She put her pokemon into their pokeballs and brought them to the front counter, giving them to the Nurse Joy. She could smell some food, and made a bee line for the mess hall. There was some Macaroni and Cheese sitting on the buffet, so she grabbed a plate and dumped it on. She looked around and saw most of the group, and saw them sitting with two people she didn't recognize. As she walked over, she heard one of the new people announce an invitation for them to watch her battle later. She tentatively approached and turned to Aeris and asked, "Hey Aeris, who are these two?"