near the last known location of regirock's tomb, several trainers have stumbled across an ominous opening. inside, they will find the ruins of the legendary titan, riddled with traps, treasures, and the mystical unknown. no one knows what awaits them but one thing is for sure — a new arc begins. despite the thin veil of peace, the public still faces unease.
after the ultra beast war, hoenn begins to heal. the megalopolan invasion may have failed; however, it is clear there is much more at stake. a prophecy revolving around a cyclical meteoroid, the appearance of necrozma and a dangerous and viral alien threaten the safety of the region once more.
with rocket's new boss, the resurgence and reappearance of the crime syndicate's presence is imminent. the league has done its best to repair its reputation, and with the victory of a war under their belt, perhaps it is enough. but the seeds of distrust have already been sown in the ravaged land of this region, causing many to wonder what will grow?
A gentle breeze blew through the air on the pleasant autumn day. Humans of all ages and Pokemon of all sizes populated the park, whether playing or hanging out or passing by. On one bench sat a lone child, his eyes never opening - though his playfully-dangling legs and eternal grin on his face would make it obvious he hadn’t just fallen asleep.
It wasn't very often that Hideo was able to go out on his own. Officially, he was accompanied by his sister, the two of them going out for a walk. In reality, his sister had ditched him over an hour ago to go do whatever it was she did - probably go to an arcade by his guess. Hideo didn't mind it one bit; it let him do what he wanted on his own, and as long as he met up with her before they went back home, their parents would be none the wiser. So he took the chance to just sit at the park, listening to everything going on here and taking in the beautiful weather.
And he wasn't exactly alone; ever by his side (or his feet, in this case) was Rocky, his ever-faithful Lycanroc. He wore a bright blue vest, the words “Guide Pokemon” emblazoned on it, with a leash attached to his body. The end sat squarely on the boy’s lap.
He had his Aipom out with him...key word being had; he wasn’t aware of it yet, but Pom had snuck off on her own, even leaving her own service vest on the bench beside her trainer. He was too distracted taking in the sounds of the park to notice hers was missing until he felt someone place something that covered his head, followed by the distinctive “Aipompompom~” laughter he knew so well.
He couldn’t resist giggling as he felt out what exactly Pom put on him this time; the entire thing was made of soft straw, and had a wide brim. It was easy to suss out that this was a straw hat, and that it was definitely too big for him.
Once the initial bemusement wore off, Hideo was quick to realize that she probably hadn’t just found this hat lying on the ground. Not one in this condition. "Pom?” he asked, lifting it off his head, “Where did you get this hat?"
That guy, probably. Hideo wasn’t entirely sure if he was yelling at him and if that had been a coincidence he was yelling in his direction, but it was better to guess that was why there was an unhappy guy shouting in his direction.
Hideo lowered the hat onto his lap, facing towards where he heard the voice, a neutral expression on his face. He waited in his seat for the inevitable confrontation - and while he did, his Lycanroc stood back up on all fours, to stand between his trainer and the incoming teen. The pokemon would make sure that this guy wouldn’t get too close to Hideo, whether by intimidating him by baring his fangs and growling or just serving as a barrier if his threat was disregarded.
Meanwhile, Pom hid beside her trainer the moment he heard the guy shout. She hastily grabbed her vest, donning it as quickly as she could before re-emerging. Hers was the same shade of blue as the Lycanroc, and had the “Support Pokemon” words on the front and back. She waved to the guy, pretending she wasn’t the Aipom that took his hat just moments ago, a wide toothy smile over her face.
Once Hideo was sure the guy was close enough (whether from hearing his footsteps or noticing his Lycanroc’s aggressiveness), he’d lift the hat back up - and towards where he’d hear the guy. “I’m really sorry about that!” he said, “I didn’t realize she’d run off! Here, you can have your hat back. I promise she won’t cause you any more trouble.” At the very least, his Lycanroc would let him take his hat back, though would watch over him very carefully for any sudden movements.
Pom, meanwhile, pointed both arms towards the hat, her grin holding firm. As if she were presenting it to him - though she’d keep her distance.
Hideo still didn’t know if that was why the guy ran over here, or if this really was his hat. But it was the best guess he had.
A few key details became clearer the closer he got to the child and his pokemon. His somewhat familiarly dressed pokemon.
Upon closer inspection, his support pokemon, if the vest worn by the angry, teeth bearing Lycanroc was anything to by.
There was something specially low about shouting at and being angry- I mean frustrated- at a special needs kid that just took the wind out of your sails.
Long before he came even near the child's bench, the young man's full sprint had become a reluctant jog, then walk. If that straw hat hadn't been that bloody straw hat, he probably would have just left the kid alone entirely, regardless of what the monkey took.
Alas, it was the bloody straw hat.
He began. "Uh." But immediately thought it over after giving the dog another look. He did not seem happy to see him.
So the child had to come to his rescue.
And my, what a cute, polite kid! A cute, polite, blind kid, if the way he didn't quite look at him so much as his general direction was anything to go by.
So he had been shouting angrily, er, frustratedly at a blind child, huh?
"God I suck." He said lowly, palming his face solidly before slowly letting his hand drag down his cheeks.
"Ah- no, kid, you don't have to apologize; don't worry about it. I had no good reason to shout at ya; she was probably just playing anyway." He said, reaching gently to grab the hat all the same.
He placed it over his head, fitting it onto his scalp before standing around in awkward silence.
Looking for anything to dispel the silence, he eventually noticed that he was surprisingly... unsupervised. For a blind kid anyway. Two helping pokemon were plenty, but still... It seemed irresponsible.
Scratching at the back of his head, the youth nibbled on his lower lip before looking down at the dog.
A moment passed as he tried to communicate with it through the subtle art of charades.
The moment was brief because he couldn't get anything out of the dog.
"Hey, mind if I take a seat? I'm actually a little out of breath; ran all over the place." He could run fast- but he also ran out of breath fast, he had noticed recently. That didn't use to happen before...
Maybe he was getting too lazy.
"My name's Doug, by the way. Well, it's actually John; my friends call me Doug, tho. John is such a boring name, right?"
Hideo kept his arms outstretched, offering the hat to whoever was approaching. He tried to listen for any footsteps, but the only hint that the guy was getting any closer was Rocky’s growing aggression. A tinge of fear ran through the boy as he was afraid this guy was really upset and might yell at him more - or worse, threaten to call the league on him.
But no such shouting happened. Hideo breathed a sigh of relief as the teen (at least that’s what he sounded like) calmly forgave him, even apologizing for his shouting.
Hideo shook his head. “No, it’s alright. I should have paid more attention to her so she wouldn’t run off like that. She does that a lot more than I’d like.” He did his best attempt to shoot an annoyed closed-eye look at Pom, but it only served to earn another chuckle from her. “I guess she saw your hat and thought it was nice, and wanted to see what I looked like with it on.”
Knowing her, she was probably going to try and take his hat again if she stayed out. Hideo reached into his pocket, taking out her pokeball and pointing it in her direction. It was enough to break her smile, even letting out a disappointed “Pom” before he clicked the button, drawing her back in. “It’s kinda embarrassing that she’s still doing this. Maybe she’ll chill out when she evolves, whenever that’ll be.”
The Lycanroc no longer growled or bared his fangs, but he stayed in place, staring at the teen unflinchingly. He didn’t react to his attempt at charades, apart from a few blinks of confusion; he had no idea what he was trying to convey, or that he was even trying to communicate something with those motions.
For that moment, Hideo thought he’d walked away and he simply didn’t hear it due to the commotion from the other parkgoers. He pocketed the now-filled pokeball and laid back - until the teen spoke again. Hideo faced towards him once again, sitting back up. “Oh, yeah, you can take a seat!” he said, patting the empty space next to him, “I don’t mind. And neither will Rocky.”
He knew this would get a “Ly?” from his Pokemon, who finally broke his watch over the teen.
“It’s alright, Rocky,” Hideo said, outstretching a hand towards the Lycanroc, “He’s not gonna cause trouble. It’s fine if he sits down.” Rocky took a moment before letting out a grunt, brushing his head against Hideo’s hand, letting the boy scratch behind his ears. It was enough to placate him, and he lied back down by Hideo’s feet - though he would still keep an eye on the teen.
Hideo’s smile returned once he received an introduction - and was quick to note that even if his name wasn’t actually Doug, that was what he started with; it was probably the name he preferred. “I’m Hideo,” he responded, pointing to himself for emphasis, “Hideo Kino, though pretty much everyone just calls me Hideo.”
“And John isn’t a boring name,” Hideo protested, “I think it’s a fine name! But if you want to be called Doug, that’s fine too!...though I gotta ask, how do you go from ‘John’ to ‘Doug’? I don’t really get how those two names are similar.”
A silly thing to ask? Probably. A good way to start a conversation that didn’t involve hat theft? Definitely.
He felt a flash of vindictive smugness when the monkey got vanished to the pokeball. Justice at last.
Of course, he felt like an ass immediately after. Holding onto grudges over harmless mischief? He needed to re-evaluate the size of the stick stuck up his bumhole.
With the kid's (and the Rocky's) permission, the very mature young man dropped onto the bench, letting out a sigh as he leaned against the backrest.
"Thanks." He said. "Hideo? That's a very nice name. Sounds like it's from Kanto or Johto."
Another refugee like him, perhaps?
Well, even if he wasn't- he was terribly polite and pleasant, this kid. He smiled.
"It's nice to meet'cha, Hideo." He said. Then chuckled. "But I wholly disagree on the John thing- though I appreciate it. As for Doug... well, my second name is actually Douglas. John Douglas Sullivan."
How he ended up being Doug was an old story.
"You see, back when I lived in Kanto- Oh, I was born in Kanto, by the way-, there were like... 3 other Johns in my group of friends. We were all bug-catchers who would 'hunt' through the viridian forest, so we often had to shout for each other. Four Johns made this hard, so we just started using our second names. Douglas was a mouthful though; so you know... Doug."
It wasn't a terribly interesting story, now that he said it out loud. He snorted.
"I wonder what those guys are doing these days." If they were still alive. He snorted. "I'm probably the only one who's still a bug-catcher. Those lazy gits couldn't commit to a even tvshow."
Hideo smiled, content that he managed to carry the conversation over to something less embarrassing.
His cheeks reddened a little at the compliment. “Thanks, but Hideo’s just as Hoennian as any other name. There are so many different kinds of names around here that I kinda stop thinking where they’re from. You could tell me you’re from any region and I’d believe you.”
Kanto, as it turned out. He knew that was a region, and that some bad stuff had happened there, but he otherwise was pretty clueless about it. Non-Hoenn geography was not one of his stronger studies.
Hideo nodded along as Doug told his story. He giggled when he brought up the four-Johns-jumble, but politely held off on saying anything until Doug finished. “Crazy coincidence four Johns all wanted to catch bugs,” he said, chuckling a little at his own comment. “Can’t say I got the willpower to stick to just one type of Pokemon. It’s pretty cool that you all could for a while. And you still do.”
“Must mean you know a lot about bug-types. A lot more than me, anyways. I’m still pretty new to the whole trainer thing.” There was a brief pause before his hand shot up, a finger pointing to the sky as he looked down. ”Actually, I got a bug-type of my own! She’s a Spinarak - here, let me show you!”
He couldn’t dive into his pocket faster, pulling out a Pokeball and pressing the button on it, aiming it right towards himself. The Pokemon within was released, a Spinarak as he said, right on his lap. “She’s the first Pokemon I ever caught. I call her-”
He was briefly interrupted when the small bug-type jumped onto his chest, latching on to him as tightly as she could, a joyous expression on her face that matched the smile on her back.
“-Squeeze. ‘Cause she always likes to squeeze me when she’s out. Usually, she just jumps on one of my arms.”
He laid a hand on top of her back, earning an overjoyed “Spii-pi-pi-pi~.”
“I’m hoping she’ll stop it when she evolves; she's already heavy enough, and I hear an Ariados weighs more than I do.”
"Oh man, that takes me way back!" He said, grinning wide at the little (big) spider. "These were all over the Forest back in my day!"
He paused immediately after, suddenly shuddering.
"I aged myself 20 years just saying those words." He said dramatically, before snorting.
But yeah... just looking at her took him way back. He tried not to think of Kanto much- it wasn't useful, and it was just an exercise in sadness most days.
"She's a lovely first catch, Hideo. Love these little buggers." He said, thinking back nostalgically to his days at the forest. "You said it was rare for all Johns to be bug catchers... but almost every kid was. There was so little to do in that 'city'."
"I just stuck with it for so long I actually started really loving them. Fake it 'til you make it, I guess?" He said, mussing. "At this point I guess I'm more of a bug maniac than anything... I'm pretty confident were bug pokemon are concerned."
His studies on them had gone beyond the typical trainer's type studies; the information at his disposal came from entomological sources.
God bless the internet.
"Let'me help ya with little Squeeze here." He said after a moment, chuckling as he reached for the little spider and began to tickle it just below the horn, trying to make it lighten its grip on the kid. "Hn... Here, how about I hold this little one for a sec-"
He tried to pluck the little spinarak off the kid.
"And you hold this little spider instead?" He said, before gently handing the kid a pokeball. A single push of the button released a spider into the child's hands.
Much smaller than Squeeze. Much lighter, too. Fuzzier, as well... and when it rubbed against his skin, it generated a tingly feeling all over the palm of the hand.
"Hideo, Goran. Goran, Hideo. Play nice, won't you?" He said, though he was speaking directly with the little spider, who proceeded to winked back with two of his eyes in response. He turned his gaze to the Spinarak. "And you... what's this hugging obsession all about?"
Another chuckle from Hideo as Doug told him a bit more about his life. “I'm the only Hideo I know about around Slateport” he said, “so it still sounds pretty crazy that four Johns all met and liked the same kind of Pokemon. I hear a lot of people start off catching bug Pokemon. Seems to be like that in every region, though they don't keep them around for long. But I don't think I'll ever let Squeeze here go!”
Another joyous squeal and a tightening hold from the Spinarak. It was starting to get uncomfortable, but he didn’t show it, patting her head anyways.
Hideo wasn’t sure what Doug was doing to Squeeze, but he didn’t stop him, and whatever it was seemed to work; he felt her grip loosen and her limbs start shifting around, and she even started making a “Rakakakaka!” noise.
“Are you...tickling her?” he asked; it was the only thing he could think of that would make her laugh and act like that. He wasn’t just asking because of how absurd it seemed, though: “...I’ve tried that so many times, but it never seems to work for me. You really must be a bug expert if you can pull that off on her. How’re you doing it?” It worked so well that she released her grip entirely, and offered no resistance when she was pulled off of him.
But before Hideo could inquire any further, he was offered a replacement; he’d expected the Pokemon to already be out when he extended his hand out, but the Pokeball was opened quickly and the one within was deposited on his hand.
And...”It’s so tiny!” he exclaimed, his cheeks reddened as he was instantly enamored. It was small. Really small. Small enough to fit in his hand. Small enough that when he pet it with his free hand, his entire hand was able to cover it.
His hand glided across the spider’s back, his touch light, its short fur brushing against his fingers. He disregarded the strange, yet somewhat familiar sensation as he began to take a closer inspection of the Pokemon, feeling out its four fuzzy legs and fuzzy cheeks. He was careful not to touch the center of where he assumed its front and back were - he didn’t want to touch its eyes or its butt after all. His inspection didn’t last too long; not even a minute.
An insect-shaped Pokemon as Doug said - definitely bug-type (almost a given considering how much it seemed Doug liked that type). A tingly feeling when he touched its fur, like when he’d rub his hand against the carpet in his room - was that electricity? Small enough to fit in his hand and super-light.
The gears in his head spun as he gently pet the Pokemon, until the answer reached his lips. “This is a Joltik, right?” It was the only Pokemon he could think of that could have all those characteristics. “I’ve heard that they were small...but I didn’t think they were this small!”
Squeeze glanced at Doug for a moment after he questioned her, before her gaze shifted back towards her trainer - then towards the Joltik. Though her facial expression wouldn’t change, the face on her back did; frowning and squinting. She didn’t even say anything to either of them.
It was up to Hideo to explain, taking a moment from petting Goran. “She’s just done that ever since I caught her. Actually, even before that. She clung to me the moment we met, even let me catch her without a fight. She does it whenever I let her out of her Pokeball now. Dunno why she’s like that, but it’s why I didn’t have much trouble choosing a name for her.”
“I tried naming her ‘Clingy’ first, but she didn’t like that name. So I went with ‘Squeeze’, and she likes that a lot more. Isn’t that right?”
The face on Squeeze’s back momentarily flashed back its more joyous look as she looked up at Hideo, letting out a small “Spiii!”
But the face shifted back when she looked back at the Joltik, as it was once again getting pet by her trainer.
"Good boy. One should stick with their pokemon. " He said to Hideo, placing his head onto the back of his hand as he leaned forward. "A Caterpie is easy to catch, swift to evolve, and can be released back into the wild as a Butterfree without much thought. That's the mindset of the usual dumba- er, dumb kid. I should know."
He hadn't been truly enamored with bug types back then; just another kid picking the easy route along with everyone else. He only started keeping his pokemon when he met Kama.
He wished he had kept his Butterfree and Beedrill as well. Hopefully they were doing good, despite what went on in Kanto.
He grinned at Hideo's awe. Tickling a bug could be hard- between chitin, hard shells, fuzzy bodies or just plain strange anatomy that did not conform to most mammals.
"Find her horn, and tickle at its base. She'll be on the ground before long if you keep at it." He said, humming as he petted her around the horn instead.
This particular Spinarak wore her emotions on her proverbial sleeve; and boy, she was a jealous one, it seemed. He tried to keep her calm with a few strategic rubs, but he suspected he might have to cut the Joltik petting session short soon.
That aside, he was impressed the kid could recognize Goran from touch alone. He hadn't even thought he would know the species.
Shows what he knows.
"Right on the money." He said. "I met this little guy here in Slateport, at the docks. If I had to guess, he hid inside a crate in an Unovan ship and was disembarked along with the shipment."
Good thing he caught the Joltik before it became prey for the Pelippers.
Or before it destroyed the local Pelipper population.
On an unrelated note- Clingy might have been a more appropriate name.
"Well, guess I better not keep getting in her way then." He said with a laugh, reaching over to grab his little Joltik. "Sorry Hideo, she's looking real surly right now. How about you shower her with some love?"
Hideo blushed when met with so much praise - and happily accepted the headpat. It just added more to his confidence; a good trainer would be able to recognize Pokemon without needing a Pokedex or someone to point it out for him. More important that he could pinpoint them by touch. “Well, I know a lot about smaller Pokemon. They’re the ones that were safest for me to touch. Mom and Dad always brought me to places where I could play with them, so I learned a lot about what they’re like.”
He also made sure to remember where he’d have to tickle her; finding her horn would be easy enough when she would just cling to him. Maybe if he were lucky, she’d retain that weakpoint when she evolved. And wouldn’t stop him from doing it after the first few times.
Alas, his fuzzy petting session would have to come to an end, before Squeeze. He gave it one last brush before looking over at Doug. “Yeah, I’m not surprised. She usually lets up after she’s hugging me for a while, but if someone pulls her away...it took hours to clean up all the webs she made last time my dad did that. Then she just clings even harder.”
Squeeze looked away, folding her front legs in front of her. The face on her back was looking to the side, paired with a small frown.
Hideo reached out, Joltik in hand - but there was something Hideo hadn’t accounted for.
He hadn’t paid attention to how much static electricity had built up from petting the Joltik, distracted by his bliss. The only hint of the oncoming consequence was a few of the hairs on his head were starting to stand up - something he didn’t even feel thanks to how thick his hair was.
When he extended his hand out to make the exchange, and his hand would get close to Doug’s…
Hideo would immediately recoil back - dropping the Joltic on the bench if Doug wasn’t fast enough to catch it (and didn’t also recoil). Squeeze took the chance to rush her trainer, immediately latching on to his exposed side, the force of her charge pushing him down on his side of the bench.
His Lycanroc, observing the whole display, let out a small chuckle, his maw grinning as best as a wolf pokemon could grin.
"Glad you're back, Squeeze," Hideo dryly stated, opting to just let the Spinarak hold onto him; the face on her back was of pure joy.
"Chksch-phwk!" Came out of his throat as a sharp jolt of static had him wrench his hand away, the little Joltik reflexively shooting some string to spiderman its way up to the young man's head as he leaned his weight against the bench.
The only string it knew how to use was Electro Web, however.
Doug slumped off the side of the bench and cheek first onto the soil with a solid thud, his neck straining with as the disks of his spine popped.
His body twitched occasionally but remained otherwise silent, tongue, lulling out of his mouth.
Joltik screeched in a panic, jumping up and down on the youth's temple, to no avail- too light.
Hideo realized something was wrong when he heard something drop on the ground. Something heavy. From where Doug had been sitting.
“Doug?” he asked, sitting back up (which took a bit of effort - Squeeze was still on him).
“Doug?!” This time, he got a response - from the Joltik, who was now screeching.
His entire body tensed up. “Ah shit.”
He didn’t know what happened, but the first assumption he made was that static shock was so strong, it knocked Doug unconscious. Or worse. He was going to get in so much trouble for this. He was gonna get grounded for so long, and no way were his parents going to let him go out and be a trainer if they found out. Tears began to drip from his face. “No. Nonononononono-”
A fuzzy head pushed against his dangling hand, interrupting his panic. "Rocky? Rocky, check on him! Is he alive?!"
Rocky was trained well enough to at least be able to answer yes-no questions. He walked over to the downed Doug, sniffing at him. When he answered "Ly," it was enough to assuage Hideo's fear that he'd committed manslaughter.
"Is he moving?"
"Hnnnng." Must have paralyzed him with that static shock.
He wasn’t sure what he could do; he didn’t have anything that could cure paralysis on him, and he didn't have any Pokemon that could fix it. And he wasn't sure if Lycanroc would be strong enough to drag him to a hospital - if that was even a good idea.
But he couldn't just leave Doug lying there.
Also, though he was unaware of it, they were attracting a crowd, drawn in by the seizing trainer covered in web and the screaming Joltik.
He retrieved his phone, putting down the number for emergency services as fast as he could. His hands were trembling as he held the phone to his ear. The seconds it took for the number to connect were too long. "Hello? Yes, I was petting his-his Joltik, and then I went to give it back, then I shocked him and now he’s on the ground and he’s not moving!"
He gave pause when Rocky brushed by his hand again. Squeeze, noticing her trainer’s distress, released her grip, skittering to his side.
“We-we’re in the park. My Lycanroc says he’s still breathing, but hurry! Please!”
Between his panic-induced tunnel vision, talking on the phone and the growing-crowd’s commotion, Hideo missed what Doug had said at first.
But as Doug spoke more, Hideo stopped talking. He didn’t understand what he was saying, but he definitely heard his voice.
And then the grunt. And Hideo could feel him drop himself on the bench. “Doug? Are you-”
Hideo quickly found his hand empty, with Doug very abruptly ending his call.
The crowd dispersed, a few of them grumbling about “that homeless nutjob” and “faking it”.
Hideo’s mouth opened, ready to protest Doug’s refusal, but no words came out. He could tell Doug had not completely recovered from that attack, but he seemed adamant about not getting healthcare. Best not to push it. “If...you say so,” he muttered.
An uncomfortable silence arose. Rocky had returned to him, once again resting at his feet, while Squeeze rested her forelegs and head on his lap. All that fear and anxiety from before was going away, but now it was just filled with the feeling that he really messed up.
“So, uh...if you don’t mind me asking, where do you live? I know you’re homeless, but do you really just...sleep in an alleyway or something? Or do you live in a shelter? Or-”
He stopped himself from probing any further; probably not the best thing to ask.
“I’d offer to let you stay at my house, but I don’t think my parents are too keen on me inviting strangers over.” Especially a homeless guy, even if he was a good person like Doug.
A tinge of guilt hit him; he felt like was just rubbing it in now. But what to change the topic to?
His still-empty hand gave him the answer. He extended it towards Doug. “Can I have my phone back? You can just-”
No, wait. He’d been petting that Joltik for a while. He still might have more electricity built up.
Completely disregarding that he’d already touched his Lycanroc and Spinarak and his phone with no negative consequences.
He pulled his hand back. “Just...put it down over there.” He felt out a space between them on the bench. “I don’t want to shock you again. I didn’t know you could build up so much static that it knocks someone down ‘n out. Guess I still got a lot to learn about Pokemon. Like Joltiks.”
He looked down at his lap, a sigh escaping his lips. He felt like such an idiot right now.