At its heart, this is a story about a young woman having her first experience with sex. As such, there will be plenty of indelicate language, and, eventually, lemons. Take this as fair warning. Do note, however, that I wanted to treat the subject with a certain amount of respect and realism. It's the same experiences and issues I, and so many others, have had to deal with as we mature into adults.
This is my own canon, but it's more or less based off the games (as opposed to the anime or manga). The naming scheme is a little inconsistent I admit (e.g. Red is the hero from the R/B/Y, but Ethan is the hero from G/S/C); despite that, I hope you can follow without too much confusion.
With that said, I politely ask for any criticisms or reviews, and hope you enjoy reading.
Part I - The Gym Leader Summit
"I'm sorry if I misled you, but I have no interest in being anything but friends." I watched the proverbial knife dig deep, deep, deep into his heart, and my only emotion was anger. Anger at him, for forcing me into this situation. Anger at myself, for inviting it. The world makes me angry, and this drama is one of the bigger reasons for it. But I'm shy, so I can't go ballistic on his ass, like I so dearly want to right now. That would be improper, and I'm terrified silly what others would think of me then. So I just give him a half-hearted smile and say - nothing.
My name is Jasmine, by the way. I'm the leader of the Olivine City Pokémon Gym. I'm twenty-one and five-foot-four and happily single. Okay, maybe not happily, but I am single by choice. It's no big deal, to me, but for everyone else I know…
"I'm sorry," said Volkner. "It's just, well… Is there someone else?"
"No," I answered.
"So, it's just… you don't want to see anybody."
"More or less."
I sounded so much chipper and calm than I really was. Volkner certainly sounds more upbeat than he must be inside. His lips are smiling, but his eyes are welling up. Best to get out of here before the waterworks start.
He stepped away, shoulders held high. Don't kid yourself, Volksy, I bet you feel like a Metagross meteor-mashed your heart right now! Don't beat yourself up over it, either, because it's me, not you. Well, okay, it's you. I don't know how my brain works, but it has no interest in you, romantically, whatsoever. It was good chatting with you!
His tall, lanky form hung limp as it disappeared through the lobby doors. I wonder if this one will forget me, or fawn over me for awhile. By recent trends, probably the latter, maybe to the point of stalking. Unrequited love is such a Ghastly thing, forgive the pun. At least I won't have to entertain his awkward conversations about his Pokemon prowess anymore. Thank God!
With that out of the way, I'm well able to enjoy the rest of my day. Which means lunch with my friends at the Café le Rei.
I didn't especially like Café le Rei. It was too average and un-notable, from its white-washed walls to its generic menu. It had but one thing going for it: it was right across the street from the Battle Tower, and not some miles up the hills of Olivine City. So, while I'm working in this part of town, and while this September is unusually, disgustingly humid, convenience trumps taste.
Below my nose lay a merely-edible, half-eaten panini. To my left sat the gym leader of Goldenrod, Whitney. To my right, Celadon's gym leader Erika. Across the table from me was Lyra. They all hadn't known each other very well for very long, but since they all knew me, we formed a group and began hanging out. Lyra was the newest member of our troop, and Whitney and Erika were initiating her into the complex social web that was the Gym Leader Summit.
"There are dozens of regions, each with their own official gym systems. All of them have to be certified by the Pokémon League, which means they have to follow certain rules and guidelines. This summit helps us keep current on the rules, and helps us become stronger, since gym leaders have to maintain competitiveness." Erika explained this in her usual placid, gentle tone.
"Yeah, not anyone can be a gym leader! They wouldn't let us run a gym if we lost to too many pip-squeaks!" Whitney chimed in.
"Uhuh. Uhuh." Lyra nodded along, hopefully not just pretending to understand. "But, wait," she interrupted. "If you guys are so strong, how'd I beat you all?" Lyra had recently become the Johto League Champion. It was a surprise she had come this far in Pokémon-battling without understanding anything about the organization behind it.
"Because that Typhlosion of yours is absurdly strong!" exclaimed Whitney. True, she had basically leveled the entire Johto League, including me, with Typhlosion's Overheat attack. Thanks, Whitney, no need to remind me about it.
"Well, I just let my Pokémon do what they like." I had learned that her Pokémon actually love her, a lot, and were so strong because they wanted to protect her. She really needed it, too. She can be a complete ditz at times, like when she mistook a human hotel for a pokecenter (and freaked out when the bellhop took her pokeballs).
"How do you manage?"
"Oh, I trust my Pokémon!"
"I mean, in everyday affairs. Your Pokémon can't help you with your bank account."
"Oh," smiled Lyra cheerfully, "my boyfriend helps me with the math stuff."
"Boyfriend?!?!" was shouted in unison, including me. Whitney, having known Lyra the longest, was the most shocked.
"When did you get a boyfriend? Who?"
"Oh it shouldn't be a big surprise! Me and Ethan figured out we liked each other this summer."
"Wow!" squealed Whitney, piercing my eardrums. I winced, then slouched back into my chair, attempting to not be a part of this conversation. Lyra was a newcomer, she could be forgiven the quaint look she threw me when I divested myself of the celebrations. Whitney and Erika, however, should have known better.
"I'm in-between boyfriends," said Whitney, exasperated.
"But you're always in-between boyfriends. When are you going to settle on one?"
"Never, dating is too much fun! Hey Lyra, did Ethan ever figure out how to dress?"
"Yeah, I go shopping with him, no worries there anymore."
"Good, because those were an awful set of shorts, they ought to be burned and buried."
"Don't mock him! He doesn't deserve that."
So on and so forth, the banal twittering of young women and their obsessions. I was getting bored, until Erika tugged my sleeve.
"So, Jasmine, has there been anyone to catch your eye?"
"Not interested," I responded succinctly.
"Oh, come come! Tell us."
"Yeah, there has to be one?"
"What about that guy who you've been talking to lately?"
"Hmph." I'm not going to repeat myself.
"It's okay if you don't have someone special yet. You'll meet him, someday," Lyra added, hopefully and starry-eyed.
Whitney rolled her eyes. "You don't know Jasmine that well."
"Can you just tell us why? You're always so uptight over dating, is there a reason?" I wanted them to think I was 'just not ready', but Erika saw through my poorly built facade.
"It's because… I'm a lesbian." I tried sounding sincere. Lyra and Whitney covered their mouths and stood back in awe and shock. Erika patted my head playfully.
"Don't be silly," she advised, even though she was stifling a smile. Whitney and Lyra relaxed, now thinking themselves fools for being duped so easily. That goes to show the overblown importance they put on others' sexual-orientation. Lyra recovered faster from the embarrassment.
"If you don't want to tell us, we can drop it," offered Lyra. I mustered a petty smile for her kind suggestion. Whitney and Erika would have loved to have pursued this, since they never let up any other time. Not today, though. Either in consideration for me, or at the behest of our new friend, I was let off the hook. Finally- a minute is too long to be retreading this subject.
Except Erika couldn't resist one last barb before immediately switching topics, cutting off even a come-back:
"You're such a shrew, Jasmine. Speaking of Sandshrews…"
We ended the meal and broke off to our various functions around 2:00 P.M.
They were holding practice battles at the open-air arenas, ostensibly to foster casual competition and friendship between gym leaders and other prominent trainers. I was not really up for a fight, so I stood by in the shade and watched. There were three or four other like-minded spectators nearby, and a few dozen more at various points around the field. A pool of ten or so trainers took turns challenging each other.
Nobody expected anything spectacular here; it was, after all, unwise for a trainer to show off their special tactics before official tournaments. In fact, there was supposed to be a championship tournament after the gym leader qualifications were over. I knew I wouldn't even be considered for competition, though. My mind was focused on the qualifying matches; those determined if I could keep my job as Olivine's gym leader. Anything beyond that was unimportant.
Whitney was also present, but in the trainer line-up. She came back from a close-cut victory, sweating from the summer heat. She tried to stand next to me, but I couldn't help but step one foot leftwards after taking in her body odor.
"How come we have to qualify for gym leadership? Seems bossy to me, each gym should run by whoever wants to do it most!" Whitney exclaimed/whined.
"Because gym leaders get a salary from the Pokemon League, remember? They want their money's worth."
Whitney was referring to the fact that we were forced to take a graded three match course against League representatives, and another six matches against fellow Gym Leaders. Failing the grade meant no more title and a trip to the unemployment office. There were degrees of failure. Lower-scoring individuals would have to put in extra effort to avoid forced-resignation, such as community service or Pokemon fitness programs or trainer strategy courses. The best scorers get pay raises.
"I sure hope mine are easy," she went on, referring to her opponents.
"They scale your grade against your opponent's skill level. Don't you pay attention? Where's Erika?"
"I pay attention! And Erika's inside with the Kanto crew throwing a bridal shower? I think."
"One of the guys is getting married next month, his fiancé is being welcomed into the Kanto club. Sounds fun, but she said it was invite-only. Party-pooper."
"I hope she's ready for the gala tonight."
"Oh, don't worry about that. I worry about you, though, you like to skip parties without telling anyone."
"Hey, good idea!" I tried sounding sarcastic, but maybe I sounded too enthusiastic. That was always a problem of mine, miscommunicating my intended emotion. I just don't see any reason to work on it, though.
"Woah! Watch this!" Whitney pointed at the spiffy black-dressed indigo-head coming onto the field. "She's really good. Watch her fight."
The lady's opponent was a little kid, by comparison, a teen in a yellow jacket. I wondered how the brat avoided baking up in that thing. He was eager and loud, once the action started.
"Go, Charizard!" The dragon-like lizard burst from its pokeball, letting off blasts of Flamethrower into the air. "Let's mash em!" he screamed. Really? 'Mash em'? I looked to Whitney's favorite, as the cool-colored lady summoned an Umbreon out. The little black mammal looked weak compared to the Charizard, but it stood its ground none-the-less. The lady pushed a hand through her indigo-dyed hair, also looking confident.
"Umbreon, huh? That means it has strong defenses! But that's no match for Seismic Toss!" This brat was kind of smart, but not really. I think his Charizard had more brains, because it took off and rapidly gained altitude. That'd been my move as well, to avoid the nasty, annoying arsenal Umbreons are known for.
"And go, do it Charizard!" The Pokemon seemed reluctant, but dove anyways.
"Defense Curl!" was all I heard from the other side of the court. Umbreon crouched into a ball. Charizard tried to tackle the creature and grab it, but instead it was as if it had rammed into a rock. Charizard flapped back a few steps, clutching its head.
"Just fly in and grab Umbreon, like we trained, Charizard! Charizard?" The kid didn't even notice the Confuse Ray Umbreon had fired immediately after, sending Charizard into a dizzy status.
"Argh! Okay, stay cool… no, heat it up!" I was angry again, I wanted this kid to stop belching lame puns with every breath! "Use Fireblast!" Charizard stomped itself straight, and then let loose a pentagram-shaped fireball. Umbreon took the attack head on, flinching as it did so. The Dark-type wasn't down, but it was hurting.
"Like to play with fire?" the lady asked, returning his lame puns for another. She retreated her Umbreon and sent a new pokeball out. Out came an evil Pokemon, not to be trifled with: Houndoom.
"My fire against yours! Charizard, Fireblast!" Yet this Fireblast missed as Houndoom dodged to the side, then charged in for its own attack. "Bite!" came the command, which Houndoom executed almost instantly. It was too fast for reaction; I thought perhaps the trainer and Pokemon had a psychic link. The Houndoom locked onto Charizard's throat, taking it down in one stroke.
"Wah?! No way! Awwww!" The whining did not cease as he was forced to take his Pokemon back. He fiddled with his other two Pokeballs, stunned.
"I told you she's awesome!" Whitney chided me (even though I never argued that point). At that moment a profile picture from the faint reaches of memory floated back. I recognized the woman, or thought I did. I could be wrong about the face, but what other high-level dark-type specialist would be hanging around Johto?
"That's Karen. She was in the Elite Four a few years ago. Of course she's good."
"She's okay," chipped in a voice beside me. A guy stood there, watching the match intently. He looked my age, maybe a few years older; I couldn't tell much else from his dress or demeanor. Who was he? Why was he listening to our conversation? Why did he look a little familiar?
"Say what?" I asked. He glanced sideways, barely, as if surprised someone actually addressed him.
"Karen, she's ranked 14th in the region right now. Decent." That was all he said.
"You are?" I asked him, annoyed. He seemed more annoyed, and inched away without replying.
"That's rude," I said. Yet another example of the depraved masculine half of the human race. Was it any wonder I didn't want to be associated with them?
"Woah!" Whitney blurted. I turned to see the smoking remains of a Venusaur disappearing into a Pokeball. The kid cursed under his breath, and threw out his last comrade, a Wartortle. I bet he's regretting slacking on training it, compared to his other fighters.
"Water Gun!" It was pointless. Houndoom simply took the wimpy stream of water, and counterattacked with a Solarbeam. How a Houndoom could know Solarbeam was beyond me, but it was super-effective and Wartortle was 1HKO'd.
"Thanks for the breather," Karen said, laughing at the puddle of misery that was her challenger.
"Well I'm beat. Let's go get ready for the party."
"Sure…" I said, looking back over my shoulder at the rude, mysterious young man as he stared off into space. "Men," I muttered under my breath with disdain.