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Hizashi Yamada, five years into his pokémon journey, is currently strolling through some woods with his partner pokémon, Loudred. There just wasn’t any reason for him to rush to the next town; he had more than enough time to become the best Radio Host, Pokémon trainer, and Contest Coordinator.

The forest around them didn’t seem all that lively, which was starting to put Hizashi on edge. Hizashi thought that forests were bad enough considering all of the bug types that dwell in them. He was trying not to show it, but the deeper he walked into the woods, the more anxious he was getting.

There was a bright clearing ahead, which would be a perfect place for Hizashi to take a break. It was a risk to stop in scary place like this, but it would be even more risky to go too far without taking a break.

As Hizashi surveyed the clearing, he nearly jumped when he heard a branch snap. He looked in the direction of the noise to see a rustling bush.

“Hey, Loudred, do you see something shaking in those bushes too?” Hizashi quietly asks his partner pokémon, trying not to scare away whatever could be there. His Loudred nods in response, staring directly at the bushes.

Hizashi believes himself to be a pretty skilled trainer at this point, with multiple badges and ribbons to prove it. He figures that it wouldn’t be best to use Loudred on whatever might be in the bush. A weaker pokémon wouldn’t have a chance against Loudred. Sending out his Chatot, Hizashi prepares himself for a battle.

“Alright Chatot, use peck on whatever is in the bushes!” Hizashi whispers excitedly, pointing in that direction. Chatot responds to Hizashi’s command quickly, flying towards the bushes.

“Ow!” came a voice from inside the bush. It didn’t sound like any pokémon Hizashi had ever heard. In fact, he thought it sounded somewhat human. The realization hit Hizashi slowly, but effectively.

“Chatot return,” he called, getting his Chatot back inside of its pokéball. “Are you alright? I’m so sorry. I thought you were a pokémon!” Hizashi explained, running over to the bush.

Emerging from the bush was a big yellow sleeping bag, looking almost like a Kakuna. Inside of the unsettling sleeping bag was a boy with messy dark hair, approximately Hizashi’s age, with the darkest scowl he had ever seen. Right in the middle of his forehead was a large bump, presumably from Chatot’s peck. Beside the sleeping bag boy was an Umbreon, excitedly wagging its tail, as if their contrasting demeanors were a charm point.

“Have I seen you before?” the sleeping bag boy asks, with a curiosity that Hizashi could only describe as dull. It seemed like the boy was the type to take the fun out of everything.

“Well, my dear friend,” Hizashi begins, striking his signature pose. “You could have seen me on tv during a pokémon contest! Perhaps you’ve heard my voice when listening to the radio! I’m just a temporary intern right now, but they let me speak occasionally. I’m also working my way towards the Yuuei league.” The boy hadn’t lightened up by any of what Hizashi had said. If anything, the glare directed at him had grown more intense, causing Hizashi to tremble and break out of his pose.

“So you’re one of those flashy types,” the boy reasons disinterestedly. His monotonous tone was beginning to frustrate Hizashi. He will get this boy interested in him no matter what it takes. Sure, being a people pleaser isn’t healthy, but Hizashi has to be personable to achieve his dreams.

“Hizashi Yamada, at your service,” he says with a dramatic bow, hoping to get a reaction out of the other. Coming up from his bow, the boy’s face was as bland as ever.

“Shouta Aizawa,” the boy, Aizawa, had responded. “Can I go back to sleep now?”

“Sleep?” Hizashi questioned at an unreasonable volume. “It’s already past noon!”

“Of course I’m going to sleep. What did you think I was doing in a sleeping bag anyway?” Aizawa grumbles back.

“I’m not going to let you sleep,” Hizashi said, his voice taking a serious tone. “Not only are you messing up your natural sleep cycle, I can’t let you sleep while injured. We’re taking you to the nearest Pokémon Center!”

“Do you still think I’m a pokémon?” Aizawa asks, with the tiniest smile. Hizashi knows he’s being made fun of, but it’s still worth it. Soon enough, he’ll have Aizawa smiling all the time.

“Shouta Aizawa,” Hizashi says in a robotic tone, mimicking the Pokédex voice. “The grumpy pokémon. Aizawa sleeps all day and thrives in areas with minimal fun.”

Instead of getting angry like Hizashi had assumed he would, Aizawa just sighs and removes himself from the sleeping bag before gathering his things. Aizawa, despite looking dirty and lazy, had a natural beauty about him that Hizashi couldn’t ignore. Hizashi begins to wonder if Aizawa’s hair feels as greasy as it looks and what it would be like to wash the other boy’s hair. He figures that Aizawa would look just as good with his hair up, if not better than when it’s down.

“After we get to the Pokémon Center, you’re going to leave and never talk to me again,” Aizawa demanded, breaking Hizashi out of his trance. Hizashi nodded, and started walking in the direction he came from, knowing there was a town with a Pokémon Center at the edge of the forest.

Despite the fact that he acknowledged Aizawa’s demand, Hizashi had no plans to follow through. Aizawa was interesting, one of the only people who didn’t like Hizashi right away. Not to mention the fact that Hizashi was beginning to realize just how cute Aizawa was. The way it hit him was probably how pokémon feel when attract works on them.

Hizashi considers the possibility that he’s just obsessing over Aizawa because he wants to be liked, but that didn’t explain why Hizashi feels the urge to touch Aizawa’s hair. Getting potential friends to smile is a normal thing to strive towards, but wanting to run your fingers through their hair? Hizashi has barely known Aizawa’s name for five minutes and he’s already thinking about intruding on Aizawa’s personal space.

“So Aizawa,” Hizashi drawls. “What are you training for? Do you have a dream?” It was a sorry attempt at small talk, but dreams were important to Hizashi.

“I don’t really care for dreams. I might end up challenging the pokémon league eventually,” Aizawa answers. It wasn’t what Hizashi was hoping for, but it was better than just dismissing the question.

“Well, what does Umbreon want to do?” Hizashi asks playfully, desperate to get some kind of emotion out of Aizawa.

“I’ve never asked,” Aizawa says, somewhat thoughtfully. “I feel like if Umbreon had a problem with what we do, I would know.” Hizashi nodded before looking looking down at the Umbreon, who was happily trotting along beside Aizawa.

He takes the silence as an excuse to talk about his own pokémon. “All of my pokémon like performing. It’s why I have so much fun with contests. One day, when I have a real job at the radio tower, I’m going to have them record music together.”

“You care a lot about your pokémon’s dreams. I don’t think I’ve ever met someone as passionate as you about that before,” Aizawa says quietly. There’s a hint of something in his voice, Hizashi’s brain might be playing tricks on him, but it could be admiration.

“Thanks. What other pokémon do you have right now?” Hizashi asks, changing the subject in case he interpreted the other incorrectly.

“Umbreon is my partner pokémon, but I also have a Yamask, Skitty, and Glameow with me,” Aizawa explains.

“So you’re a cat person,” Hizashi reasons. Unfortunately for Hizashi, Aizawa liking cats added another tally mark under “cute” in his mental debate over how he feels about Aizawa. He’s supposed to have more dignity than this.

“What’s wrong with cats?” Aizawa asks with a hint of annoyance.

“Nothing! Nothing is wrong with cats. I just think it’s cute,” Hizashi quickly rambles out. Aizawa stops walking and turns to look at Hizashi.

“What?” Aizawa asks. Hizashi starts to panic, searching through their conversation to see what he could of said to offend Aizawa. Thankfully, Aizawa adds on a “What’s cute?” after a few seconds of waiting.

“Oh, well,” Hizashi starts nervously. He has to think of a way to explain what he meant without outright saying that he thinks Aizawa is cute. “It’s the contrast! You’re so dark and gloomy, but you like pokémon that are usually associated with small children.” It’s very possible that Aizawa could be offended by what Hizashi had implied, but it’s a better option than calling him cute.

“If you want to be as famous as you intend to be, you need to get better at lying,” Aizawa says with a snort before walking again. Hizashi stands there for a moment, worried that Aizawa knows that Hizashi thinks he’s cute. Aizawa just keeps walking, so Hizashi jogs a short distance to catch up. Even if Aizawa knows and rejects him, Hizashi still has to make sure Aizawa gets to the Pokémon Center safely.

“So, Aizawa, do you keep up with the news?” Hizashi asked, trying to regain some of his dignity. The news was a safe topic that no one could be embarrassed by.

“Only when I have to,” Aizawa says plainly.

Hizashi can see the Pokémon Center in the distance at this point and the sight gave him mixed feelings. On one hand, he only had to keep up with the small talk for a bit longer. The downside was that he didn’t want to part with Aizawa.

“Did you hear that someone from around here is going to challenge the champion soon?” Hizashi asked. He didn’t wait for Aizawa’s reply, knowing that the response would most likely be negative. “I think his name starts with a ‘Y’.”

“Yagi?” Aizawa mused, still looking straight ahead. “I think he's too reckless. His team is mostly fighting and normal type pokémon, but the only strategy he uses is an all-out offense.”

“Hm,” Hizashi considers Aizawa’s analysis of Yagi. “I guess you're right about that. Do you think he's actually from Yuuei though? There are a lot of rumors that he's from Unova.”

“I don't care,” Aizawa replies bluntly. The Pokémon Center keeps getting closer to the walking teens. Hizashi had to work fast if he wanted Aizawa to like him.

“What about the other guy who's planning to challenge the champion? Todo-something?” Hizashi asks.

“For someone who spends so much time immersed in media, you have a terrible way with names. Todoroki Enji, another reckless waste of potential. He also uses an all-out offense but strictly with fire types,” Aizawa explains. “If someone challenged him with a decently leveled water type Pokémon, Todoroki’s team would fall apart.”

If all else fails, try flattery.

“Wow, Aizawa you're really good at analyzing teams. Have you ever considered being an announcer during broadcasted battles?” Hizashi asked.

“Isn't that closer to something you'd want? I try to stay out of the spotlight,” Aizawa replied, seemingly immune to Hizashi’s compliment.

“Maybe you could tutor me on strategies then. Would you be willing to help me? Please,” Hizashi almost begs, lowering his sunglasses and flashing his “shiny cottonee eyes” as his mother always called them. Most people found cottonees to be irresistibly cute, so Hizashi took advantage of his eyes on occasion.

“What part of ‘leave and never talk to me again’ didn't you get?” Aizawa retorts, scowling again. It's possible that Hizashi went too far, but he still had to try. He couldn't mess up now, making a scene right outside of a Pokémon Center wouldn't be good for his image.

“Sorry, Aizawa. I just thought since we got along so well on the way here that you wouldn't mind me sticking around,” Hizashi confesses. It wasn't the whole truth, but Aizawa didn't need to know about Hizashi’s people pleasing tendencies or his infatuation.

Aizawa didn't reply, instead walking into the Pokémon Center with Umbreon. Hizashi is quick to follow him, hoping that Aizawa will change his mind.

Nurse Joy takes Aizawa in the back to patch him up and Hizashi takes the opportunity to call home. He's grateful that Pokémon Center phones use screens; it makes signing so much easier. The only problem is no one at home will answer unless someone sees the call.

Hizashi is relieved when his mother answers the phone. She immediately perks up at the sight of Hizashi and Loudred, before turning suspicious.

“Hizashi, weren't you just at this Pokémon Center?” his mother signs while inspecting the room. Hizashi rubs the back of his head bashfully before responding.

“I accidentally hurt another trainer, so I brought him here,” he signed, anticipating a lecture on safety.

“Be more careful next time,” his mother signs with a small smile on her face. She then goes back to scouring the room, this time looking for Aizawa.

“He's in the back getting patched up. Chatot pecked him on the forehead,” Hizashi explained, spelling out Chatot’s name. He finds it annoying that there aren’t signs for specific pokémon, but understands how hard it would be to keep up with the constant new discoveries.

“Dark hair?” his mother signed before pointing behind Hizashi. He turns around to see Aizawa talking to Nurse Joy, now with a bandage on his forehead. Looking back to his mother, Hizashi nods and signs an affirmative.

“He's adorable,” his mother signs, most likely trying to get a reaction out of Hizashi. Even though he knew his mother was teasing him, Hizashi couldn't help but blush and send a pleading look her way, a signal that every mom knows as “Please stop, you're embarrassing me in public.”

Hizashi knows his mother won’t rest until she gets to meet Aizawa. He motions at her and Loudred to wait before going over to get Aizawa. Umbreon notices his approach and perks up, alerting Aizawa of his presence.

“Hey, I’m on the phone with my mom and she wants to meet you,” Hizashi explains, embarrassed.

“Okay,” Aizawa agrees, waiting for Hizashi to lead him over. The embarrassment was too much for Hizashi. Aizawa wouldn’t even be considered Hizashi’s friend, yet Aizawa is being introduced to his mother.

“She can’t hear, so if you don’t know sign language, I could translate for you,” Hizashi mentions as he walks over. Aizawa nods in response before following.

“Mom, this is Shouta Aizawa,” Hizashi signed, introducing the other teen.

“Does he sign?” his mother asked. Hizashi translated the symbols for Aizawa.

“Hello,” Aizawa signed at the screen. He then turned to Hizashi and said “That’s the only sign I know how to do.” Hizashi translates Aizawa’s words into signs for his mother.

“Are you feeling alright, dear? My son can be quite careless when he gets excited,” she signed back. Hizashi sighs, sure that most of what he’ll be translating is insults toward himself.

Aizawa showed a small smile at the newly translated message before saying, “I’m alright. Thank you for asking. You’re right though; your son is a handful and I only just met him today.” Aizawa’s words caused Hizashi to pout while translating the message back for his mother.

“Hizashi is lucky that a handsome young man like yourself hasn't run for the hills yet,” his mother signs, this time smirking at Hizashi.

Hizashi is taken aback by her message and signs a quick “I'm not telling him that!” The conversation between him and his mother quickly dissolves into a back and forth of “do it” and “no”.

Aizawa laughed. It was the first genuine laugh he had heard from the other teen and it stopped Hizashi in his tracks.

“You're ridiculous, Yamada,” Aizawa says, still smiling. “You can tell me that your mom thinks I'm handsome; I don't mind.”

“I thought you said that you didn't know sign language!” Hizashi exclaimed in shock.

“I never said that. I said that the only sign I knew how to do was hello. I never said that I couldn't read other signs,” Aizawa explained, now with a smug look on his face.

“Isn't that basically the same thing?” Hizashi asked

“No,” Aizawa said, the same smug look still on his face. “By the way, your mom thinks that we’re cute.” Hizashi had been so caught up with Aizawa’s trickery that he had completely forgotten that his mom was watching right there.

“Sorry mom,” Hizashi signed quickly to her. “Aizawa was being mean to me.” It satisfied Hizashi to hear Aizawa mutter a quick “I was not” under his breath.

“Hizashi, you don’t make friends by telling on them!” Hizashi’s mother signed. He sent her a guilty look before she continued. “I have to go start preparing dinner. Make sure to call me again soon. Try not to scare your new friend away; I think he’s good for you. I love you Hizashi.”

“Okay. I love you too, mom!” he signed back before ending the call. Hizashi sighed, relieved that the embarrassing conversion was over.

“So Yamada,” Aizawa began. “What exactly were you going to give me in exchange for teaching you about battle strategy?”

“I hadn’t really thought of that,” Hizashi says truthfully. “I don’t really have much to offer other than my voice and my companionship. Well, I think I also have decent cooking skills, but most people don’t agree with me on that.” He didn’t feel that confident in his offer, especially because he has no clue what Aizawa even likes. Hizashi couldn’t offer to wash the other’s hair, that would be weird.

“Let’s start out with friendship,” Aizawa suggests and Hizashi feels like his heart might burst. “You can call me Shouta if you want to.”

“Alright Shouta!” Hizashi says quickly, excited to test the name out. “This is so great, traveling with a friend I mean. I’ve always had pokémon with me, but now I have a person too! Where are we going next?” He couldn’t help rambling, Shouta offering to be his friend boosted Hizashi’s mood through the roof.

“Back to sleep,” Shouta said, already unrolling his giant yellow sleeping bag.

“What? It’s only the afternoon! The sun is still up!” Hizashi shouted, shocked at his new friend’s answer.

“Exactly,” Shouta replied, already cocooned in the sleeping bag.

They wouldn’t be able to make any progress if Shouta is always sleeping! If he’s at the same Pokémon Center the next time he calls his mom, it’ll be super embarrassing!