It was cold and rainy. The concrete was dark with rain, the gutters overflowing. Rain thundered against windows and walls, drumming out a loud, constant beat against the wood, brick, and glass. There weren’t many people out - it wasn’t the weather for idly strolling in the streets - but those that were out were bundled up in thick coats, and covered by huge umbrellas.
Crest watched them hurry by as she wandered down the street, ignoring the way the rain soaked into her clothes. She didn’t understand the rush the adults were in - but she didn’t have a set destination in mind, whereas they apparently did.
At her feet, a pair of Eevees darted around and between her legs, cheerfully chasing each other. Like her, they didn’t seem to care that they were wet. They were having fun, that was all that mattered.
Every now and then, as she wandered along the street, she came across a puddle. While the pair of Eevees just darted right on through, Crest made a point of jumping in each one she came across - much to the annoyance of any adult passing by, who glared at her if she managed to hit them with the splash. She merely smiled back, and continued cheerfully on, ignoring the grumbles about wet socks and trousers.
“Alba, Umbra, don’t get too far ahead.” The pair of Eevees chirped in response to her voice, and paused a few steps away to watch as she wandered closer. As soon as she was by their sides, they were off again, moving around her legs in ways that wouldn’t cause her to trip.
Crest only paid them half a mind - though she lacked the pokeballs she needed to capture the two, there was no doubt in her mind that they were anything but her pokemon. They had the sense to stay where she could see them, stay where no wandering trainers or overly proud parents - the ones who thought their demanding children were perfect little angels, and thus deserved everything they wanted, regardless of whether what they wanted already belonged to someone or not - could make an attempt to capture them and take them away from her.
Instead, her focus was on the grey sky above, on the falling rain. There were plenty of quiet places in Goldenrod that one could go to, to get out of the rain, but Crest wasn’t sure which one would be the safest for her and her Pokemon. There had been an increase of wild and abandoned pokemon lurking the alleys, and for a runaway like herself, with only two young Eevees to protect her, it meant that there was a decrease in places that were safe.
She contemplated the Pokemon centre - Alba and Umbra needed a checkup, after all, and they had free rooms for trainers to stay in - but she quickly shook the idea away. She reached a hand around to her back, grabbing the bottom of the backpack on her back, just to make sure it was still there, and that the previous cargo inside was still safely with her.
There were people out there looking for her. People who were looking for what she had stolen. She couldn’t afford to let them find her. Alba and Umbra would be alright for a little longer; she had food for them, they weren’t battling, and even though she lacked Pokeballs for them, they were sleeping safely, either hidden in her bag with her precious cargo, or huddled in the front of her jacket.
Releasing the bottom of her bag, Crest tugged at the straps, pulling the bag firmly against her back. Inside, snugly tucked in amongst the clothing she’d hastily shoved all around it to both make it a comfortable nest and to hide it, the Pokemon shifted. Whether it was consciously or not, she wasn’t sure, but she smiled slightly anyway.
She had to protect her pokemon - all of her pokemon.
It proved to be harder to find a safe place to hide than she’d expected.
There were places she’d known of since she was young; the underground path, for instance. It was quiet, and out of the way. There were several small shops there, and a few pokemon collectors lurking near the entrances, hoping to catch trainers off guard to try and trick them into handing over their pokemon, but it was usually pretty safe.
Unfortunately, there was a commotion going on down there when she reached it - on that had actually caused the police to get involved. She’d backtracked immediately; she would only get in trouble if she tried to push through with the police around, and she couldn’t afford to be detained by the authorities and have her parents called. The Pokemon in her backpack depended on her to stay out of such things.
It also meant she couldn’t get into the Department Store basement through the underground tunnel. She’d found her way into the basement once before, and knew there were several places one could hide where the employees and their pokemon wouldn’t find her - at least, not for a while. At the very least, she’d have been able to hide there long enough to dry off and rest a little.
Frustrated by the turn of events, she’d headed back out into the rain. There was still the National Park - there were plenty of trees, so there was no shortage of shelter, and she’d found berries and other fruit while playing in the park in the past. It wasn’t the most ideal - but trainers slept out on the road, with or without tents, all the time. She wasn’t quite old enough to be able to start her own journey as a pokemon trainer yet - but age had nothing to do with necessity, and she was technically already on her journey.
She just wished she had the money to buy Pokeballs; she’d feel safer if she could catch her Eevees and keep them safe from the trainers who eyed them when she passed, and if she could capture a wild pokemon or two to battle with, if it came down to that.
She’d only just stepped out into the rain again, when both Alba and Umbra abruptly stopped their chasing game around her legs, and went still. It took her a moment to notice the deep purple pokemon lingering in the rain nearby, watching her, and her Eevees, intently. The Arbok’s tongue flicked in and out of it’s mouth periodically, and it wasn’t moving - at least, not until she did. The instant she started moving, walking sideways away from it, with Alba and Umbra pressing close to her legs in terror, it slithered slowly forward. It maintained the distance it was away from her, but it seemed intent on following her.
Crest glanced around, hoping to spot an inattentive trainer hovering nearby - maybe chatting with another trainer under an awning out of the rain, or sitting at a nearby cafe - but there was no one. The area was quiet, the rain chasing anyone who might’ve been in the area on any other day off to somewhere more sheltered. And the commotion in the Underground Path had no doubt sent anyone who might’ve lingered running off as well.
Biting her lip, Crest turned on her heel so her back was to the Arbok, and increased her pace. Alba and Umbra followed suit, moving to trot slightly in front of her. They were no longer interested in playing; like her, they just wanted to get away from the Arbok following close behind them.
She heard the Pokemon hiss, its scaly body sliding across the ground as it continued to follow her. She resisted the urge to turn her head, to see how close it was; she kept her eyes fixed on the street ahead instead, hoping someone would show up - its trainer, a random stranger who happened to be passing by, anyone .
Biting her lip, Crest contemplated scooping up her Eevees and running. The Pokemon in her bag would probably not appreciate being bounced around as she ran, and she doubted Alba and Umbra would be too happy either, but with a dangerous - and large - Pokemon following them, it was either that, or risk the safety of Pokemon that weren’t trained for battle, and a Pokemon she barely knew anything about.
She rounded a corner, bending to scoop up her Eevees the instant she had, but before she could touch her Pokemon, she ran smack into someone. The person grunted as she headbutted their stomach, and let out an annoyed swear as she stumbled back in surprise, head jerking up to look at the person.
Her eyes were, of course, immediately drawn to something other than their face.
More specifically, the giant red “R” decorating the front of their black shirt.