All around one of the Rustboro training grounds, young trainers chatter and point excitedly to the whirling column of flame above their heads. Near the edge of the field, a grizzled veteran trainer clad in green with scars marring his fearsome face watches the fire with a stoic, fearless expression.
As quickly as the fire came, it dies down, revealing a little Vulpix calmly sitting in the center of the field.
Lee lets out a sigh and scratches his head. "No luck?" He asks, already knowing the answer.
The vixen looks up to her trainer and shakes her head with a sigh of her own.
For the past two days, Lee and Vulpix have been trying to replicate her burst of power during her fight with Corvisquire to no avail. Everything from shouting like a shounen power-up sequence to Lee pouring every bit of mental focus he could into helping Vulpix's pyrokinesis proved fruitless. The repeated practice certainly increased the speed and power of her Fire Spin, but it all still paled compared to the hellscape she released in the Petalburg Woods.
The scarred man looks around, feeling a bubble of nervousness as he sees all the other trainers and pokemon watching. 'The audience isn't fouling your performance, is it love?' He sends to her.
Vulpix answers with an eye-roll, not needing any vocals or telepathy to make her 'as if' reply apparent.
A shadow flies overhead before the owner of the shadow lands harshly on the ground with a plume of dust, making Lee and Vulpix flinch.
Red eyes regard them both with irritation as the dust settles, revealing Corvisquire with both a little paper card and Lee's ID held in his beak. The raven pokemon hops forward and presents Lee with the cards, somehow making the movement mocking.
Lee ignores the antics and takes the offered cards in his hands, noticing the Rustboro gym logo on the paper one. "Thank you, problem child. They didn't hassle you at all?" he asks, slipping his ID into his pocket as he looks over the card from the gym.
Corvisquire gives his trainer a queer look. As if mere humans could-would hassle him!
'I can't really blame him for the look. If a mean, huge bird barged into my business, I'd do what he wanted, too.'
On the little slip of paper given to him by his pokemon, Lee sees a date, Thursday four days from now, and a time, 2:30 PM. At the header of the card, Gym Battle Confirmation for Lee Henson is printed.
'No problems for him at all then,' Lee thinks, a bit of wonder filling him. 'Did the person at the gym who printed this just think of Corvisquire as another person, or did my ID add a level of legitimacy to Corvisquire's presence?... I should see about getting something a little more advanced than a flip phone so I can book this stuff online. A four-day wait is going to suck.'
The man is pulled from his thoughts with a painful peck to his knee.
With a hiss, he looks down to the smugly crooning raven, who stiffens and turns when he feels Vulpix's burning gaze boring into his side. The vulpine and avian silently match stares, Vulpix's hackles rising as Corvisquire's steely feathers ruffle, showing off some of the still-burned flesh underneath.
Both pokemon look up at Lee. The man looks down at both pokemon with crossed arms. "Cool it with the hostility. We're a team and need to at least act like it," he says, looking around at the other trainers. Some had left, but a few stayed to watch the spectacle. None dared actually challenge Lee and his pokemon, as much like their time in Oldale, the young trainers around Rustboro mistook the team as veterans.
Brendan dominated four battles earlier today and suffered a single, narrow defeat to an agile Spinda that sent him to the Pokemon Center before we went off to see Rustboro's Trainer School. Even Zinnia got a challenge, one from a well-off trainer that made a wager on the match. Swablu won handily and Zinnia went off to explore Rustboro's shops with her prize money.
Lee frowns and rubs his scars, silently cursing them again.
Corvisquire turns his beak up at Lee's scolding and looks away with a sneer, but Vulpix has the grace to look abashed at least somewhat. The trainer of the pokemon can only shake his head.
"Alright, no need for the look, I can sense your disdain from here," Lee mutters, pulling Corvisquire's ball from his belt and returning the bird in a flash of red. With Corvisquire back on his belt, Vulpix leaps to her favorite perch on her trainer's shoulder as he begins to walk off of the field.
"Where to, love?"
As the pair begin the short trek back into town, Lee's mind wanders to the night two days prior.
Treecko falls to the ground with a stifled grunt, holding the slowly darkening bruise on his side from the glancing blow.
Across the makeshift field on the edge of the Petalburg woods, Mudkip bellows louder than a creature his size should be able to as Brendan pumps a fist. "He's on the ropes, Mudkip! One more hit and we've got this!" Mudkip bellows again in agreement, almost bouncing on his feet.
Treecko grits his teeth, nearly snapping the twig in his mouth, and stands again.
Just behind Treecko, Lee grimaces and glances down at his Pokedex, it's screen showing Treecko's movepool.
Not much, but a trainer worth their salt can make it work. Lee knows that Treecko has the makings of a Legendary level pokemon in him, but the movepool is a harsh reminder that Treecko is just starting out
...And that Treecko is starting behind the group.
The prideful gecko may have been one of the strongest Treecko among his colony, but now he's traveling with trained pokemon... Or at least that's how Lee is rationalizing this poor battle.
Treecko stands to his full height, arms crossed and steadfastly ignoring the discolored bruises, smashed scales, and cuts littering his form. He looks around, noting Zinnia and the other pokemon sans Corvisquire watching the battle carefully. Across the field, Mudkip has barely a welt to show for his trouble.
"Treecko, hold steady," Lee instructs, trying to think of a plan, all of which die on first contact with Mudkip.
Brendan smirks. "You wanna wait around? Alright then. Mudkip! Tackle!"
The mudfish cries out and rushes forward like a runaway truck.
"Treecko! Uh..." Lee almost instinctively reaches his mind out to Vulpix, who watches by the sidelines, but stops himself short. "T-Trip him with Pound! Sidestep and aim for the legs!"
Treecko jukes to the right just in the nick of time and lashes out with his muscular tail, catching Mudkip mid-stride in the legs. The actual attack does little damage but does send a surprised Mudkip tumbling into the grass.
"Mudkip! Get up!" Brendan instantly calls, suddenly looking nervous at the unexpected turn.
"Treecko, use Absorb!" Lee orders at the same time.
Before Mudkip can get his bearings, Treecko swiftly closes the distance and stops several feet short, opening his jaw.
Mudkip cries out in pain for the first time in the match as little globes of yellow energy are ripped from his body to fly into Treecko's waiting mouth. The mudfish fights through the pain and stands up, leaping away out of Absorbs short-range, but by that time Treecko's mouth is nearly full.
The gecko pokemon tips his head back and swallows the blob of shining yellow. Almost instantly afterward, his smaller cuts knit back together, his bruises fade somewhat, and a number of damaged scales fall out to reveal healthy ones underneath. He stands with only a hint of a smirk. "Tree..."
Mudkip quickly shakes away the weariness Absorb forced upon him to scowl and growl deep his throat, visibly itching to counter-attack.
Brendan abandons his cocky attitude in favor of a more calculating one. The boy chews on his lip for a moment before calling; "Mudkip! Saturate the ground!"
Both Lee and Treecko blink as one. "What?" Lee asks aloud. "Hold on, we're not standing around to find out! Treecko, flank and use Pound!"
Treecko grunts and rushes to Mudkip's side in a sprint, but even with the boost from Absorb, Mudkip is just a little faster.
Mudkip takes a deep breath and vomits a torrent of water onto the ground, flooding the field in a few centimeters of water just a few seconds. An instant later, Lee understands why.
Treecko missteps on the now muddy ground and trips.
Without needing an order, Mudkip barrels towards Treecko, moving like the ground isn't even wet and smashes into him with a brutal, bone-rattling Tackle.
Treecko's breath is forced from his lungs in a painful burst. His eyes bulge as he's thrown end over end. After the longest two seconds of his life, he finally crashes into the cold mud where he lays and pants short, painful breaths.
Lee shakes his head. "Treecko isn't fit to fight further. You and Mudkip win, Brendan," he says, hiding how much the loss stung.
"We won?" Brendan asks with a blink, as if he didn't believe it. "Holy crap, we beat Lee, buddy!" He cries in joy, rushing in and snatching Mudkip up in a hug, not minding how muddy the pokemon is. The pair laugh and do a twirl.
"Well, congrats are in order, shrimpy," Zinnia cuts in, a lop-sided smile on her face as she walks up to the field. "You managed to beat Lee's weakest pokemon with your strongest," she finishes, clapping slowly.
From his spot on the ground, Treecko grits his teeth at the word 'weakest', turning his head to the forest.
Towards where his tree now lay.
Lee ignores Brendan's retort to Zinnia as he steps into the field and kneels down at Treecko's side. "You alright, pal? And none of that macho 'hide the pain' bullshit either, I'm being for real." he asks gently.
Treecko refuses to meet his trainer's eyes and slowly stands, limbs trembling. Lee debates helping him up and enforcing his no 'hiding the pain' statement, but decides hurting Treecko's pride further isn't worth it.
After a long half-minute, Treecko is standing on his own, revealing his entire middle to be one cringe-inducing bruise. Lee rises back to his full height and walks back to his tent in slow, measured steps with Treecko following. By the field, Vulpix catches Lee's eye and sends him a wordless, telepathic message that he vaguely interprets as 'I'll be along shortly.'
He sends her back an equally wordless pulse of understanding.
Before the tent, Lee seats himself and digs in his backpack, silently cursing himself for not getting two potions in Little Root. Instead, he produces a single wild Oran sniffed out by Vulpix and picked not even several hours prior. Treecko takes the offered berry with all the coolness his battered form can muster and takes a slow bite.
For a few moments, trainer and pokemon sit in silence. Treecko's injuries fade as he eats and Lee thinks his coming words over.
Once Treecko swallows his last bite, Lee begins. "Don't let today get to you. Mudkip is a freak of nature and punches way above his weight class. The gap will close quickly, I promise."
Treecko regards Lee silently for a moment, and Lee has to resist the urge to squirm under Treecko's yellow eyes. After a long minute, Treecko looks away with a small nod. The unspoken 'I'll hold you to that' is louder than any words could have been.
Lee is pulled from the memory when he and Vulpix find themselves in Rustboro proper, more specifically, before the Pokemon Trainer School.
The building is a large, multistorey academy with a red brick exterior. White flags depicting red pokeballs decorate a number of windows and balconies along the outside. It's a rather humble appearance for what Lee knows is a high-tech establishment. The main doors of the school are wide open, with a colorful little floor sign depicting a happy Torchic welcoming any trainer inside. Another sign with an equally cheerful Geodude says Guest students and visitors please check-in at the office!
"Didn't Brendan say he was going to check this place out?" Lee turns and asks Vulpix, who nods in confirmation. The pair turn back to the doors and Lee bites his lip.
'A grown man wandering into a school would raise all sorts of red flags and probably result in the cops being called back home,' Lee thinks to himself. 'This feels weird, but if they know anything useful...' Mind made, Lee walks in.
The clean, locker-flanked hallways echo faintly with the lectures of distant teachers and the shined linoleum floor shows an almost clear reflection of Lee and Vulpix when the pair look down. Doors break up the locker rows every so often, and further down the hallway splits into three more paths. The vague scent of ink and paper is everywhere, poking the scarred man with a dull spike of nostalgia. Both man and pokemon perk up when they hear the sound of a door opening and high-heels on the floor.
"Good afternoon! Are you lost?"
Lee turns around, coming face-to-face with none other than Roxanne, the Rustboro Gym Leader.
The smartly-dressed woman looks up at Lee, her eyes flicking over to Vulpix for a second before she smiles. "Two guest speakers I take it? If you're not sure which classroom you should be in, we can find that out," she says, gesturing a hand to the door she just emerged from.
One labeled "Office/Guest Check-in" that Lee somehow missed.
'Jesus H, I feel like an idiot.'
Lee pushes away his sudden nervousness at meeting the woman he's set to battle tomorrow and clears his throat. "A-Ah, no actually," he starts. "We're here because a friend came in to sit in on a few classes. He just got done with some team training and thought we'd come to see the school and maybe, uh, learn a few things?"
If Roxanne noticed how awkward Lee became the longer he spoke, she politely ignored it. She just maintains her smile and nods. "Certainly, we're glad to help any trainer who wishes to learn or refresh their skills. Which lesson plan were you interested in?"
Lee smiles but internally screams. 'Fuck. Lesson plan? Don't stutter in front of the Gym Leader, dummy.'
On his shoulder, Vulpix rolls her eyes and quickly feeds him a telepathic answer.
"Oh, just whatever was available as I walked in. I'm just killing time until my traveling companion gets out of his class, so I thought I would spend my time productively here."
The Gym Leader nods. "I understand. Please follow me."
She turns and leads Lee and Vulpix into the office she just emerged from. Although there isn't much to see, just a cluttered front desk and a door that probably leads further in the administrative area. Like the rest of the school, it has a modern yet cozy feel to it that evokes nostalgia in the man
Roxanne picks up a tablet computer on the desk and scrolls through it. After a second, she blinks and stops, as if suddenly realizing something. "Oh, how rude of me. I apologize for not introducing myself. It must have slipped my mind as we've been busy since the new League year you see," She smiles a practiced smile and offers a hand. "I am Roxanne, a teacher here at the Rustboro Trainer School and the Rustboro Gym Leader."
Lee takes her hand in a short shake, his nervousness fading some. "Lee is the name, and this is Vulpix," he says, reaching a hand up to pet the vixen, who leans into the touch as she regards Roxanne.
The Gym Leader's smile becomes more genuine as she watches. "Charmed to meet you both. Now, as for our visitor classes..." she looks down at the tablet in her hand. "The latest classes when into session about thirty minutes ago, so we still have another thirty minutes until they let out. A number of the upcoming ones are full, but we still have several spots. Do any of these catch your fancy?" She asks, turning the tablet around to show Lee and Vulpix.
A decent number of the classes are greyed out, some of the interesting looking like Advanced Battle Theory, Care of Common Pokemon, Berry 101, Egg Care, etc. Others were more lackluster or of material that could be found with an internet search, like Hoenn History 101, which tended to be the classes with open seats.
One jumped out with how few people took it. Psychic Type Study
'Now thats something we can use,' Lee glances to Vulpix with a smile, feeling the sudden spike of interest within her. She turns her head to meet his eyes. 'We might be able to figure out more about the abilities of your line. Hell, we might even be able to get you started on learning Psychic moves.'
Vulpix makes her distinct vulpine purr in her chest and pushes her cheek to Lee's, turning his smile into a grin.
"How fascinating. It's not often I get to see telepathy at work, much less between a human and a non-Psychic pokemon."
Both Vulpix and Lee stiffen, having forgotten Roxanne entirely. "Ha...Uh..." Lee debates lying or trying to deflect for a second, hoping to keep the advantage under wraps for the upcoming battle, but sighs when he sees Roxanne's sure expression. "Yeah. How could you tell?"
"I've only ever seen the level of non-verbal communication yourself and Vulpix displayed between trainers and pokemon with decades of partnership under their belt," the brunette begins, straightening up into a tall and authoritative posture. "Judging from the loose spirals in Vulpix's head tuft and tails," Roxanne nods towards the bewildered vixen. "She is only several years old, nowhere near long enough for such a level of learned communication. From your own posture, demeanor, and your unusual age for even a guest student in the school, you've only been Vulpix's trainer for a short time. For this reason, I can safely deduce that you must have a method of subvocal communication. Some might assume th-"
Roxanne stops then blushes and looks away. She daintily clears her throat into her hand. "I apologize. I suppose I get carried away sometimes."
"That's fine," Lee waves it away, hiding how unnerved the accurate analysis made him. "One of my favorite teachers as a kid did the same thing."
The comparison makes Roxanne brighten up. "Of course. Now, your class?"
"Psychic Type Study please,"
The teacher turns the tablet around and types several things. "Your ID please?"
Lee digs the little card out of his pocket and wordlessly hands it over.
Roxanne takes the ID and sets the tablet down on the desk to type on it. She looks at the ID and does a double-take. "A Lab Trainer?" She asks, now regarding the man and pokemon before her with a careful eye.
'Is it really that big a deal?' Lee wonders. "Yeah, I work on behalf of Professor Birch mostly as an independent pokemon researcher."
The Gym Leader's gaze goes from cautious to searching. "Truly? May I ask what the subject of your research is?"
Lee shrugs. "At the moment, my biggest focus is on alternative training methods and pokemon technique control experimentation with a bit of nutrition study on the side."
Roxanne's expression drops further into one of hunger. "Have you published any of your findings for public reading yet? What sort of further research do you have planned? Are there any pokemon in particular you are looking to work with? Are you wanting for supplies or facilities? Or employment? The Rustboro Trainer School has some openings that I-"
Lee holds up his hands in surrender. "Ma'am, please. Slow down a little. My primary research belongs to the Lab and Professor Birch makes sure I'm equipped."
The teacher deflates somewhat. "I understand, but..." she produces a business card from her pocket. "Would you perhaps be interested in working with the Rustboro Trainer School in the future? Perhaps not on a permanent employment basis, but for projects that may arise? As the premier trainer school in Hoenn, we undertake many more academic pursuits and projects than most realize."
'Is being a Lab Trainer really that big a deal? Offering me a job based on just that? There have to be more qualified people unless the employment of a Lab Trainer is just for the prestige of having the trainer.' Lee thinks to himself. 'I guess the sponsorship is more or less an endorsement from Birch, who is... one of the highest pokemon authorities in Hoenn...Okay, now it makes more sense. I'm not going to look a gift horse in the mouth and say no to the chance of being buddy-buddy with a Gym Leader.'
"Ah, sure, thanks..." Lee takes the offered business card, giving it a lookover, finding Roxanne's phone number and email on it. "I can't promise I'll be available at the exact time that such a project starts, but I'll try my best."
"That's all I ask," she smiles. "Please send me an email when you can and I'll have your log-in for our learning center made as soon as possible."
"Indeed!" Roxanne nods. "Being a school affiliate grants you access to our learning center, where you can submit any findings from school-sponsored projects and view our private lessons, the ones reserved for our enrolled year-round students, which are more comprehensive than our free guest classes," she says. "We're fully accredited all the way to the university level, and that's all available to you."
'Okay, now I'm much more interested.'
Her smile grows a little. "Precisely the look I expected on a fellow academic."
Lee looks up from the business card and realizes just how hard he was focusing on it. "Erm, I don't know about the term 'academic', but I'm not adverse to learning..." He tucks the business card away in his pocket. "Anyway, the class?"
Roxanne glances down to the tablet and hums to herself. "Mister Henson, I have a proposition for you. You said you were competing in the gym circuit this year, yes?"
Vulpix and Lee share a look. "I am, yeah."
"Have you already reserved a match with me?"
The nervous pit in Lee's stomach begins to deepen. "Yeah. Thursday at 2:30pm."
She nods. "Rather than take our guest class on the subject of Psychic-types, would you assist me in my upcoming battle theory class?" She asks. "I am willing to count it as an official gym challenge, negating your wait, and I assure you our online course regarding Psychic types is very informative."
Lee groans inwardly and looks over to Vulpix. "Your opinion, love?"
The vixen flicks an ear and meets Lee's eyes.
"Why ask us?" Lee questions, crossing his arms. "Not to put you on the spot, but you must have a better, more qualified assistant around here. I've never taught anyone in my life, and..." Lee mulls over his next words and grimaces. "I'd rather have a real match, not a demo for students."
Roxanne digests his words for a moment, looking away for a short few seconds. "I... can see how this would seem suspect." She turns back to Lee and Vulpix. "Teaching is my passion, you see, and while observing battles in the school is a large part of our lesson plan, our rental pokemon here at the school were given to us by the Pokemon League. They don't make for the best examples."
Vulpix raises a brow as Lee asks the question on both their minds. "Not the best examples? Why is that?"
Roxanne sighs and shakes her head. "These pokemon were chosen by the Pokemon League specifically for their low potential and docile nature. Bureaucratic red-tape prohibits pokemon over a certain level of power and a number of species by name from being used in educational facilities, citing danger to the students." Her visage hardens. "It leaves some students ill-prepared for the life of a pokemon trainer. They believe that what they see here is average. Official battles they see on TV don't convey the real average as well as a live experience. I record my gym battles for the school, but that still falls flat. A gym battle between a Leader and a Lab Trainer would be perfect for them."
A flicker of pleased thought from Vulpix tells Lee that she's mollified. "And you won't be penalized by the League for hosting a gym battle here?"
The Gym Leader shakes her head. "No, as Gym Leader, I can declare anywhere in the Rustboro corporation limit to be a valid battleground. My authority as a Gym Leader supersedes nearly all others regarding this."
Lee rubs the back of his head and thinks it over.
"Good afternoon class!"
"Good afternoon Miss Roxanne..." The group of teens, all dressed in school uniforms, replies in the same unenthused drone Lee remembers from his school days.
Outside behind the large school in one of the large, chalk-outlined battlefields dotting the area, Lee stands behind Roxanne as she takes roll-call of her class, who all sit bored on the steel bleachers. Several pokemon are among their number. Lee spies a dopey Whooper, a Nincada who doesn't seem to be enjoying the harsh sun, and a shy Whismer hiding behind a girl's leg. True to Roxanne's word, they aren't much to look at, but they're a little too far away to visually inspect in detail.
"Everyone please take your notebooks out and be ready to take notes!" Roxanne calls with a smile. The teens slowly dig notebooks out of their backpacks as the teacher continues. "We have a special guest assisting me today. Please welcome Pokemon Researcher Lee Henson!"
"Hello, Mister Henson..." The kids drone with the same dead enthusiasm they gave Roxanne. One or two of them eye him with something akin to interest for a second, then just as quickly dismiss him.
Lee mouths 'Pokemon Researcher' to himself in confusion before stepping forward. "Afternoon, everyone. Thank you for having me," he says, a prickle of nervousness in his stomach with Vulpix in her ball and not out with him.
Roxanne takes over again. "Today is going to be a special class, as today, you all will be observing a no-holds-barred two-on-two battle between my gym team and Mister Henson's team. This will be a sanctioned gym battle and will be much more intense than our normal showings. Please pay close attention!"
A few of the students perk up and begin to chatter at the news.
"A gym battle?"
"I've never heard of this guy..."
"Look at the scars! This could be rad!"
Lee frowns and rubs the lines on his face. 'Every time...'
"Quiet down everyone! Quiet please!" Roxanne calls. "Julie? Can you come down and act as a referee for this match, please? Please bring your notebook and take notes please!"
The girl with the Whismer blinks in apparent surprise at being chosen and stands, shushing her whining Whismer and coming down to the field. She takes the ref spot as Lee and Roxanne separate to opposite sides of the field.
Lee fingers the pokeball in his hand as he takes the side of the field labeled 'visitor' in chalk, hoping that this choice doesn't come back to bite him in the ass.
On the other end of the field, Roxanne produces a shrunken pokeball from her dress pocket and expands it. "Standard gym rules. Whenever you're ready, Julie!"
The girl clears her throat. "This is a two-on-two match between Miss Roxanne and Mister Henson! The challenger, Mister Henson, may substitute, but Miss Roxanne may not! The battle will end when one side's pokemon are no longer able to battle! And... and..."
"Each round will end..." Roxanne gently reminds.
"Each round will end when the pokemon is no longer able to battle as well!" The girl hastily corrects, making a few of her classmates laugh. "D-Defender, please select your first pokemon!"
Roxanne throws the ball in her hand out. Midair, it snaps open and an immaculately polished Geodude materializes on the field. The living stone levels Lee with a steady look, calmly waiting for instruction from Roxanne.
Lee lets out a shaky breath and tries to steel his nerves, but fails to keep his hands from shaking from the sheer adrenaline.
'The battle hasn't even started yet and I'm already freaking out,' Lee gulps. He looks over Geodude, but considering his zoology knowledge is useless when sizing up a rock, he can't glean much.
"Challenger, please select your first pokemon!"
With a final deep breath, Lee throws the ball in his hand up. Like Roxanne's did, it snaps open midair with it's distinct pop sound.
Before Lee, Corvisquire takes form.
A wave of murmurs overtakes the students, some pointing at Corvisquire. Lee can't catch much, but "What pokemon is that?" seems to be a common question. At least one student jeers and says "Sending out a bird against a Geodude?"
Corvisquire catches the last one and turns his baleful red eyes to glare into the students, his feathers ruffling to make him look larger. A few of the kids hiss from sharp intakes of breath while the rest go quiet.
"Just take it easy, Corvisquire," Lee eases his nerves and puts up a confident front, schooling his face into a thin mask of cool. "This is a Gym Battle, something serious, and I need your skill and guile."
The raven pokemon gives Lee a sidelong look and calms somewhat, but still screws his avian face up into grudging acceptance. He looks to Geodude, sizing the other pokemon up, and as he does, his reluctance transforms into an arrogant sneer.
'Thank God he's not fighting me on this.'
Roxanne seems visibly confused before she recovers. "A Corvisquire! How very interesting to see a Galar native pokemon here! Type advantage isn't everything, class! I'm certain Mister Henson has an interesting strategy to use against Geodude!" She turns to the referee. "On your mark, Julie. Everyone else, notebooks at the ready!"
The girl pulls her eyes away from Corvisquire and raises a hand. Lee quickly scans the terrain as her mouth opens.
'A field of hard-packed dirt and rocks. The ground is even and a slight breeze to the north. No trees or anything that would impede Corvisquire, but that also means no cover.' Silently, he goes over Corvisquire's moveset one more time.
And the last three that tipped him off that Corvisquire almost certainly had a prior trainer.
Steel Wing, Swift, and Extremespeed.
His research at the Rustboro library the day before hinted that Steel Wing and Swift could be learned naturally by the raven pokemon, but Extremespeed? A move only the fastest pokemon can learn?
The world comes back into sharp focus and Lee's soundless monologue ends as Julie raises a hand.
"Geodude versus Corvisquire, begin!"
"Corvisquire, in the air!"
Before Roxanne can get her first order out, the raven pokemon is high up in the air with a single beat of his wings. He looks down at Geodude with a mocking caw.
"It's only natural for a flying pokemon to get up in the air where it has it's best mobility, but you aren't the first flyer we've fought," Roxanne remarks. "Geodude, scattershot Rockthrow!"
Geodude digs his stony hands into the ground as easily as a man would jelly, lifting out a cannonball sized chunk of earth like it weighed nothing. With a grunt, he squeezes the earth until it cracks.
Then he throws it, and hardly a foot into its flight, the rock breaks into countless whistling, jagged shards, covering a huge area.
"Corvisquire, dive!" Lee yells, clenching his fists.
The raven dives and twirls mid-air, narrowly missing the bulk of the rocky shotgun blast but is still clipped by a few fragments, drawing blood across one of his legs.
"But as shown, mobility can be countered!" Roxanne calls to the students, who are watching with wide eyes. "Again, Geodude!"
Geodude's hands dig into the ground.
"Fuck that!" Lee calls. "Corvisquire! Use Scary Face!"
The bird pokemon levels out midair and glares down at Geodude with so much hate that it can almost be tasted in the air. Even a few of the watching students gasp and lean away.
Geodude grunts and flinches, fumbling his throw and sending the spray of rocks wide, missing Corvisquire entirely.
"Now! Dive in with Steel Wing!"
Whole form radiating malice, Corvisquire jets towards Geodude as little more than a blur of blue flanked by gleaming wings that make a hideous scream through the air.
Roxanne's eyes widen. "Geodude, Defense Curl now!"
The living boulder can barely raise his arms in time before a blade-like wing crashes into him, making a terrible squeal of metal-on-rock that throws sparks all over. As Corvisquire disengages and returns to the air, Geodude groans and gingerly lowers his arms, showing two ugly gashes across his arms that would have scarred for certain if he were made of flesh. High above, Corvisquire lets out yet another mocking caw, earning a scowl from Geodude.
"Don't let up! Hone Claws, then Steel Wing again!" Lee orders, now shaking again from the adrenaline.
Corvisquire shrieks and grinds his talons together, even bringing a set of talons up to drag across his beak. Then he does a harsh downward flap, catching his primary feathers together and raking them across one another, throwing sparks. All the natural weapons across his body glitter with a sharp edge.
If Geodude was unnerved by the show, his face didn't reflect it.
Then dipping into a harsh dive, the bird pokemon screams towards his foe again, a blur of razor blades and hate.
"Wait for it, wait for it, Geodude! Sand Attack!" Roxanne orders.
A simple slap across the dusty ground is Geodude's reply to Steel Wing, sending a plume of sand up to meet Corvisquire only fifteen feet or so away.
Corvisquire squawks in pain and aborts the attack, blindly banking hard to the side and up. He shakes his head, trying to dislodge the sand in his eyes.
The rock pokemon smirks and pulls another clod of earth from the ground, thankfully slower than he could previously.
'Either his injuries are slowing him down or he's still recovering from Scary Face,' Lee feels sweat drip down his face. "Corvisquire, level out and clear your eyes! Focus on my voice and be ready to move!"
The bird hovers for a moment, blinking sand and tears from his irritated eyes. If he heard Lee, then he does not make it apparent.
Just as Geodude winds up, Lee cries; "Fly towards my voice!"
Corvisquire dodges the latest spray of rocks with just inches to spare, flying as quickly as he dared to his trainer. He blinks the last of the sand away and turns to Geodude with an angry hiss.
"Enough is enough, right?" Lee asks, making the bird pokemon turn and eye him with annoyance. "How about a quick finisher?"
Irritable red eyes suddenly brighten with malicious glee, as if to say 'Finally!'
Roxanne and Geodude wait on their side of the field. 'And judging from their last attack, they want to react and use Corvisquire's speed against him. Well, how about this?'
"Corvisquire, charge up Steel Wing..." Lee pauses but suddenly feels silly for trying to be dramatic. "...and move in with Extremespeed."
Roxanne's eyes shoot open wide in alarm.
Corvisquire unfurls his wings, which begin to gleam, then vanishes from sight entirely with only a whistle of displaced air.
Before Geodude can even react, a wing as hard as a steel blade rends his side, carving a trench through his rocky body and throwing him end-over-end.
Lee's entire body breaks out into goosebumps as Corvisquire rematerializes on his end of the field, throwing his head back and laughing a dry, rattling laugh.
This pokemon is just plain violent.
'I'm going to have to curb that...' He thinks, but the unsettling feeling is offset with his sheer elation at the assumed victory, leaving uncomfortable butterflies in his stomach. 'Or Butterfree. Ha.'
For a long moment, Geodude is still upon the ground and everyone stares, stunned. Then after a long ten seconds, the rock pokemon groans and tries to roll to his base, only to fail and go limp into blissful unconsciousness.
At the side of the field, Julie gulps. "G-Geodude is unable to battle. Corvisquire and Mister Henson are the winners!"
It's quiet for a beat, then two, then the students erupt into cheers.
"That was awesome!"
"I had no idea you could use Rockthrow like that!"
"That was way better than any trash teacher battles!"
"Did you see how fast the bird was!?"
"Yeah, that was nuts!"
Corvisquire casually preens a wing, poorly pretending that he doesn't hear the compliments.
Roxanne returns Geodude to his ball and murmurs something too low for Lee to hear to the ball before she turns her slightly forced smile onto the scarred man. "I certainly wasn't expecting a Corvisquire, nor that he knew Extremespeed. You certainly weren't exaggerating about your move experimentation," she says. Then she turns to her class. "I hope everyone took notes on that! That was a prime example of why type advantage isn't everything! A clever pokemon and trainer can overcome any challenge with a good plan and teamwork!"
The teens quiet down and eagerly watch the proceedings.
Roxanne shrinks Geodude's pokeball and puts it away, drawing a more worn ball and expanding it.
"Normally, Mister Henson," She begins. "I would battle with my League provided team, but I don't think that will be a challenge for you, nor would it be engaging enough for the class."
If the class was watching closely before, they're utterly rapt now.
The scrutiny makes Lee's next question feel especially foolish. "League provided team?"
The teacher nods with a smile. "Indeed, while Gym Leaders are the local pokemon authority and defender of their towns, we must also give badges to worthy trainers so they may compete in the Ever Grande Conference. However..." She looks down at the pokeball in her hand and rolls it between her fingers tenderly. "If we were to use our own personally trained pokemon, we would present too much of a challenge for new trainers, so the Pokemon League sees fit to provide us with pokemon of a more fair level of ability." She looks up at Lee, eyes hardening. "However, we may use our own pokemon upon worthy challengers, and a lower-tier team would be too easy for you, Mister Lee Henson. Geodude was my newest personal capture and was soundly beaten, but this pokemon is an old hand at battle. I am currently the weakest Gym Leader, so against a foe like you, I can't hold back."
Lee's stomach drops as he realizes where this battle is going.
The ball leaves Roxanne's hand and snaps open, dropping a Nosepass upon the ground.
The compass pokemon hovers just inches off the ground, unnervingly still and impassive. A low static charge fills the air, making Lee's skin tingle. Looking down, the zipper of his jacket stands up and gently points towards the giant magnet that is Nosepass.
Corvisquire's feathers ruffle and his eyes narrow, no doubt annoyed by the magnetic field pulling at his ferrous feathers.
"Gym Leader Roxanne calls out Nosepass!" The ref calls. "Will the challenger substitute?"
Corvisquire turns and shakes his head at Lee, his eyes warily locked on to Nosepass. Lee licks his lips. "No subs from us."
"Corvisquire versus Nosepass, begin!"
Before Lee can even finish his command, Corvisquire is hit with a burst of high-voltage electricity shot from the tip of the still unmoving Nosepass's nose, making Corvisquire cough out a squawk and convulse in his feet, his half-open wings frozen.
Lee can practically feel his blood pressure shoot up. "Corvisquire! Fight it! You can do it! Up in the air!"
The raven struggles and slowly extends his wings further
"Now, Spark, Nosepass." Roxanne calmly orders.
The only sound Nosepass makes is a quiet crackle before he's wreathed in a shroud of snapping and popping electricity. A second later, he shoots forward headfirst like a missile.
Corvisquire can only caw in alarm before the rock pokemon smashes into him, electrocuting and bludgeoning him in one go.
The raven pokemon troubles across the ground before coming to a stop, burnt, twitching, and unconscious.
Lee's stomach drops. 'One hit. One hit and Corvisquire is down. Holy shit.'
As Nosepass floats back to Roxanne's side of the field, Lee spies shallow gouges in his rock-like flesh right where Corvisquire's wings impacted.
'Spiteful little bastard used Steel Wing at the last second. What a guy...'
"Corvisquire is unable to battle!" The ref student calls. "Nosepass and Roxanne are the winners!"
Again, the class cheers, some standing and applauding. Even the handful of rental pokemon with the class are caught up in the energy and cheer.
"Again, I hope everyone took notes!" Roxanne calls to the class. "In a real battle, the tides can turn in an instant, and it's very important to regain lost momentum. Lets see how Mister Henson approaches this problem!"
Lee takes a deep breath and reaches for his pokeballs, hesitating before taking Vulpix's ball. With a flick of his wrist, the ball flies and releases Vulpix in a flash of light. The expected snark and giggling from the watching class about using a Fire-type against a Rock-type is ignored
The little vixen blinks the stars from her eyes and Lee feels her mind touch his. He freely lets her in, offering his memories of the last battle to her as he feels the tension in his body loosens just from feeling her again. She widens the channel for a moment, taking the trainer in the psychic equivalent of an embrace, relaxing him even further.
Vulpix sorts through the offered memories in an instant, pausing for a split second at the revelation of Gym Leaders having two teams, and looks back at him.
'Considering Nosepass is her ace, we can't let up. We have to be dicks right out of the gate or we're dead. We're loading him up with confusion and burns, then pelting him from afar.'
She nods, looking forward again.
Across the field, Roxanne looks at Vulpix, visibly troubled. "Nosepass, be ready."
The compass pokemon hums in reply.
'Turn up the heat, love.'
Vulpix narrows her eyes, and high above, the summer sun seems to brighten and beat down even more harshly.
The ref clears her throat. "Mister Henson sends out Vulpix! Final Match! Vulpix versus Nosepass, begin!"
'Confuse Ray! And stay mobile so his Thunder Wave can't hit you!'
Vulpix is in motion the instant the ref is done speaking, her eyes lighting up a sinister violet.
The academic Gym Leader notices instantly. "Nosepass, Protect now!"
A barrier of green drops around Nosepass just in the nick of time, as it's surface ripples where the invisible Confuse Ray hit.
Lee can't help but grunt in frustration. 'Does everyone and their mom know Protect? Charge Confuse Ray again and I'll give the signal as Protect drops.'
The instant Protect begins to drop, Lee springs Vulpix. 'Now!'
Again Vulpix sends out a Confuse Ray pulse, but Roxanne cries out; "Left one meter now! Then Rock Polish!"
Nosepass quickly hovers to the left, the slow Confuse Ray missing. A second later, his rocky exterior begins to shine brightly as the rough surfaces upon him smooth out, making his aerodynamics skyrocket.
'Dodge this! Baby-Doll Eyes!'
Still bounding around the arena, Vulpix's eyes glow again, this time pink. This time the effect is instant, the eerie Fairy energy enfeebles Nosepass with almost no delay, making him wobble midair for a moment before he steadies out.
Roxanne is beginning to sweat on her side of the field. "Nosepass! Slow her down with Thun-"
'Thunderwave. Use Quick Attack to dodge, then close the distance and point-blank Confuse Ray. Thank you, speed of thought.'
Vulpix coats herself in white Normal energy and dodges left as a red blur. An instant later, a streak of lighting jumps off of Nosepass and misses spectacularly. Without stopping, Vulpix flanks Nosepass just feet away, eyes alight.
Roxanne gasps. "Nosepass! Pro-!"
The Rock pokemon lets out an ill grumble and sways side to side, before suddenly lashing out with an unexpected Tackle, catching Vulpix and smashing into her. He overextends the Tackle and crashes into the ground with a painful crack!
Lee winces at the crunch he hears from Vulpix and feels his nose sting with phantom pain. Vulpix jumps back and uses a paw to rub her broken and bleeding nose with tears stinging her eyes.
"Nosepass, snap out of it!" Roxanne yells. "I need you!"
Nosepass quickly begins to steady.
'Will-o-Wisp, we can't let him get any momentum.'
As ordered, Vulpix shakes away the distracting pain and shoots a slow-moving orb of white flames from her mouth, which splashes over Nosepass. For the first time, the Rock pokemon makes a sound of pain, the sound being a high-pitched keen that makes Vulpix fold her ears back.
The flames of Will-o-Wisp don't last long, but they leave Nosepass's side cracked and glowing a painful red like superheated rock. The impassive pokemon's brow furrows in what has to be agony as he lists to his injured side. If he hadn't snapped himself out of confusion by now, then the burn definitely did it for him.
"Nosepass!" Roxanne cries in near panic. "We can't let this go on! Pull through! We just need one good hit!"
Nosepass groans and floats back into a 'standing' position facing Vulpix.
'Discharge? Oh shit, out of there now!'
Even at the speed of thought, the order is just barely too late as Nosepass explodes into a nova of electricity that fills the field almost instantly. Vulpix yowls in pain and is locked in place until the wave passes. Even from the little phantom sensation he felt, Lee has to resist the urge to curl up as every nerve ending in his body stings. 'It's official, I hate Electric everything.'
He watches as Vulpix takes a deep breath and tries to shake off the weakness in her muscles from the Electric blast. Discharge damn near knocked her out from the overload, and Lee can only imagine the same move from a true Electric type pokemon would have been a one-hit incapacitation. Bits of her fur stand on end and more than a bit is singed, but she stands tall on all fours as the black in the edges of her vision recedes.
'Look, this is going to come off as a real asshole move, but fuck getting hit by that again. Ember, and curve them into his burn.'
Vulpix doesn't need much convincing. She takes a breath and fires a stream of fireballs from her mouth all around Nosepass.
Roxanne opens her mouth to issue an order when she notices all the Embers go wide by Nosepass's injured side, all of them missing.
Then they turn midair to Nosepass as if magnified.
Roxanne's face becomes one of horror. "Nosepass, Protect!"
The compass pokemon is just barely too slow as the first Ember smashes into his burn and breaks his concentration. Then the second one lands, then the third, fourth, fifth, tenth, twentieth...
Nosepass makes the same high-pitched keen as before and wobbles mid-air, coming dangerously close to hitting the ground as the last Ember splashes over his burn, making the cracked stone break even more.
'Oh c'mon! I get that Fire isn't good against Rock, but we hit a fucking burn! Just go down already!' Lee grits his teeth.
"Nosepass! Use Sandstorm!" Roxanne cries.
'Fuck. Breaking line of sight and slowing Vulpix down in one go. That's smart.'
Nosepass grunts and a whirlwind of sand blooms to life around him, rapidly expanding to cover the field in a gritty, howling wind that totally obscures Nosepass. Vulpix has to grit her teeth and squint to avoid getting the fine particulate in her eyes.
"Nosepass, use Rocktomb!"
'No! Dodge left!'
Vulpix blindly jumps several meters to the left, but Rocktomb doesn't land on the spot she vacated. Instead, a half-second after she lands, the Rocktomb falls out of the raging Sandstorm from above and smashes into her, knocking the breath from her lungs and sending her down with her legs spread.
One rock lands right on a hind leg with a sickening crack! And thus Lee knew how Rocktomb caused its slow-down effect.
Vulpix lets out a scream and her trainer can feel her white-hot pain lancing up his own leg.
The noise makes Lee's stomach churn and he's tempted to call the match right there, only for Vulpix to telepathically shout-down the idea.
She's not about to give up on such an important battle.
Gritting her teeth, the vixen pulls her broken leg out from under the boulder that trapped her, uncaring of the pain and broken bones. She stands, favoring her good hindleg, but stands nonetheless.
The Sandstorm howls again and forces her to shut her eyes.
'Shit, if she can't see, she can't aim. Even her pyrokinesis is useless without a way to accurately direct the fire.' Lee eyes the barely visible Nosepass quickly hovering side-to-side to foul any blind projectile shots, silently marveling at the pokemon's sheer willpower. 'Wait, if she can't see him, but I can...'
Lee tugs Vulpix's mind with his own, and the vixen follows along easily. Now so close mentally, the phantom sensations he gets from her seem stronger than ever, making his whole body ache and leg throb. It takes a moment and a little help from her, but he finds her sense of sight.
Then he plugs her sight into his.
Her surprise is almost tangible, and physically, she almost lets her jaw drop a little before remembering the raging sand. Inside his own head, Lee can feel Vulpix watching through his eyes.
Lee moves his gaze to Nosepass, and Vulpix smiles in understanding.
'Wait for it, then Ember.'
Eyes still closed, Vulpix waits, and when she doesn't move, Nosepass fires his attack into the Sandstorm. Waiting until she sees the rocks moving through the sandstorm, Vulpix sidesteps out of the way with just inches to spare. Then she rears her head back and fires a barrage of fireballs into the Sandstorm.
Roxanne's voice is barely audible over the storm. "Good dodge, but I'm afraid blind fire isn't going to wo-!"
The Embers all track Nosepass through both the sand and his evasive movement, smashing into him with a staccato of explosions. He cries in his sharp keen and the Sandstorm begins to fade before dying entirely.
As the last Ember pops against Nosepass's large nose, the compass pokemon lets out a long groan before falling down to his stubby legs, falling over with a thud a second later, unmoving.
'Did we do it? Did we win?'
The entire field is silent. Lee looks up at the class and sees each and every one of their faces is stunned. Roxanne likewise looks at her fallen pokemon with disbelief. Vulpix finally breaks the quiet by panting, her whole form shaking and exhausted.
The referee finally blinks and regains her wits. "U-uh. Nosepass is unable to battle, Vulpix and Mister Lee are the winners!"
The bleachers break out into wild cheers, some of the kids accidentally throwing their notebooks out of their laps as they stand to applaud. Their words are so rapid and mixed together that Lee can't really make out what is being said.
Vulpix limps her way to her trainer's side, sitting and looking as dignified as a fox that got into a fight with a giant magnet could.
'Which is to say still pretty dignified. You're the best love,' Lee grins as the rush of a hard-fought victory hits him. 'We did it. We did it! We beat a Gym Leader who was going all-out!' If it wouldn't jostle her broken leg, Lee would have picked the vixen up and hugged her tight.
Vulpix settles with a pleased snuffle through her still-smarting nose and leans into his leg.
"I have to say, I... wasn't expecting that."
Lee looks up as Roxanne walks up. Behind her the field is empty, and he watches her deposit a shrunken pokeball into her pocket. For a moment she stares at Lee before sighing. "I suppose I set myself up for a downfall with my theatrics," she says, letting a smile form on her face. "Mister Henson, I, Roxanne of the Rusboro Gym, am happy to present the Stone Badge to you for your victory," she holds out a hand, upon which a shining Stone Badge lay.
Lee takes the badge gingerly, almost not believing it. At that moment, the events of the past two months finally come into focus for him.
He is a pokemon trainer with a whole world of opportunity before him, his childhood fantasy. He and his beloved team have defeated a Gym Leader, and his journey to be the very best is actually underway.
It almost makes him forget about-
He shakes the thought away. Now is not the time for that.
Lee offers the Gym Leader a wide smile and slips the badge into his pocket. "Thank you, Roxanne."
Her expression brightens. "Come by the gym later, and I can transfer your prize money and give you your TM."
"Now that was quite the incredible show!"
Roxanne looks behind Lee with wide eyes and the entire watching class gasps as one.
Slowly turning, Lee isn't sure if some higher power is purposely throwing curveballs at him or not.
Smiling wide with an absolutely titanic Metagross behind him, Steven Stone himself takes a step forward. "Roxanne! It's been some time since I've seen you cut loose like that. I hope you don't mind my eavesdropping, but when I saw you teaching this battle class, I thought Metagross and I would watch for a bit. I'm rather glad we did now!"
Behind him, the metal behemoth rumbles at his name, shaking Lee down to his bones
Roxanne recovers much faster than Lee does. "It's no problem, Steven. We're always glad to have you here at the school. When did you get back to Rustboro?"
"Metagross Teleported us in this morning," the man explains, running a hand through his steel-blue hair. "Just some business at Devon that needed my attention. So, who is your challenger here?" He asks, taking in Lee and Vulpix carefully.
Over his shoulder, Metagross's red, glowing eyes lock onto the man and fox as well, his stare even more penetrating than his trainer's. Under the red eyes, Lee can practically feel himself being peeled back layer by layer, exposing him to the titanic pokemon like a book. Lee gulps as he looks back at the nearly seven-foot-tall pokemon. One thing jumps out at him instantly.
All veteran pokemon have scars or marks from hard battles, Steel types included. Marks like that can be hidden or healed for vanity, but battling pokemon often wear them like badges of honor to show they fought hard and won.
Metagross's armored form is immaculate.
'Holy shit, we're going to have to fight this monster one day.'
In the back of his mind, he feels Vulpix's telepathy jump and lash outward at something beyond them with a scowl. Shortly after, Metagross's gaze shifts to Vulpix with a rumble and the horrid feeling of exposure fades.
"This is Lee Henson," Roxanne's voice pulls him from his thoughts as she gestures to him with a hand. "A researcher and Lab Trainer working under Professor Birch. He kindly agreed to help me with today's class. And speaking of..." She turns to her pointing and whispering class. "Please excuse me, I need to finish up here. Okay, class! I hope everyone took notes, as we're goi-"
Steven turns to Lee, reaching a hand out. "Lee is it? A pleasure to meet you."
With an almost dry gulp, Lee take's the Champion's hand and shakes it. "Y-Yeah, same to you."
The Hoenn Champ crosses his arms and taps a foot in thought. "Ah! I do remember your name passing by my desk! A refugee from an isolated region, yes? How are you liking Hoenn?"
"It's already home," Lee replies, stuffing his hands in his jacket pockets so as to not twiddle them nervously.
Steven's smile is bright. "I'm glad to hear it. Yours and Vulpix's ending move was incredible! How did she curve those Embers? And your telepathy is very advanced for a new trainer."
"How did you know about th-" Lee stops himself and looks at Metagross. "Right, Psychic-type ace. Anyway, as I told Roxanne, one of the facets of my research is pokemon technique modification and experimentation. I was told by Birch that I have an...unusual way of looking at things, and he offered me his sponsorship on the condition I conduct research for him. Vulpix curving her Embers is one of the modified moves we've created with others in the works."
Steven nods and rubs his chin. "Interesting... I don't think I've met a researcher with a focus like that. I'll be looking forward to seeing how far you go in the gym circuit," He glances back to Roxanne with a small smile. "But considering you bested Roxanne's personal pokemon, maybe I should say I look forward to seeing you in the Ever Grande Conference."
'And now the Champion knows who I am and is watching. Shit. Goodbye any chance of surprising him.'
"Thanks for the vote of confidence," Lee sighs. He looks down when he feels Vulpix lean into his leg. The poor vixen looks ready to collapse on her feet. "Shit, sorry love," He draws her ball. "We'll get to the Pokemon Center soon. Return,"
With a red flash of light, Vulpix is safely in her ball.
"Ah, how rude of me," Steven laughs nervously as Lee clips Vulpix's ball to his belt. "Your pokemon must be tired. I'll let you get to the Pokemon Center. Before you go through, take this."
He reaches into his breast pocket, drawing Lee's eyes to the gleaming pin topped with a Megastone upon the front, and withdraws a card he hands to Lee.
Looking it over, the scarred trainer finds it's a heavily personalized business card, similar to Roxanne's but much more extravagant, fitting a Champion. Upon it is an email and a phone number.
"I've got to get going, the League is a needy bunch and I'm probably late for a meeting. We'll keep in touch," Steven says, turning and waving. He and Metagross glow a brilliant corona of colors before vanishing.
"No way! You got to skip the gym line and meet Steven Stone!?"
Lee sits back against the headboard of the comfy hotel looking at the new smartphone in his hand. Roxanne's prize money wasn't a ton, but the $1500 gave him enough to get a good device with a fair amount leftover. In his lap, Vulpix dozes under gentle strokes of his free hand. Her left hind leg is tightly wrapped in white bandages, compete with a stern 'no strenuous activity for three days' order from Nurse Joy.
"I did," Lee confirms Brendan's question, looking over at Brendan and Zinnia, who are seated on opposite sides of the other bed. "I was just at the right place at the right time...Or the wrong place at the wrong time..." He grumbles. "I'm not exactly happy that the Champion has his eye on me. I was hoping to surprise him when we made it through the Ever Grande Conference, but I guess that's not happening now."
Zinnia hums and rocks back. "If you make waves, he's going to figure out something was up with you anyway. The Gym Leaders, Elite Four, and Champ have to talk to each other, right?"
Lee feels his face go white. "Oh, fun. The others will be expecting us then..."
"That's such bull that you got to skip ahead, though!" Brendan bulldozes in, unconcerned about the Gym Leaders possibly upping the challenge. "I'm not set to battle Roxanne until Thursday morning!" He claws at his hat and falls into the bed back-first. "Aarrrgh!"
"Don't be so eager, if she finds out you're Birch's son and a Lab Trainer too, she's going to put you through the ringer." Lee says with a shake of his head. He looks down at the pizza place website and the little 'Confirmed!' message that popped up before navigating away to the Rustboro trainer school site. The newest recording is none other than this battle. "Dinner is on its way. In the meantime, it looks like they uploaded our fight against Roxanne. Take a look at the fun you have to look forward to."
He tosses the phone to Brendan, who catches it and eagerly hits the play button as Zinnia curiously watches over his shoulder.
Lee relaxes and pulls Treecko and Corvisquire's balls from his belt, popping them open and releasing them on the bed. The pokemon materialize in flashes of white. Cool yellow and burning red eyes look at Lee, who looks back and stifles a yawn. "Normally I'd prepare something a little more healthy, but we won a gym battle and some celebration is in order. Hope you two like pizza."
Treecko raises a brow, probably unsure what pizza even is, but Corvisquire's resting murder face actually morphs into a pleased expression.
Despite the worries of the day, they came out on top in a difficult battle, have friends all around, and have a delicious dinner on the way.
'Another day in the world of pokemon I guess,' Lee smiles. 'Another day in the world of pokemon.'