Chapter One: Enter Kat!

I yawned, my body slumping forward in a stretch. My leaf green eyes peered blearily at my mom, Emily Oak, who peered right back with a mischievous grin on her face.

It took me several seconds to realize what woke me up.

A loud beeping sound was echoing -- I say echoing, but it wasn't really -- around my room. My eyes fixed on the alarm clock my mom had in her hands. I stared for what may have been a minute -- it could have been a minute, and I wouldn't have noticed, I was that sleepy -- until I actually registered the red blinking numbers on the digital screen: a one...and a zero...and two dots...and another one...and a two....

beebeebeebeep

beebeebeebeep

beebeebeebeep

"SNAP!" I shrieked, leaping out of the bed, warm and comfortable though it was. I could've sworn I saw Mom smirk from my peripheral vision as she turned off the blaring alarm. "Why didn't you wake me up earlier, damn it?!"

She grinned wider. "Oh, I just thought you should get your beauty sleep. Come on, now, Aleric's already finished moving in."

"Al, shmal," I muttered under my breath. He was the topic of the town, and had been for the past week. I'd known him since birth, of course, but not personally. I turned on the shower, undressed, and took my sweet time.

About fifteen minutes later, I appeared downstairs, a potion that I had stored on the PC clutched in my hand. I had to jump the last four steps to avoid the pet Persian that mom still had from her old trainer days, and landed in a flurry of wet brown hair at the feet of an as-of-yet unrecognized boy my age.

A boy.

I looked up and immediately locked eyes with surprised mahogany-gold circles. That was when I recognized him. "Oh. Hey, Al."

He backed away to a more polite distance (I had landed face-to-face with him). "Hi, Kat," he replied uncomfortably, in a quiet voice. He's not a bad guy. Really quiet, though -- that's weird, but maybe because I'm thinking of Theo, here. Speaking of Theo, he should be getting his first Pokémon today, too, right...?

"Kat," Mom called.

"Yeah?"

"Your grandfather's looking for you, the both of you. He's in the lab. Feoras should also get here on one of his gym's digging Pokémon later today. Go on, all girls dream of traveling," she reported, quoting the TV. I rolled my eyes at the idiotic allusion.

"Sure, we're on our way."

,'.:.',

"Finally you wake up."

I grumbled, folding my arms across my chest and half-sitting on a conveniently low table. "Woulda gotten up earlier if Mom woke me up earlier."

Al exhaled quietly. Gramps peered at me critically, but shook his head and turned to Al. "Here, Al. There are three Pokémon here, in those balls on the table Kaneko's sitting on. The balls contain, in order from nearest to farthest, Bulbasaur, Squirtle, and Charmander. You can have one. Go on, choose!"

I bit my cheek and held back the "no fair" whine bubbling from my throat, imagining Gramps's condescending reply: "Be patient, Kat, you'll get one, too!"

Al expressed no hesitation, but immediately tapped the Squirtle's ball and gave it a new name: Nikame. Gramps began listing off its characteristics: it was male, it had a jolly nature, it's level was a low one of five, it's ability was torrent, it knew tackle and tail whip, its attack stat was 12, its defense 13, etcetera.

I walked to the other side of the table and briefly considered the remaining Pokémon: Bulbasaur and Charmander. I leaned towards the Bulbasaur briefly, but realized that Theo would end up stuck with the Charmander, which was a major no-no, given that incident at the gym. Theo could not get anywhere with a fire Pokémon, let alone a Charmander. It was kind of... personal. Neither of us liked talking about it. I immediately tapped the Charmander's ball.

"Chara, I guess," I christened after a second's hesitation of thought.

"Char," the Charmander chirped docilely.

"Ah," Gramps said, turning to me. "You chose Charmander? She has a mild nature and is also level five. Her ability is blaze, and she knows scratch and growl...." I tuned him out. He had nothing to say that I was interested in.

Instead, I turned to Al. "D'you mind, Al? I wanna check out our Pokémon. C'mon, let's battle!"

Gramps muttered under his breath, "Oh, for Pete's sake, she's so pushy, as always." I rolled my eyes. Thankfully, Al ignored him and shrugged.

"Sure."

,'.:.',

Gramps decided to side with Al during the battle. U-n-f-a-i-r. And I mean, unfair. I'm supposed to beat my grandad in a pokémon battle? Not possible.

"Sheesh, Gramps," I muttered venomously. "Ya couldn't've kept out of it?"

He grinned good naturedly. "Oh, calm down, Kat. Al was doing quite well on his own."

On his own. Psh. Yeah right.

Except... he was battling me mostly on his own. He didn't seem like he needed Gramps's useless commentary.

Ouch. That was gonna leave a mark. I recognized my ill will as a grudge. I wasn't sure who I had the grudge against, though. Maybe both.

Good. I didn't want to get all attached to anyone or anything, my Pokémon excepted.

"And I'm gone," I said, skipping mutinously over to the healing machine in the lab and taking Chara from where she had been resting. The machine was effective, and Chara was already fully healed. "See ya around, Al. Bye, Gramps."

Chara decided that she didn't much like the PokéBall, and came out in a spark of red. I decided to let it go: no use getting off on the wrong foot with my Pokémon.

However, the PokéBall issue soon became a rather vexing one the second I stepped out the lab and somehow ended up about ten feet off the ground on an Onix. It was Theo, of course.

"Hey, Kat," he grinned amiably.

"Hey, Theo," I gasped as soon as the adrenaline retreated from my bloodstream.

"Chrrr," Chara whined nervously, clutching my leg as she eyed the long distance from the ground. Unfortunately, that was when Theo noticed her.

"Ch-ch-ch-CHARMANDER!" he screeched, causing several nearby Pidgeys to take flight in fright.

,'.:.',

"Sorry 'bout that, Theo," I muttered again. I couldn't help but glance at the clock on the wall we were sitting against. Eleven-forty-seven. Darn. I'd planned on being on the road by now. The sooner I could start my journey, the sooner I'd be able to find Dad...if I found him at all. He'd been missing for nigh on five years.

But he wasn't dead. I remembered him when he left Pallet Town: he seemed so unconquerable, by nature or by men.

"Did it have to be out of its ball?" Theo whined, curled into a ball in the lab. I was dryly amused that he hadn't started sucking on his thumb.

Yet.

Don't be mean, Kat, I lectured myself grimly. And I thought Gramps was being mean. I really did have to work on my pushy-attitude issue.

"He saw Chara?" Al asked, concerned. I nodded.

"You people named it?" Theo croaked. "That explains why the world is going to the Growlithes. Ugh. Growlithes."

"Theo," I reproached. "Pokémon have feelings, too."

"Sure, what ev," he muttered, shivering

I sighed. "I guess that means I'm going now."

He looked as though he wanted to ask for me to stay, but wisely realized that, that probably wasn't the best idea if Chara got too impatient with the PokéBall.

"See ya in Viridian, I guess," I called back to him, trotting out the door. I heard his mumbled "See ya" just before the glass door closed behind me.

But it wasn't that simple. Mom decided to make me eat lunch with her, and delayed me for another two hours with lunch and checking the contents of my bag. Then Gramps dropped by and gave me the PokéDex that he'd forgotten about, and asked me if I knew whether or not Al and Theo had left yet. I was pretty sure that they should be eating lunch with the neighbor, Daisy May.[1] That, or they were already gone, but from the state Theo was in, I doubted it.

So by the time I'd finally gotten on the road, it was two-something in the afternoon.

Talk about delays.

,'.:.',

I yawned as I walked past the sign proclaiming in huge green letters, "WELCOME TO VIRIDIAN CITY!" Chara was nodding off beside me. She had gone through two battles, and her health wasn't in top shape. I sighed and patted her head.

"C'mon, Chara, there's a Pokémon center we can rest at up ahead," I crooned softly. She gave a quiet "char" in sleepy agreement.

It had taken about five and a half hours to get to Viridian. Chara had valiantly decided to walk the whole way, and as a result was definitely footsore. It had caused some trouble during the scuffles when I accidentally tripped over a pidgey, and then a rattata, and then another pidgey. I found it difficult to persuade her to catch a free, easy ride in her poké ball and consequentially store her strength for when it was more needed.

On second thought, scratch difficult. It was dang near impossible.

Flip the coin, and Chara had leveled twice. She had now added ember to her attack arsenal, to my delight. It would be useful in case I ever needed it to build a fire if we got stuck on the trail without a sign of civilization in sight. I had also obtained another potion from a PokéMart salesman, though I was confused as to what he was doing all the way out here. Pallet Town was too small a place for any smart businessman to want a PokéMart there....

The doors to the PokéCenter opened smoothly, and I ambled in, tired. Chara attached herself to my leg and dozed. The quiet PokéCenter music played overhead.

"Excuse me, miss, but if you're really that tired, I'd advise a room and not the floor," a tired, vaguely amused voice said from nearby. I opened my eyes, unaware that I'd closed them, and picked myself up off the floor.

"Oh, sorry," I apologized, gently detaching Chara from my leg and following the pink-haired nurse with the charmander still slumbering in my arms.

She smiled, only her eyes betraying her weariness. PokéCenters must be really busy in the day.... "No, it's fine. My name is Nurse Joy, and I'll be happy to help you with anything you need."

I grinned a lopsided grin. "Maybe tomorrow. A room right now would be nice, though."

Nurse Joy nodded. "I'm afraid that all the rooms are full except for one." She led me upstairs and opened the very last door at the end of the hall, and I nodded my silent thanks with an internal groan at the people inside it.

Al and Theo looked up as the door slipped open.

"Hey, Kat. Long time no see," Theo smirked.


End-of-chapter notes:
I get to explain how Theo and Al got to Viridian so quickly in the next chapter! =D
Read and REVIEW, please!

EDIT (10/07/08):
[1]Daisy May is actually the rival's unnamed sister in the games. I decided to make her a friendly neighbor for the purpose of the story, seeing as neither Al nor Theo actually lived in Pallet Town.

Trivial bit of me:
I can solve the Rubik's Cube. It takes me about four minutes, though....