Chapter Seven: Love War
Jackson tore his eyes from Valerie upon feeling Dratini’s smooth scales slide across his legs. Smiling up at the woman next to his trainer, the snakelike Pokemon coiled up in her lap. She took another bite of her fruit and placed the fork down on her plate before lowering her hand to stroke the Dratini’s head once, then offered him a plumb strawberry. Eyes lighting up with a wide grin pulling at his maw, Dratini accepted the fruit. Closing his eyes, he chewed slowly, savoring it.
The man ripped a bite from his sandwich as he watched the interaction between Valerie and his Pokemon, feeling his affection for her increase.
“… You’re… really good with Pokemon.”
Valerie turned a smile to him.
“I’ve always loved Pokemon, more than even being a fashion model. I love them so much, that… well… I actually wish I were a Pokemon.”
“Heh. I remember you saying something like that on our first date…” He was about to add something else, when his attention was averted when he heard a rustling in some nearby bushes. Seconds later, a Buizel emerged and cautiously approached, his eyes on the fruit salad the humans possessed. “Hey there, little guy.”
The woman smiled warmly at the small orange-pelted weasel.
“Oh, hello, little darling.” With a soft giggle, she picked up a chunk of fruit between her fingers and proffered it to the Pokemon. “Are you hungry?”
Buizel beamed and toddled up to her and proceeded to wolf down the piece of fruit, juice coating his paws and the circumference of his mouth. Chuckling, Jackson scooped up a little potato salad on his fork and offered the Water-type a bite. Nose twitching, Buizel leaned in to lick it off. To his surprise, he found that the glob was quite delicious, and let out a satisfied cry.
Valerie broke out into a wide grin, following it with a giggle.
“You are so adorable! It’s too bad you’re not a Fairy-type, I’d probably capture you.”
As Buizel licked his lips and paws clean, Jackson brought his hand to the Pokemon’s head to scratch him gently.
“It never hurts to have variety, but I can understand wanting to stick to one type.”
“I’m still surprised you caught Aron,” she said, resuming petting Dratini. “I would’ve thought you would’ve stayed with Dragon-types. Did you really only catch the Aron just to battle me?”
The man blushed and nodded. While she did ask this question before, he figured she just wanted to be certain.
“I wanted… to beat you in a battle…” And while he had asked this before, he still wanted confirmation. “Would… you even date someone who… can’t defeat you?”
“Of course I would! Haven’t I told you that all you needed was to ASK? Worst I could have said was no!”
“Well, yeah, but… I have met women who won’t date guys who can’t beat them,” Jackson stated.
She nodded in acknowledgement.
“Ah, yes, I understand. The so-called ‘Red Sonja’ types…” She sighed. “It’s all well and good to be independent, but I don’t see why anyone should need to be BEATEN in order to be dated…”
“I’m glad you’re not like that…” He slid his hand down Buizel’s head and positioned his fingers at the back of his neck to scratch him there. “Or the type who… might frown upon the… roleplay gaming… the comic books… and the fact that I dress up as a giant Spinda for a living. That… really means a lot to me.”
“Now why would I frown upon something like that?” The woman chuckled, scratching the back of one of Dratini’s ear frills. “People should be allowed to do what they like, so long as it’s not illegal.”
Eating the rest of his food and setting his empty plate down and letting Buizel lick it, Jackson reached over to pet Dratini, the dragon melting in the woman’s lap.
“A lot of people find it… nerdy.”
Valerie shrugged, smoothing her hand down Dratini’s long body.
“There’s nothing wrong with nerdy. In fact, I find it appealing, to a degree.”
Jackson blushed softly, astounded by this new information.
“Y-you do, huh?”
Valerie nodded in confirmation.
“Hmmm. You’re cute, you know. Dressing up. Playing tabletop games.”
The man’s blush deepened, and it darkened into a shade of scarlet as his hand unintentionally brushed over hers as he pat Dratini.
“I… I find… the way you… love Pokemon very a-attractive. And… how great of a battler you are.”
Valerie was silent for a couple of seconds. Taking note of his blushing, she gave him an encouraging smile.
“Thank you, Jackson.”
Jackson bashfully removed his hand from hers and slid it off of Dratini.
“It… wasn’t your pretty face that… drew me to you.”
This drew a mild pink blush out of Valerie.
“You’re sweet, Jackson. Really.”
The young man’s face flushed heavily, stammering incoherently for a moment, before closing his mouth. Balling up his hands at his sides to support some of his weight on them and glancing off as he was hit with a bout of shyness, he watched Buizel run off to sniff Shelgon and Sylveon.
“S-so are… y-you.”
Valerie followed his line of vision, focusing on Buizel.
“… Do you think that’s a wild Buizel, or do you think it might belong to somebody?”
He observed the Pokemon’s mannerisms, noticing that he was not fully trusting, and acting a little skittish. Both of his tails were stiff and he supported himself mostly on his toes, as if ready to run off in case the Pokemon in front of him weren’t friendly.
“I… I would… guess wild.”
“I would suppose so as well. It doesn’t look like it’s used to being around humans, or human-trained Pokemon. I’ve never seen wild Buizel around here! Wild Floatzel, yes, but never the unevolved form.” The woman sighed as she pulled out one of her memories. “I think the last Buizel I seen was owned by this young man. He and his girlfriend were traveling Kalos together. I don’t remember the man much, but his girlfriend was very bubbly. Very sweet girl… and she had a shiny Totodile that was the Buizel’s mate. They were such a cute couple.”
“Maybe… it’s… just wild offspring… that hadn’t evolved yet.”
Jackson chuckled as Aron, still running from Mawile, bounded right up to Buizel from behind and came to a halt and nudged his back to gain his attention. Whirling around, Buizel’s alerted attention dying down at the sight the Steel-type and smiles. The Water Pokemon then joined in the game of tag.
Valerie’s eyes shimmered, scanning Buizel up and down the sleek Pokemon’s coat. It was quite beautiful, and she idly wondered if she could create another costume based off of it. Her mind reflected on Jackson’s words, and she fingered an empty Poke’ Ball in her dress.
Buizel spent several more minutes before a series of splashes originating from the river caught his attention--as well as the curiosity of the other Pokemon. Even Jackson and Valerie invested a glance.
Several yards up the river was a horde of Floatzel, four males surrounding a single female. Hearts spawning in Buizel’s eyes at the sight of the elegant female, he made a mad dash to the water and dove in to join the males… only to soon find himself sent flying to shore by one of the males.
Watching this unfold, the humans scrambled to their feet and precipitated themselves to Buizel’s sides. Before either of them could question him if he was all right, the Pokemon pulled himself to his feet. With a determined scowl, he dove back into the water. This second attempt at catching the female’s attention resulted in the same outcome as before.
The young man bit his lower lip in concern as Valerie turned to him with the same expression.
“This is foolish. That poor Buizel is going to get himself hurt at this rate!”
Jackson gritted his teeth, his mind racing for a solution. Removing his shoes, socks, vest, and wife beater, he raced into the water. He knew this was stupid, but the need to help that Buizel compelled him to swim towards the little Pokemon. Alarmed, the Pokemon gathered at the shore, Shelgon rolling back onto her feet and causing Sylveon to fall off again--though, this time she didn’t do it out of irritation. Sylveon, previously sleeping, was startled awake as he fell off. He lifted his head in confusion, but soon came to the realization of what was going on. Tromping up to the shoreline, Valerie watched with wide eyes, wondering what Jackson was doing. Mawile, at Aron’s side, glanced over at her trainer with an expression of befuddlement and concern.
As Buizel was sent hurtling back by a Double Hit from a male, Jackson inhaled deeply and held his breath as he dove underwater. Pumping his arms and legs, he made his way to the bruised weasel and scooped him up in one arm. Surfacing, he stole a glance over his shoulder to check on the horde, only to find that the enraged males had decided to follow. Eyes snapping open wide, he held Buizel closer to protect him.
Searing with rage, Shelgon stepped closer to the river. Filling her lungs to the brim, she exhaled a Dragonbreath at the Floatzel closest to his trainer. At the same time, Dratini dove into the water, summoning his inner power to aim an Aqua Jet at another Floatzel. Valerie didn’t even need to command Sylveon to jump into the water. He did that on his own merit, charging up a Moonblast.
“Sylveon, aim for the left one! It’s closer!”
Struck by the attacks, the trio of Floatzel were thrown back, the one hit by Sylveon’s Moonblast sustaining the most damage. Another one leaped out of the water, and Dratini narrowed his eyes and focused a Thunder Wave. The Floatzel clenched his eyes shut, falling on top of Jackson, paralyzed. Fortunately, the young man was only stunned from the impact momentarily and resurfaced, continuing his way towards shore.
While Fraxure charged into the water with Goomy stuck fast to his head, both Pokemon unleashed a double Dragon Pulse at two of the quickly recovering Floatzel, taking them out.
Aron, not knowing what to do, stood at Mawile’s side with a whimper. Mawile, too, wanted to help, but knowing she would sink like a rock if she had, stroked Aron’s head to try and becalm him. Sylveon paddled over to Jackson to assist him and Buizel ashore, allowing his Pokemon to provide them cover. Staggering into shallow water, he stroked his free hand over the Fairy-type’s head, breathing out a “thank you”. Though they were at a safe distance, he still held Buizel close in his arm, out of fear that he might get beat up even more if he dared to let him go.
Panting lightly, he turned around, seeing that his Pokemon had everything taken care of. Dratini had the paralyzed Floatzel constricted in a Wrap and the other Floatzel--the one Sylveon had attacked earlier--hurled himself out of the water with intentions on finishing off Buizel.
Fraxure, spinning around in the water until his back was facing that particular Pokemon, swung his head back to catapult Goomy towards him. Antennae crackling with electrical currents, zapped Floatzel with a Thunderbolt. Fur singed in a few areas and eyes rolling, Floatzel dropped back into the water, finished.
Valerie sighed in relief as the Floatzel dropped. Knowing Buizel was safe now, she stepped into the shallow water to meet Jackson, placing a hand on his back to help him out of the water.
“Are you all right?”
Sighing and nodding, he allowed himself to be assisted to shore.
“I’m… fine… Thanks,” he answered, to Valerie’s relief.
The Floatzel in Dratini’s coils grunted as he struggled. Cloaking his body with water, he performed an Aqua Jet, rocketing out of the dragon’s hold. Soaring through the air, he landed back into the water with a tremendous splash that gained the humans’ attention. Observing now that he was unchallenged, smirked and directed himself to the concerned female.
Face scrunching up with a jealous anger, Buizel squirmed and slipped out of Jackson’s arm, landing on his feet.
Valerie gasped lightly. Mawile stepped forward to challenge Floatzel, only to stop as her trainer touched her large set of jaws. Blinking, the Pokemon stared up at her, who shook her head.
Buizel unleashed a challenging cry to the male Floatzel. Annoyed, the larger Water-type stopped and turned. The female rested a paw on his shoulder, but he brushed it off. His nerves still felt the lingering numbness left by the Thunder Wave and he was low on health, but he wasn’t going to ignore the challenge. With an accepting growl, he rushed forward with intentions on finishing Buizel off with a Double Hit.
Gnashing his teeth, Buizel left the shore to meet his opponent, his body a blur of orange as he struck first with a Quick Attack.
“You can do it, Buizel!” Valerie cheered, clapping her hands together. Mawile let out a cry of encouragement while Sylveon and Mr. Mime watched with interest on the sidelines.
“Keep it up!” Jackson followed. “You can beat him!”
Ears twitching, a smirk pulled at Buizel’s maw from the support. As his raging opponent snarled, the small weasel took the Double Hit and went crashing into the water, only to resurface. Both Pokemon pierced each other with determined glares, barely hanging onto consciousness.
This was it. Whoever hit their foe first would be the winner.
Both Pokemon covering themselves with water as they prepared an Aqua Jet, launched themselves at each other, crashing with a burst of water.
The two of them went flying back underwater, but it was only Buizel who came back up as the victor. The effects of paralysis had slowed Floatzel down enough to ensure him to strike first.
Entire face aglow, Jackson pumped his fist into the air with a cheer, his Pokemon following suit. Even Valerie’s Pokemon joined in, the woman herself jumping, popping a foot as she did so.
The female Floatzel swam over to her little champion with a pleased smile. Drawing her tongue over his head, Buizel blushed softly and leaned in to nuzzle her.