"In Which I Am Close With My Starter"
"Mother, I need meat," I sobbed, flopping pathetically on the carpet, in the abstract hope that my cruel and wanton parent would take pity on my shriveled shell of a body. If not, then I would turn my back on the world and die cold and alone as my mother, my own cruel, callous mother, would weep over my grave and rue the day she refused to give me my one and only true desire.
"Tony, drink your soup before it gets cold."
I glared mutinously at her, but I was hungry and dragged my emancipated corpse of a body to the table anyways. "Is it Torchic soup?" I asked, stirring the yellow-red broth in the hopes that a precious cube of meat would float to the surface.
"Vegetarian. It's Tamato and Cornn, now drink up."
I grumbled again, but did as I was told. I refused to talk to my mother all throughout dinner, and when I was darkly picking at the few pieces of Cornn at the bottom of the bowl, she sighed. "Tony, we've been over this. No more meat from now on, you know where it comes from."
I said nothing, even when my dad entered the apartment, tie askew and forehead shiny with sweat from simply walking up the stairs. My mom rose to greet him, and he talked furtively with her, which was uncharacteristic of him because he was an extrovert and one of those lame, jolly dads that cracked horrible jokes in front of your friends at every opportunity.
Pointedly not paying any attention to them, I sat up just as my dad sat down at the table and went to go rinse out the bowl in the sink.
"Your birthday's coming up," my father called out to me, tactfully beginning the conversation with something that I was actually happy about, "You'll be getting your own Pokémon soon, and I'm sure you'll change your mind about all of this silly food business after that, OK?"
There was nothing more than mutinous silence, as I slinked back to my room and shut the door with more force than was necessary.
In retrospect, it's kind of funny, how all this started over me not liking my soup.
Two weeks later, with my little circle of friends at a birthday dinner in Café Sonata, it finally struck me that I was actually getting a Pokémon. Suddenly shaking with excitement, I gave a quick perusal of the small stack of boxes wrapped in bright colored paper, but there was no sphere or Poké Ball among them. I leered suspiciously at the parents over at the other side of the table, talking animatedly with the other kids' parents, and tried to figure out if it was my mom or my dad who was hiding the secret to eternal glory and freedom and quite possibly a good steak.
My three friends that hadn't turned ten yet were also having a blast trying to figure out what my starter would be.
"Well, what'd you ask for?" shot Trevor, around a mouthful of pasta. Sadly, my parents had stuck with the no-meat rule around my friends, although I suppose cheese was next best. Still, they hadn't even let me get a pepperoni pizza...
"I didn't ask for anything!" I said, distractedly, still peering at my dad's pocket with such intensity in the hope that, eventually, I would develop X-ray vision and see if that lump in his pocket was his wallet or my new best friend forever.
My three friends surreptitiously looked at each other. "Dude, that's not good," said Eliot, shaking his head.
"Yeah," agreed Bret, "Parents are stupid. Well-meaning, but stupid. You gotta kind of steer 'em in the right direction."
"Like Jimmy? He wanted a surprise from his parents for a starter," Trevor pointed out, eating again. "You know what he got? A Munna."
There was a collective groan from all four of us, and suddenly my excited anticipation turned into abject nervousness. What if I got a Munna? Jimmy probably would never be able to live that down. It was a pink tapir with flowers on it for Arceus's sake, and it was so boring that it made other people go to sleep! I bit my lip, and turned my gaze towards my mom, who remained stoically oblivious of the kid's table. I wouldn't put it past my mom to get me a Munna.
"But, hey, Jimmy's parents were lame. At least Tony's dad is boss."
"Dude," I said, suddenly distracted by this travesty. "Boss is not cool anymore."
"Is cool cool?"
"Cool's always cool."
"Well, then your dad is cool," said Eliot, spearing another piece of ravioli.
Our theorizing was cut short when my parents came by with the cake, and my worries evaporated with the lighting of the ten candles. Forget cheese, chocolate was second best, after meat. Unsurprisingly, the cake was frosted red on one half, and white on the other, with the candles arranged in a tight little circle in the middle. At least that dissuaded any worries I had of my parents not getting me a Pokémon at all. I puffed out my cheeks and blew, and minutes later I was munching happily while the presents were laid out before me.
It turned out that Trevor, Eliot, and Bret had all collaborated on my present, and I was pleasantly surprised at that. Before me was all the standard equipment: a brand new Trainer's backpack that was supposed to work like a Poké Ball and lighten the weight of the equipment inside, Running Shoes, and a couple Poké Balls. They apologized incessantly about not being able to afford a Pokédex, but I wasn't too worried about that. I could be a cool trainer without one, and, anyways, I was pretty sure that my mom and dad might have gotten me one, too.
And then came the moment of truth. I really loved how my dad still thought it was a surprise that they had gotten me a Pokémon, and his grin was almost as big as mine was as he stepped forward. I noticed that his Simipour was out of her Poké Ball, mainly it because it bounded forward and regarded me with something like a critical eye before snagging a pawful of my cake.
"So, Tony, when a boy turns ten, they usually get their first Pokémon and a trainer's license," said my mom, patronizingly, and I rolled my eyes.
"I know, Mom." I held my tongue on asking what Pokémon they got me, since they were obviously getting to the part.
Unperturbed, my mother continued. "Well, you know your dad just went on that business trip on Nacrene City."
Immediately my head buzzed with the possibilities. Nacrene? Nacrene had that museum, didn't it? Yes, I remembered, the class had gone on a field trip there last year. Had dad gotten me a fossil Pokémon? Fossil Pokémon were really rare and some of them were really cool. My smile could grow no wider as I waited with baited breath. A Kabuto would be awesome, or a Shieldon, never mind the fact they hadn't even been native to the region when the species was extant. I didn't entertain any ideas that my dad could have gotten me an Aerodactyl, but a kid can hope.
My dad picked up the narrative while I was brainstorming. "Yeah, old Mizaru and I decided we could do one more battle, and while we took a little detour into Pinwheel Forest..."
Oh. No fossil Pokémon then. I got over that as quickly as I had gotten on, and then furiously tried to recall what Pokémon lived in Pinwheel Forest. There were fighting types, weren't there? Yes, that's what the teacher had said, fighting types on the outskirts near Nacrene and more bug types inside. I was OK with either. What kind of fighting types were there, again? Maybe he had gotten me a Timburr. I was fine with that. So long as I didn't get a Petilil. Or a Pidove. Wait, didn't he say that he had taken his Simipour with him? Weren't there monkey Pokémon in Pinwheel, too? Had he gotten me a-?
"And so we got you this."
A-ha! That lump had been the Poké Ball!
He handed the Poké Ball to his Simipour, who put it gently on the table in front of me. Was that a nod of approval from my dad's Pokémon? I didn't know. I was too nervous to care. This was it. The big time. Whoever was inside that Poké Ball would be my lifelong partner and friend.
My other, human friends bent closer, eager to see what it would be, too. I reached out for the red and white capsule with a trembling hand, and then pressed the button.
There was a brilliant flash of white light as the Pokémon inside was released. I blinked my eyes, rubbing out the neon lights flashing on them.
It was a Venipede.
All my other friends, when they got starters, either loved them or hated them. There was no in-between. It was either "Kawaii, I love my shiny Eevee!" or "Oh. Another Bulbasaur. Great."
But Venipede were...cool. Yeah. They weren't that common as starters, were at least rarer than Sewaddle, and had some decent stats and moves to boot. They were pretty cool. Not really cool, not awesome, but pretty cool. I was down with that. And I had read somewhere that Scolipede were absolutely massive, the biggest bug Pokémon alive (and bigger than some of the prehistoric ones), which was beyond awesome and went straight into epic territory.
Still, back at my apartment, I could hear my parents talking outside my bedroom door, a bit apprehensively. They were as nervous about their choice as I was.
"Do you think it's alright? Did I get the wrong one? The look on his face..."
"Sweetie, it's fine. You said it yourself, it doesn't matter what the starter is because it's the starter. You did say that, don't deny it. You said that all he would need was a little bonding time with it and they'd get along fine."
"Are you sure? Should we have just gotten one from a breeder? I mean, we didn't even have the money for a Pokédex, but I'm sure Tony would have been fine with waiting. I don't-."
"You remember when you got your Panpour? Were you as excited when you first got it? And look at you and Mizaru now!" There was a rough trilling from the Geyser Pokémon in agreement.
Okay. I considered to my pretty cool Venipede. Yeah. I would get used to this, and I was already feeling the strings of sentimentality curl around my heart. It was my starter, after all.
I took a deep breath, took the- my, I corrected, Poké Ball out of my pocket, and opened it. I flipped on the light and watched the Venipede. Its yellow eyes stared balefully back. I realized that this was the first time I had been actually up close and personal with a Pokémon, besides Mom and Dad's old ones and the ones that the teachers brought to school for us to see. I waved my hand, nervously, and squeaked, "Hi."
"Veni," it chirped, roughly, back, and then curiosity got the better of me.
Slowly, I edged forward and held out my hand to touch the bug Pokémon, but it recoiled and hissed at me, and I quickly drew my hand back. Those spines looked sharp. Instead, I watched as its antenna waved around, before it started heading towards the door. It marched resolutely up to the wooden portal, and then looked at me expectantly.
"You wanna go outside?" I asked, automatically slipping into my baby voice.
I opened the door, and it continued its march out into the corridor of the apartment. To the left was the bathroom, to the right was my parent's bedroom, and in front of us was the kitchen. Guess which one the Venipede went to.
My parents had evacuated the premise when they had heard me coming, and it was just a boy (i.e. me) and his Venipede in that kitchen. Still scouring over everything with its antenna, the Venipede began to scrabble at the drawers, trying to climb up it.
"No, no, no, no," I said, hurriedly, picking up the Venipede; it flailed and tried to bite me, but didn't succeed as I put it back down, quickly, again. I squatted down to something approaching eye-level, although I still had to look down at it. "You can't go there, that's where we keep all the food. If you're hungry, I'll get a berry for you- no! Get back here!"
The Venipede had crawled around my feet and its squat body once more shuffling towards the smell of food in the pantry.
"No!" I said, sternly, after picking up the Venipede and putting it on the table, but I hadn't even managed to say more than that one word when it started crawling away again. "Stop it!" I shouted, and in my frustration I jammed my foot into the carpet. Unfortunately, the Venipede chose that moment to drop off the table and I accidentally kicked it, sending the bug flying into the wall. I drew a sharp breath, first looking at the insect's crumpled body, then my parent's bedroom door, then the body again.
Then it got up and started crawling toward the pantry.
"Why won't you stop?" I cried, exasperatedly, picking up the Venipede with the intent of carrying it back to my room, where my Poké Ball was waiting. Unfortunately, I had tested my luck one time too much, and one of the poisonous spines pricked my hand, which was why, five minutes later, my alarmed parents found me spasming on the floor with the Venipede staring innocently at them from inside the pantry. Thus followed a panicked ten minutes where my father literally slung me over my shoulder and held onto the Venipede (who was still going for the pantry) with the other hand and made a mad dash for the Pokémon Center, with his Simipour bounding behind him and howling for all she was worth along the way.
There are less objectionable ways to finding out your Pokémon's nature and ability, but somehow at the time, knowing that my Adamant Venipede had Poison Point, I really couldn't think of any.