Steven and I finally arrive at Littleroot’s entrance. We quickly get down from Skarmory’s back, and he pets his Pokemon partner in appreciation.
“You should be a professional pilot Skar. You’ll become richer than me,” Steven jokes. This makes Skarmory laugh in return.
I place a hand over my chest while Blaze watches me curiously. I know I should head straight home. I hate getting into trouble.
Well, it’s not like I act out much anyways.
Steven notices my mood and pats my head gently. “Everything will be alright. I’m here with you. Now will you please direct us to your lovely home?”
I sigh. “Okay. Let’s get this over with.”
It takes us only a few minutes until we arrive at the front of my house. Blaze nuzzles his head against mine as he rests upon my right shoulder. I ring the doorbell and stand back.
The door opens a minute later. I freeze when I see my dad standing there instead of my mom. His face shows no signs of emotion, except for the large frown on his lips.
“Hi dad,” I say meekly. “It’s . . . it’s nice to see you.”
My dad doesn’t say hi back and just stares at me. His eyes drift toward Steven who’s wearing a pleasant smile on his face. Skarmory also caws when he sees Dad look at him.
Dad opens the door more and steps to the side. “All of you. Please come in.”
Blaze and I go in first. I remove my shoes to place them on the shoe stand. Steven does the same before turning to my dad.
“Thank you for inviting us in Mr. Maple,” Steven says.
How is he so calm around my dad? Dad doesn’t talk much, but he’s terrifying whenever he wants to be.
Dad leads us to the kitchen where we find my Mom reading a magazine. She puts it down on the counter and rushes over to us. Mom hugs me tightly while some tears trail down her face.
“Oh my Arecus! I’m so glad you’re home May! We were worried sick about you!” she says.
I melt into her embrace while I start to cry a little bit too. “I’m sorry Mom. A lot of things just happened. I’m really sorry for worrying you. I don’t blame you if you want to ground me.”
Mom lets go of me once she hears the last part. Her face scrunches in rage when she notices the bandages on my arm.
“What happened to your arm May? Did you get hurt? Is this why you were so late?” Mom asks. She gently investigates my arm, staring closely at the bandages.
“Yeah I got attacked by some Taillow earlier. I’m fine now. I went to the hospital already,” I answer.
“The hospital!?” Mom screeches. “Honey, don’t you know hospital bills are expensive? I know Dad makes a good living, but there haven’t been as many trainers coming to his gym lately.”
“Mrs. Maple, if I may interject,” Steven states. This makes both of my parents pay attention to him.”
“I have already paid for your daughter’s hospital bills. I was the one who insisted she go. She lost a great amount of blood by the time I found her.”
Mom gasps, covering her mouth with her hands. Dad only raises an eyebrow at him.
“That’s very kind of you to do,” Dad mentions.
“Yes, thank you for doing that,” Mom adds. “We will try to pay you back as soon as possible. How much was the bill?”
Steven shakes his head. He swats Skarmory’s wings away when he notices his Pokemon taking some apples from the counter.
“There’s no need to pay me back. I’m more than happy to oblige. I’m just glad May is feeling better now after undergoing the treatment.”
“You’re too kind,” Mom replies. “But thank you again. My husband and I appreciate what you’ve done for May.”
“You’re welcome Mr. and Mrs. Maple,” Steven answers.
Dad comes closer so that he can sit on the stool. He fixes his gaze on Steven.
“So who are you?” Dad asks.
Steven seems almost caught off guard with his question. He slowly smiles again, placing a hand on his chest.
“Pardon me. I should have introduced myself in the beginning. I’m Steven Stone, May’s new friend. It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance.”
Dad nods. “I’m Norman Maple, the gym leader of Petalburg. This is my wife Ginny. How did you meet my daughter again? You said you found her when she was attacked by some Pokemon?”
“Yes,” Steven starts. “I came to Littleroot because I have some business with Professor Birch. On the way to his lab, that’s when I found May in distress. Skarmory warded off the Taillow. Afterwards, I escorted May to the hospital in Rustboro in order to get her wounds treated.”
“Hmm,” Dad mutters. He looks Steven up and down with the same frown on his face.
“Have we met before?” Dad asks. “You look very familiar.”
Steven is quiet for about a minute. He plasters a weird grin on his face.
“Maybe,” Steven says. “I don’t recall speaking directly with you Mr. Maple.”
Mom walks over to me and gushes in excitement after watching Blaze on my shoulder.
“Norman! There’s a Pokemon sitting on May’s shoulder! It’s so adorable!” Mom squeals. She gently scratches the top of Blaze’s head which makes him chirp in appreciation.
“I noticed,” Dad says. “How did you get the Pokemon May? You’re not going to school right now.”
I glance nervously at Steven before meeting my Dad’s eyes. “Um, Steven helped me catch him. He’s my Pokemon partner. His name is Blaze-Blaze. Or you can call him Blaze.”
“Aww Blaze-Blaze!” Mom repeats. “What an adorable name!”
Mom picks up Blaze so that she can give him a full-on hug. Blaze is loving the attention he’s getting because he also snuggles into my mother’s chest.
“I see,” Dad replies.
I can’t tell what he’s thinking because he looks serious as usual. At least he’s not frowning anymore though.
“Since you have a Pokemon, what are you going to do now? Are you planning on going back to the academy?” Dad questions.
Mom’s smile drops when she realizes what Dad has just said. I also feel Steven and Skarmory’s eyes burning holes into my back. I sway nervously as I think about what to say to my dad next.
“I really like being with Steven. He helped me catch my first Pokemon and kinda coached me in my first battle,” I say. I feel my cheeks burning as I stare at my shoelaces.
I don’t really know where I’m going with this. I expected to go back to the Academy next year. But when Steven came into my life, everything changed so fast.
“Are you saying you want to travel with Steven? A guy you just met?” Dad mutters. The frown is back on his face.
Oh Arceus, please save me now.
“Um,” I say. “Yes?”
Both of my parents give each other knowing looks before turning to me. Mom decides to speak up this time.
“Steven, I appreciate what you’ve done for our daughter. However, May has to study. She’s going to be attending Rustboro Academy next year.”
An appalled expression creeps up on my face. I clench my fists as a new fire engulfs my heart.
“I don’t want to go to school,” I state. “I want to travel with Steven. He’s the best thing that has ever happened to me. He helped me get my first Pokemon! And I won my first battle!”
“May, let’s be reasonable-” Mom starts. I interrupt her.
“I am being reasonable! You guys know I’m terrible at studying! It’s stupid to have to study to be a Pokemon trainer. I need to experience it in person. I’ll learn so much more by being with Steven.”
Mom slams her fist on the counter. “May! Don’t talk to us like that! Go to your room!”
“No! You can’t stop me!” I yell.
I grab Blaze and make my getaway, rushing right out of my house. I hear my parents and Steven calling for me, but I ignore them. Once Littleroot’s entrance comes into view, I run faster and pick up speed along the grassy pathways.
“May! Come back here!” I hear my dad’s voice scream.
Yeah, he’s really pissed off now. And it sounds like he’s not far.
I spot some trees up ahead and dive right in between them. I keep going until I see some thick bushes. Blaze and I go right through them until we come across a small clearing.
Within that clearing, I see a single Taillow sitting in its nest. It’s poking holes through some kind of cloth thing. The Taillow stops when it realizes that Blaze and I are intruding in its personal space.
I do a double-take at the cloth thing after I see a set of black and white hexagon shapes. I glare at the tiny blue Pokemon.
This is the one of the Taillow who stole my soccer ball. And I’m pretty sure this is the one who attacked me first.
The Taillow caws as it spreads its wings, preparing to strike. Blaze jumps in front of me as my Pokemon in shining armor.
“Wait!” I say. “Look, can we please not fight? I would appreciate it, Taillow.”
Taillow stops crying as it eyes me warily. Blaze just looks at me like I’ve gone crazy.
“I’m trying to hide from someone right now,” I continue explaining. “So if Blaze and I can relax here and keep quiet, we’ll go away once they stop looking for me. Please help me out here, Taillow. It’s the least you can do for stealing my soccer ball and ripping my arm up.”
Taillow seems as if it’s trying to process what I’m saying. Blaze jumps on the nest as he chirps at Taillow a few times. Taillow mutters something back in response. Blaze nods and points at my arm with his foot. This makes the blue Pokemon shirk sheepishly.
Taillow picks up what’s left of the soccer ball and flies over to me. I can tell that this is its way of saying sorry. I smile and gently rub Taillow’s head.
“It’s okay. You can keep it. I can’t play with it anymore,” I say.
Taillow goes back to its nest and leaves the ball there. It nods at Blaze, and then they direct their attention toward me.
I’m about to say something else until I hear some loud noises in the distance. I squat down when I feel the ground shaking.
“Slaks! Tear those trees down! May hasn’t gone that far!” I hear Dad yell.
The ground shakes as more trees meet their end. If I get out of here now, then Dad is sure to catch me.
“Mr. Maple,” Steven calls out. His voice sounds louder as he comes closer to where I’m at.
“I’m aware that you want to find your daughter, but destroying the trees is unnecessary. The Pokemon here live in them,” Steven explains.
“Taking down a few trees isn’t going to wreck the whole ecosystem,” Dad retorts. “I’m 97% sure May is hiding somewhere nearby.”
“Honey!” I hear Mom say. “Don’t you think you’re going too far with this? You’re scaring some of the young trainers away.”
I don’t know what my Dad is thinking. But I do know that he mentally rolled his eyes at what my mom just said.
“Did you put that idea in my daughter’s head? So that you can have her all to yourself! She isn’t even 18 yet!” Dad yells.
What!? Did he just imply Steven is a pervert!?
I understand my dad is worried, but Steven has been nothing but respectful to me so far. I doubt he has any pervy bones in him.
“I did not! I would never want to hurt May in any manner! I do care for her!” Steven yells back.
“Then why did she say that!? You two barely even know each other!” Dad continues.
I gulp while I listen to them argue with each other. My throat feels awfully dry from trying to keep quiet. Blaze and Taillow come to my side, looking up at me worriedly.
“He’s being so mean to Steven,” I whisper. “What do I do? I know Dad is worried, but Steven’s not like that.”
Blaze taps my shoe with his foot. I watch as Blaze jumps in the air, doing a little kick. I huff from watching him.
“Blaze, this is not the time to be joking,” I say.
Taillow chirps, making me look at it. It takes out its wings in order to jab the air a few times. My frown falters when I realize what they’re trying to say.
“Are you guys telling me I should challenge Dad to a Pokemon battle?” I ask.
Both Pokemon nod in agreement. I shake my head.
“You must be out of our minds. My dad is a powerful Pokemon trainer. He’s the gym leader of Petalburg. There’s no way I can beat him,” I say.
Taillow caws as it gestures to an opening within the bushes. I crawl over to peer right through it. It’s difficult to get a clear view since some branches are in the way. However, I can still see Dad and Steven going at it in the distance.
I take a deep breath. “Fine. Let’s do this.”
Blaze hops on my shoulder as I stand up. I push the bushes aside as I trudge through them. I’m terrified as heck once Steven notices me and stops yelling. Dad soon follows suit.
“You were there the whole time?” Dad mutters. “May, we’re going home. I’ve had enough of this nonsense.”
I glance at Steven whose face shows mixed feelings. I can tell that he’s pretty upset about what’s going on right now. I know he wants to travel with me too.
“Dad, I challenge you to a Pokemon battle,” I say.
Dad snarls as he crosses his arms. He’s trying to keep his cool, but his temper keeps flaring out.
“I said we’re going home. Do not make me repeat myself.”
“Well, you’re a fellow Pokemon trainer. Let me prove to you that I can handle myself. And that Steven is a nice and genuine person. Yeah he’s a little older than me, but I trust him Dad,” I say. I exhale before continuing.
“If I win, you let me go with Steven. If you win, then I’ll go back home and go to school next year. Do we have a deal?”
The glare on Dad’s face lessens as he stares harshly at me. He also analyzes Blaze who is still sitting on my shoulder, as well as Taillow who just landed on my other one.
Dad takes a deep breath when his attention is geared to me again.
“I accept your challenge.”
Thanks for reading Red Silver Hearts!
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Disclaimer: The image above is only used to help the reader visualize what the chapter is about.
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