There were the Pecha, Oran, Lum, and Mago varieties... and of course the Pomeg, Nanab, Payapa, Cheri (but never
the Rindo, and she would get beaten for even mentioning such)... the rare Liechi, Petaya, Salac... (the latter of which Payapa wasn’t sure were even good berries to have around; her father made a point of locking them out of reach of the two children.) Normally they had more in the house, but it was the middle of the week and no one had come home from the store with groceries for a few days. She didn’t think anyone would miss pieces from each. Why should they? Berries were easy to obtain.
“Here, try this one,” she said, taking a freshly cut slice of Pecha for Charles and placing it in his open mouth. He chewed for a moment, then swallowed. She took a bite, herself, in the meantime. “What do you think?”
“That was sweet! I kind of like that. What color was it?”
This made her a little sad when she dwelled on it for too long, but she was happy to answer him. “It was a soft pink. It’s nice to look at, really pretty. Do you want another slice?”
“No, thank you kindly anyway. I’ve tried it, and isn’t that all you said we were going to do?”
“I...well, yeah. I guess it is.” She didn’t want to have brought him over simply to try a slice of one berry. That seemed kind of ridiculous, and maybe a little stingy and mean. Plus, she was hoping he would keep her company for a little while. “Well, why don’t you try some of these other ones too?”
“If you insist, Miss. I don’t got anywhere to be, so I’d be happy to stick around until you no longer wish to have me.”
His wording was always slightly peculiar, she thought. Just a little off, but containing his entire thought nicely. He sat patiently and awaited a reply. “Okay,” she said, “that’s what you’ll do, then! Here, this one’s good.” He opened his mouth, and once again she deposited some of the tasty flesh from the selection of berries. This one was special, though. It was her favorite. She was very eager to hear of how he found the taste. “What do you think? Isn’t it delicious?”
He chewed, slowed a bit, and swallowed with great effort. This disappointed her a little. After a little lip smacking (she was sure by this point that it was unfavorable to him), he moved his head as to look up at her. “It was too much for me. Somehow, both sweet and sour. It was just a little much for me, as I never get to eat anything with more than one flavor. I guess it was a little overwhelming, really.”
It made her feel incredibly foolish, but this nearly brought her to tears again. She was really hoping to get to share delight in her favorite fruit, but that dream was dashed in a moment. She felt stupid for daring to hope at all. Not knowing what to say, she simply took a seat in the chair behind her, and sat there dumbfounded. She was too eager to let someone in, too eager to try to get someone to understand what she felt.
It was difficult, and she was at that stage of pre-crying where breaths are taken in rapid succession, but she held back. Charles must have caught on to her sudden shift in mood, for he suddenly spoke and startled her. “I should have clarified, but what I was trying to say is that the thing is just too good for me. I can’t get used to its complexity in a single bite, though I did try my best. I’ve just never had anything like this before, and it would please me for you to believe that I was embarrassed to admit it.”
Payapa wiped at her eyes, and tentatively asked, “...so you didn’t hate it?”
Though his eyes were shut, his brow raised considerably. She found it a little odd that a blind Pokemon would be naturally inclined to make facial expressions like that, but was relieved at his reply. “Goodness! I hope that’s not the impression I gave! I took an extra long time to chew it because it was the most exotic thing I’ve ever eaten! Didn’t you hear my normal cuisine? It’s not particularly this fancy, I’ll have you know.”
She laughed, unable to deny the truth in that. “So you did like it!”
“I will like it much more once I’ve accustomed myself to it! I don’t expect you to help me with that, as that’s really all on-” but she had taken him by surprise, chucking a piece of the berry right into his mouth. It had nearly fallen out, but he caught it (somehow) and ate it right up. “Enough of that! I might choke if you do that again!” he scolded in jest. She laughed again, and hopped down from the stool. Her eyes were still stinging, but she was in no longer in danger of crying.
“Let’s go to my room, I got some cool stuff in there I wanna tell you about.”
“Well, if you’re simply telling me, we can do that anywhere, right? Maybe we can go out in the sun. I like getting as warm as I can before the cool night sets in.”
“Oh... why don’t you just stay here? It doesn’t get cold in my room!”
“Is that really all right? I dislike being a burden, you know. I’m fine heading out by myself, I’ve done it before and can do it again.” He sat down on his haunches and started to meticulously groom his paws and face, nibbling at little frays, smoothing out starts of tangles.
She watched for a moment. “Well, it’ll probably be okay. You can hide under our bed or something until I know for sure.” The truth was that she already knew her father’s stance on uninvited guests of no worth. She didn’t like the answer she predicted he would give, so she was just planning to operate without asking. She was hardly aware why it was so compelling that she do this for the rodent: never before had she gone remotely out of her way for anyone besides her sister (which was still a begrudging effort in Anana’s case). It didn’t make much sense, but she wasn’t in a good spot to question herself. It simply felt correct to do what she could for the Rattata, and so she was. She didn’t think about what a drain it would be for her parents, she didn’t consider if Anana would share this secret (rather, she assumed Anana would have the same goal as she), and she didn’t dwell on the fact that she didn’t know this Pokemon at all, really, aside from his name and his crippling trait.
As it would go, Anana had finally wandered home, and walked in on the two facing each other in silence. Payapa was the one to first spot her, but Charles had detected her all the same (probably even before Anana had reached the door). Charles turned his head, and said but a single word: “Hiya!”
Anana was stunned at first, then a little confused. They had never invited playmates into their home for the simple fact that it was heavily implied to be grounds for a beating. On top of it all, she didn’t at all recognize this Pokemon, so at first glance wondered it to be an intruder. When Payapa spoke to her, Anana realized it was not at all an intruder, but that his visit was just another one of her sister’s reckless, bad ideas.
“Hey Nana sissy, can you do me a favor?” asked Payapa, quite inevitably. Anana sighed. Surely it was going to be something along the lines of--
“Please, don’t tell Dad?”
There it was. The magic phrase.
And then the Rattata spoke up again. “If it’ll be a problem, I’d honestly rather just leave. It’ll be okay if I go back to my normal dwelling, you don’t got to worry about me, Miss. Honest, I’ll be fine ‘n well.” He stood up and started to pitter-patter his way out of the dining room, walking past Anana without so much as brushing against her. Payapa followed him out of the house, trying very hard to convince him to stay. He would not.
Anana watched her follow him down the boardwalk and off into the city, waiting for them to have disappeared for several minutes before slowly making her way to their bedroom to cry over the day’s events. Perhaps an hour or two later, she would take the lengthy screaming from their father for leaving a bunch of half cut fruit on the table and for leaving the rare berries out in the open, revealing nothing about who had really put them there, nor the guest they’d been for.
Part 15 of "Complementaries"