To Read, Or Not To Read
June and the Butterfree girl stared at each other intently, their cold glares sending chills throughout my own body just from watching them. They didn’t move an inch. They just stood there, several feet apart from each other, the tall grass swaying by their knees in a gentle breeze.
The Butterfree sat on its owner’s shoulder, glaring at June, still as a portrait.
I was frozen solid, unwilling to move, fear pumping throughout my body. I almost felt like I would rather nobody move and we all just stay still forever and not battle.
June was the first to finally move, startling me after such a long time of nobody budging.
“Magneton, I choose you!” June threw her Poke Ball.
I watched as the Poke Ball spun through the air and opened, a white beam firing out and turning into June’s Pokemon.
“Magneton!” the grouped up magnets said mechanically.
“Oh, wow,” I said in a low, stunned voice. I was finally seeing another one of June’s Pokemon!
Magneton. The Magnet Pokemon. Magneton, like their pre-evolved form, Magnemite, are very shy and don’t tend to bother humans. If threatened, they discharge electricity in defense. They can often be found in power plants or where large deposits of metal can be found.
“Then, I choose Venonat!” The Butterfree girl threw her Poke Ball which sent out Venonat, who stared at Magneton.
Venonat. The Insect Pokemon. Their eyes are highly developed and are used to capture prey found at night.
“Thunderbolt, now!” June began.
“Magnetoooooon!” Magneton sparked with electricity.
Venonat leaped out of the way and dodged the attack, continuously hopping and dancing over the electricity.
Neither Trainer gave orders, both watching Venonat leap and run from the Thunderbolt, June and the Butterfree girl watching intensely.
My heart was pounding hard as I watched, my arms and legs shaking.
Magneton stopped attacking and Venonat stopped moving. They both eyed each other, awaiting orders.
June stared at Venonat with bared teeth, but didn’t say a word.
The Butterfree girl kept her eyes on Magneton, but didn’t give a command to Venonat. She looked over to June. “I guess it’s our turn. Venonat, use Supersonic!”
Venonat leaped into the air and pointed the top of its head at Magneton, firing blue circles at it.
June just watched, not speaking.
Magneton was hit with the attack and its eyes turned red, now Confused.
June didn’t take her eyes off of Venonat.
“Psychic attack!” the Butterfree girl commanded.
Venonat’s eyes glowed light blue and Magneton’s body was outlined in the same color. “Veno. Nat!”
Magneton was slammed repeatedly to the ground, controlled completely by Venonat. “Magneton! Magneton!” Magneton let out.
June kept glaring hard at Venonat. She didn’t speak. She only focused on Venonat, seeming to be strongly focused on it.
Neither girl said a word for a little.
“Zen Headbutt!” the Butterfree girl went.
Venonat’s eyes turned back to their normal red color and it leaped at Magneton, its head glowing blue, and tackled Magneton.
“Tooooooooon!” Magneton cried out helplessly.
Even though the two Psychic types moves weren’t very effective on a Steel type like Magneton, it seemed like Magneton was taking a considerable amount of damage. It hit the ground and bounced once before coming to a stop.
“Solar Beam attack, now!” the Butterfree girl shouted immediately.
Venonat started to glow yellow, absorbing the sunlight from above.
June continued to stare at Venonat as it continued to glow, a yellow ball forming on the top of its head.
“June!” I shouted, confused. “Do something!!!”
June shook her head and looked at Magneton. She gasped as if she had no idea her Magneton had been getting mercilessly beaten upon this entire time. “Magneton!” Her eyes went from Magneton to Venonat and back to Magneton, repeatedly. June still didn’t give an order.
“Venonaaaaaat!” Venonat fired a bright yellow beam of energy at Magneton.
Magneton could do nothing to avoid the attack as June screamed out, shocked somehow.
An explosion sounded as the Solar Beam connected with Magneton and dust covered both Pokemon, blocking them from view. The cloud of dust disappeared shortly after.
“Your Magneton is beaten,” the Butterfree girl said, glaring at June. “What is your problem? You barely attacked!”
June glared at the Butterfree girl, and then looked down at Magneton sorrowfully. “Magneton! I’m so sorry.” She raised a hand to her face and covered it. “Please, return, sweetie.” She returned Magneton to its Poke Ball and stared at it, her hand sliding down her face. “Your loss was all my fault. I failed you so badly. I’m just terrible.” As June placed Magneton’s Poke Ball in her bag, she wiped at her eyes for a moment.
June... I thought. What was that? Why didn’t you battle? What was going through your mind?
June grabbed her second Poke Ball. “Okay, go-”
June was interrupted as Venonat suddenly burst into a flash of white light.
The Butterfree girl watched calmly as her Venonat began to evolve in front of our eyes!!
My mouth hung open in surprise.
The white ball started to widen and shapeshift, rising in the air. The light disappeared in a bright flash and a new Pokemon flapped its wings.
“Venomoth!” June, me, and the new Pokemon cried out.
Venomoth. The Poison Moth Pokemon and Venonat’s evolved form. Venomoth live in forests with little light. They are highly attracted to flames.
June’s shock turned to anger as her eyes tightened at Venomoth. With a growl, she grabbed a second Poke Ball. “Pikachu, I choose you!” June tossed the Poke Ball.
Pikachu came out of the Poke Ball after it bounced twice, rolled just a bit, and finally opened. “Pikachuuuuuuu!” Pikachu said eagerly, his cheeks sparking.
“Venomoth, use Sleep Powder!” the Butterfree girl said quickly.
“Pikachu, use Thunder!”
Venomoth flapped its wings rapidly and a blue, shining powder trickled from its wings as it flew overhead.
“PIKA PIKAAAAA!” Pikachu’s voice echoed as he reached up to the sky, his cheeks sparking.
Venomoth got closer to Pikachu, still letting its Sleep Power fall.
“CHUUUUUUUUU!” Pikachu shouted, and a beam of electricity shot from him and into the sky above.
The sky overhead was sunny, but the white clouds sparked with electricity. In the next instant, a beam of lightning fell down onto Pikachu and then flew out at Venomoth.
“MOOOOOOOTH!!!” Venomoth screamed in pain, mere inches from reaching Pikachu with Sleep Powder.
“Now, Quick Attack!” June pointed.
Pikachu ran towards Venomoth, disappearing and reappearing from sight, on one side and then on the other side in the next second, repeatedly, and finally leaped up and tackled Venomoth to the ground. Venomoth groaned weakly as Pikachu glared down at at it, electricity sparking from his cheeks.
The Butterfree girl looked up at June and growled. “Fine. You won.” She returned her Venomoth and immediately grabbed her next Poke Ball. “Ninjask, finish this, now!”
Ninjask came from its Poke Ball and stared at Pikachu. “Ninjask!” it called out.
“Pika Pi!” Pikachu challenged, watching Ninjask eagerly as it flashed around the field, appearing here, there, and many other places, impatiently.
“Pikachu, use Thunderbolt!”
“Pika...CHUUUUUUUU!” Pikachu sent a jolt at Ninjask.
Ninjask avoided the attack with ease, vanishing from the spot where the Electric move hit at the last second and reappearing in another area a couple of inches away.
“Gonna have to try harder if you wanna catch us,” the Butterfree girl taunted, challenging June.
Pikachu ran at Ninjask as fast as he could. As he leaped in air, he looked like he was ready to take Ninjask down. Ninjask vanished at the very last second and Pikachu flew through the air, finally falling and crashing to the ground. “Chuuu...” Pikachu groaned, but he got back up and turned around to face Ninjask.
June looked up at Ninjask and focused her gaze on it.
Ninjask flashed across the air, popping in and out of existence right before our eyes.
The Butterfree girl stared at June silently.
I waited for either Trainer to give a command.
Pikachu stared at Ninjask, trying to keep track of where it was flying around.
The Butterfree girl glared at June. “Agility!” She didn’t take her eyes off of June.
“Ninjask!” The Bug was seeming to multiply itself now!
I rubbed my arms in disgust and shuddered.
It was as if Pikachu was surrounded by hundreds of Ninjask, all of them zipping through the air!
“Pika...?” Pikachu said weakly in confusion, unable to keep up with Ninjask.
June didn’t move, but her eyes kept shooting rapidly across the area at the multiple, flying Ninjask. It was almost as if she were following a specific one.
“Swords Dance!” the Butterfree girl said.
Ninjask stopped and was now only one Pokemon. It spun rapidly in place, a complete blur to the eyes, finally stopping after several seconds. “Ninjask!”
“Pika?” Pikachu turned to June in confusion. “Chuuuu...”
June didn’t respond to her Pokemon’s plea. She instead kept her eyes on Ninjask, staring so angrily, and with so much focus.
“Chu! Chu!” Pikachu called out at June.
“Ninjask!” Ninjask vanished and reappeared in front of Pikachu.
Pikachu faced Ninjask, screaming out in complete shock, backing up in fear.
“Ninjask!” Its forearms glowed crimson and it slashed at Pikachu.
“Chaaaaa!” Pikachu was forced back, tumbling on the ground. He got up on all fours and shook his head, glaring at Ninjask.
In the next instant, Ninjask’s forearms, still glowing, lengthened, and it slashed once more at Pikachu!
Pikachu was helpless from the quick attack and rolled along the ground. “Chaaahaaa!” he gasped.
Fury Cutter. The more times this attack hits consecutively, the damage increases.
June watched Ninjask zoom forward and slash at Pikachu again, who flew through the air, landing on his back, bouncing once before coming to a complete stop not far from June.
Ninjask’s forearms grew even longer.
June continued to watch Ninjask, a furious look on her face, but refused to speak a word.
What is going on here? I wondered, getting frustrated. This isn’t a battle at all! June’s just letting her Pokemon get beat up!
The Butterfree girl kept her eyes on June, staring at her, an underlying look of confusion amongst the blatant anger.
Ninjask zoomed in rapidly and slashed at Pikachu once more.
“Pika!” Pikachu just laid flat on his stomach.
“Are you playing with me or something?!” the Butterfree girl screamed at June. “What the hell is wrong with you??”
June closed her eyes and shook her head hard. She looked down at Pikachu. “NOOOOOOOO!” she shrieked and ran to Pikachu. She knelt down and picked him up in her arms, holding him to her face. Tears slid down her cheeks and landed on Pikachu as she held him tightly. “Pikachu,” she whispered.
Pikachu’s eyes slowly opened about halfway and looked up at June. “Chu...?” Pikachu managed.
June kissed Pikachu’s forehead and kept her lips there for a moment. “Pikachu. What have I done? I’m so sorry, my love. I’m so sorry.” She hugged Pikachu and cried silently.
“Pika. Chu...” Pikachu said in a low voice, and closed his eyes.
June returned Pikachu to his Poke Ball and stood up, looking at the Butterfree girl, wiping her eyes.
“You know, the point of a Pokemon battle is to try to win! You know, fight back? Give your Pokemon orders? Not just stand there like a dunce and watch your Pokemon get its butt beaten flat like a Stunfisk. What is wrong with you? I’m not here to beat you; I’m here to defeat you.”
June stared at the girl without saying anything.
“June!” I shouted angrily, my fists balled tight at my sides.
She didn’t budge, completely ignoring me.
“JUNE!” I repeated, louder.
After a minute, June finally tore her eyes away from the Butterfree girl and turned to me.
My anger faded instantly once I saw her face.
June stared at me blankly, without much of an expression on her face.
But something about how plain, simple, and empty it was, made me feel uncomfortable. Something was seriously wrong here. I swallowed. “Are you okay?” I asked in a low voice.
June didn’t speak a single word. It was a moment before she walked over to me, but she stopped at her original spot when starting her battle with her opponent and turned away from me, focusing once again on the Butterfree girl. She grabbed her last Poke Ball from her bag and tossed it. “Eevee! You’re up next!”
“Eeveeeeee!” Eevee appeared, ready to battle.
“Eevee, use Trump Card!” June let out immediately.
Six red, glowing plates encircled Eevee. With a loud cry from Eevee, the plates fired at Ninjask.
Ninjask vanished and reappeared higher in the air.
To my surprise!
To Ninjask’s surprise!
To the Butterfree girl’s surprise!
To Butterfree’s surprise!
The plates made an immediate turn and collided into Ninjask!
“Ninjaaask!” Ninjask dropped.
Everyone but June gasped.
Trump Card. This attack increases in strength the more it is used and is completely unavoidable.
“Now, use Double Edge!” June told Eevee, focused on winning, finally.
Eevee ran at the dazed and surprised Ninjask, glowing gold, and slammed into it, tossing it through the air. She twitched in pain from the recoil damage from using the powerful move.
Ninjask’s claws stopped glowing and returned to normal.
“Ninjask, use Swords Dance!”
Ninjask spun in place again fast, finally slowing to a stop after a bit of time.
“Now, take Eevee out with X-Scissor!” The Butterfree girl waved her arm in finality in front of her.
“Eevee, use Return!” June countered.
Ninjask soared towards Eevee, its forearms glowing light blue.
Eevee let out a sharp cry and charged at Ninjask.
They got closer, screaming loudly, determination to win on their faces.
They collided and both Pokemon were forced back, tumbling to the ground, wailing.
“Ninjask...” Ninjask lay sprawled on its back.
“Veeeee...” Eevee said, laying on her stomach. Her eyes opened and she shook her head, managing to get to her feet.
“Eevee! That’s the spirit, baby!” June bounced happily in place.
“Eeveeeee!” Eevee smiled.
“Return, Ninjask.” The Butterfree girl returned her defeated bug, glaring at June. “At least you’re fighting, now. But as I promised, I won’t lose.” She grabbed her final Poke Ball. “Shedinja, finish this, now!” She threw Shedinja’s Ultra Ball, releasing the shell of a former Bug Pokemon.
“Sheeeeeeedinjaaaaa!” Shedinja sang out.
June glared at Shedinja, fists to her sides, shaking.
The Butterfree girl eyed June but didn’t say anything.
Shedinja glared down at Eevee.
Eevee looked up at Shedinja hovering in the air.
Something’s going on here, I realized. June isn’t giving orders to Eevee. She battled with Magneton for a second, and then stopped. That cost her her loss. Then she used Pikachu to beat Venomoth, but refused to speak when Ninjask came out, costing her another match. Then, Eevee beat Ninjask, but now Shedinja is out. June is once again not attacking... Why?? “JUNE!” I needed an answer to this. Not knowing was driving me up the wall! Her Pokemon were getting hurt for no reason I could see, and that was just wrong. “ATTAAAACK!!”
June didn’t move.
“JUUUNE!!!” I was losing control. I wouldn’t let her do this to poor Eevee! “Freaking attack, damn it!! What are you doing out there? What’s going on here? Of all people, why would you let your Pokemon go through this?!”
June didn’t respond to my angry pleas, her fists tightening, shaking harder. She kept her angry eyes on Shedinja.
The Butterfree girl watched June carefully.
Both Trainers stayed quiet.
The air was still and very warm.
June and the Butterfree girl didn’t move for what seemed to be another ten minutes, the Butterfree girl staring at June, June staring at Ninjask.
Ninjask kept staring at Eevee.
Eevee stared back.
“Fine. Just finish it off, then,” the Butterfree girl said suddenly with a shrug.
My eyes turned in shock to the Butterfree girl as she spoke those words, and then they went straight to Shedinja.
Shedinja’s body was coated in a barely visible, transparent energy as it zoomed right for Eevee.
“Vee?” Eevee’s eyes widened.
A bright flash of yellow light appeared in front of Shedinja as it continued to force itself at Eevee.
Eevee couldn’t do anything but watch.
June didn’t speak, leering hard at Shedinja.
A ball of purple energy surrounded Shedinja. Yellow streaks appeared around the ball as Shedinja got closer to Eevee.
“AAAAAAAAAUUUUUUGH!!!!!” June roared, covering her face with her hands and tilting her head back as Shedinja collided with Eevee.
“VEEEEEEEE!” Eevee’s voice echoed as she was tossed into the air and collided with the ground roughly. She stayed motionless on the ground. “Veee...” Eevee groaned, forcing herself back up to her feet, glaring with focus, determination, and willpower at Shedinja.
Giga Impact. An extraordinarily powerful move that will stun the user briefly.
“Eeee...” Eevee collapsed.
“EEVEE!” June ran to her Eevee and picked it up. “Honey, please! Speak to me!”
“June!” I stormed towards her, fed up with what I had seen.
June hugged her Eevee, not responding to me at all. “My baby. Please. I’m so sorry, my little Eevee.”
I growled at her and got closer, furious at her for continuously losing to the Butterfree girl in the exact same manner for the exact same reason! Her losses were entirely her own fault, but she kept on acting so surprised for some reason. I stopped when I saw, and heard, her crying.
June was crying on her worn out Eevee, tears running rapidly down her face as she buried it into the little creature. She looked so vulnerable. Weak. Crushed.
I stared at June from a couple of feet away, sadly, confused. Seeing June like this was heartbreaking. I felt so angry inside at the pathetic battle June had with the Butterfree girl, but seeing June seem to be sincerely sorry and completely distraught over her loss made me feel sympathy. But I longed for an explanation to what exactly happened here.
June returned her Eevee to her Poke Ball after a few more minutes and stared down at it, refusing to look up at the Butterfree girl.
The Butterfree girl returned her Shedinja to its Ultra Ball and looked down at June with disgust. “You called me a lot of mean things today,” she said in a low, dark voice. “You even dared to put your hands on me and fight me. But you’ve proven yourself to be the true stain of manure amongst us today. You just watched as your Pokemon were beaten to a pulp. At least that guy battled against me when we fought last time. You were a complete disrespect to the profession of being a Pokemon Trainer. I’m tempted to call the police on you and report you for the abuse of Pokemon. Say what you will about me, but you are truly a vile person who needs to release her Pokemon before further harm is done to them. You’re absolutely unfit to raise any Pokemon. How dare you shed your filthy tears on them. How dare you apologize to them. You deserve a swift foot in your mouth. Your Pokemon deserve an actual Trainer. You have problems you need to sort out immediately.”
All the time while the Butterfree girl spoke to June so harshly, June kept her eyes on the ground, crying heavily, loudly, unable to argue back.
My heart was pounding dangerously in my chest as I listened to the Butterfree girl criticize June relentlessly.
The Butterfree girl shook her head at June, looking sickened to even have June in her presence, and turned away swiftly, stomping through the tall grass, away from us.
I watched the Butterfree girl until she vanished from sight completely a long while later.
During this time, June had finally stopped crying out loud. She was on her knees, her head down, sniffling, crying more silently.
I stood on shaky legs, struggling not to fall, unable to think of anything to say. Incapable of forcing up any words even if I knew what I wanted to say. So I just stood there, silent, my legs quaking.
But, against my will, I finally landed in the soft ground, on my knees, my weak legs unable to hold me up any longer.
June remained crying to herself. She wasn’t the strongest person on Earth when things got tough, but this was completely different. My friend looked utterly helpless, defenseless, and a total wreck. When her Pokemon were stolen by Steve, she was in deep pain, but even this wasn’t the same. It wasn’t worse, but it wasn’t less.
Something during this battle had hit her hard. Something had left her in a bad place. Something about that battle with the Butterfree girl completely tore through June. June wasn’t attacking, and there just had to be a reason.
She loves her Pokemon too much to have let them get beaten for nothing, I knew. I took a deep breath and put my hand on her shoulder.
She gasped and immediately pulled away from me, refusing to look at me, keeping her eyes low.
My hand fell as my eyes remained on June. Slowly, I lowered myself beside her calmly, patiently, and waited.
June continued crying, heaving.
I couldn’t take my eyes off of her, and I didn’t say anything. I didn’t even move.
Finally, June turned towards me. Her tear filled eyes looked at me with so much emotion behind them. Her hair was a mess across her face, sticking to her cheeks from her tears.
I inhaled deeply and held back the oncoming tears I could feel building up inside of me just from looking at her. “What happened...?” I managed, trying hard to be strong. If I didn’t talk, I feared that I might cry.
June didn’t need that from me. She needed me to be strong for her right now.
“What was going on in that battle, June?”
June snorted and tears tumbled down her face even faster than before. Her bottom lip quivered hard and her nose started to run. “I couldn’t...” she choked out, and started to inhale and exhale deeply.
“You couldn’t?” I asked gently.
June merely nodded, her lip pouting as her face scrunched up, silent tears streaming down her cheeks even faster now.
“Couldn’t what, June?” I asked carefully.
June swallowed, not taking her eyes off of me, which made it hard for me to handle. “Couldn’t... do it...” June answered shakily.
Slowly, I reached up and brushed her hair from her face, gently placing my hand on her shoulder. “It’s okay, June. You can tell me.”
June closed her eyes and shook her head. She breathed in and out repeatedly, several times.
Patiently, I watched her, concerned, worried, and just slightly scared.
Her eyes opened, but she wouldn’t look at me. “I couldn’t read them,” she choked out.
Neither of us spoke.
June’s eyes closed again and she cried, her chin falling into her chest.
It was a struggle to swallow as I rubbed her shoulder. “June.” My lips pressed together briefly. But I was desperate to understand this situation. “What do you mean?”
She covered her face with her hands.
I waited and continued to rub her shoulder.
My companion wiped at her face and looked up at me, her face making my heart race with worry and fear, sadness filling my body upon a simple glance from her. “I couldn’t read her Pokemon!” June finally let out. “Her Venomoth. Her Ninjask. Her Shedinja. I can’t read them! I can’t read them, Gary!” She covered her face again and cried harder.
My heartbeat sped up rapidly and I squinted at her. “You were trying to read them?”
“Yes!” She kept her face covered, perhaps shamefully. “I wasn’t able to battle because I was distracted while trying to read her Pokemon! I attacked with Magneton, but then I was completely lost, trying to read her Venonat. Nothing else existed but me and Venonat. I saw him. I saw his face. But... I couldn’t read him. I should have been able to read him, Gary! But I couldn’t! I saw nothing! It paralyzed me. It absolutely stunned me that I couldn’t do it! The next thing I knew, Magneton was beaten!”
I wasn’t sure what to say to this. There were no words of comfort that I knew to give to her for such a topic that I knew nothing about.
“I decided I needed to check out another Pokemon of hers, so I regained my focus and beat Venomoth with Pikachu,” June went on. “I had to move on to her other Pokemon! Finally, I got her Ninjask out. I was sure I could read her, too. I just knew I could! But, no... I couldn’t read Ninjask. I couldn’t get into her. I couldn’t... understand...” June sniffled and wiped at her nose. A brief string of snot was spotted connecting her hand and nose before it broke apart. “I came to my senses to find that my Pikachu had lost, as well. When I used Eevee, I was focused again and promised I’d not only beat Ninjask and her final Pokemon, but I’d also be able to read her final Pokemon, too! When Shedinja came out, I tried so hard to read! The next thing I knew, Eevee was defeated... I don’t understand why this happened!” June’s head shook hard in frustration repeatedly.
“June...” I whispered.
June cried louder, shrilly.
It was a sound that made my heart tear. “June, why were you trying to read her Pokemon?”
It wasn’t long before her crying fell to just sniffles and she wiped at her nose, her head down, her face soaked in mucus and tears. “I wanted to know how her Pokemon felt about her,” June said shakily, in a voice barely audible. “She hates Bug type Pokemon, and yet raises them. I wanted to know how her Pokemon felt about that. I wanted to know why she raises Pokemon she hates. Her Pokemon aren’t happy with her. They can’t be! I wanted to see that in her Pokemon. I wanted to know. I wanted to understand. But for some reason, I saw absolutely nothing! Gary!” She looked up at me desperately, her eyes burning into mine, and grabbed me by my shoulders tightly, her fingers digging into them.
I winced in pain slightly, but kept my eyes on her.
“This has never happened to me before in my entire life! Ever!” Her eyes then lowered, as if she were thinking about something. She swallowed hard and her eyes met mine again. “Except... with your Porygon-Z...”
My heart stopped.
“I can’t read your Porygon-Z, or that girl’s three Pokemon. And I have no idea why...”
“June. I...” I wished I knew the words that would calm her down. Wished I could stop my own heart from pounding with a fear coming from a place I wasn’t fully sure I understood from whence it came. “Maybe you’re just losing your ability...?”
Her fingers dug even deeper into my shoulders, making my clench my teeth together, but I didn’t make a sound.
“Gary, don’t say that,” June warned me. “Please. I can’t. I just can’t take it. Please!” She shook me roughly. “Show me your Pokemon! Please!”
I nodded quickly, afraid from the panicked look in June’s eyes. I slowly, gently, grabbed her wrists and tried to remove her from my shoulders.
June’s hands remained as she continued to look at me desperately. Finally, her fingers loosened and she released me.
I fell back on the ground and shakily backed away from her. My weak legs balanced me loosely as I stood up and grabbed my six Poke Balls. “Go!” I tossed them to the ground.
Charizard roared and blazed the air above us.
“Trio Trio Trio!” Dugtrio sang eagerly.
“Hoot Hooooot!” Hoothoot cried out cheerfully.
“Prime. Primeape!” Primeape hopped about eagerly.
“Ivysaur!” Ivysaur growled.
Porygon-Z let out a shrill shriek, deafening everyone and making us all scream out, stunned from the immediate headache it triggered in us all.
I fell to the ground on my knees, covering my ears. Even when the shrieking was over, my ears were still ringing.
June was no longer covering her ears, but was staring at Charizard, who was shaking his head, his eyes closed, getting over the loud screech.
June went Hoothoot, who was flapping his wings angrily after the screeching.
June stepped over to Primeape, who was angrily screeching and hopping around, annoyed by Porygon-Z.
June moved over to Ivysaur, who was growling, first at Porygon-Z, and then at June for getting too close.
Dugtrio popped back up to the surface, having dug underground after Porygon-Z’s shrill greeting, and June stood and backed up a couple of feet, keeping her eyes on him.
Finally, June backed up even further and more swiftly and from a wary distance away, stared at Porygon-Z.
Porygon-Z stared back, silently. With a happy scream, it dove at June!
June shrieked and ran off as if being chased by a demon.
“Everybody, return!” I demanded immediately at this reaction.
When everyone was back in their Poke Balls, June was still trying to get away from something, turning back after a moment to see that only I stood in the area. She slowed to a stop, now watching me, but she didn’t come any closer.
Even from a distance, I could see her deep eyes watering up. With a determined look on my face and a sudden burst of energy, I ran to June.
June fell, disappearing amongst the tall grass.
I heard her crying before I reached her, but once I did, I knelt down and pulled her into my arms in a tight hug.
June curled up closer to me and cried harder. “I can’t!” June’s voice was a mixture of anger and sadness, agony coating her voice.
I rubbed her back, trying to soothe her. “June. It’s okay. Maybe you just need a bit of practice. Maybe you just need some sleep. We had a rough day, you know. Maybe you just need some time to recover. Maybe, under intense stress, you can’t read Pokemon! You couldn’t read Porygon-Z after having been shocked at us finding Kiwi. Our Pokemon were just stolen from us, and you couldn’t read the girl with the Butterfree’s Pokemon or any of mine because you were still stressed out from that.”
June shook her head against my chest. “I read your Pokemon, Gary,” she said, her voice slightly muffled against me.
“What?” I gasped.
“I read everyone of them... except Porygon-Z. It has nothing to do with being stressed out, Gary. I couldn’t read Porygon-Z when you used it against Cleopatra, either. I wasn’t stressed, then. This isn’t from stress. I can always read Pokemon, Gary! I’ve read Pokemon no matter what kind of stress or emotions I’ve been going through. When I couldn’t read Porygon-Z in Cleopatra’s Gym, I didn’t understand it, and I wasn’t sure how to respond, so I didn’t say anything. But, it creeped me out! Not just that I couldn’t read it, but something about Porygon-Z terrifies me, Gary. I don’t like it at all! But the girl’s Bug Pokemon... I can’t read them, either! But, they don’t creep me out at all! I simply can’t read them!” She cried against me again, no longer speaking. She bawled heavily and wrapped her arms around me, snatching my breath away.
I held June close to me with no idea what I could say to calm her.
We sat in the midst of the tall grass together, the only sound heard being June crying distressfully, drowning out any other possible noises that could be coming from insects, the light breeze around us, or the easily swaying grass.
It began to get darker outside, the sun setting in the distance. It looked beautiful in its deep shade of red, lowering in the horizon.
The miraculous view and moment was kind of tainted by the current situation, and yet, with June crying on me in the grass, distracted, I didn’t have to hear her say anything about how romantic this was.
I didn’t smile.
I didn’t cry.
I wasn’t angry.
I wasn’t sure how I was supposed to feel.
There was nothing for me to do, say, or feel.
So I just watched the sun set and held onto June as she continued to cry.
The tall grass surrounded us, every direction looking exactly the same.
I wondered just how much further Azure City was from here.