The suspense feels like minutes of agonizing torture, as the commander sits back in deep thought, staring at the ceiling. She can’t wait any longer for an answer: for the one simple word of reassurance that will shape her future.
It was never about physically owning a Pokemon-any person can do that-but this Dunsparce, this Pokemon, something about him gave her a realization of hope for a different perspective. Before this past month taking care of the Pokemon, she had low contact with any Pokemon and absolutely no interest in owning one. Pokemon were something people take care of as pets or use to fight battles. She was always more interesting in human interaction and trying to fit in. But even that was never easy for her. Most often, people avoided her and kept conversations short. As such, she felt she had to try harder to impress others.
On the other hand, she never imagined the length of emotions and personalities Pokemon actually have. They were just like people; maybe even more so. The main difference between humans and Pokemon is the social game. Pokemon are so simple minded, only wanting to eat, sleep, and enjoy life. They don’t have to worry about going to work, making money to survive, looking cute for the boys, flirting for attention, or the way people look at her when she has a flashback moment. None of the Pokemon cared who she was or anything about her past, only the fact that she was taking care of them at the time. Interaction without consequence.
And then, he looks at her. His lips seem to move slowly, mouthing a short, word. It doesn’t fully register until the sternness from his voice penetrates her ears. There’s no smile, no grin, not even a face of sympathy at her. Life can change in the blink of an eye, or in this case, a single response.
And there’s nothing she can do about it. Nothing. All she can do is nod repeatedly, reluctantly, and accept defeat. She closes her eyes, feigning acceptance, but mentally she is distraught. Dunsparce would have been a new start. Every time she was with those Pokemon, not a bad thought slipped into her head. For the longest time in ten years, she was actually happy for herself and not worrying about her nightmares. All the smiles in the world couldn’t have replaced those weeks. It’s amazing how two letters can create a bevy of emotion and self doubt. And as she stands from the chair, thanking the commander for her review, a glint of hope sputters out with a long pause afterward.
The passion blown out of her eyes lit back up like a candle to a flame. Certainly not the three letter word she had hoped for, but just enough. The little kid in her wants to run around the room in a frantic cheer, but she holds steady in case she’s let down again.
“... if you truly believe in this, there is only one way I can approve your ownership. It’s clear that you understand we cannot give unclaimed Pokemon to members of the force. It makes us look like we’re playing favorites. Then they say, ‘Did you even go looking for their owners?’ and sooner or later the Trainer who lost the Pokemon slaps us with a lawsuit. The only possible way for you to receive this Pokemon is if you resign. That means, and let me be perfectly clear on this, too. You will lose all access here and any status I have given you. Similarly, I imagine no other police force would hire you because of the liabilities. I know this job means a lot to you personally...”
“I’ll do it.”
Commander Nickels is taken aback by the quick response, and with such strong confidence. He sighs, with a grin of appreciation. “You’ve grown so much over the years, but some things never seem to change. I still remember the first day we showed you around. You were very quiet, but curious about everything. And always so stubborn about not getting ‘your way’, ha!”
It takes a half an hour to go through the quitting procedures, which consists of signing papers and filling out forms. Lastly is the form for owning an unclaimed Pokemon from the Police.
He mentions that their current list contains five trainers or persons, each owning a few or more Pokemon already. It’s rare to have a person sign up without a Pokemon, but when they do, usually they are the first to receive one, especially to young kids and the elderly. The elderly are always top priority for the basic reason that they need the most help and a Pokemon is a great companion to keep them company. But even those happen once in a few years, since Medicare companies pay for there own similar programs with better benefits.
“That’s the last one, you’re on your own now.”
“When can I pick up Dunsparce?”
“Slow down little Weedle; you’re trying to evolve too fast. Paper work has to go through first, so I’d say late afternoon tomorrow. But I’m curious to know what you’ll be doing with the investigation. I mean, you can’t go anymore. We’ll have to send someone else to Mahogany Town.”
“Hold on a minute. I’m still a detective, silly. You promoted me to Junior Detective. That means I can apply for Private Detective status without taking any tests. As a Private Eye, you can hire me to investigate on my own terms.”
Nickles chuckles to himself. “You’ve done your reading,” he says with relief. The fact that she knew that knocks the doubt off his shoulders.
A Private Detective works for themself and usually does random jobs around town. Most often a detective ad can be found in the newspaper. Usually they handle small family matters, but often times they are also allowed access to police records and information, and even hired by the police to help solve cases. However, in no way are they actually associated with each other as a government paying job. Detective work is all freelance. Like April, most Private Detectives start within the police and branch out on their own when they have enough experience. The difference with her is that she is only sixteen, whereas Private Detectives with experience are older than thirty. Obviously if given a choice between the two, price excluded, one would pick the older detective.
The only thing she needs is a recommendation from the station commander. He gives it to her.
When April isn’t at work, she stays in her apartment and watches tv. What kind? Almost anything. Except drama. Something about those shows feel fake to her. She can’t believe that every teen and high school show can have so much drama. She won’t go out with me. I should be prom queen. Quarterback’s got all the babes! Granted, she was home schooled and hasn’t experienced peer learning, she just doesn’t understand why they freak out about such trivial ideals. At least reality tv feels more real, but the quality is missing. Most of her time is spent watching comedies, action and fantasy. Comedy to laugh at life. Action for the thrill. And fantasy to escape reality. Which leads to her favorite genre of all: anime. Anime doesn’t follow the laws of physics or a usual life. She always imagines herself in the show by the main characters side, experiencing their life with them, and perhaps go on an adventure full of excitement. This is one of the reasons she wanted to get involved with the Tan Gang Incident.
She scans her collection, a full bookshelf four tiers high, until she finds something else to watch. Adventures in Eden
pops at her. It was a four part min-series about a girl in ancient times in search of adventure. It had heroes, magic, dragons, scores of enchanting music, and a quest for good. It was a series that she has grown to love each time and if all four were watched back-to-back, she always cried by the end.
10am, the clock reads. She only has time for Part 1, which mainly develops the story. As soon as it ends, it will be time for her to pick up her new Pokemon. She isn’t really paying attention, anyway; constantly looking at the clock and thinking about Dunsparce and her own upcoming quest. Dunsparce. Dunce parse... Hmm.. You won’t be alone for much longer. I’ll keep you company and play with you. Oh, I do hope he likes me though. We never spent much time together and... No no... it’ll be okay. Still excited!!
“..and tomorrow is a new dawn.” The ending music pronounces through the room followed by the end credits.
She snaps out of her lazy thoughts and turns everything off. She quickly brushes her blonde hair, spending a little time to straighten out her end curls. No matter how hard she tries, they always manage to disobey her combing direction. After donning her gray beret, she grabs her red razor scooter and drives to the station as quick as she can. Wait at a red light: not today! Pedestrians in the way: look out! Nothing can stop her, not even the floral shop she always stops by. The faint scent of pollen tempts her to stop by, reminding her that for the past few years she’s never missed a day. The florist, with her Bellossom by her side, waves eagerly, but April continues onward.
Practically out of breath, she crashes through the entrance, drops her razor and finally throws her arms around the front desk. The other officers and random patrons stare at her for making such a commotion before returning to their own tasks.
As usual, Attendant Miranda Bates is sitting behind the front desk. She looks up, arms folded. “Geez louise, April. You’re in a hurry today.”
She takes a breath, “Where...”
Bates interrupts calmly, knowing what she was going to ask. “The Commander’s in back, near storage. I’d suggest you take a breather first.”
“Thanks.” she says with a tiring grunt, shuffling her feet around the counter. She arrives a few hallways later. But before she has a chance to enter the storage room, Commander Nickels walks out. She half expected him in appropriate clothes for her big day, meaning a suit and tie and maybe a bowlers hat in true old fashion detective style, but as usual, he remains casual and unprofessional. A blue hawaiian shirt and khaki white shorts. At least he wore shoes and not sandals, thought she would have preferred the sandals just so his outfit would match.
“Ah, Mrs. Halliday. Wh- Is... is that a smile I see on your face?”
He catches her emotion off guard. It’s not everyday April comes in with a smile. Not a fake smile, either, like when she playfully teases the older officers. No, this is a genuine smile of happiness. Her cheeks blush a bit.
“And bright, colorful eyes too. You look like you’re beaming with joy. I hope this becomes a common occurrence from now on. Don’t let it get away, ok?” She nods. Nickels holds out his palm, showing a Pokeball. “And as promised, here you go: one Dunsparce.”
Who can imagine that contained within a device hardly larger than a small pebble can alter someone’s entire outlook on life? There it is, right in front of her. She moves her arm...
“But....” he drops his arms back into his jacket pockets. His jolly demeanor transfers back to his stern and serious questioning. “First, tell me, Mrs. Private Detective Halliday. I have to know what your plan is to pursue this lead.”
She pauses for a second. “To, uh, go to Mahogany as an undercover Trainer in order to find the missing person of interest.”
“Person of interest? Ah, excellent use of the term. And what have you learned about becoming a Trainer?”
“None. But I think I can wing it if...”
Nickels puts his arm on her shoulder, walking her down the hall to his office. “So, you expect me to hire you, is that it? Someone with no Trainer experience AND no Detective experience, which is required for this particular job. Yes?”
“Well, no. You said yester...”
They reach his office. He pats her on her beret and walks over to his chair. A serious grin appears. “I know what I said. Heck, I was there. But what do you say, huh? Show me some confidence.”
She takes a breath. “Sir, I’ll go out there and do the best I can.”
“That’s my girl. Will you succeed? Who knows. Does it matter? Not as much to us, but for you, it will matter as much as water to a lake. As long as you go out there and do what you can with as much effort as possible, then I know I’ve made the right choice.” Once again he hands her the Pokeball.
Cautiously, not sure what to expect, she takes it. She holds the Pokeball with her hands. “Thank you, sir. Thanks for everything.”
Through thick and thin, if there was ever anyone to go to for advice or company, Nickels was that guy. Without a father of her own, Nickles has taken that spot for the past five years. He was always watching over her, teaching her, and making sure she was raised properly. And now, after all these years, he has given her the last of his advice before letting her go on her own. It is her turn to be tested by life, to make her own mistakes, and to hopefully learn from them in order to grow into a mature woman.
Nickels extends a long, congratulatory hug. “I know you will do great out there. Call me if you need anything.”
“And don’t lose that smile.”