They are drenched and cold and exhausted, but Ash is missing and they have to find him.
“This is just like when we were five and Ash fell into that snow bank and got stuck,” Ember says, wringing out water from her clothes as she walks. Somewhat helpfully, her Sandshrew does the same with her hair, tiny paws wringing drops out a lock at a time.
Seeing as how it’s still storming, it’s not all that effective, but the tree tops provide some cover, and better partially dry than completely wet.
Squirtle, being a water Pokemon, doesn’t quite see what the problem is and so leaves Gary to fend for himself.
“That dweeb,” Gary says, out loud this time.
Ember laughs because it’s true.
“The only winter Pallet got a decent amount of snow, and he gets sick two weeks in,” he adds, because it’s not like there’s much else to do now while they look for Ash.
And also, because it makes Ember laugh.
“And by the time he got better…” she begins.
“All the snow had already melted,” he finishes, and listens to her laugh again.
It brightens this absolute loss of a first day. At least until the sky goes bright, literally. A single, massive lightning bolt descends from the clouds striking a fair distance to the east.
“That must be Ash and Pikachu,” Ember says, the worry threading through her voice again.
“The Spearow must have followed them instead of us.” Gary infers, because Spearow are stubborn and tenacious and just plain mean and if they didn’t stick to follow him and Ember then that means…
“They’re closer to Viridian than we are. Pikachu was the most injured out of all of us, Ash knows to go to a PokeCenter,” it’s a murmur more than a statement, reassurance more than prediction, but logical all the same.
They pick up the pace, anyway.
It had always been a joke–well, perhaps joke was too flippant a word–an explanation that soothed away childish hurts and anger.
They were twins, yes, but they didn’t look at all alike. Ember didn’t look at all like anyone, really. So Ember must be a shiny version of her brother, that’s all.
Hair only ever grey and skin splashed with bright reds and dark purples–firemarks, their mother had called them. The reason behind their names. Ash had been born with one, too, splashed across his tiny chest–though as he grew it had faded.
In contrast, Ember’s had only ever darkened, her face split into uneven thirds as one particularly large firemark travelled from one temple to the opposite cheek.
Just another thing that made her an outsider.
Although, in comparison to her admittedly bizarre behavior, the people of Pallet didn’t mind her appearance much. Pallet Town is small, never changing, and after a decade nobody’s appearance is a surprise.
Which is why it takes her a while to figure out why everyone stares as she and Gary make their way to the PokeCenter.
Pikachu is being treated by Nurse Joy and the Chancey, which means his heart isn’t clenched tightly in fear and worry. But it’s still there because he doesn’t know where his sister or best friend is until the latter pulls him into a headlock, and the former steps quietly to his other side.
“Ashy-boy, you dweeb,” Gary says, rubbing his knuckles painfully into Ash’s scalp before letting him go. All of them are still damp–from the river and the rain–scratched and tired, but at least they’re not worse off than that.
He tells them what happened after they got split up, and they do the same. Relieved that it hadn’t all gone completely wrong.
Almost solemnly, Ember touches a finger to the tip of her nose, “I’m not explaining this to Mom or the Professor.”
As quick as ever, Gary does the same then laughs, “Guess that means you will, you Slowbro.”
“Aw, come on!” Ash protests, until another trainer enters the PokeCenter. Fuming mad.
Gary looks amused–because he’s a jerk, even if he is Ash’s best friend. Ember at least looks startled which is… unusual, but a lot about today has been unusual.
“You owe me a new bike!” The girl says, and Ash winces at the reminder of the absolute wreckage of a bicycle he left behind. Yeah, borrowing, sure.
He has to explain the story again, which at least cools her temper.
And that’s when the alarm goes off.
A/N: I dunno? I just really wanted to write some Pokemon stuff?