[Vol. I] 30. Traveling Companions
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The next day Joe was finishing up his rehabilitation when he decided he wanted to go outside of the hospital for a change. He’d been stuck in the same area for 3 weeks now, it was time for something a bit different.

So with Sabrina accompanying him, Joe slowly made his way to the destroyed area of Saffron City. Since there weren’t many people out and about, Sabrina, Joe and Absol were able to walk side by side without getting in anyone’s way.

To Joe’s surprise over half of the street had already been cleaned up. It was a large effort. Police officers with Pokemon like Machamp, Braviary, Kadabra and Carnivine were directing the removal of tonnes of rubble. It was still going to take years to sort everything out, but eventually it’d look like nothing ever happened. The fractured ground, with a lot of effort, could be fixed, and the buildings could be rebuilt.

Certain operations were currently postponed, obviously. Silph Company, with their headquarters completely ruined, had to relocate and start from scratch. This meant Joe’s job for them, using those special Pokeballs, didn’t have an end date. He was certainly grateful they gave him more time because the original deadline was coming up and he hadn’t caught anything.

The Psychic Gym wasn’t closed, but opening hours had been shortened. The main reason for this decision was so that the Gym’s Pokemon could help with the clean up operation, but it was also because tourist numbers for Saffron had plummeted. Understandably.

“Oh right, I’ve been meaning to give this to you.” Sabrina said, reaching into a jean pocket. 

Joe looked at her as she put her hand out with a badge resting atop her palm. The Marsh badge. It was a simple design, just a golden circle with a smaller golden circle in the center.

“But the match didn’t count, did it? You used Metagross.” Joe replied, vaguely aware of the rules. Metagross was indeed a powerful blockade to overcome, too powerful for someone with only 2 badges.

“I think you’ve more than earned it though.”

Thinking about the effort his Pokemon put into their battle against Sabrina, only for her to break a rule and invalidate the battle, having the badge seemed somewhat fair. However, he believed in an even playing field. Joe also didn’t think his Pokemon would truly be proud of themselves if they were handed a victory like this. Especially Quilava, who has shown time and time again that it loves a good fight where it can prove its strength.

“No, if I’m getting Gym badges then I want to earn them fair and square. How about a rematch?”

Understanding this, Sabrina smiled and put the badge back in her pocket. “Then feel free to challenge me anywhere, anytime.”

“Anywhere?”

Apparently that was a slip of the tongue. Sabrina didn’t intend to reveal what she wanted at this point. Embarrassed, she turned to watch the Pokemon cleaning up the street. “If it’s okay with you, I’d like to come with you while you travel around Kanto. Only if it’s okay with you though.”

“That’s fine with me, but what about the Gym?”

Scratching her cheek giving a wry smile, Sabrina spoke. “I’ve already sorted everything out. A trainee, I think his name’s Avery, will take over while I go on holiday.”

“Well it sounds like I don’t have a choice then.”

Sabrina was quite surprised by this comment, so turned to face Joe with something negative on her mind, only for him to laugh and stretch his right hand out to her.

“I look forward to traveling with you.” He said with a grin.

“So that’s how it’s going to be, huh?” She grabbed his hand and shook it. “You better watch yourself, there’s no telling when I’ll bite back.”

If friends aren’t annoying each other and laughing about it, are they truly friends? It would appear as though Joe and Sabrina see eye to eye on that front. So the pair were going to be exploring Kanto together for the foreseeable future. But why? Joe asked Sabrina as they walked back to the hospital, and she stated multiple reasons. A change from the usual was something she clearly needed, so having a break from being a Gym Leader was a must.

“I’m also curious about you.” Sabrina claimed, realising once again that she’d spoken before properly sorting her thoughts out.

Before she could explain the mistake of wording it like that, Joe spoke up with a stupid grin on his face. “Oh? Interested in me? How so?”

“I didn’t mean it like that!” His smug face was irritating, that was for sure. “Just you wait! You’ll slip up soon and you won’t hear the end of it…” With a sigh, Sabrina said what she actually meant. “I’m curious about why my visions of you are wrong.”

“Oh yeah, that was a thing, wasn’t it?” Joe looked up slightly and put his spare hand on his chin. “Well I have no answers. Not a clue why your psychic power is wrong about me.”

“And also-”

“There’s another reason?”

Having just about enough of her friend’s back chatting, Sabrina cracked her knuckles under her hand. A fighting gesture coming from a psychic was a little out of place. “You’re lucky you’re injured. If your leg was fine I would’ve tripped you up already.”

They reached a crossroads and before either of them could continue joking around, a wild Munchlax ran in front of them, from left to right. It was carrying a large pile of food in its arms, with some dropping along the way. Joe recognised that Munchlax anywhere and wondered what it was up to, and he didn’t have to wait long for an answer. Munchlax looked around the food in front of it and noticed Joe so ran at the man, aiming to dive between his legs as a small group of people came running. One of them was a chef, clueing Joe in. Munchlax had indeed been stealing food from people.

As Munchlax got close to Joe it became apparent that it wasn’t going to be able to dive between the human’s legs. Munchlax was too big for that. Instead, it would collide with Joe’s legs, and that was an extremely bad thing to have happen. So Absol stepped in, literally. Just when the glutton was close enough it dived, and Absol thrust a paw into its back, pinning it to the ground just in front of its Trainer. Crisis averted.

The group of people chasing Munchlax slowed down as they got close, thanking Joe for stopping the food thief.

“It’s not your Munchlax, is it?” One person inquired.

“Absol, get off Munchlax.” Joe looked down at the Big Eater as it looked up at him with food all over the stone brick path. With a sigh he pulled out his wallet. “Yeah, sorry I can’t control it that well right now. How much for the food?”

Joe proceeded to pay off the angry mob as the glutton got up, dusted itself and its food off, and shoved some bread into its mouth while looking up at Joe with a clueless expression. To it, Joe liked apples so it cleaned one especially well and raised it up to the human as an offering.

But Joe ignored the food and spoke to Munchlax, kneeling down slightly despite the pain. “Listen, you can’t take things that aren’t yours. If it’s not yours you have to earn it. I’m sure if you do something for them they’ll feed you. You seem capable of carrying things around, so how about lending them a hand? I’m sure a chef needs to move things around a lot.”

It tilted its head. Perhaps it didn’t understand. Based on how Munchlax had acted around Joe so far, it was fair to assume it wasn’t the smartest Pokemon out there.

“Look, just don’t take other people’s things, okay? I’m sure there are apple trees around, take your food from them. Those are free. Keep yourself out of trouble.”

Joe stood back up and started walking with Sabrina back to the hospital, this time with an extra. Munchlax. It’d apparently taken quite a liking to Joe, most likely because he helped it weeks ago.

He didn’t mind though. In fact, the thought of catching Munchlax was already on his mind. If he didn’t then it was just going to cause more problems for people.

So with a temporary addition to the group in the form of a glutton, they arrived back at the hospital. Joe didn’t need to sign in or anything, the receptionist knew who he was. After doing so much more walking today than any other day, Joe opted to use the elevator to get to his room on the second floor.

Once Joe approached his room a familiar face, who was leaning against the wall outside, put a hand up to greet Joe. “If you have the time, can I talk to you about something, Joe?”

“Sure.” Joe said as he opened his door. “What do you need, Looker?”

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