After all, you only get to make them once.
The plot's another story. It's been long in coming and has gone through many revisions.
Lastly, please don't steal my characters.
~ ~ ~
Today was the day.
Turning this way and that, Tina admired her reflection. Then she shook her head, took down her long, brown hair and tied it up a different way. She didn't like that, either, so she brushed it back out.
She had to look perfect. After all, you only get to make a first impression once and Tina wanted it to be a good one.
It had to be a good one.
Gentle, but firm. Friendly, but respectable. Kind, but-
What if the new Pokemon didn't like her? What if it just sniffed at her and turned the other way?
She sighed. Fretting over it wouldn't do much of anything. The important thing was to be herself. Miss Pyre wouldn't assign her a Pokemon she couldn't get along with. It was against the rules, after all--teachers were supposed to help students prepare a strong, balanced team tailored to their personality and style of battle. That much, Tina knew--she'd read the syllabus.
Only when her alarm clock blasted into life did Tina realize she hadn't even dressed yet. An hour of playing with her hair and worrying and she forgot to get ready for the big day at all!
Shedding her nightclothes, Tina threw open her armoire and then laid out her uniform for the day. She tugged it on and adjusted herself in the mirror, twitching the skirt lower here, the shirt straighter there. She rebuckled her shoes, nice and tight, and made sure her socks came to just below her knees, exactly like regulations said. As for her hair... she'd just about declared that a lost cause when a pair of invisible hands took hold of it and pulled it back into a soft, loose braid.
"Thanks, Kezme--I appreciate it."
Tina grabbed an apple from her nightstand and tossed it to the Abra, still asleep by the window. The fruit stopped, midair, then settled noiselessly on the window sill, all without Kezme stirring in the least.
"You eat that, okay? And when I get back you'll have a new friend."
She smiled. "Yeah, I'm looking forward to it, too." With that, Tina closed and locked the door to her dorm, then started down the stairs of her dormitory.
By the time Tina reached the large, white building at the center of the Pokemon Tech campus where her first class was supposed to be held, the ten-minute warning bell had rung and her heart was racing. To calm herself, Tina focused on page eighteen of /Moments to Mastery: A Beginning Trainer's Guide to Taming Pokemon/.
Page eighteen covered the various tactics for post-capture first interactions. According to the author, it was important that the Pokemon viewed the trainer as the authority figure. Then they wouldn't be tempted to test their boundaries at inappropriate moments. He suggested standing erect and looking the Pokemon in the eye to assert dominance.
In some cases, a little bit of discipline was in order. During times like this, it was recommended that the trainer isolate the Pokemon in their Pokeball for a number of days until it tamed itself. The book said it was also wise to wait until the trainer was far away from the new Pokemon's original territory before calling it from its Pokeball for the first time.
Tina thought the whole practice was really rude.
The entire classroom was buzzing with excited whispers when she finally arrived. Tyler sat in the back, talking animatedly with Sammy, his blazer slung over the back of his chair. By the window, Melanie, Penny, Elaine and Heather were in a tight circle, heads close.
Tina waved hi to Mitchell and Ricky--or was it Ricky and Mitchell?--arguing over who would get the better Fire-type. Steven, always lost in his books, sat alone in the corner.
"Good morning!" Tina bent and gave Steven his morning hug.
"Morning," he said with a small grin as he closed his book.
"What're you reading?" she asked, craning to see the cover.
"/Silver Ninetales/," he said and pinked a bit. "It's really good."
Tina hugged him again. "Let me read it when you're done?"
Steven nodded and opened his book again as Tina sank into the chair in front of him, scooted closer to the desk and arranged her books on the rack under her seat.
"Tina!" Melanie noticed her, left the gossip circle and plopped down in the seat in front of Tina's. She spun it around and leaned over Tina's desk, her blue eyes sparkling with excitement. "What do you think you'll get?"
Tina shrugged. "I don't know--maybe a Ponyta or a Torchic?"
Melanie lowered her voice so only Tina could hear. "Think bigger, Tina! Elaine helped Miss Pyre pick out the Pokemon and she says that someone's going to get a Houndour! It could be you!"
Tina gasped. "That's against the rules, getting a Dark-type in the first year program!"
"Well, yeah, but that's the thing. She says whoever it was pulled a lot of strings to get it done."
"Oh." Tina lowered her eyes to her desk. There was only one direction that this could go. And once Melanie bit into a theory, she'd hold it until someone gave her something new to chew.
"Now, see, I was thinking maybe your grandpa might've-"
She stopped short when the 9:00 bell rang. Everyone else did, too, and turned the right way in their seats. Ten pairs of eyes darted to the clock tower outside the window of the third-floor classroom.
One... two... three... Tina tapped her pencil--come on, ring faster! ...seven... eight... nine!
"Boys and girls, to yo-" Miss Pyre stopped her words short. For the first time since start of term, every single student was in their seat when she entered the room. "...Let's begin, then."
She set a covered basket on the front desk and Tina's attention zeroed in on it. Pokeballs filled that basket. Every one of them had a Pokemon: unique, powerful and full of life. And one of them was about to be hers.
Penny stood, walked to the front and collected her Pokeball. The latch opened, releasing a Charmander, and Tina had to bite her knuckle to keep back a squeal. After recalling the Charmander, Penny sat back down and Miss Pyre called another name. One slow, steady breath at a time, the class passed and Tina waited her turn.
A Torkoal, a Slugma, a Magby--/why/ did her name have to be so far down the list? Tina held her breath.
Next Mitchell received a Ponyta. Then Ricky got a Torchic.
Okay, so she wouldn't be getting one of those.
She was given a Cyndaquil. By now, Tina could keep the squeals to herself, but the fidgets were another story altogether.
She jumped up so fast that her chair almost toppled. Melanie and Elaine giggled as Tina steadied herself and walked to the front, her arms stick-straight at her sides to keep them from trembling.
Almost the second the Pokeball touched her hand, rigidly outstretched, it sprang open. The red light took shape at Tina's feet and faded to leave-
The puppy Pokemon wasted no time. She looked up at Tina and sniffed at her once--Tina froze: moment of truth--and then pounced, knocking her new trainer to the floor, laid out flat on her back.
"I guess we're friends, then?" Tina managed to utter despite the extra weight on her chest.
Tina then had to squirm to avoid the Growlithe's rough tongue as she licked the young trainer's face and hands. "Quit--cut it out--that /tickles/!"
Only once the Growlithe had licked Tina square on the nose did Miss Pyre succeed in pulling the Pokemon off, much to the amusement of the rest of the class. Tina pulled herself to her feet. She braced against another tackle, but the Growlithe sat still, calmly staring up, with her tail wagging and tongue lolled to one side. Tina recalled her Pokemon and clipped the Pokeball to her belt. Then, beaming like a proud mother, she made her way back to her seat.
Tina gave her friend a small smile as he stood and approached the desk. He ran a hand through his black hair and reached for the Pokeball Miss Pyre held out to him. When the red light faded, he held a little orange Vulpix. The kit turned to Steven and nuzzled his cheek. He pinked, grinned and recalled her, then started back toward his desk.
"We can be training buddies!" Tina whispered to him as he passed her by again. "Vulpix get along great with Growlithe, right?"
Steven gave a small nod and sat down behind her as Miss Pyre called the last student.
"Tyler White," she read, even though she didn't have to; Tyler had already stood to collect his new Pokemon. He pushed his short blond hair out of his face and Tina had to admire him.
There weren't many students outside of her classes that Tina knew, but everyone knew Tyler. Or, at least, everyone knew his name. His parents had paid his admissions fees in cash. For good measure, they built the new upperclassmen's stadium and threw some more money into the dorm projects. It showed in his walk, too, like he owned the world and knew it.
In a flash of brilliant red, Tina's illusions of a gallant gentleman vanished.
"He cheated," Ricky hissed.
"No, he bribed the headmasters, stupid," Elaine retorted.
Other whispers, less distinct, welled up but then Tyler's new Houndour lowered itself to the ground and growled, ready to spring. Tyler waited a minute for full effect then recalled the Pokemon. The talk died away.
"I told you so," Melanie said, looking over her shoulder at Tina as the bell rang to end class.
~ ~ ~
After her classes had ended for the day, Tina returned to her dorm. There, she let the Growlithe out of her Pokeball and allowed her to roam the room.
"Welcome home. Since this is where you'll be staying. With me." She paused. "I'm Tina, by the way. I'm your trainer. And you're a Growlithe."
But the Growlithe wasn't paying much attention. She was under the desk, then by the armoire, then nosing beneath the bed and everywhere else in the room, sniffing, pawing, poking, exploring. Kezme shimmered into view in front of her and the Growlithe leapt backward, barking the alarm. She dove between Tina and the Abra and growled.
"Easy! Down, girl--Kezme's a friend!"
Kezme opened her slit-like eyes and leered at the newcomer, who glowered right back. The Growlithe leapt at Kezme, jaws wide.
"Hey! Stop that! Kezme's not trying to hurt you!"
Click. Nothing but air.
Tina's cry didn't dispel the situation. Every time Kezme sparkled into view, the Growlithe pounced. Finally, she ran smack into the armoire, nose-first. She sat back on her haunches and looked up at Tina with a whimper. Tina settled in beside her and scritched the Growlithe behind the ears.
"Are you going to calm down now?" The Growlithe gave another whine and set her head on Tina's knees. "Good. We're family now. You and me, Kezme and Rowan-"
The Growlithe raised her head.
"You'll meet him soon." Tina scritched the Growlithe's ears again and she laid her head back down. Her ears perked as Tina added. "You can have a nickname, too, if you want one."
"Is that a yes?" she asked when the Growlithe jumped up again and started running circles around her. She smiled and watched her new friend.
"What do you think of the name 'Taja'?"