In which Shorty goes to save Rhys from an ailment he doesn't even have!
He was not an Arbok. He was Rhys Elena, and he had just arrived at Route 8, near the gardens toward the center as he and William Shorty had agreed on. Rhys was not entirely sure why, exactly, he had agreed, but justified himself with the thought that dealing with it now would be overall better than having to deal with it later.
His dismounted from his Skarmory and gave her a small treat for her efforts in flying him here, glancing around the route for any signs of the one called Shorty.
Shorty had no flying pokemon, and had to make the trek on foot. Once more he cursed bikes costing more than anyone could feasibly have at any one time. He brought his pokemon (of course!), and nothing else because it never occured to him that you might need, you know, instruments to test for Arbokanthropy. Or was that phobia? No, wait...
Shorty would have to play it by ear! Arboks like to eat Ratatas, right? Or maybe he could tempt him with something similar. Let's see... Tilly wouldn't be dry enough, Retter's for the dogs, Gligar would probably fly off if shorty ever actually let it out...
Shorty had finally made it to his destination as he continued planning what, exactly, he planned to do.
Spinel noticed Shorty before Rhys had. The Pokémon bristled with fire, tugging at Rhys' pant leg before hiding behind it entirely. This would have been clever if the Quilava wasn't thicker than Rhys' leg.
With Spinel's help, Rhys turned his attention to Shorty, pausing only long enough to be sure he recognized him and then nodding silently in greeting. He kept one hand on Quartz idly, leaving her out to let her stretch her wings a moment more.
"You have a Skarmory! That's SO COOL!" Shorty said with utter delight. "How'd you catch... him? her? Is it nice? D-does it bite!?" Shorty couldn't contain himself. This man had a SKARMORY THE COOLEST POKEMON EVER. A Skarmory was one of the 5 pokemon Shorty HAD TO HAVE when he finally became a man and had any skill at capturing pokemon whatsoever. "Oh, sorry. I'm William Talman, also known as Shorty. Please to meet you!" Wait. What if this was Mister Rhys? Nah...
Oh Shorty, you know just what to say to a Skarmory. Quartz stood tall with his words, fanning her wings in pride. Yes, she was quite cool. Epically cool!
Rhys blinked once with the unusual greeting, but then decided he was not terribly surprised given this was a kid who wanted to cure him of a condition he did not need cured-- and did not have to begin with! Confused by the onslaught of questions, he merely shook his head in response to the last one and stroked along Quartz' neck before gesturing to her, stepping back to invite Shorty to do the same if he so desired.
Did that mean He could pet him? That meant he could pet him didn't it oh my god oh my god SHORTY KEEP COOL. REMEMBER WHAT MISTER DUNCAN SAID.
...Except he didn't remember what Mister Duncan said. BUT THAT WAS OKAY THERE WAS A SKARMORY. Shorty skipped over in delight and slowly put out his hand. Gosh, he hoped he was right in assuming that's what the silent man was trying to imply. Else this could get very awkward. And painful.
It meant he could pet him! Well her, but neither Quartz nor her trainer seemed to be willing (or able) to nitpick about that. Quartz kept still, not wanting to scare off a chance for attention, only craning her head to look toward Shorty with a soft call of her own name to express her approval.
Rhys himself just smiled, folding his arms as he stood off to the side wordlessly.
Contact! It felt-- well, like you'd expect a metal pokemon to feel. AND IT. WAS. AWESOME.
After petting the Skarmory for a few more moments, Shorty had the nagging feeling he was supposed to be doing something.
"One day I hope to get a skarmory myself. I think they're one of the coolest pokemon ever." No, not that. Something more immediate. What was it...
Quartz ate up the attention, not at all bothered by Shorty deciding to keep it up a while. She squawked in contentment and occasionally stretched out a wing, definitely feeling cool. Awesome cool. Epic.
Rhys smiled a bit with Shorty's words and gave Quarts a pat on the head himself, his way of trying to say he agreed with the assessment of coolness. He, naturally, knew why Shorty was here. And he was not about to make the effort to remind him.
Pet. Pet. What was it... Lessee. Maybe he wrote it down. "Don't forget: Rocket clothing bleeds. Do not wash with underwear."
...Oops. Oh well.
"RHYS IS AN ARBOK FIX THIS"
What? That's kind of a silly thing to say. Why would Mister Rhys be a-- OH! OH!!! Shorty took his hand away finally.
"Oh! Do you know a Mister Rhys or possibly Mister Rhysbok?" That WAS his true name, after all. If this guy knew him, that sure would be lucky!
Foiled! The Skarmory distraction could only last so long.
Rhys sighed silently and nodded to Shorty in defeat, pointing up at himself in response.
Though Rhys was not certain how Shorty had missed someone with spiky red hair and covered in scars. Then again, the kid seemed to be good at missing details. Like how Rhys was not an Arbok.
OH RIGHT THE SCARS AND HAIR. Shorty had missed them so badly that if he were aiming at the broad side of a barn, he would instead hit the church across the street. And it didn't even do anything to deserve that! How could he do something so mean? Shorty had to fight back a tear and then oh right Rhys.
Shorty should really stop being so distracted! Gosh, this was almost as bad as the last time when he was eating ice cream and fantasizing about that other time he was eating ice cream and by the time he was done he realized he had missed the entire Ice cream eating experience.
"So you're Mister Rhys? Well, why didn't you say so?" Was he trying to HIDE? Then again, hiding in the exact spot you were supposed to meet wouldn't exactly be doing it right.
Yes, Shorty missed pretty badly. If Rhys were a snake, he would have bit him.
But he was not. That was the point!
Rhys rubbed the back of his head awkwardly as he looked down at Shorty. (Hey, he was pretty short...) Unable to think of any other appropriate response, he merely shrugged and dropped his arms back at his sides. This was not about Rhys' input anyway, he figured. It was Shorty who had all the stuff he wanted to do. Whatever it was.
"Oh, you have laren... um, that thing where people can't talk for awhile?" Was this another result of the Arbok transformations? What if his throat was stuck in Arbok mode?! This was horrible!
"I understand! I'll help you be cured! By ... um..." He probably should have done some research instead of playing with Tilly. Or at least done both at the same time.
"I guess we should see if you even have it. Quick! Try to turn into an Arbok!"
Rhys was impressed that Shorty recognized that he could not speak this quickly and nodded with a blink. He did not have laryngitis, but he did have "that thing where people can't talk for a while". If by "that thing" Shorty meant "vocal cord paralysis" and by "a while" he meant "forever".
Turn into a... Rhys stared at Shorty blankly, then facepalmed before shaking his head rapidly and bringing his arms up into an "X". Not an Arbok!
Shorty was taking random shots in the dark. He was taken aback when one of his guesses proved right for once. "What? Really? I mean of course! It was obvious because you, um, didn't talk for a while?" Brilliant save!
A moment passed while he parsed the move Mister Rhysbok had made. "Oh. You can't? Does... does it have to be night time? Do you need to be scared? Tilly could scare you!"
Rhys merely arched his eyebrow at Shorty, both exasperated over the kid's inability to understand that Rhys was not an Arbok, and Rhys' own confusion about what a Tilly was.
Shorty could solve one of those! Taking that as a "yes", shorty quickly let Tilly out! "Go, Tilly! Use something scary!"
Tilly, his Totodile, squeaked and sort of splashed around. Except there's no water.
A Totodile. Terrifying.
Rhys was so frightened that he smiled warmly at Tilly, kneeling down and reaching into his bag for a small Pokémon appropriate treat-- he made all of his from various berries, so nothing that would be unhealthy to the little guy. He gently offered it forward to Tilly. You know, out of fear. Or just because the cuteness of it had caught him off guard.
Tilly accepted it and was happy! She squeaked in thanks and gave an impression that she would not be opposed to the idea of Rhys petting her, or even picking her up since she's fairly tiny.
"...I guess scaring you wasn't the answer." Shorty said as if that was the problem here.
"Maybe if you hold your breath and drink water?" Or was that for hiccups...
Now it was Rhys' turn to forget whatever they were doing, not that he had been into it much before. He reached out carefully to stroke Tilly's head, smiling still. She was awfully cute.
Tilly coo'd happily. If she were a cat, she'd begin purring.
"Or... maybe if you chew gum? That'll pop your ears and start the transformation for sure!" Shorty longed for some kind of magic wand that would say "You have Arbokopy. Do you want to remove it? Y/N". But then he'd probably hit N on accident because everything defaults to
Rhys pat Tilly on the head gently a moment more before standing up and looking to Shorty, eyebrow quirked again. He ran his fingers through his hair uncertainly. Not an Arbok! But how to prove it? And why did he have to prove it, anyway? SIEGMUND.
In frustration, he unconsciously hissed through his teeth.
Oh no! Tilly triggered his transformation! "You're turning into one right now! The hissing must come first! I'll save you!" But how? Think, Shorty!! HOLY WATER.
"Tilly! Use watergun on Mister Rhysbok!"
Tilly was utterly confused but followed her master's command.
BUT TOTODILE IS NOT A HOLY TYPE!
Rhys froze in place as he was sprayed with water, unflinching in the surprise of it all. Soaked now, he slowly turned his head to look toward Shorty with a questioning expression that was unable to mask his mild irritation. Water dripped off the spikes of his hair.
Spinel, on the other hand, had dove behind Quartz in panic. Water, aaah!
A moment passed. Then another. Nothing was happening.
"Did... did it work? Do you feel cured now? Are you no longer turning into an Arbok?" Shorty asked hopefully.
Tilly rose an arm towards Rhys, as if apologizing for what Shorty had so foolishly commanded her to do.
Rhys eyed Shorty with an even expression, silent for several moments as water dripped from him.
Then, unceremoniously, he hissed.
"Um... W-want a towel? I could OH GOSH PLEASE DON'T TURN INTO AN ARBOK AND EAT ME I'M SORRY I WAS TRYING TO HELP!" Shorty yelled in fear while quickly thinking of a way to turn normal water into holy water. His Houndour wouldn't do it, neither would his Gligar. But... how?
"I SHORTY BLESS THIS WATER IN THE NAME OF ALL THAT IS GOOD AND JUST" Uh, uh, uh... "IN THE NAME OF MISTER DUNCAN, BE HOLY!" Shorty held up his arms while saying this. As if it'd actually do anything.
Rhys stepped up to Shorty and went to rest his hand briefly on his shoulder in one of those "it's okay" kind of gestures and faintly smiled, despite being soaked as he was. He then held up his palms toward Shorty for the universal gesture for "stop" and gave Shorty a thumbs up afterward.
"It... it worked?"
Tilly looked up, about as shocked to hear this as Shorty was.
"Then... you're all better now?" Shorty tried to hide the hopeful tone, but FAILED.
Rhys exhaled, holding his head in his hand. To nod here would be a lot like lying! But it would also be the easiest way out.
Think Rhys, there had to be some way to get this to drop and end it all. Wait, Shorty had mentioned ice cream in several instances. Something about trainer benefits, or the like. He took his notebook from his bag and made a scribbling of an ice cream cone, showing it to Shorty and then pointing toward Saffron. Let us forget about all of this over ice cream.
"Ice cream? You... want to get some?" Could this be a reward for curing him? Shorty was a hero! And people kept accusing Siegmund of lying.
"Yay! I love ice cream!" Shorty squealed said in a manly way. Rhys's cunning plan had worked, because shorty's mind was totally on ice cream now and not on the whole Arbok thing.
"Come on, Tilly! there's ice cream to be had!" Tilly squeaked excitedly, though mostly because she liked seeing her master happy. Shorty picked her up, and then looked at Rhys again. "Um, do you want to change into dry clothes first? I didn't think to bring a towel..."
Rhys shook his head and stepped to Quarts, running his hand along her neck in peculiarly precise way. She understood the command and fanned her wings in a whirlwind at Rhys, who slid back some from the force of the wind before it stopped. Once it was over he shook himself and adjusted his hair. Still damp, but not soaked. And a little water never killed anyone, anyway. That done, he returned Quartz to her ball and started off toward Saffron, pausing to wait for Shorty.
He would treat. Shorty really just had been trying to help, after all, misguided as he may have been. Rhys could not stay annoyed for very long, and had already forgotten he was before.
So... So cool... this guy could give Mister Duncan a run for his money. He stood a moment in awe before following after Mister Rhys. He realized he didn't bring any money, and secretly hoped Rhys was offering to treat, because otherwise Shorty was in big trouble!
"Er, I forgot my... Um, wallet." Shorty said sheepishly.
Rhys smiles back at Shorty and waved his hand dismissively to show that Shorty did not need to be concerned about such things, then gestured toward Saffron with his head and kept walking.
Gosh... BEST DAY EVER. Shorty was a hero AND he was getting free ice cream! He followed happily. "So, wanna hear about how I captured my Houndour? He kind of captured himself while saving me!" And if Rhys agreed, Shorty would continue said story. Seems he made a new friend, too!