Clarke swears she’s not obsessed with the game.
She swears it when she’s making her way out of the house the first morning, red and white snapback thrown on her head, a backpack of water bottles, a portable charger, and a bottle of sunscreen Abby snuck in before heading off to work. Jake sees her out the door, reminding her at some point she does have to come home. She does come back, four different shades of sunburnt, feet aching with nine solid miles of walking in her shoes, and more Pidgeys than any normal person would ever want or need.
She swears it when she drags Octavia out the second day, sitting in the passenger seat with both of their phones in hand, flinging Pokeballs at anything that pops up while Octavia crawls through neighborhoods, stopping at random houses. They come back after dark, Raven lounging around the Griffins’ living room, bragging how she found a Pikachu near the gas station Pokestop a few blocks away. Clarke’s phone nearly goes through the wall twice upon hearing that, once at her own failure to find a damn Pikachu on her own, a second time when Octavia realizes she wasted half a tank of gas driving them around.
She swears she’s not obsessed when she’s up at two in the morning, light of the loading screen blinding her, a sudden urge to make sure the gym at the rec center near her house is still under Team Mystic’s control shaking her awake. It’s been a vicious few days, dragging Raven and Octavia around the park, watching their progress bars inch towards level five before staking a claim on the gym, much to the disappointment of a couple of neighborhood kids running up the street a few seconds too late.
The neighborhood kids are the least of her problems, unless one of them is the tool from Team Valor that keeps slipping in and stealing the gym from under her nose. Three times today they’ve already stolen the gym from her, leaving a Dugtrio behind to defend it. Three times Clarke’s all but sprinted down to the park, determined to catch them in the act, a task that would be much easier if everyone above the age of ten in her neighborhood wasn’t walking around with their faces glued to her phone.
“Oh, you’re kidding me.”
Four times that Dugtrio’s been staring back at her, with its smug little trainer HedaKomTrikru right there with it. Four times Clarke’s throwing her shoes on, not even bothering to change out of her pajama pants, throwing a sweatshirt on and heading out the door, careful not to wake Jake and Abby on her way out. Four times she beats that Dugtrio back into the ground, this time leaving her strongest Pidgeotto in its place, hoping to ward off another attack from Team Valor.
Clarke wakes up again at six, Abby knocking on her bedroom door, reminding her that even future Pokemon masters have chores to do around the house, ones she’s been putting off for days now with all of her adventuring. While she lies around in bed, waiting for an energy spike to drag her downstairs and start vacuuming, she checks up on her surroundings, hoping the swarm of Zubats around her house has been replaced by something worthwhile.
It’s not until she finds a stronger Dugtrio from HedaKomTrikru sitting at her gym that she starts to think she might be obsessed.
“So what? You’re gonna sit out here all day waiting for this person to show up and take the gym again.”
“Yep,” Clarke spreads out across the sidewalk leading up to the sole entrance of the rec center. Coffee in hand, backpack loaded with supplies next to her, even Octavia leaning against the wall, she’s ready to wait this out all day and night if she has to, park curfew be damned. And if HedaKomTrikru proven anything over the last day, they can pop out at any time. “GriffinGal doesn’t back down from a fight.”
“Holy shit, she’s referring to herself in third person,” Octavia mumbles to herself, her judging going ignored by Clarke. If Octavia wants to back out from their standoff, fine. Raven owes her twenty bucks anyways; a debt she can free herself from in exchange for a few hours of staking out the rec center. Octavia slides down the wall, sitting next to Clarke in the middle of the sidewalk, watching a pair of kids circle around the skate park before darting off to the playground.
“I’m only staying because I love you,” Clarke nods in silent thanks, offering one of the Pop Tarts she threw in her bag as a peace offering. “And because I’m a little worried you might actually fight someone over this.”
Two hours pass before and HedaKomTrikru and their stupid Dugtrio are a no-show. Octavia’s perched on top of a picnic table, watching every car that creeps through the parking lot, staring them down until Clarke gives and all clear, assuring her that the gym’s still under their control when they drive away.
When they’re not scaring people from coming within ten feet of the building, side eyeing a couple of guys heading for the indoor basketball courts, they’re training up their teams. At least until an incoming call from Abby cuts the battle between Clarke’s Pidgeotto and Octavia’s Hitmonlee short.
“Clarke, did you get those things around the house cleaned like I asked?”
“Yeah, of course I did.” Maybe she didn’t get them at that exact moment, but the second she got this whole gym stealing debacle settled, she’d be at home working on it. Those dishes in the sink will still be there when she gets home, but Heda might not be at the park forever, no matter how obsessively they keep popping up.
“Are you sure about that?”
Yes, Mom. I’m sure.”
“Really? Because I just ran back to the house and it looks exactly the same. And I can see you and Octavia sitting in the park from the stop sign,” Clarke looks up, Abby’s car less than a block away from them. She waves towards them, a greeting Octavia replies to all too excitedly. “I’ll give you a ride back so you can start those chores a little faster.”
Clarke leaves Octavia with a simple task: don’t leave the rec center for any reason until she gets back. Even if she calls and says the house is on fire and she needs help, Octavia’s supposed to stay there, making sure nobody, not Heda, not anyone from Team Valor, comes by to fight for the gym. All Clarke needs is an hour, maybe two, and she’ll be right back at her post.
That doesn’t stop her from leaving the game open, perching her phone on the counter or on the banister of the stairs, keeping a close eye on it to make sure Octavia’s doing her job. It doesn’t stop her from watching the blip on the map turn from blue to red, that same stupid Pokemon replacing hers. And it sure doesn’t stop her from picking up and calling Octavia right away, only to hear her friend’s distinct ringtone floating in through the open back doors of the house.
Clarke runs outside, following the chorus of “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” across her backyard, all the way to the fence between her and her neighbor’s yard. She peeks over the fence, finding Octavia kneeling by the pool, camera facing the water as she swears under her breath, flicking across her screen.
“Oh, come on you stupid, floppy, son of a-“
“Octavia!” She nearly drops her phone in the pool, tripping backwards and landing in the grass. Clarke nearly climbs over the fence herself. “What the hell are you doing here? They took the gym!”
“Aw, crap. You gotta understand. I was sitting there and a Butterfree popped up. A fucking Butterfree, Clarke. What was I supposed to do, ignore it?”
Yes. That’s exactly what she was supposed to do. A Butterfree isn’t worth losing all their prestige at the gym, practically handing it over to Team Valor again. Something like a Pinsir, maybe, but not a damn Buttefree.
“So I got the Butterfree, right? And I was gonna head back, but a Bellsprout popped up near the elementary school, and I had to climb the fence to get it. Which I did, thank you very much.”
“Then why are you at my neighbor’s house?”
“I was getting there!” Octavia stands, wiping the dirt from the back of her legs and picking up her phone. She frowns at the screen before shoving it back in her pocket. “Another Pokemon popped up and I got a little too into hunting it down, and I wound up here. And I almost had it until you stormed out.”
“What was it?” For her sake, it better be a Mew.
Clarke’s never fought the urge to throw someone into a pool this hard in her entire life.
With Octavia thrown off of stake out duties, Clarke calls in the big guns, sending Raven back to her perch to win back the gym. Clarke knows this Team Valor person will be back, that they’re probably watching from across the park, waiting for another chance to strike. All Clarke has to do is finish a few loads of laundry, chuck the towels back in the linen closet, and she’s back to her scouting mission.
She’s flicking Pokeballs at a Rattata in the laundry room, waiting on a load of jeans to finish drying, when there’s a knock on the front door. Clarke leaves her phone behind, heading through the house, half expecting it to be one of the neighbor kids asking to get in her backyard.
Instead, she finds Raven, out of breath and leaning against the door, scorch marks on her jeans and the faint smell of burnt hair wafting through the doorway.
“So, minor problem,” Raven pulls the mangled remains of a phone from her back pocket, melted plastic warping around the edges, shards of screen falling out onto the front porch. “Remember how I thought I made a solar charger for my phone?”
Clarke had been rooting for that one to work out, especially when their phones keep dying every few hours, their back-up chargers not doing much to keep them from having to stop and find a gas station or a library that won’t kick them out for using one of their outlets for too long. Going from the remains of the phone in Raven’s hand though, she doubts they’re any closer to having a solution for the battery problem.
“Yeah, mind if I borrow your phone? I gotta see if my warranty covers accidental explosion.”
Clarke leads her back to the laundry room, knowing there’s no insurance plan insane enough to cover the kind of damage Raven inflicts on electronics on a regular basis. The jeans in the dryer are done, waiting to get yanked out and thrown into the bedrooms of their owners, freeing Clarke to get back to the park and back to her stake out. Before handing her phone to Raven, she spares another glance at the map, the Rattata she’d been trying to catch long gone. And so is their claim on the gym that Raven got a few hours back, Stolen away by none other than HedaKomTrikru.
While Raven’s on the phone with customer service, Clarke begs her to hand over the remains of the solar charger, ready to end this Heda’s training days right then and there in the park the next time they came around.
By the time Clarke heads back out, after a lengthy scolding from Abby about responsibilities and acting like an adult and not a child, one Clarke counters with an even lengthier argument about nostalgia and reliving her childhood, it’s nearing sunset. Team Valor’s reign over the gym stands too long, the red engulfing the spot making her skin crawl with every step she takes.
Octavia and Raven jumped at the chance to bow out of the battle, opting to replace Raven’s phone and go back to hunting to build up their team for when Clarke reclaims the gym. With nothing more than her phone in hand, Clarke makes her way back to the rec center, her new team of Pokemon stacked and ready to take back what’s hers.
She jumps into a battle the second the gym pops up, eyes glued to the screen as she sends out the Meowth she caught at Jake’s office the other day. This time, there’s no Dugtrio, forcing her to double check that HedaKomTrikru’s the gym leader again. Instead, they’ve got a Marowak running the team, one that knocks Clarke’s Meowth out no matter how furiously she taps the screen.
“Oh, come on!”
One by one, her whole team falls, never even knocking out that Marowak. Clarke starts blaming her data connection and lag and the servers, mumbling to her screen as she gets closer to the rec center. Her inventory comes up empty, no potions or revives to even drag a second attempt out of her team. Unless Raven or Octavia hightails it over to the park, they’re done for, leaving the gym to Team Valor for the night, letting them grow stronger.
“GriffinGal?” Clarke jumps back, barely noticing the person sitting in front of the rec center doors. Hair pulled back in braids, a red sweatshirt pulled over her body, grass stained sneakers; she’s not the person Clarke was expecting to have been tormenting her life for the last twenty-four hours. “You’re the one who keeps fighting me for this gym.”
“You’re the one that stole it from me first.”
“Maybe you shouldn’t make it so easy,” She stands, placing herself at eye level with Clarke, challenging her to make another move. “Though I do appreciate the effort of getting up at two in the morning to fight back.”
Why couldn’t her rival trainer be a punk kid that’s never even seen the original Pokemon cartoons? One that never had to sit there playing “Who’s That Pokemon?” during commercial breaks, or spent hours memorizing the Pokerap and all 150 names in it. No, instead she has to get the most attractive woman she’s ever seen repeatedly kicking her ass, with a Dugtrio at that. She’s letting Professor Oak down right now.
“So you just hang around a park all day waiting for me to take the gym? Cops haven’t gotten a little bit suspicious about that?”
“Well, they didn’t seem to think twice about you,” Clarke’s jaw drops, realizing they’ve been being watched all day. “And I’m not sitting around here. I work in the rec center.”
“You work twenty-four hours a day?”
“I also live across the street,” She nods towards the row of houses across the street, much closer than Clarke’s house, explaining her sudden jump on the gym every time Clarke makes a move. She probably didn’t even have to get out of bed to see Clarke getting dragged back home by Abby, or Raven setting off a small explosion, the burn marks still visible where she sat in the grass. That also means she’s probably seen Clarke running up in her pajamas half-asleep. “So even if you get lucky and take this gym, I’ll have it right back before you can even make it out of the park.”
“Yeah? Well, I’m not leaving until you surrender, Heda.”
Clarke closes the gap between them, pushing her rival against the wall of the rec center. For a split second, she panics, like all faith in her precious little Marowak is gone. She tenses after a second, a steely stare down from green eyes urging Clarke to live up to her word.
“We’ll see about that, Griffin.”
Parking lot lights flicker on above them, a heavy buzzing from the bulbs drowning out the quiet mumblings under Clarke’s breath. Round after round they’ve squared off, Clarke losing each time. A few times she managed to knock back the Marowak, only to find a Growlithe on deck behind it, one Clarke’s team doesn’t stand a chance against. Yet she doesn’t move, sitting along the sidewalk across from her rival.
“I won’t judge you if you give up, Clarke.”
They’re on a first name basis now, managing to hold conversations when they weren’t accusing each other of cheating after a particularly strong attack, or passing the time when the servers went down, both too stubborn to up and leave, risking a loss.
“Not a chance, Lexa. I’m leaving with this gym.”
They're too stubborn for each other, but Lexa makes her forget they're rivals for a few minutes at a time. She tells Clarke about her little brother, Aden, the one she's running all over the city for, knowing it makes his day to come home and see all the new Pokemon she picked up or which gyms she took over.
It takes twenty minutes and photo evidence for Clarke to be convinced he's real and not just a ploy to get her to give up on retaking the gym.
“Maybe you should just find a new gym,” Their battle loads up again, Clarke tapping her screen, no longer bothering with attempts to dodge any attacks. “Sacrifice this one, and maybe you’ll find victory in another?”
“And let you have bragging rights? Never”
Lexa’s Marowak goes down again. Clarke’s thumbs are on fire, threatening to punch straight through the glass on her screen as the Growlithe faints. One more of Lexa’s Pokemon and she’s back to her rightful place as gym leader.
She doesn’t even hide the smirk when the Dugtrio pops up, especially not when it’s down for the count seconds later.
Lexa watches her screen, brows furrowing as the blip on the map changes from red to blue once again. Clarke waits for the challenge, for Lexa to turn into a madwoman hammering at her own screen trying to claim it back. Instead, she holds a hand out to Clarke.
“Congratulations, Clarke,” Clarke stares at her hand for a few seconds, eventually reaching out and locking arms with her. “I was wrong about you.”
“You’re only saying that so I’ll leave and you can steal it back.” The second she gets back home, she’ll probably find it back under Lexa’s control, mocking her as she lounges around her house, watching Clarke run back and forth the rest of the night.
“Not right away. Clearly I have some changes to my team, go out and find some new Pokemon somewhere else,” Lexa helps Clarke to her feet, letting go of her arm as they stand in front of the rec center. “Maybe you’d like to join me for that?”
“I think I would.”
They keep their word about the rec center, even as someone from Team Instinct slips in and hijacks it from both of them. Clarke’s got a strong feeling it’s Octavia on a different account, growing sick of third wheeling on Clarke and Lexa’s hunting dates while Raven’s phone is still out of commission.
“Lexa, I swear to God, if you don’t let me have this gym, I’m never going out with you again.”
All bets are off though on their third date, both of them realizing the movie theatre is under Team Instinct’s control, barely protected by an Oddish.
They never make it into the movie, locked in another back and forth war in the middle of the lobby.