Ch.8: Behind the Scenes
NOTE: if you are just reading the story for the first time now STOP. Skip to the BOTTOM of the page, click the link (FIRST) and start from the beginning please. I write with assumption that everyone knows what's going on already from reading everything before this.
"Things aren't always what they seem
You're only seeing part of me
There's more than you could ever know
Behind the scenes
I'm incomplete and I'm undone
But I suppose like everyone
There's so much more that's going on
Behind the scenes"
~ "Behind the Scenes" by: Francesca Battistelli
Finding out that the Pokémart in Phenac city didn't have any Poké balls had not been a very welcome surprise. Then again, Ray supposed it hadn't been much of a surprise, there weren't many wild Pokémon in Orre so there wasn't any demand for Poké balls. He had to admit, if it hadn't been for Sam insisting on asking around they wouldn't have learned that the Outskirt Stand may have some. Of course, that hadn't been welcome news for Ray either.
He wasn't fond of traveling; it gave him too much time to think. Whenever he spent a lot of time just thinking, it didn't matter what about, he would remember things from when he was a kid with such merciless detail that it was like reliving them all over again. As he drove back to the Outskirt Stand the memories that plagued him were the events right after the death of his parents. The first time that he had trusted someone and suffered the consequences.
Ray, only ten years old, cowered behind the couch, terrified and uncertain of what would happen next; clutching Dawn and Eve as close as he could without hurting them. It hurt him, though, his still fresh bruises and unhealed rib, but he didn't care; Dawn and Eve were far too important to him. He didn't know how much time had passed; he never found out, he'd never cared to, before the police came. He flinched at the harsh sound of their voices behind the front door, shrinking farther back into his hiding place. Then the police officers broke down the door, still shouting incoherent demands, to Ray at least, terrified as he was; bur not for himself, for the innocent Eevee's that he loved so dearly. Shortly after they had broken down the door; however, the officers fell strangely silent. The small group of four, perhaps five, took on a somber tone as they began to look, carefully, around, marking and taking in the scene.
It was one of the female officers, a hazel eyed brunet whom he didn't instantly mistrust, who found Ray, shaking and clutching his Eevee's, behind the couch. She crouched down and gently coaxed him, with kind words and subtle gestures, out from his hiding place. Even though she told him not to look Ray did, curious as to what had happened. He hadn't heard anything from either of his parents since the two, what he would later come to recognize as gunshots, that had rung through the house. Surely his mother, at the very least, would have reacted to the police officers?! The sumptuous blue-gray carpet of the living room was bathed in blood around the unmoving forms of his father and mother, her silvery blond hair almost completely coated in red. Although the thought of his parents being dead filled him with a certain trepidation of uncertainty, he was old enough to understand that it meant they would never be able to hurt him again; a thought that filled him with joy and relief.
The first time she reached for his hand Ray flinched away from her, frightened by her sudden movement towards him. Eve, on the floor, Dawn was in his arms, arched her back and hissed softly, though she still hid behind him as she did so. The officer, who had undoubtedly taken note of the healing wounds and telltale marks of old ones, visible on his arms, bare below the short sleeves of his shirt, and understood what they meant, didn't reach for him again right away, but softly reassured Ray that she wouldn't hurt him. Ray eyed her warily, unused to such gentleness and suspicious of its origin and intent.
"It's okay;" She whispered softly, "no one here is going to hurt you. Would it help if I told you my name?" She asked, drawing a small, timid nod from Ray as an answer.
"Alright, my name's Malarie. What's your name?" She asked, even though she already knew, after all, his parents were famous.
"Ray." He whispered so softly that he could barely hear himself, but he was too frightened to muster anything louder than that.
"Ray," She said gently, kneeling down so that she was eye level with him, "you're going to have to come back to the police station with me now, but only for a little while. You see, we're going to do everything we can to find you a new family as quickly as possible, but I promise that your new family will love you and never hurt you. They'll protect you and keep you safe, just like parents are supposed to, okay?"
Ray nodded, he couldn't quite imagine what Malarie had described to him, but he had read about it in books and he truly wanted to believe it was something that really existed; a happy, safe and loving home. And besides it's not like he really had much of a choice as to whether he went with Malarie or not, but even if he had, he still would have gone with her because he wanted to believe what she had told him.
Malarie had been right, he had only stayed there for a short time, three, maybe four, days; he couldn't quite remember. What he did remember was what had happened on his last day there.
He had been sitting at Malarie's desk, reading a book. He had come to like Malarie very much; she seemed genuinely nice and took really good care of him. And when she had to go out on a call she would let him stay in her office so that no one else would bother him; she knew how skittish he was around anyone but her and she always did her best to make sure he felt safe. Dawn and Eve had fallen asleep in the corner on a little bed that Malarie had bought just for them.
Ray, having just finished the book he had been reading, set it down and stretched a little; that was when he saw her. It was so strange, out of the hundreds, probably more like thousands, of people he seen, but never spoken to, there was one that he couldn't forget and it was her. To this day he didn't know her name, but he figured that if he ever saw her again he would recognize her. She had looked to be roughly the same age as him, a little older, 11 or 12 perhaps, with long dirty blonde hair, dark gold eyes, and a smile on her face. Maybe that was why he couldn't forget her, she had looked a little like him and she was there too, very likely for a similar reason as himself, but she looked completely happy, like no one had ever given her a reason to be sad or to be afraid of other people. After a moment she turned her head a little and caught sight of him. Her smile brightened, if that was even possible, and she tugged on the sleeve of the police officer she had been following, who was now talking to one of her coworkers. He could see the little girl say something and a moment later the officer looked at him too as the little girl's gaze returned to him. He didn't recognize this particular officer and, judging by the expression on her face, she didn't recognize him either. Shaking her head and saying something to the girl that made her look a little disappointed, thought her eyes never left Ray, the officer returned to her conversation. A few minutes later, after the officer had evidently finished whatever business she had come for, she and the little girl had left. Ray never saw the girl again, but her memory nagged him from that day onward.
Malarie had come back a few hours later, smiling brightly.
"I have some good news." She had told him.
"What is it?" Ray asked, jumping down from Malarie's big computer chair and scampering over to her, looking up at her with an earnest, innocent smile.
"We found a foster home for you."
Ray's smile instantly vanished. Malarie made him feel safe and took good care of him, he was afraid that these new parents wouldn't. He didn't want things to go back to the way they'd been before.
"What's wrong Ray?" Malarie asked, kneeling down to his level, "You don't look too happy about that."
"Can't I just stay with you?" Ray asked softly, trying not to cry.
"Ray, I'm sorry, but I can't keep you. I was only ever supposed to take care of you until we found you a new family." She told him, her smile starting to waver a little, her eyes beginning to tear up.
"But what if they're the same?" Ray asked in a small, frightened voice.
"They won't be," Malarie reassured him, "you'll see. They'll take very good care of you, better even than I have. They'll love you and protect you, not hurt you, I promise."
But Malarie had been wrong. She had promised him so much and in the end it had all been a lie. He had liked her, trusted her, and paid for it with even more pain and misery. And yet, here he was with Sam, about to make the same exact mistake as he had made back then.