Hey, all. Okay, you know who belongs to who, all Pokemon goes to Nintendo and Game Freak, those lucky bastards. However, the ideas are mine, and so are Jupiter and Pluto. They're my Pokemon, I raised 'em myself from babies in Silver and used their names for Colosseum.

Now, this story bounces back and forth from Wes/Seth's (hero) view and Rui's view (partner girl). The first couple of chaps have this issue where the switch happens in the middle of a paragraph, but I fixed it in later chapters. I hope you enjoy this story, I came up with it after studying Seth's creepy face for three hours straight. I needed a way to deal with that smile. shudder Too creepy, yet too cool.

Ch 1

The clouds overhead were the purest white she had ever seen, and formed shapes that she would often point out eagerly to her closest friends. Two would raise their heads to study her finds, bright eyes blinking as they tried to comprehend what was so fascinating about the formations. The third merely sniffed and continue watching the village, relaxed in appearance but if he was really 'relaxed' he wouldn't have been scowling at the two small boys running up the hill towards them. The piece of grass trapped between his teeth twitched in irritation, and she could understand his feelings. This had been the third time that week the twins had something to bother him about.

"You gotta come and check this one out! It's got these legs and this face on it and it makes funny sounds and it's green with sticky stuff on it...!" they chattered excitedly, giving the girl's friend hopeful looks that it would be enough to get him up and tagging along with them.

"It's a Spinarak. And it's probably building a web." the trainer replied gruffly, never budging from his spot against the tree. He preferred the shades to the sunny spots his partners always picked out for themselves, and if he could avoid moving from a comfortably shady spot he would.

"But don't you wanna see it?!" the twins wailed, desperate for his attention.

"You can see mine." the response came simply and, with a flick of a small green and black ball onto the grass, a large red and yellow spider appeared in a burst of light, clacking its pincers and waving its arms at the boys. They squealed and ran off, afraid of the sudden appearance of the creature. The girl glared back at him, hands on her hips.

"You didn't have to do that!" she scolded as the ball bounced back into his hand. He merely shrugged it off and put his arm back behind his head, allowing the confused Ariados to select a new spot for itself and doze off. "They just wanted to be your friends!"

"I didn't ask for any to begin with." the short response came. The girl huffed and stood up, scattering the crumbs of a picnic lunch onto the grass.

"Well, then maybe I should buzz off, too!" she declared and began to walk away stiffly.

"Jupiter." the name held the command merely by the tone he used. The girl paused when she felt a tug at the hem of her skirt, then looked back and blinked at the silvery, cat-like Pokémon that held it in its teeth, legs braced to hold her fast. She glared at the creature's master.

"That's not fair." she complained, "I have every right to go somewhere by myself!"

"As do I, yet you enjoy violating that right every chance you get." the young man replied simply. She pouted, then flopped back down on the grass, pigtails bobbing with the motion, and folded her arms over her chest, cheeks turning pink. The Espeon released her and resumed watching the skies with its twin, searching out new and unusual shapes in the clouds.

"I do not!" the girl protested, refusing to look at him. She noticed the black variation of the Espeon, the eerie Umbreon, get up and go to the picnic basket, poking its head in to retrieve another wrapped sandwich. It trotted up to its master and deposited it on his lap, receiving an affectionate scratch behind the long ears in return. The glowing rings decorating its body slightly unnerved her at night, but they didn't bother the boy a bit. They'd been friends far too long to be afraid of each other.

She let curiosity win and looked back to see what they were doing. The boy had unwrapped and split the sandwich, eating one as he looked out at the village. At least, that's what she thought he was doing. The reflective visor he was wearing over his eyes prevented her from seeing what exactly he was watching. He called the Espeon over again and split the remaining half once more, holding the pieces out for the twin Pokémon to eat.

"Wes?" she finally called. He twitched, he always twitched when she called him that, the corners of his mouth tightening for a split second. She couldn't figure out why he reacted like that. It was his name, wasn't it? He had said so himself when they first met.

"Yes?" he replied, sounding slightly annoyed. He rubbed the heads of his two most loyal Pokémon and angled his head to face her direction, the only sign he'd give her that he was looking at her when wearing the visor. She blushed. He hated when she did that; it made him think he had done something stupid or embarrassing, the last thing he wanted. And that name, that blasted name; what in the name of God had possessed him to tell her that was his name? Perhaps because the truth would scare the daylights out of her and the last thing he needed was a girl with haunted eyes following him around and drawing attention to the fact that he wasn't 'quite right'.

"Why don't you like making friends?" she asked, looking puzzled. He winced, glad the visor helped to hide his expressions. "They just wanted to be your friends."

"Rui..." he growled warningly. How many times had they been through this? He had thought that after the tenth or twentieth time he explained it, it would stay in her head.

"They're just kids." Rui added.

"The less people know about me, the better." he replied automatically. The conversation was boring him. She opened her mouth, but he already knew what question would come next. "And you already know more about me than I am comfortable with. So let's just drop the subject and move on." He scanned the village briefly and pursed his mouth tightly. "Agate Village isn't the best place for me to stay, anyways. I'm overdue for a change of scenery as it is." he added and got up. Rui started up after him.

"I'll pack up. When do we leave?" she asked, tossing the blanket and plates into the basket.

"You're not going anywhere." the boy replied. She looked up at him in confusion. "You are going to stay here with your grandparents to finish your visit. I'm heading out."

"Without me? But, Wes!" she cried and he twitched again, "What if you run into another Shadow Pokémon?! You need me to identify it for you!" The thought of him leaving her behind was painful. Rui had dropped all sorts of hints to him that she was interested in him, but either he didn't catch on, or he merely brushed it off as a childish crush. The picnic she set up for them was another hint, the biggest she could think of short of ripping that lousy blue jacket off of him and tackling him to the floor.

"Rui, Cipher went down one year ago after I snagged the last Shadow Pokémon they had to throw at me. Team Snagem went dead the day I blew the hideout to bits, and no, I'm still not telling you why I did it." the boy muttered, calling the Ariados back into the Net Ball and packing it away. "There's no real need for you to keep following after me and getting into situations you don't have to be in."

"But what about the Snag Machine? You'll need me around to help protect it, right?" Rui went on, hoping for something to use as an excuse to stay with him. She tagged after him, lugging the basket as he walked down the hill towards the town entrance, the Espeon and Umbreon walking on either side of him.

"No." he replied shortly.

"The Pokémon then! I can feed them and bathe them, tend to injuries..."

"I can handle that."

"I can fix your bike!"

"It ain't broke."

"Cook your meals!"

"I can cook."

"Wash your clothes!"

"That's way too personal."

"Shine your shoes!"

"Rui! Go away!"

"Please, let me stay with you!! I want to help!"

"Help me with what?! I'm not doing anything!" The conversation became a shouting match that traveled through town, with everyone stopping what they were doing to listen and watch. 'Wes' was marching off, head bent forward to avoid eye contact with anyone. Rui was running after, wailing at the top of her lungs more reasons why she should continue following him.

"I can sew your clothes!"

"They're fine, Rui!"

"Shine the Snag Machine!"

"It doesn't need it!"

"Wash the bike!"

"It needs it even less!"

"Build you a house!"


The villagers shook their heads in exasperation. Everyone could see, plain as day, the feelings Rui had for the local hero, the one she had dragged into the spotlight months ago by having him steal back all the Shadow Pokémon in the region and purify them. Why the boy didn't catch on was beyond them. Or perhaps he had, but didn't feel the same way?

Rui was still listing excuses as 'Wes' reached the bike and let the twins hop into the sidecar. He climbed on and lifted the visor, looking her straight in the eye. That never failed to shut her up and make her go absolutely still. His eyes were so strange and unusually colored, a golden hue that reminded her of some wild animal ready to strike down its prey. She had found them beautiful and fascinating upon first sight, and she went quiet and still to look into them and find out what soul lay within them.

"I am going to leave and you are not going to follow me. If I feel like it, I might come back, but I wouldn't get your hopes up if I were you. Do you understand?" he told her in a slow, commanding tone, the same he had used to get the Shadow Pokémon to listen to him and adjust. Rui nodded slowly, unable to pull her gaze away from his eyes. The visor dropped and she snapped back to alertness. "Good." 'Wes' muttered and started the ignition, speeding off before she could call out his name again, the winds and dust nearly knocking her over. Rui coughed for a few minutes and watched the receding trail of sand sadly. With a sigh, she trudged back into town.

The desert region of Orre was vast and deadly to those who didn't know how to live with its harshness. 'Wes' knew better than most how to survive in the desert heat. White strip of zinc oxide freshly painted across the bridge of his nose and underneath his eyes, he studied the team of Pokémon he had assembled for the day's training. There were his loyal friends, the twins, Jupiter the Espeon and Pluto the Umbreon; Entei, stolen from Dakkim, a Cipher Admin; Absol, stolen from a trainer in the Realgam Colosseum; and Plusle, a gift from Duking, the leader of Pyrite Town.

"Okay, everyone! I'm pairing you up with a sparring partner! We're working on evasive maneuvers today!" he called out, "Each of you will take a turn being attacked by Plusle! You will attempt to dodge the attacks for five minutes! First hit means you go back to the line and try again!" The Plusle scampered up to him and leaped up onto his shoulder, resting on the shoulder armor that was part of the Snag Machine. "Get through the five minutes without a hit and you'll be rewarded with this!" 'Wes' declared and grinned, holding up a bottle of Vivid Scent cologne, the light playing off of the pale blue liquid within the tall, slender bottle. The Pokémon all perked up noticeably. "I have enough for all of you, IF you can do as I have asked!"

For several minutes, 'Wes' called out for Plusle to unleash bolts of lightning upon the Pokémon, one after another, and watched them dodge and dance about, avoiding the electric attacks. A rare call of praise from him would encourage the entire team to work harder. The training was going well, until the winds suddenly grew fierce. 'Wes' looked towards the east and frowned at the dark clouds rolling in.

"Sandstorm." he grumbled and sighed, "Everyone! Return!" He called back the Pokémon into their balls and ran for a nearby cave with Jupiter and Pluto at his side. He had already parked the speeder bike in the lee of the stone, a precaution he had learned to take after several storms left him without transportation in his early days as a thief.

As the winds and sand raged outside, 'Wes' settled back and leaned against the rock, watching it blow past. The training, though interrupted, could easily be resumed once the storm passed. He wasn't set up to train the group in storms yet, that would wait until he had the proper supplies for it, supplies that would bite into his funds rather heavily, as the scents had done. He shrugged and pet Jupiter on the head, then paused when Pluto suddenly growled towards the back of the cave, where it was darkest.

"What's the matter, boy?" 'Wes' murmured and followed the Umbreon's glare.

A pair of scarlet eyes, shaped much like his own but set far above his height, glared back at him, the last thing 'Wes' would see.

He hadn't been gone more than four days (during which Rui had scrubbed clean every dish in the house, straightened her room, cleaned the guest room Wes had used, vacuumed every floor in the house and bought several bottles of a cologne she didn't even like simply because they were on sale and the color of the bottle reminded her of his jacket) before he returned to Agate Village. Four days, and he was back on her grandparents' doorstep by dawn of the fifth day, half-conscious and weight supported by the joint efforts of his Umbreon and the Absol.

With Eagun and Beluh tending to wounds, burns and a fever, Rui sat in a corner, knees pulled up to her chest, and cried. The Snag Machine, though still in one piece, was badly charred alongside the forearm structure. The Umbreon and Absol sat beside her, nuzzling as best they could to comfort her despite their own injuries. She watched through tears as her grandfather bandaged the young man's throwing arm, the one that supported the Snag Machine. His jacket and shirt had been badly burnt, and now lay forgotten on the coffee table as he lay on the couch.

"I should have followed him. I could have helped him. What happened? Grandpa, what happened to Wes?" Rui choked out at last.

"Not sure. We'll find out when he wakes up completely." Eagun remarked and raised his eyebrows when the boy coughed and turned to look at them through half-lidded eyes. "Wes?"

"Seth." he whispered hoarsely, "My name is Seth." Rui crawled up to him and looked confused. "I know I said my name was Wes... but that was a lie." he murmured.

"What happened out there?" Rui asked, ignoring the corrections. Wes... Seth winced and turned back to gaze up at the ceiling. "Wes?"

"You're going to keep calling me that until I die, aren't you?" he murmured, "And I'm not sure what happened. I was in the desert, training, and a sandstorm rolled in. I took shelter in a cave and the last thing I can remember is seeing something moving inside. I don't even know how I got back here."

"Well, you're safe now. That's all that matters. You need to rest and recover. Save your strength." Eagun told him and got up, "I'm too old to be carrying people up those stairs, but I can bring down a blanket and some pillows so you can be comfortable. Beluh, can you get some potions and tend to the boy's Pokémon?" The two elders headed off to do their part, leaving Rui kneeling by Seth's side.

"I told you that you'd need me, but you didn't listen." she accused half-heartedly. Seth laughed and she blinked in surprise. It was rare to hear him laugh, mostly because every laugh she had heard from him had been that sinister one he used on trainers that threatened peace. She heard it when he fought Gonzap, when he battle Nascour, and again when he battled Fein, the master of disguise who had destroyed his reputation. For months after that he had gone into hiding, disgusted by the fact that people had been fooled by the imposter. Rui was left stranded in Agate Village, returning from a request to find a particular juice for him to find he had disappeared with hardly a note as to why. It took a lot of work to coax him back and he kept that distrust of people since then. He'd had it before, but it was more pronounced now.

"Don't be a fool. If you had come with me, you'd have been killed." Seth murmured, looking at her from the corners of his eyes, "I've lived out in that desert all my life. I can withstand things that would destroy any other person." Rui pouted.

"Fat load of good it did you and your Pokémon! Coming back mangled and half-dead!" she scolded.

"Better that than mutilated and all dead." Seth teased softly, closing his eyes as Eagun returned with the blanket and pillows.

"Not really." Rui shot back.

"Ah, fighting again, I see. He must be healing more quickly than I thought." the old man said with a smile, spreading the blanket onto the boy carefully. He pat Rui on the shoulder and led her away, leaving Beluh to attend to the Pokémon and Seth to sleep the fever away. She looked back at him with a slightly worried expression. What had been in the cave and would he be crazy enough to go back for another look at what had attacked him?