It was part a scream and part an animalistic roar of rage that echoed through the front office after the door had clicked safely shut. Gita stopped her typing, sighed, and rotated around in her chair to face the screamer. "Run into the Captain on your way in, Amy?" she asked, knowing the answer already.

Her visitor sighed. "Yes, again," she said, pulling her uniform cap off and running her fingers through her short blond hair. "Every day I think I might possibly have a decent day, I run into her on the way in and she always finds some sort of deficiency in my work and we always end up shouting at each other and she always wins. There's something wrong with that."

"What, that you can't keep your mouth shut around her?"

"No, that she always wins! I'm right once in a while, aren't I?"

Gita laughed. "You really need to loosen up. She is the captain, after all. You're going to have to deal with it for the time being. But what was it this time?"

Amy pursed her lips. "She told me off about not following her orders on the arrest Saturday. Said I should have waited and moved in after the kids took the Rockets down, and I shouldn't have gone for the stun gun and hit all of them." She paused. "Accidentally. It was a complete accident."

"You've really got to stop all this, Amy," said Gita. "You're going to get fired if you keep trying to annoy Officer Jenny. It will not do you any good."

"Still..." murmured Amy, biting her lip. "Ah, well, it's almost my day off, and it shouldn't be too noisy around today. Maybe I can manage to avoid her for the rest of the day. Not like anything interesting ever happens on a Tuesday, anyway."

As soon as the words left her mouth, the door opened behind Amy, making her jump. To her horror, it was Officer Jenny, flanked by a dark-haired young man in a crisp uniform, looking a little bit nervous, but with the curious air of a tourist.

"Ah," said Officer Jenny, casually. If she was still angry, it was impossible to tell. "You're both here; good. I have someone to introduce to you. This is Thomas Lawrence, our new engineering specialist. He's transferred from the Viridian City office, and I thought perhaps one of you could show him around the office today."

Gita and Amy exchanged a look. "Of course we will," said Gita, quickly, before Amy could say anything. "It would be our pleasure."

"All right, thank you," said Jenny, and walked away, leaving Thomas with Gita and Amy. As soon as the door swung shut again, Gita and Amy exchanged another look. Neither spoke for a moment, but then Amy spoke up.

"New around here, then?" she asked. "I'm Amy, Amy Albrecht, patrol officer. This is Gita Rachna, our dispatcher and secretary. You're our new engineer?"

Thomas nodded. "I was the engineer at the Viridian office, but I decided maybe a change of scenery would do me some good. It looks mostly the same here, though..."

"Mm," Gita agreed. "All big cities are the same. Buildings so tall you can't see the top, pollution, everyone so busy all the time. There's more work here, though, which no one minds, since there is such a high immigration rate here. Well, Amy, why don't you show him around? I've still got some reports to type up to send to the Indigo League, and I'll page you if there's anything."

Amy almost sighed, but stopped herself at the last moment. "All right," she said, trying to keep resignation from her voice. "Let's go."

"...and here's the lunchroom. Vending machines fulfill most of our dietary needs throughout the day, since there is no actual 'lunch hour' here, since duty is shifted. The turkey-and-swiss sandwiches are the best, in my opinion, although I don't know what you like."

Thomas just nodded. "So, is this the whole first floor?"

"No," said Amy. "I probably ought to take you out to the garages, since you're an engineer."

"Oh," said Thomas. "Well, actually, I work more with technology. But I can fix most things, in a pinch. It's probably a good idea to familiarize myself, in any case," he added, sounding very business-like. Amy shot a sideways glance at him - he looked too young to sound that old - but led him on toward the garage.

Resuming her role as tour guide, Amy continued, "This is where we keep all the vehicles, and some of the equipment, too. It's mostly motorcycles, but there are three cars for our use as well. They get broken on a regular basis, so I hope you're good with mechanics."

"All right, that's no -" began Thomas, but stopped as he heard a beeping sound. "What's that?" he asked.

"Oh!" cried Amy. "It's my pager. Something must be going on - we ought to head back, Gita probably needs me for something."

The two hurried back to the front office, Amy running and Thomas jogging along behind. As they came through the door, Gita looked up from her desk, looking very serious. Amy suddenly had a very bad feeling about what had happened.

"The arrest yesterday? Remember the three Team Rocket members we captured and put in jail? Some of their associates broke them out of the jail." Gita paused, and Amy had the distinct impression there was something else to be said - something that she wasn't going to like. At all.

"Casualties?" asked Amy, after a brief hesitation.

Gita looked away. "They got Jeff," she said, quietly. "He was on duty in their cell block at the time. Critical burns from one of the accomplices' Charmeleon. They're not sure he'll make it."

Amy was back out at the garage and strapping her helmet on in under two minutes. She fished in her pocket for the keys to her motorcycle, and pulled them out. However, as she was about to put the keys in the lock, she heard someone walk up behind her.

"Amy?" It was Officer Jenny.

"Yes, ma'am?"

Jenny paused. "I want you to sit this one out. Go take your day off a little early."

"Why are you doing this? Is it about yesterday?"

The captain looked away for a moment, at the other police officers coming into the garage, and then looked back at Amy. "Yes, and no," she said. "Taking orders is an important part of being a police officer. But... just take a little time for yourself. I'll expect you back on Monday."

She turned away, and left Amy standing there, keys dangling from one hand.

Gita and Thomas found Amy at the Celadon Café later, already into her sixth drink. On a bad day, Amy was usually only getting her first round by then - but then again, she'd had an early start. Gita sat down next to her and surveyed the empty glass in front of her.

"Six Diet Cokes already, Amy?" she asked, giving Amy a scolding look. "You should not try and drown your sorrows in sugary beverages."

"Shut up," muttered Amy, face in her sleeve. "You didn't get told to stand down by Officer Jenny. Another one, please," she added to the woman at the counter, who smiled indulgently, but didn't move an inch. Amy and Gita were regulars here, after all, and she knew when to stop.

Gita smirked, but gently. "That's 'cos I'm the secretary, Amy. Anyway, stop being such a downer. Why don't we go visit Jeff in the hospital? I'm sure he's dy- wanting for some real company. It'll make him feel better. Did you hear they think he's going to pull through?"

"Nah. D'wanna go," said Amy, sleepily. "I'll just drown in my own misery here, thankyouverymuch. No sense in adding my misery to his to make a big swimming pool of misery."

Her friend snapped her fingers sharply in front of her face. "Snap out of it, Amy! It isn't the end of the world, and there are worse things that could have happened. Why don't Thomas and I take you home, and then you can get a good night's rest. It'll be all better in the morning. Right, Thomas?" she said, forcefully.

Thomas nodded vigorously. At the moment, it didn't seem like such a good idea to make either of these women angry right now. "Er... so, let's go, eh?" he said, hopefully.

Gita grabbed a hold of Amy's arm, prying her off the counter by force and dragging her in the direction of the doors. "Come on, old girl, let's go home."

Fifteen minutes later, Gita and Thomas had left Amy safely at her quiet little condominium on the eastern side of town. As they walked away, Thomas asked, "Is she always like that?"

"Like what?" asked Gita. "Constantly on the verge of a nervous breakdown, you mean? If so, the answer is yes. Ever since she started working here, she and Officer Jenny have been on... less than great terms. They just have very different ideas of how things should go, and it bothers her, not being in charge. As a consequence, she's generally a little... frustrated all the time. She's a great person once you get to know her, though..." finished Gita, although Thomas didn't seem to be quite so sure about that.


There was a brief silence. "Well," said Gita, looking down at her feet, "I'd better get back to the office. I've still got some things to do before the night-shift dispatcher comes in. See you tomorrow."

"Yes," replied Thomas, as he turned in the direction of his apartment building. "Goodbye."

As they parted ways, Amy watched from her window until they had disappeared from sight. What a day, Amy thought, glancing at her watch. It was only a little past five in the evening, and things had gone from bad to worse.

A noise issuing from her stomach reminded her that she ought to make dinner, and she headed to the kitchen to warm up something. She cooked for herself most of the time, though if she was in a rush she'd resort to a prepackaged dinner. Tonight, dinner was leftover spaghetti from two nights before. She slopped some on a plate with sauce and put it in the microwave to warm up. While she was waiting, she took a quick look a the calendar and froze.

Was it really that day again? Had it really been seven years already?

Gloria Wood's mother had always wanted her to be a doctor or a veterinarian. She'd given her daughter play-doctor sets, Pokémon plush toys, books about animals and even her own horse in hopes that she might show an interest in such professions. When her daughter had begun to show an interest in Pokémon training, Mrs. Wood was very excited.

However, it left something to be desired in that Gloria liked... odd Pokémon, for a little girl. She had a predilection towards things like Bellsprout and Oddish and Magnemite, rather than the ones a little girl should like, like Ponyta and Clefairy and Butterfree. She'd also always been set on the actual training, rather than making the cute little things feel better, which disappointed Gloria's mother a little, but not too much. After all, Pokémon trainer was a prestigious profession.

She started out at the age of fourteen, like several of her classmates, and soon had a number of gym badges from all over. By the age of nineteen, she was competing in the Indigo League tournament. However, not long after that, she dropped out of sight for some time, only reappearing a couple times to visit her family, not saying much about where she'd been or what she'd been doing. It was curious, but the Wood family didn't mind much - she was at an age where she would have been moving out soon, anyway. Had someone told them that their daughter had joined Team Rocket, they would have laughed and told them that little Gloria would never do that.

Gloria, now twenty-four years of age, snapped her fingers impatiently at the three people before her. They were dressed all in black, save for the red "R" emblazoned on their uniforms, the symbol of Team Rocket. "Come on," she said. "Out with it. Do you have the technology or not?"

The woman, who was the leader of the three, scowled. "Yes," she said, tersely, "we do. But there are... complications." She glanced at the man on her left, who continued to stare straight ahead until she nudged him in the side.

He blanched, and coughed lightly. "Well, erm," he managed. "You see... we got the- them all right, and we... we put them in Mac's uniform, hidden, and we were almost here when some idiot kids caught up with us... and they slowed us down enough that the police..."

"Go on."

"The police got there and hit us with a stun gun. Something must have shorted them out, and... they might be unfixable. I... I was unable to get them open." He shuffled his feet and lowered his eyes, waiting for a reprimand.

"Hmm," said Gloria. "Well, you can go, for now. Move along." She waved them away with a hand, and then picked up the phone on the wall and dialed. After a few rings, a receptionist picked up on the other end.

"Hello? Yes, could you connect me to Jackson Hughes? Thank you," said Gloria, and waited for her call to be redirected.

"Hello. You've reached Jackson Hughes, Strout Corporation's Technology Department. I'm out right now; please leave a message after the tone, and I'll return your call as soon as I can. Thank you," said a tinny male voice. There was a beeping noise.

"Jackson, this is Glory. I need you to do a favor for me. If you could stop by my place later..." she said, leaving the code phrase for him. It wasn't safe to leave information by phone - especially on an answering machine where anyone could listen.

She hung up the phone and sighed. Depending on what Jackson could or couldn't do for the Master Balls, things could get sticky for Gloria Wood. Very sticky, indeed.

A nudge on her leg brought Amy out of her shock. She looked down and smiled, lightly, before frowning. "You know you're not supposed to come out before I call the all-clear," she scolded, weakly, knowing very well that she should have called it earlier, anyway.

The Marowak looked up at her, questioningly. Amy just pointed to the calendar hanging on the side of the refrigerator. "You know how I get at this time of year," she said, making an attempt at a smile. "Just the memories, that's all. Memories." She stared out into the darkened sitting room across from the kitchen, and then looked down again. "I'll have dinner soon for all of you. Why don't you go, and I'll bring the bowls soon. 'Kay?"

The Pokémon hesitated for a moment, but then nodded her head and padded away, turning a couple times as she walked away to make sure Amy was all right.

Amy waited until she was gone to start crying.

Once upon a time, a little girl moved from Oregon to Vermillion City with her parents, who were researchers interested in learning more about the strange new creatures that had been discovered on the just recently civilized islands in the Pacific. She adjusted well, being only seven at the time, and even found a couple friends at her school.

And, like every kid her age - she took up Pokémon training.

Back all those years ago, the standard age was twelve, not ten, and the summer before eighth grade she set out to catch and train Pokémon. Her goal? To be the greatest Pokémon Master ever. A child's dream - but she really believed in it for three long years.

And then...

Amy Albrecht awoke with a start at the sound of her alarm clock. It was six o' clock in the morning, her usual time to get up. She swung her legs over the side of the bed, and began to look for her uniform, but stopped short as she realized that it was her day off. Frowning, she went to look for some civilian clothes.

She shrugged on a long-sleeved black shirt and some jeans before trying to decide what to do with her day. Amy never knew what to do on her off-days. There was anything she really liked to do nowadays but work, work and work some more. Well, and drink soft drinks, but she could do both at the same time.

Her high school counselor had told her parents that she was anti-social, and needed to find some friends. Amy had always scoffed at that, and never really did find many friends in high school or in life. Gita was, currently, the only person she really considered a friend. Amy had just never found the time or the motivation to find friends.

She went downstairs to the building offices to get her newspaper, to use her age-old way of finding something to do - the daily horoscopes. Scanning down the page, she found Capricorn and read:

Capricorn (Dec. 22 - Jan. 19): To relieve feelings of restlessness, go take a walk with friends. However, be careful - you may run into someone you would rather not see today while out and about.

"Interesting," Amy murmured, "interesting." I'll probably run into Officer Jenny, she added to herself, bitterly. Friends, though - Gita was still at work until five, until the night secretary came in. She didn't have any other friends besides her, at least ones that were available and nearby - or did she?

She slid out a drawer in the kitchen island. It creaked from disuse and lack of oiling, but its contents were untouched. Cradling the old belt in her hands, an idea began to form in Amy's mind.

It was lunchtime for Thomas Lawrence, and he decided to stop by Gita's office. She was the only person he knew - well, for a given value of "knew" - that was here, and it always made him nervous, eating by himself. He'd lived in Viridian City for the past seven years, and the sudden change was beginning to feel a bit more difficult than he'd thought it would be.

"Er... hi," he said, as he stepped in the doorway to Gita's office. Gita, who had been hunched over her computer staring at the screen intently, jumped, scattering a few pieces of paper to the ground in her surprise. Only after punching in a complicated series of keystrokes did she turn around and smile.

"Hello, Thomas!" she said, cheerily. "On your lunchbreak? I was just about to go on mine. D'you want to join me? You can pull over a chair from outside. No one will mind."

"Um, sure," said Thomas, a little bit confused, but he pulled over a chair to Gita's desk. Something was a little odd about her behavior. Perhaps it was just that he felt a bit awkward. "Thanks," he added, belatedly.

Gita waved a hand. "No problem at all. I love company on my lunch break, especially pleasant company. Most people around here are so stressed out on a regular basis that they're not exactly the best of lunch buddies, if you know what I mean. Speaking of lunch, you know, I ought to take you around to the Celadon Café sometime--you've really got to go there sometime, seeing as you're new around here..."

Thomas let himself go along with Gita's easy chatter, and even found himself contributing to the conversation willingly. As he realized it was time for them to get back to work, he gave her a smile. "Hey, Gita--thanks," he said.

She laughed as she turned back to her computer. "Really, it's no problem at all. I like having you as a friend."

Thomas grinned as he walked away, having forgotten completely about Gita's out-of-place behavior earlier.

Amy stepped out onto the sidewalk, and grinned. It was an exhilarating feeling, wearing the Pokéballs again. She'd almost forgotten the feeling, over the past seven years. And it felt good to be back, like being seventeen all over again. It almost made her question why she'd left everything behind in the first place...

She shook her head, shaking away those traitorous thoughts. What's done is done, she thought, fiercely, and turned her head up toward the warmth of the early-morning sunlight.

What will come will come.