Project G—Chapter fifteen (09-17-06)

"So, how long have you guys been together?" Abika asked Harley from her place beside Luna.

"Well… Only a few days actually. I got with Jupetta-chan before we got to the ice cave and Noctus-chan in the cave… I've always loved them though, even as pokémon. I probably would've gotten with them sooner, but seeing Robert again after a few years of not talking had me confused. It was obvious he was falling for Shuu though, so I took my chances. And I'm glad I did." Jupetta-chan blushed cutely and giggled at his lover's sweet words. Noctus-chan looked flustered, but tried his best took look uninterested at the humans' conversation.

Abika smiled at the cute scene, pulling Luna closer to her. The hybrid wished that they could be alone again so that she could get some answers, but Abika had been chatting with Harley and his pokémon ever since they'd started out. She desperately wanted to know the current state of their relationship… Did this mean they were girlfriends? Just friends? Not even that? She was so confused… It wasn't as if one kiss, no matter how hot and wonderful it had been, was enough to spell out true love, but surely, it must mean something. And even if it didn't, she'd kill to have those lips on her again…

"God, you guys are cute together. I've seen a lot of different relationships since I started traveling, hell, my two best friends are together, but you guys… You take the cake. Can't honestly say I've met anyone who's in love with their pokémon, whether they're half-human or not. It's pretty cool." Harley didn't know what to say to that. His confusion obviously showed, and she continued. "You know, because you're not afraid to do what your heart tells you, and all that jazz. You said, 'Screw you!' to conventional standards and made your own destiny. Kinda reminds me of a romance novel… Just with more interesting characters."

Harley smiled at her honesty, as well as her interest. Most girls he knew were like Kamo-chan and would call his lovelies scary. And even those who didn't probably wouldn't be that keen to support a human-pokémon relationship. She was different though… She seemed very open to just about anything. She certainly hadn't had any problems with Luna turning out to be a hybrid after all.

"Thanks… Not many people feel that way." Abika shrugged, though she was smiling openly.

"No biggie. Most people are idiots anyways, so I usually ignore them. Rani and Hiroshi are enough for me." She looked ahead to see Rani eagerly discussing something or other with Robert, while Shuu and Hiroshi glared at the pair. "Though sometimes I think they just like to generate angst for themselves… But enough about me, huh? Do you have any other pokémon? Anyone you've been keeping a secret from the contest scene?" Harley shook his head, a thoughtful look on his face.

"No, just Noctus-chan and Jupetta-chan. They've been my only pokémon since I was ten and I never wanted any more. But..." Two certain hybrids didn't like the sound of that 'but.' "Lately, I've been thinking about getting a cute little Ariados!"

Noctus-chan and Jupetta-chan honestly hoped he was joking.

Sure enough, the sun was just beginning to set by the time they reached town. Some of them, namely Shuu and Hiroshi, were glad finally to arrive, if only to keep their boyfriends from talking to each other anymore. Abika led them all at that point, explaining that they were headed towards her house. Rani and Hiroshi didn't live with their parents anymore, so it wasn't imperative that they be informed of the trip they were about to take. Abika still stayed with her family though, and she thought her sister should know so that she could inform her parents once they got back from their business trip.

Once they reached her house, they learned something about her none of them ever would have guessed.

"It's huge!" Luna gasped.

"It's as big as Robert's or mine…" Having lived in Harley's mansion of a home most of their lives, Noctus-chan and Jupetta-chan could whole-heartily agree.

"Oh, well, you know. My family has always had a lot of money. They bought this chunk of land and had the house built when I was a toddler. Been living here ever since. Now if you'll follow me…" She started to lead them inside when Robert suddenly stopped. Abika turned around to see what was keeping him and had to suppress a sigh when she saw him gazing at the nameplate.

"Palazzo. As in, the Palazzo family that my family constantly complain about encroaching upon their territory? The same Palazzo family that's the third wealthiest family in all of Houen?" Abika nodded wearily, not pleased by her secret getting out.

"Yeah, that's right. Right after Harley's family, and yours too. In fact, if it weren't for the fact that your parents were so pissed at mine, we probably would have met when we were kids. And if it weren't for my sister, I wouldn't even have brought you here to find it out… But whatever. Let's just forget about it, okay? It's no big deal…" Everyone nodded, fully aware that she didn't want to talk about it. The Exalted all made notes to see what Robert and Harley knew about it later.

Abika finally led them inside, her arm still around Luna's waist, and the others following close behind. The Nyasu hybrid and Shuu were the only ones who had never been in a house that was—for all intent purposes—a mansion, and it showed. Robert had never seen his boyfriend's eyes widen that much.

'Wait until you see my home, love. If all goes well, it will be yours someday too…'

"Who're they?" Abika looked at the picture hanging on the wall that Luna had pointed to and smiled.

"That's the Palazzo family portrait. The blond man is my father and the silver-haired woman is my mother. The guy with the blue hair is Kosa-nii-san. He moved to Sekiei a long time ago and I don't see him that often… Anyways, obviously that girl is me, and the other one is—"

"Me." The Exalted quickly turned to face the newcomer, who was clearly Abika's sister. It was rather obvious. In fact, if it weren't for her blue eyes, long hair, and whiter ensemble, she'd look exactly like Abika.

"—my twin sister, Abira. Hello nee-san. These are my new friends. We just stopped here to tell you we'll be gone for a while. Tell mom and dad when they get back, all right?" Abira ignored the question, much to the confusion of everyone except those who knew her. Rani and Hiroshi, who both knew what was coming, hoped that there would be no bloodshed.

"…She your new girlfriend?" Abika's grip on Luna's side tightened, causing the hybrid to glance at her questioningly.

"I just met her today nee-san. I wouldn't go quite that far yet." The sneer on Abira's face really didn't suit her pretty face they determined.

"That's never stopped you before."

"Get off it!" Abika yelled, startling everyone but her sister and friends. "You have no right to judge what I do and who I do it with! What would your girlfriend think if she knew how obsessed you are with your little sister?"

"Leave Atsumi out of this," she hissed. The hybrids swore the temperature in the room had dropped at least ten degrees since they entered the house. "You're the one that started whoring yourself out to any pretty girl who came along after I started dating her. It's not my fault you can't handle rejection."

"I— You—! Whatever. Just tell mom and dad. If the Fiores or the Kasimiros call, tell them Rani and Hiroshi are with me. Have fun with your girlfriend nee-san, and leave me and my girlfriend the hell alone. See ya." Abika turned on her heel the best she could with Luna still at her hip and stalked out of her house, Rani and Hiroshi following quickly. The rest were right behind them, not wanting to be left alone with a ticked-off woman. Hell hath no fury indeed.

Abika didn't stop until they were past the property line and well into the woods. It was probably a good thing that they'd already had everything they'd need with them from their earlier trip to the woods, as it had obviously been a doomed meeting to begin with. Encounters between Abira and Abika's latest belle never went well.

"Abika…" Luna hadn't dared to speak up before the blonde had stopped, but now she had a million questions and the perfect opportunity to ask them. "Back there… What happened? And did you mean what you said about me?" Abika smiled wearily and finally removed her arm from around Luna, instead brushing her knuckles against the hybrid's cheek affectionately.

"My sister… She used to, well, we used to have something. Something most sisters don't have, you know? Then I came home one day and she had her tongue down this chick's throat… Tch, whatever; it's her loss and your gain, right babe? Sure, I meant what I said. If you want to be my girlfriend, hey, your wish is my command!"

Hiroshi opened his mouth to say something, but a quick glance from Rani made him keep quiet. He'd been planning on pointing out that Abika had gone though countless girlfriends since then, but Luna looked so happy by her pretty words…

'Who knows, maybe it'll work out this time. As long as Abika doesn't get as possessive as she does with the other girls, it could be just fine. And we will be busy helping save the world after all…'

"Oh… Yes, of course! I'll be your girlfriend!" And as Abika and Luna's lips met in a sweet kiss, Rani and Hiroshi could only wish their friend the best of luck.

"Okay, according to the map, we should be right around the mountain range that the fire cave should be in… And yes, I have the map the right way!" Kieran wisely kept his mouth shut. "We should just turn this corner, and— Oh."

"Great," Kieran sighed, looking at the miles of rocky terrain that lay before them, "just fucking great. We're going to be looking for that dammed cave forever…" Duana tried her very hardest to keep smiling. If she didn't stay positive, no one would.

"Well, on the bright side, Luna and her friends should have a hard time finding it too!" Kieran rolled his eyes and headed towards the mountains, not bothering to dignify her with a response. Duana shrugged and quickly followed him.

Neither noticed the two sets of eyes watching them intently from the trees.

"Okay, so everyone hold hands so Foodin won't leave anyone behind, okay? Cause after this, it'll be at least three days before he'll be able to teleport more than a few feet. So you're stuck here if you don't hang on, and no one wants that, now do they?" The answer, of course, was 'no', so they quickly joined hands. Foodin, Abika, Luna, Hiroshi, Rani, Robert, Shuu, Jupetta-chan, Noctus-chan, Harley, and back to Foodin made ten in a circle. Hiroshi and Shuu weren't entirely pleased with the order, but they didn't say anything.

"Foodin, foo."

"He's ready guys, so everyone just stay calm and let him do his thing. It'll seem weird, just it won't hurt or anything. Well, if you get motion sickness easily you might feel a little queasy, but it won't hurt." This didn't do a thing to comfort Shuu. "Well, everyone hold on tight… Do it Foodin, teleport to the Mishiro Mountains!"

"I feel it big sister. They're coming." She didn't look at her little sister. It didn't matter though, as the younger girl didn't look up as she said it anyway.

"I know. It won't be long now. We'll let the Exalted lead us to the fire orb, then take both orbs from them. As long as those imbeciles don't ruin things for us, it'll run like clockwork. You know your mission, correct Momoiro?" The little pink haired girl nodded solemnly.

"Yes big sister."


"I'm never listening to you ever again." Abika had the decency to pretend to be sorry at least.

"Hey, I warned you… But man, I didn't know you got motion sickness that easily." Shuu didn't respond, seeing as at that moment he leaned back in the bush and threw up the rest of his earlier lunch. Robert rubbed his back comfortingly, not caring that bits of regurgitated rice had splattered his shoes. If that wasn't true love, Abika didn't know what was.

Since it was getting dark, the rest had set up camp for the night, and Harley and his pokémon were currently cooking ramen. Rani, Hiroshi, and Luna were taking turns asking each other questions—the boys more about their mission and Luna more about Abika. Shuu, Robert, and Abika were far enough away that the younger boy couldn't smell the food and the older two couldn't hear—especially over Shuu's retching.

So far, she'd learned that yes, Abika and Abira had been in an incestuous relationship about a year ago, with only themselves, their older brother, Rani, and Hiroshi knowing. Abira was a pokémon researcher like Hiroshi, and her quest for knowledge had brought her to Natsukan Island in the Orange Archipelago, where she'd met Atsumi. Abira had kept her resulting infidelity from her twin until the day Atsumi had visited and they'd been caught red-handed.

Abika had immediately had Foodin teleport her to Kuchiba City in Sekiei and she'd gone straight to her brother. Whatever he'd said to her, she ended up coming home a week later with a young blue-haired girl with a Metamon she'd met down there on her arm. Ever since then, she'd had more girlfriends—most of them much younger than she was—then either of them could count. And Abira, despite being the unfaithful partner in the first place, had disliked her sister's new habit the most.

Rani hadn't wanted to tell her the last part, but Luna had demanded to know. When Hiroshi admitted that most of the girls left her because Abika was far too possessive for their tastes, she stopped being worried. She could deal with possessiveness. Really, it didn't sound that bad.

They finished their story just as the girl in question returned to camp.

"Robert insisted that I came back, spend time with my girlfriend, and eat. Something about Shuu being fine soon and Harley being the greatest cook in all of Houen." Harley flushed slightly at that, at the same time smiling broadly at his friend's compliment.

"Well, you're in luck, because it's finished. Everyone gather round!"

Everyone ate and chatted, taking the free time to get to know each other more. Abika's past relationships, of course, were tactfully ignored. About fifteen minutes later Robert and Shuu came back, the younger coordinator feeling better, but still feeling too shaky to glare properly at Rani when he welcomed Robert back a bit too enthusiastically. He merely sat next to Jupetta-chan and dutifully drank some of the meal's broth at Robert's command. If it would really make him feel better, then he'd do anything.

"Are you feeling better now Shuu?" Jupetta-chan asked while the others were talking about something that he found dreadfully boring. Shuu shrugged, sipping his broth and hoping Robert was right.

"For the most part. My stomach feels better, but I feel a little lightheaded. …Though I'd probably feel better if he wasn't staring at my boyfriend." Jupetta-chan averted his gaze momentarily, and sure enough, Rani was openly staring at Robert. You could almost see the stars in his eyes.

"Don't worry about it. Robert loves you and Rani loves Hiroshi. They wouldn't do that to you. You just have to have faith, you know?" It was hard not to believe those bright red eyes…

Shuu suddenly realized that he'd been wrong about Jupetta-chan. Just because he didn't get along with Harley didn't mean he couldn't get along with his pokémon. And Jupetta-chan wasn't the pest Shuu had first thought him to be; in fact, he was adjusting to human life much better than Shuu was sure he could adjust to being a pokémon. Maybe it wouldn't hurt to make a new friend…

"Jupetta-chan?" Said hybrid smiled brightly, and Shuu made his decision.


"Thanks." Jupetta-chan giggled and nodded.

"No problem!"

They finally got to sleep two hours later, Shuu feeling much better physically, mentally, and emotionally. It was hard not to, knowing that he had a new friend and having his boyfriend holding him close. Harley and his lovers had their own spot, as did the remaining two couples. Luna had never slept in someone's arms before, but she found that she wouldn't give it up for anything.

'How sweet,' the mysterious girl from before thought sarcastically. Even in the pale moonlight, her purple hair was rather hard to miss, even hidden as well as she was in the tree. Her purple ears and tail were hard to overlook too. She watched the group sleep intently, not averting her gaze even once a familiar weight suddenly appeared beside her.

"The scientists are now on the wrong trail big sister. There is no chance of them find the cave before the Exalted." The older girl nodded approvingly.

"Good. Now get to sleep Momoiro. We have a big day ahead of us tomorrow." Momoiro, who looked much like her older sister other than her hair, ears, and tail being pink rather than purple, said nothing. She obediently curled up in her sister's lap and was asleep in a few minutes. All the while, the older girl watched.

'It won't be long now. We'll have those orbs, and I'll save us Momoiro. I swear it.'