Disclaimer: Pokemon and its respective characters do not belong to me.

Editted Version.

Chapter Three - An Eye for an Eye, A Book for a Shirt
I woke to the sound of muffled voices.

Slowly, deliberately, the fine veil of sleep lifted. In vain, I clung desperately on the fleeting threads of dream. Yet, unconsciousness, like water, quickly slid out of my reach and reality coagulated around me. I opened my eyes only to meet blinding sunlight. How unusual, I thought, as I lifted a hand to cover my eyes. I, a perpetual insomniac, seldom wake up later than seven-thirty. By the intensity of the sun, it must be at least nine.

Through a crack between two fingers I glanced at my bedside clock. I found none. The absence propelled my heavy mind into complete panic. My eyes shot opened but I calmed when a frantic survey informed me that in fact Iwas not in my room at all. As the series of sleep-laced thoughts gave way to clearer, morecoherent stream of consciousness, I recognized the room as one of Blaine's guestrooms, to be precise, the room across the living room. Memories of the night before hit me in full: I was depressed, I drank more than I ought, I got more depressed, I completely drank myself silly, and then… I sprang up but a massive headache forced me back into the bed.

I groaned.

At that particular moment, the muffled voices caught my attention again. Too soft to comprehend, too loud to ignore, really, the worst sort of muffled voices. The noise must be from the living room, which is next to the dining room, which is next to the kitchen…

The kitchen… for a moment my mind dwelled fondly on the Tylenol in the kitchen cupboard. The thought of such an incentive gave me the boost of energy I needed to overcome my headache and get out of bed. My legs wobbled under me – think Tylenol - My head ache multiplied in strength each step I took – think Tylenol - My hand felt heavy as I lifted it to the door knob – You need the Tylenol – Oh the world is spinning – Tylenol.

Such was my pattern of thoughts as I made my way to the kitchen with Tylenol as the carrot at the end of the stick. The thirty feet of mahogany flooring separating my room from the kitchen felt like the longest thirty feet in the world. When I reached my destination, I could not help but feel most accomplished.

I navigated expertly around Blaine's kitchen, gathering a cup from a cupboard, hot water from the electronic kettle and of course, my due reward: the pack of Tylenol from the medicine box. Two pills and a nice long drink of hot water later, my god-awful headache felt somewhat better, completely psychological I am sure, but nevertheless better. I settled myself on a stool at the kitchen counter and ate plain white bread, the only food lying at hand length from where I sat, not exactly my choice of breakfast but definitely filling enough.

Half way through the piece of bread, my brain began registering a conversation, also known as the muffled voices I heard earlier, that the miserable head-ache had successfully shut out for five whole minutes.

"—am flattered you phoned me for an interview. I was quite surprised really," a voice, most probably Miss Waterflower's said.

"Should you be, Ms. Waterflower? You are the most esteemed water pokémon gym leader in the world," came the shameless flattery from an alien feminine voice, disturbingly high pitched, "Of course you must be part of my research."

I glanced with disdain at the closed door behind the doorway I came in from earlier, I wondered about the identity of the stranger. A journalist from a local newspaper or a magazine perhaps? An overly enthusiastic water pokémon trainer? An aspiring to-be gym leader? An obsessive fan? I took another dry bite at my bread and listened on.

"What degree are you studying for again, Cassy?"

"Master in marine biology."

Ah, so a student researching for her thesis then. I nodded thoughtfully, recalling the interviews I have conducted for my own thesis during my days in university. I have fond memories of university, a playground for educated hypothesis and free thoughts. A place where at least some people would recognize me for my own work and not what my grandfather did. A pity I had to do most of my degree through correspondence because of my gym responsibilities and freelance researching.

"I suppose I should start with a general question. What is your favorite water pokémon and why?"

"I love all water pokémon, of course, but I have a certain weakness for Tentacruels. Not only are they strong, but the jewels on their heads are just very pretty."

I almost gagged out loud. Tentacruel of all things? Pretty? I stuck my tongue out at the thought. I have always considered beautiful Tentacruel as an oxymoron. I can understand why so many girls squeal at the sight of an Azumarill, Marill, or Azurill. I can even understand why May loves the juvenile forms of water pokémon like Horsea, Mudkip and Wooper. Those creatures are bubbly and cute. They are huggable. But Tentacruel? Nor can I say Tentacruels are all that strong. They are not especially weak, of course, being a mature form of a duo typed pokemon, but I would rather have a Gyarado or Dewgong on my team any day and I am not even trying to name the strongest water pokémon here.

Cassy laughed, alas a slightly nervous laugh. Even she did not know what to make of the answer. "I suppose Tentacruels do have their own kind of beauty…" she said slowly and quickly steered the conversation away from the said monster, "From your vast experience with water pokémon, which is the most memorable, extraordinary, unique, so to speak?"

"All 380 odd pokémons," 386 to be exact – I noted in my mind. "…are unique in their own ways. The 63 water pokémon," 64 – I corrected silently. "...in the world are no different. Even pokémon of the same species are never the same. But I think by far the most memorable water pokémon I have encountered is Suicune." Ah… Suicune, I have seen a Suicune once, a rather magnificent, beautiful creature…

The phone rang. Once, twice, three times. No one picked up. Blaine must be out. At the forth ring I grudgingly gave in and picked up the phone. "Hello, Blaine's residence speaking."

" Gary!" the voice at the other end sounded like he just met God. To my horror, I recognized the voice as that of my lab supervisor, Steven.

"Steven!" I mimicked his excitement, less than please. Honestly! One cannot have time off even during vacation these days.

A strained laugher. I blenched, Steven, usually a calm and stoic man, would never laugh so nervously unless something went dreadfully wrong to the atomic level. I prayed to God I was wrong. "Timothy," he laughed that nervous laugh again, "you know, that new assistant I hired—"

"The one I hired only because he was your nephew?" I interrupted pointedly.

"Er… Yeah him... He just blew up something big."

I bit my lips. "How big?"

"A back up water-pump."

"WHAT?" I practically screamed. Hearing fearful whimper at the other end, I froze and closed my eyes. Calm down, Gary, nothing can be solved if you scream at the panicking Steven. Don't shoot the messenger. Breath in in in out. Breath in in in out

A minute of silence later, I finally spoke with a respectable amount of composure. "Which one, Steven, and can it be fixed?"

"The one responsible for the north end and no, it is a total lost." Steven squeaked out.

"Alright," I said slowly, trying to remember what the insurance on my lab covered. "Steven how did this happen?"

"Timothy smoked in the non-smoking area and –" he broke off, anxiety laced his voice, "Oh I am sorry Mr. Oak, please don't fire me, you know I need this job a lot, and you have absolutely no idea how much it means to me and my family and—" He was completely babbling.

"Steven, calm down. You are not going to be fired, but Timothy has to go." That affectively quieted him down and gave me the silence I needed to think. If I remember correctly, my insurance only covers flood, mechanical failures, and pokemon related accidents, meaning this man-made accident would most likely not be covered. I rubbed my temple gingerly. The circumstance was definitely against me. A new water pump of that size would cost about a hundred fifty thousand. My emergency funding can offset half of that. This leaves about eighty thousand unaccounted for.

My mind churned for possible solutions but found none completely to my liking. Finally I gave up and sighed. "Set up a meeting with the Dean of Science at Burkely for me, Steven."

"But that would mean--"

I cut him off irritably, "I know what that means, Steven, but desperate time calls for desperate measures. Even if we empty our emergency account, we still won't have enough to cover the pump. We would have to prospone phase four of the research by at least a year if we are to earn the funding ourselves. I rather publish my research through Burkely than delay any of part of the research plans for that long." I paused to let my words sink in.

Steven took a deep breath. "I am sorry," he repeated in a low voice.

I ran my fingers through my hair. "It's not your fault," I pointed out, knowing blmaing him would not help the situation. "Besides, it's not that bad," I added, more to convince myself than the lab supervisor, "Burkely is a respectable univeristy and I have heard they have one of the least intrusive policy regarding external researches."

I repeated a list of procedures to take seven times before I hung up. The phone call left me in a rotten mood and even more horrible headache, in an effort to clear my mind I decided to head to my room and ready myself for a walk. My mind, as full and heavy as lead, only led me out of the kitchen before betraying me completely. In a moment of thoughtlessness, I confused the door to the living room with the door to the guest room: a fatal mistake.

The door edged opens soundlessly, a perfect imitation of a swinging door at the climax of a movie. The two occupants of the room instantly froze. For a moment they stared at me and I at them.

Then, the embarrassment sank in, my face flushed red and I looked away. "Good morning," I croaked, unable to think of anything else to break the tension.

Miss Waterflower maintained her unreadable stare and said nothing. The stranger Cassy, a brunette in somewhat immodest clothing, corrected with an impish grin, "Good afternoon, mister, it is past twelve."

I glanced at the wall clock above the fifty two inch television and found, my eyes wide in disbelieve, that it was almost one. That would mean I woke up at almost twelve, and that would mean I slept almost thirteen hours as oppose to my usual five. I must have really over drunk myself. "Forgive me. I am still half asleep."

"And three quarter drunk," Misty spoke finally, her words savored strongly of bitterness.

"I am really sorry about last night," I apologized genuinely, recalling the less than pleasant circumstances in which we met yesterday night as I added, "Tell me how much your shirt cost. I will pay for it."

Misty snorted, "You can't buy everything, Gary Oak, that was a very special shirt and no amount of your dirty money can replace it."

I flinched at the accusation. I did not expect her to bring up such an uneasy topic in front of a guest. "Miss Waterflower, let's discuss this later," I eyed Cassy the student to ensure she understood my concern, "I don't want to keep this Miss waiting."

"Do you mind, Cassy?" The edge in Misty's voice left the woman no choice but to shake her head.

My eyes narrowed. She had every right to be angry, but that did not give her the right to humiliate me in front of a stranger. "I am very sorry about what happened last night, Miss Waterflower, but I couldn't stop the force of nature when I am drunk."

"You call throwing up all over me natural?"

I rolled my eyes in exasperation. "You know that was not what I meant and I said sorry!"

"Sorry just doesn't cut it." She glared.

I glared back. She was not the one who had to worry about gathering over a hundred thousand to replace water pump that an idiot blew up admist a throbbing headache. I felt my temper rising dangerously, but not wanting to say anything I may seriously regret later, I decided to ignore her and march out of the room.

Unfortunately, I got no farther than a step out of the living room before Misty caught up and blocked my way. "What do you want, Waterflower?"

"Oh? No more 'Miss Waterflower' and fake civility?"

"Believe me, civility is far too much of a hassle to fake for anyone let alone for the undeserving." I sneered privately at the sight of her flaming eyes.

"You are a complete stupid jerk, Gary Oak!"

"I am far from stupid--"

"Gary Oak?" the ecstatic question surprised both of us. We jumped, having completely forgotten our audience. "You are Doctor Gary Oak!"

Shocked at the sudden address, alas formal address, my mouth remained opened agape while Misty Waterflower looked at me like I grew a second head before suddenly bursting out in laughter. "You must be mistaken, Gary Oak is no doctor."

"Yes I am," I corrected coolly, secretly offended and hurt, "I have a doctoral degree in pokémon genetics." Knowledge has always been one of my prides. Her comment was a direct attack on my self-esteem and any sort of attack on my ego, even those unintentional, could not be forgiven without retaliation. "This reminds me," I spoke, my mouth curling into a smirk, "just so you know, there are 64 water pokémon discovered so far, not 63 as you said, Great Water Pokémon Expert Misty Waterflower."

"You!" Misty Waterflower's face made me think of ripe tomatoes and autumn fire. She was angry. No, she was furious. I felt strangely accomplished.

"The truth hurts, doesn't it? Everyone calls you the Great Water Pokémon Expert and yet 'stupid jerk' me actually has to correct you on the number of water pokémon discovered in the world. Disappointing, don't you think?" Those were not the kindest of words, but one with injured pride cared little for the feelings of the injurer. My thoughts traveled in a rather straight forward and immature line: she humiliated me and I want to humiliate her back – an eye for an eye, a foot for a foot.

"You are such a—"

I pointedly ignored Misty Waterflower and turned to Cassy with a wide smile and an extended hand. "Hello, nice to meet you, I am Gary Oak."

"I am Cassy White," she introduced herself enthusiastically, her old interest in Misty Waterflower cruelly forgotten, "My professor, Doctor Andrea Lawlor, calls you one of the most talented researchers in the world! I am so honored to see you in person."

The name of one of my all time favorite mentors, Doctor Lawlor, lifted my mood. "Doctor Lawlor tends to grossly exaggerate praises. She still specializes in marine life form genetics I heard?"

"Yeah she still does. But I don't think she exaggerated anything. She showed us your thesis on Kyogre the first week of class and it was absolutely brilliant."

I grinned at her compliments. They sounded especially nice after everything Misty Waterflower said. "Kyogre, the 64th water pokémon," I added with a glance at the Cerulean gym leader, who, if possible, looked more infuriated than even before, "is indeed one of nature's great wonders."

"It is indeed," chipped Cassy, completely oblivious to, or at least chose to completely ignore, the stifling tension in the air. Entirely unaware of anything outside of direct interest is a common trait among scientists after all, I suppose, afore all other roles Cassy is a scholar in biology.

From the far corner of my eyes I saw Misty Waterflower stomped away after giving me one last lethal glare. I did not turn to watch her leave. Next to me, I vaguely registered Cassy speaking. "You are much younger than I ever imagined…" she blundered before her voice faded into the background. My senses were so well tuned to Misty Waterflower's every movement that I felt and heard, even though I could not see, her walked out of the room, down the hall way, through the reception room and out the door with an angry slam.

So much for our first real conversation, I lamented as I turned my attention back to Cassy, suddenly regretting everything I have said. I could only imagine her opinion of me after this episode.

My heart quivered.

How odd, I thought, that a man could fear losing what he could not even identify.

When Cassy left at around two thirty, Blaine has yet return home and the magnitude of my still throbbing headache overrode my lurking hunger. After taking yet another Tylenol, I headed to Blaine's study with a cup of hot Earl Gray. The study has always been my favorite room in Blaine's house for its excellent view and the library, my library, all the old books I inherited from my parents and the new books I added on my own. When I first moved out of my grandfather's house I spent almost ten percent of my wages on storage space for my books, a rather heavy financial burden, and the dire price for being stubborn. Some may think my break from my grandfather illogical, of course it was, but like I mentioned before angry people don't make the wisest decisions and once I moved out my pride kept me from moving back in.

Blaine has never been much of a reader but he has a spacious house and upon mentioning my hefty storage fees one day, he generously offered free space for my books. I gradually transferred most of the books away when I acquired the gym and later on an apartment, but still a fair number of them remained on the forged vintage bookshelves in his study for my own enjoyment when I visit. Blaine did not mind at all, he never read any of them but he considers those books home decor, after all, bookshelves full of well preserved hard cover books look rather impressive in any studies.

I pulled out a small notebook containing a directory of the books on the shelves from the bottom draw of the desk. I ran my finger down the list until I reached a title without a check mark: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekkyll and Mr. Hyde. I took my pen out of my shirt pocket and marked the title with a new check before putting the notebook away again. Then, standing up, I walked up to the bookshelves and found the said book, one of my parents', under the "S" section. A few years ago I have anally reorganized my books by alphabetical order.

So, at three o'clock sharp I settled down in the comfortable leather sofa facing the bookshelves and began to reread the book. "Mr. Utterson, the lawyer, was a man of a rugged countenance, that was never lighted by a smile; cold, scanty and embarrassed in discourse…"

I was just about to read the last chapter of the book when Blaine called me down to dinner at six-thirty. The first clause of our mutually beneficial deal: he cooks and I wash dishes when ever I visit him or he visits me. Living alone for the last five years have taught me to cook decently but knowing how to cook does not equate to wanting to cook. In truth, I am usually too lazy to cook any more than one meal a day – a rather unhealthy habit but one that I cannot break despite Blaine's constant nagging.

I marked my page with a bookmark and I walked down stairs with the book in hand in case Blaine called me down early as he does whenever he wants company. In such a case I would be sitting across the counter from him in silence because Blaine never talks when he cooks. Or so I thought.

I first heard their laughter when I reached the bottom of the stairs. I have never heard Blaine laughed quite like that. With me, he often gives throaty, deep laughs, genuine but somewhat restrained, always held back. But there and then his laughter contained an unreserved lightness that I never knew he processed. I sometimes wonder how many single serving friends thirty years of gym leading on a remote tourist island brought to Blaine. I often thought how lonely it must be for Blaine to be one of the few constants in the midst of an ever flowing river of people. How comforting it was to know he has a friend that can make him laugh like that! Unwilling to break the moment, I stood next to the door out of sight, simply listening and being glad.

When their bantering finally died down, I let myself into the kitchen. "Dinner smells good," I complemented, letting my presence be known.

Blaine, still chuckling from the last joke turned and in a mismatching I-told-you-so tone he lectured, "Enjoying your hangover?" He placed a meaningful glance at the bottle of Tylenol I left on the counter, "Didn't you say you know your limits?"

"Shut up, Blaine," I tried my best to ignore the unnatural stiffness of Miss Waterflower's back up on my entrance. "Of course I revel in hangovers."

The exchange died with Blaine's throaty chuckle. I at once began to regret walking into the room, but knowing nothing could change past deeds, I sat down on one of the kitchen stools behind the counter and reopened my book. I intended to finish reading the novel but I could barely take in a word before my eyes found their way to Miss Waterflower and Blaine, the former tossing a salad and the latter stirring a pot of soup. Eventually I gave up, closed the book, and attempted to start a conversation, "What's for dinner?" I mentally slapped myself for the lame question.

Miss Waterflower continued with her silent treatment but Blaine responded quite willingly, "Clam chowder for soup, lamb rib with garlic bread and greens for our main course, and chocolate mousse cake for dessert," here my stomach gave an appropriate grumble. Blaine gave a knowing smile, "You didn't eat lunch, did you?"

"It was too much of a headache," I returned, pun intended.

"Or you are too lazy," he accused rather bluntly. I shrugged, sheepish smile glazed over my face. "Did you even eat breakfast?"

"I had a piece of white bread at twelve something."

Blaine slapped his forehead with his hand. "Good lord, you really don't take care of yourself well enough. Good thing I cooked a big meal today."

Miss Waterflower snorted, turned to Blaine with a look of utter horror, and finally joined the chitchat. "You just realized, Blaine? Anyone who would drink himself as drunk as he did does not care for health."

Blaine laughed in good humor before the atmosphere could grow heavy, "You really did see the kid at his worst didn't you?" He lifted the pot off the stove and turned off the gas. Then, he walked toward me with his hands on his waist in a most mediator-like manner, "Did you apologize, Gary?"

I sulked indignantly, "I did already."

"Good." He turned back to Miss Waterflower in a melodramatic way that made Misty giggle, "Don't be too harsh on that kid, Misty," he pleaded with a bow, "That boy was just having a bad day, I promise he is usually a lot more agreeable and intelligent than last night." Subsequently, he elbowed me on the stomach in a not-so-subtle fashion.

I doubled over in pain. Miss Waterflower laughed. Blaine slapped me roughly on my back. "Say sorry again, Gary."

I glared at Blaine as I nursing my stomach and my back with gentle fingers but decided to take the opportunity to make amends anyway, "I am sorry, Miss Waterflower." It was the more sophisticated way of dealing with the situation especially when I have to coexist comfortably with her in the same house for a few more days.

Miss Waterflower half heartedly turned back to the salad, for a few moments clearly in deep contemplation. "I am sorry too, Gary, I spoke unfairly this afternoon."

"Good! Now that stupid tension is gone we can start dinner!" Blaine announced with a clap of his hand.

We all grinned and set the table together. I took care of the utensils, Blaine went down to the basement for wine, and Miss Waterflower brought the food to the table. Everything seemed well again, we let our guards down, perhaps we should not have. Storms brew under sunny skies, but who would anticipate a storm in perfect weather? Who would expect what happened after this calm before the storm?

I was getting the cutleries when I suddenly remembered about the book I have left on the counter unattended, begging for an accident. I instantly swirled around, intending to quickly bring the book back up to the study, but I turned too late. The book was already in danger: Miss Waterflower's wet fingers hovered only one inch away. I reacted badly. "Don't touch that!"

At once Miss Waterflower's reaching hand retreated, confusion clear in her eyes. "I just want to look at it," she hastily explained before her stubborn fingers advanced for the book a second time.

Knives and forks forgotten, I strode to her just in time to snatch her hand away before any lasting damage occur. "Looking does not involve hands, Miss Waterflower," I reprimanded, my voice harsh, my eyes narrow, "When I said don't touch the book, I meant don't touch the book."

"It's not like I would have ruined it!" she exclaimed, her temper flared and she twisted her wrist out of my grip.

"Yes you would have," I corrected in a dry voice, "your fingers are wet."

"My fingers are not wet enough to ruin any book," she insisted after one look at her fingers. "What's your problem? That's not even your book. I saw it in Blaine's study a few days ago." I opened my mouth to explain but she rambled on, "Just because I forgave you for yesterday doesn't mean you can just be an unreasonable ass, you know." She grabbed the book with lightning speed and before I could stop myself I let out an unmanly pained gasp.

"Give it back!" I demanded, reaching for the book.

She held the book up high: a challenge. "No."

"Give it back!" I tried to grab the book again just to find her move the book away. For some time we fought for the book, somewhat childishly as I later reflected, until finally she hid the book behind her back.


I scowled but withstood my temptation to reach for the book in front of her lest she wanted an excuse to call me a pervert on top of unreasonable ass and egotistic jerk.

Closing my eyes, and after breathing deeply, I tried a more diplomatic approach, "Miss Waterflower, please."

"Again, your fake civility!"

I could not believe Misty Waterflower and her twisted logic. "You only think I faked my civility because you have none yourself! Now for the last time, please give me the book Miss Waterflower." She dashed around me but I was faster and I grabbed her wrist before she could escape. "Are you deaf?"

She shot me a glare and tried to pull her arm free but I tightened my grip and reached for the book with my other hand. I would have gotten it too if not for what she did next.

She threw the book: an unforgivable act.

I screamed a soundless scream as the book soar into the air in one smooth arc right into the sink. I ran over to where the book landed only to verify what I already knew: the book was ruined.

"You guys are in luck! I found a 1970 bottle… Hey, what's wrong? Gary?" I turned, slowly, deliberately, to face Blaine. He instantly noticed the wet book in my shaky hand. "Oh Lord…"

Next to me, Misty Waterflower made a frantic apology, undeniably shaken, " Blaine, I am sorry!"

"Misty, what did you do?" Blaine asked in a melancholic whisper.

"I was fighting with Gary over your book and… and I accidentally dropped the book into the sink, I am really sorry."

Blaine shook his head once. "You really should not be apologizing to me," he muttered, wiping his face with his hand, "That book is not mine."


"It's Gary's," Blaine explained tiredly, suddenly looking very old, "heirloom from his late parents."

"I hope, with that in mind, I am not as 'unreasonable' as you said, Misty Waterflower?" I questioned, my voice soft and eerily calm. Misty Waterflower covered her mouth and for once in her life stayed silent at the right moment. "You know best whether or not that was an accident. You wanted revenge for the shirt? You've got it. A book for a shirt. You win. Excuse me," I gave a short nod to Blaine and made my way to the door.

When I was young, before I took my first research project or considered science as a career, before I gain and lost my place as the pokémon master, before I watched Lance battle on television or met Ash, before I moved in with my grandfather, before I learned to hold back my tears, before I had any reasons to cry, before that one accident, my mother and father took turns reading to me at my bed side.

On Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and every other Sunday father read me articles from the Times as well as chapters of his novel of the month that always revolved around politics and intrigues. I did not truly understand what he read, those passages were not written for children, but I loved the sound of his voice, a strange mix of knowledge, authority and gentleness. I used to interrupt him with questions every time he hit a long word or abstract concept and he used to patiently give answers. At a young age I knew words like pacifism, dystopian, totalitarianism, and liberalist. I used to throw these large words around at school. When a teacher tried to force me into a game of cop and robber, a game I hated with a passion, I would say, "Sorry, I can't play because that's against my beliefs as a pacifist." When I saw the schools geeks getting cornered by the school bullies I would say, "You autocrats should stop terrorizing him." By the miraculous the power of popularity I got away with all those lines, people liked me back then.

On Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and every other Sunday mother told me ancient myths and read me chapters from her novel of the week that always revolved around gods, princes, and dragons. I did not truly understand what she read, she liked reading the unabridged versions of books way beyond my comprehension level but I loved the sound of her voice, so melodic, smooth, and exquisite like the finest Persian silk. She did not like being interrupted when she read so she made me write down the words I did not understand and wait till she was finished to check those words in the dictionary. At a young age I heard about twenty chapters from Lord of the Rings, random chapters from Le Morte D'Arthur, a few from Odyssey, and many other chapters from a long list of classics. From her I learned about characters like Zeus, Isis, Morgan le Fay, and the three Fates. I used to allude to them with lines like, "Tragic like Oedipus?" or "He is plain stupid, if you are going to nasty then you should at least have a brain like Loki." I liked demonstrating my knowledge, proving to the world that I knew more than other average elementary school students.

Then one night I found my bed-side empty and my room in a perfect dreadful silence.

That night Doctor Faustus and the Cat's Cradle, the two books my parents were reading, lied motionless on the shelves filled with books. That night I drifted into fitful sleep.

The next afternoon I found myself, a seven and a bit year old boy, at the front door of a foreign house, a solemn, unfamiliar man, my grandfather, awaiting behind the door.

Blaine has a habit of talking to his fish when he thinks no one can hear. "Come on, little one, swim up there for some, don't let fatty – that's the way! There's one more---"

I interrupted him with a cough. I find that habit extremely depressing because of my preconception that only lonely old men talk to gold fish. I never thought it my place to comment on how sad I find his conversations with fish but I always stop him when I do see him at it.

"Ah Gary," He swirled around at my voice. "You are leaving now?"

He always knows without me speaking, I snorted in private amusement, "Your sixth sense told you?" I meant that as a joke so I laughed.

He did not laugh with me. "No, just your bags," he spoke, his lips tilted into a light smirk.

I shook my head and looked away, the saying 'parting is such sweet sorrow' swam in my mind. Then, I remembered Miss Waterflower will keep him company after I leave and the knowledge lent me comfort. "I just need to get away for a bit, there's an emergency in the lab." It was not a lie. An exploded water pump is definately considered an emergency.

"I hope that goes well," he responded in a deceptively kind tone but his eyes gave away his true feelings: he did not believe me at all.

"Me too."

"Gary, Misty she…" Blaine started but when words failed him he resorted to a simple earnest, apologetic gaze.

I combed my hair with my hand, "Miss Waterflower keeps seeing me at my worst and I at hers," I bowed my head and traced the tiles with my foot, "Perhaps we are just not meant to be friends."

"Don't say that…"

"I need to go," I interrupted, suddenly feeling desperate to end the conversation, "The last ferry off the island leaves in forty five minutes."

"I won't keep you then," Blaine sighed in defeat as he turned back to his goldfish, "I saved some dinner for you, take the lunch box on the counter with you."

I thanked him, grabbed the box, and walked into the night. As I walked, alone and quiet, I contemplated on void, loneliness, and the all consuming empty darkness.

Chapter Three Ends

Ori: Well that took a while. I had tons of trouble writing the second half. I sent my first draft to Maia Pen a very long time ago, all the way back in April, you can ask her. In my first draft the chapter was half the current length, but I realized I must end Gary's visit to Blaine's in this chapter for the story to have the same pace as what I have in mind. Thus, I had to write on despite frustration and the temptation to just give up.

This story will be a Gary/Misty story, turmoil and obstacles are food for love.

Next chapter, there will be reconciliation, a better explanation to Misty's bias against Gary, May's second appearance, good food, shopping spree, old vendetta, and more!

Review if you have time! I would love you if you do!