Part Thirteen


Four hours and twenty-two minutes on sea brought me back to Petalburg City.

A strong breeze in the dark afternoon made the city much colder than I expected, and I almost wished I was still onboard the ship where it had felt warm and relaxing. As I walked through the streets of Petalburg, I kept my head down, afraid someone would recognize me as Norman's son. I was certainly not in the mood for any of that. Luckily, I was almost home, and knowing my way around the city, I was getting there quickly. However, despite all the longing and desire that had run through me day after day, part of me wasn't even in the mood—or even ready for—seeing May again.

Especially not after everything that happened with Harley.

'I don't care.'

His last words hadn't stopped running through my mind. Harley had never said anything that cruel to me. He had lost his temper before, even went as far as calling me ungrateful, but nothing had ever come out of his mouth as remotely cruel as his last words to me. He didn't care about me anymore… all because I had decided to come home and see May.

May. He wouldn't even say her name. I couldn't remember when he last acknowledged her by her first name. It was always "her" and "she" and "your sister," but never just "May."Was it even natural to hate another human being like that? What kind of person did you have to be to carry that much hatred? And, he managed to turn all that hate on me, blame me for something that I had no idea was even happening. He said I was "ending" this, us. Was that true? Had I really destroyed what Harley and I had?

No. I refused to believe that. Harley was upset and so was I. He had to calm down at some point, didn't he? I was positive that if I called or wrote he wouldn't dismiss me. Not after everything we had shared, not after he admitted he loved me. I thought I knew Harley fairly well—maybe better than anyone—and I was certain Harley didn't just throw around that phrase. He almost seemed to struggle with the words at first, and I just knew it meant something special to have been able to say them to me.

Stopping in the middle of the street, I closed my eyes slowly, envisioning the man. This was the longest I had been separated from him since we had met, and I hated to admit it, but I missed him terribly. I was not expecting this at all, especially after the way he acted before I left. But, I was trying my hardest to simply forget all that and focus on what else we had been through together. This instantly made me smile, pleasant memories entering my mind. Maybe I was being silly, but for some reason, I really swore I could smell him: the tobacco and lavender combination.

Sighing, I decided to continue walking, passing by many stores I was familiar with, including where I knew my mother shopped for groceries. It didn't take for me to end up on my street, and the closer I got to the Gym, the slower I began to walk. Seeing May face-to-face again was something that I had wanted for such a long time, so why was I so scared now? Was it really because of everything with Harley, or was I just plain nervous?

After I had left Harley's house, I had walked to the Pokémon Center and called May. She was over-the-top excited that I was coming home, but she sensed something was wrong in my tone and had even asked. It was silly to lie, but there was nothing else I could do. I had been an emotional wreck the entire way, and it was only during the phone call with May that I had been able to stifle down my aftershock whimpers.

I bit my lip, seeing the greenhouse from afar as I continued walking. Part of me—a very large part of me—wished that Harley was with me. I certainly did not want to deal with May finding out about us, but I just wanted him here with me. I was half-expecting every now and then for the man's fingers to tickle the back of my neck and make their way through my hair, teasing me carefully.

I suddenly missed Harley tremendously. And, now, in front of the Gym, my house, I felt my hands begin to shake. Not wanting be a coward, I immediately started walking up the steps leading to the front of the house. To the right, I saw the greenhouse peeking over the Gym's roof, still as vibrant and bright as ever. When I reached the very last step, my movements slowed and it seemed as if several minutes went by before I was able to walk to the front door.

"Max! Max, I can't believe you're here already!"

Startled, I jumped and turned around, searching for where the owner of the voice was standing. My fright flattened when I realized it was May, and there she was, standing at the side of the house, dressed down in gardening attire: a white-lined, green apron, a matching visor and even dirty shoes. I stared at her for a moment, taking in the face that I hadn't seen for so long. She looked the same, but I could tell her hair had gotten longer, though it was still parted to the sides, like always.

"May…" I managed to say, smiling softly at her. "May, it's so good to see you."

May rushed over to me before I could even take a step forward. She wrapped her arms around me, kneeling down and embracing me as tightly as she could. I felt myself flush instantly, memories of Harley as her flooding me as my face pressed into her soft, dark hair. I breathed in the scent, entirely subconsciously as I almost thought I was hugging Harley. Timidly, I raised my arms and wrapped them up around May in return.

"Yeah, May," I replied. "It's good to see you, too."

May backed away from me, smiling widely. She smelt so fragile and pretty, but I could also smell actual flowers and plants on her. This reminded me that she was dressed in gardening clothes, and that was something I truly had never expected from her.

Catching my look, May laughed sweetly, and explained, "Mom was really persistent about me taking care of the garden and the greenhouse." Another laugh. Maybe more of a chuckle. "Gosh, Max, it's amazing to see you again," she then gushed.

I nodded. "Yeah. I'm… I'm glad I came…"

And, I supposed that was true. Whatever was happening with Harley and I shouldn't have hindered what was happening here with May. She was my sister and seeing her was an incredible joy. I accidentally gave her too much of a smile, and I felt a little silly for getting so mushy over this all.

"Let's go inside, Max," she insisted happily. "Mom taught me how to make tea."

"She did?" I said, and I knew it came out way too snarky, a complete demeaning of her abilities. "I mean, oh, she did?" I tried to correct.

May ended up laughing after giving me a quick glare. "You certainly haven't changed, Max," she grunted out, opening the front door and walking inside. Properly, she removed her dirty accessories and began heading towards the kitchen.

"So, did Mom and Dad force you to come home?" I asked her, setting down my backpack before following her to the kitchen.

"Well, sort of," she answered with a nod. "The Grand Festival is coming up soon, and I did plan to come home anyway, but they called me a few days ago, explaining the situation. It was very unexpected."

"Yeah," I simply said.

May turned around as she filled the tea kettle with water. "Max…" she gently called out, "I know you're hurt Dad didn't ask you to come back home for this, but I'm being honest when I say that he should've. I mean, I certainly have no idea what I'm doing."

I couldn't help but laugh a little bit. "You're older," I said for her. "I guess it makes sense."

May placed the kettle on the stove, turning it on and then taking a seat at the dining table. "Well, even if Dad wanted to ask, I'm not sure he would've known where to get in contact with you. You hardly call."

Again, color rose to my cheeks. I wasn't sure why I was so embarrassed, because I hadn't kept in touch with my parents that much even before I started traveling with Harley. Jeesh, I could not believe that less than ten hours ago I had been with that man, and now, I was here with my sister. And, she had no idea about any of it. I almost felt unworthy of being here because I was basically lying to her by not admitting the truth.

"I know," I admitted. "I'm always so busy. I sort of forget."

"I'm sure you have time for a phone call somewhere," she criticized. "What on earth are you doing with all your free time?"

I sat down across from May, mostly to distract myself from her question. If she only knew! I was such a terrible person for not having the courage to admit to May what I had been doing for the last few weeks, who I had spent my time with and who I left. I smiled at her, but I was still red from embarrassment.

"I've just been training really hard," I explained to her. "I mean, I only need one more badge to get into the League, and it's been really exciting."

"Yeah, it must be," she replied, turning to check on the tea. "So, you ran into Misty you said?"

"Oh, yeah," I said, remembering I had told her that. "On my way to Slateport. I pretty much summed everything up on the phone. But, she's just really sweet, and I'm glad to have run into her."

May gave a smile back. "The Orange Islands aren't very populated, but everyone there knew Ash since he was one of the few winners of the Championship there. I did become greater friends with someone we both know."

"Really?" I wondered. "Who?"

"Remember Kelly, the girl who taught us how to make PokéBlock?" she inquired. "Well, she was actually out in the Orange Islands, too, and even though we were rivals, we still managed to be really good friends. We didn't end up in a lot of the same Contests, but she talked to me yesterday, and she has her fifth ribbon, too."

"Oh," I simply said. "That's pretty neat. I've never managed to get a rival." I shrugged.

"Kelly's such a funny person," she beamed. "She's still as silly as ever."

I smiled back at May, happy to see her so gleeful. But, deep down, this also made me sort of sad, because I instantly realized I couldn't relate back to May with stories about Harley and me. I would've loved that, too. I always wanted to tell someone else—someone who wouldn't judge me—about how Harley and I met up, how our relationship developed, how we spent so much time together that we ended up falling—

—I stopped my thoughts.

I couldn't allow myself to think about Harley right now. It would make me miss him too much. I was allowed to sit here and bask in my thoughts as May stood up to attend to the whistling tea kettle. As she prepared everything I sat there sullenly, thinking about what Harley might be doing right now. Was he still upset with me and just carrying on with his day? Or, had he calmed down and was now missing me? I sighed sadly, quickly deciding I had to call the man before the night was over. At least hearing his voice would comfort me.

"What are you so focused on?" May asked, setting a cup of tea in front of me.

I flinched. "Oh, um, just random stuff," I falsely assured her.

May sat down herself, so polite and proper that it almost scared me. "I really missed talking to you, Max," she told me. "When I received your letter I didn't know what to think. Then I read it, and I was touched."

I shrugged. "Well, I missed talking to you, too," I admitted. "So much has happened, and it's hard to believe I spent so much time not talking to you."

"Time does fly by," she noted, stirring her tea. "Oh! But, that sort of reminds me of something! I have something for you." She got up, wandering off somewhere and leaving me at the table.

A bit confused, I figured I'd find out soon enough, so sat patiently and drank my tea, which was unsurprisingly green tea, the only kind we ever had in this house. Eventually, May came back into the kitchen. She was holding a small yellow box with some kind of company logo on it. I recognized it as the Devon Corporation logo and cocked my head curiously.

She set the box down on the table, grinning all the meanwhile. "Here," she said proudly. "It's one of the biggest advancements the company has made this year," she explained.

I picked up the box, looking at it with interest. I realized it was the Devon Corporation's latest device, an OS smartphone system. It was very small—smaller than my PokéNav—but remained yellow and was completely flat with a little pointer stick to navigate. I turned over the box, seeing not only did the device work like a PokéNav, it also had e-mail and obvious phone abilities. I furrowed my brow, taking in this gift May had graciously given me, but still remained rather confused as to why she would get me something like this.

"May…" I softly said, "thank you—this means a lot." I smiled, getting up out of my chair and hugging her.

May laughed. "No problem, Max," she dismissed. "It's a late birthday present, really."

"Thanks," I said again. I went back over to my seat, beginning to open the box. "I really needed one of these things. Even with all the upgrades I've been giving my PokéNav, it's a bit outdated now."

"I'm going to have to agree with that," May told me, laughing. She tilted her head, getting a good look outside. "Now, maybe when you go back to traveling you can actually call Mom and Dad once and a while," she then chided.

I furrowed my brow and stared down at the small device. Was that why she got me this? Was she just looking out for Mom and Dad because they complained I never called enough? Or, was she perhaps being selfish about it and wanted me to call her once I began traveling again?

"What's wrong?" she wondered, sounding worried.

"I just can't help but think Mom and Dad must have said something to you," I revealed quietly. "I mean, like, they complained I never called."

"Oh…" May voiced, making it entirely obvious they had. "Well, maybe it's just because I call too much."

Even though I was facing May, I gave a quick roll of my eyes, finding that a bit typical. I remembered how many times she'd call during a week when she was in Johto. I would never speak to her on the phone, and Dad especially would get very upset with my attitude. How was it my parents never were irritated by the amount of phone calls from May? If she called me that often—regardless of if we were on good terms—I would be beyond aggravated.

"Well, I'm always really busy," I told her harshly. "I don't always have time to call."

May looked disappointed by my words, narrowing her eyes and pushing out her lip. Part of me felt bad for getting snippy with her. I was about to apologize, but suddenly, she changed the subject, exclaiming, "It's so dark out already!"

I gave her a weird look, wondering how she could just go off on a tangent like that. But, not wanting to seem ungrateful by continuing to criticize why she purchased me a smartphone for a present, I just asked, "Did Kenny already go home?"

She nodded. "Yes," she replied. "I actually thought that with you around we wouldn't need him that often, so with Dad's permission, I told him we could take a week off."

"Oh," I voiced. "Then, um, does that mean Dad knows I'm here?" I wondered, managing to get out the small device and pulling out the small, plastic warranty slip from the side.

"Yeah, I did," she said. "Why? Did you not want me to?"

I shrugged as I started up the smartphone. "I guess it doesn't matter," I shrugged off.

"Well, I hate to be rude, but I really should take a shower," she explained. "I've been working outside, and am utterly smelly." She stood up, finishing off the rest of her tea and then placing her cup in the sink. She took mine, too, and then asked, "Will you still be awake when I'm out?"

I looked up at May. "Probably not," I admitted. "I'm wiped out from the trip."

"All right then," May said. She walked over to me, wrapping her arms around my body and hugging me tightly once more. "Then, good night for today. Tomorrow we should do something fun."

I hugged her back, holding her close and leaning my chin on her shoulder. "Good night," I simply murmured, and once we released the embrace, I realized I had somehow smelt her hair again.

May walked away, headed towards the bathroom. I stood up and walked to my bedroom, located at the very west end of the house. When I switched on the lamp inside my room and saw the small enclosure, I realized how tiny it seemed to have gotten. I closed the door behind me and immediately changed into something fresh and clean. It felt so nice to be in clothing I hadn't worn in a while. And, having put on my nightwear—a plan white t-shirt and a pair of shorts—I started to become a bit embarrassed even though I was completely alone. I guess it just reminded me how unneeded these apparels were when I was around Harley.

I sat on my bed, which was so comfortable and familiar (though small) and began toggling with my smartphone again. I customized it quickly then stared at the empty address book. I still remembered Harley's phone number. And, this fact was making me want to call Harley more than ever.

Slowly—so very slowly—I began pressing the numbers with the pointer. For some reason, it seemed completely reasonable that my very first phone call with my new device was to Harley. I smiled distantly, hearing the ring on the other end several times. But, with each ring, I started to realize that Harley was not going to answer.

That realization broke my heart.

Soon, I heard the default voice explaining the person I was trying to reach was not available, but I could leave a message and so forth. When I heard the beep, I was quiet, having no idea what on earth I was supposed to say to Harley.

'I don't care.'

Suddenly very hurt, I hung up. I closed my eyes, suppressing an urge to simply start crying. He had said those words to me. And, for some reason, it hadn't really, really hit me until just now. The same man who proclaimed to me what no else ever would, told me he didn't care whether or not I left him. And, yet, I wanted to call him and hear his voice and talk to him? How stupid was I?

I fell backwards on my bed, closing my eyes and blinking out the tears that formed. I hadn't even lied on a bed in the past week that I hadn't shared with Harley. Now, lying back on my own, it felt empty and I felt so alone. Small and skinny, my bed wouldn't fit both Harley and me, unless he really bundled up close to me. Imagining what that would be like—what it would feel like to have him on my bed, holding me close in his possessive manner—my heart fluttered, and I even felt my body temperature rise.

Minutes went by, and weirdly, despite sincerely feeling stupid, I regained the desire to talk to him, or at least leave him a message so he could get back to me. I was, however, a bit curious what he was doing right now. Many negative scenarios were running through my head, but I decided he was most likely drinking. If he had gotten upset about me hanging out with Misty all day then certainly this situation had lead to the same thing.

Redialing Harley's number, I waited the same amount of time for his answering machine to pick up. At the sound of the beep I took a deep breath. "H-hi, Harley…" I began, weak and frail. "Um, I don't know whether or not you want to hear from me, but I wanted to let you know I'm, well, here now. And, Harley, I really do miss you right now, and I really wish you'd pick up. Please call me back if you can. I-I… I, um—okay, bye."

Shutting my eyes all over again, I replaced the pointer in the smartphone's holder and set it on my nightstand. I'd mess with the device when I had a clearer mind. Right now, I simply could not concentrate on anything else. My mind was blurred, and I was tired, and I wished Harley was with me.

I dug under my bed sheets, getting under and turning off the lamp on my nightstand. I removed my glasses, staring up at the ceiling before taking a deep breath. God, it felt so foreign to be in a bed all alone. I had gotten used to Harley being beside me, either pressing against him or being pulled closer to him. His warm arms were always so inviting, even when I was being stubborn. Sometimes it was hard to believe I ever refused him.

Again, I became worried what Harley could've been doing right now. Drunk, maybe, but that didn't necessarily mean he wouldn't do something stupid. In fact, it probably increased the chances. What if he… what if he met someone? Harley admitted he usually had one-night stands, and what if tonight he had found someone? Would he really do that to me? Had our fight today even meant we… broke-up?

Horrified by this, I turned in my bed, pressing my face into my pillow. It seemed like such a silly term, but Harley said we were in a relationship, and when you were no longer in a relationship that sort of meant you "broke-up." But, was that really what had happened between us? Neither us had said it, and as far as I was concerned, we hadn't broken-up. Even if I had left and Harley was angry and whatever else, I still wanted to be with him. I was absolutely drawn to him in every way. I had fallen in love with him and allowed him to take my virginity, and really, had done just about everything with him. It wouldn't have made any sense to just stop being with him.

One memory, a very prominent one, came to me suddenly. I remembered when Harley woke me up in the morning our very first time together. He had said my name several times, so seductive and teasing. We ate in bed and talked and agreed to travel together. And, then, because Harley always had to make things perverted, he forced me to put on that unfitting pair of underwear. Having completely ruined the things, Harley threw them out, but on my birthday, he replaced them by giving me a new pair. It was so ridiculous. He was ridiculous. But, whatever magnetic power he possessed to make me feel so drawn to him was still a mystery.

For a very long time, I just continued to lie in bed, thinking about the man and everything we had been through. I thought about Goldenrod City, our first meal together, our morning at the pool, our first time together, our nights at hotels, our travels through the woods, our battles—everything.

Then, hearing a buzzing ring, I sat up in a rush. I looked around in the dark, suddenly seeing my smartphone brightly lit. Confused, I realized I had fallen asleep. I looked at my clock, and it read 2 a.m.! Completely shocked that I had been asleep for so long, I slowly reached out and picked up the phone.

"H-hello?" I spoke, tired and fuzzy sounding.

There was a stretch of silence.

"Darling," came the voice soon after.


Instantly washing out the tiredness in my mind, I perked up, smiling widely, but soon catching the weird tone in his voice. He sounded a little angry, but also tired, which I guessed was a slur, in reality.

"Harley?" I called out, furrowing my brow.

"Yes," he answered, his tone quiet. "Yes, it's me."

"I… didn't think you would call…" I admitted, lying back down and resting my head on my pillow. "But, I'm so glad you did. Really, I am!"

Another moment of silence, and then, "You're home?"

"Um, yeah," I replied. "Are you home?"

"Yes, darling," he assured me. "And, it's terribly lonely here without you, Maximus." His tone seemed steadier now, and I realized he might not have been as drunk as I thought. Maybe he was more tired.

"I didn't think you'd call me back, to be honest," I admitted. "I thought maybe you hated me."

"No, darling," he said, "I could never hate my Maximus." He laughed lowly, making a musing sound.

"So, why did you call me?"

"Why'd you call me?" he countered.

"Because I miss you, and I thought you ought to know I made it here okay, and… I wanted to hear your voice, too." I laughed myself. "It's silly, I know. I'm sorry."

"Don't be," he told me. "Fuck, I hate that sister of yours."

I furrowed my brow, not expecting that comment so suddenly. "Well, she bought me something for my birthday."

"Better than the undies I got you?"

Ignoring that, I said, "It's a smartphone from the Devon Corporation."

"Oh, and here I thought I was calling your home phone. Too bad. It would've been fun to leave a very revealing message on the machine."

I sighed. "Well, too bad you won't be able to," I stated. "But, if you want… you can always leave a message on this phone." I blushed at my words, feeling silly.

"Maybe I will, Maximus," he said, his tone very lecherous.

"Do you miss me?" I blurted out, closing my eyes sleepily.

"What kind of question is that?" he asked back. "I miss your ass and your cock and—"

"Stop being gross," I demanded. Then, much softer, "You said you didn't care, Harley. You said you didn't care if I left. And, now I'm gone, but I miss you so much despite you saying that."

"I wish I was fucking you right now."

"Harley…" I called out in annoyance. "Are you drunk?"

"Only a little, and it's your fault, so I have no reason to apologize," he basically seethed.

"Can you answer my question?" I asked him sadly. "Please?"

"Mm, what was it again?"

"Do you miss me?"

Even though I couldn't see the man, I was betting he had closed his eyes, letting out a silent sigh. "I'm tired, darling."

"Then why'd you call? It's like 2 a.m., and I'm tired."

"I guess I just miss you."

"Huh?" I scoffed out. Then, smiling a little—even though it really wasn't funny he was so loopy and tired from his binge drinking—I thought it was ironic that despite obviously trying to hide his feelings, he was actually admitting them. "Well, then, maybe we should go to sleep."

"Mmm, but oh, Max, I love hearing your voice."

"Then, will you call me tomorrow?"

"Yes, I will," he proclaimed. "Bye, Maximus."

I heard him hang up, leaving me in the dead silence of the night. It took me a moment to set down my smartphone, but eventually, I did. Sighing, I thought about how weird that whole call was, and I almost thought that maybe this was my dream and not all those entwined memories. But, the heavy weight of my eyelids told me that I was indeed awake.

I felt a maudlin shiver run through my body before I managed to drift off to sleep. Harley still cared about me, and that actually made me happier than being home with my sister.



"Max, wake up."

Groggy, slightly annoyed and frustrated, I turned in my sheets, feeling the thin material restrain me further in my bed. I heard the voice repeat itself, and a little unsure, I managed to lift my head, looking around the room. I only saw the glaring sunlight through the single window in my room, and this did nothing but frustrate me further.


I jerked, blinking out my sleepiness. "Har—?" I stopped myself when I saw May standing at the side of my bed. "May!" I exclaimed, shaking my head to clear my head.

"Sorry to startle you," she apologized, smiling. "But, you really should wake up. It's almost 4 p.m.!"

I stumbled out of bed, scratching my head. "No, no, it's okay," I told her, yawning afterward. "But, why didn't you wake me sooner?"

I then got a good look at my sister. She was dressed in a tan skirt and green blouse, much more girlie than I ever expected from her. I guessed that since she wasn't traveling she didn't feel the need to dress down. But, I had to admit, I didn't really like her dressed like this. I preferred her biker gear.

"Oh, um…" she narrowed her eyes, a bit flustered. "I had two challengers this morning."

I looked at May flatly. I already knew that since May was taking care of the Gym she had to battle any trainers who requested, but hearing it from her was a bit different. It was like I had just realized the extent of what she had to do here. I narrowed my own eyes, giving a quick huff.

"You know, Max," she began, looking back up, "the two of us haven't battled."

I brushed out my hair with my fingers, distantly envisioning it was actually Harley who was doing it. "Yeah, that's true," I said. "We ought to sometime. But, to be honest, right now I'm not in the mood."

Not believing my dismissal, May shook her head and argued, "Now, I simply can't see you turning down a battle." She put her hands on her hips, tilting her head. "If you think I'm tired or anything, I'm not. Come on, let's battle."

I sighed. "Maybe later," I told her. "I do need to train my Murkrow. Misty gave me a Dusk Stone!"

"A Dusk Stone?" May inquired. "Wouldn't that make Murkrow evolve into a…?"

"A Honchkrow," I finished for her. "Yeah, and it's really pretty, too! Let me get dressed, and I'll show you."

Seeming pleased I had suddenly brightened up, May smiled and left the room, closing the door behind her. I rushed to my dresser, picking out a plain collared shirt and shorts, my usual attire. I dressed quickly—brushing out my hair, too—and then rushed out of my room, heading towards the front door where I had placed my backpack. I heard May in the kitchen, so I walked in there as I dug through my backpack.

"That was awfully nice of Misty," May noted. "I mean, I know she doesn't have any Pokémon she could use that sort of stone on, but she could've easily sold it." She sat down at the table after she took an apple from the bowl on the counter.

"I can't find it!" I exclaimed, and very worried, I turned over my backpack, letting every last item fall from it. I began picking through the scattered pile, looking for the small velvet bag. "Where is it?" I exclaimed.

May, chewing a bite of her apple, stared at the mess on the table. Her eyes wandered from my Pokéballs to my PokéNav to my sketchbook to… the umbrella. Curious, she picked it up, and I saw the little yellow tag dangle merrily, the word "faunlet" distinctly recognizable.

"Uh, can I have that?" I instantly asked, trying to grab it back.

May looked up, furrowing her brow. "What? Why?" she asked.

I grabbed it hurriedly. "Um, because…" I stuttered, replacing it in my backpack. "It's bad luck to open an umbrella indoors!" I explained, making sure the tag was at the very bottom, unable to be seen.

"I wasn't going to open it," she said, smirking. She shook her head again. "Your bag sure is messy."

"I know," I said, only paying minimal attention as I kept my eye on the mess before me.

Then—because I swear she was either suspicious or the world was way too ironic—she reached out to pick up the Chatot, making a sharp-pitched little squeal. "Aww!" she chirped, smirking. "This is so cute! Where'd you get it?"

I almost grabbed this from her, too. Quickly, however, I realized there was nothing revealing about it, although, in the back of my mind, I wondered if she had any living idea that Harley not only held it in his hands, but had won it for me, too.

"Uh, I bought it," I decided to say. I wasn't even sure why I decided to lie. But, annoyed, I sighed in frustration. "I can't find my stone still. I think I left it at—" I paused, knowing I couldn't say the man's name.

May gave me a considerate look, seeming sad for me.

"Great," I said tiredly. "I'll call the hotel later," I then lied.

"I'm sure the maids found it," she told me, crunching on her apple.

I began replacing all my items in my bag, scrunching up the small blue pair of underwear so May wouldn't be able to see them. I turned red nonetheless, feeling as though she did catch a glimpse.

"Nurse Joy came over earlier," she suddenly revealed. "Today's the 30th anniversary of the official opening of the Center here in town, so she's doing a fireworks display to commemorate it."

"Oh," I simply voiced, replacing the last of my items. "That might be fun to watch."

"I thought so, too," May agreed. "We'll probably be able to see them fine from outside the greenhouse. Speaking of which, you didn't say hello to your Pokémon!"

I rubbed the back of my head. "Yeah, I haven't, I admitted. "I should probably let my other Pokémon out there, too."

May threw the rest of her apple away. She then moved forward, tugging at my arm. "Yeah, let's go, Max! I want you to see the Pokémon I caught in the Orange Islands!" She grinned happily, pulling me towards the backdoor.

I quickly grabbed my Pokéballs before the two of us exited, walking outside. It was pretty hot out, the sun glaring down and entering the greenhouse, which was even more humid and muggy, seemed unbearable. As soon as we entered I simultaneously let out my Pokémon: Slugma, Murkrow, Kirlia, Mareep, Skiploom and Stantler.

"Wow!" May exclaimed. "I can't believe you have a full team."

Murkrow immediately perched himself on a tall tree, but he was looking around in puzzlement, obviously curious about his new environment. He also seemed to be looking at May, too, and I guessed he was wondering where Harley was since he had gotten used to the man's presence. I sighed quickly before beginning to walk around the greenhouse, searching for Sceptile.

"Oh, Max!" May yelled, out of my sight. "Come over here! I want to introduce you!"

I walked to where I heard my sister's voice. She was by the artificial river, bending down and petting a pink Pokémon. It was round and small and had a stroke of red on its body, topped off with a short leaf from its head.

"This is Cherubi," May said, smiling. "I caught her right after my last Contest. I wish I found her sooner—she'll be able to do amazing Appeals."

The small creature was very cute. I couldn't help but smile, bending down and patting its head, too. "Hi, there," I greeted. "She's really cute."

"I know!" May squealed ridiculously.

Just when I was about to say something, I felt something grab at my back. Startled, I turned around, but with the combination of May's laughter and the sight of a green and tan Pokémon, I realized instantly that it was only Sceptile, giving me a friendly hello. I laughed, too, reaching out and stroking the creature's head.

"Hi!" I said. "I missed you terribly!"

Sceptile made a sound of agreement.

"I think I might use you in the Johto League," I told the creature. "How does that sound?"

Obviously excited, Sceptile brightened up considerably. I laughed, patting his head before the Pokémon jumped away, returning to the crowded clutter of bushes and trees. I turned back to May, who was still petting and gushing over the small Cherubi. I rolled my eyes in amusement.

"So, what else did you catch?" I asked.

"Well," May said, standing up straight and putting her hands on her hips, "I caught a Ledyba, too. And, even though this isn't a catch, Bulbasaur finally decided to evolve."

"Really?" I excitedly exclaimed. "I can't wait to see them! Where are they?"

May laughed. "Who knows. It'll take forever to find them in here."

"Well, we definitely should battle later," I told her. "I want to battle Cherubi against Murkrow."

"Don't underestimate her just because she's small," May warned me, giving a confident grin.

"Fine, fine," I said, beginning to walk out of the greenhouse.

"I know it seems like you just woke up, but I think I should start dinner for us," May stated as we walked through the yard. "Of course, you know I'm not much of a cook, so I'd appreciate it if you helped me out!"

"For my sake, yes, I will," I told her, laughing cruelly. "You should've kept Kenny around for food purposes though."

"Yeah, I know," she admitted. "But, he works so hard all the time."

When we reentered the kitchen, May began washing her hands. I decided to put my backpack in my room, so I took it, walking to my room. As I walked in the hall, I began hearing a ring, and I realized it was my smartphone. I sped up, reaching my room quickly and picking up the phone. I recognized Harley's number, so I answered, almost too desperately.

"Oh, and here I thought you weren't going to answer."

My heart began beating quicker, instantly affected by hearing the man's smooth, but enthusiastic voice. I felt my lips extend into a goofy smile, and I walked over to the door, closing it for privacy. The last thing I needed was for May to hear me talking on the phone with Harley. I almost forgot to respond simply because I was overjoyed by the man's incredible voice and the mere fact he was actually calling me.

"Hi," I greeted happily. "You know, part of me didn't even think you would remember the call last night."

The man let out a soft snigger. "Why, Max, you underestimate my abilities to remember events when I'm plastered."

I rolled my eyes, almost feeling as though the man could see my expression. "Nonetheless, I'm glad you're okay," I told him. Then, flatly, "So, now that you're sober, are you going to apologize to me?"

I heard the man scoff loudly. "Max, you know I adore you. It's so fucking dry here without my faunlet."

"So, you do miss me?" I asked, wanting an affirmation for his drunken words last night.

"Have you fucked her yet?"

"What?" I gasped out. "Harley! I don't want to fight with you again!"

"Makes two of us, my love," he told me. He then sighed heavily, obviously getting up from wherever he was sitting. "Remember what I said about you leaving?"

"That you didn't care?" I blurted out bitterly. "That really hurt, Harley."

"No, no," the man dismissed. "Before I told you I'd go mad. Christ, it's true. It's been only a day, and I just might be declining in the sanity department."

"Don't mock me," I grunted.

"Maximus, I'm not," he assured me. "I'd give anything to shag you silly right now. Oh, and how hard and fast I would do it. Mm."

I felt myself affected by the man's lusty words. Blushing, I narrowed my eyes, replying, "I miss you, too, Harley. I can't believe how much."

"That's because I'm great fun, and since my competition is that sister of yours, I doubt I have anything to worry about regarding who is more entertaining."

"Well, if you feel that way, why do you worry about other stuff?"

Harley chuckled. "I guess I'm just protective of my darling faunlet," he proclaimed. "Really, I must admit, I do regret saying such awful things to you yesterday. But, some things I refuse to take back, because I think it's unfair the way you up and left the love of your life."

I began laughing. "Love of my life?" I echoed. "Since when?"

He laughed. "Since forever, Max. Who else is going to pamper you silly the way I do, huh?" I then heard some kind of flicking spark on the other end, and I concluded Harley was lighting a cigarette. "No one, that's who," he finished for himself.

"So, you're telling me that because you're supposedly the love of my life, I shouldn't have left you?" I wondered, frowning. "I think that's silly."

"Maybe you think so now, Max," he said, "but you'll realize it's true. She will never ravish you with attention, at least not the kind you like. And, whether or not that girl has a sex drive is still a mystery, but I'm positive she won't give you what you want. Only I can."

I shut my eyes, his suave confidence feeling as though it were running down my body. I was so mesmerized by how he carried his tone. Before last night, I had never talked to him on the phone, and now—now with him sober and obviously trying to be charming—I realized that his voice was one of his most powerful attributes. It was like I didn't even need to see him, because he already felt so lively and strong and handsome. I was unbelievably overwhelmed by his tone, his volume, his controlled cadence.

"Don't worry, Maximus," he then told me in encouragingly. "You'll realize this soon enough."

"Well," I firmly began, "I don't plan on letting any of the sort of stuff happen, Harley."

"So, your heart is all mine? Oh, and your body, too?"

"I find it funny that this is all coming from you," I revealed. "Quite the opposite of everything you told me yesterday, claiming you didn't care and whatnot."

"We all make mistakes," he excused. "And, besides, Max, you're the love of my life! Well, at least I'm fairly certain. I'll have to go back and check to see if there are anymore boys quite like you, though, once again, I'm pretty convinced there aren't."

The way Harley said this—"the love of my life"—was so odd and humorous to me. He said it like some high and mighty king, so unconvincing with the phrase but obviously believing it himself. I couldn't help but smile.

"Harley, I'm so happy you called me today," I then lamented in a goofy tone. "I had this horrid fear that you and I weren't going to talk anymore."

"Funny story, darling," he said, pausing momentarily as I presumed he inhaled some of his cigarette. "Last night—oh, and have I ever told you I have wonderful revelations when I'm wasted?—well, I was sitting here thinking I should just forget about you and let you fuck your sister, and one day, I'll get over your faunlet-y ass. But, then it came to me after I heard that sweet little message from you."

"Um, what came to you?" I asked, urging him to continue as I furrowed my brow.

"That even though I was a complete bastard you still wanted to talk to me," he explained. "And, fuck, that just made me realize how precious you were—oh yes, it did! So, I figured if you were willing to talk then I definitely should not push you away. And, voila, here we are talking. I expect to check up on you every day."

"Check up on me?" I echoed. "So, that's what this is about?"

After a small chortle, the man answered, "Yes, it is. I'll amuse you enough so you won't be tempted by that trollop."

"That wouldn't even happen in the first place," I stated.

"Mm, fine, whatever," he dismissed, letting out a small huff. "Now, I'll let you go, but I expect a phone call before you go to bed, darling. There are many ways to make midnight calls fun."

"All right," I droned, shaking my head. "I will try my best."

"Goodbye, my sweet, darling, faunlet-y, exceptional Maximus."

"Goodbye," I said back firmly, only laughing a little as hung up. I smiled distantly, staring at the blank phone. I decided to add the man's number to the actual address book, along with my home number, too.

I then realized I had been talking to Harley far too long. I immediately left my room, rushing to the kitchen. May was stirring something in a pot, but when she saw me, she rose an eyebrow, very curious.

"What on earth took so long? I was just about to check on you."

"Um, I… I… I had called the hotel."

Of course, not only was this a lie, this also made me realize I had completely forgotten to ask Harley about my Dusk Stone. I was positive I left it there, remembering that the night before I left I was teasing the man by insisting I wanted to evolve Murkrow. I was pretty sure I even left it on the coffee table.

"Oh," May said, continuing to stir whatever was in the pot. "Did they have it?"

"They said they weren't sure," I continued to lie. "But, I gave them my number and they said they would call me back once they checked."

"Well, I'm basically done making dinner!" she exclaimed. "We're having spaghetti, because that's all I can make." She laughed at herself palely, moving over and stirring another pot, which I concluded contained the sauce.

"Sorry," I said, rubbing the back of my head. "Is there anything I can do now?" I then asked.

"You can set the table," she told me, smiling brightly with a small flash of her teeth.

I nodded, going over to the drawer where Mom kept the silverware and taking everything out. I set the table appropriately, and I was surprised I even remembered how. I hadn't had much of a formal meal in forever, and even when Harley cooked for me, he just handed me the silverware, and we ate in such an informal manner. In a way, I preferred it that way, but I supposed May just wanted to put on a show, much like she had done when she had discovered the "fun" of making PokéBlock. I ended up laughing, thinking about how excited she was and how bad the final product came out. I hoped that wouldn't be true here.

"What?" she asked, turning around and raising an eyebrow.

"I made PokéBlock not too long ago," I admitted to her as I went to get the plates from the cabinets. "It brought back a lot of memories."

May seemed very interested in my story. "How'd it turn out? Better than May's Purple Surprise?"

I rolled my eyes. "I think so," I told her, grinning confidently.

"Well, just for your information, Kelly and I traveled together for a little bit, and she definitely helped improve my PokéBlock skills." She put on some oven mits and began pouring the spaghetti into the sink, onto a strainer.

"You did?" I asked. "I had no idea. That's pretty neat."

"It was fun," she replied. "Right now she's still hanging out in the Orange Islands, even though I tried to persuade her to come visit me here." May continued fixing up the rest of the dinner, pouring the red sauce on the spaghetti and bringing over the bowl to the dining table.

"You two are probably going to end up battling in the Grand Festival," I pointed out.

I almost wanted to say something about Drew, ask her whether she had seen him or heard from him lately. But, I decided not to, because I feared if I did, she would end up mentioning Harley, too. If she did, I would've gotten way too flustered, and it would've been clear I was hiding something from her.

"Yeah," she softly said. "But, it's okay, because I believe we'll both do our best if that happens." She tilted her head, smiling, then gestured for me to help myself to the spaghetti first.

I reached forward, using the large fork to gather some of the food and transfer it onto my plate. "You know, this looks pretty good, to be honest," I admitted to May, twirling my fork and gathering some of the long noodles.

"Thank you!" she beamed.

Again, May smiled, and as weird as it seemed, there was something very engaging and charming about it, almost like she was smiling too much. I became a little uncomfortable, feeling myself turn red as I realized she looked very pretty. I was reminded of Harley on top of me—touching me, teasing me—all in the meantime, dressed as my sister. He talked like her. He stole her quirks and movements. Instead of whispering his many nicknames to me, he whispered, "brother." But, instead of simply feeling humiliated at the thought, I realized that the image was very potent, even now. Intrigued with the memory, I felt an arousal stir in my body, which I instantly tried to extinguish by concentrating on my food.

"Did you travel with anyone?" she wondered, sucking in her lips to lick off some of the red sauce. "Mom told me she thought you were."

"What?" I demanded, almost dropping my fork. "No, I haven't traveled with anyone. Anyone."

May rose an eyebrow, messily trying to slurp the rest of the long, spaghetti before saying, "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to rub it in your face."

"Huh?" I exasperated. Then, suddenly, I realized she thought I was offended, assuming I hadn't traveled with anyone and that I was saddened by it. I let out a small sigh. "No, it's okay. I didn't mean to yell."

"Maybe you should get in contact with Ash," she suggested. "You two could travel together."

"That would never work," I told her. "It's not like when we traveled with him and you did Contests and he did Gym Battles. Both Ash and I would be challenging Leaders for badges and it just wouldn't work."

"Are you sure about that?" she asked, playing with her noodles in her bowl. "When I first began traveling with him, he was originally completely okay with me doing Gym Battles. And, with Kelly, we traveled together even though we were both coordinators."

"Yeah, but did Kelly and you ever enter a Contest while you were traveling together?"

"Oh," May voiced in realization. "No, actually, we didn't."

"Then, see, it just wouldn't work out if I traveled with Ash. Besides, with Brock still with him and with that girl, Hikari, there I just wouldn't feel right freeloading with them." I shrugged, showing defeat. I hoped, however, May wouldn't think I was truly upset by it. I didn't want to travel with Ash. I wanted to travel with Harley, and once this whole thing was over with the Gym and taking care of it and whatever else, I would be able to again.

"Well, Max," May then began, obviously nervous about something, "I don't know whether you were serious about going to the Orange Islands or not, but maybe if you aren't, um, maybe the two of us could travel together, huh?"

I looked up the girl, seeing she was staring down at her meal, embarrassed. I frowned, seeing how serious she was about this. What was I supposed to say to her that wouldn't reveal I was planning to travel with someone, and at the same time, not break her heart? But, why should I spare her feelings? She didn't spare mine when she came out and said I couldn't come to Johto with her. Thinking back to that exact moment caused a pang to rise in my heart. It still hurt to realize she had said those words to me. Sometimes I just hated her for it.

When May looked back up to me, she saw I had a very stoic look on my face. It was easy for her to catch onto what I was thinking about, and she narrowed her eyes in disgrace. "I know what you're still hurt, Max," she revealed gently, "and I hate what I did, but I don't think you understand it."

"You don't hate it," I assured her blandly. "Why would you? You wanted to be independent, and I was just too much trouble, and you wanted to be with Drew, and so on." I rolled my eyes, completely bemused.

Redness flushed into May's complexion at the mention of Drew. I regretted saying it now, still fearful she'd bring up Harley, but as my sister pursed her lips, collecting herself, I calmed down, figuring she was going to let my last comment slide.

"It wasn't any of that, Max," May said softly. "I just wanted to prove I could do everything myself. You wouldn't have been trouble—you would've been a big help, and that was the problem. I didn't want to rely on you."

I continued to look at May flatly. I had gone over that possibility many times. I knew part of it was true, but it angered me that I was only worthy of traveling with after she proved something to herself. She didn't need me, and I surely didn't need her, so why was she offering this now?

"Well," I said to her, starting calm, "where you would want to go?"

"There are many regions to visit, but I was thinking Sinnoh might be fun. Hikari told me that the Contests there are really different! Coordinators get to dress up in pretty costumes, and it contributes to their Appeals and stuff. I think that sounds like so fun, don't you?"

I think Harley would, I thought to myself, and I almost said it out loud, too. Distantly, I did wonder whether or not Harley knew about this aspect of Sinnoh Contests. Harley was so theatrical with me sometimes—a prime example being just a few minutes ago when he melodramatically claimed we were the love of each other's lives—and something like that would probably thrill the man. He was already experienced, having dressed in his May outfit during an Appeal.

"Well, don't you?"

I blinked, snapping back to reality. "Um, yeah, maybe for you," I said, shrugging.

"Ash is doing very well in Sinnoh," she explained to me. "I'm sure you would, too."

I let out a frustrated sigh. "I was serious about going to the Orange Islands," I decided to say.

"Oh…" May said quietly. "I guess that's a no then for traveling with me."

"Not really," I said to her. "It's just I think we're in different places. If I wanted to go to Kanto, you've already been there, too." I shrugged again.

Of course, my comment was a little deceitful since Harley had been through the same regions as May, and I still wanted to travel with him. However, Harley had revisited Johto, and I supposed that if I were persistent enough with him, he wouldn't mind going back to Kanto either.

May stood up, having finished her meal. As she washed off her dishes in the sink, I stood up, too, bringing over my own and helping her rinse everything.

"I wonder what it would've been like if I had taken you to Johto," she distantly mused, walking over to the table and picking up the last pieces of silverware and dishes. "Part of me thinks you wouldn't have had much fun because all I ever did was worry about my next Contest."

I just made a noise that revealed I was listening. I wouldn't have wanted to play third wheel to Drew and her, but maybe if I had gone, the two wouldn't have gotten together in the first place. Still curious of the thought, I wondered what would've happened between Harley and I if I been around. I would've been very young, but as I grew up, would Harley have noticed anything in me? I'm sure anyone would've called me crazy to admit that I really hoped he would have, regardless of how old I was back then. Would he have flirted with me, made it obvious he was attracted to me and perhaps done something about it, all in front of May?

I grinned at these thoughts. It would've been terribly amusing to have my relationship with him develop right in front of May. Of course, that thought was coming from what I knew now, and sadly, based on how frightened I was when I realized Harley was attracted to me initially, I would've been just as horrified no matter how our relationship started. Besides, if May had been around for Harley to taunt and plot against, I probably would've been a million times more cautious of him, and nothing would've developed.

Just as May and I finished cleaning around the kitchen, we heard something burst in an echoing howl outside. May, startled, walked over to the backdoor, tilting her head and looking out in the night sky. Dark and somber out there, even I saw a very apparent glow of yellow and orange, bright and fine in the sky. Fireworks.

"Oh, I forgot!" she exclaimed. "We should go watch! Nurse Joy worked really hard on this display!" May grabbed my wrist, gently guiding me outside after she slid open the door.

May and I stared up at the sky, waiting for the next burst in the sky to occur. We heard the howling streak plunge up before exploding in an assortment of blue, purple and pink. Sparkles fell around in an aftermath, drifting like dust here and there before another burst was heard. May, in awe, slowly sat, keeping up her weight with her arms as she stared into the sky. I watched her, seeing how wide her eyes were as she excitedly witnessed the colorful scatter. Realizing my attention was more on her than the fireworks, I sat, too, looking up at the sky with as much concentration as I could manage.

"I hope the noise doesn't scare our Pokémon," I noted, looking in the direction of the greenhouse.

"It won't," she assured me.

I couldn't get myself to turn and look at her, knowing full well she had a smile on her face. With the glowing hues pressing against my own face, I had to squint to continue staring up at the fireworks. Then, suddenly, I felt a thin, warm hand against my shoulder, causing me to turn in surprise.

"It means a lot to me that you came home, Max," she admitted, gentle and pleasant.

I was very grateful for the darkness, because I was so red after she finished her sentence. Her skin was warm and radiating, and the fact her touch felt overly intimate made me clear my throat, nodding for distraction.

"Yes," I replied, "so am I."

But, in reality, part of me still wasn't. I had left Harley, risked so much by doing so, and even though I knew May did need help, it still felt like as of now, I was doing nothing to contribute. I felt lucky that Harley even wanted to talk to me at all.

'And, besides, Max, you're the love of my life!'

Was I? Was I truly the love his life? I would've liked to believe he was being honest when he told me he hadn't been deeply involved with other men and boys before. Lance hadn't been anything major despite Drew's claims, and when I was with Harley, it felt like I was something very special to the man. I wasn't his "first" in terms of many things, but I felt like I was the first boy he actually, truly loved. I simply couldn't see him taking the time to talk to me on the phone and apologize if he didn't think I was worth the time. He was familiar with letting people go and walking away, but he made an effort to let me know he still cared and still wanted me.

And, May, well, she was, in so many ways, an incredible girl, and I respected and admired and loved her, but she wasn't Harley. And, Harley wasn't May. I had such a deep connection with my sister, one that was present even now despite the blemishes. As I turned to finally look at her, I realized she was still looking at me. My face remained hot and flushed, but the heat from May's hand almost made me want to believe she was just as self-conscious as I was at the moment. Scared to say anything, I just stared at her.

And, she stared back.

The fireworks continued, loud with bursts and spurts and torrents, but everything seemed silent. Behind her, I saw the greenhouse, the glass glowing with a bright reflection of the colors. But, none of that seemed to matter, because her eyes were locked on me, seeming so concentrated and sincere. Did she want me to say something? Did she want me to do something? God, what if she did? What on earth could it be?

I pursed my lips, looking away finally and to the ground. From the corner of my eye, I saw May look away, and only a moment later, I heard her sigh. This definitely confused me. She hadn't been looking at me the same way Harley ever had. No, Harley looked at me hungrily, like I was some truffle in a candy store. May's expression was caring and innocent, and I supposed it was sisterly. Part of me was relieved, but somehow, another part of me felt… disappointed.

May suddenly stood up, stretching quickly before looking down at me. The fireworks were still going, more erratic as the finale seemed to be taking place. With each thump of a separate explosion my heart seemed to quicken, and I realized I was on my feet, too, having been helped up by May. Her hand was still on mine, and slowly—very slowly—she kneeled down, hugging me tightly in a way so similar to Harley's passionate embraces.

"May…" I murmured, directly into her shoulder.

"I'm so sorry for leaving you before," she suddenly revealed. "It was a terrible thing to do, and I'm truly sorry."

"May, it's not that big of a deal now," I told her. But, sadly, that wasn't necessarily true. I was still hurt, and why she had to bring it up made no sense to me. I was trying to get over it.

"I think I owed you that apology long ago," she admitted.

"Thank you," I said, "but it's okay now."

She pulled away a little bit, allowing space between us so I could see her face. She smiled graciously before slapping her lips together and giving a shake of her head. "I know this seems weird, Max, but I just feel like you've been so sad since you got home, and I want us to get along the way we used to, you know?"

I honestly didn't hear a word she said. I was so distracted by the way her arms remained around me and how her mouth expanded in a smile with every soft word. I ended up staring at her the way she had been staring at me before. And, part of me, simply not wanting to continue looking at her out of embarrassment, forced me to lean closer, moving fast and pushing my lips fully against hers.

May, surprised, instantly pulled away. She stared at me, blinking several times as I gaped, ready to apologize. But then, her lips pursed in a hesitant smile and she leaned forward, placing her lips on my cheek. Where her thin mouth landed, it felt as though my skin was burning, so heated by her delicate lips. Her hand extended, brushing through my hair as she kept her lips planted on my cheek. When she began to pull back, I stopped her, turning my head and forcing her lips on mine again. I made this kiss fervent: I tilted my head, I opened my mouth, I pressed into her.

May's eyelashes shuddered and she pulled away, dropping her hands from the embrace and staring at me, dumbfounded. Horrified by my actions, I narrowed my eyes, feeling color rise to my cheeks all over again.

"Max…" she said, furrowing her brow and touching her lips.

"I'm sorry!" I immediately shouted. "May, I'm sorry! I didn't mean to! It's not like that—I just wanted to be…!"

Her eyes widened at my words. She moved quickly, walking by me and heading towards the house. I turned, wanting to catch her, but the only sight I caught was her closing the door after she entered. I reached out helplessly, thinking it would bring her back. But, already gone, I raced after her, following as I continued to feel flushed with humiliation.

Just as I began walking through the kitchen, I heard a door slam, and as I walked forward, I found that May had already made a mad dash for her bedroom. Her door was closed, but her light then flicked on, glowing from underneath the floor space. I knew I did not possess the courage to knock, but I wanted to so badly. I wanted to apologize again, assure her my kiss had meant nothing, and I was just trying to be close to her!

But, were those lies?

So embarrassed, I wasn't even sure I had the courage to ever face her again.

I buried my face in my hands again, sighing loudly.

"May," I decided to call out, my volume not high. "May, please come out. I'm sorry."

There was no answer. I heard a shuffle in the room, but nothing else. I bit my bottom lip, almost tempted to just come in her room uninvited. But, I was sure it wouldn't have helped the situation.

"May," I tried again, this time much louder.

"Max, I'm going to bed," she announced, loud enough for me to hear. "I'll see you in the morning."

I frowned, taken aback by her nonchalant words. She was dismissing me, avoiding the situation completely. Sullen now, I dragged myself to my room, shutting the door roughly behind me. Unable to take another step forward, I slumped against it and closed my eyes.

"Great," I muttered. "What the heck is wrong with me?" I pinched the bridge of my nose, shaking my head in frustration.

After several minutes, I managed to stand. I had only woken up a few hours ago, but already it was late enough to go back to bed. Knowing there was nothing else to do, I changed back into my nightwear, collapsing backwards onto my bed in exhaustion. When I turned, squirming under the sheets, I noticed there was something on the screen of my smartphone. I picked up the device, looking at the screen, which read I had one message.

Taking out the pointer, I pressed the option to listen to the message.

"Now, why on earth are you not answering?" the recorded voice said. Harley's tone was curious but also very suspicious. "Busy fucking her? Or, are you just asleep? Nonetheless, I'm calling because I want to talk to you, Maximus. I thought you should know something."

I blinked, realizing that was the end of the message. I shut my eyes and tried to get my mind off of May. For a moment, I thought I just missed Harley's call, and somehow, he had some kind of insane intuition that alerted him I had just kissed her. Was I supposed to call him back now? If I did, would I be able to hold a conversation with him, or would I embarrass myself with revelations about what I did to May?

God, what would he do if I admitted the truth to him? It was just a kiss, but I knew he'd go mad. It wasn't as though he would ever find out, but I felt so obligated to tell him, especially since he was already so suspicious about me in the first place. But, Harley wouldn't consider my honesty; he would be fixated on the fact I had been "unfaithful" to him.

Whatever the case, I needed to get my mind off of the situation. I had a feeling Harley was calling about my Dusk Stone, but I couldn't be sure. I decided I would call him back, and as I waited for him to answer, I took off my glasses and relaxed against my pillow.


My mind seemed to immediately clear at the sound of his blissful, suave voice. I smiled in a melted way, responding, "Hello, Harley." I almost laughed at myself for feeling and sounding so giddy. "I'm sorry I missed your call."

"I'm sure you have a good excuse," he said. "Well, I mean, so long as you two weren't shagging."

"No, Harley," I assured in annoyance as I rolled my eyes. "Did you call me because I left the Dusk Stone there?"

"What?" he said, puzzled. "Oh, oh, yes, you did leave that here, you dope, but that's not why I'm calling you."

"So, it is there," I concluded, slightly relieved. "What do you want then?" I then asked.

"Excuse me," he warned, offended, "but Max, darling, that is not a nice tone."

"Um…" I stuttered, furrowing my brow, "I'm sorry."

Harley's tone was ridiculously phony, sounding like he did when the two of us met up in Goldenrod City. He was being theatrical, overly precise with his words, and I instantly did not trust him.

"I have some very exciting news for you, Max," he announced, and I knew he was unable to control his smirks, because I could hear it in his jaunty tone. "I hope you're just as excited."

"What is it, Harley?" I asked, slightly annoyed. "You're making me nervous, really."

The man laughed, a cool and collective chortle that was full of deceit. "I'm taking a trip, darling," he announced, "and I want you to guess where."

The End