I know, it's been a while, and I'm sorry! Dx Please enjoy!

Edit: Just fixed the part in Turnback Cave where December's hissing wasn't prominent enough. I've decided that two extra "s"s are for when she's stressed or angry, and one extra for normal speech.

(Flower Paradise, 10:30 a.m.)

"Whoa. That's a lot of flowers."

The brunette's statement of the obvious was nearly lost on the warm sea breeze that swept in, keeping the air lively and energetic as the monstrous waves crashed on the cliffs on either side of them. She and Shaymin were walking to the hedgehog's home at the end of the path, through millions upon millions of flowers that formed a massive ocean of colors pleasing to the eyes. Stopping to take in the dazzling shades of scarlet and maroon, DL asked incredulously, "You made all of these grow?"

"Yep!" Shaymin sounded rather proud of herself as she said that, raising her snout to sniff the lovely aroma of her creations. Since she was so small, though, only her snowy muzzle and black button nose could be seen, and after giggling at the sight DL snapped a stem in half to carry the treasure with her. "I can do a lot more than this, though. You know the town surrounded by flowers?"

"Um . . . oh, wait, Floaroma Town?" Given a nod, her brown eyes widened as she shouted, "No! You did that? All of it?"

"Yes, "all of it."" Standing on her hind legs to raise her head above the petal-roof, Shaymin held a smug expression of satisfaction at the human's surprise. "And I could have down more than that, too!"

"Wow . . . that's amazing!" Putting a finger to her chin, DL joked as they continued on, "You know, we could make a fortune if we worked together–you could make beautiful bouquets, and I can sell them! We'd be millionaires within the week!"

As they laughed at the silly suggestion, the path before them widened to the size of a football stadium as they reached its very end. A luscious carpet of blossoms stretched completely across it, making the path pale in comparison as it surrounded and covered the hill at the center. It reminded DL of a temple, and she figured that it was pretty close to one as she watched the hedgehog rush to the top to sit upon it like a throne.

"Come on!" Shaymin jerked her head in a gesture, probably to beckon DL over beside her. "The view's beautiful from here!"

"But I can see the flowers just fine!" Frowning as the Legendary giggled, DL sighed and started the trek to the top, more than a bit tuckered out from the journey there. I'm going to be fit as a Ponyta by the time the day's over, she thought sourly. When she reached the top and sat beside Shaymin, however, her eyes widened once again as her breath was taken from her. "Oh . . . my . . ."

"See?" Again, Shaymin was smug. "Told ya."

They could look over the path they had just traversed to its beginning–and even farther, back to Victory Road and even the massive castle that held the Elite Four and Champion of Sinnoh. Although it was too far away to make out anything other than a rocky hill and a gray blob, DL could just feel the intensity emanating from the all-important building, where Trainers were probably battling at that very moment to get the chance to prove themselves. The tension in the thick of battle, the split-second decisions that could make or break you–the castle held the glory and shame of many people.

That brought her thoughts to battling in general, and the corners of her lips slowly curved downward as she remembered her multiple failed attempts. With either Hunter or Butterscotch, she had no clue what to do–she could figure out a few things, yes, such as using Electric-Type moves on Water-Types and tossing Hunter out against a Ground-Type, but that was as far as she could go. She couldn't devise a clever strategy or some foolproof plan to get her wins, and it was only by luck or her Pokemon's own experiences that she would win or even get a draw.

She was a terrible Trainer.

Unfortunately, Shaymin seemed to have finally noticed her companion's sorrow, and she looked up at the human's face as she asked worriedly, "Is something wrong?"

DL blinked as she was brought out of her thoughts before she quickly shook her head. "Oh, uh, no, everything's fine!"

"You know, you suck at lying."

DL hung her head. "I know . . ." She sighed. "It's nothing important, though. Just me wishing I could battle worth a Rattata's ass."

"Worth a what?" Shaking her head at the slang, the hedgehog said, "Oh, come on, you have two Pokemon! What did they do, jump towards the Poke Ball?"

"Well, Butterscotch was given to me by my dad, and . . ." DL leaned back and propped herself up with her arms, gazing at the scattered clouds above them. "I met Hunter while journeying around Kanto once, at the Pokemon Tower in Lavender Town. That was . . . four or something years ago."


A twelve-year-old DL stepped up to the massive tower, her gaze rising as high as it could until she nearly fell over and returned to staring at the entrance. She bit her lip, remembering the stories she had heard from travelers and the print on the pamphlet, but she gathered the little courage she had and entered. Fingering the Poke Ball on her belt, her fear was lost as she crossed the doorway and took a look around the place.

It was all so . . . somber. It looked as if the color was drained from everything–even what should have been a bright red on the new hat of a child was faded as he stood beside his mother and father. Not a soul was cheery, and many of them had tear-stained cheeks as they looked on with blank stares, like they weren't really there. Occasionally, a creak rang out in the silence, making her jump as she scurried to the front desk and checked in. Putting on a name tag with "Megan DrakenHart" in black sharpie, the sharp odor of the marker still fresh, DL looked around and was immediately depressed.

Everyone . . . they're all so sad.

Feeling tears well up in the corners of her eyes, she quickly blinked them away before taking the stairs to the next floor. The instant her foot touched the cool tile flooring, she felt a difference in the air–shivers rolled up her spine as the hairs on the back of her neck stood on end, and she had the feeling of being watched. Fear overcame her once more as she stood there, rooted to the spot with silent panic. She had come to get the advice of the old man who she had been told was at the top of the tower, but now she suddenly felt so small and insignificant; a little girl like her had no place here, where the souls of the dearly departed rested in peace and quiet.


. . . Or in not-so-much-peace-and-quiet.

"Ah!" She started at the sight of a floating orb of fire, her eyes widening to the size of dinner plates, and then her feet took her far away from the spot as she ran back the way she came. She ignored the lady at the front desk calling her as she exited the tower, instead running as far as the wooden paths that crossed the water south of town before finally stumbling and catching herself with her hands and knees. Crouching there with her skin rubbed raw from scraping the rough wood, she felt tears fall to soak into the path as her lip trembled in barely contained fear.

As if feeling her distress, a bright red light signaled Butterscotch's appearance from his Poke Ball, and the rodent put a sympathetic paw on her back. "Rai rai . . ." (It's okay . . .) He stood there for a while, nearly half an hour, as she sobbed like a kindergartner separated from her mother on the first day of school. Sitting up to hug her knees to her chest, she tried to ignore the slightly chilly weather as she squinted against the wind and tears. After much coaxing and soft mumbling, the Raichu finally asked, "Rai raichu rai?" (Do you want to try again?)

She nodded, and he assisted her to her feet as best as he could before he gestured to the Poke Ball. She shook her head, though, and admitted, "I want you out this time . . ." Nodding in understanding, he trailed behind her, and they stood before the Pokemon Tower once more as the sun started to set behind the rocky terrain surrounding the solemn town.

"Raichu rai rai, chu." (You can do it this time, Megan.)

She nodded, completely forgetting to correct him as she bit her lip nervously.

(End Flashback)

The white hedgehog bounced on DL's lap excitedly, asking impatiently, "And then what happened?"

"Well," the brunette continued, "when we went back into the tower, we climbed to the second floor and again got attacked by a floating orb of fire. Butterscotch shot electricity at it, though, and it revealed itself to be a Haunter–who we now know as Hunter." Smiling at the memory, DL looked down at Shaymin's curious green eyes. "I was scared at first, but Butterscotch was so brave that I couldn't help but be brave, too! I stormed up to the ghost, looked him in the eye, and told him, "Take me to the top of this tower, right now!""

Shaymin giggled at the idea of the human standing up to a Pokemon as proud and full of his "tough-guy" act as Hunter. "And then?"

"And then I was promptly put to sleep with a well-placed Hypnosis." Smiling sheepishly as the hedgehog guffawed, she mumbled, "I woke up later, but by then Butterscotch had already handled it; Hunter was paralyzed and rather easy to capture, and then when I let him out I repeated my command. He kinda had to obey that time."

"Wow, that's such a weird story." After a moment of thinking over it, Shaymin giggled again and said, "Just imagine what your kids will think when you tell them that!"

"Pfft, if I have kids. Don't you know how annoying they are?" Laughing as Shaymin mock-scolded her, she patted the hedgehog on the head and admitted, "You know, it was nice to talk to you about that. I haven't . . . talked to that many people–or Pokemon–about it, really. Thank you."

"Hm. Well," the Legendary tilted her snout up to give a small smile, "sometimes even the strongest of the strong–even Legendaries–need a release every once in a while. It's only natural."

"And you would know everything about what's "natural.""

"Smart-aleck! You should be utterly grateful!"

"Heheh, of course!"

(Legendary's Palace, 11:45 a.m.)

Arceus chuckled and moved his bishop. "Checkmate."

"Raichu!" (Shoot!) The orange rodent clenched his fists and cursed under his breath as the Alpha Pokemon once again beat him at chess. He knew that playing against the creator of all wouldn't end in his victory, but at the same time he couldn't help but be frustrated. He had always won every chess match he had played in until now, and he was a little disappointed his "undefeated streak" had to end this way. He could just imagine Hunter and DL laughing at his reaction to losing, calling him a "sore loser" and whatnot.

Still, the determined spark never left his eyes, and the white quadruped chuckled at him before asking knowingly, "Rematch?"

"Rai rai!" (You know it!) Resetting the pieces politely, he cocked his head and asked for conversation's sake, "Raichu rai rai?" (Don't you have work to do?) He worked methodically, familiar with picking up the strange manmade pieces with his paws after years on the road. He had even played against DL's father multiple times back when he was a Pikachu, and he smiled at the warm memories before returning to the present.

The Alpha Pokemon shook his head with a grin. "Shirley has already checked, and nothing needs my immediate attention today. So, I essentially have a "day off," if you will." Watching the Electric-Type work, he was quiet for a little while before he asked his own question. "Why didn't you go with her?"

Butterscotch froze at the sudden question, paw in the middle of lifting a knight off of the board. He frowned, thinking over his answer before slowly placing the knight down in its place and tapping the table in contemplation. "Rai . . . rai rai, chu raichu." (I just . . . didn't think I was needed, and decided to stay here.) Shaking off the dark thoughts that threatened to cloud his judgment, he returned to fixing the pieces and nodded when he had finished.

"But why not? You are her Pokemon."

The rodent shrugged. "Raichu, rai rai?" (What'll I do, protect her from Shaymin?) Shaking his head at the silly thought, he went on as he made the first move, "Raichu rai rai, raichu rai. Raichu." (I don't really have a purpose with her, that's all. She's safe without me.)

Arceus mulled over the idea as he carefully shifted a pawn forward two spaces. "That's understandable, I suppose . . . I just thought that, with you being her Pokemon, you'd go with her everywhere."

He remembered the conversation he had had with the Ghost/Poison-Type not too long ago. A pained look came across the old Pokemon's face, but it was fleeting and quickly replaced with calm meditation. "Chu rai? Raichu rai." (What does she need me for? I'm just an old man.)

Looking down at Butterscotch with sympathy, Arceus frowned at his reply. Coming across the elderly had always tugged at his heartstrings because of their mentality and how little they had left in the world with their loved ones, and now was no exception as he felt the rodent's loneliness radiating off of him. He looked ages older than he had that morning when he had seen DL off, and the lines around his eyes suddenly deepened. His fur seemed so much paler and flecked with gray, it made Arceus feel like he was looking at a Pokemon way past his prime, and he probably was. Butterscotch felt useless because of that.

". . . Butterscotch." He waited until he was sure he had the rodent's attention. "You may not realize it, but she looks up to you for advice and guidance." A small smile flickered on his face as he kept his serious yet comforting appearance. "You're like her father to her, you know."

His ears twitched, but he didn't let on any of his thoughts as he shrugged and moved his knight. "Rai, chu, raichu rairai." (Well, in either case, she's more or less a grown-up now.) A strained grin lifted the sagging corners of his mouth, and he tried to joke to lift the sad atmosphere that had fallen upon them. "Raichu rai rai, chu?" (I can't just tie her to a tree and keep her home and safe, right?)

"No . . . but you can still worry about her. You are allowed to."

He watched the Raichu closely with green-and-red eyes filled with pity, waiting to see if he would agree or simply ignore his words to continue the game of chess they had nearly forgotten. Not taking his eyes off of him, he used his Psychic powers to move his bishop to conquer the knight that was moved a minute ago.

". . . rai." (. . . Nice move.) He replaced the bishop with his own.

Arceus would give him that. "Aye, so was yours."

(Turnback Cave, 6:15 p.m.)

"Scree! Scree!"

Giratina winced as he floated into the room where his assistant was with Rattle, staring up at the ceiling as she curled her lengthy body around the baby Pokemon. "What's all the racket?" Curious then about what they were watching, he turned his gaze up and noticed a dark blue blur zipping around. "What's that up there?"

"ssSome annoying pessst," December hissed, her slit eyes narrowed in irritation as she watched it like it was her prey. The Screeching creature flew circles around a stalactite before suddenly changing course and diving at Giratina's head.

"Scree! Scree!"

"Oi!" The basilisk swatted at it with a wispy wing before finally snarling and snatching the creature out of the air with his teeth. It yelped as it was captured, struggling lightly against his fangs as they all took a good look at it. Blue-tinged fur with leathery purple wings, fox-like ears and twin tails, it was given away by its gaping mouth and eerie lack of eyes.

The Arbok nodded her head in recognition. "It'ss a Zubat."

"Oh, I'm glad someone listened in Poke-School." Rolling his eyes as his assistant cast him a feeble Glare, he turned his attention to the bat as he lightly set it down on the cold cave floor. "Alright, you, how about you tell me what you're doing causing a riot in my cave?"

"Scree! Scree! I'm lost, I'm lost!" Flailing a little on the ground, it suddenly grew very still and quiet. "Oh, my wing . . . scree . . ."

The basilisk glanced and winced at the teeth marks on its wing. "Oh . . . sorry, there."

But December examined the injured wing and discovered something. "Thesse aren't your fangss," she realized as she gently lifted it with her tail. "Thesse are more like the fangss of a Ninetaless or Arcanine–a big canine-like Pokemon." Carefully releasing it, she looked up at the Ghost/Dragon-Type and stated the obvious. "It wass attacked."

"Is that so?" He seemed to be thinking over something, and then he motioned for the serpent to do something with the Zubat. "It's either going live or die, so we might as well watch over it until we know. And if it lives, well, this is a cave, right?" Grinning at December's surprised expression, he turned to continue on his way and leave them alone with the bat. "Oh, and make sure Rattle doesn't get into trouble. You know how he is around new people."

(Mt. Chimney, 6:30 p.m.)

The four winced as the Genetic Pokemon glared at them, his Psychic powers thickening the air surrounding them until it was like molasses. The Scyther remained steady, though, and proceeded to stare him in the eyes expectantly as they all waited for him to speak. When they had found him in the desert, he hadn't spoken a word to them and just left, causing them to follow him until they arrived at the base of the mountain. They had camped there in exhaustion only to wake up and not know where their target was, and it took them all day to find him again at the peak of the volcanic mountain.

". . . So." The Sandslash glared at Fang when he spoke up, but the feline was unaffected by her moodiness today as they had a bigger threat before them. "I bet you're wondering why we've been following you all of this time. Well, it's a funny story, actually–"

Mewtwo's eyes narrowed, effectively cutting Fang's explanation short without a word. He then told them coldly, "I don't particularly care about your story." His gaze flickered over the ragged-looking group with annoyed disinterest. "Just tell me why, and leave."

"W-we . . ." The Sneasel faltered when his intense gaze turned to her, but a careful pat on her shoulder from Sandstorm helped her continue. "We were sent on a mission, t-to find you . . ."

His expression did not change, but his confusion was evident by his next question. "By who?"

"The Alpha Pokemon himself." Again, Fang earned himself a few glares, but he ignored them to cut to the chase. "Look, he summoned us to put us to the test, and that was to find you so he could figure out which–"

"Which of you would be fit to be my assistant?" At their stunned looks and cautious nods, the Genetic Pokemon sighed irritably and closed his eyes as if developing a migraine. "I should have known."

"P-please don't be mad." Switch gulped nervously, bowing her head respectively. "W-we didn't mean to anger you, and we'll leave n-now if you–"

"Although you are all annoying me," Mewtwo interrupted, a thoughtful expression on his face, "I do believe you four will be quite useful."

""Useful?"" Scimitar looked up at him warily, a deep frown set on her snout. "Now, when you say that . . ."

"It won't be painful." Everyone relaxed when he said that, as if that's what they had been expecting all along, but then stiffened up when he continued, "Well, if you do it right. Come with me." Obediently, they began to follow their master to-be, all four of them wondering the same thing:

What now?

(Secret Pokemon Laboratory, 8:05 p.m.)

". . . Um." The Sneasel's voice was barely a whisper, as she was all too familiar with the stealth required at the moment. "W-where are we?"

They had been brought down the mountain only to be Teleported to some unfamiliar place, and as they examined the building they had come across isolated in the wilderness, the Legendary with them merely stared on in silence. Without a word, he began to float towards the establishment, ignoring their confused and slightly fearful expressions as he mentally beckoned them after him. Doing so, they whispered a little to each before a sharp glare from Mewtwo brought them back to silence.

They arrived near the back of the building and hid behind a generator of sorts as a camera scanned the area, but the Psychic made quick work of it before going on with care, the group scurrying behind him and glancing nervously around them for any hidden danger. As he disabled the security systems with ease, he abruptly turned to them and ceased their movements with a definitive gesture. "You have about fifteen minutes," he started, "before they realize what I've done and set up the alarms. They don't have any capable Pokemon to defend themselves with except for an Alakazam, which I'm sure the Dark-Type can deal with." Nodding towards Switch who blushed at the mentioning, he continued, "I need you to get in, put this–" He handed the only one with paws a strange device. "–on one of their computers, and then get out. I'd do it myself, but I won't be bothered with something so trivial."

Eyeing the device carefully, Fang was about to ask something when Scimitar cut him off. "We'll go. Will you wait out here?" When he received a nod, the Scyther deemed that the only answer he needed before he scouted out the area himself for a back door. The other three only followed him when he gave the all-clear, and the Sneasel took one last glance at their to-be master before being second-to-last to enter the building. Scimitar shut the door behind them softly, and they were in.

"Alright!" The Meowth was a bit quieter, but their voices echoed across the hall anyways. "Let's get this over with." Motioning to the girls to follow, much to Sandstorm's irritation, he took the league, using his ears like radars to keep them from getting caught. The others kept close behind him, and the tight group was wary of the way their claws clacked against the tiles and the sound carried throughout the building.

Finding a room that seemed to be important and yet was empty, Scimitar gestured to Fang holding the device to enter. "We'll keep watch."

The Meowth sighed. "Alright. Don't slice-and-dice anyone." Ignoring Sandstorm's scowl, he slipped in, eyes already searching for the best target. Slinking around the place carefully, he finally spotted the biggest monitor and stole over to it, placing the device upon it as quickly as he could. He grinned. "Well, that was easy."

"Alakazam?" (Easy, huh?)

Fang froze in place, gulping at the sound of the Psychic-Type. And Switch isn't here, either! Slowly turning in place, he eyed the mustached fox warily, gaze flickering to the door. He must have Teleported in.

"Alakazam. Ala . . . kazam?" (Indeed I did. Fang . . . I presume?)

Jumping slightly at the way he knew his name, he gritted his teeth and nodded unnecessarily. "Yes. And if you'll excuse me, I'm late for a job interview." Taking a step to the side and finding that he was mirrored, he stopped and glared at the Pokemon before him. "You're not going to make this easy, are you?"

He could have sworn the Alakazam grinned childishly at him. "Kazam." (Nope.)

(Tin Tower, 11:35 p.m.)

With a small smile, the rainbow-feathered bird cast a glance at the Legendary that had taken up residence at the corner of the room at the top floor of his tower. They had played board games for a while before her yawn revealed her exhaustion half an hour ago, and he told her she should get some rest. She had refused his offer to rest on the rooftop with him, as if disgusted at the thought of being anywhere near him, and happily took a spot "inconspicuously" as hers. After a while of shifting and moving around, she had finally found a comfortable position in her imaginary nest and had fallen asleep, her breathing deep and sluggish in slumber.

I wonder what she's dreaming about, he thought as he gave her one last glance before returning to the roof and his perch. Giving a heavy sigh as he settled into his spot, he cast his eyes to the east where, somewhere, Moltres and Articuno slept on their own islands, already well into the night.

"Why do they fight so much?" He frowned at the thought, knowing that although he shouldn't talk (with him arguing with Lugia constantly) the trio should be a lot closer than they were. Then again, Zapdos' gender-related problems were probably the cause of tension between them, and he sighed and shook his head. "I guess it's not really my business–it's Lugia's trio, after all."

But she's so strange, he mentally argued, imagining the sour look on the Lightning Titan's face when caught flying over the sea near Johto a few days ago. If anything, chalk it up to your curiosity with one of the rare people that don't see how amazing you are immediately.

After a while of mulling it over in the stillness of the night, he finally nodded decisively to himself. "Yeah . . ." He grinned overconfidently at the thought of changing Zapdos for the better. "I'll make her realize how amazing and perfect I am! And maybe even get her to agree to a trim. Yes, that'd be wonderful."

Again, I'm sorry I took so long! Hope you guys enjoyed this chapter in any case! (lolwut short A/N)

Lots of dragon-y love (and cookies!),
~DL ("Dragon Lover")