0. in the end

If she had known what was to come, she wouldn't have tried to find him. She wouldn't have stayed up at night thinking of him, wondering where he was in the world. She wouldn't have wasted her time reminiscing and wishing, wanting something she couldn't never attain. She wouldn't have remembered him.

If she had been smart- if she had succumbed to the lull of time and simply forgot about the man- she would've still been alive.

-x-

With his new wealth, the man had been able to invest in a small house near the Veilstone Department Store. Though the towering building hung like a shadow over his home, he didn't mind- the property he had acquired was spacious, a luxury that had been foreign to him for many years. After much internal debate, he took his assistants in. Veilstone was no place for adolescents of their age, especially ones that were traveling alone.

He attempted to teach them about technology. Only one of the three, a reclusive young man named Saturn, seemed to catch on.

Life was finally starting to look better. Despite the fact that every city owned a PC, others still looked for his help. A scientist named Charon dropped by to comment on his work, offering a list of suggestions that the young man decided not to take. Letters poured in, asking for his advice about machinery (he left the task of answering them to Saturn, who never really wrote anything significant). The most memorable visit, though, came from her.

She had been looking for him ever since Celestic had received the computer. Challenges were dwindling, so she had much more time to enjoy herself. Despite the fact that Veilstone was hardly the place to relax, she knew the visit was worthwhile. After all, he, too, had walked miles to see her.

The man tried to mask his amusement at seeing her- the League Champion, of all people- standing in front of his doorway. She was a complete change from the usual Veilstone girls; composed, calm, clothed with some semblance of modesty. Her eyes lit up as they met his, though, the smile on her face casting his doubts away. Time hadn't changed her, not completely.

Unsure of how to receive his visitor, he settled on opening the door.

Disbelief flooded her eyes as she stepped inside. The place was pristine despite its small size, technology whirring in every nuance of the house. Computers blinked from all corners, filling the room with assorted blips and beeping. He regarded her awe with a slight smile, silently walking over to join her.

"This must be quite the profession," came the impressed remark. "In all honesty, though, I wouldn't expect any less from you."

Silence met her comment, and she bit her lip slightly, scanning the room. Though it was brightly lit and filled to the brim with machinery, she couldn't catch a glimpse of anybody else. "Where are your assistants? They live here with you, don't they?"

"Game Corner," he replied offhandedly, eliciting a small, knowing grin from the woman before him. "Children and their frivolties."

"And you don't indulge in them? I know about men when it comes to flashing lights and money. Of course, you'd probably be the one building those gaming machines, so you must be tired of them."

"It's good pay for mindless work," he responded, somewhat amused. She rolled her eyes, the smile still present on her lips.

A blissful afternoon was spent wandering amidst the machines. He pointed their functions out, taking silent pleasure in the way her eyes widened in awe. With a snap of his fingers, he could power the entire building and shut it down again. A seemingly ordinary tile on the floor could warp him to the other side of the building. She found it difficult not to glow in pride every time he showed her a new invention, feeling mute happiness at how far he had come. He had found a good home, a good occupation. It was a huge step forwards from being the unsociable, cold recluse she had met in the library so many years ago.

"Hey," she told him when they had gone through all the machines. They were sitting placidly on the living room couch, he slumped against the backing and she sprawled unprofessionally across the cushions. It was hardly representative of her high position, but she didn't seem to care in the least.

He eyed her pointedly, prodding her to continue talking. She waved the gesture off, pulling herself up to a sitting position so she could speak with him face-to-face. Her casual air caught him by surprise. For the first time, he realized he had a friend.

Maybe that explained the foreign emotions that tugged at his heart. He wanted to understand them, but he knew that the subject was better left unexplored.

"I've got good news," she spoke before he could look into the matter. "Seems like my research on the mural's been paying off. I've finally gotten some idea of what the deities are... unfortunately, I can't confirm their identities just yet."

"But you do know something," he answered, his interest piqued. She nodded back, her eyes fixed on his with a weariness he couldn't quite place.

"Celestic Town's always been rooted in ancient history," she explained, arms wrapped around her knees. "Some folktales speak of three beings that guard Sinnoh- the physical embodiments of intelligence, emotion, and willpower. Each is rumored to reside in one of the major lakes of the region." She shrugged, as if she didn't quite believe it herself. "The three points of the mural's triangle probably represent the beings Uxie, Mesprit, and Azelf."

"This is just a folktale, then," he concluded. "A mere superstition."

"The people of Celestic Town believe it to be true," she replied offhandedly. "I guess it's a little farfetched, but the legend does make sense in relation to the mural. I still don't understand one thing, though- the sphere in the center of the mural, and what it's supposed to represent."

"If I remember correctly, it could be one of the Original Beings?"

"Precisely. I'm going to rule Arceus out, though. It doesn't seem likely that the power of these three beings- or, as they're commonly called, lake guardians-" She used her fingers to draw quotation marks in the air, eliciting a slight smile from the man. "-Can balance the power of the Original One. Assuming, of course, that Arceus is the Original One."

"You're thinking too deeply into this," he muttered amusedly, shaking his head. A slight frown played at her lips.

"Well, you need to be a little more openminded," came the light retort. "Either way, if we take Arceus out of the equation, that leaves either the deity of time or the deity of space to fill in the gap. Dialga or Palkia."

He tilted his head in thought, mulling the names over silently.

"In any case, I guess the mystery's solved," she finally sighed, letting her head fall back against the cushions. "When combined, the powers of the three lake guardians can negate the abilities of a deity. One thing to keep in mind if you do attempt at that perfect world, Cyrus."

She shook her head and smiled softly, the mere idea ridiculous to her. He smiled back, amazed at how naturally the gesture came. What world could be more perfect than the one he inhabited now?

Her presence was enough to assure him of that.

A content silence filtered through the air, where she yawned slightly and fell back onto the couch. He watched her quietly, and she gazed back through half-lidded eyes. Was this what had been missing all these years? Peace? Tranquility? No, he figured, it was something far more than that.

Nothing eventful occurred in the following months. He was much more preoccupied with building machines to truly take notice, though. While his previous inventions whirred with cold functionality, his recent ones were imbued with life and color. Those who walked past swore that the house seemed to radiate with a strange, newfound energy.

Anyone close to him could tell it was all her doing. Her, the League Champion, the twenty-year-old he had somehow fallen for. They could see the way his eyes softened when he talked to the woman, the way he let his inhibitions drop completely. She was one of the few people he trusted; one of the few people, if not the only, that he loved.

She took him stargazing once, after realizing that the skies above Veilstone were surprisingly clear. Constellations dotted the blanket of night, the stars casting heavenly light on the cobbled streets. Smiling, she had noted that it was so coincidental. The name "Cyrus" embodied the sun. The name "Cynthia" personified the moon.

"It makes me think," she had laughed. "Maybe meeting you was some sort of fate. There are hidden rules within this galaxy, courses that we can never predict or dictate. It's what brings some people together. It decides what's meant to be."

He named his business Galactic Manufacturing as a testament to this new knowledge. The universe was a limitless place, a wonderland where time and space intertwined to form tangibility, life. It was a place where a man like him could meet a woman like her. It was endless. Eternal. Fate.

Business was steady enough to generate good income, and the twenty-two-year-old found himself enjoying the hours he spent piecing his inventions together. The adolescents finally took some interest in his work, assisting him when his burden became too heavy to carry alone. The lines on his face smoothed. The hard glint of his eyes softened. The man was finally free, no longer bound to a life of shadows and expectations.

He was happy- happier than he had ever been in his life.

-x-

A year passed. Then there was a sudden lull in business, one that threatened to send his carefully manufactured world spiraling down again. One could taste the silence; the air was so thick of it. No letters poured in, only bills and advertisements. His assistants, underwhelmed, simply lounged around the house.

Jupiter was the first one to realize why business was so miserable. Her partners looked up from their individual pasttimes as the television blared the news, realization hitting them instantly.

There was competition: successful competition that threatened to knock Galactic Manufacturing Co. into obscurity. It came in the form of a Hearthome City woman named Bebe, who had somehow discovered a new function for the personal computers Cyrus had so painstakingly constructed. Apparently, her new system allowed users to store their Pokemon in the form of digitized memory, keeping them safely held in virtual "boxes" that could be accessed anywhere. A training frenzy had swept the globe ever since authorized professors were permitted to give starter Pokemon away, so the popularity of Bebe's PC had grown worldwide.

The three wasted no time in relaying the information to their boss. He could figure a way around this development. He always did. Sinnoh already knew he was a genius in every aspect of the word- he could invent something ten times better. In the months that followed, Sinnoh waited, on edge, expecting an even better computer. One that would make the region a world power. One that would cement its position at the top.

They kept him working each day, locked up, as if a second's reprieve would cause his talent to seep away forever. And so he built, the weariness outside a temporary repose from the confusion he felt inside. He built for the world, but the world had moved on. And still Sinnoh pushed for more, adoring his talent far more than they adored him, heaping impossible, insurmountable requests upon him.

"Finished that computer yet, Cyrus?" The machine was bent and misshapen in his hands, like a block of wet clay squeezed into an indiscernable lump.

Finished that computer yet? The reporters from Jubilife shoved the question into his face, and he found himself wanting to shove the world out.

And all the while, visits from the League Champion became less and less frequent. With the influx of challengers, she barely had time to sleep. He found himself resenting her title, hating all it stood for and how much she had to protect it. Why did she have to work so hard for a position everyone knew she could maintain? Why did she have to fight so hard to show the power everyone knew she had, a power that could never be emulated or overshadowed? Why did the world love forcing burdens on her? On him? He worked to the sound of rage, blind fury ringing in his ears.

Day after tormenting day passed, and the question still made its way to his ears. "Cyrus, have you finished that-"

"No," he snarled back, catching Mars off guard. The red-haired teenager slunk back into the hallway, wincing as the sound of a welding torch filled the air. "Tell them that I'll never be able to do it. Never!"

The young woman crept away, and he buried his head in his hands, scrap metal littering the floor. How had this happened? How had his greatest success become his ultimate failure? He needed his mental acuity back, but lately, his mind had been fogged with stupid triumph and idiotic self-inflation. His world had become perfect, and he had taken it for granted. Now, his genius had abandoned him when he needed it the most.

Income ran dry, and he had to rely on the savings he had accumulated. There was a huge amount of money he had left unspent, and it lay in storage, rotting away. He and his assistants got by, though, each day passing by in monotony. With no business, there was no point in working. Shame at his failure kept him locked inside. He refused to see anybody, knowing that they would only scorn him.

Two years passed, and he had once again receded into the shadows of obscurity. "Cyrus" became no more than a legend in Sunyshore and a mere name in Sinnoh. Nobody seemed to recall the man that had revolutionized the PC. Nobody remembered that he had ever been a mechanical genius. And when visits from the Champion became all but distant memories, he knew that the world had truly forgotten him.

He didn't care. He understood the cruel mechanics of time- didn't quite accept them- but understood them nonetheless.

-x-

She was twenty-two when she heard from him again. The message came in the form of a simple note, tucked into a scroll and tied around a Crobat's neck. Its implications brought a sad smile to her lips as she stood outside the League building, the summer breeze dancing across the night air.

Cynthia, I need to talk to you. Visit if you haven't forgotten me.
-Cyrus

The Bat Pokemon took flight, its wings cutting silently across the darkened sky. She watched, fingers tightening around the small piece of paper, eyes following the Crobat as it receded into the distance. Veilstone lay miles away, while the towering League building loomed behind her like an ever-present shadow. She was still bound to her duty as Champion, though her heart clawed at its confines and begged for her to believe otherwise. She couldn't desert her work for the sake of conversation. Yet, some unknown force compelled her to tighten her grip around Togekiss' Poke Ball.

She called the Pokemon out reluctantly, as if committing some terrible sin. She knew, though, that there was some urgent matter that needed her attention. He needed her attention. And the thought of the young man waiting for her, as if she possessed something he desperately craved, sent a wave of brilliant ecstasy coursing through her mind.

The League Building didn't miss her that night. She willed herself to leave it behind before she could feel regret, flying to Veilstone without a second thought.


Author's Note: There's still another chapter to go, then the epilogue.