Notes: Big-time spoilers this time round. This spoils plot revelations in Chapters 14 - 16 of the games, so if you haven't gotten that far, it's best to back out now rather than wind up seriously spoiled... or seriously confused, depending.

He preferred her this way.

Though truthfully -- regrettably -- they'd only been passing acquaintances at best before, thanks to her companions' efforts. Yes, those two had been very protective of their little human pet. Such a shame. He would have loved the chance to speak with her just once. A chance to compliment her on her rare ability, on the rarity of her very existence.

A chance to see just how long it would take for her to succumb. To see if her screams would draw her guardians out of hiding, or if she would even have the breath to scream when he struck.

But they had been cautious, and he was left with only glimpses and glimmers of the girl she had once been. And that was truly a shame, for it meant he had little basis for comparison beyond conjecture.

Still, he preferred her as she was now. Visible. Easy to read.

Everything about her was bright. No... perhaps vivid was a better term. From those glossy green eyes to her crimson bandanna, right down to her flame-tipped tail, betrayed her very nature -- her passion. Her drive. Her fiery spirit. (And yes, the pun was entirely obvious and completely unavoidable. It was just so... apt.)

A far cry from the frightened and flighty waif she'd once been. But again, he'd never really been able to know her before now, due to those less than ideal circumstances. Perhaps, if he had been someone she trusted...

...Ah, but he was now, wasn't he? Yes, she trusted him... Admired him now, to some degree, and why wouldn't she? Everyone else did, and she had no reason to think otherwise. And she would not, unless and until he gave her one.

But should he? He honestly preferred her this way, and besides, she held so much potential...

A Pokémon with the Dimensional Scream... An accomplished explorer despite her youth -- oh, yes, the Kecleon brothers had been so eager to share tales of her team's exploits, and that mousy apprentice was quick to sing Team Hanabi's praises when he just happened to bring up their meeting at Amp Plains. An amnesiac grasping for any clues about who she once was, a child looking for answers and who already believed that he, the great and knowledgeable Dusknoir, could help her find the truth...

Perhaps he should. Perhaps he could guide her to his truths.

Starting, possibly, with a reminder of type advantages. Of all the things she could have become, a fire lizard was simply too perfect--!

Ah, Grovyle! To think of how much easier he kept making everything--! Heedless of how history would look upon him, he willingly cast himself as the villain, right down to nearly striking down her beloved partner for the good of the mission. Were Dusknoir to offer her a shot at revenge, well... who would bat an eye...? Few could protest such poetic justice, even were they so inclined.

And with her ability... with his insight into how her powers functioned... who would question her becoming his apprentice?

In his mind's eye, so many possibilities blossomed: he could almost hear himself fighting to keep too much glee from tainting his encouragement as he set her against their hated foe. He could just about picture her wild, triumphant grin as she stood over the gecko's charred form, or the absolute hatred smoldering in her gaze as she fought him beyond the point of exhaustion, driven on only by adrenaline and determination.

Indeed, he couldn't decide which would be better... Or if both scenarios would pale in comparison to the look on her face as his shadows surged through her from behind. That blank, pure confusion, matched only by Grovyle's own bewilderment at the betrayal... and the dawning comprehension as he explained everything to them in those last, beautiful moments before victory.

To say nothing of how such a scene would crush her, if there was any way to ensure the annoying insect would witness it.

But... the Dimensional Scream could also prove useful, if properly harnessed. Such a valuable apprentice might not be worth spending on petty revenge.

If only...

...It was such a shame her partner survived his injuries. Had he given Grovyle just a moment more to finish the job... but he hadn't time to consider any long-term ramifications his action or inaction might have. There was something rather ironic in that, perhaps.

Even if the bulbasaur's survival was easily correctable, there was also the matter of the double-edged sword residing within the girl. True, the Dimensional Scream could prove useful, but it could also prove his downfall, were it to show her anything inconvenient. Of course, that could be counteracted with proper planning... It all came down to risk versus reward.

He merely needed time to decide what to do with her. So many possibilities... So much to consider.

Ah, yes... He definitely preferred her like this.