Capture the Heart
Author's note: This story is a continuation based on the Pokemon: Diamond & Pearl anime, starting from after the episode "The Battle Finale of Legend!".
Disclaimer: Pokemon is not my idea and I don't own it or any of the characters, obviously.
Extra Chapter 2
"It's looking pretty good!"
"Bun bun buneary!"
With the warmth of the sun beaming down upon them, Dawn and Piplup, along with Dawn's Buneary and J's Ariados, were giving it their all to construct a sandcastle along the eastern shoreline of the Unova region. They and the rest of their group were presently enjoying themselves at a beach within Undella Town—one that, for certain reasons, very few people had access to.
Elsewhere in the area, Dawn's Dragonair was having some fun out at sea with Pachirisu riding atop its head. The remainder of Dawn's Pokemon hadn't ventured outside their pokeballs due to a lack of fondness for either the heat or the water. Along the beach, a couple of other Pokemon, J's Salamence and Drapion, were both lazing about, neither much interested in joining in the activities of the others. It always had been in their nature to keep to themselves, though.
For Dawn, this short vacation was, first and foremost, a chance to unwind and take a brief reprieve from everything she had going on back in Hoenn. But, she also saw it as a good opportunity to break out a new piece of swimwear she'd been eager to put to use. Donning a two-piece suit of a pale yellow color, she opted to go with a more conservative bikini top—she hadn't developed enough at her age to feel comfortable wearing anything more liberating quite yet. The bottom half of her suit was mostly covered by a sarong that was tied at the waist and extended down to around her knees, the pattern of tropical flowers it displayed matching well with her bright-colored attire.
Dawn loved how the suit looked from the moment she put it on. Of course, how she herself felt about it was one thing. More than that, though, she was hoping that a particular silver-haired individual would like it just as much as she did.
"Piplup piplup pip!"
"Piplup pii piplup!"
"Aria ariados ariaaaa!"
It came as no surprise to Dawn when she heard Piplup and Ariados up to their usual bickering. From the looks of things, this time their squabble appeared to be over whether or not to add a moat to the sandcastle. Ariados wanted to do it, but Piplup clearly didn't care for the idea.
"Come on, you guys. This is supposed to be fun!" Dawn chided the Pokemon.
At that moment, Dawn raised her head as something caught her eye. Down by the water, someone was emerging from the sea. There were only two people here, of course, leaving little mystery as to who it was.
J, who had just finished a lengthy swim, was breathing heavily as she trudged onto the shore. She brushed back her soaked, silver hair with one hand, her chest heaving in and out with every breath. Unlike Dawn's swimwear, the suit J wore was chosen more for its functionality than its visual appeal. It was a simple two-piece—white with navy blue trim. Sleek in appearance, the suit looked like something a professional swimmer might wear. That also made it perfect for getting a workout in the water.
Over by the sandcastle, Dawn's breath caught in her throat as she admired the sight before her. There had been times recently where she had felt...somewhat strange around J. She loved the woman, of course; that much she was well aware of. But these feelings she had begun to experience on occasion, they were...different. Stronger, in a way. And right now, as she beheld J stepping out from the sea, the water dripping from her suit, her hair and that toned body of hers—especially her abs, oh, goodness, her abs—those feelings were again starting to surface.
Looking to rest for a bit, J stepped over to a pair of lounge chairs that sat underneath a giant umbrella along with most of she and Dawn's other belongings. She'd been eying the rightmost of the two chairs, and that was where she wound up plopping herself down. She wasn't up to toweling herself off quite yet. That could wait, she decided. For now, she laid back and closed her eyes, content to just relax after her vigorous swim.
While J lay there regaining her breath, taking in the tranquil sounds of the waves rolling onto the beach all the while, she felt something cold against her cheek all of a sudden. The change in temperature coercing her to reopen her eyes, she peeked over to the side where she found Dawn holding a chilled bottle of sports drink.
"You weren't kidding when you said you were going to swim around for a while," Dawn smiled as she sat down beside her. "You must be tired after that."
"A little," J admitted. Accepting the bottle from the girl, she downed a series of big gulps that left it around half empty before she finally stopped to take another breath. "Phew! That's better."
It was just like J to do what she could to keep herself fit even when they were supposed to be on vacation, Dawn thought. There were times when that mentality could be frustrating, but even then Dawn had to admire J's dedication to staying in shape.
J took another large swig of the beverage, leaving the bottle with little left to spare. "Hey, are you sure nobody is going to mind us being here?" she asked.
"Ugh! For the hundredth time, yes!" Dawn replied. She was getting tired of answering this question over and over again. "The property's owner very clearly told me that I was free to come enjoy this spot if I was ever in the area."
"Hmm…" J narrowed her eyes, still appearing skeptical as she finished off her drink. It wasn't that she didn't trust Dawn, because she did. In fact, Dawn was the only person she allowed herself to trust. Still, there was a cautious side to J that she always had trouble shaking no matter what the situation. The last thing she wanted was for some disgruntled property owner to swing by and accuse them of trespassing. Not that breaking laws was anything new to J, but her being out here without any sort of disguise to hide the fact that she was a once-renowned criminal made the idea of anyone getting a good look at her very unappealing. The world assumed her to be dead, and she wanted to keep it that way.
"Jeez, stop worrying about it already," Dawn grumbled. Reaching down into a cooler sitting between the two chairs, she pulled out a small baggie full of celery sticks and held it up for J to see. "Here, I brought a snack for us! Want one?"
J stared at the treats for a moment, mulling it over. "Mmm…give me half of one," she requested.
Dawn took out one of the sticks and readied to break it in half. It was then, however, that she came up with an intriguing idea. "I think I'll have half of one, too," she said, a mischievous smile crossing her face.
Rather than breaking the celery, Dawn instead placed one end of it in her mouth. Then, leaning over the woman beside her with one knee set between J's legs to better keep her balance, she positioned herself so that the other end of the treat was directly in front of J's face.
J quirked an eyebrow as she stared up at the eager girl. She had a feeling she knew what Dawn had in mind, and she wasn't entirely sold on it. "Seriously?"
"Mhmm!" Dawn nodded. Excited, she bounced up and down a few times, beckoning J to take the celery's free end.
While J was almost always willing to go along with whatever made Dawn happy, this was embarrassing enough to make even her feel apprehensive. Looking to and fro, she quickly scoured the area to make sure no one else was around before turning back to Dawn. "If you weren't so damn cute, I'd object to this."
Putting her reservations aside, J raised her head up off the lounge chair just far enough so that she was able to bite down on the other end of the celery. Now the real game began. Both J and Dawn started nibbling away at their respective sides of the treat, neither having any intention of backing down. With each bite, the two of them inched closer and closer to each other.
Eventually, there was only one bite left for either of them to take. J looked into Dawn's eyes, and Dawn into J's.
"I'm not giving up," J spoke through her teeth.
"I'm not either," Dawn did the same, holding her ground.
And so, at the very same time, they both went for it. At the celery's midpoint, Dawn's and J's lips met, and the treat disappeared from view. From then onward, it was no longer an act of sharing a snack. Now it had turned into just what Dawn wanted: sharing a kiss with her beloved.
J sort of knew it would end this way, and she certainly didn't mind it. If Dawn ever wanted a kiss, she was more than happy to oblige the girl. After a few seconds had passed, J moved to break the kiss so she could finish off the celery sitting in her mouth. To her bewilderment, however, she found that she wouldn't get such a chance just yet.
Before J could pull back, Dawn grasped the sides of the bounty hunter's face, not only forcing the lip lock to continue, but forcing it to continue with even more passion than before. The wide-eyed surprise in J's expression that followed spoke a thousand words. She'd seen some different sides of Dawn since they'd come to know each other, especially since they'd begun living together, but she'd never seen the girl this assertive before.
J initially raised her arms up as if to do something when the aggressive move caught her off guard, but she quickly deemed that no such action was necessary. Gradually, she closed her eyes and placed her hands around Dawn's hips. For now, she would let the coordinator do as she pleased.
Once she'd gotten her fill, Dawn broke the kiss of her own volition, sitting up in a hurry after she did so. When she realized what she'd just done, even Dawn appeared surprised by her own actions.
Slowly opening her eyes again, J chewed and swallowed the bits of celery she'd come away with in the end. Then, with an interested look about her, she set her sights on the one looking down from above. "Well, I wasn't expecting that," J commented, an amused tone to her voice. "Where did all of this come from?"
Both of their faces had a hint of red to them after the kiss they'd just shared, but that applied much more so to Dawn. "Y-yeah, well," Dawn chuckled, embarrassed that she'd gone and done such a thing. "When I saw you come out of the water, you looked so…well…y'know, and I just reeeeeeally wanted to kiss you."
After hearing that, J grinned knowingly as she eyed the girl. "Ohh, is that so? I suppose you don't get the chance to see me in a swimsuit very often," she pointed out. "You liked seeing that, did you?"
Blushing, Dawn looked away momentarily, twiddling her fingers in front of her. "K-Kind of," she conceded.
Dawn had made her move, but J wasn't about to allow it to pass without some retaliation. Seeing Dawn's left knee positioned on the very edge of the chair, J brought her own knee over and bumped Dawn's leg out from under her. Losing her balance, Dawn let out a yelp as she wound up falling forward and collapsing right up against J. As if Dawn's face wasn't red enough before, it really began showing some color now as she felt her body pressing against J's through their swimsuits.
Now, J had the girl right where she wanted her. "I like your suit, too. It looks cute on you," she used their closeness to whisper into Dawn's ear.
Dawn jumped as she felt J's lips move down and start to kiss along the side of her neck. "A-ahahaha! J...!" Dawn giggled. "You know that...ah...tickles! Why do you always go for that spot?"
"Because it's fun."
"Ahahahaha! J, stop!"
Dawn hadn't considered a possible counterattack from the woman. Then again, she wasn't all that opposed to it, either.
The two of them had entered their own little world, barely registering the sounds of the waves rolling in on the beach as they shared a little extra playtime with one another. Off behind them in the water, however, there was a splash loud enough that it set itself apart from the others. So enveloped in each other were J and Dawn that they paid no mind to the noise despite the racket it made. As it turned out, they probably should have.
The Pokemon on the beach did notice the huge splash, and all of them watched as another Pokemon, along with its trainer, made a sudden appearance from the sea and pulled up onto the shore. The Pokemon was a Milotic, and an impressive one at that. In fact, the only thing more impressive may have been its noteworthy trainer.
"Whew! That was fun, wasn't it?" Milotic's trainer exclaimed as she stepped down from its back. Flipping the long, wet locks of her blonde hair back behind her, she adjusted the bottom region of the black, one-piece swimwear she wore to a more comfortable position.
The woman was no stranger to Dawn's Pokemon. In fact, Piplup and the others recognized her immediately. Well-known throughout the Sinnoh region and even in other parts of the world, she was the one and only Cynthia.
Cynthia was all smiles as she continued to adjust her suit, at least until she noticed that she and Milotic weren't alone. Dragonair and Pachirisu were the first to catch her eye out in the water. Moving along, she then spotted the three Pokemon sitting beside the sandcastle on land. Only after all of that did she finally arrive at the main event.
J and Dawn may not have noticed the splash that Cynthia made upon her arrival, but there was no way they wouldn't have heard her voice as she came ashore. When Cynthia laid eyes upon the girls, both of them were frozen as they stared back at her, their bodies still squished together atop the lounge chair.
Her face lighting up with shock as she realized what sort of scene she'd stumbled upon and just who was a part of it, Cynthia cupped a hand over her mouth. "Oh...oh, my..."
With that, the whole of the situation hit Dawn at last. Cynthia, of all people, had caught she and J playing around. That knowledge was too much for Dawn to bear, and, turning red as a beet, she went into panic mode. "NOOOOOOO!"
Scrambling to get off of J, Dawn pushed herself up and stepped off the chair with one foot. As she turned to face Cynthia and brought her other leg over, however, her foot caught on J's thigh, tripping her and sending her face-first into the sand. Dawn was in such a frantic rush that she didn't even care about her sand-covered cheeks at this point. Popping right back up, she scurried over to the blonde-haired woman at the edge of the water.
"C-C-Cynthia! I'm sorry! I'M SORRY! I didn't think you would be here!" Dawn tried desperately to explain herself.
"O-oh, it's all right. I was just surprised is all," Cynthia said, rather entertained by Dawn's rattled demeanor. Seeing the girl like this, she couldn't stop herself from poking a bit of fun at her. "I...didn't realize you'd become so grown up."
Mortified by those words, Dawn dropped to her knees and pounded her fists into the sand. "Noooo! Why does this have to happen again?" she cried. Really, it was bad enough when Officer Jenny had caught she and J in the midst of one of their tender moments at home, but Cynthia doing so was even worse.
"Sorry, sorry. I was only teasing," Cynthia apologized, chuckling to herself. "It's been a while, Dawn. If I may ask, who is your lucky friend?"
Over underneath the umbrella, J had been eying Cynthia closely. As much time as she'd spent in the Sinnoh region throughout her life, it was impossible not to recognize who Cynthia was. It was likely that she was the one who owned this property and had given Dawn permission to use it, which was surprising in itself to J as she'd never heard Dawn mention that she was close with her. Cynthia was Champion of the Sinnoh region last J had known, but she had no idea whether or not that was still the case. J didn't have much inclination to keep up on such trivial things these days.
Dawn, meanwhile, was starting to fret over the possibility that Cynthia might recognize J. There was an endless array of things that could go bad if that happened, so Dawn could only hope and pray that it didn't. "L-Lucky friend, you say. Haha. I guess I should introduce you," Dawn said, getting back to her feet. This wasn't going to be as easy as it sounded, though. She couldn't just refer to J as "J" in front of Cynthia, lest she aid the woman in finding out the truth. If that was the case... "Cynthia, this is...umm...Jeanne!"
Hearing her real name uttered for the first time in what felt like forever, J immediately set a wide-eyed stare on Dawn. She couldn't believe the girl had just done that.
The cringe in her expression showed well that Dawn was already regretting what she'd just blurted out. She'd known for a long time how J felt about that name; it was just the first thing that had come to mind. Silently, she mouthed the word "sorry" in J's direction.
"Jeanne, is it? It's a pleasure to meet you," Cynthia greeted her, stepping closer to the bounty hunter. "I'm-"
"Cynthia. I know," J interrupted. She didn't like this situation one bit, and it was painfully obvious. "This is your property, I take it?"
"Yes, it is. It's a beautiful spot, isn't it?" Cynthia replied. "So, how long have you known Dawn for?"
Cynthia's intentions were innocent enough, but J had no interest in making small talk. "That's none of your business," J sharply told her, starting to rise from her chair. "It seems you'd like to use this place, so we'll just be getting out of your hair."
"Oh, that isn't necessary," Cynthia insisted. Somehow, she didn't yet seem offended by J's prickly attitude. "I told Dawn she could drop by anytime, after all. If anything, I should leave the two of you be and come back another day."
"N-no! You shouldn't have to do that, Cynthia! This place belongs to you!" Dawn protested the idea. "We'll go if you want us to."
Although J and Dawn were offering to cede the beach to her, Cynthia had another arrangement in mind. "Really, that isn't necessary. But, if you're also opposed to my leaving, then, instead, why don't we all enjoy the beach together?" she suggested. "If you don't mind me being around, that is."
"No, not at all! We'd love that!" Dawn replied.
Though she said such a thing, Dawn had a feeling she was speaking for herself and herself alone. A quick peek at J only confirmed that. Clearly not on board with the idea of hanging around Cynthia, J merely looked away, annoyed. She didn't like sharing anything with anyone, and she especially didn't like sharing what was supposed to be her vacation time alone with Dawn.
Dawn could understand how J felt right now, but this was one instance where she hoped the woman she loved could at least play along and be civil. Cynthia's friendship was something Dawn had always cherished and she didn't want anything to ruin that.
"So, what brings the two of you here?" Cynthia asked the younger of the girls.
"Oh, we just wanted a day to relax under the sun," Dawn told her. "I'd always liked this spot, so I thought we'd come here. I guess I should have contacted you first, huh?"
"It's not a problem. You've probably been busy since becoming a Top Coordinator, am I right?"
"Haha! That's for sure! So, what are you doing out here, Cynthia?"
"Me? Just doing a little training with Milotic is all."
Fascinated with Cynthia's aquatic Pokemon, as she usually was, Dawn walked over to get a closer look at it. "Wow, it's as pretty as ever," she beamed.
Appreciative of the compliment, Milotic lowered its head and nuzzled up against Dawn's cheek, drawing a light giggle from the girl.
What neither Dawn nor Cynthia noticed was that J was no longer looking away. She'd been watching the two of them converse, and, in the midst of it all, something began to bother her. For whatever reason, she didn't like how well they seemed to get along.
"I see you brought your Pokemon here as well," Cynthia said, watching briefly as Piplup, Buneary and Ariados continued their construction of the sandcastle. As she panned around the beach, Cynthia would take notice of a Pokemon she'd never seen around Dawn before. "Oh, what a magnificent Salamence!"
Her interest piqued, Cynthia started to approach the winged creature—a move that had Dawn feeling somewhat nervous. "Y-yeah, Salamence is Jeanne's Pokemon, actually," Dawn informed her.
"Hmm..." Cynthia looked into Salamence's eyes as she knelt down in front of it. "Hello there."
Cynthia reached out to pat Salamence atop its head, but Salamence wasn't having any of it. Before it could be touched, J's Pokemon pulled its head away in defiance.
"Hey! Salamence!" Dawn snapped at the Pokemon, not appreciative of its rude behavior.
As she observed things from out of the corner of her eye, J was quietly amused by Salamence's actions. She would have to remind herself to give it a special snack once they got back home, she decided.
Unlike Dawn, Cynthia wasn't upset by the brush-off in the slightest. "It's fine. You're just not comfortable around people you're not familiar with, right?" she said, giving Salamence an understanding nod. "Some Pokemon are like that. You've just got to let them be who they are."
While Dawn still wasn't happy about it, she could see where Cynthia was coming from. "Well, I guess that's true," she conceded.
"Right?" Cynthia chuckled. For the moment, she then shot a glance over at J. "Often times, Pokemon take on such traits from their trainer."
J, not taking kindly to the comment, turned and glared at the blonde-haired woman. "Is there something you want to say to me?" she snarled.
"No, just an observation," Cynthia responded, tranquil as could be. Despite what J may have thought, Cynthia had no intention of starting a conflict. "Dawn, I'm going to go say hello to Piplup and the others before I start working with Milotic. Please, relax and enjoy yourselves."
"Oh, okay. Would you mind if I watched you two a little?" Dawn asked her.
"By all means," Cynthia smiled.
The world-renowned trainer headed over to the Pokemon around the sandcastle, which left Dawn free to deal with a small issue that had come up, that being J's sour attitude. Her cheeks puffing out, the young coordinator stormed over to the reclining woman with an axe to grind. "Can't you at least try to be polite?"
J would answer that question with another question. "Just how long have you known me? And while we're at it, how long have you known her?" she inquired. "You've never mentioned her to me before."
"Well, yeah. Why would I have? You don't ever ask about who I do and don't know," Dawn replied, placing her hands on her hips. "Ash, Brock and I got to know Cynthia during my first journey through Sinnoh, and we've stayed in touch ever since. She even let me stay at her villa here a couple of times when I visited Unova."
Irked by the idea of Dawn staying with Cynthia, J shot a dirty look over at the other woman. "Is that so?"
"Yes, and she's really nice! So, please, be at least a little courteous?" Dawn pleaded with her.
Though the request seemed fair enough in Dawn's eyes, it was just asking too much of someone like J, who looked away from the girl in annoyance. "Sorry I can't be as nice as Cynthia," she huffed.
Dawn blinked several times as she stared down at the woman. There was...something about the way she was acting. "Are you...jealous?"
That wording irritating J more than Dawn could've imagined, the bounty hunter swung back around to face her. "I am not jealous," she insisted.
Despite J's denial, Dawn wasn't quite buying it. "Come on, there's no need to be. Cynthia's just an old friend."
"I told you, I'm not jealous," J repeated herself. She was trying to keep her emotions in check, but they were starting to get the best of her. Needing some time to herself, J rolled up off of her chair and promptly walked away.
Even knowing the type of person J was, Dawn still didn't understand why this was all so complicated. Just how hard could it possibly be for J to try to be respectful around a friend of hers? "Honestly, what's with her?" Dawn fumed.
While things were happening along the shoreline, something else was going on out in the sea. Unbeknownst to those on land, a periscope had just popped up out of the water, and it was focused directly on them.
Beneath the water's surface, three different voices echoed on the inside of a very unique mechanical contraption.
"H-hey, isn't that Cynthia? What is she doing here?" one voice spoke with concern.
"This could be problematic. Shall we retreat for now?" another inquired.
"Heck no! With this new gizmo, even Cynthia ain't gonna stop us!" the owner of the third voice said with confidence.
"That's right! We can do this! It's our time to shine!" one of the others declared. "For revenge!"
Back on the beach, Cynthia had finished saying her hellos to Dawn's Pokemon and was ready to start working with Milotic.
Meanwhile, J was still giving herself some space after bringing her conversation with Dawn to an abrupt end. Being accused of jealousy was new for her, and she didn't appreciate it much, to say the least. In reality, what J was feeling wasn't so simple as to be deemed jealousy. For as long as she had known Dawn, she'd seen that the girl had an appreciation for people who had a natural kindness to them, such as Cynthia. That was all fine and dandy, except for one thing: J wasn't that sort of person. She couldn't be that sort of person, either, and knowing that had sometimes left her feeling frustrated as it did right now.
Dawn, unaware of J's feelings, again plopped herself down next to the sandcastle. The frown hadn't disappeared from her face, and chances were it wouldn't for a while yet. "Really, if something's bothering her, why can't she just tell me?" she grumbled. "She doesn't have to be so proud all the time. Just talk to me and I'll listen! Sheesh."
Suddenly, a loud noise out over the water caught everyone's attention. It sounded almost as if a cannon had gone off, and, as Dawn looked toward the sea, she quickly got up close and personal with what had caused it. A large, metallic net that had been fired from a distance slammed down into the sand, instantly destroying the castle the Pokemon had been putting together. By sheer luck, Buneary and Ariados had avoided being wrapped up because of where they'd been sitting, but Dawn and Piplup weren't so fortunate. Both of them cried out with surprise as they were completely enveloped by the net.
Hearing Dawn's distressed voice, J swung around in a hurry. "Dawn!"
"A net? What is this?" Cynthia wondered aloud, puzzled as to what was going on.
No one would have to wait long for the culprit to make itself known. A huge splash of water soon erupted from the sea, sending out a sizable wave that had Dawn's Dragonair and Pachirisu right in its path.
Dragonair didn't back down from the wave, braving it despite the balance issues it brought about. Pachirisu, however, was spooked enough by the rough conditions that it wound up using its Discharge by reflex. Dragonair, being a dragon-type Pokemon, was resistant to electric attacks, but the fact that it was covered in water complicated things. With the water's conductive properties aiding the punch that Discharge packed, Dragonair's body began to sway after the attack had ended. It wasn't knocked out, but it was rattled, and all Pachirisu could do was try to shake Dragonair out of it as it tried to hang on atop the larger Pokemon's head.
In the meantime, the object that had created the splash had become clearly visible to everyone. It was a mechanical giant—a rotund robot that towered above the water's surface. Painted black with a big, red 'R' on its belly, the contraption had two mechanical arms on its sides. All of a sudden, one of those arms reeled in the net Dawn and Piplup had been trapped with, drawing a loud shriek from the Top Coordinator.
Once the net had settled into place dangling high in the air from the mechanical hand, Dawn finally got the chance to settle down. "Wh-what is going on here? Who's controlling this thing?"
Dawn was about to find out just that as a dome atop the massive robot began to open up. The further it opened, the more Dawn was able to see inside the giant. There was a series of controls all around the top portion of the machine, and sitting at those controls were three individuals that Dawn had never imagined she would lay eyes upon again. They were the troublesome Team Rocket trio of Jessie, James and Meowth.
"Surprise, surprise!" Jessie gleefully greeted the trapped coordinator.
"Team Rocket's back in action, and we're ready to return the favor for what you did to us!" James exclaimed.
Over on the shore, Cynthia had overheard the organization's name. "Team Rocket?" she blinked. It had been a while, but she recognized the group from the Meloetta incident that had occurred in Unova years earlier.
While Cynthia pondered what course of action to take, Dawn, holding Piplup close to her, didn't seem much impressed with her captors. "Really? You guys are still doing stuff like this?" she asked dryly. "How did you even know we were here?"
"Dat's none of your beeswax, twerp! And you betcha we're still doin' stuff like this! Team Rocket always wins in the end! You betta get ready, 'cuz this is our revenge!" Meowth warned the girl. "Oh, and don't even try gettin' outta that net! It's super reinforced, and there ain't no attacks that Piplup can pull off that'll break you guys free!"
"AHEM!" Jessie stood up, offended by the lack of attention she was receiving. "In case you've forgotten, I'm Jessie!"
"I'm James!" the blue-haired Team Rocket member rose and joined his partner.
"And I'm Meowth, that's a name!" Meowth chimed in.
Rearranging themselves, the villainous trio struck a symmetrical pose with Meowth smack in the middle.
"Putting the do-gooders in their place..."
"...we're Team Rocket..."
"...and we're in your f-"
Before Team Rocket could even finish their motto, an orange-colored beam of energy roared through the air, forcing all three of them to take cover as they narrowly avoided the attack. Trembling after the close call, the group slowly peeked out above the robot's control panel and looked toward the beach.
Standing beside Salamence, who had just fired a potent Hyper Beam, J had her arms folded over her chest and a nasty scowl on her face that said she meant business. "The next one won't miss," she cautioned the three of them, and she wasn't kidding. "Let go of Dawn...or else."
Her teeth still chattering with fright, Jessie managed to stand herself back up. "D-Don't you have any common courtesy?" she barked at the bounty hunter.
"Yeah! At least let us finish our introduction first!" James concurred.
"And you can forget about us lettin' the twerp go!" Meowth yelled back at her. "She ain't goin' nowhere 'til you pay for blowin' up our balloon!"
Setting an icy glare on Team Rocket, J had only one thing left to say to them. "Have it your way," she hissed. Ready to dish out some pain, she hopped up onto her Pokemon's back. "Salamence, let's go!"
Salamence took to the air with haste and soared in the direction of the giant robot out in the water. J wouldn't be the only one participating in Dawn's rescue, either, as Cynthia, too, now looked toward her Pokemon.
"Milotic, we need to help!" Cynthia told the aquatic creature. Much like J had with Salamence, Cynthia positioned herself atop the back of Milotic and together they blazed a path by sea out to the mechanical creation.
Though they now had a pair of threats to deal with, Team Rocket's primary concern for the moment was the fast-approaching J. "Hah! If you think things will be like last time, you're sadly mistaken!" James boasted. "Meowth, let's give her a taste of some Team Rocket technology!"
"Roger that!" Meowth replied with a wide grin. With the single press of a button on the console, a circular area around the 'R' on the robot's chest opened up, unveiling what appeared to be a large glove balled up into a fist shape. The glove was connected to the machine by a massive spring that was already loaded and ready to go. "Let's see ya take one of these!"
As J and Salamence neared, the glove in the giant's chest shot outward with surprising speed, looking to smack its two targets out of the air. The weapon was quick, but Salamence's agility was nothing to scoff at, either. With a flap of its wings, Salamence veered off to the side, successfully escaping the path of the attack. After its miss, the spring and attached glove rescinded, reloading itself for another shot.
"Ridiculous," J muttered. She was angry enough that Team Rocket had messed with Dawn, but the sheer stupidity of their weapon was infuriating in its own right. That was fine by her, though. She was going to deal with it and the rest of the mechanical giant right now. "Salamence, use Dragon Pulse!"
As commanded, Salamence began to build up a mass of turquoise energy within its mouth. Team Rocket, though, had seen this scenario play out before, and this time they had a countermeasure.
Using the controls to move one of the mechanical arms, James adjusted it so that the robot was holding Dawn and Piplup directly in Salamence's firing path. "Ah, ah, ah! I wouldn't do that unless you intend to harm her as well," James cackled.
"Tch!" J spat, understandably hesitant now about proceeding with the attack.
"Hey! That's playing dirty!" Dawn shot James a nasty look from within the net.
"Perhaps, but we do what's necessary," James defended their strategy.
Salamence didn't even have to wait for the order to let its growing mass of energy dissipate; it did it on its own. J hated it, but she couldn't deny the effectiveness of the tactic. Once upon a time, she herself might have done something similar if the situation required it.
"A wise choice," James snickered. "Now, Meowth, take her down!"
The large glove sprung outward a second time, again barely missing as Salamence maneuvered itself out of harm's way. No matter where it flew, James kept Dawn and Piplup between Salamence and themselves, ensuring that J couldn't attack them without endangering the one most important to her. For now, J would have to go on the defensive until she came up with a plan.
While James and Meowth dealt with J, Jessie was focused on Cynthia and Milotic, who were closing in from below. "I'll handle this one," she smirked. Reaching into her pocket, she pulled out a pokeball and tossed it into the air. "Wobbuffet, come out!"
The smaller, blue Pokemon appeared on the rim of the robot's control area as it exited its pokeball, raising one of its arms to its forehead. "Waaaaaa..."
Dawn was being used to keep J at bay, but she wasn't in the path of Cynthia and Milotic, and that opened up the possibility for the two of them to take control of this situation. "Milotic, use Hydro Pump!" Cynthia commanded.
As was asked of it, Milotic fired a powerful jet of water from its mouth, the attack aimed at the upper portion of the robot.
"I don't think so!" Jessie beamed with confidence. "Wobbuffet, Mirror Coat!"
Its body becoming surrounded in a white, reflective color, Wobbuffet took Milotic's Hydro Pump attack head-on only to reflect it right back at the other Pokemon with even more power.
Cynthia recognized right away the danger of the attack, and she reacted appropriately. "Milotic, avoid it!"
With Cynthia hanging on tightly, Milotic used its speed in the water to make a hasty, yet graceful escape, moving out of the way just before the jet of water struck. It instead collided with the sea, the impact of which was enough to send a watery spray high up into the air that eventually drizzled down onto Milotic and its trainer.
"Mirror Coat, huh?" Cynthia thought to herself. She, too, would have some brainstorming to do.
Up in the sky, J and Salamence were continuing to dodge the glove weapon as it came at them. J was tiring of this routine, though. She didn't like being on the defensive side of things, and she damn sure didn't like her opponents having things play out the way they wanted them to. She may not have been able to attack the robot itself while Team Rocket was using Dawn as a shield, but that didn't mean she couldn't attack a part of it that happened to be overextending out of its safe zone.
"Salamence, I think it's time we show these clowns who they're dealing with," J spoke in a determined voice. The growl from Salamence that followed only confirmed that her Pokemon felt the same way. "I want you to fly down toward them. This time, when that thing comes at us, don't change course."
Salamence did exactly as its master asked. When the glove came springing out at them again, it didn't bother moving to avoid it.
"Now, use Double-Edge!" J commanded.
Its body glowing gold, Salamence slammed its full weight into the glove, initiating a collision that held a thunderous impact. J had to hang on as Salamence reeled back from the recoil damage it took. The real damage, however, was dealt to Team Rocket's weapon. Part of the glove's spring had cracked from the force of Salamence's power, and everything from that point out to the tip of the glove broke off as the weapon was rescinded, the affected parts flopping down into the sea below.
"Good work," J complimented her Pokemon.
"No! How dare you?" James shook his fist at the ones who had destroyed his weapon.
"Serves you right!" Dawn shouted at him. "You guys had better give up now before you really make her mad!"
"Yeah, right! You think we'll give up just like that? We got some more toys for ya!" Meowth gloated. As the talking Pokemon punched a sequence into the control panel, the barrels of two weapons appeared from the giant's chest on either side of where the now-broken glove and spring had come from. "You like usin' beams on us? Well here's some for you!"
Salamence was forced to take immediate evasive action as the robot's barrels began firing rounds of laser beams up into the sky. J, knowing Salamence would have to put forth some extra effort to avoid the continual fire, switched over to a seated position atop her Pokemon and hung onto the back of its broad neck for stability. "Don't worry about me, just dodge those beams!" she instructed Salamence.
As much as Dawn believed in J's abilities, the beams were coming just a bit too close to the woman and her Salamence for comfort. "J, be careful!" Dawn called out to her.
On the other front, Jessie couldn't have been more proud of herself as she shot a condescending look down at Cynthia. "Is that all you've got?" she taunted the famed trainer. "I don't care who you are, you're powerless to do anything to us!"
"Is that so?" Cynthia calmly replied, a faint smile crossing her lips. Having Milotic use its special attacks against Wobbuffet wasn't going to do much good with Mirror Coat in play. But, that was only if Mirror Coat actually was in play. "Milotic, use Attract!"
"What?" Jessie gasped. Attract wasn't a move that Mirror Coat could deal with, leaving Jessie with no option but to watch her strategy crumble.
With a wink of its eye, Milotic unleashed a stream of pink hearts that surrounded and spun around Wobbuffet. Its body flashing pink momentarily, Wobbuffet began to sway back and forth as the hearts vanished, its desire to fight Milotic wiped away all at once.
"Hey, that's cheating!" Jessie argued.
"You've got to be prepared for these sorts of things," Cynthia passed her adversary some friendly advice. "Milotic, now use Blizzard!"
Milotic began to blow a torrent of wind and snow from its mouth, engulfing Wobbuffet and Team Rocket in a wintry chill. In its charmed state, Wobbuffet couldn't use Mirror Coat or any other move, leaving it completely susceptible to the attack.
"W-Wobbuffet, s-s-snap out of it!" Jessie, shivering from the decrease in temperature, tried to tell her Pokemon. Wobbuffet, though, was starting to freeze, and it wasn't the only one. The robot itself was also displaying a coat of frost.
"Good job, Milotic. Keep it up!" Cynthia encouraged her Pokemon.
As the frost spread, the laser cannons that had been firing upon J and Salamence began to feel the effects of it. The gears that allowed them to move around were struggling to the point that they were locking up, causing the shots to miss by an even wider margin.
"H-h-hey, wh-what're you doing over there, Meowth? Aim properly!" James griped at his partner-in-crime.
"I'm t-t-tryin', but they ain't m-movin' right!" Meowth defended itself. "And why's it so darn COLD?"
Before long, it wasn't just the lasers' mobility that was compromised. With the freeze building up on the weapons, they gradually stopped firing altogether.
"N-now wh-wh-wh-what?" James asked, rubbing his arms to try to warm himself up.
"They ain't f-f-firin' no m-more!" Meowth exclaimed.
James tried moving the giant's mechanical limbs, but even those had become inoperable. "The arms, t-t-too! N-now what d-d-d-do we d-do?"
With the robot's arms and weapons disabled, that left a certain bounty hunter without any further need to hesitate. The Team Rocket members watched nervously as Salamence descended from the sky in front of them with J again standing atop its back.
"Well, what do you know? I suppose Cynthia has her uses after all," J concluded. Outstretching her arm, she pointed at the center of Team Rocket's creation with a menacing look in her eyes.
Over in their net, Dawn and Piplup would have liked to cheer J on, but both of them had just picked up on a very important detail that they believed was being overlooked. "H-...huh?" Dawn blinked. "Umm...wait...we're still-"
"Salamence, use Hyper Beam!" J instructed her winged Pokemon.
Dawn and her Piplup both grew pale as a mass of orange-colored energy again began to build in Salamence's mouth. Destroying the robot was fine, but not while they were still attached to it!
Up at the giant's control panel, the Team Rocket trio huddled together in a panic.
"H-how did it turn out like this?"
"This was supposed to b-b-be our revenge!"
"M-maybe so, but I get the feelin' we're about to b-b-b-blast off again!"
Team Rocket's ominous feeling was about to become a reality. With its Hyper Beam fully charged, Salamence ruthlessly unloaded the enormous blast of energy. The beam crashed into the behemoth's frozen belly with tremendous power, causing the robot to explode.
The cries of Team Rocket echoed throughout the sky as they flew off into the distance and vanished. What was left of their robot soon came crashing down into the sea in bits and pieces. At the time of the explosion, however, the mechanical arm with the net containing Dawn was jerked upward. The spot where the net was connected to it then snapped apart, opening it up and freeing Dawn and Piplup from its confines, but not before flinging them even higher up into the air.
"Whoooaaaaaa!" Dawn screamed. So forceful was the swing that she lost her grip on Piplup, who became separated from her. "Piplup!"
"Pipipipipluuuuuuup!" the Pokemon cried out in distress.
With Dawn and Piplup now in a free fall toward the water below, Cynthia was quick to take action. "Milotic, we need to save them!"
The rescue attempt was on as Cynthia and her Pokemon raced across the sea to intercept the plummeting coordinator. As they sped through the water, though, Cynthia picked up on something moving right above her. Cutting through the air at an even higher speed than the pair down below, J and Salamence had soared past them overhead.
J was already approaching the nearest of the falling targets, that being Piplup. Reaching out as Salamence swooped down, she managed to successfully pluck the smaller Pokemon out of the air. That was good and all as saving Piplup certainly needed to be done, but it was the other target on her radar that J was really interested in. With that in mind, she instead looked to put Piplup's safety in someone else's hands.
Seeing Cynthia and Milotic cruising along in the water behind her, J took Piplup and, without hesitation, dropped it down into their path.
"Pipluuuuuuuup!" Dawn's unfortunate Pokemon again bellowed with fright.
Cynthia picked up on Piplup's plight in a hurry. She was concerned about Dawn as well, but J was much closer to the girl than she was. Feeling the best option was to cede the responsibility of Dawn's well-being to the other woman, Cynthia chose to focus on saving Piplup. "Milotic, slow down a bit! We'll take care of Piplup!" she commanded. With the change in Milotic's speed, Piplup was able to drop safely into Cynthia's arms. "Got you!"
Having taken care of that, Cynthia now turned her attention to the situation of Piplup's trainer.
Dawn was falling fast, but J and Salamence were closing the distance. Her wet hair whipping in the wind, J reached out to grab hold of the girl.
"J!" Dawn cried out.
In seconds, a splash of water rose up into the air as J, Dawn and Salamence reached the surface of the sea. Cynthia and all of the Pokemon present looked on intently, all of them wondering what had happened, hoping everything was all right.
Then, as the wave of water descended back down from where it came, Cynthia spotted something that allowed her to quietly sigh with relief. Salamence was gliding just above the water's surface now, and there atop its back was J with Dawn in her arms, holding the girl tightly. Mission complete.
"Not bad," Cynthia uttered softly. The capabilities of the woman and her Salamence had left her impressed.
With their task finished, Salamence ascended back up into the sky. J relaxed her grip on Dawn and raised her head as they rose up above the sea again. Dawn's heart was still racing from the harrowing fall, but the bright smile on her face shone through regardless.
"Nice catch," Dawn said between breaths. "You think maybe you could have saved us before you blew that thing up, though?"
"I felt like making things exciting," J replied with a shrug of her shoulders. Obviously, she wouldn't have risked it if she wasn't completely sure that she and Salamence could make it to Dawn in time.
Even after all that had happened, as she lay there in J's arms, Dawn was led to believe that something was still amiss with her companion. There was just something about her expression that seemed...troubled. "J, what's wr-"
"I'm sorry," J suddenly apologized, a rarity for her. "Maybe I was a little…envious before."
Dawn almost couldn't believe what she was hearing. Was this really the J she knew, admitting to something like that?
"It's just," J went on, "…you're such a radiant person that everyone loves you, most of them much kinder people than I am. And...I just can't be like them. There's no way I can."
"So what?" Dawn promptly asked in response. "Yeah, Cynthia's really nice, and I admire that about her. But I don't want you to be all smiley and upbeat and cheerful all the time like other people I might know. I like you just the way you are!"
Pulling herself upward, Dawn gently wrapped her arms around the back of J's neck. "So don't worry about silly things like that, okay?"
One look at Dawn's eyes was all J needed to know that Dawn was being earnest with her. Shaking her head, she leaned forward and pressed her forehead up against that of the girl in her arms. "I'm an idiot," she said.
Dawn only giggled at the comment. With she and J being as different as they were, things like this were bound to pop up every now and then. But, so long as they cared for each other, they would always find a way to get through it.
Soon, everyone was on their way back to shore. Upon their return, all of J's and Dawn's Pokemon were waiting there to greet their friends, including Dragonair and Pachirisu who had finally recovered from their electricity-induced issues earlier.
"Well, that was unexpected," Cynthia spoke as she hopped down from Milotic. "I never imagined Team Rocket would show up here."
Dawn was just being set down by J after the two of them had dismounted Salamence. "Yeah, us either," she said. "It all turned out okay, though."
"Thankfully, yes. That was some impressive skill you showed back there, Jeanne," Cynthia complimented the work done by Dawn's silver-haired acquaintance. As she stared over at the other woman, however, her eyes narrowed. "Or should I say…Pokemon Hunter J?"
While J directed a sharp look Cynthia's way, Dawn let out a gasp and slapped a hand over her mouth. She only now realized what she'd done. "Wh-when I was falling, I called out…"
"Don't worry, it wasn't because of you," J assured the girl, not taking her eyes off of Cynthia. "You've known since the moment you saw me, haven't you?"
Cynthia wouldn't deny the claim. "When you're in my position, you wind up becoming familiar with many of the Sinnoh region's most-wanted criminals," she stated.
"I figured as much," J spat, the hostility evident in her voice. "So, what now? Will you spread the word that I'm alive? Try to have me arrested? Or maybe you plan on trying to bring me in yourself?"
Dawn was fretting up a storm as she looked back and forth between the two women. This, she realized, could get ugly in a hurry. "U-umm-!"
"Mmm…I suppose something like that would be the appropriate thing to do," Cynthia replied, words that weren't helping Dawn's nerves one bit. "But…I find it hard to believe that Dawn would associate with someone who was still of a criminal mindset."
While J was still waiting, unsure of Cynthia's intentions, Dawn saw an opportunity to perhaps prevent any sort of conflict from taking place. "Sh-she isn't like that anymore, Cynthia!" the coordinator frantically tried to explain. "She did everything she could for so long to get back all of the Pokemon she stole! And she even helps fight against crime now by catching other criminals!"
Intrigued, Cynthia looked to J. "Is that true?"
"More or less," J muttered.
Knowing now how things were, it was up to Cynthia to decide what she wanted to do. J's list of crimes in Sinnoh was seemingly endless, that much she knew about the former Pokemon hunter. No matter what good deeds she'd done since then, most citizens would undoubtedly support the woman's arrest. Still, even knowing that, it was surprisingly easy for Cynthia to make the decision she eventually settled on.
"Some may not agree with me, but, personally, I believe being around Dawn is better for you than being locked away in a jail cell," Cynthia said to J. "So, I think what I'd like to do is just leave you to her."
All at once, Dawn felt like the weight of the world was lifted off her shoulders. Finally, she could relax. "Oh my gosh, thank you, Cynthia. Really."
"Whatever. I would have stayed with her whether you liked it or not," J snorted at the blonde. "And just for the record, I would have stomped you into the ground if you'd tried to take me down."
"J, stop that! Haven't you ever heard the phrase, 'let sleeping Poochyenas lie?' " Dawn scolded the confrontational woman. Just then, though, something that hadn't occurred to her before began setting off alarm bells in her head. "Wait, J, isn't it bad that Team Rocket knows you're alive?"
"What? Oh, them. I wouldn't worry about it," J calmly said to her. "They're too stupid to cause any real trouble."
Though it shouldn't have been quite that simple, Dawn found it hard to disagree. "Y-you're probably right," she had to admit.
"True, they don't seem like the wisest bunch," Cynthia concurred. "So, where do you two make your home these days?"
"Hoenn," J answered, "but that's as specific a location as you're getting."
With thoughts of the Hoenn region in mind, Cynthia took a moment to quietly ponder to herself. "Hoenn, huh?" she spoke, her expression lighting up. "In that case, I actually have a favor I'd like to ask of you."
"A…favor?" Dawn batted her eyes.
Unsurprisingly, J didn't see it as just the simple act of asking for a favor. "You…are you trying to blackmail us now?"
"Absolutely not," Cynthia tried to put her mind at ease. "You're free to decline, though I'd be ecstatic if you were to accept."
Dawn was okay with helping Cynthia out, but she wasn't so sure her significant other felt the same way. In fact, judging by the grimace on J's face, she definitely didn't feel the same way.
Truly, J didn't at all like the idea of assisting Cynthia with anything whatsoever. On the other hand, however, she also felt she owed it to Dawn to try to be civil with the woman, even if only once. "I'll…leave it up to you," J finally said to the girl.
That was definitely not what Dawn had been expecting. She was almost certain that J would want the final say when it came to something like this. She could only imagine that this may have been J's way of making up for what had happened earlier. That, or maybe J had just had enough of trying to deal with Cynthia. That, she thought, was entirely possible.
In any case, Dawn didn't see any harm in accepting the request of her old friend. "What is it you'd like us to do, Cynthia?" she asked.
Smiling with elation, Cynthia clapped her hands together in front of her. "Well, you see..."
End of Extra Chapter 2
A/N: To be continued in Extra Chapter 3!