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 5
That was J's first thought as she stirred early in the morning. Even half asleep, she was aware enough to know her feet were freezing. She pulled them in closer, tucking them underneath the much warmer blankets of her bed.
Today was Christmas Eve, right in the midst of winter.
J's eyelids parted, giving her a glimpse of a ceiling that wasn't her own. Over the past few days, she'd gradually gotten used to waking up to it, although she still wished she didn't have to. There was a weight pressing down on the right side of her body, but she knew exactly what that was without even looking. She closed her eyes again. It was too early to get up, she decided.
The "weight" on her side would have something to say about that, though. J felt it shift, followed by a peck against her cheek.
"J…" came Dawn's voice.
J tried to ignore it, but the smooching persisted.
"I know you're awake," Dawn said softly, planting another light kiss on her.
"Mrrr," J groaned, still groggy from her slumber.
Dawn picked up her pace and spread the love around, going for J's ear and neck.
"If you don't stop that," J warned her, "you're in for it."
All that served to do was urge Dawn on. Sliding further to the side so that she was hovering over J, she bombarded the woman's face with kisses.
That was all J could take. Her eye twitching, she reached up and grasped Dawn's sides. "That's it! You asked for it!" She tossed Dawn onto her back and pounced, running her lips along the collar of the girl's pajamas.
"Okay, okay! I'm sorry!" Dawn cried, overwhelmed by the tickling sensation on her neck. "Ahahahaha, stop!"
J eased off with her playful assault as she and Dawn both looked toward the doorway, where there stood Dawn's mother, Johanna.
"Time to get up, you two," she said.
"Mom?" Dawn shrieked, jolting upward. "Did you…see that?"
Johanna stifled a laugh. "Don't worry about it. I was young once, too."
Pulling the blanket up to hide herself, Dawn flopped back against the mattress. "Noooo! Why meee?"
"You could have knocked, you know," J grumbled, narrowing her eyes at the woman.
"I suppose." Johanna shrugged. "Dawn, you should really get moving. Don't forget, you're going to visit the school today."
"Oh, that's right!" Flinging the blanket away, Dawn hopped out of bed and gave her muscles a quick stretch. "Mmmmm, okay. I'm up now." She rushed out of the room, and Piplup, who had been sleeping in its makeshift bed nearby, stumbled after her.
In a short while, the trainer and Pokemon duo would be stopping by Dawn's old school, which Johanna also frequented nowadays, as a Christmas Eve surprise. As Johanna was a Top Coordinator, the children always adored her visits and the chance to learn and listen to stories from her, but seeing Dawn, who was still active as a coordinator and closer to their own age, promised to be extra special.
Naturally, J wasn't as thrilled as everyone else about the visit. As much as she wanted to stick with Dawn, kids really, really weren't her thing. Thus, Dawn would be going it alone today.
Now that her daughter was up and about, Johanna looked back to the bed where J was still coming around. "There's fresh coffee in the kitchen, Jeanne," she said, to which J cringed at the name. "Maybe today you and I can finally get that tree decorated."
About as unenthusiastic about the idea as could be, J let out a long, drawn-out yawn and laid back down. "I'm not really up for it, Johanna," she muttered. "Let's do it tomorrow or something."
"Tomorrow is Christmas," Johanna said, placing her hands on her hips. "Besides, you've been saying 'tomorrow' for three days now. It won't take that long. Dawn's going to be gone for a while, anyway. What else are you going to do?"
"Anything but decorate a tree," J thought, and boy was she tempted to say it out loud. Had Dawn not asked her to be civil around Johanna, she probably would have.
J much preferred to share Christmas with Dawn at their home in Hoenn, just the two of them, but Dawn was insistent that she wanted to spend some quality time with her mother during the holidays. So here J found herself at Johanna's home in Twinleaf Town, making a rare appearance back in the Sinnoh region.
After three days, J was managing all right despite her discomfort around Johanna. Dawn's old bed was meant more for one person than two, but she certainly didn't mind squeezing into it with the girl. Dawn was almost always around, too, so passing the time was easy. If J ever needed a break from Johanna's attempts to bond, she would just pretend she had to tinker with her ship or that she wanted to train her Pokemon some. Admittedly, that was happening more often than she would have liked.
Still, it could have been worse, J figured.
Once breakfast was over, J parked herself on the couch, sipping at a cup of coffee. On the TV, a live report from Jubilife City featured a reporter asking people what sort of Christmas gifts they had gotten their significant others. J looked toward the window, pretending she wasn't paying attention. In reality, she was more interested than she let on.
A distraction came soon enough, however, when Dawn and Piplup reappeared wearing red-and-white Santa outfits. Dawn's included a skirt and some black leggings, while the hat and coat sufficed plenty for her Pokemon. The pair struck a symmetrical pose as they made their entrance into the room.
"Oh, that's just adorable!" Johanna said, gushing at the sight. "I'm sure the kids will get a kick out of it."
"You think?" Dawn giggled. She turned to J for approval. "Well?"
Dawn did a little twirl, her skirt rising and falling with her movement. That was almost too much for J to handle. The bounty hunter cupped a hand over her nose, concerned that it was about to spurt blood.
"It's cute," J told her. "Too cute. Are you trying to kill me?"
Beaming over the compliment, Dawn skipped over to the couch and plopped herself down on J's lap. She grabbed J's free hand and wrapped it around her midsection as she snuggled back against her.
J typically had a good grip on her self-control, but even she was struggling to weather this storm. Dawn's Santa attire was ridiculously soft, and the warmth of her body beneath it wasn't helping. A quick peek toward the kitchen area, though, confirmed what J already suspected: Johanna was watching over them.
What it was about Johanna, J didn't know. If it was someone like a certain Officer Jenny standing over there, J would have showered Dawn with affection without a care in the world. Johanna, though…the idea of doing anything in front of her just felt weird, and not just because she was Dawn's mother.
For now, restraint was the key for J. She and Dawn would have some time alone sooner or later; all she had to do was keep her swelling passion bottled up until then. At least it would be fun whenever she finally got to let it all out.
Meanwhile, Dawn was fascinated by the gifts others were talking about on TV. One man said he'd gotten his wife a book. A woman said she'd gotten her boyfriend some cologne. Most striking to Dawn was an elderly couple who wouldn't spoil the surprise for each other. They'd been together so long that they'd given each other pretty much everything over the years, but still, they said, every year they found a way to come up with something new the other would like.
"Awwwww." Dawn's eyes sparkled. "That's so nice."
"It's sweet, isn't it?" Johanna said. "You'd better get going, Dawn. You don't want to keep them waiting."
Dawn checked the time on her Poketch. Her mother was right. She gave J a brief smooch. "I'll see you later," she said. "Bye, Mom! Piplup, let's go!"
Putting on her coat, Dawn took Piplup and headed out into the chilly morning air. The ground was covered in snow from a storm a week earlier, but the roads had long since been cleared. Venturing to the school on her bike wouldn't be a problem.
Back indoors, Johanna, fresh off finishing the dishes, eyed the bare Christmas tree sitting in the corner of the room. "Well then, why don't I go get the ornaments and we can get started."
J was too focused on the TV to pay any attention as Johanna wandered off. The report was informative, but, in the end, not as helpful as she would have liked. Setting her mug down on the coffee table, she rose from the sofa.
Johanna returned a short time later carrying a stack of boxes filled with decorations for the tree. It was likely more than they would need, she thought, but better too many than too few. There was only one thing missing, and that was J.
"Jeanne?" Johanna scanned around the room, but there was no sign of the woman.
Suddenly, the roar of an engine erupted outside.
J, donning her black wig, elevated her ship up into the sky. She had her own mission to complete for the day. In a flash, she was off.
Johanna, having come out to investigate the noise, stood at the bottom of the porch steps. Watching as the ship disappeared into the distance, she sighed. "That girl. Why am I not surprised?"
Dawn was filled with all sorts of nostalgic feelings as the school building came into view. It didn't seem that long ago at all that she would go there every morning to learn with the other children in town, including Kenny and Leona. She had a lot of memories attached to this place—most of them good, a couple here and there that she'd rather forget.
She pulled onto the school grounds and parked her bike near the entrance.
"Wow, it seems so much smaller now than it used to," she said. "I guess it's because I've grown so much since the last time I came here. It really has been a while."
In one of the classrooms, a group of about 30 students were gathered together, all of varying ages. They were invited to come to school for a while today as students who had expressed interest in perhaps becoming Pokemon coordinators in the future. None of them knew why exactly they were there, only that there was supposedly a "big surprise" for them.
Up at the front of the room, a teacher addressed the kids. "Now, I'm sure you're all wondering why you're here today," she said. As she looked toward the door, a wide grin spread across her face. "Oh, it appears we have a visitor!"
The children all turned to the classroom's entrance, where Dawn and Piplup had just poked their heads in. "Hi, guys!" Dawn waved to them. "Mind if we come in?"
At once, the students lit up with excitement.
"Hey, it's Dawn!"
"And Piplup, too!"
The kids came rushing over to them as they stepped inside.
"Wow, I can't believe it!"
"We all watched you win the Grand Festival! You were amazing!"
"Did you?" Dawn laughed. "I'm glad to hear it."
She wouldn't have minded spending more of Christmas Eve with J, but doing something like this was definitely enjoyable in its own way.
Come mid-afternoon, J and her ship were fast approaching Pastoria City—from the east. This wasn't her first stop since leaving Twinleaf Town.
She parked the ship in an area at the edge of the city that was well-hidden by trees and walked into town from there.
Pastoria City was feeling the arctic weather as much as anywhere else, but its grounds were without the white blanket J was used to seeing over the past few days. Unlike Twinleaf Town, this place had so far been spared a potent winter storm.
On the city's southern end sat a cluster of businesses all in a bunch, many of which involved crafting of some form. J walked along the street, carefully eying each of the buildings until she came upon a moderately-sized one near the middle. Above the door, a wooden sign had the words "Rudwig Glassworks" carved into it. Some of the inventory was displayed in a large window at the front of the store: Pokemon, flowers, dishes—all of them made from glass.
Ignoring the "Closed" sign in the window, J pulled open the door and entered. She walked past the shelves and display cases filled with glass figures and headed for an open door leading to the back of the shop. There, a room full of instruments and machines she wasn't entirely unfamiliar with awaited her, as did a rugged-looking fellow with a thick beard seated beside a glowing furnace.
"Are you Rudwig?" J inquired.
"That's right," the man replied in a gruff voice. "I take it you're the one who contacted me."
J promptly removed her coat and tossed it in the corner. "Sorry to move things along, but I'm a little pressed for time here," she said, rolling up her sleeves. "Let's get started."
As the hours passed, afternoon turned to evening. The skies were already darkening by the time Dawn and Piplup returned home from their school visit.
"We're home!" Dawn announced, shaking off the cold as she came in.
"Oh, welcome back," Johanna said. "How did it go?"
"It was a lot of fun! The kids asked about all sorts of stuff, and Piplup got along great with them. Right, Piplup?"
The Pokemon waved its flippers. "Pii piplup!"
Dawn spotted her mother over on a step ladder next to the Christmas tree, a half-empty tray of ornaments balancing on one hand. The tree was finally looking more Christmas-y with the swirls of tinsel wrapped around it and colored bulbs dangling from its branches. There still appeared to be some work to do, however, which led Dawn to wonder why she only saw one person doing the decorating.
"Jeanne took off right after you did," Johanna said, hanging a blue bulb near the top of the tree.
"She did?" Dawn pouted, slumping her shoulders. "Aww, I really wanted to see her, too. Did she say when she would be back?"
"Not a word. I would guess she'll be back soon, though. It is almost time for dinner."
Dawn hoped her mother was right. This was she and J's first Christmas Eve with each other and she wanted to be together with her. Really, though, she should have expected something like this, Dawn thought. There was no way J wouldn't be uneasy staying the whole day here alone with her mother.
"Well, since I have the chance to ask," Johanna spoke, "did you finish that item you've been working on?"
Thanks to the reminder, Dawn perked up. "O-oh, yeah! It took a while, and there were some tiny snags, but I finally got it done the other day. It turned out pretty good I think."
"See, I knew it wouldn't be a problem for you." Johanna descended the ladder, smiling. "I'm sure she'll love it. Now, why don't you go get changed and we can get started on dinner."
"All right," Dawn said. She paused for a moment, taking a look at her Santa outfit. "Actually, I think I'll just keep this on. She seemed to like it before, so…"
Johanna directed a sly look at her daughter.
"What?" Dawn asked, blushing.
"Nothing." Johanna chuckled. "You know, I had this one number your father really adored. Every time he'd see me in it, we'd-"
"Okay! Dinner it is. Let's go."
Back in Pastoria City, J closed the door to an annealer at the rear of the glassmaking shop. Taking a long breath, she wiped the sweat from her brow and leaned back against the wall.
"Not bad," Rudwig told her. "You picked it up quicker than a lot of my apprentices have over the years. Have you done this sort of work before?"
J turned a wistful eye on the furnace. "A long time ago, I used to watch someone do it. Maybe that helped a little."
Rudwig gave his beard a stroke. "They must have been a good one. Your technique was smooth, very refined for a novice." Grunting, he got to his feet. "As I said, a piece of that size should be fine after a few hours in there."
"You're leaving?" J asked.
"I trust you'll have no problem with the rest. Besides, I'd like to see my kids before they go to bed. Wife'll give me heck if I don't." Rudwig laughed heartily. "Just lock up when you leave and slide the key under the door."
J understood perfectly; she had someone of her own she wanted to get back to. "How much do I owe you?"
Rudwig shook his head. "Not a thing."
"What?" J quirked an eyebrow his way. "You took time out of your day to help me. Just name your price."
"Don't need money," Rudwig said, throwing on his overcoat. "If I can help a young lady make a gift for someone important to her on Christmas, that's good enough for me. You just make sure you get it to them in good time, y'hear?"
The veteran glassmaker sauntered out the doorway and left through the front of the shop.
With an amused snort, J looked to the annealer, where her creation was gradually cooling within. "Doesn't need money, huh? I bet the old man would have liked to have a beer with him."
Dawn sat cross-legged on the sofa, clutching a gift bag in her arms and fighting to stay awake. Her eyelids were drooping. Her yawns were becoming more frequent. Squinting, she glanced at the clock on the wall. It was past two o'clock in the morning.
The lights were all off in the house now. Only the crackling blaze in the fireplace was there to provide the room some illumination.
Dawn had waited all night for J to come home. She made dinner with her mother, then helped finish decorating the tree even though it was supposed to be J's job. Johanna turned in for the night shortly thereafter. Dawn considered doing the same, but she just couldn't bring herself to do so while J was still gone. Even if she tried, she knew she probably would have just lain awake in bed, anyway.
J's share of dinner still sat on the kitchen counter, covered in plastic wrap. Dawn had been trying not to look at it. All it did was remind her that J wasn't there.
Just then, the lights in the kitchen flipped on. From out of the hallway appeared Johanna, and it wasn't long before she noticed her daughter over on the couch.
"Dawn, you're still up?"
"Yeah," Dawn said, rubbing at her eyes.
Johanna needn't ask if J had returned or not; Dawn's expression said it all. "Dear, I know you want to see Jeanne, but you should really get some sleep. You're going to be a mess tomorrow."
"I know," Dawn replied. Her arms tightened around the bag she was holding. "Just a little longer, okay?"
"All right. Try not to worry so much. I'm sure Jeanne is just fine."
Johanna grabbed a glass of water and headed back to bed.
Dawn wanted to believe there was nothing wrong. If J were a normal person, she wouldn't have been so concerned. J was far from normal, though; who knew how many enemies she'd made over her lifetime. Did something happen to her? Was she really okay? If so, then why wasn't she back yet? Dawn needed to know. It was driving her crazy.
She raised her head. There was a noise...something outside. The sound of a vehicle.
Dawn rushed to the window. Up in the sky, coming from the east, a pair of headlights were shining brightly. She knew the look of that ship. Bolting for the door, she threw on her coat and hurried outside.
Knowing what time of night it was, J wished there was a quiet way to park her ship, but there really wasn't. It was a good thing the residences in Twinleaf Town were spread so far apart; most people lived far enough away from Johanna's home that they wouldn't be awakened by the racket.
J carefully lowered the vehicle down onto the snowy ground and killed the engine. She didn't bother to put her black wig back on—it was too dark out for anyone to get a good look at her anyway. She opened the ship's door, where right there waiting for her was a slightly-winded Dawn.
"Dawn?" J said. "What in the world are you still doing up?"
"Waiting for you!" Dawn replied, exasperated. "Where have you been? I was worried about you!"
Stepping out of the ship, J gently closed the door. "Just…doing some things." As she turned around, she caught sight of the small bag the girl was holding. "What's that?"
Dawn stared down at her hands. She'd come running out so frantically that she'd forgotten all about the bag. "O-oh, it's…umm…" Looking up, she saw J's breath taking form in the frigid air. That gave her an idea. "Close your eyes."
"Hmm?" J blinked.
"Just do it!" Dawn pleaded. "Please?"
With a relenting shrug, J did as she was asked. "What are you up to?"
J heard the crinkling of paper. Not a second later, something soft was coiling around her neck.
"Okay, open them!" Dawn instructed her.
When J opened her eyes again, she was bundled in a fluffy, white scarf. Its ends hung down over her shoulders, and on one of them, the letter 'J' was knit in a light yellow fabric.
"It's the Christmas present I've been working on for you," Dawn explained, giving J an expectant look. "How is it? Do you...like it?"
J rubbed the scarf against her cheek. It wasn't itchy at all, and it was a snug fit. She hadn't even known Dawn could knit, and here the girl surprised her with something like this. She really was something else.
"It's nice and warm," J said to her. "Scarves aren't usually my thing, but for this, I think I can make an exception. Thank you."
Dawn couldn't have been happier to hear those words. J must have been one of the toughest people in the world to think of a proper gift for. She had no idea if J would like the scarf or think there was no need for it, but, as it turned out, the time she spent knitting it was absolutely worth it.
"Now you close your eyes," J said abruptly.
"Me?" Dawn asked. Did J have something for her? She really wasn't expecting anything, considering it was J and all. Curious, she did as she was told.
She felt something cold fit around her neck, like metal, and whatever it was, the front of it had some weight to it.
"There. Open them," J said.
Dawn opened her eyes and looked down. Hanging from the steel chain of a necklace was a glass pendant in the shape of a heart, roughly an inch from side to side. "This is…"
"Glassblowing is an interesting process," J said, stuffing her hands in her pockets. "It took me longer to make than I thought it would. Sorry for being so late."
Dawn studied the piece of glass in her hand, running her fingers over its smooth surface. J actually made this?
"Do you remember the night you found me sitting against that tree after my ship was destroyed?" J asked her.
"Huh? Of course, I do!" Dawn answered. "I mean, that night was..."
"I went back to that spot," J told her, "back to the stream you dipped your handkerchief in to clean me off. I took some of the water from it and put it inside that pendant. That place was where it all started for us, so…"
Wide-eyed, Dawn took a closer look at the heart. The water would explain the weight of the piece. There was one more detail the gift had to it, though. Seeing what looked like a message on the other side, she flipped it over. The words "Thank you" were engraved into the glass, with a simple signature of 'J' just below them.
Sinking behind her new scarf, J averted her eyes. "Is that okay? I'm no good with all this Christmas stuff, so I wasn't sure what to get you."
Dawn's bottom lip quivered. Without a word, she walked up and slid her arms over J's shoulders, wrapping her in a warm hug.
J was more expecting a verbal response than a physical one, but, in this case, words weren't really necessary. Closing her eyes, she hugged Dawn back, and the two of them stayed that way for a long while, ignoring the cold and all.
Over by the house, Johanna propped herself up against the outer wall. Smiling, she reached up and ruffled the hair of the Glameow perched atop her shoulder.
"Well, I guess I can let the whole decorating thing slide just this once."
End of Extra Chapter 5