Bullet Proof
A completely bizarre Pokespe oneshot by Otte, who has no idea where this came from or, more importantly, why it wouldn't stop.
Warnings: contains death, violence, gay (though I feel I shouldn't really have to WARN for this), and general "it's 5am why am I still writing oh my god" lunacy.

"I suggest, if you want to make it out of here with everybody alive, you give us everything you have."

Even with the barrel of a gun locked on his forehead, even with the icy voice sending shivers down
his spine, all he could think was "he's only a child". The boy looked not a day older than sixteen, maybe even less. Yet here he was, pointing a gun at an old man's head, with a pack of Team Rocket grunts standing at his command.

He's younger than my grandson, he thought dizzily. His mind felt foggy and sluggish. He couldn't process what was happening to him. He'd been the owner of the game corner for longer than the boy in front of them had been alive, no doubt, and nothing like this had ever happened before. He wasn't as scared as he should be. His fear was muffled by disbelief, by the feeling that this shouldn't be happening.

The gun jabbed his forehead.

"Are you going to comply?"

He swallowed. Images of his grandson flickered through his mind. All he could think was how he'd very much like to see him again.

"Of course. Please, please. Don't hurt anybody. Please…just…just take whatever you've come for and go, quickly. Please." His voice scraped the inside of his throat. The boy smiled, briefly. It was an acidic, brutal smile.

"Good man," the boy said, never moving the gun so much as an inch away. He swallowed, again and again, but he couldn't seem to get any moisture in his throat.

His eyes remained fixed on the gun, his mind overtaken by a weird, horrid revulsion. Guns. What were they doing with guns? It wasn't allowed. It went deeper than human law. It was wrong. They couldn't be here, they couldn't share the same space as a pokemon. It wasn't allowed.

"Black!" the boy barked. A blonde-haired boy – just as young, he thought with a sickening jerk of his stomach – in a grunt uniform snapped to attention. He was the only one without a gun, instead he had a large, dirty bag.

"Sir!" the boy, Black, responded.

"Gather up everything. Money, TMs, Pokémon. Everything," the boy said with an air of authority that didn't seem to quite match the way the grunt was looking at him.

"Very good, Commander Silver, sir," Black said, taking the bag and going behind the counter, taking everything. He then began to move through his terrified clients, taking everything from their pockets. A few shouted and barked at him to stop, but he responded by whipping a gun from his belt and pressing it to their temples. They shut up after that, and fast.

He swore he saw the boy sigh, and mouth "sorry" to him as he returned to the commander his bag fully loaded.

"That's everything," he said, and then, as though he'd forgotten, "Sir."

"Very good," the commander said and then to the old man cowering at his feet, "Thank you for cooperating. We are not a team that thrives on bloodshed."

A million different retorts flew through his head, each more vicious than the next, but he simply bowed his head and observed his knuckles until the pressure from his head retreated. Footsteps pounded the tiles, the door swung, and as quickly as they had appeared, they were gone.

"The body of Goldenrod Gym Leader Whitney was discovered in National Park this morning by Goldenrod authorities. Whilst this has been declared a homicide, the authorities are reluctant to release any more detail at this time. Across Goldenrod, there have been mass mourning for the loss of their gym leader, whose bright spirit has lit up the city so many times in the past. Her pokemon have not been recovered, so we can only assume they have been stolen."

"Second this week," Crystal mumbled to herself, barely looking away from the stack of paperwork on her desk. She rubbed her eyes and took another sip of coffee, blanching a little at the bitter taste. It wasn't something she enjoyed, but she needed the extra caffeine.

She turned off the television as it continued onto a different news story, and sighed, placing her head in her hands. There was a painful thrumming behind her eyes she couldn't get rid of, the product of too many all-nighters, too much work.

Professor Oak had relocated them both to Cherrygrove City over a month ago, responding to some ravings from both Professor Elm and Mr Pokemon about unusual activity in the Johto region. Crystal had been doubtful, but the second she'd set foot back on Johto she knew there was something wrong. Docile pokemon were becoming aggressive and unpredictable, not exactly to a rabid state, not enough to cause mass panic, but enough to be brought to the attention of researchers and trainers. On top of that, there was spurred, unusual evolution across the country, in wild and trained pokemon alike.

Just near Cherrygrove City, they'd already encountered furious Beedrill and Noctowl out in the field. This morning, they'd ran into a particularly aggressive Crobat. Crystal had caught it, and found it had been registered to no trainer in the past. Oak had mumbled "interesting" and taken it away with him on a visit to Professor Elm. Crystal had been left to attempt to make sense of the data they'd accumulated.

She'd pulled it apart every way she knew how, she'd cracked open every textbook, every research paper, searched through every relevant internet article in order to find something that could explain it all. For all her efforts, it still didn't make any sense. She was so damn close to throwing her file of work against a wall and going to get some well-deserved sleep.

She couldn't. Something was nagging at her. She couldn't shake the feeling she should know what was happening. That there was a link she was missing that would make everything else fall into place. It was as though she was tearing apart the room, looking for something that was already in her hand. She knew this. She knew she could do this.

She drained her mug of coffee, opened up the next textbook in her pile and set to work. It would be a long night.


That single word, loaded with so much hatred. Gold didn't like saying it, didn't like even being associated with it. Sure, they were cool in movies and video games, sure he'd more than once ran around the playground with a stick going "bang bang bang!" and cackling when the girls would scatter squealing. It was completely different to having two of the damn things in your house.

Yellow looked pale. Of course she was. Gold didn't get this whole "Child of the Viridian Forest" thing, no matter how many times Silver or Red painstakingly explained it to him, but he knew one thing – she had a much deeper link with Pokemon than any of them did, and considering that they all stood side-by-side with pokemon pretty much every day of their lives, that was saying something.

She shook her head, seemingly attempting to hide in her hat. If the situation was different, hewould have elbowed Red and advised him to put his arm around her or something (he respected seniorpossibly more than anybody else he knew, but he was the most oblivious guy he'd ever met when it came to girls), but Gold was too busy pacing up and down the kitchen, carefully checking the window to make sure all of the pokemon were distracted, and none of them would wander in and see what was sitting on the kitchen table.

"Why'd you bring them here? I mean c'mon, this is the worst place you could bring 'em!"

"You were closest by," Silver said.

"Don't you have like a million secret bases or something? Dude, you could get me into massive trouble, you idiot!" he snapped back instantly.

"Not if you help me get rid of them!" Silver retorted, voice rising. Gold stopped pacing and turned around, his hands tightened into fists.

"It doesn't matter," Red said. Both boys turned to look at Red expectantly, breaking off their usual bickering for the moment.

Red drummed his fingers on the table thoughtfully. He and Yellow had only stopped by to visit Gold on their way to meet with Professor Oak, what they hadn't expected was to walk in on was Gold shepherding his pokemon out of the house while Silver sat at the kitchen table, holding a packet of frozen peas over a black eye.

Gold took a deep breath and sat down, running a hand through his hair under his hat. He was getting better at the whole "hot blooded idiot" thing lately. Admittedly if Senior Red hadn't been there, he was fairly sure him and Silver would be beating the crap out of each other on the kitchen floor. All the same, it was an achievement for him not to instantly rush out with intent to kick the hell out of whichever sick fellow had the gall to wander around with a gun and give Silver a black eye. The former wasn't okay under any circumstance, and the latter was...well if anybody was going to be giving Silver black eyes, it would damn well be him.

"Who," Yellow said, then paused, biting her lip, "Who did you take these from?"

"There were two rocket grunts heading here with them. I've been tracking them a while. My father didn't recognise them, and my sister reports seeing them around Goldenrod around the time of the killings - " (Yellow winced visibly) "so I've been following them. It was only when I caught sight of the guns did I…well," he sighed, and lifted the packet of peas from his face. Gold knew first-hand what a hard punch Silver had on him, even when it was just their only half-serious fights, so he knew for a fact the two saps he and his pokemon mugged were probably even worse off.

"You're lucky you didn't get shot, you psycho."

"What was I supposed to do? I wasn't about to let them march into a town with them. It's not as though I rushed in thoughtlessly like somebody would have," Silver grumbled, "I immobilised them with ice attacks, first. Of course."

Gold raised an eyebrow and rested his cheek on his hand, staring at Silver, then at the guns, and then glancing across at Yellow. She was shaking a little, and her face was pale and drawn in tight. She looked…pissed off. Hell, she looked scary. He didn't even think that was possible for her.

"Y'alright there, straw hat gal?" he asked. She snapped up, as though broken from some private daydream, and looked at him with a strained expression.

"Even Team Rocket…nobody does this. Everybody knows it's not allowed," she said finally, her voice choking with rage, "Did you go to the police?"

Silver snorted derisively, and Gold couldn't help but roll his eyes.

"Silv here doesn't put a whole loada trust in the police."

"Well…it's also that the only reason I haven't been arrested is because you're an idiot who gave them the stupidest description possible."

"You should be grateful I did, moron. I'll call Falkner, though, give him a heads-up. Heh, not that we can't sort this out ourselves," he said, grinning, "When has there been something we couldn't handle? Eh, senior?"

"Yeah. We better take this to the professor first. He'll know how to get rid of them properly," Red said.

The blood was dripping, dripping, everything was screaming, everything was going wrong, what the fuck have we gotten into, in over your head, in over your head…

"Get up."

Silver tugged on his arm.

Explotaro swung his head back, flames blazing, eyes wide and bloodshot, flecks of foam around his mouth.

"Get up!"

In over your head, in over your head…

"Get the hell up, Gold!"

So fucking in over your head.

"I can't believe I did that."

"It was just orders. Nobody was hurt."

"Yeah but like…I might as well have been robbing my grandma. He recognised me, yanno. He totally did."

"Probably because he threw you out at some point."

"Yeah, yeah, shut it. I know I can be a bit of a jackass but…I've never done anything like that."

"The ends justifies the means, Ethan."

"Will ya quit it? Just call me – "

"We don't know if it's safe."

"Yeah, I get it. Stop glarin' at me, already. I know, damnit. This sucks, you know?"

"I just need a little more time. I don't enjoy this any more than you do."

"I don't think we're getting anywhere! We should just bust the place up and be done with it."

"You have no patience."

"Yeah, like you're not being driven crazy by this waiting and watching thing."

"Maybe. I can, however, keep it to myself."

It was obvious. Of course it was obvious. It all clicked into place when Gold, Silver and her seniors turned up on her door, rushed in and placed the guns onto the table. She just hadn't thought of it because it was and pokemon couldn't mix. Everybody knew that. It was a basic, fundamental law of the world. One that went so deep nobody would dare break it. Pokemon reacted very badly to them, even just the presence of a gun was enough to make them more aggressive. There were myths, there were theories, scientific approaches to why they were repulsed so deeply by human weapons, but the main fact was always the same: nobody brought a gun to lands where pokemon roamed free. It was just not done.

"They can sense when something is amiss. Somebody brought guns, in big numbers, to them, and they reacted," she said, pacing around the room. The others looked on, Gold and Red with vacant expressions, Yellow with a strained expression of rage unlike anything she'd ever seen, and Silver with a look of utter concentration.

Crystal picked up her papers and began tearing through them, still pacing, and added frantically; "That doesn't explain this. All the evolution."

"It may not be relevant, but Sneasel recently evolved. I didn't do anything in particular to trigger it," Silver commented thoughtfully.

"That's not right. From the data I have about Sinnoh pokemon…Sneasel shouldn't be able to evolve without an item," she said, still pacing, "From that we need to presume there is something else speeding up evolution on a significant level. I don't think it's just coincidence that we've found Rocket grunts with guns around the same time. The team are planning something."

"My father has nothing to do with the team any more," Silver said quickly, "He's too frail from hisillness and injuries right now, and I've been keeping an eye on him. He can't be doing anything."

"Carr or Sird should be in charge then," Red said.

"Huh? Sird's that psycho lady who gave Archie that magic armour, right?" Gold asked blankly. Crystal and Silver rolled their eyes.

"They're both members of Team Rocket. Senior Red and the others fought them at the Sevii Islands. I think Carr's taken over, but Sird's clearly exerting…some kind of power," Crystal said, turning around to do another lap of the room.

"Strict woman, will you just sit down already? You're giving me a headache," Gold said, putting his feet up on the sofa, prompting Silver to shuffle a few inches away, wrinkling his nose in disgust.

Crystal slapped his feet and forced him to sit upright, and then sat down herself, rubbing her head. The Rockets were something Professor Oak had always kept one eye on. They weren't something you could ever really be rid of, at least she didn't think so. Every time she thought they'd been dissolved, they reformed and came back, and every time they did they were more destructive than the last.

Sird was an enigma she couldn't figure out. The woman seemed to be invincible. She survived things that should be impossible to survive. She had influence she shouldn't. Crystal had painstakingly made profiles of all the major figures in Team Rocket, from the data acquired in the pokedexes and in Oak's records, yet Sird's profile was still mostly blanks and speculation.

"When's the old man gonna be back?" Gold asked.

"Honestly? It should have been about three hours ago."

Gold leaned against the wall, his cap pulled low over his eyes and his ears straining to hear the conversation inside. He could just make out Silver's voice, low and calm as ever, and he picked up the high, fast noise of the other's, but he couldn't make out a single word. Footsteps approached the door and he leapt to attention. Silver swept out of the room in a swish of black cloak, completely ignoring Gold, and a short man stood by the door, scowling and mumbling to himself.

The short man turned to Gold and narrowed his eyes at him.

"You, stop gawking! Get back to work."

"Yes, sir," Gold replied, biting his tongue to keep what was going through his head spilling from his mouth; angry little dumbass. Even Emerald's taller than you, shoes or no shoes.

"Well, what are you waiting for? Quit lookin' at me like some kinda imbecile. Go! Damnit…grunts," he grumbled, stomping back into his office and slamming the door behind him. Gold strode after Silver. It was easy enough to follow him – there was nobody else in the world who would walk around with a genuine evil-genius cloak – but a bit more difficult to catch up with him without drawing attention to himself. He'd been chewed out on that more than once. Apparently stealth wasn't his strong point. Gold couldn't say that this upset him. Stealth and subtlety were completely overrated, he'd never gotten anything good by being all quiet and sneaky about it.

Silver paused, taking a device from his pocket and checking it, giving Gold time to catch up with him.

"Yo," he muttered, "Anything?"

"Nothing. He won't stop. He's obsessed with the guns...obsessed with the money. I was just berated and insulted. My father's word isn't worth anything, apparently," he replied. Gold caught an edge of frustration in his voice – the lack of progress was getting to him. Not being able to do anything, actually playing a part in the damn problem and not the solution…he acted like it wasn't driving him insane, but Gold knew better. He was pretty easy to read once you cracked his weird code.

"They don't respect him, they've just taken me in to "shut him up and keep the old man happy"," he said, using air quotes to illustrate his disdain. Gold smirked at him.

"You're so impatient. And so am I," he muttered, "I can't take much more of this."

Footsteps approached them from behind, and the two strode off in different directions before Silver could reply.


"That...just isn't possible. It shouldn't be."

"Y-you're joking? You've got to be joking."

Crystal collapsed into a seat. She was shaking. Yellow wiped the tears from her eyes and placed a hand on her shoulder. Gold yelled and punched the wall.


Within hours, the headlines were printed, the internet was abuzz with fresh news, and the world was mourning the death of Professor Samuel Oak.

The data on Jirachi Crystal had was rather sparse. Like most legendaries, it was practically impossible to scientifically analyse. Oak had always said he planned to write the definitive paper on legendary biology, and their differences with the biology of the average 'mon.

Crystal promised to herself to write it for him one day.

However, there was one titbit of information that kept catching her eye. Just a little thing Emerald had reported back to her, that he'd heard from somebody else. As such, she couldn't even be sure it was true, but her mind always drifted back to it.

Jirachi had once granted a wish for immortality.

"Are you okay?"

The question seemed hollow. It was stupid, just something that had tumbled out of his mouth before he could stop himself. It was like asking if somebody was okay when they were lying in hospital with a broken leg, or sprawled on the floor with a bleeding stomach. All it was for was to hear the "yeah I'm fine", just to ease the guilt of not being the one in their shoes.

Green wasn't about to give any of them that. He merely looked at them, nodded at Red and Yellow, then went back into the other room. Red sighed. Green had never been the most open or emotional guy he'd ever met, but he at least expected some show of emotion, some breaking of the stoic shell. He could tell by the look on Yellow's face that all her energy was going into not breaking down into tears, and he'd definitely heard Green's voice catch over the phone.

"It must be awful for him," Yellow murmured,

"We're going to give the bastards hell for this one," Gold said heatedly. Red knew from the expression on his face that he fully meant it, and he couldn't help but nod back. Yellow took a breath, adjusted her hat and gave them all a look of utter determination. Crystal didn't need to say anything – it was written all over her face. Silver looked briefly over at them and gave them a curt nod.

"You don't know what you're doing, do you?"

He was so damn close. Gold's sense of personal space had always been significantly lower than Silver's, but at least there had always been some distance between them. Now, he was faintly aware some barrier had been broken and he'd never have a minute's peace again.

It was the stupidest thing ever to think about in that moment, but it pushed itself to the foreground of Silver's mind anyway.

"We don't know what we're doing, Silv," Gold corrected him tartly, "It's the best way to be anyway."

"Silver, you have to stop him," Crystal's voice hissed from the device on Silver's wrist, "This is suicidal. Not by yourselves! At least let us order everybody in."

"Will you shut that damn thing off?" Gold snapped. Silver rested his hand uneasily on the device, hesitating.

"Silver! Don't you dare switch me off. Listen to me, you can't possibly do this by yourselves. This isn't a normal enemy!"

"Crystal," Gold hissed, and Crystal actually went silent at the surprise of hearing Gold use her name for once, "If we don't get in there, more people are going to wind up dead."

"I know, but listen -" Silver switched the device off, pulled it from his wrist, and tossed it away. Gold looked at him, an uncharacteristically sombre, serious expression on his face. He checked the pokeballs at his belt and loaded the gun in his hand.

"Are you ready for this?"

Silver pulled his gun from his belt.

"This is idiotic. This is going to get us both killed, Gold, really."

"So you ready or what?"

Somehow, against every rational part in him screaming that this was a terrible idea, that this was stupid and impulsive and too much, he nodded.

"Yes. I'm ready."

"My father has established links with the team yet again. They've been faltering under Carr's inexpert leadership, so he accepted in other to boost morale."

"Nice work," Crystal replied, "So you're in, no questions asked?"

"Not exactly. I'll be monitored carefully. Carr might pull something on me at the last minute."

"Better than nothing. You'll be well-accepted among the grunts as Giovanni's son, at least," she said, "And I suspect some of the admin will like you more than Carr anyway."

She strode over to a filing cabinet and pulled out a small black device.

"This will be your lifeline to us, okay? I'll talk to you from that, but only when you contact me or I know for a fact you're in a safe place. Or in the case of an extreme emergency. It can fit on your ankle, wrist...anywhere you can keep hidden," she explained, pressing it into his hands. He fitted it round his wrist, and rolled his shirt sleeve over the top of it.

He'd already had a Rocket uniform pressed onto him by Giovanni. It was a lot sharper-looking than the grunt uniform, but thankfully a lot less ridiculous than the bizarre cape and robe get-up he'd been forced into last time. He still counted himself lucky that Gold hadn't witnessed that particular event. He had a feeling he would have never let it go.

"Find out what they're up to. Don't try anything crazy. Just find out, get out, and then we'll plot our next move."

"Understood," he said, with a nod.

"Be careful, okay?" Crystal said, clapping him on the shoulder. Red and Green shook his hand in turn, Blue wrapped her arms around him in a tight hug, and to further his mortification, Yellow joined in as well.

He exchanged brief nods with Gold.

"I'll do my best," he said, turned and left.

"He'll be okay," Yellow said optimistically as the sound of footsteps died away, "He can take care of himself."

Gold slapped his knees and stood up.

"Okay, that's it. I'm going in too," he announced. The others jerked their head around and looked at him in surprise. Gold simply stood, arms folded, a stubborn expression on his face. Crystal shook her head and sighed.


"Look, they don't know me. You seniors'd be recognised instantly, and you need to hold down Fort Strict here. You heard him. That Carr guy or whatever might decide just to shoot him the second they're by themselves. So I'm going," he said, not budging an inch.

"You're still a bit infamous – no, don't grin – you'd get caught out by some random grunt or something," Crystal explained slowly, with the air of one who had been repeating the same instructions to a small child over and over, and was being ignored each time.

"I'm still going," he replied stubbornly. Crystal sighed again, sensing that she was fighting a battle she was never going to win.

"This is dangerous, Gold," Yellow pleaded, but he simply shrugged in response.

"Yeah, yeah, whatever. Less dangerous for two people than it is for one though, right? And jeez, it's no more dangerous than any of the other crazy stuff we've pulled," he replied. Yellow and Crystal looked at each other helplessly.

"Well," Blue said, "We best work on a bit of a disguise. I don't want my little brother in there alone either."

"What are you doing here?"

"Helping you out. Be grateful."

"No, I mean, how the hell did you find my quarters?"

"Oh, that. Just followed you. Figured I needed a place to talk to you in private, since you didn't recognise me in your squad," he said, and paused, "Does the hair make that much difference? Thought you'd know my cute face at least."

"I thought there was a resemblance...but I didn't think anybody would be so stupid as to...though I should have expected it. I can't go anywhere without you trailing behind me."

"That is so not fair. You were following me back then."


"Whatever. What's the situation so far anyway?"

"Hm...well. You're the biggest moron I've ever met and I've been too distracted with the person stalking me all day to get anything done."

"Oh boohoo."

"There," Blue said triumphantly, turning off the hair-dryer and setting it down the dresser. Gold tilted his head at the mirror, not sure what the hell to make of it.

"Blonde hair dye and a bit of a haircut, noisy girl? That's your disguise?" Green asked in disbelief, before Gold could even open his mouth. Blue stuck his tongue out at him, and he reddened and opened his mouth to respond.

"It's better than nothing," Crystal intercepted quickly.

"This'll look really dumb when my roots grow back in," Gold mumbled, touching his newly dyed hair tentatively.

"You sound like Ruby," she said, "And besides. Rocket grunts wear these caps all the time anyway. I doubt that will be an issue."

"I don't suit blonde hair," he muttered, unconvinced.

"Oh for crying out loud! Is that really the thing to be worrying about, Gold!"

"You look fine, Gold," Yellow said, with a weak smile.

"Alright. Let's go over the back-story. You were born in Violet City, parents are both gone, dad died before you were born, mother a few years back. Trained under Falkner, but couldn't quite cut it, and weren't making enough money as a trainer in your own right, so you've ended up digging yourself in deeper and deeper, and ended up joining up with Rocket to keep yourself fed. Keep Explotaro for emergencies, never bring out Pichu or Ataro. Somebody might figure you out from that. Don't do anything stupid."

"Okay, okay. Relax. I can do this," he said, pulling on his bangs, seemingly unable to accept how much shorter they were, "So, what's my name?"

Crystal thought for a moment.

"Ethan. Ethan Black."

"Idiots!" Crystal screamed as the line went dead, "You're both complete and utter idiots!"

She slammed her fist on the desk furiously, feeling hot, angry tears welling up behind her eyes. They were diving head-first into...oh hell they were going to die just because she didn't yell at them loud enough, just because she couldn't get it through their collectively thick skull it was a bad, bad, horrible idea.

She breathed in deeply and wiped her eyes on her sleeve. She didn't have time to freak out. If she did something, fast, very fast, maybe they wouldn't get themselves blown to pieces. She dialled a number, wishing desperately that the Professor was still here to be the adult and take charge and be the smart, responsible one when his kids couldn't do it themselves.

He wasn't, though, and she would have to deal with it.


"It's me. We've...we've got an emergency."

"People are starting to get suspicious."


"You spend too much time in here. People are always glancing at us if we're anywhere near each other, muttering amongst themselves. People keep giving me odd looks."

"Oh, that. Yeah. Heheh."

"What. What did you do?"

"Nothin'. I knew that it was starting to look bad though soo..."

"So what? You did what?"

"Hey, what's with the tone? Why are people always so afraid that I'm gonna do something crazy to ruin everything?"

"What – did – you – do?"

"Well, they don't think we're conspiring. I thought they might though. So I gave them a red herring, heheh. It was a stroke of genius, I gotta say."

"And what do they think?"

"Well. Last time I was in here by myself...I bounced on the bed, banged on the wall and yelled your name a bit."


"C'mon. Admit it. It's pretty clever."

"Do you have any idea – I just...argh! You are unbelievable."

"-ly awesome?"


"You should see your face, Silv! Man...you're way too offended by this."

"I'm not having this conversation."

Further research lead Crystal to another puzzle. Mewtwo. Last seen during the events of Sevii Islands, he'd disappeared without a trace after her seniors and Silver had been petrified.

The Rockets hadn't used him. It was doubtful he could be used by any trainer, aside from, perhaps, Red. Even then, Red would have to reason with him rather than order him into battle like a typical pokemon.

However, the Rockets were certainly fond of toying with genetics. If they had Mewtwo at their disposal...well. She didn't think they would be able to resist the temptation.

Unless, however, he'd been captured by somebody whose cunning extended well beyond the average Rocket, whose patients had been honed over decades. They would be able to capture him, and to wait for the right moment to utilise him.

Carr became the fourth victim of the Johto shooting homicides.

"What the hell is going on?"

"I haven't got it quite together yet. But...this is bad. Who's taken over now?"

"Silver has. This isn't gonna last. This isn't everybody in the Rockets..."

"Sird. She's controlling some of it, isn't she?"

"We think."

"This is bad. You two need to get out of there."

"We're in too deep. Silver can't...he can't get out, now."

"Then you should at least get out yourself."

"Oh hell no."

"This is getting out of hand! You're going to get yourself killed!"

"Damnit, no!"

"What is wrong with you? What the hell is going on?"

He was semi-conscious, bobbing in and out of the darkness. He knew he was moving. He couldn't feel his legs properly, they felt heavier, immobile, but he knew he was moving. Suddenly he was on the ground and looking up. Artificial yellow lights and tiled ceilings.

A fuzzy voice was telling him to stay awake. It was screaming at him and insulting him. There were two other voices joining it.

In over your head, in over your head...

A pair of hands clasped his shoulders and shook him. He blinked. All he could see was a mess of colours. His head hurt and he was tired and he just wanted to sleep, and for those voices to stop screaming gibberish at him. He wanted to close his eyes and go to sleep.

"We have no idea who shot him."

"Popular opinion says it's you , Silv."

"You know it isn't."

"Yeah, I know. Just pointing it out. Nobody seems to mind that much. They all kinda hated him...if you're in total power, you can just break this whole thing, can't you?"

"But I'm not. There are things going on...deals being made behind my back and I cannot control it. There's so much chaos...so much disorder one person can't possible bring it all into line. Even just the accounting is a mess. And probably half lies."


"I haven't actually got any more authority over what's going on. I don't think he did. It's her. She's been pulling the strings, she has been all along. Carr just thought he had control. That's the brilliance of it. She's been in charge the whole time, but he was too damn full of it to even notice."

"Well, we find out where she's pulling the strings from and beat the hell out of her. We just have to follow them."

"She's tangled it so much I think even that will be difficult."

"Yeah, but like hell is she getting away with all this."

Crystal didn't know a great deal about mythology. However, she could presume Sird did. It was just a case of working backwards; figuring out what Sird knew, the methods she used, to figure out how to find her and how to beat her once and for all.

Sinnoh mythology was by far the most expansive and alien to her, as well as the most ominous and threatening. This, she knew for a fact, would be of great interest to Sird. She could only presume that she was knowledgeable about it, and was willing to use it.

By chance, she stumbled upon something that made yet more things click into place. Everything was coming together, but there was nothing about it she liked.

The world was getting more panicked every day. Yellow was exhausted, Red and Green were fast wearing themselves out.. Wild pokemon were hurting people, and people were panicking. Guns were being bought, pokemon were being shot, and they had no idea how much they could keep this up. Yellow drove herself to exhaustion every day using her power to attempt to restore order. Emerald had came to Johto, using his skills to calm the more vicious pokemon.

"We can't keep this up," Green said. Yellow sat asleep, leaning against Red's shoulder. Blue was off in Olivine City, helping Jasmine. The centre of the trouble was Goldenrod City, so they mostly stayed around there.

"We've got to. Crystal says she's almost got it figured out. Gold and Silver are keeping the Rockets as suppressed as they can. There's been no more sales of guns for a while now, right? We're getting somewhere," Red said wearily. Green shook his head.

"I hope your optimism is justified, Red."

Silver had it. He'd figured it out. She'd been under his nose the whole damn time. She didn't know how she'd managed to cloak herself so efficiently, but she was in the headquarters.

"That's where she is?" Gold said, incredulously, peering at the computer screen over Silver's shoulder, "Seriously? The lowest damn floor, that's it!?"

"I don't know how she's done it. She managed to hide the whole floor, somehow. It's only...well it's only by luck I managed to get her."

"Well, she'll figure out we've figured out her soon. What are we waiting for, let's get her!"

"You're in over your heads, little boys."

She stood quite openly waiting for them, one hand on her hip and one hand gripping her gun. A dull-eyed Persian slunk around her legs. Explotaro snarled, his neck blazing. Gold and Silver pointed their guns at her, and their pokemon stood around them, snarling and screeching and sounding vicious and bloody-thirsty. Gold swallowed. He'd never heard them make noises like that before.

He could only presume it was the influence of the guns. He could just be thankful they hadn't all dove in to attack instantly, from how aggravated and eager to fight they'd been lately. He would properly explain to them why he'd been using one of these damn things later.

"Sird. You've been controlling everything, haven't you? You're the one who brought the guns in...you arranged the killings," Silver said darkly. Sird seemed to pay no attention to him, instead casting her head over her shoulder. A Banette drifted forward out of the gloom.

"What were you trying to do?" Silver continued in a louder voice, "What was your angle?"

Sird continued to ignore them.

"Say something, damnit! D'you have any idea how crazy it's gotten up there? How many people have died because of you, you psychotic bitch?" Gold screamed, "What the hell were you hoping to get out of this?"

She turned and looked back at them.

"I said, you're in over your heads. You can't beat me, boys. You shouldn't have even tried," she said.



The bullet hit an invisible barrier, and dropped harmlessly to the floor.

"Oh honestly," she said.

"What have you got?" Silver asked cautiously, "What's been protecting you and hiding you all this time?"

"Mewtwo. He's been captured. I don't know how, but she's...she's got him under restraints somehow. There's something else...there's something else that she's managed to control. She's made wishes on Jirachi before...damnit. We don't have time for this! She's going to tear them to pieces any minute!"

"None of your business, little boys."

"Like hell it isn't! What have you been doing? What have you done?"

"I think I know. I read something, once. A long time ago. I thought it was ridiculous. You didn't apparently."

"What the hell are you talking about Silver? Let's just beat her senseless already!"

"Guns and pokemon. It's an imbalance of nature. Pokemon have to be stronger than the humans. Humans have to make their way through pokemon. That's the nature of our world, isn't it?"

Blue wasn't stopping for anybody. She'd teleported straight to Goldenrod the second she heard the news, and from there she'd started running as fast as she could.

She'd always said she'd look out for him. She'd always been the big sister, and she always said she would be. She'd always be there when he needed her, she'd promise that to him, and him to her.

There wasn't any megalomaniac brat in the world that was going to make her break that promise.

"I can't believe they've done this..."

Crystal was still fuming. Even when she was diving into something that was complete suicide, even when it was she and her three seniors against an onslaught of only half-lucid Rockets, she was still furious.

"When I find them - "

She gave the signal, and the others pulled on their masks. Parasee and Kitty let out waves of Spore and Sleep Powder. They ran through the corridor as the rockets slumped to the floor. She had no idea if they were going to make it in time. She had no idea if they were going to make it at all. They were on a timelimit, and it was ticking down quickly.

"When I find them, I'm going to kick the living hell out of them!"

"You threw that balance off. Bringing in big amounts of guns for that...giving them to all the Rockets. Selling them to the public. That's enough to ruin the balance. You had that idiot Carr run around and gather up all the money you needed, do all the dirty work."

Sird licked her lips and readied her gun.

"There's a story. That if that balance of humans and pokemon is ruined, if people start fighting against them...then the power of a god is summoned. Stupid story. Can't believe you'd buy into it."

"You've only got half of the picture, little boy."

She aimed. She pulled the trigger.

"Yo. Silv. Silve~er. You awake?"

"Mmf. Well. I am now. What're you doing in here?"

"This is kinda stupid but -"

"What have you done now?"

"Listen to me! We're in pretty deep shit, right? Even I know that. Look just...sit up, alright? This is weird when your head's under the covers."

"Fine, fine. Well...care to tell me what you've burst in here for?"

"We're in trouble. You're a criminal...no way you're getting a normal life even when this is all over. Your face is all over the damn news. Not my stupid version, either. Even if we get outta here, you're screwed. And I kinda am as well."

"Has this been bothering you that badly? It's no different to the life I'm used to leading. It's simply...more severe."

"Yeah, well I got caught alongside you more than once. We've robbed people, we've been seen with guns. I don't think hair dye and your hot sister's hair styling skills are going to help us much. I won't be able to go back home, and won't be able to just keep wandering around Johto doing what you like."

"It's only because I'm half-asleep am I letting the "hot sister" comment slide. I suppose you've got...well..a bit of a point. You didn't have to come after me, though. Don't try and blame it on me."

"I'm not blaming you."

"You're not?"

"...jeez, you think so little of me, don'tcha? I came after you 'cos...I wanted to, man. I thought you woulda been able to figure - okay nevermind. Look, I just think...I just think...we should have each other's backs."

"What are you trying to say?"

"What do you think I'm trying to say?"

"Don't be defensive."

"Look, that's not important. All I'm trying to say, if we get outta this, we should stick by each other. Don't give me that "oh I'm Silver derr I big cool loner! I need nobody else!" crap, by the way. I came after you, but you're the one who kept picking me for missions, and you're the one who had me stand outside every time you tried to squeeze something outta Carr. And, don't think I haven't noticed there's a lock on the door to this damn room, you know, and you're not stupid not to have noticed that either. So...are you in?"

"Hm...well. Yeah. If it'll shut you up, then alright."

They weren't sure who moved first. They both attempted to hurtle out the way the second they saw the gun being cocked, and they both attempted to take the other one with them. They'd simply ended up falling over each other.

It didn't matter. The gunshot still missed. There was a smoulder hold in the ground inches away from them both.

As though spurred by the noise, Explotaro roared and charged forward, furiously. The other pokemon followed. They hit the invisible barrier with painful thuds, but still continued to rage against it.

"Okay, next time, we indicate which way we're going to go first," Gold said quickly, scrambling to his feet.

"Agreed," Silver replied, then shouted at the struggling pokemon, "Back away! Concentrate all your attacks in one place!"

"You guys as well! C'mon, we can beat her!"

"What are we going to do when we get there?" Yellow asked.

"Find a way to beat her," Red replied instantly, not even slowing. Green kicked an attacking grunt in the stomach, and Crystal knocked him to the floor with a kick of her own. They charged past, not bothered to check if he was still conscious or not. It wasn't about beating them, it was just about getting past, and doing it as quickly as possible.

"No. No, it can't be done," Crystal said, "We just get those two idiots and get the hell out. Nothing short of a legendary can have a chance of taking her down."

Yellow stared at her, wide-eyed.

"Wh-what? What do you mean?"

"I mean...she's invincible. We can't beat her."

It was difficult to make them listen. They were aggravated. They were still there, Gold could tell, but just barely. Finally they managed to convince them all to attack the same place, but a few were still throwing themselves about at random, screeching and screaming. They were usually tense around guns, they usually attacked more viciously than what was really necessary, but they were never like this.

"That "power of the god" thing...y'sure it's bullshit?"

"No," Silver replied, "Not really. Not with the way...they're all behaving."

Sird stood with her head tilted back, her hands raised from behind the barrier. Gold could see a sort of darkness forming behind her...or around her. He rubbed his eyes. It was there and it wasn't at the same time.

"What the hell's she doing?"

Her head snapped forward all of a sudden. The darkness was ebbing...almost, within her. Their pokemon burst through the barrier all at once, tumbling forward in blind, shrieking rage.

"Wait, no, don't try to attack her!"

"She made a wish on Jirachi for immortality. It was granted. It just wasn't the only wish she made."

They hadn't had time to react. Their pokemon rebounded off her. She readied her gun faster, she pulled the trigger faster.

Neither of them had time to do a thing.

"She came back. She wished for the power of a god. It wasn't granted. Jirachi refused her, for whatever reasons. Maybe it was just too much, maybe Jirachi could tell she wasn't right in the head. Either way, I think...I think she got fixated on the concept."

Gold was bleeding, He was bleeding so much and Silver didn't have any clue what to do. He'd been hit, and he'd cried out, and that had sent his pokemon completely and utterly out of control. The sounds they were making were deafening, they looked like something out of a poor horror film, and Silver could have almost laughed at the absurdity of it all if he wasn't terrified out of his mind.


He wasn't moving, only mouthing something over and over, fixing his gaze on his pokemon with horror. If he stayed there, Sird would kill him. There were no two ways about it.

"Get up."

He wasn't responding. Silver tugged desperately on his arm, but it was like he wasn't even inside his own body any more.

"Get up!"

Still nothing. He was panicking. He knew for a fact he was panicking and he knew it wasn't helping but he couldn't damn stop. It was a stupid idea. It had always been a stupid idea but stupid Gold always made it sound good and why did he always have to trust the moron and damnit damnit damnit!

"Get the hell up, Gold!"

"She's already got a bit of a god in her, I think. Jirachi, anyway. What she wanted though, was the power of a real god. I think it's just...you can't live over all the years she has and still be content with being powerless. What she's trying to do is summon Arceus."

She was like a puppet. She was moving in weird, jerky motions, as though her limbs were being pulled. Silver couldn't make sense of what was going on. His only concern was dragging Gold out of the way and trying to get the pokemon under control long enough to run for their lives.


He twisted his head around, and saw Blue standing in the doorway, gasping for breath and looking uncharacteristically filthy. The others were standing behind her as well, looking equally as exhausted.

She threw out a pokeball. Her Abra materialised in a flash of light.

"There's...a lot of energy this way. I think this is where Gold and Silver are. But...there's something else down there," Yellow said.

"It's Mewtwo...right?" Red replied instantly. Yellow nodded. Red started heading towards where Mewtwo was located. The others watched him go, wide-eyed with surprise.

"Look, you go get them out. But I don't think we're getting anywhere without him."

Red was suspicious of how quiet it was on the way to where Mewtwo was being kept. He was sure there should have been more grunts along this way than he'd encountered. Pika raced ahead of him, occasionally pausing to sniff the ground, ears twitching.

He could hear sounds from above, muffled yells and booms. If he strained his ears. He could hear something else underneath that. A mechanical humming.

Finally, he reached it. A normal-enough looking door. Locked, but Poli and the rest of his team took it down easily.

Only when the door swung open and he stepped inside did he understand why there had been so few grunts guarding the way. There didn't need to be.

The room was vastly empty, aside from a huge, humming metal box. The closer he got into the room though, the more something burned. It began as a burning at the tips of his fingers and toes, but the closer he got the more it shot through his whole body. His eyes were streaming, and he gestured for Pika and Poli to hang near the entrance. His legs felt like jelly. A sharp jolt of pain shot through him and his legs gave way. He caught himself on the ground, gasping.

"Mewtwo! It's me. I'm getting you out...just...help me with this."

There was a noise from within the box, a sharp, strained groaning. The pain lifted a little, and Red got to his feet.

"I'm gonna get you outta there. Just – nnf, ow – just help me out here."

He felt as if he was trying to walk against the waves. His feet felt heavy, his head was throbbing. Out of the corner of his eyes, he saw Pika and Poli move to follow him, and he shook his head.

"Just wait there, guys. I'm fine, I promise."

He was on his knees again, but both hands locked on the metal box. He just needed to figure out how to open it. He slammed his fists against it uselessly. Suddenly, he felt something, like a magnet, guide him to the keypad. The key code pushed itself into his head, and he pressed them, slowly.

Something clicked and opened.

"Heh. You okay in there?"

"You know, any normal person would knock. Or at least wait until I was actually in the room."

"Well, if you don't want me barging in here, Silv, don't leave the door unlocked and don't let me leave my snacks in here."

"I hope you get fat."

"The meeting went well then?"

"Oh, as well as you'd expect. I can't get a hold of this situation. It's fast spiralling out of control."

"Man, that's too - Hey, hey, hands off the snacks! Get your own!"

"I forgot. You don't share food, do you? You told me that once. Hm...when I was petrified at least."

"Argh, I forgot you were awake through that...q-quit smirking at me! I didn't know you were going to hear me."

"Still, you said some...interesting things."

"Argh! Right that's enough about that!"

"I should thank you. It alleviated our boredom a bit."

"Our? What!? No way the seniors heard!"

"They've never mentioned anything...but if I could..."

"No! No! You shut up! Stop laughing, argh! You never laugh, man, why choose now to get a sense of humour?"

"Haven't you been determined to make me laugh for a while, though?"

"Not at my expense! Man...can we just forget it? I said some dumb stuff. It's embarrassing."

"It'd be fairly difficult to forget."

"Sh-shut up, alright."

"And I'd rather not."



The whole group flooded into the room. Hands pulled Gold up from the floor, who had gone from muttering to shouting obscenities at Sird, to completely, horribly silent.

"Recall everybody, Silver!" she barked. He fumbled with the pokeballs at his belt, taking in the team as the others attempted to do the same for Gold's team. Sird strode towards them, eyes wide and unfocused.

Blue seized Silver's arm with one hand, and Abra's claw with the other and they disappeared.

Suddenly, they were outside of Goldenrod Pokemon Centre.

"We need to get this idiot some help, fast," Crystal gasped, "I can't believe you wouldn't listen to me...if he...I swear..."

Silver nodded, looping one of Gold's arms over his shoulder, and Green took up the other. He was motionless, heavy, and Silver felt like he was going to be sick. He could have a corpse over his shoulder and there wasn't a damn thing he could do about it. Against his urges to stop and check, they rushed inside. The place was already packed. Crystal screamed at the hapless nurse as Silver yelled at Gold, and Yellow attempted to do what she could, shaking and pale.

He had no idea how they were going to get out of this one.

"This was the strict woman's idea. I wouldn't talk to a bunch of rocks normally but...she thinks it's important. Somehow. Guess I might feel better for it."

Gold took a bite out of his bread, and looked at the grey, motionless figures in front of him. His stomach seemed to scrunch up if he looked at them too long. They'd already figured out a way to save them, but seeing them was a bit much. It looked like a memorial. Talking to them like this definitely felt too much like visiting a grave.

He swallowed and stepped forward.

"Yo, senior. Dunno why you decided taking off your shirt would help, but I'll bring along a spare change of clothes when we come save you. Can't do much now though, so you're just gonna have to deal," he said, glancing at Yellow held in his arms, "Did you and the straw hat gal actually sort yourselves out? Probably not. You're kinda crap at this stuff, senior. It's driving us all crazy, I hope you know."

He walked around the other side.

"Huh...I liked the little black dress better, it was sexier. Can't argue against the mini-skirt though," he said, and dipped his head down and looked up, "Or the thong."

He sighed, feeling stupid all of a sudden. He was looking up a damn statue's skirt. Now he was just being perverted for the sake of being perverted.

"This is dumb. Well...if anything would have brought Silver back, it was that. That would have pissed him off," he said, taking another bite of his lunch and walked around to the side where Silver stood, "You couldn't have picked a more uncomfortable pose to get stuck in, man."

He sat down cross-legged on the floor, staring thoughtfully at the statue in front of him.

"This explains why you haven't been picking up your pokegear at least. That was starting to piss me off. I wasn't worried, I just thought you were being a jerk, like usual. Yeah, I know, I'm not much better, blahblah. I get that we're kinda similar sometimes. I don't need Miss Strict telling me fifteen million times as though it's something really new. Man...still can't believe I'm talking to a frigging rock."

He contemplated getting up and leaving, but something kept him tied to the spot. The urge to say things he wouldn't be able to either, or just a morbid fascination with something that was alive and dead, human and stone all at once. He'd never been much of a morbid guy, that kinda stuff wasn't interesting to him, but it was still pretty weird.

"You know, you're really annoying, man. I don't mean like...well, you do kinda piss me off. But what's really annoying is how obsessed I am with you."

He paused, and mentally back-pedalled, trying to take away what he had just blurted out.

"Wait, wait, no. Let's pretend I didn't say obsessed. That sounds a bit...weird. It's just like...it'd be nice if you'd get the hell out of my head sometimes. You just keep popping up for no damn reason...way more than you should. You're doing it on purpose somehow, just to irritate me. I just know it. Why the hell else would it be?"

He could just imagine Silver's reaction to that. He could imagine Blue chuckling at him, and Red, Yellow and Green quickly and uncomfortably excusing themselves.

"Well I know. But I don't really like the other explanation that much. I'm not an idiot, I can figure out what it means when you keep ranking one person over everybody else over and over in every category. That also includes "biggest jerk", though."

And most important and most fun to argue with and most interesting...

He got to his feet and examined the statue, half-afraid he'd actually see some kind of reaction. None of the statues had even so much as twitched. He breathed a sigh of relief. He wasn't sure where all this crap was coming from, or why he couldn't stop, but he didn't really want anybody to hear it. Least of all the person he was actually "talking to".

"I'm a complete dumbass for being so damn...so damn...there's no words that don't sound really lame. It's complicated, leave it at that," he said, taking another bite out of his bread roll, "It'd probably be cool or something to leave something behind. You don't like flowers and I don't have any anyway. I could leave you some of this, you do like red bean paste. ..heh. Well...I wouldn't share my food with you normally, so I'm not gonna do it when you're made of stone."

He finished it off and tossed the wrapper in a bin.

"Alright. I'll see you soon, Silv. Promise."

He was staring up at a tiled ceiling. His head thumped, and he scrambled to remember what had been happening before he'd found himself tucked uncomfortably tight into an unfamiliar bed.

He sat up, rubbing his face and groaning as the memory rushed back. The fight with Sird, Silver and him undercover within the Rockets, the shootings, the guns...he should have jolted out of bed and started panicking, but they still felt a million miles away. He was probably on painkillers.

He stood up, and looked down at himself. His leg was all bandaged up, and he felt bandages around his stomach as well, underneath the big hoodie somebody had thrown over him. It looked like Red's.

They could have left him some trousers, he thought to himself dimly. He wandered over and peered at himself in the mirror. His black roots were showing, badly. He had told Blue that would happen.

He left the room and went down the stairs, starting to rapidly recognise this place as Crystal and Oak's old Cherrygrove place. The others were sat around the kitchen table, speaking quietly amongst themselves. Red was almost as bandaged up as he was.

"Yo. What've I missed?"

He grinned as they leapt to their feet at the sound of his voice, and leaned against the wall, attempting to look as cool as he could in Aipom boxers, no trousers and with absolutely no idea what was going on.


"I knew he'd wake up."

"Good to see you up and about again."

"Ohoho, those are cute little underpants."


Yellow, Red and (unexpectedly) Crystal hugged him in greeting, and he hi-fived Emerald as he passed by and casually took up a chair, sitting backwards on it just because he knew it would get on Crystal's nerves.

Silver flashed him a quick smile, and Gold couldn't help but roll his eyes. He'd probably almost died, and that was still the best Silver could manage.

"Well, any of you gonna explain what happened?"

They looked at each other.

"You won't like it all," Silver warned him.

"But at least Mewtwo and Red took care of the worst of it," Yellow chipped in, looking at Gold with a slightly desperate smile, "The guns are gone. Mewtwo teleported every last one of them to the bottom of the ocean. Giovanni took up leadership of the Rockets and has got them under better control..."


"She's still out there. She's only going to try something like this again," Green said darkly, "And there's a large bounty on Silver's head. And yours."

Silver and Gold exchanged quick, knowing glances.

"Yeah, we kinda figured that would happen," he said, and grinned, "As for her...where's she gone now?"

"We don't know for sure...but I think she's ran off to Sinnoh. She did try, and fail to summon a Sinnoh legendary. She probably thinks she'll have better luck at its native land," Crystal said, "And, well, she may not have been able to summon Arceus...but she's ended up with some weird powers instead. She could probably cause a lot of destruction over there."

"Well, that's where we better go," Gold said, arrogantly, "Silv and me probably need out of Johto anyway...until the heat dies down, at least."

"You never learn your lesson, do you?" Silver groaned with a long-suffering sigh.

"As much as I hate sending you two anywhere by yourselves now, he's got a point," Crystal sighed, "You two can't stay here for much longer. I've tried getting Silver to leave already but he was just being completely stubborn about it. Refused to budge an inch until you woke up."

Silver glared at her for divulging such information, and Gold smirked - apparently he gave more weight to their deal than he was willing to admit.

"You two are a terrible influence on each other," she huffed, "But I'm not going to get anywhere by attempting to separate you...for whatever reason."

An awkward silence fell upon them and Gold purposefully avoided meeting anybody's eyes. They all sense something different, but even the people involved couldn't quite put a name to it.

"I think there's some dex owners in Sinnoh," Emerald said, oblivious to the awkwardness that had briefly settled on them. Crystal sighed in relief, and grinned weakly. Blue chuckled and patted Emerald's head, to his great indignation.

"Well, if that's the case, we should probably try and find them. I'm sure they'll be thrilled to meet their seniors anyway," she said.

"Well, Gold and Silver will go on ahead to Sinnoh first, on the soonest cruise we can find," Red said, "We'll follow after we've sorted everything out here."

"And I swear, if I have to nail those communicators to your wrists this time, I will," Crystal snarled, glaring furiously at them both. Silver looked away and Gold concealed his utter terror of her behind a smug grin. He was very aware that Crystal would literally be furious with him over that for the rest of their lives.

In fact, it would be something the rest of them wouldn't be able to let go of ever. He probably would have earned more abuse if he wasn't still injured. As soon as the bandages came off, the real lectures would start.

"Well," Blue said, clapping her hands and smiling mischievously at them both, "Look on the bright side! I get to play dress up with you again, Gold. You too, Silver."

Silver made a puzzled face, and Gold ran a hand through his poor, mutilated hair. It would be a while before he got his big, black bangs back.


Silver looked up, and saw Gold holding out a bun wrapped in paper to him. He took it.

"Red bean paste," he said, grinning, and sat down next to him, dangling his legs over the end of the pier and biting into his own bun. Silver took a nibble of his, too busy being awed by the fact Gold actually bought him something out of his own pocket to really feel hungry. He was so surprised he couldn't even think of a good insult.

"Thanks," he replied. The ship was due in about fifteen minutes, and from then on they were likely going to be plunged into yet another crazy adventure that would nearly get them both killed. At the very least, they could attempt to make sense of what they were even supposed to be on the way there.

"You still look dumb in a hat...but I changed my mind on the other thing. You do actually suit your hair that short. It was just hard to get used to," Gold said. Silver snorted.

"Well thank you. I have been dying for your approval," he said sardonically. Gold punched him on the arm.

"C'mon, I bought you bread and sorta complimented you. Be less of a bastard," Gold snapped, the scowl and annoyed tone of voice not quite reaching his eyes.

"Well, fine. In return I take back what I said about those glasses making you look ridiculous," he retorted.

"I really want to see you attempt to use lines like that on a girl one day. It'd be hilarious," Gold snorted, tearing off a large bite of his bread. Silver scowled at him.

"You're getting the paste everywhere," he pointed out in a deadpan voice. Gold shrugged and continued messily devouring his bread. Silver buried his face in his hands in despair.

"Please remind me why I agreed to stick with you."

"Because you're stupid," Gold informed him cheerfully, wiping crumbs and paste from his mouth with his sleeve.

"If that's the case, you must be twice as idiotic. It was your idea in the first place."

Gold finished eating, then glanced at Silver. There was a weird expression on his face. It looked far too...serene for Gold. Gold could be anything but serene. Silver grew conscious of how close they were, but moreover he realised how naturally they'd settled into it – how little he'd had to think about it. For Silver, who couldn't help but over-think everything, this was the most bizarre thing of all.

He felt a hand rest on top of his.

"Well, it might be stupid...but I don't regret it."