Two Garnets and some Cherries with Cream

Chapter 1 of ?

By Kayi S. Rowling

Silver was tired.

And not just any "tired," like when you walk a thousand miles, swim a hundred, or endure a three hours long class at school… No, Silver was tired beyond the unitalicized word; it needed a special emphasis to get through to the minds of the people.

After all, he had just battled another world-menacing danger, led by yet another adult with intentions that sounded fine when written on paper that were actually horrible in execution, who was followed by a horde of fans wearing the one uniform he dictated that was unfairly fanservicey for the girls—even when Silver was in the age of perking up at the sole idea of such outfits, like Gold did, he was far more concerned with the well-being of the world—, which did a mostly poor job at helping him along with his goals. It hadn't been easy, but with the three new Pokédex holders of this other national region he had never heard of before—Mask of Ice wasn't a master on geography, and he hadn't encouraged them to study it either—, they had won in the end. Then, after a small celebration that was little more than a group-wide "hurray!," everyone had gone back home by their own means.

Silver himself had just arrived to his new hideout. He had been forced to abandon the previous one after his father got tracked down, but there were advantages to this new place, like the fact that it was big enough to split up into three spaces: the front and two "bedrooms." He recalled Honchkrow into his Pokéball and, dragging his feet, he headed for his own room. Pushing the curtain to the side with silvery eyes half-closed, the sole partial sight of his bed made a delicious shiver of delight run down his spine and a silly smile of relief appear on his lips. Afterwards, he pretty much collapsed on top of it and was out like a light for the night.

…however, as luck would have it, when Silver wanted to rest the most was the moment he wouldn't be allowed to do so in peace. "Son?" It was barely a whisper at first, but now it was even accompanied by a firm hand on his shoulder that was insistently shaking it so he would wake up, and would simply not give up.

Silver groaned in reply after a while, as he turned his back on Giovanni to look at the digital alarm clock nearby. It read 2 AM. And he didn't even remember when he had arrived, but he felt as if he had just fallen asleep and wasn't particularly happy he had been interrupted in the middle of his well-deserved rest. Had he been dreaming, too? He couldn't remember that either.

"Silver, there's something I must tell you," came the deep voice of his father from his side, and he felt the bed dip a little as the older man sat down.

"What?" he practically yawned, rubbing his still closed eyes. He just couldn't open them for more than a second.

Giovanni sighed. It sounded unusually sad to Silver's ears… What could it be?

Well, whatever it was, he would very much prefer it if it wasn't anything about his father's illness worsening, or his father abandoning him, or the previous coupled with going back to being the leader of Team Rocket. It was hard enough on Silver to lead those idiots back into the straight and narrow; he didn't want the weakened Giovanni wandering around the place, sparking misguided loyalties or any sort of rebellion against the current administration.

"I want… I would like you to know about how I met your mother." Oh, it wasn't what he had feared…

...wait a minute. Silver had someone in this world to call a mother? How come nobody had mentioned such a person to him before? How come Giovanni had forgotten to give him such an important bit of information?

Because, really, the redhead wasn't going to admit that it was his fault for not even thinking about his own female parental unit since he had found out who was his father.

Now, however, Silver was quite willing to hearing anything about her. He was even wide awake; still tired, but at least conscious.

…yet the fact that Giovanni had been so disturbed by the sole thought of her stuck to the back of his mind like chewed gum to hair as he turned around to face his father. Were his parents divorced? Had she gone off with another? Had she abandoned them early on? Or was she ill? In danger? Dead and cremated into mere ashes? Dead and six feet under? Dead and body still missing?

"Who was she?" Silver innocently asked, curiosity now eating his mind away.

Giovanni frowned and looked down at the floor. "I'd prefer not to tell you. You actually know her, and you see her too, but… I want to respect her decision." So he knew her, and she had left them? The silver-eyed youth quickly trashed the mental image of his unknown mother's funeral. "But I think that it's important that you get to know some things about her. And I didn't think it was fair to leave you asking yourself about her with no answers at hand," he granted his son a weak smile, and Silver returned the gesture awkwardly.

"So…" the youth began, averting his eyes, "where did you meet her? And when?" he hastily asked, knowing those were other valid basic questions on the current topic of conversation.

"Well, I met her at the train station at Saffron City. And I was… younger back then," Giovanni coughed, choosing not to state the obvious: his relationship with the mother of his only child had begun and developed rather quickly, a year before Silver was born. Maybe. "That day—"

—the sun had decided to keep itself hidden behind a thin veil of grayish clouds. It could rain at any minute, considering the staleness that could be felt on the air. But Giovanni was done with his business at Saffron City and was ready to take the train back to Viridian City; he didn't want to tire his Pokémon to death traveling, after all, and the old train running on its rusted rails was the fastest—yet not safest—option around, too. "Perfect for the crazy young people," had muttered the old man that sold him the ticket, "those whippersnappers that like risking their lives, instead of waiting for the bus." Whatever!

After assuring himself for the tenth time that he had all his Pokéballs on him, as well as his closed suitcase at hand, Giovanni approached the line that was forming to get into the train. There was a lot of noise to his right, where a bunch of kids was chattering excitedly… A bunch of redheaded kids, an oddity to see around the mainland—Kanto and Johto—, chattering with a very discernible accent. They just had to be from the north, from Sinnoh or the surroundings.

Most people tore their curious gazes away after a quick glance in an act of what they considered to be politeness, but Giovanni thought was actually apathy. He was, meanwhile, having fun detecting the different tones of red hair in the group, and realizing he could name most after fruits and vegetables: carrot, persimmon, tomato, cherry, strawberry, chestnut… From orange to brownish red, they covered a very wide range with little under thirty heads. They were also all underage, but that was a lesser concern; it wasn't unheard of that kids that young took the gym challenges or attempted a go at the league, after all, and everyone was just too "polite" to question the sanity of the legal guardians of those children. And, from what he could pick up from their overlapping voices, one among them was going after the gym badges.

"Well, then," a feminine voice raised above the noise the others were making, quieting them down a bit, "I must get going now, before the train leaves…"

…these words caused the rest of the kids to whine and beg with even louder cries for their "older sister" or "older cousin" not to go, or to take them all with her, or to forget about Kanto and trying it elsewhere, and so on. But Giovanni couldn't hear them clearly anymore: after the older girl had spoken and he had spotted her, he couldn't force his full attention away from her.

However, he had to keep his mind clear: the girl was not beautiful—

"—isn't that line just the most clichéd bit used in all romance novels? And shouldn't you think of my mother as beautiful, at the very least?" Silver interrupted his father's narration, ticked off by the incongruity.

"Have you ever read romance novels?" Giovanni countered.

Silver barely managed not to avert his eyes, but his blush still showed quite a bit. "Of course not!" he growled lowly. "But Blue does and won't shut up about this and that, so I know about it, fine?"

His father gave him an incredulous yet amused look, but kept quiet about the issue. He actually changed topic next: "The truth is that your mother wasn't beautiful back then, just very attractive and charismatic. Oh, well… If it bothers you that I don't call your mother beautiful, let me rephrase it, then—"

—the girl was beautiful, with the cherry tone he had spotted earlier giving a vibrant and lively color to her long and wavy hair, and her thin yet dense eyebrows. Oddly enough, her eyes were also reddish in color, but this one was more on par with the color of a garnet and just as shiny as the gem. And all that red just made her creamy skin glow… He couldn't see more of her from his current spot, though; all the other kids were blocking the view.

"Sissy, don't leave me!" a little girl cried even louder than the others. And this one actually jumped and latched on to the beautiful redhead he had been watching intently for a while now; the young woman cringed at the impact and subsequent increased weight. "You can't leave me, sissy!"

The older girl blushed to the roots of her hair until the colors blended. "I told you not to use that word, Mars! Be a good girl, and use the word sister next time, you hear?" she hissed, trying to pry the tiny arms of her little sister off her neck. "Come on! Let go! Or else, I won't ever go back to Sinnoh!"

And the girl let go at last, pouting. "You promise to come back, then?" she begged… and so did the others, all turning identical starved-and-mistreated-Growlithe eyes on the eldest of the group, who could only sigh and smile at them in what she hoped was a comforting way.

"I do," she promised, now tearing up as the rest of the group stubbornly refused to look at her with other eyes that didn't pull on her heartstrings. "Just promise to be good, all of you…"

"Hey, what in the name of Arceus are you all doing?" came a yell from behind Giovanni, who was now fully facing the bunch of redheaded siblings and cousins that were giving each other their heartwarming good-byes. The horrified looks on the family group's faces were all the information he needed to know that whoever was running toward them from behind him wasn't someone they wanted around.

Without even glancing over his shoulder, he slowly lowered his suitcase, watching as the girl who had caught his attention hurried the other kids along, telling them to flee as she hugged and kissed the tear-stained cheeks of her little sister before letting go. The man that was after the group stumbled with Giovanni's suitcase not a second later, falling flat on his face. Bewildered looks were on all the onlookers' faces… and the redheaded family was gone, with the young woman fleeing to the nearest line's beginning and climbing into the train in a haste, bothering more than a couple of people in the process.

As the man who had stumbled rose to his feet—Giovanni couldn't help notice he had the same cherry-red hair as the girl… and the garnet eyes—, the young man could only discreetly reach for his suitcase and mutter a very fake-sounding "I'm sorry, sir." The older man cursed at his luck, at the gone children, at the out-of-sight girl, and at him in quick succession. Glaring over his shoulder at Giovanni briefly, the man left his side, continuing to look around the station for the kids he was searching for. Whichever his reasons for doing it, legit or not, Giovanni had had some sort of fun slowing the man down and doing the kids a favor, so he got into the train without an inkling of guilt—

"—so, who was that man, anyways? Did you ever ask my mother?"

"Why, he was your grandfather!"

"Oh, dear…" Silver had had a feeling about it, but hearing it confirmed…

"Indeed. And I'm sure I must be the luckiest person on the world, because the next time we met, he didn't remember seeing me before—"

—and Giovanni proceeded to look for the girl he felt entitled to say he had saved inside the train. He had to go several wagons back to find her, and he had even almost missed her entirely; if it wasn't for her bright red hair, he would have. Regardless, he chose to sit behind her, taking out a newspaper from his suitcase and pretending to read. She was still hiding, after all, and he didn't want to blow her cover by sitting on the same row as she was, which would have been sort of impossible, too, as she was occupying the floor space…

"Oddish," she softly called her Pokémon, taking it out from its Pokéball, "we're about to leave… Just, please; help me if dad finds me." Giovanni heard her loyal Pokémon ruffling its leaves in agreement with her plan. "Thank you."

Not a minute later, the redheaded man was at the door at the front, stomping all over the place and scaring the other travelers. The man found the girl pretty quickly, about to miss her in his haste; Giovanni folded his newspaper, dark eyes on the conflict happening before him. He'd have to step in… again.

"You are coming back home!" the man yelled at the girl, reaching out for her long hair, but she used her arm for cover, and he pulled her up from it just the same. "How can you do this to us? Taming Pokémon goes against Arceus' will!"

"But, dad…!" she whined, trying to push him away as he begun to drag her to the exit. Her Oddish was doing its best to run after them and help her; however, its legs were too short, and it couldn't catch up…

Giovanni rose to his feet. "Beedrill!" The Pokéball hit the space right over the exit, ensuring the bee would block it. The man yelped, the girl shrieked, and both stopped; her Oddish finally got to stand by her, its leaves brushing her legs comfortingly. Barely keeping the self-satisfied smirk off his lips, Giovanni approached them from behind. "Sir, the train is about to leave, and I'm sure you didn't get to buy a ticket for traveling. I don't know how you do things over at Sinnoh, but here in Kanto, you can't board any vehicle without a ticket. Don't make me call the station's security guards," he told the man slowly, to counter his anger. And to calm the other passengers that could only stare at the three of them in bewilderment now, "politeness" forgotten.

If the older man kept glaring at him like that, his eyes would pop out. "Don't be a pest, kid; my daughter doesn't have permission to travel," the man growled.

"Oh? How old is she?" For the very first time in the whole day, the girl looked at him with her garnet-like eyes over her shoulder… No, scratch that: she glared at him in indignation, a blush tinting her cheeks.

Her father frowned. "Fifteen." Whoops, too underage! And such a perfect jail bait…

"I'm nineteen!" Much better! But now, her eyes were burning a hole through the floor, and her face nearly glowed…

The fact that she had also yelled it added to her shame, so Giovanni let his hand fall on her shoulder and got a bit closer. And, in what he would come to consider his worst attempt at putting someone else's mind in ease in his whole life, he whispered: "Could have fooled me. And don't worry; I'll keep the secret." Her glare was oddly icy for such a warm color. He coughed awkwardly, and turned to address her father once again. "Sir, she's old enough to travel on her own and without your permission, so, please, get off the train."

"You can't tell me what to do, kid!" The man would simply not relent, pulling on his daughter's arm again.

Giovanni's Beedrill was all over the man's face in less than a second, keeping him from advancing. The bee's owner could see its thoughts painted all over his Pokémon's face: "You're getting into too much trouble for a mate, master." At long last, the first trace of a blush appeared on his cheeks; after all, he cared far more about the opinions his Pokémon had than that of the millions of other humans in the world.

"Sir, she bought her ticket and she can travel on her own," he began once again, not thinking clearly anymore after his Pokémon made him feel all flustered. "If you want to ensure she doesn't do whatever you don't want her to, then get off the train now and buy a damned ticket too."

Her look was now one of bewilderment and disbelief. "Idiot!" she hissed, her voice low enough so that her father didn't listen… but Giovanni did; very clearly, even, as if she had yelled into his ear.

However, the sole suggestion had hit the mark, and the man released his daughter's arm roughly—she began rubbing her minutely bruised skin right afterward—before he glared intensely at the young man who was siding with his sinner of a daughter. "What she is doing is wrong. What you are doing is even worse. Arceus will punish you both one of these days—!"

"—let me guess…" Silver began, now yawning as his tiredness came back slowly. "When the time came, my grandfather told you both I was the punishment. Or that Mask of Ice taking me was."

Giovanni frowned. "Your grandfather had issues, Silver, and a particularly bad memory too. No matter how many times we met after that, he would always forget my face, and he eventually forgot what your mother was doing at Kanto and they even began getting along again."

Silver's eyebrow went up as he rested his head on his hand. "That's sad," he deadpanned.

"Like you have no idea," Giovanni replied with the same tone and equal sarcasm. He coughed a bit, and then he continued: "He left the train—"

—like a villain fleeing the scene in a bad theater piece. Someone else had called the security guards, Giovanni realized a second later as they went in and asked about the disturbance. They hurried after the man to try to catch him outside, and all was peaceful in the wagon once again. Except the other passengers were now looking at the pair of young trainers still standing, and at their Pokémon too, with great distrust and dislike. "Whippersnappers," an old woman hissed. Giovanni was starting to hate that word.

Sighing, the redheaded girl pulled out her Oddish's Pokéball. "Mission accomplished, Oddish; we're staying," she whispered kindly as she recalled her Pokémon. Then she turned to look at the young man behind her, and her softened glance began icing over as she glared at him. "Get out of my way!" she growled all of a sudden, before she pushed past him to go pick a new seat far away from their original spot, crossing her arms and legs once she sat down. Now he had a very bad feeling that he had actually offended her by having interfered.

Shrugging, he went back to his own seat, picking up the newspaper he had dropped so he could fold it and put it away—it was the oldest newspaper currently in his possession, and he had been "reading" it upside-down too—, trying to cheer himself up after that disheartening show of ingratitude. She had certainly not asked for help, but…

"Thanks for making my father stumble out there. I owe you one."

Giovanni nearly jumped out of his skin as he heard the girl's voice right behind him; she had sneaked in without making a sound, after all. Looking over his shoulder, he noticed her face was of a luminescent red color up to her hair's roots and that she was stubbornly averting her eyes. "You're welcome," he practically croaked, not knowing what else to do or say.

An awkward silence ensued between them, right before the train's whistle deafened them all and began its shaky march to Viridian City's own train station. She barely managed to stay upright by grasping the back of his seat, while he actually fell back onto it. He couldn't help chuckling and turning his dark eyes at her; she tried to remain impassive—regardless of her bright blush—but in the end she conceded him an amused little smile.

"You can sit here with me if you want," Giovanni suggested, moving over to the window's side along with his closed suitcase.

Her frown wasn't even half-serious. "Don't try anything funny," she warned him, accepting his invitation just the same. Again, she crossed her arms and legs as soon as she was seated. However, she wasn't about to close up, as her pose suggested: "You know? I'm going to challenge the Kanto gym leaders."

His eyebrows went up. "Really?" She nodded. "And you're planning to challenge the leader at Viridian first?"

She nodded again, quite eagerly. "Yes. I even have a type advantage against that gym's Pokémon. I heard they specialize in ground types. If that's so, then it'll be easy as cake!"

Oh, she had no idea… At all. "You think so?" he asked, unable to keep the smirk off his face. "I've heard they're pretty strong over there. It's not a gym you challenge until at least winning a couple of badges elsewhere, they say." Leaning toward her as if confiding a secret, he whispered: "The Viridian gym leader remains undefeated since he was given the job; you should reconsider…"

She looked at him skeptically. "You're joking, aren't you?" she chuckled, her garnet eyes searching the truth in his own. "There's no way someone that powerful exists."

"Just take care of yourself and your Pokémon, then," Giovanni told her. "I'm not warning you in vain, I hope."

"Don't worry, I got it!" she replied, winking—

"—were you the gym leader back then?" Silver interrupted.

"I had been the leader since I was nine; and before me, there wasn't even a gym in Viridian City." Talk about an ego booster.

The redheaded youth sighed. "And did you tell my mother that you were the leader?"

"No, I didn't. I didn't want her to find a reason to distrust me right after I managed to make her feel safe and comfortable," Giovanni explained. "We continued our journey that way, ignoring who the other was…"

"Wait, you didn't even ask for her name?" Silver nearly yelled at his father in disbelief.

Giovanni chuckled, reaching out to ruffle his son's hair, the same color as his mother's. "No, I didn't." The same answer. "I preferred to remain anonymous, and if I had asked her for that information, she'd want to know my name too."

"You could have lied!"

"Silver, I had been hiding behind an upturned, incredibly old newspaper just a while back; I wasn't thinking straight with your mother nearby!" Giovanni defended himself, blushing considerably. It was photo-worthy, if only for the fact that he rarely looked like that…

Silver finally gave up, smirking. "So it was love at first sight?"

His father turned his whole body to the side, too flustered to face his son. "Your mother and I eventually arrived to Viridian City, and we split up at the train station," he changed the topic, back to his story, "and even when she said she'd challenge the gym right away, I didn't see her until the following week—"

"—boss, there's someone approaching the gym," came a voice through the intercom on his desk.

Giovanni's spirits lifted considerably at that, as they had every single time a new challenger came. Or, at least, before he was met with disappointment as whoever arrived wasn't her… "Standard procedure," he replied, turning on his own monitor in haste to view what the security cameras were filming. However, his just renewed good mood turned abysmal the moment he saw that it was only an old man, walking like a Slowpoke—if not even slower—toward the gates of Viridian City's gym. "Damn…"

"You sure on the standard procedure, boss?" the intercom person asked in confirmation.

"Forget it; throw anyone who's free in there, and call me only if our team is defeated," Giovanni ordered, ending the conversation and standing up from his desk to go wander around his office in order to cheer up. He couldn't forget about her, and the fact that she had yet to show up when she had been so eager to come to his gym just made him worry and got him depressed to no end. Had she actually gone ahead to another city in Kanto, to try her luck at the other gyms? Had she been followed and taken away by her father, the religious fanatic from Sinnoh that worshipped Arceus?

Giovanni ended up looking out from the window that overviewed the training area he had built behind the gym for those Pokémon trainers that begged to become part of his team, in an attempt to become stronger and, someday, maybe also win over him and leave with a badge on their hands. He was there just in time to see how one of the best in the team, one he even considered a close partner now, was called over to enter the gym and proceed to test the new challenger before the leader even had to step in. Said leader smirked; whoever had come today had no chance against his trusted partner…

But, as luck would have it—because luck, as everyone knows, is a somewhat sadistic entity—, there was someone calling him again from the intercom: "Boss, an unexpected challenger just came in!" And, not really in the mood anymore, Giovanni nearly dragged his feet back to his desk, turning his eyes slowly at the screen and almost yawning in boredom.

It just happened it was her this time: a young woman with long hair, which, thanks to the black-and-white-only security cameras, he couldn't confirm was that bright cherry red that had caught his attention the previous week and hadn't let go… but he just knew it was!

His hands lost all the dexterity they had, so he struggled to send his message back through the intercom: "Stop the battle! I'm going down there!"

"Sorry, boss, it's already in process…" Giovanni cursed lowly.

He pressed several buttons by the monitor and had the cameras follow the redheaded girl into the gym. He also turned on the sound; he wanted to hear what was going on down there. He was already late to stop the trainer representing him from battling her, but he wouldn't miss a single minute of it.

"Thank you very much, sir, for all your help. I can keep going on my own," the girl told the old man that had taken her to the gym, smiling cutely.

The old man laughed. "Good luck, lass! You'll need it! The leader of Viridian, Giovanni, will show no mercy!"

"Yes, sir, I know," she replied, obviously eager to get rid of him. "That's why I was off training at the forest; I'll be fine now."

Giovanni's training partner chuckled as she approached the pair. "Don't you worry for the lass here, old man; you may leave," she said in a commanding voice, and the old man obeyed as if hypnotized. Then she addressed the redhead: "The boss is currently out, hon. I will be taking care of you, for now," she purred, narrowing her eyes like a calculating Persian.

"Oh, really?" The younger woman's Pokéball was already on her hand, ready to be thrown.

"Yes, really!" the older woman roared gleefully, taking out one of her own Pokéballs. "Let us play then, little Skitty. My name is Sird," she presented herself as an afterthought.

"Well, Sird, let me return the favor: I'm Ariana, and I hail from Sinnoh, and I am going to defeat you!"

Author's notes: I had been thinking about this from the moment I first saw Ariana's design for the HGSS games, and once I scrubbed the Goldenrod Radio Tower's floor with her Pokémon, I was convinced that I should write this story down and publish it. So here you have it! (also, now that I'm in Peru, with my hair dyed in a cute shade of red, I got to know my own boss, whose name is Ghiovanni—proving that life likes amusing situations—, and this was an event that fully convinced me to sit down and write until my fingers bled and my head hurted… and the chapter was finished and up here; there you go! Again!)

Story comments: I have the very bad feeling that I'm the only one writing on the pairing of Giovanni/Ariana. However, I'll keep on writing if you feel you need to know more. The premise itself was already covered, though: Giovanni already told Silver how he met Ariana, who is supposed to be Silver's mother… mostly in my head-canon only. But, admit it, I pulled off a shameless cliffhanger with the start of the battle between freaky Sird and young Ariana. And, don't resist it; you want to ask for more… And, you know? I have more ideas…!

Reader requests: I honestly want to know how many people support Giovanni/Ariana, and that Ariana is Silver's mom; I ask from this people that they review and share their opinion. If you only want the story to continue, you can put it on your Alerts and it'll be enough.