~*Just Fine*~

Some people never really change at all.

Part One: Not Worth the Risk

He almost didn't recognize her.

Slateport City was a popular tourist destination in Hoenn. To the south, a great ocean, blue and gold in the afternoon rays, crashed and splashed against the beach. Up above, the sky was a cloudless sapphire, Wingulls and Pelippers diving and swooping near the crests of the waves. It was warm and crowded as one would expect a city to be.

So naturally she'd not be near the beaches. Being the great nerd she was—almost more so than Lucas—she was sitting near the Oceanic Museum, on a bench out of the way from everything else. She had her nose buried in a Contest magazine, its cover proudly depicting an (admittedly stylish) Sceptile in the process of performing Leaf Blade.

In truth, the only reason he had even noticed her was because no one else had a Luxray in all of Hoenn, or at least not that he had seen. And he knew only hers had a big notch in his right ear.

Instead of sprinting right past her, like he had nearly done, heading for the open-air Bazaar that Slateport boasted and its many fabulous wares, Barry jogged backwards until he was standing right in front of her. He briefly considered waiting until she noticed him, but that would become boring incredibly fast. Better to just…

"Hey, Dawn!" He shouted loudly.

She jumped a foot in the air, her magazine flying from her hands to drop on the ground. Her Luxray huffed, rolled his eyes, and proceeded to gently pick the dropped article up in his mouth.

She was dressed way differently than he was used to, another reason why he had almost missed her, saw her as just another face. Instead of a scarf and her customary hat, she had forsaken such things and instead was garbed in pink shorts, a black t-shirt, and a white baseball cap. Her dark hair was longer also, having had passed her shoulders.

He himself was still wearing his orange striped shirt and gray pants, just minus the scarf. Hoenn was famous for its eternal summer after all.

With as much dignity as she could muster, Dawn drew herself up and glared at him, putting her hand out and letting her Luxray drop the magazine back into her grip. "Barry! You nearly gave me a heart attack!"

He scratched the bridge of his nose, eyebrows raised. "Huh? Why?" Without waiting for her answer, he went on. "So when did you get to Hoenn?" Again, he didn't let her speak. "Wait, I know! You got here recently right? 'Cause you always challenge the Gyms in order instead of jumping around."

"That's it," she agreed readily enough. She clasped her hands in front of her, grinning at him. "But Barry, these Contests are even more awesome! Slateport sure knows how to perform! There are Contest Halls all over Hoenn, and it's particularly famous in Lilycove. I just have to get there!"

Never quite understanding her obsession with Contests—it made him sick sometimes that she was a better battler than him but was more interested in making her Pokémon do pretty tricks—Barry interrupted her before she could finish her next sentence. "When was the last time I saw you?"

She gave a knowing smile. "I saw you back in Rustboro, but it was you that didn't see me."

Stomping a foot, he growled, "So why didn't you say anything? I should fine you a million—"

"Oh shush." Dawn sat down again and crossed her legs, returning to her page with a flourish of her manicured nails. Luxray barked in amusement as Barry scowled.

Ugh I hate that Luxray of hers…it's got creepy eyes. And she knows it, too.

"Hey don't act like I'm not here!" He plucked the magazine from her and held it high, standing on tiptoe so she couldn't reach. To his surprise, he had gotten taller than her by a full head. She lunged for it, bouncing up and down, but was unable to reach. "So like I was saying, when was the last time I saw you?"

"I dunno, 'bout a month or so ago? You called but you left for Hoenn without me." She pulled back and started to pout, and Barry found himself giving her magazine back without a second thought, just to erase her frown.

"I've got it!" Barry exclaimed, shaking his head in an effort to clear it (though he didn't know why it was fuzzy to begin with).

"Uh oh."

"Let's have a Pokémon battle! One-on-one!"

"Isn't it always one-on-one?"

He snatched a Pokéball from his belt, clicking the button in the center with a snarky grin. "As in just one Pokémon! And not our Sinnoh ones, but whatever Hoenn guys we picked up here!"

"Must I?" Dawn sighed, glancing at her Luxray. He shrugged his broad shoulders, settling down in the shade of the tree that grew near the bench with a yawn.

"What's wrong? You scared?" His orange eyes contained a challenge, and the girl evidently decided to rise to it.

"Alright then, but the loser buys the winner a Soda, and all of her Pokémon one too!"

"Her Pokémon? You mean his!"

There, that felt better. Now that he was about to start a battle, familiar between him and her, his head wasn't so…foggy. He had been fine until he had run into Dawn.

Maybe it's the heat or something.

"Oh, wait!" She hurriedly caught her Pokéball—a blue Great Ball—before it hit the ground. She dove after it and ended up skinning her arms and knees on the pavement, but she got back up and didn't seem to notice it, so Barry didn't ask if she was okay.


"We can't fight near this museum! We'll go down to the beach! Luxray, let's go!" Dawn pelted past him, her Electric-type bolting after her, heavy paws slamming the ground, and he scrambled to follow. Of course it became a race, with the two shoving one another in an effort to get there first. Indignant pedestrians yelled some unkind things after the two, but Barry honestly didn't give a darn about their small-minded opinions.

Bells tolled sunshine over their heads, and as they sprinted, he found his gaze drawn to hers for some reason. Her eyes were bright with determination, the color of dark ocean storms, a richer shade of blue than her Luxray's pelt by far. He blinked, wondering why he was staring for so long instead of just—


Someone started swearing (probably him), and Barry staggered to his feet, rubbing his forehead. "Ow…"

"Barry! Are you okay?" Dawn skidded to a halt at his side, and he shook off her concerned hand with a grunt.

"Hey! Who do you think you are? Watch where you're going!" The impatient teen told the unfortunate boy he had just crashed into.

"Ugh…I'm sorry," a timid voice replied. This was followed by a bout of wheezing and Barry looked up, seeing a green-haired, frail looking boy clad in white and light tan. He leaned against his Pokémon for support—an elegant Gardevoir—and fished an inhaler out of his left pocket.

"Barry! Apologize. Now. It wasn't his fault and you know it!" Dawn grabbed his shirt and forced him forward until he was two feet or so from the kid that looked about a year younger than him.

She was in the right, and he knew it, but that didn't mean he was going to…

I'll never hear the end of it otherwise.

"Sorry," Barry muttered. "You okay?" He began to become genuinely concerned when the boy didn't reply. "C'mon, it was only a little—"

"A headlong collision isn't that easy to recover from, but I'm fine." With that he brushed past Barry and continued on without a backwards glance, his Gardevoir gliding at his side.

"Nice job you idiot." Dawn motioned for him to follow her and they arrived at the beach without any more incidents. Now she turned to him with a victorious smile and recalled her Luxray whilst releasing a Zangoose.

"Now we're talking! Go, Mightyena!"

The black wolf-like Pokémon emerged in a flash of white, and Dawn's Zangoose blinked, utterly unimpressed.

"You know, only you can run into someone at high speeds and not be bothered in the slightest."

"I've got the Hard Head Special Ability! It prevents recoil damage!"

Despite herself, she broke into laughter, causing Barry to grin in delight.

One second later, he was disturbed immensely. Since when did he enjoy her laughter that much?

"Alright," Dawn announced, wiping away an imaginary tear. "Zangoose, use Slash!"

In a spray of pale sand her Pokémon sprang forward, snarling furiously, all of the fur rising along his back. Mightyena crouched low, and at Barry's command, met his charge with a fierce Bite. The two tussled on the ground for a bit, clawing and biting, intent on knocking out the other.

When Zangoose tried a Crush Claw, Barry ordered his Mightyena back and changed tactics. "Sand Attack!"

The wolf-like creature proceeded to kick the aforementioned gritty substance into the Normal-type's face, and the Pokémon hissed in irritation, raising a paw to shield his eyes. Whilst he was distracted, Mightyena delivered a critical Dark Pulse straight to Zangoose's chest.

"Yeah! Good thing I bought that TM! Use Bite and finish off that—"

"Zangoose, Brick Break!"

Barry winced as her Pokémon's gaze suddenly became crystal clear. Somehow, at his Trainer's urging, he focused on Mightyena and brought his long claws around in a slicing arc, knocking the Dark-type to the ground with a nasty crunch.

"Up on your feet Mightyena! Hyper Beam!"

As the burst of swirling scarlet energy lanced from the wolf-like beast's jaws, he grinned at Dawn in what he had intended to be a triumphant smirk.

Instead…his smile vanished. He blinked slowly, and the world seemed to go in slow motion as he beheld her just a few feet from him, safely behind her Zangoose. The sun struck off of the sand flying into the air, catching small crystals embedded within every individual grain. Her hat was turned backwards, fully revealing her eyes, shining brighter than he had ever seen them before. She seemed to be caught in the throes of exultation, both fists clenched and raised at her sides, all of the calm reserve she had shown while reading her magazine long gone.

He liked her better that way.

Then, immediately, as an after-effect—What the…? What's wrong with me lately? I need to stop looking at her like that before I—

"Barry! Look out!" Dawn shrieked in astonishment, and he snapped back to his senses just in time to notice his Mightyena flying towards him. The eighty pound Pokémon slammed into him and sent him sprawling for the second time that day. Groaning, he shoved the unconscious creature off of him and blinked stupidly.

"What…just happened?"

Zangoose limped heavily after his Trainer as she rushed towards her friend. "You just spaced out, and Mightyena didn't know what to do and ended up being defeated by Zangoose. What's wrong with you?"

Feeling a little guilty for his injured Pokémon, he stroked his black fur before sending him back into his Pokéball. "Well hey, that's not very honorable of you! Sure, go ahead and take advantage of—"

"Pish posh, if I had lost my focus, you'd have done the same thing." She offered him his hand and Barry staggered to his feet. Despite his teasing boasting earlier, he really did hurt all over from not just one, but two collisions.

Zangoose snorted before he, too, was recalled. Dawn didn't let go of his hand, to his curious pleasure, but instead closed both of hers over his. Genuine concern replaced the sarcasm glinting in her eyes. "You sure you're okay?"

He hated this. Hated how close she was. Hated how her eyes glimmered. Hated the heat rising to his cheeks, probably coloring his ears red for all he knew. Hated how he kept looking at her so differently. They had been friends forever, nothing more, right? Barry jerked away from her and whipping around, he disappeared into the crowds before she could follow.

He pretended not to hear her calling his name.

He just wanted to get away from her and all of the new feelings he was having…because he knew what it was deep inside, but part of him insisted that if he ignored it, he could lie and say their friendship wouldn't be tarnished by something as stupid as love.

It simply wasn't worth the risk.

Part one of two of the Barry x Dawn story I'm writing for my epic and awesome friend RawkstarVienna. I hope you like it so far! The second piece will be considerably longer, but this seemed like a good place to stop for now.

I apologize for errors in the characterization—I haven't played Diamond/Pearl/Platinum at all, only HeartGold, Gale of Darkness, Sapphire, and LeafGreen. Out of those, Hoenn is my favorite region, hence the location. This is set somewhere after Platinum.

I'm one of those shameless review beggars, so please, review!