Chapter 24 – It's a Nonstop Disco...(Epilogue)
"Good afternoon, fellow Rockets. This is Matori with your daily briefings. If you are not yet aware, it has now been a month since the fall of the breakaway faction, led by Dr. Namba. Namba and many of his followers have been apprehended and are awaiting proper punishment in a court of law.
"For those who were mercifully released after your erroneous judgment, we still need help rounding up stray Delcatty that have spread throughout the Kanto and possibly eastern Johto regions. While the Pokemon League has not issued any official orders for euthanizations, exercising caution is still advised. If you catch a stray Delcatty, you are to relinquish possession to either a supplier or off-duty officer.
"Sign-ups to help in the Viridian City Gym are also in the lobby. The leader is looking for snappy young individuals that enjoy a good pokemon battle. Current positions include trainers, referees, and janitorial management, as well as secretarial duties, which for those like me, can always appreciate.
"Lunch specials at the cafeteria today are spaghetti and meatballs, barbecued ribs with a choice of two side orders..."
Domino pounded on the door. A few weeks ago, she would've rather fought a hundred Rhydon with her bare hands than be anywhere close to this side of the hallway. Yet here she was, holding a bag filled with three different types of coffee and trying to extend her patience despite a certain Gloom constantly jabbing her in the side with her (Domino was pretty sure she was a she upon closer examination) vines. After all they had been through, in both ups and downs – mostly downs – that Gloom still refused to leave her alone. If she were more of a touchy-feely person, she might've been just a bit flattered.
But she had Mondo for that, and his sensitivity was so stupidly sweet enough it made her hurt.
Swatting the vines away, she knocked on the door again, shooting a side-glare at Gloom. A few seconds later, Mondo came stumbling out, almost dropping the pan of cookies he held. "Sorry, I'm sorry. They almost burned!" he apologized, shaking his head but grinning. Water dripped from his very wet head down to the t-shirt that he seemed to just slap on his body. "I was in the shower and I lost track of time. I hope the Professor doesn't mind crispy cookies."
"At least you're not crying. And he'll live."
They walked down the corridor. Domino roughly pushed his shoulders, satisfied that his comforting words were gradually becoming more comforting. She was also easing up on calling Mondo or his hair stupid...at least to his face. And in return he was less of a crying, annoying mess, though he was still annoying and still cried from time to time. But at least now they were more the friends who were just stuck in hanging out together.
"It's too bad Dr. Fennel decided to leave so soon and go back to her girlfriend," Mondo continued. "She seemed to know a lot about the Professor's research."
"Well, when you're as much of a stud as Pointy, the ladies flock to you. That nerd probably didn't want to fall into his trap. But they talk, like, every day, so he shouldn't be too lonely."
Neither mentioned the Unovian professor still be shaken up over her brother. Proton was still missing, and not even the most skilled Officer Jennies could find either him or his corpse. While Pointy wanted her to stay a little longer, he understood her grief and wished her the best, even inviting her and her girlfriend to the next scientific conference. His broken arm kept him busy, anyway.
Well, until now. Broken arms couldn't stay in casts forever.
The corridors were more or less as peaceful as they were before the whole Namba nonsense. There were still a few straggling drunks here and there, but they were friendly enough. Domino ignored them as she, Mondo, and Gloom made their way to Pointy's office, where Botch stood by the entrance, smoking a cigarette. She raised an eyebrow at him but was not too surprised. Like Pointy would allow smoking in his office. "Hey, Botch. Where's Cassidy?"
"It's Butch," Botch growled, "and Cassidy's been super-busy running Giovanni's errands while he's doing gym stuff. She tried to push her work off on me, but I was like, 'Nah, I'm good,' and she got pissed. What's a guy to do?"
He shrugged. Domino snorted, smirking. Cassidy didn't even last a week before she started groveling outside of Giovanni's office, begging for her job back. Ever since then she was stuck with the oddest of jobs, from toilet-scrubbing to scheduling Persian's grooming appointments. She even made that idiot trio in Unova look like a bunch of misfits who were actually useful. If nothing else warmed Domino's heart, Cassidy's misfortune did. Sometimes karma actually worked.
When Botch finished smoking his cigarette, they all entered the office. Pointy sat in his favorite chair, drinking a cup of tea. There were no casts anywhere on his body, just pasty skin that was as white as his labcoat. Mondo was the first to approach him, setting down the cookie plate on a nearby table. "Hi, Professor. Glad to see you well. The cookies are a little crisp but not burnt, thankfully."
"That's fine, Mondo. People still asking about your arm?"
Mondo blushed, rubbing his arm. "It was just a minor gunshot wound. I don't know why they keep talking about it."
Domino rolled her eyes. When they were taken to the infirmary after the Namba incident, every doctor on duty was in disbelief at Mondo's gunshot wound. Ariana's bullets had barely grazed him, but one of the bullets was lodged in his arm, and the doctors had to take it out with a scalpel and other sharp doctor tools. He ended up crying like a baby that day, and word quickly got around that "even a hippie doofus like Mondo would take a bullet for Giovanni".
It was oddly inspiring and definitely showed just how impressionable some of the grunts were. They wouldn't leave the poor boy alone. Pointy patted Mondo on the back and turned to her. "What about you, Domino? Go on any new adventures yet?"
"Nah, just been spying on the Boss."
"I heard you've been spying on the Boss every day."
"It's my duty to make sure he's not getting older than his time."
Pointy raised an eyebrow; everyone else also looked skeptical, even Gloom. There was no real reason to lie, especially with a poor lie, but if she admitted she was stalking the Viridian City Gym every day just to see some kind of reaction between Giovanni and Miss Delia, she'd look like a chump.
And the Black Tulip would never be a chump.
Persian finished off his opponent, a stumbling Blastoise charged with the last of his stamina, with a classic swing of his tail, landing a direct hit in the chest. The tortoise pokemon flew backward, then tried standing up for a few more seconds, but the Iron Tail was the final blow as it fell to the ground, groaning. The referee had little choice but to wave his red flag to the right, signalling the challenger's defeat. "Blastoise is unable to battle. The winner of this match is the Viridian City leader!"
Giovanni watched in amusement as the spiky-haired boy on the opposite side of the battlefield recalled his Blastoise back to his poke ball. This was the second time the boy had challenged him, and Giovanni had figured that three years' time would've given the arrogant brat some experience. (Although admittedly he couldn't exactly remember how he had managed to defeat the boy the first time, he could recall the boy using two pokemon at once against him and still losing.)
But any brat he could beat was a fun match for him.
Gary Oak walked over to his side and extended his hand in the gesture of a friendly handshake. The gym leader reluctantly accepted it, not wanting the loser germs to rub off on him. "Professor Rowan was right! I've been getting too cocky for my own good," he said, chuckling. "I guess he and Gramps were right when they said that. It's harder to balance professor duties and pokemon battling than I thought. Ashy-boy might be able to take you down, though, that dorky doofus."
"He's got a Pikachu and stupid hat hair. Not nearly as hardheaded as he used to be, but...y'know."
"Yes, he sounds like a real charmer."
He wasn't the least bit interested in this Ash kid. Whenever he visited Pallet Town, many of the locals acted like he was a living legend. After hearing about him and his best pal, an overfed Pikachu from what he imagined, the story got annoying. He was pretty sure he could take down this Ash and his entire team with just Persian, but of course the locals didn't want to fathom their precious Ashy-boy losing.
Persian rubbed his head against his pants, and he noticed that Gary Oak was now glaring at him. He raised an eyebrow, feigning concern. "Is there something wrong, Mr. Oak?"
"Yeah. Gramps is still waiting on his van. He doesn't want to bother you about it, but-"
"I've been working all month trying to find your grandfather a replacement, but it's hard trying to find a 1967 hippie van with a similar shoddy paint job!" Giovanni snapped.
That van would be the death of him. Usually he wouldn't fulfill such a bizarre request, but Professor Oak was so attached to that damn van that when the old, burning van was towed back to the laboratory, he was devastated. No modern vehicle could fill the void, either, not even when Giovanni took him to the best car dealership in Kanto. His nights were filled with communicating with people from the most obscure car-loving groups, most of whom barely knew how to use a computer. The Oak boy wasn't about to make him lose his sanity.
Neither would the other gym leaders. Even though Erika had given him her word that the Pokemon League would leave him alone, it wasn't the Pokemon League that gave him trouble but rather the gym leaders themselves. Every day at least one of the gym leaders would call him on his business cell phone. Most of the time it was Surge, asking him foolish questions like when was the next time they were going to hang out (which he thought preferably never), but somehow that orange-haired girl from Cerulean City also got his number, and she was adamant about his reinstatement. In fact, the only one who didn't bother him was Sabrina, but that was worrisome because he didn't want her probing his mind while not saying anything about it. Or probing his mind at all.
But no one would break him. Gary Oak decided not to press the issue further, instead backing away as he paled, looking like a pokemon that was in a disadvantageous match. "Uh, Mrs. Ketchum? What are you doing here?"
"Hi, Gary. I gotta talk to Mr. Macho right now, so if you can harass him some other time..."
"Yes, ma'am. I was just on my way out. See ya later!"
The boy ran out of the gym. Giovanni was tempted to do the same thing, but Delia blocked the exit. In her hands was a tidy, white bill, which he knew exactly what it listed. "Good afternoon, Delia. You weren't interrupting anything. That Oak boy might be strong, but I defended my title, as alway-"
"WHY IS THERE A DELUXE TRIPLE-WIDE REFRIGERATOR SITTING IN THE MIDDLE OF MY PORCH?!"
"Because you didn't allow the installers in, I presume?"
Delia threw the bill at him and pouted, crossing her arms. He wrapped an arm around her waist and led her to the second floor's viewing area, away from the prying eyes of the referee and anyone else who might've been lurking in the shadows. She refused to lean into his touch, positioning herself as far away from his touch as possible. Hoping her anger was just an act, he attempted to tighten his grip, which resulted in her glaring at him. "Oh, come on, Delia. It was just a fridge! I could've done a lot worse than a fridge, you know."
"Most people have to have a payment plan to own one of those."
"Are you saying you don't want it?"
"...I'm saying I don't have room for two fridges."
"Well, we'll make room. How much room does your Mr. Mime really need?"
"What? I'll buy him all the ice cream he wants. Mr. Pinecones, Jr. too. Maybe I'll be lucky and he'll get brainfreeze."
She stifled a laugh and grinned, shoving him away from her. He let out a low, barking laugh of his own, which echoed throughout the gym and startled Persian, who hissed and clawed at his ankles. While he and Delia might never be as involved as they once were, the friendship that was once there would always burn strongly. When Giovanni decided he needed a vacation a few weeks ago, he was wrong in that was what he needed, though the idea of a vacation didn't hurt anyone.
All he wanted was a superhero to to complement his superjerk...and a fridge for his favorite lady.
And so ends our long saga. I feel pretty satisfied at the end. I'd like to thank everyone who's read a chapter or stuck through some chapters or ended up reading everything. Thank you, everybody. :D