A/N: It's been a while, but here we have it! As for me now, I'll be heading to Omnicon 2013 this Friday 26th. I'll be going as Henry from Fire Emblem, so if anyone's going, be sure to drop by and say hello! I'll be sure to post pictures this weekend so come check out my deviantart then! Now, on with the chapter!
My Xtransceiver rang at 9:00 sharp the next morning right as I was dressing in the bathroom. N's knuckles clicked against the door just as I placed the last bobby pin in my hair.
"Your mother's calling, dear." He sounded a bit tired and completely unsuspecting. This was going to go smoothly. I just knew it.
"Just a sec." I opened the door, taking the Xtransceiver from him and pressing the talk button. "Hello?"
"Good morning dear! I hope I didn't wake you or N up." She looked over at N who'd leaned over my shoulder at the sound of his name.
"Oh, good morning, Grandma." He'd started calling her that affectionately ever since little Chris was born. "It's perfectly fine. We've been up since 8:00." His chin rested against my shoulder.
"Yeah we're pretty much awake. So how are you? I haven't talked to you in a while."
She grinned, her cheeks glowing a slight pink. "I've been doing well. Everyone asks about you all the time." Her grin grew wider. "Speaking of which, everyone keeps asking about Chris, too. I was actually going to ask if he could come visit Grandma today so we could make some brownies."
"That sounds great." I twisted my head to look over at N. "What do you think, N? He hasn't been out in a while. It'd be good for him to go visit family, especially since he only sees Mom on birthdays."
He lifted his head from my shoulder and said something completely unexpected. "That's a great idea. In fact, how about he goes to visit for this whole next week?"
I blinked, quite surprised. "Are you sure? I mean you've been gone for a while and just for him to see you for a few hours today?" As bad as I felt for little Chris not being able to see his father for longer, I was quite excited for the change of events. This would be going better than planned. Maybe N was planning on having our battle this week and this was just one of his own preparations. It would be best to keep little Chris away from all of this mess.
N nodded. "Chris needs to see his grandma more often. Besides, you know how much he loves to visit her."
I nodded back, turning to face my Mom on the screen. "Alright then. I'll go tell him right now. Does noon sound okay for dropping him off?"
"That's perfect. It'll give me time to get your room set up for him and to get some lunch ready for when you all get here. See you then!" With a final wave, she hung up.
Placing my Xtransceiver back on the bedside table, I looked back up at N. "Would you like to come drop him off with me?"
I prayed that he'd say no.
He shook his head, yawning a bit. "I have some reports that I need to share with the communications unit and the records unit. I'll go with you to pick him up at the end of the week, though."
I had to keep myself from crying. By the end of the week it would be over.
"Alright." With that, I went over to little Chris to tell him the good news.
Three faces stared back at me as they patiently waited to hear what they needed to do. I focused my gaze on the face of my mother who visibly swallowed as she grew increasingly anxious.
"N's coming home really early tomorrow, Mom. I'll need you to call me pretty early to ask if you can keep little Chris for the day. It'll give me a reason to leave the castle. If he's had contact with Ghetsis since the time I spoke with him, then he'll suspect something if I try to leave the castle for no reason. If it's me that asks him if we should let little Chris visit you, it'll make me look even more suspicious. I want to make everything sound as natural as possible, and I highly doubt he'd think you'd know anything about any sort of conspiracy."
She sighed. "True. I do tend to get worked up over things like that and it's noticeable. Even now, I'm anxious about the whole situation. But I'll try to keep myself calm for tomorrow's call. I'll just be typical old Grandma." A light giggle escaped her lips.
"Grandma!" Little Chris sprung from the Unfeazant's back before we even touched the ground. His feet pushed him forward into an almost gallop as he rushed into Mom's warm embrace.
"Hi there, precious! How's my silly little Ducklett doing?" Her full lips began smothering him in teasing kisses.
Little Chris's laughter echoed across the open air of Nuvema Town for everyone to hear. A few of the neighbors that happened to be taking a stroll nearby gave affectionate waves to the town's unofficial sweetheart. I knew that everyone here loved little Chris. He'd be welcomed with open arms by everyone. He'd be safe here. The events that were set to occur soon needed to be kept from his eyes. Nuvema was far enough from the castle so that even the flicker of fire from Reshiram's breath from the highest pillar could not be seen.
Nuvema was safe from any sort of deal with Team Plasma. In fact, I'd even heard recently that the grunts stationed here had been taken out and sent back to the castle. Due to the secretive nature of all of the members in recent times, I wouldn't have known had it not been for my mother's watchful eye on them since they'd first arrived.
But the question was why had they returned to the castle? Of course, their king and queen were readying another battle just as they had years before, but were they really going just to watch? I mean, it was pretty understandable that they'd want to see an outcome of all of this, especially since it was almost a repeat of an event that pretty much changed their lives completely. There was just something about it that seemed a bit off, though.
There was one thing about this that was to my advantage, though. Nobody would be watching me.
"Come on in for some lunch, honey. You'll need the energy for today."
I nodded, trailing in behind the ecstatic little Chris whose voice continued to reverberate all around even as he took his seat at the table. Mom placed some chopped veggies and dressing on the table to snack on as she readied some plates of spaghetti with the long strands of pasta, fresh from the piping hot pot atop the stove. Little Chris had already gotten his hands on a carrot stick when Mom spoke from across the room.
"So how are the preparations going for this afternoon?" She waved away steam that burst from the open pot of spaghetti.
I took a glance at little Chris who was busy munching down on his dressing coated carrot slice. At his age, I doubted he'd care to listen into a conversation that didn't involve him. It seemed okay to talk with Mom about the plans.
"Well I know I'm ready at least," I said sheepishly. "I haven't really followed up on everyone else's training, but from what Prof. Juniper said, I'm pretty sure they're in tip top shape."
I looked away from Mom and into the eyes of Prof. Juniper. She was the only person I knew who could do what I needed her to do as quickly as possible. I couldn't rely on anyone looking up numbers for Xtransceivers. It would take too long. Prof. Juniper already had the numbers I needed.
"Prof. Juniper, I need for you to contact Black, Cheren, and Bianca and make sure they're updated on the situation. It's pretty late as it is and I don't want to get caught or anything."
She nodded. "Of course. Besides, you need your rest if you're going to a have a training session with everyone tomorrow. I'd be happy to make the necessary calls for you."
I sighed. "Thank you."
"It's no problem, really. In fact, Bianca will be a cinch! Since she's my assistant, I'll have her notified in the morning."
That was a relief.
"Black's usually around as well, considering his and Bianca's recent engagement and all." She let out a little chuckle.
That was pretty much to be expected. Once Black had finished his rounds at the Battle Subway, Bianca had kept him tied down back in Nuvema.
"As for Cheren, it might be a bit more difficult."
"What about your other friends that you've told me about? Will they be joining you?" Mom had already placed the plates at the table and was sitting across from me with an inquisitive expression.
I breathed a quiet sigh and shook my head. I wouldn't even let word get out to Austin, Aurora, Dirk, Martin and the countess. While I wanted to say it was to keep them from worrying over me, I'd always known that it was just too many people to take into the castle. The more people that I'd bring in, the more they'd stand out. They needed to keep as low a profile as possible if they were going to let loose a legendary like Genesect.
"I see." She twirled her fork into the spaghetti on her plate. "It is a pretty difficult thing; getting that many people trained up for such a huge event." She took a moment to take a bite of spaghetti, chewing it rather slowly as she thought. "But they'll have to learn about what happened someday."
I felt that all to familiar mother's gaze on me. Her eyes spoke the true words that she wished to tell me. But she kept her voice back, her eyes pleading silently to me so the one she truly meant the words for couldn't hear.
Little Chris's slurping of spaghetti strands lifted over the silence of the room. Specks of sauce graced his cheeks in a clump of salty freckles while a nibbled strand of pasta sat tucked away under his lip. His napkin, now in my grasp, pressed lightly against his cheek, wiping away the saucy mess. His right eye closed lightly as he giggled before going back to his meal, making another palette out of his tiny cheeks.
I looked back at Mom and nodded. She sighed, looking at ease before going back to her own plate.
Little Chris finished eating before the both of us and jumped from his seat to go get the ingredients for the brownies he would be making with Mom later.
"Hold on now, Chris. We're almost done." Mom laughed.
"I don't wanna wait, though!" Little Chris pouted, pulling a chair up close to the cupboard.
"Just be careful. Don't slip and fall." I bit my lip, watching to make sure he didn't get hurt.
"I won't," his muffled voice said behind the door of the cupboard as he reached for the flour.
Mom had already picked up my plate when I turned back to her. I stood up from my seat and walked over to her as she washed the dishes and rinsed the mixing bowl for the brownies.
"I'm gonna get going already, Mom. I'm leaving Unfeazant here for you and little Chris if you need to get anywhere quick," I said, placing the pokeball on the table.
Leaving the dishes in the sink, she drew me into a hug. After a peck on the cheek, she whispered softly to me. "Make sure everything turns out alright in the end."
I nodded into her shoulder. "I will."
Once she let go, I knelt down to little Chris's height and he proceeded to jump into my arms. "Love you, mommy!"
I kissed his forehead and then his nose. "Love you, too, little Chris. Mommy and Daddy will be back at the end of the week to come pick you up, alright?"
He nodded giddily, that ever present glow of innocence emanating from ever pore on his body. Unsuspecting. Unknowing. Just innocent.
A simple pat on his back pushed him back over to Mom's side where the two of them continued to wave until I'd closed the entrance door behind me.
Reaching into the purse at my side, I felt out Swanna's pokeball. From the red beam materialized my good friend; one that knew all too well the situation I was going through, because she was, too. How well would she fight against Archeops? If she felt what I did, she'd understand. I knew that she knew what we had to do.
"Ready, girl?" I held her up as she stood perched on my arm.
She squawked in acknowledgement, clamping her feet over my hand as she flapped her wings, pulling us both upward and over the trees of Nuvema. My gaze landed over my old house that shrank as we flew further and further away towards the summit of Victory Road.
When you're older, little Chris.
He looked back at me with a knowing gaze. I could almost see the nostalgia behind his eyes. "I'm always up for a second round."
Alder knew what we were dealing with. He and Cheren dealt with it firsthand back then and experiences like that stuck. We'd do better than we did last time. Only this time, we'd have more people to help us.
"We need a secret place to train and plan for your infiltration. Since the castle is right behind the Pokemon League, it's not the best place. But I don't want to get so caught up that I lose track of the time. If I do, the castle is conveniently close by."
Alder sighed into his fist. "Yes. I'd usually pick a spot as far away as possible, but I see your point. The best option I can think of is Victory Road. The caves are meant for battles, and any commotion, if heard by Team Plasma, can be overlooked as typical Ace training."
I nodded. "Perfect. And could you get the Elite Four to help out? If we're found out, we need their power to back us up."
He gave a slight grin, winking. "Gotcha covered."
A coolness wafted from the entrance to the summit cave of Victory Road. How this brought back memories to the day that brought me to where I am now. Over a decade had passed since my feet lay above the rocky soil that lead to the steps of the Pokemon League, and ultimately to my home, Team Plasma's castle. I pressed forward, sinking my body into the veiling darkness so not even a grunt overlooking the gardens from a high window could see me.
The cry of a nearby Stoutland caught my attention. A light yip followed by the sound of crashing into a wall came soon after. I squinted trying to adjust my eyes further. A Stoutland and a Cincccino came into view as three trainer silhouettes stood darkened behind them. One seemed to notice me and stepped forward to greet me as my eyes finally adjusted.
The sight sent me back a decade into a past I had forgotten. Deep blue eyes in a darkened room stood vividly in my memory. My blurred vision had only adjusted for a second to see them staring back behind loose bangs that strayed away from gelled back hair. A hot breath grazed my neck, exciting my blood as adrenaline pumped through my veins, screaming at me to run. Go. Go. Go-
"White." A voice snapped me out of that memory. The memory seemed to fade away into depths of the cave to be lost in the darkness as my gaze held that of the speaker.
Cheren scratched the back of his head, smiling sheepishly. "It's been a while, hasn't it?"
Had he always acted like that? No. He seemed a bit more lighthearted than I remembered.
I nodded with a quiet "Yeah."
He sighed, wiping his forehead with the rolled up sleeve of his dress shirt. His glasses were gone like the few times I'd seen him without them, but I recognized him well enough. He'd let his hair grow out to his shoulders. He no longer sported his signature blue jacket, but he did retain the skinny jeans, albeit a different color. He looked so much different than when I'd last seen him, but even so, I could still recognize him a mile away.
Something seemed to snap in him and he motioned the other two silhouetted trainers over to his side. Two young school aged children stood on each side of him, a Lass and a Youngster. "These are two of my students that I brought over to help."
I looked over them. "That's right. Prof. Juniper told me you were a teacher." They looked very well ripened with journeyed out legs from travel and bold looks of determination. "She said it would be a bit difficult to get a hold of you since you're so busy working."
A laugh escaped his lips as he adjusted his tie a bit. "Well I made time just for you. And there's always time to make when Team Plasma is involved." He patted the backs of the trainers beside him. "These two and all of my students have be trained for occasions like these. I made sure to put everything I learned throughout my journey into their studies."
And then I noticed something. The moment his palms pressed against their backs, the two children beamed brightly at him. Their eyes glowed with strong love as they took in the sight of their teacher. They both leaned into his touch like he wasn't just a teacher. Cheren, too, seemed to radiate a fatherly instinct toward these two children who weren't even his own. The scene itself lasted for a short while, but the feeling was still there. That trust they held for him was something that had built up over the years of countless tutoring sessions and pats on the back. This was a totally different image from the far off memory that was now lost in the dark crevices of Victory Road.
This was the real Cheren before me. He wouldn't be lost away in the dark corners of my memory. He'd walk out of this cave into the light, ready to fight alongside me for the life of Genesect and for the rematch of Truth and Ideals.
I felt my cheek against his shirt and I soon realized what had happened. My arms were wrapped around his waist but my back felt untouched. We'd come from being the best of friends to the drifted to friendly acquaintances. I'd thrust a memory back in favor of giving him a partial second chance, just enough to settle our differences, but not enough to go back to the way it was.
But now I could see it. The same love these two had went hand in hand with the love of little Chris. Their love was proof that this was Cheren, the best friend that had been gone for too long but was still always there. They'd found the lost good in him. Little Chris held a strong love for N. Maybe that was proof enough that the N I'd lost to Ghetsis's plan was still here with me. We would save Genesect in the end and stop this foolish game that Ghetsis had been setting up for nearly 30 years. N and I together, along with all of our friends, would put an end to all of this.
"I need you for this, Cheren." I looked up at him. "Let's do this just like we did all those years ago."
He looked a little surprised, but a smile soon took over. "Of course."
The light of the entrance soon darkened. I craned my neck back to see the cause of the sudden eclipse of the outside light and saw the familiar silhouettes of spikes, an old cap, and bouncy hair.
"All in attendance." Cheren's voice carried over liked I'd never heard it before, full of confidence. "Ready, White?"
I nodded. "Ready."
A/N: Hope you guys enjoyed! We're almost done so hang tight!