Okay, I had a hard time with this chapter. Until I saw a special, freaking amazing, fanfiction live-action Pokemon Trailer (called Pokemon Apokelypse). Which is where I got the idea for this chapter.
Also, this is really much longer than a drabble, but whatever. I got carried away. :3
You'll have to excuse the choppiness...
ALSO! This is an extended version that I decided is exclusive to FFN, because I hated just how choppy the ending was before I added the extra 800 or so words... Also beware a few spelling errors...
 - Hitomoshi is the Japanese name. It is a 5th generation Pokémon and doesn't have an English name, yet. More info at serebii. net
Drabble Twenty: I love you.
(2552 Words + ~1000 Bonus Words)
"Excuse me?" I sat in a coffee shop on the outskirts of Celadon City in the Kanto Region.
"You heard me. There's a hot new trainer, who might give you a run for your money in the underground," Sarah, my 'mentee' I'd picked up in the Isshu region five years prior, told me. She pulled out a cancer stick and her Hitomoshi  lit it.
"Those will kill you, Sarah."
"Are you listening? This guy's hot. Him and his Blastoise."
"How new is new?" I asked, and I watched Sparky and Link playing in the trees not far away.
"Well, new to the underground. Apparently he's about your age. Says he won't stop until he beats the champion. Until he beats you!"
"And so what if he does?"
"What do you mean? You've been top of the underground for four years! You'd give that up?"
"Yeah. Why not? I wouldn't mind going out and challenging the Frontier Brains. I'm tired of staying in one place. I'm getting restless."
"Where will that leave me? All of my money is invested in the underground! In you!" Sarah cried, her cigarette flying across the table.
"How old are you, Sarah? Fifteen? What would your parents say if they saw you smoking and gambling?" I asked, picking up her smoldering cigarette and grinding out the lit end.
"They wouldn't care." Sarah grumbled, pulling another stick from her pocket.
"I'm serious, Sarah! How did we get wrapped up in the underground, anyway?"
"One wrong battle, remember? You won and were contracted into it. It's addicting, Zaria. Nobody blames you."
I lay back, and looked out at the almost completely empty street. "I used to live on the other end of town. Now..." A woman and her daughter caught sight of me and crossed the street to avoid coming close. "Now I'm the tormentor of the town."
A siren sounded off in the distance, and the street emptied. "Sparky, Link, let's go!" I called, and my Pokémon ran back to us as we took off to the closest entrance to the underground. "I'm even running from the cops, now."
"But you're a celebrity!" Sarah encouraged, "You're the best Trainer in Celadon! Nobody else is so travelled! You've got complete sets of badges from Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, Sinnoh, and Isshu! Nobody can beat you!"
I laughed and looked out the window as Officer Jenny stopped in front of the coffee shop Sarah & I had been sitting at. "Yeah yeah." I saw heads of black and brown hair accompanying Officer Jenny.
"Hey baby!" Cooper, one of the refs for the underground, came up and put his arm around my waste. "The two of you should come look at what Andy got his hands on. Battle fodder from two idiots who had their Pokémon out of their balls."
"Okay Cooper," Sarah giggled and walked to the doorway.
"You go, I'll catch up," I continued to look out the window.
"Okay, but don't stay up here too long. Police is just outside, and we've got a busy schedule tonight." He kissed my cheek "I Love You, Babe," and then left with Sarah.
I slid down the wall and put my hands in my head. Link sat down next to me and whined; Sparky clicked his pincers from above me on the wall.
"What did I get us into you guys?" I asked the pair. "Why didn't I go with Gary when he asked for me to go back to Kanto instead of going to Isshu? It's all my fault, you two!"
Link licked my elbow, and then looked out the window, his ears perked. "What is it?" I turned and looked out the window. Across the street was a man I vaguely recognized. I'd met him several times, the first time in Sinnoh, and subsequently in Isshu before I'd started down the path of underground battles. "Ash?"
Link snorted, Sparky clicked, and I stood up to get a better look. He still sported a red hat, but Pikachu was absent. He turned around and we made eye contact. I dropped to my knees, out of sight and cursed myself. Before I'd managed to drop, I'd seen his mouth form my name.
The glass I'd been looking through became a punching bag. "Zaria! Zaria! Let me in! It's Ash! You have to help me! They have Pikachu!" His fists hit the glass so hard I was afraid it would shatter. I crawled through the door Cooper and Sarah had passed through, and closed the door behind me. I sat in the hallway with Link glared at me. He growled at me when I tried to move down the hallway to the stairs that led underground.
Sparky, now a fully evolved Denchura, spun a web across the hallway.
"I can't help him you guys. If I do, they'll take you from me."
Link growled, Sparky clicked, and the pair disappeared around the door I'd just escaped behind. Back to Ash. To help him. They knew the underground was ruthless and evil. We all did, but we'd looked past it because we were home; I was home in the city my mother lived; the city I wanted to prove myself in.
And once I'd gotten in, there was no way out, because they took your Pokémon, mugged you, or you simply disappeared. I'd wanted out numerous times over the past four years. I'd been such a stupid teenager. At 17, I'd competed in the Isshu Region, placed second, and come home to Celadon with a beginner trainer in tow. Miffed at my mother and sisters, who still ignored me, I'd decided I would become as infamous as possible in Celadon just to spite them and their last name. My last name.
And boy was I good at that. Within six months, I was on top. And that's where I'd been ever since. But I watched more than battled now; I helped with making the arenas, collecting Pokémon, tricking trainers out of money, battles, sometimes Pokémon. I knew the inner workings, and I'd come to hate it. But there was no way out. I was wanted, along with Cooper, along with Sarah, along with all the other major players in the underground.
I'd also managed to corrupt a brand new trainer into smoking, gambling, and stealing. Worst of all, she thought it was normal for Trainers.
Link yipped in the next room, and I instinctively went to his aid.
"Zaria Benjamin. Put your hands up. You are under arrest for participation and organization of illegal dealings with the Celadon City Underground." Four officers pointed guns in my direction, a fifth and sixth each had Link and Sparky pinned. I raised my hands, and Officer Jenny came toward me. She pulled off my Pokéballs and patted me down for other weapons before handcuffing me. "I expected better from a Benjamin," she whispered in my ear before dragging me out to the car. Link and Sparky were recalled to their Pokéballs.
An unusually large spectator group stood around the police vehicles.
"Look it's Zaria!"
"It's their champion!"
"Is the underground through?"
A reporter stood near the entrance. "I'm here with Officer Jenny, who has just arrested one of the biggest names in the Celadon City Underground. Officer, does this mean you've located the meeting place for tonight?"
"No. We just got lucky."
"Or I'm stupid." I grumbled back. Jenny gripped my arm harder.
"You looked dressed up for a battle, Zaria. Care to comment on your arrest?" The reporter asked me.
I smiled. I wore the customary 'battle uniform'. "It was bound to happen eventually. I have been breaking the law for four years now. I just hope they don't hurt my Pokémon. I came by all of them legally."
"We'll just have to see about that," Jenny told me as she hauled me into the back of the van.
At the police station, after I'd been booked, a sat in a cell with twenty other women, but none of them bugged me. They gave me a wide birth. By myself I had one side of the cell. It wasn't because I was notoriously violent or tough, it was because the underground protects its own, especially it's battling champion.
I stood and went to the door. "Yes?"
"Your bail has been posted."
"Of course her bail was posted. The underground wouldn't leave her in here! But where did the money come from!" One woman said.
"They aren't stupid enough to show up here. I bet it was her rich mother, to save face." Another speculated.
"Actually, it was neither. He claims to be your boyfriend, Miss Benjamin." The Officer answered, not disposed to keep secrets when it came to me, or any member of the underground.
"Cooper? He wouldn't bail me out."
"Then it must be a secret admirer."
"Well, do I get to leave then?"
"We want to question you first."
After three hours of questions, which I refused to answer, my Pokémon were deemed legally obtained, my brain, picked.
Waiting for me out in the entrance was Ash. He was sitting, defeated, in a chair. He looked up at me. "They took him, Zaria... You took Pikachu."
I shook my head. "I don't know what you're talking about, Ash. I haven't seen any Pika..." I trailed off, Cooper had said we had new fodder for the arena...
"Miss Benjamin, if you are caught associating with the underground again, you will be tried."
"Okay, I understand. Let's go Ash." I pulled the sagging lump of man with me out into the streets. We were on the nice side of town, the side I used to live on. "I know where Pikachu is, Ash. But I need your help."
"Great. Let's get started, then."
I took him to the Pokémon Center. I was avoided like the plague as I went to the Pokémon Transporter and called up Bill. He glared at me on the screen. "What do you want, criminal? Need more fodder for your battles?"
"Please Bill, send me Fear, Chuck, and Cole. You may not like me, but they're still my Pokémon."
"You better treat them right, you hear?"
Three Pokéballs materialized to match my other three. "Here Ash. Take these. Don't use your real Pokémon, it's too dangerous. Mine are used to fighting in the underground."
"What are you talking about?"
"If you want Pikachu back, you have to come to the underground. We have to play along, okay?"
"Zaria! My love! I thought they caught you!" Cooper welcomed me at the outskirts of the pit with open arms.
"I was. I talked Bob here into posting my bail in return for showing him the pit."
"Well, boy, thanks for getting my babe out of jail. You want in on the first round of action?"
I nodded slightly to Ash. "Sure."
"Buck up, dude. You're in the company of the Underground's finest."
"Coop, why don't you go get Bob set up, and I'll go make sure everything's in order for the new fodder, okay?"
"Sounds good. Sarah's back with 'em. We got a Pikachu, Umbreon, and a couple of Oddish. Should be good."
I watched Cooper take Ash, and I went to find Sarah.
"Zaria! You made it out!" She grinned. Pikachu sat defeated in a container, as did the Umbreon and Oddishes.
Pikachu hopped up and looked at me hopefully, and the Umbreon whined. "Where'd you get these Pokémon, Sarah?"
"Sean got them off a pair of trainers from Pallet Town. Oak's grandson."
"Yeah. How'd you guess."
I knelt down to look at Umbreon, "It's beautiful. Mind if I get a closer look?"
I leaned in to Umbreon, who growled at me. I whispered instructions. "Listen, you want out, play dead when they put you in the ring. Bite me if you understand."
Umbreon's teeth sunk into my fingers. "Ouch! Damn Pokémon. Sarah, I want to break this one myself."
"And give that Pikachu to Bob, here. He breaks it, he can have it," Cooper came up behind me and grabbed my waist. He kissed my cheek.
Umbreon went down easily, just as planned. One attack and it went down.
"Useless. Put it out with the trash," Cooper spat.
I excused myself during the Oddish pit fights to tell my team the plan.
When I came back, Ash had been cornered, with Pikachu fighting off multiple Pokémon.
"Finally, Zaria! Teach this prick a lesson. He thought he'd use you to get his Pikachu back. We'll let you have it if you can beat Zaria."
"Clear the arena, Cooper."
"Three on three battle. Last Pokémon standing."
I let out Link, Sparky, and Sid. Ash let Pikachu join the fray, along with Cole and Chuck.
Cole took out Sid and Link, but only after Sid & Link had gotten Chuck. Sparky knocked out Cole, and only Pikachu remained. After a long standoff, Sparky fell. Shocked into silence, the crowd parted for Ash. They booed him when their voices came back. Cooper consoled me for being beaten. "It was bound to happen sometime. You're still our champion!"
I listened, happy that Ash was free, scheming to free Umbreon.
I found it tied up out back and freed it. I followed it to the Pokémon Center, where Ash stood outside, Pikachu on his shoulder. He grinned at me and caught me up in a hug. "Thank you."
Gary came out the doors and caught Umbreon up in a tight squeeze. Ash went inside, leaving the two of us alone.
"Haven't seen you for five years."
"You haven't been an honest Trainer in five years."
We stood awkwardly facing one another, just as silently as we had the last day of our journey in Sinnoh.
"I brought Umbreon back..."
"Then why are you part of the underground?"
"I... it's not that simple. I was stupid."
"That sounds pretty simple to me Zaria." He looked down at Umbreon. "Come with us back to Pallet Town."
"You can. Just turn your back and forget about it." He touched my cheek and looked me in the eye.
"It's not that simple."
"Where's the trainer that told me collecting honey from Beedrill is simple? The trainer who rescued Umbreon, fought with that Jumpluff, got pushed off a cliff?"
"She turned her back on the world for a stupid whim."
"Well, reverse it."
"Yeah, come with us Zaria," Ash was back outside. Gary took a step back, which alerted me to how close we'd gotten.
"What about the underground?"
"If they lose their champion, maybe they'll cooperate."
I sighed. I'd wanted a way out for so long. "I'll think about it."
Later that night, I stood looking out the window. Gary came up next to me. "Something bothering you?"
I took Gary's hand, and traced the lines in his palm shyly. "I don't know why I ever picked the Isshu Region over you."
"I don't know why you did, either."
I smacked him playfully and smiled.
"You posted my bail, didn't you?"
"I couldn't leave you in jail."
"But, how did you know I was in jail?"
"Your face was all over the TV, Zaria. I didn't realize you were so involved in the underground." I looked away from him. Gary slid his arm around me and pulled me close. "What's wrong?"
"I'm not the same person I was five years ago."
"Neither am I. What's your point?"
I looked at him, his brown hair, still spiked the same way it always had been, his chin, now covered with stubble, his eyes, tired but knowing. This man was different from the boy I'd travelled with five years ago, and much, much different from the boy I'd met at thirteen. And yet, we were still here together. Our paths crossed many times, and he always seemed to show up when I was in the most trouble.
"My point is I'm not someone who should get a second chance."
"I selfishly put not only me, but my pokémon, and an inexperienced trainer into a compromising situation. I've done nothing I'm proud of in the past five years. I've caught wild Pokémon for battling fodder in the pit, I've gambled away money and hustled people out of it. I'm one of the most feared people in Celadon City! And all I had to do was get a reputation! You said it yourself: I was all over TV." I broke away from Gary and wrapped my arms around myself. I couldn't leave Sarah.
"Ah, but listen to yourself. You caught Pokémon. You lost money, just as you gained it. Your reputation is feared. Zaria, I don't understand how you can't see it. You haven't done anything wrong except fight in the pit, and everyone makes that mistake at some point."
"But I love the feeling of being a part of it! The rush of the fight that you don't get in a normal battle. The danger. The risk!"
"And yet, you're not happy."
I turned around and wrapped my arms around his neck. My cheek rubbed up against his rough one and I inhaled the tell-tale smell of most travelling trainers: pine, dirt, sweat, and rain. Without meaning to, I hummed contentedly. I'd so missed that smell; Celadon smelled of smoke, gas, and grime. "Why the hell do you care so much?"
He wrapped his arms around my middle and squeezed. "And here I thought you were smart, Zaria."
"The same reason I saved you when I found you on the side of the road. Why I traveled with you when you asked in the Sinnoh Region. Why I asked you to come home with me when you finished Sinnoh. Why I came to Celadon City with Ash in the first place."
"Never mind," He sighed, let go of me, and left the room.
"You can't see it, can you?" Nurse Joy had come around the corner and was shaking her head.
"That boy is in love with you. Heaven knows how, considering who you are, but he is. And I believe you may have just broken his heart."
"Gary? In love? You can't be serious?" I bit my lip and looked over my shoulder at where he'd been swallowed up by the dark doorway.
Nurse Joy shook her head more vigorously and turned behind her, "What do you think? You came with that boy."
Ash stepped from behind the counter, where he'd been attending to Pikachu.
"What is this? Spy on Zaria time?" I growled.
Ash looked at me with a bit of a scowl. "You're thicker than I am. Gary asked me to come with him and help to find you."
I turned bright red, my cheeks heated up, my ears, my nose. I liked Gary, but I'd never dreamed he liked me back. Why would he? Just as Nurse Joy had implied, I was a criminal. "Really?" The hope in my voice was hard to hide. Ash nodded. I turned on a dime and ran off after Gary, through the hallways of the PokéCenter. I couldn't find him, he wasn't in his room, or in the cafeteria, or anywhere.
Disheartenned, I sat down outside on the steps of the building, watching the sun rise. I could feel tears forming. I'm screwed up so many times. And there was no way to fix it. Gary had gone.
The sliding glass doors openned, and little black feet appeared in my peripheral vision. "Zaria?" My breath caught in my throat as I looked up into Gary's confused face. Mine lit up. "What are you doing out here in the cold?"
I stood and threw myself on him, squeezing him tight. "I thought you'd left already."
He patted my back uncertainly, but didn't speak.
"I'm so dense! Why couldn't I see it before? You've been there for me every time I've needed it from the day we met." I buried my face in his shoulder.
He wrapped his arms around me and squeezed. His chin rested on my forehead, and we stood there, frozen, until Umbreon barked impatiently.
"Let me go with you to Pallet Town."
"Of course. Shall we go get your things?"
I nodded and pulled away, keeping a grip on his hand. I looked over at him. "My apartment is this way."