Me revisiting the Pokemon fandom, as a last hurrah to Generation IV before I open my new Black game.

Bye, IV. You were a good one.

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and that is where we differ

Lucas looks to a world of clipboards and professionals in white lab coats. Dawn looks to the sky.

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She'd looked up to him, once.

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Dawn had a voice that was clear and sweet and eyes that were a color so pretty not even a rainbow deserved it.

He'd been helping the old man with his research when he'd first seen them.

"Hello! My name is Dawn," she'd greeted cheerfully, oblivious to all things except her hyperactive lump of a best friend. She stuck out her hand. "And you must be the Professor's assistant." She paused. "Luke, was it - ?"

"It's Lucas, actually," he'd replied just as happily, taking her hand and shaking it gently. "Pleased to meet you."

He hadn't cared much, then.

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Dawn's Piplup is almost exactly like Barry: loud, always running around, and fond of annoying the hell out of her.

Lucas wonders if that's why they they make such a great team.

She defeats him almost effortlessly, gracefully, and Lucas looks at Rowan's eyes and sees a spark that hasn't been there in a long time.

This girl could go far. They both knew it.

He'd cared a little, then.

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"Come with me to Johto," she asks him once.

He stares at her, uncomprehending. She carries on, undeterred. "There are plenty of Pokemon there that can't be found in Sinnoh," she says, an earnest tone to her voice. "It'll be good for your research."

"What about Barry?"

Dawn purses her lips. "He's taking the next ship to Hoenn, for the Battle Frontier," she admits, scratching the back of her head. "He wanted to see how different our Battle Frontier and theirs are. He didn't tell me. I would have wanted to go with him." She sighs. "But his father told me he wanted to go alone."

For a second, he can see the hurt reflected in her uniquely-colored eyes, because, what the hell, she's known Barry since they were both in diapers and he knows that it hurts, and he's tempted to drop all his obligations and come with her.

"I can't," he says. He loves the world of research, and all of a sudden he isn't sure if he can leave it for this pretty girl with powerful potential in her eyes.

Dawn says nothing, and suddenly he'd cared a lot more.

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She's a free spirit. She is one who enjoys letting her hair loose and going barefoot on the beach, while he is one to stand up straight and keep adjusting his scarf.

They're traveling together for a short while, once, because she's just come back from her three-year stint in Kanto and they haven't seen each other in so long.

She chatters aimlessly about her travels, about how nice Vermilion City was and how adorable Clefairy were and why couldn't there be any native in Sinnoh, because his sister would love them.

And he just ascertains everything she says with his signature flickering smile, explaining that the conditions in Mt. Moon were perfect for Clefairy, because that's what he's supposed to be: an unchanging presence, because there has to be some familiarity, some symbolism of her hometown, in her busy, busy world of unrestrained victory.

She isn't restrained by family expectations and the strict, watchful eye of a Pokemon professor watching their every move.

Lucas can't stop caring, because he can't stop noticing that they're both sixteen now and

—they've both grown up, and that there's probably someone she's met in Kanto or Hoenn, because they're both different now.

She doesn't look up to him anymore. Instead, it's the other way around.

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Sometimes doesn't want her to be the champion of three different regions and he doesn't want him to be her mentor's assistant so that they can just be Dawn and Lucas, a pair of hands intertwining in the twilight sky.

But he's stuck being 'just Rowan's assistant' because he didn't want to stop being 'just Rowan's assistant,' and she is one of the most powerful people in the world because she was never bound by family traditions.

And that was where he cared a lot.

Written in twenty minutes, so forgive me if there are any errors.