FOREVERMORE

~Part Three Of The Forever Trilogy~

Chapter 28

To Unify

January 11, 5001.

(Cerise's POV)

It took Rubin and I two days to reach Striaton City. It was way bigger than I thought it would be. It was so awesome seeing so many unusual Pokemon! My first battle was finally drawing close; I was excited and nervous at the same time. I wanted to prove myself, to show I was made of tougher stuff, you know?

Rubes was acting weird. He didn't talk as much, and he seemed absolutely miserable. I hated seeing him like this; it made my heart ache. Was he finally realizing his mistake? Was he finally regretting? He wasn't being as hard and callous as he was before; he was almost himself again, except for what I just mentioned. He really loved Topaz, didn't he?

I needed to move on, then.

After checking into the Pokemon Center, I decided I needed a new Pokemon. So I told Rubin I was going to the Dreamyard, and left him alone to his own devices. I heard there were lots of wild Pokemon in the Dreamyard, and since I wanted to catch another Pokemon before I took on the Striaton Gym, I went to go investigate the place, with Persia.

It was a really strange place, and it had a strange vibe I could feel thanks to my Viridian powers. It was odd, and made me nervous about going inside. So here I was, standing outside of the creepy place, trying to come up with the courage to go inside.

I stuffed my hands into my winter coat's pockets, walking closer to the entrance to the Dreamyard, which was basically a hole in the concrete wall. A small tree had been chopped down from in front of it. I hesitated, looking down at my Persian.

Suddenly, a heard a guitar twang, a hard G7 minor chord by the sound of it. I jumped, startled, and whirled around. There was Shirou, the Champion of Unova; he was sitting in a tree, his brilliant crimson electric guitar propped up on his knee, his awesome Jolteon by his side.

"Nervous?" he asked, calling out to me, looking down.

"Jolt!" his Jolteon barked. Hey!

I stared at him for a moment, totally surprised to find him in a tree, here in the Dreamyard. He was the Champion, right? Shouldn't he be doing his duties as the Champion, like battling challengers, helping run the region, and other things. What was he doing here?

"Um... I just don't like the feel of this place," I said Mareepishly, twirling one of the curls that hung lose from my ponytail, like I always do when I'm nervous or embarrassed.

"Perrrrsss," Perisa mewed. Yeah, I don't like it, either.

"It's just creepy," I added, glancing behind me.

I looked back up at him, adjusting the strap of my messenger bag over my shoulder. "What are you doing up there, anyways?"

He grinned, and positioned himself upright in the tree, slinging his guitar onto his back. He looked back down at me, leaning forward. "Just the usual, escaping Alan. It's easier now that he'd busier than me."

He slid off the bough and landed down on the ground, his Jolteon following in pursuit. He walked up to me, his hands shoved into his pockets.

He looked around. "Creepy, huh? Well, I guess I like stuff like that, this place is one of my favorite rest spots," he said. "There are also some pretty neat Pokemon here, if you have the wits to venture in all of the way." He looked over at the entrance to the abandoned lab.

He turned back to me. "Cerise, am I right? What brings you out this is oh so said 'creepy' part of town?"

I suddenly felt stupid. Maybe I should have used different wording. Oh well, I had already said it.

I nodded, pulling my hands out of my pockets. "Yep, that's me! Well, let me rephrase that. I just don't like the feel of this place. It's... hard to explain."

I would have to explain my Viridian powers, and I didn't feel like doing that right now.

"Anyways, I want to catch a new Pokemon," I said. "But I don't know much about Unova's Pokemon... I'm a Kanto girl, okay?"

Like I could remember living in Kanto, anyways. I grew up in Hoenn, but that was beside the point.

I bit my bottom lip, and debated a idea that popped into my head. I looked back up at him, suddenly feeling shy. "Um... Would you mind helping me? I mean, you don't have to... but I'm still kind of new to this and all. B-But I don't want to bother you or anything!"

He chuckled. "Don't worry, you've come to the right guy for the job!" He slid up next to me, patting a hand on my shoulder and leading me forward. "Even if you're a newbie, it's going to really get to you, you'll get the hang of it in a flash."

"Okay," I said, eying the grass.

At least Persia didn't look nervous or anything. But Shirou's confidence was starting to reassure me, allowing me to begin to relax. This was no big deal! I could do this! I was Red and Yellow's daughter, after all.

He stopped in front of the tall grass near the entrance. "Don't worry about the vibe. This place is as safe as it could ever be. I've been here a million times; it's actually pretty relaxing. But tell me if you feel uncomfortable, alright?" he said with a reassuring grin, facing me and backing up a bit closer to the tall grass.

I couldn't help but smile a little, feeling better already. There was just something about him that was so... comforting. I walked closer to him and the grass, and Persia followed. I shifted my bag on my shoulder again.

"Also, Cerise, do you have a nickname? Full names sound too formal," he asked me as he continued. "You can call me Shiu, if you want; that's what Alan always calls me."

"Well, sometimes I'm called Cer," I answered. "Other than that, I don't really have a nickname."

"All right, Cer," he said, testing it out.

"So... You just have to walk in the grass, right?" I asked.

"That's right. Don't worry, we're in a safe area, so there's nothing here that'll hurt you that much. Just walk on up and find a Pokemon you're fond of," I said, and leading me through the grass. "Some of the grass is shaking, and if you're an avid collector, you can find some pretty rare Pokemon there, though it's good to start out small. This is usually the place where beginning trainers catch their second or third Pokemon."

"Alan and I found a Munna here when we first started out. They're rare, so it was lucky find. I think you would like them. Alan was excited and got it first, while I got a Blitzle later on. But I think you'll find something interesting here, one to your liking, there always is one."

"So just keep your eyes open; they can appear from anywhere, so be prepared to defend yourself. You'll need it especially for the later areas where the stronger Pokemon are."

I pursed my lips, scanning the grass with my eyes. None of the Pokemon he mentioned were familiar to me. Ugh, it made me feel so stupid. I just wanted to leave a good first impression, you know?

"Munna?" I asked, interested. I knew Blitzle; it evolved into Zebstrika, and I didn't want to catch one because... Flax had one. I quickly pushed that thought out of my mind. "What type is that?"

Ugh, I sounded so stupid!

He chuckled again, amused. "Munna's a Psychic type, and they're only found around here, if you're lucky. They're called the Dream Eater Pokemon, but they're nice. They're actually part of the reason this place is called 'The Dreamyard', because they roam around here. But like I said, they're rare, so you'll be lucky to see one."

"I wouldn't be surprised if you didn't know, considering that you are a Kanto girl, and these kinds of Pokemon aren't very common around there," he added, noting my nervousness. "They used to not wander around there at all when the regions were separate. Unova was the only region to include Pokemon from all five regions. We're lucky that way."

He then led me into the tall grass. I followed slowly, still a little nervous. I looked back at the grass, and then at Persia, who as dutifully by my side. He walked close to us, which was reassuring, and I calmed down even more.

"There's not much of a wide variety of more common Pokemon around here, but I don't think that will be a problem around here," he told me right as a rustle sounded. "So, Cer, here one comes. If you keep your cool, then you've got a pretty good chance." He gave me a pat on the back and then stepped back a bit to give us a little more space.

"Perrrrsss," she purred, looking up at me, a determined look on her face. I'm ready.

I nodded, and we left Shirou, heading towards the rustling grass.

Persia tensed right as the grass rustled again, and I flinched a little. Shirou was right; I needed to stay cool. I took a deep breath to calm myself. I could do this. I caught Britannia, after all. Though that was a accident...

I walked closer to the grass, and a dark purple feline leaped out, and Persia went to face it. I looked back at Shirou since I had no idea what that was.

"What kind of Pokemon is that, Shiu?" I asked him.

"Purrloin," he replied with a playful smirk. "They're common around this area. They're dark types, and known to be devious. So be careful or they'll steal your stuff, and they like to act cute."

"So, your first step is to weaken it, if you want a better chance of catching it," he told me, looking down at Persia, and then back up to me.

"Like I said, they're pretty tricky, so be sure to keep an eye on them," he advised pointing up ahead at the eying Purrloin. "Now try it out; you've got this."

The Purrloin ignored Persia's battle stance to sit down, and lick its paw rather cutely. But I forced myself to remember what Shirou said. I had to focus.

"Okay, we've got this," I said, to myself, my Persian, and Shiu. "Persia, try out Power Gem!"

The gem on her forehead began to glow, and tiny energy balls the shape of the gem hurled themselves at the Purrloin. The dark feline, however, leaped out of the way of the attack, and then unleashed a onslaught of Fury Swipes.

"Yikes! Counter with your own Fury Swipes!" I ordered, finally slipping into my battle mode, which I got from my dad.

Perisa's Fury Swipes hurt the Purrloin more so than it hurt her since she was the same type as the move. Seeing as the Pokemon was weakened, I decided to try out a Poke Ball. The device bounced off the middle of the Purrloin's head, and dragged it inside. It rocked back and forth until it beeped. I squealed happily, and rushed over to pick it up.

"We did it, Persia!" I exclaimed, beaming, jumping up and down. "We caught a Pokemon!"

"Perrrrsss," she mewed happily, beaming up at me.

I was so happy; I finally did something right in my life. My whole time with the Resistance, I hadn't felt worthy or up to par with them. And even in Littleroot Town, I felt like a loser at times. I had low self esteem. Maybe that's why Flax used me like that... Because I wanted to feel wanted. I wanted to feel loved.

For the first time in my life, I actually felt good about myself.

And without Shirou, I wouldn't have this feeling.

"Thank you so much, Shiu!" I exclaimed, and then proceeded to run up to him, and throw my arms around him, glomping him in a hug.

He laughed, and preceded to pick me up off me feet and spin around as I held onto him, making me giggle, and then set me back down with a still-present chuckle. I let him go, stumbling back slightly, giggling once more. I was so happy, probably the happiest I had been in a long, long time.

"See? You've got the hang of it already! That's your first piece of Unova right there, Cer," he told me, keeping one arm around my shoulders.

I liked this feeling.

"It's going to get more exciting as you get on. Take it from me," he said , leading me out of the tall grass with Persia and his Jolteon right behind us.

He let go of me, and faced me, shoving his hands into his pockets. "Don't forget to name it. Like I said, full names sound too formal; nicknames make you feel closer to someone."

I was so happy, I couldn't stop grinning. I finally did something right, all by myself! I know I've been repeating the same thing over and cover again, but it just meant so much to me. Shiu was right; I was getting the hang of things! It would take a while for me to catch up with everyone, but I could do this.

"Oooh, naming's so fun!" I exclaimed, releasing my new Purrloin, and Shirou laughed with me. I crouched down to get closer to it. I placed my hand on its head, and proceeded to heal it from its injuries. "There! All better!" I scratched him on the head; the healing allowed me to figure out its gender.

"I'm going to name you... Prussia!" I stood back up, and returned him to his Poke Ball.

"Whoa!" he suddenly exclaimed, and my head jerked over to look at him. His pale blue eyes were wide, staring at my hands. "What was that?"

I felt my cheeks heat up with embarrassment. Shoot, I forgot he didn't know. What if he thought I was a freak? What if he thought I was weird? I didn't know why, but I just felt the need of his approval. Of everyone's approval, acceptance.

Then he chuckled a bit, catching me by surprise. "It was cool! Do you have some kind of special power or something?" he asked enthusiastically.

I stared at him for a moment, silent. Then I cracked a smile, relieved that he thought it was neat.

"I can heal Pokemon! I can talk to them, too. I have what they call Viridian powers." I walked back over to him. "You know Viridian Forest in Kanto? Well, there's a legend that the forest chooses a baby born every decade or so in Viridian to be gifted with special powers. That's what I have. My sister has them, too. It runs in the family."

"That's awesome! You're even better with Pokemon than I thought, especially if you can talk to them. It's a shame we can't find people like you anymore; Kanto's not exactly best buds with us. They have such a cool place and they just waste it," he said with a disappointed expression, and then looked down at me with a smile. "But it's cool that you're pretty much one of the last of your kind!"

I beamed up at him, blushing at him. I didn't realize my hand had drifted up to my hair, and was twirling one of my curls again. I flushed some more, embarrassed, and forced my arm back down. Ugh, I hated when that happened!

"Thank you! Yeah, everything's pretty messed up," I said, frowning slightly. "I don't know as much as the others do, but from what I do know, everyone just pretty much hates Pokemon out there. They have no idea what they're missing..."

He nodded. "Yeah, it really sucks. I wonder what goes on in their heads." He paused, and grinned. "C'mon, let me walk you back to Striaton."

"All right!" I exclaimed. "Hang on, let me return Persia. People tend to stare at a Pokemon not from this region."

I returned my Persian to her Poke Ball, and put it away in my bag. Then Shirou walked me back to Striaton. The city was bustling as always. It was kind of overwhelming. I hoped not every city here was like that. I had always preferred rural areas.

"You know, hanging out with you reminds me of my days back as a newbie trainer. It's been a while since I've had such an excitable partner, so it's refreshing," he told me as we walked side-by-side through the city.

I blushed again; I'd been doing that lately, and I never was that much of a blusher. "Aw, thanks! Everyone's just really serious right now. We've been through a lot."

I sighed, and twirled one of my curls around my finger. "You know, Shiu, nobody really takes me seriously. They just think I'm a silly girl. I've only just joined the Resistance. I didn't even know I had family, or that I was from the past or anything! I still think it's all so crazy, and it's so hard to try to fit in with everyone else when they're all ready so... together. I feel left out a lot. And everything's just getting so intense and complicated, and I'm just so confused half the time! I feel like such a burden, so useless."

I suddenly realized I had just dumped everything that had been bothering me on him. "S-Sorry! I didn't mean to dump all that on to you! You're just... easy to talk to."

"Hey, don't worry about it!" he told me, ruffling my hair, giving me a reassuring grin. "You're not a burden, you're a great source of support. There aren't a lot of ecstatic girls like you, plus, I'm pretty sure half of the rest of the Resistance is as confused as you are."

I smiled, but fixed my hair by running my hand through it. I would normally nag someone for messing up my hair, but for some reason I didn't feel like it this time. Around Shiu, I just felt so... relaxed.

He returned my smile. "Your way of thinking is like Alan's," he said. "I know I'm bringing him up a lot, but the guy's basically been with me my entire life. He's really a downer, he never says anything uplifting anymore, it's all business, business, business. I guess I'm just the type to reach out to people like that."

He then shot me a playful smirk. "Or maybe I just think you're interesting. I like people like you."

I laughed. "I guess I'm more fun compared to most." I paused, and then added, "We should totally hang out more!"

My smile turned upside down when he mentioned Alan. I had noticed. He was so serious! "That must drive you crazy," I said. "He's really so obsessed with business?"

He laughed a little at my comment, though. "Well, it does on the inside. You've got about sixteen years of the guy being on the other end of the straight man—jumpy guy duo, and now he's suddenly the one making sure you're working." He let out a nervous laugh.

He scratched the back of his head slightly, and then continued. "Well, it's not much into business as it is just keeping everything in order. I'm supposed to be the one working, which I do, sometimes, but he's so fixated on making sure nothing messes up. So yeah, I guess you could say he's obsessive on it, but he has his reasons," he finished with a shrug and a half-smile.

I frowned slightly. Something must have happened to switch their roles. And a character changing event like that had to be majorly big. What happened?

He chuckled, then grinned, finally responding to my first comment. "Anyway, sounds like a plan to me!" He reached around into his backpack, and pulled out something. "Hold out your hand."

I blinked. "Um, okay." I held out my hand, wondering what he was up to.

He took my hand, and wrote down the digits of a phone number on it. He then clicked the pen back closed and put it back in his pack.

He turned back to me and pointed to my hand. "That's my Pokegear number; you can just call me up whenever you want!" he said before checking his watch.

"Well, I've got to get going soon. Hope to see you again soon, Cer! You were fun to talk to," he commented finally, and then gave me a last wave goodbye before heading off down the streets of Striaton.

I waved back, a smile on my face. I looked down at my hand. I would definitely be calling that number.

...

January 12, 5001.

(Rubin's POV)

"Are you sure you're ready for this?"

I looked down at my childhood best friend—that I could remember, anyways—skeptically. She was eager and excited, all hyped up on coffee that I advised her not to drink. She was bouncing up and down on her heels, her hands clenched into fists, her scarlet eyes wide with furor.

"Yes!" she exclaimed. "We can totally do this, Rubes!"

I sighed. "All right, then. Let me get my things, first."

Once I was prepared to go outside, she grabbed me by the hand, and proceeded to drag me outside. I wasn't surprised at all; she was always like this. She didn't stop running until we were in front of the Gym. She finally released her grip on me. I rubbed my hand, flexing it; she had been squeezing it so hard it had started losing feeling. She bounded up to the door, but it opened first, and I grabbed her by the arm and yanked her back so she wouldn't collide with the person coming out.

It was a boy, around our age, if not younger. He had spiky, bright crimson hair, and matching eyes. He was wearing a waiter's uniform. He was rather short, standing at about Cerise's height.

"Whoa!" he exclaimed. "Sorry, dudes! I didn't mean to almost bump into you!"

"It's all right," I said, releasing Cerise. "We're here to see the Gym leader."

"We want to battle him!" Cerise exclaimed excitedly.

The boy grinned. "You've got perfect timing! The name's Pepper, and I'm one of the Gym leaders here! C'mon in!"

Wait, did he say Gym leaders?

"We do things differently here," Pepper explained as he led us inside. "There are three Gym leaders in total—Vervain, Basil, and me, Pepper. We each specialize in one of the three elements of the starter Pokemon—Water, Grass, and Fire. We do triple battles. All three of us battle three challengers at a time, though we mainly focus on the trainer whose starter is weak to ours. Also, you can only use your starter Pokemon. We do this to teach teamwork, which is what the newbie trainers that come to battle us usually need to learn."

That surprised me; I never thought of that before. It made perfect sense. Of course the Gyms would be different than they were in the past. The world was much different now. So much was at stake; the trainers had to be at their best.

We had to work together, no matter what our problems were.

...I had some changing to do.

"Hey, bros, we got two new challengers!" Pepper called.

"Ah, excellent," said a blue-haired boy. Well, he had to be in his twenties, so man. He seemed more refined than his fellow leader, with his hair arranged in a neat fashion. He was also wearing a waiter's uniform. "I am Vervain."

"Uh, welcome," said a green-haired boy who had to be about nineteen or so. He seemed slightly nervous; shy, perhaps? He also had a waiter's uniform on; that had to be their thing or something, which I found to be odd. "I'm, uh, Basil."

And they weren't alone, either.

"Ohmigosh!" Cerise squealed, making me wince. "Topaz! Crimmy! Indi! Goldy! Sapph! Navy! You're all here!"

Dear Arceus, no. I thought I escaped them.

"Hey Cer," Crimson greeted her before glaring at me. "Rubin."

At one time, I probably would have flinched. But I just nodded, acknowledging them, but otherwise staying silent. I didn't want to start anything, but he was practically begging me for a reason to kick my ass. I wasn't about to give him one.

"So, what are your starters?" Pepper asked as he lead us to where everyone was gathered.

"Swampert," I replied.

"Um, I don't have one," Cerise said Mareepishly.

"Oh, darn," Pepper said. "Well, there's still only one Grass type. Only three of you can battle us right now."

"I have decided the group, then," said Vervain. "Crimson, Topaz, and... Rubin."

Of course he'd choose me since Crimson was giving me death glares. This was all about team work. Of course, pick the three trainers who most likely seem to not get along.

"What?" Crimson demanded. "I can't work with him!"

And Crimson just confirmed that.

Vervain smiled wryly. "Exactly. You are the Resistance, yes? And you are commanders, also? How do you propose to defeat the Empire when you can't even work together amongst your own?"

We all knew that, but we needed someone to tell that to our faces.

"Alan called all the Gym leaders and told us about you," Pepper said.

"We are here to help you prepare for war the best we can," said Vervain. "Each Gym has a lesson awaiting for you."

"Thank you," Topaz said, and then, with a glare, to her brother, "We can work together, and we will. Don't make me turn it into a official order."

"Understood," I said.

"...Fine," Crimson said, relenting. "But I don't like it."

First, we removed our winter clothing, and handed our things to our friends to take. I took Sir's Poke Ball out of my bag before handing my stuff to Sapph and walking with Topaz and Crimson to the Gym's arena, while everyone else went to the stands that surrounded it.

This would be our first real battle in a long time.

I was so weak compared to everyone else—especially Topaz and her brother. My dislike for battling put me at a disadvantage; I couldn't be like that anymore. I had to be strong if I was to survive this war. I was a commander; I couldn't be weak. I hoped I could do this. I had to prove myself worthy of my title.

I made the decision, right then and there, while I stood next to Topaz, with Crimson on her other side, that I would get stronger.

"The main opponents are as follows: Pepper versus Topaz, Basil versus Rubin, and myself versus Crimson," said Vervain. "Remember—work as a team."

"Okay, let's go!" Pepper exclaimed, grinning, thrusting his fist into the air. "Simisear!"

"Simipour," said Vervain.

"Simisage," said Basil.

I had never seen the three Pokemon they released from their Poke Balls. They seemed to be some sort of elemental monkeys. Well, if we worked together, we could do it. I knew we could. We just had to set aside our problems.

"Let's do this, Fiero!" Crimson exclaimed, throwing his Poke Ball.

"Left stage, Sir!" I shouted, volleying my own Poke Ball.

"Go, Demeter!" Topaz proclaimed, hurling her Poke Ball towards the center of the arena.

The three Pokemon were released from the devices at the same time. Demeter was in the center, and let out a battle cry. Fiero was on the Venusaur's right, and roared fiercely, baring his fangs. Sir appeared on the Venusaur's left, and stayed silent; he was never the vocal type.

The battle was on.

"Waaait! Hold up! STOP!"

We all froze in place, and turned around to see Cerise waving at us frantically, her Pokegear in her hand.

"What now?" Topaz sighed.

"I want Shiu and Alan to see us battle!" she exclaimed, dialing a number. "They have to see how tough we are!"

Shiu? Oh, she meant Shirou. Wait, how'd she get his number? Well, she had been on her own for the most part yesterday, so I guess she must have bumped into him.

Crimson sighed, and ran a hand through his hair. His Charizard let out a annoyed growl, and sat himself on the ground, folding his wings. Sir sat down as well, and Demeter relaxed. Topaz flicked her bangs out of her eyes like she always did when she was annoyed.

"Hey, Shiu! It's Cerise! I know we just hung out yesterday, but I really, really, really would like it you and Alan came down to watch us battle in the Striaton Gym! Please? It'll be fun!"

There was silence as she listened to his response on the other end. Finally, she squealed, and jumped up in the air with glee.

"Yay! Thank you so much, Shiu!" She paused for a moment. "Okay! See you soon!" She hung up, and but the Pokegear away. "Okay, they're coming! And you can start now! Sorry to make you wait like that."

"It's all right, Cer," her brother replied. "But let's get this moving!"

"That's the spirit!" Pepper exclaimed. "Okay, Simisear, use Fire Blast on the Venusaur!"

"Simipour, show the Charizard Brine," said Vervain.

"And Simisage, let's go with Seed Bomb on the Swampert," said Basil.

The three Pokemon were faster than we anticipated. The Simisear leaped into the air, did a somersault, and hit Demeter with a blast of flames. The Venusaur cried out in pain, and slid back a few inches, her face contorted in pain. However, Fiero had speed on his side as well, and took to the air before the Simipour's Brine could reach him.

"Ice Beam, Sir!" I commanded, hoping to counter the seeds that were were thrown at the Swampert.

It worked, thank Arceus. But then the Simisear used Flame Burst, stopping the freezing beam of energy from hitting the Simisage. I silently cursed to myself; I had been doing that a lot as of late.

"Remember, you are a team," Vervain said. "Unify yourselves."

I looked over at my partners. Crimson's lips were pressed in a hard line, but he nodded, a determined look on his face. Topaz looked over at me, and I nodded as well, and for the first time in a very long time, she smiled at me. A beautiful smile that took my breath away.

I was such a fool, wasn't I?

We all turned to face our Pokemon. Fiero was up in the air, hovering, flapping his wings steadily. Demeter seemed to have sustained a burn, and her mouth was pressed into a firm line as she took the pain. Sir was crouching, silent, waiting for more commands.

The brothers' plan was now unfolding upon us.

"Crunch!" they all shouted at once.

"Aerial Ace, Fiero!" commanded Crimson.

"Demeter, Double Edge, now!" Topaz exclaimed.

"Hammer Arm, Sir!" I ordered.

The three Pokemon moved at once, and collided with the Gym leaders' Pokemon at the same time. Fiero slammed into the Simipour, sending it flying. Demeter turned her body at the last minute, slamming into the Simisear with her side. Sir lifted his arm and slammed it down on the Simisage's back, knocking it into the ground.

And the next thing that happened was... messed up.

Pepper ordered his Simisear to use Fire Blast on Demeter again. But the tired Pokemon was slow, and the Venusaur managed to step out of the way in time. And Topaz was behind her. She leaped out of the way, but was too slow, and a bit of flame licked the lower part of her shirt. And it caught on fire.

"Aaah! Sir, douse it!" I yelled frantically; it would be really bad if she got burned.

And if her shirt burned all the way off... That would be really bad.

Very very bad.

Crap.

What was I thinking about?

"Topaz! Are you okay?" Crimson demanded, rushing up to his sister after yelling for everything to stop.

"I'm fine!" she said; I couldn't see her from behind Demeter. "Really, I'm-"

"Holy Mew!" I heard him exclaim.

Okay, I had to find out what happened now. I headed over, walking around Demeter, to where they were standing. Topaz's back was to me, and Crimson was in front of her.

"Guys, what's-" I began, and then saw the problem. "-going...on..."

The lower half of her shirt had been burned off, revealing her stomach and hips. Her smooth skin was slightly red, obviously agitated from the burning cloth, but it didn't appear to be too serious. Last year it wouldn't have bothered me to see her like this. But it was affecting me now.

I couldn't take my eyes off the smooth, gentle slope of her hips that were most definitely not that pronounced a few months ago. I was overcome by a emotion I never felt before, and could not recognize. What was this feeling?

I just wanted to touch her, to kiss her, to hold her, to...

What was wrong with me? What was I thinking? I didn't think like this. Gold thought like this, not me. I was a good guy. A nice guy.

...Not so much the nice lately, but you get the point.

Ugh, what was this? It needed to stop right now. But I knew it would never get out of my head now. Crap, I was screwed.

"Don't just stand there gawking! Move, we have this in the bag!"

Topaz's exclamation snapped me out of my daze. Her face was slightly pink, and when I looked up at her brother behind her, he shot me one of the worst glares I had ever seen before in my life, and this time, I did flinch. I was so overwhelmed with the sudden change in my feelings that I resorted back to my weak ways.

"Right," I said, trying to recover. "Sir, Muddy Water, let's go!"

"Solar Beam, Demeter!"

"Fiero, Heat Wave, now!"

Sir slammed his fists into the dirt, and water exploded up, rushing at the Simisear with a roar. The beam of light erupted from the flower on Demeter's back faster than I expected, fluxing towards the Simipour. A massive wave of flames shot out of Fiero's mouth, surging towards the Simisage. The attacks hit at once, causing a explosion. Smoke flew everywhere, and I had to cover my mouth with my sleeve to breathe. We coughed for clean air, blinded.

I was relieved when the air cleared. I coughed a couple more times, and then rubbed my eyes. I adjusted my hat, and then looked forward to see the aftermath of the intense attack we performed. I wasn't surprised at all to see all three of the Gym leaders' Pokemon out cold, but the leaders were. They must have never been beaten so easily, I guess.

"Whoa," Pepper breathed. "Wow! That was awesome!"

"That was... very good," said Vervain, astounded. "We have never had such a powerful battle before. You are very skilled."

"We have to be," Topaz said, and I agreed.

We returned our Pokemon, and met in the center of the arena. And then they noticed the destruction of Topaz's shirt.

"Oh, Reshiram!" Pepper shouted. "I am so sorry! Simisear did that, didn't he? Oh, man, I am so so so sorry! This is all my fault! I will pay you back, I swear! I can't believe this happened again!"

...Again?

"It's okay, really," Topaz said, sweatdropping. "It's not like my whole shirt was burned off. It's no big deal, Pepper."

Ahahaha...

"No big deal?" Crimson exclaimed, finally able to let out his fury. "You're burned and half naked!"

"No, I'm not," she said. "Stop over exaggerating, Crim. I'll be fine; I can heal myself."

"Okay, whatever, but do you really want all these guys, some total strangers, seeing you like this?" he demanded.

"Crimson, the same thing happens at the beach," she said, ever so calm. "It's not a big deal."

"Yes, it is!"

"Crim, come on, that's enough." Indigo had come over, which relieved me. Crimson was about to flip out and try to kill someone or something.

"No-" he began.

She grabbed him by the arm, and turned to drag him away. "Sorry about this; he gets upset easily. You can give his badge to Topaz."

"Indi, I'm not done yet!" he protested as she began to pull him away.

"Too bad," she said, and proceeded to remove him from the situation.

I turned my gaze from them to the rest of the group. Gold was snickering, and Sapph was snapping at him, as per usual. I was still pretty surprised they were together after she broke his nose; I had to give that boy some credit for being tolerant. Navy was totally oblivious to the situation, eating something he must have gotten from the cafe. Cerise looked embarrassed for her sister, Shirou looked unaffected, and Alan... He was wincing, looking away.

Hm...

I pushed it out of my mind; I needed to focus.

Vervain cleared his throat. "That was a very marvelous battle. I have to say I haven't had that much fun in quite a long time."

"Um, yes," Basil agreed.

"So, I am pleased to say you have learned unity," said Vervain. "And I'm pleased to present you the Trio Badge."

...

(Topaz's POV)

It was nighttime, so Sapph, Indi, and I crashed in our shared room in the Pokemon Center. Today had been very eventful, and I was exhausted physically and emotionally. So, to calm myself down and ease the pain from my burns, I took a cold shower. It helped me snap out of the daze I seemed to be in, and cleared my head.

The way Rubin looked at me today... sent shivers down my spine... in a good way, if that made any sense. But it still was slightly frightening in a way, because I wasn't used to seeing him like that. It even confused me; he was supposed to be angry at me, hate me even. And that look was most definitely not hate or anger. It was something else entirely.

What was going on?

I was sitting on my bed in the room, combing the snarls out of my hair before braiding it, when Sapph came out of the bathroom from her own shower. Indi had taken the first shower, and was already done with her hair, sitting on her bed reading something, leaning up against the pillows, wearing a tank top and pajama shorts. Sapph's hair was messy, and she had thrown on a simple t-shirt and gym shorts. I also had Raiden out, who was curled up on a extra pillow, faking sleep.

"Gah," Sapph groaned, throwing herself down on her bed face first. She rolled onto her back and glared at the ceiling. "This is going to take forever."

"No duh," I said, flipping my wet hair back, and going to comb the other side. "Of course it is."

Indigo shut her book, and set it on the nightstand between my bed and hers. "Today was... eventful."

"That's a understatement," Sapph snorted. "Dude, did you see the look on my brother's face when you lost your shirt, Topaz?"

"Yes," I said slowly. "Why?"

"He was flipping out during lunch," she continued. "So I took him aside to find out what the hell was wrong."

"And?" I prompted, setting down my comb to split my hair so I could braid it.

"He wouldn't tell me, but I can tell enough," she said. "I think he's finally realizing what a idiot he's been. About time, I say."

"That reminds me," Indigo said, shifting in her seat. "I've been meaning to ask you, Topaz... Why haven't you tried getting him back?"

I blinked, confused. "What do you mean? Like gone after him?"

"Yeah."

I sighed as I began to braid my hair. "Have you seen how he's been? I can't even talk to him without him insulting me."

"Well, he seemed pretty civil today," Indi said.

I snorted. "Only because of the battle."

"Ugh, stop being so stubborn!" Sapph snapped. "You both drive me insane! Rubin has calmed down, and I think he's in a thinking mood now, so just take a chance! Talk with him tomorrow before he and Cerise leave for Nacrene. You have to take a chance, Topaz. Everyone knows you both still like each other, so you should stop being a idiot, too."

I finished braiding my hair, and tied it, then let it fall against my back. I pursed my lips. She had a point. I probably could put more effort into at least becoming friends again. I mean, I would prefer if we got back together; I missed him so much. I pulled up my knees and wrapped my arms around my legs.

"Okay," I said softly. "I'll try."

...

January 13, 5001.

The next day, I got up super early in hopes of catching Rubin. I had thought over what to say that night, and I felt pretty confident. I was ready. I could do this. We could work this out. The only downside on getting up early was that Raiden was cranky.

I finished putting on all my winter clothes, and then left the room with Raiden; I left my bag behind; I didn't need all my Pokemon for this task. First, I checked the cafe for my sister and him. They weren't there, so I went to the front desk to ask the nurse.

They already left.

No no, I couldn't give up. So I went to see if I could catch up with them. Raiden raced after me as I hurried down the street once outside the Pokemon Center, my boots crunching in the freshly fallen snow. Once I discovered they weren't still in Striaton, I decided to check out the next route.

I would have searched farther, but the wind started whipping up, and snow started falling hard. My new Pokegear rung, and I answered it. It was my worried brother; he told me to give up and come back; a nasty snowstorm was coming, and it would be bad if we were caught in it.

So I had to head back. I had to give up.

I just hoped they were safe and out of the storm...


ANOTHER EARLY UPDATE. WITH A SUPER LONG CHAPTER.

So.

MEZZOFORTE: the super fluffy ship between Shirou and Cerise, my new OTP. I swear their cuteness will kill me someday. I LOVE THOSE TWO TO DEATH.

You got to see inside Rubin's head today. He's, uh, having issues... Ahahaha... *cough/hack*

KUMMERN IS COMING BACK TO MY HEART. BUT GOLDENSOUL IS STILL STUCK IN THERE. AND GUYS, YOU'RE NOT HELPING EITHER. STOP IT.

And stop picking on Rubin. Seriously. You rather have me keep him a spineless, weak boy who has to be saved by his girlfriend all the time when he himself is supposed to be a commander? I don't think so. You guys are going to like the mature Rubin. HIS SWEETNESS DOES COME BACK. Heck, he's more affectionate AFTER his character development.

Don't ask about Opal and Mica. It's a onesided ship on Mica's part. IT'S A LONG AND AWKWARD STORY. Opal flips tables when she finds out.

AND I CAN'T GO GOLDENSOUL BECAUSE THAT WOULD MESS UP EVERMORE AND THEN AMBER WOULD NO LONGER EXIST WHICH MEANS NORTH-SOUTH WOULD NO LONGER EXIST WHICH MEANS I'D HAVE TO REDO THE WHOLE FREAKING STORY. AND. I. HAVE. TO. HAVE. NORTH-SOUTH.

Anyways.

Now you guys understand why we can't go GoldenSoul.

But Kummern gets really really fluffy, so look forward to it. REALLY REALLY FLUFFY, MUAHAHA.

I need to stop these long author's notes.

WE'RE PAST 250 REVIEWS, YEAH. LET'S GET TO 300 NEXT.

And the caps. I need to stop the caps.

Review!