Title: Searching for Forgiveness
Drama, Angst, Friendship, Romance
Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Blue & Red
Hero (Kitsune "Kitty" the umbreon), Partner (Sakura the venusaur), Absol (Blade), Gengar, Medicham, Ekans, etc.
When Kitty learns the truth about Team Meanies' ghostly leader, what follows are actions filled with regret, shame and guilt - and a budding friendship. DISCONTINUED.

This is an old fanfic that I never got around to finishing the fifth chapter to; I was looking through some of my PMD stories/ideas when I remembered this one and looked through it again. It has plenty of flaws and sometimes doesn't make any sense, but I still love it, as it was the first serious Hero/Gengar story I started writing. The fact that I never finished it doesn't mean I don't love it; I honestly just can't remember what was supposed to happen in the fifth chapter, and my writing style has changed since then so it would be very jarring to try writing for it now. So, just enjoy this in its unfinished glory, and maybe later I'll come up with a short synopsis of what the fifth chapter might have been like.

Note: Sakura's love interest in this story has since been discarded in my head!canon of the PMD games, in exchange for an NPC I'm sure you'll all recognize if you read my Just to Satisfy story (another Hero/Gengar fic).


Kitsune or "Kitty" (umbreon, leader, name-giver and co-founder of Team Foxfire)

Gengar (leader, name-giver and founder of Team Meanies)

Sakura (venusaur, co-founder and partner in Team Foxfire)

Medicham (partner in Team Meanies)

Ekans (partner in Team Meanies)

Blade (absol, Member of Team Foxfire)


Old Author's Note: This won't be a severely long story, but it will be more than one chapter. (It's a trend for my PMD stories, it seems.) After writing "Go Look It Up!" and playing with fluffy scenes between the Hero and Gengar of Team Meanies, I decided that, in order to spur real interest in the pairing, I had to write a more serious story for the two. And so, I give you this–it has the same characters as the fluffy oneshot, but it's another take at how Gengar's secret is revealed–and how the team will react. I hope you enjoy it, and I also hope you'll dwell over this pairing seriously. Spread the CurseOfLoveShipping . . . love!

This was crazy.

What the hell was the leader of Team Meanies doing here? The newly evolved umbreon was surprised he even recognized her after the transformation, but then again, what other pokemon did he know that would–or could–evolve into that? Either way, he was standing in front of her rescue team's base when she woke up, telling her that she was a late riser.

Well, being an umbreon, I technically should be nocturnal . . . man, the sun hurts. Trying to ignore the pain, however, Kitty rubbed her eyes and squinted at Gengar, mumbling, "What do you want?"

"Kekekeh!" He crossed his small arms and snickered at her, taunting, "What should I expect from the leader of Team Foxfire?" After a moment of her glaring at him (she was never really a morning person, even as an eevee), though, his smirk fell into a frown as his arms returned to his sides. He then looked down at the ground as he mumbled, "But, that's not what I came here for . . ."

". . . Hm?" Yawning, Kitty wasn't exactly sure what he meant by that. After all, this was the leader of Team Meanies; he could just be trying to trick her or something.

"I . . . came here to . . . ask for help." His foot traced a circle in the dirt as she stared at him incredulously. He looked like a kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar. "I need to get to Mt. Freeze, to . . . well, it's important!"

". . . err, okay." She shook off her surprise and disbelief to instead examine the shadow pokemon before her. He was more than a foot taller than her and nearly twice her weight, so he would be able to boss her around if he really wanted to–which he normally did. And even with her type advantage, he was still a formidable foe in a fight. So, to have him ask for her help was something she had never thought she'd see the day for. She figured the world would end before that happened. This better not be a sign of another apocalypse. "Well, uhh, Mt. Freeze? That's . . . where Ninetales lives, isn't it?"

She watched him curiously as he tensed at her statement, but he quickly relaxed and waved a hand at her nonchalantly, saying, "Kekeh, that's just a coincidence! I have no business with that old fox!" Something about his demeanor made her think otherwise, but she decided not to press him for answers (It's too early in the morning . . .) as she nodded.

"Well, then, I'll go . . . (yawn) get Sakura."

She rubbed her maroon eyes once more to get the sleepies out of them but was interrupted when he suddenly stepped forward with a look of desperation on his face, making her stumble back in surprise. "No!" His voice was high-pitched and scared sounding, but he quickly recovered his composure and cleared his throat, correcting himself. "I mean, uhh, no, that won't be necessary. You can do it by yourself, right?"

She frowned at him, her temper rising. "Okay, Gengar, you're behaving really weird this morning . . . this isn't some sort of trap where you're going to tie me up and throw me in a river or something, is it? Because I'll gladly jump into it myself if I can finally get some sleep." She watched as a scowl formed on his face at her accusation, and realizing that he wouldn't do that if he was seriously contemplating tricking her (he would normally just smirk and avoid answering the question) she cooled off quickly. Shaking her head at her annoyed comment, she calmed down enough to add quietly, "Really, if you need my help, it's got to be very important. Can't you just tell me?"

He crossed his arms and looked away, obviously put off-guard by her question. Of course, it wouldn't make sense why she would care at all, but she was more driven by curiosity than sheer kindness, as cruel as that sounded. Then again, he did wake her up after she had only grabbed three hours of sleep, and he was normally a complete and utter jerk to her, so that was to be expected. He remained silent, choosing to instead stare at the eevee-themed flag that whipped around on its place at the top of the flag pole.

She sighed and shook her head, yawning once more. "Alright, I won't be nosy. But, if you want an escort, it would be better to have two people with you. One in front and one behind, right?" She gave a small, forced grin. "And wouldn't you rather have a big, bad ol' venusaur there to protect you?"

He scoffed and rolled his eyes at her, but she did see his mouth quirk a bit in a barely contained smirk. He still wanted to look cool, even in front of his "enemies." "Yeah, whatever. Can you hurry it up, though? I'll be waiting at the edge of town in an hour. Don't be late, kekekeh!" He turned around and waved a claw at her dismissively before walking down the path to Pokemon Square, probably to get his own supplies from Kangaskhan.

Kitty shook her head at his ridiculousness before yawning again and mumbling, "And now I won't get any sleep . . . dammit." Deciding that it would be better to keep moving so she didn't doze off, she padded over towards the friend areas and traveled to the sunny, grassy plains she would find her buddy in. Seeing the giant leaves waving in the distance around a beautiful flower, she smiled and wagged her bushy fox tail before running across the soft, green earth to meet her. Jumping onto the seed pokemon's back, she heard Sakura give a loud yelp and giggled before squealing, "Hey, Sakura! Good morning!"

The giant dinosaur-like pokemon turned her mammoth head in an attempt to see her friend, but when she didn't succeed she huffed and asked, "Could you get off of me? I don't want to crane my neck just to see your grinning face." The umbreon complied and stood before her. "There we go. Now, why are you here? Don't you normally sleep in?"

Kitty yawned before proceeding to explain why she was awake at this hour. Giving her the entire story, she realized it sounded even stranger when said aloud. After she was done, they both mulled over the idea of Gengar asking for help.

Finally, Sakura spoke up, "Are you sure this isn't a trap? I mean, this is the leader of Team Meanies we're talking about."

"I know, I know . . . but in that case, where were his teammates? If anything, he'd bring them to intimidate me into going alone. And he wouldn't be so scared looking about asking, either."

The venusaur frowned. "That . . . makes sense. It's still fishy, though. Why would he ask for our help?"

Kitty sighed and only shrugged, too tired to think about it any further. "Well, we have about half an hour left. Want to get some supplies and go?"

The umbreon swayed slightly in exhaustion before righting herself and staring up at the mountain before them. Can't be tired now, she told herself. We've only just got here! It had taken a load of quick seeds to make it before the day ended, but now it was getting dark and there was no way in hell she was going to get Sakura to go up the mountain. Small as it was compared to a few other mountains they had been to (Mt. Faraway, for example), the venusaur had a problem with going through any dungeon with limited visibility. It was bad enough that it was cold and snowed towards the peak of the mountain, but in the dark? Sakura won't move an inch, Kitty mused as they sat at the foot of Mt. Freeze, setting up camp for the night.

"Geh." She turned to look at Gengar, who sat at the edge of the clearing as far away from the fire as possible to stare sourly into the darkness around them. "We would be up and through the mountain already if she wasn't such a scaredy-cat."

"I'm not a scaredy-cat!" Sakura's voice was high and strained as her eyes darted around them, waiting for some sort of monster to pop out. "It's just–we wouldn't be able to see anything!"

"You wouldn't," he corrected smugly. "I'm a ghost who thrives in darkness, and she," he motioned to Kitty, "is an umbreon now."

"Don't bring me into this!"

Sakura shivered. "Well, still! It's too cold in the daytime, but it's even worse at night! I refuse to go up there and freeze to death." Seeing the impish look he developed, she quickly beat him to the punch. "Or have you light a fire on my back." When she was satisfied at his scowl, she turned and moved as close to the fire as she dared before settling down and choosing to sleep. Gengar opted to doze where he was, leaving Kitty to watch over them for the night watch. The venusaur was out in a few minutes despite her fear, and then she was alone.

Great. Nearly falling over in exhaustion, Kitty decided she had to stand on all four paws if she was to stay awake. I have to stay up all night and make sure nothing randomly attacks us. I doubt that would happen here, but with Sakura so paranoid I might as well to ease her fear. Giving a soft sigh, she gazed out into the darkness, adjusting her vision to pierce the veil of shadows the night tried to trick her with. There was nothing there, so she turned her gaze all around the camp to keep a constant vigil at her post. But even with her standing tall and straight, she still managed to doze off a bit, and with a toss of her head she paced the camp to keep awake. I'm supposed to be nocturnal, anyways. Just a little more, and maybe I'll be able to catch a quick nap when the sun rises. No intelligent pokemon would attack at dawn, of course. In fact, no intelligent pokemon would be awake at dawn–which was why she was going to go to sleep. Hopefully Gengar wouldn't wake her up then, eager to get going.

With that thought, her gaze trailed to the purple pokemon as her mind wandered to the enigma he was. A jerk that pranks us one moment and asks us for help the next. Either he's faking it or just incredibly selfish . . . or something else. She tried to figure him out as she walked in circles around them all, keeping to the edge of their clearing as she wore the snow down into a visible path. Her paws were numb from the cold, but she didn't care much as she simply flicked her tail across her back to rid it of the snow it carried before continuing in her trek. She was stopped when she heard a sudden groan, and she whipped around only to see that she had accidentally smacked Gengar in the face with the snow she had cast off. Oops.

He stood up, wiping his face clean of the cold substance, and turned to glare at her, grumbling, "Ugegeh. Could you refrain from burying me alive?"

"Sorry . . ." She smiled sheepishly at his sour expression. "I was, uhh, getting it off of me, and I guess I got you . . . err, sorry."

"You better be." He gave an angry huff and crossed his arms to pin her with his irritated gaze, and she shuffled nervously before picking back up where she had left off before waking him–walking in circles. She could feel his eyes on her back and tried to ignore it, but when she was brought back around to him and forced to look in his general direction she lowered her gaze to the snowy ground. It remained like that for a few more laps, silence growing between them like a gulpin stuffing himself silly, before suddenly he stood in front of her, arms still crossed. "Stop it, you're making me dizzy!"

"Sorry." She didn't know why she was still apologizing, but she couldn't help it when he looked so aggravated. It's like staring down Charizard from Team A.C.T.; scary and impossible to keep from looking away . . . She just stood there awkwardly for a while, glancing between him and the ground in embarrassment and feeling suddenly shy. Why does it matter if I get him mad? He's such a jerk! Still, she felt intimidated by his height advantage.

"What're you so apologetic for all of a sudden?" She watched him step back to sit down on the log he had been using as a headrest earlier, but looked away when he went back to staring at her.

She mumbled, "I don't know." Suddenly hit with another wave of exhaustion as she stood still, she swayed slightly and nearly fell over before snapping out of it and righting herself again. I hope he didn't see–

"What're you, tired?"

Dammit. She held her head high and retorted, "No, I'm not!" Her body was determined to make her look like an idiot, however, for she yawned as soon as she said that. She scowled at his knowing smirk. "I'm not!"

"Kekekeh, and what was that, a yawn of boredom?" He snickered at her fuming and watched her start walking around once more, making her even more furious. She stomped around a bit more than necessary, but it helped get her anger out without waking up Sakura since the snow muffled the sounds her paws made. She went almost full circle and turned around before she reached his log so she wouldn't have to look at him, but as she began to make her way around the other way she heard him ask, "What, angry because I'm right?"

She stopped and looked back at him, her voice low and heated. "No! I'm not tired at all! I don't need your concern."

He crossed his arms and scoffed. "Who said I was concerned? I just don't want something to suddenly attack us while you're asleep on the job." He seemed thrilled to have pushed her buttons right as she gave a small growl, and he commented, "Kekeh, you're becoming more of a pokemon everyday, growling instead of trying to think of some snappy retort."

"Shut it!" She hissed to keep her voice from rising and waking her friend up. "I don't want to deal with your snickering and taunting. Yes, I'm tired–and cranky. So watch it, if you want to keep your vocal chords."

"Ooh." He smirked, and his voice dropped into a fascinated purr. "So the little kitty has a mean streak after all."

Her face grew warm at his comment (she blamed it on her anger at his mocking), and she quickly whipped around and strode angrily to sit on the other side of the camp, casting a heated glare over her shoulder at his snicker. That stupid . . . ugh! I hate him! Putting her paws over her head and groaning, she mumbled, "Why'd I accept to do the stupid thing, anyways? I could have said no, I could've been all, "oh, sorry, I'm all backed up, try asking me in a week" or something, but no! No, I had to be all nice and curious and just go ahead and accept! There couldn't be any consequences, could there? No, good things always happen to good people, right?" I need to stop being a good person! God, I'm an idiot . . .

"Are you talking to yourself?"

"No!" She winced at her shout, quickly glancing at the venusaur to watch her stir before settling back down into a deep slumber. She sighed in relief before turning to stare at the shadows surrounding them again, narrowing her eyes as she begged for something to attack them. I could use a target to unleash my frustrations upon . . . ha, frustration. Too bad I eat gummis like they're going out of style, or I'd kick ass with that move. Unfortunately, while squinting her eyes in fury, she nearly closed them completely in exhaustion, and she let another big yawn escape her as she scratched behind her ear with her hind leg.

She was suddenly conscious of Gengar moving across the camp, the sound of crunching snow loud enough for her giant ears to catch, but she remained as still and calm as possible as he came to stand beside her. Surprisingly, his voice was a bit softer than normal, but she figured he was growing tired as well. "How long did it take you to figure out how to do that?"

Curious at his seemingly random question, she glanced at him with a small frown. "How to do what?"

He motioned at her as if it was obvious, and then when she remained silent he groaned and told her, "Scratch your ear like that."

"Oh." Feeling a bit dumb, Kitty shifted in her spot as she went back to staring in the darkness. "Well, it took a few tries and getting laughed at by Sakura, but I got the hang of it after a while. Besides, when you've got a really bad itch, you tend to learn fast."

He chuckled, a weird sound considering he normally snickered. "Don't I know." At her curious look, he avoided her gaze and cleared his throat, looking like he was reluctantly preparing himself for something. "Are you wondering why I wanted to come here?"

She blinked, then glanced away and muttered, "Well, yeah . . . kinda." There wasn't any point in lying, since it was rather obvious. She watched him from the corner of her eye as he gave a heavy sigh, crossing his arms and seeming to contemplate on whether or not he should tell her. He was surprisingly serious; it was a bit scary and made her wonder if she really wanted to know. She made up her mind as he continued to stay silent. "But, you don't have to tell me. It's none of my business."

"Well, it sort of is. I mean, keh," he rolled his eyes, "you are escorting me."

"Then why not wait until Sakura's awake, too?" He seemed a bit irritated at the mentioning of her friend, which perked her curiosity even more. He always seems to get angry whenever she's mentioned . . . does he not like her or something? Or . . . is it the opposite? Frowning, she asked him curiously, "What, do you like her or something?"

"What–no!" He shook his head and scowled at the suggestion, making her giggle a bit. "Ugegegeh! Where the hell did you get that idea?"

"I don't know, it's just–" She had to stop to muffle a giggle, just remembering that said venusaur was asleep. "Whenever I mention her, you keep on freaking out and spazzing. I mean, what, you're shy around her or something?"

"No, it's not–" He shook his head again, grimacing at the suggestion. He looked absolutely ridiculous in his disgust, and she couldn't help laughing some more, making him glare at her as she dissolved into a giggling fit. "Geh. What's so funny?"

"Your face, it's–" She had to stop to breathe, her eyes tearing up at her uncontrollable outburst. God, it was so silly! She eventually calmed down after a while, only having a smile left over from it, and she ventured to reiterate, "So, you don't like her?"

"No!" He scoffed. "Ridiculous. Why would I ask for an escort when I'd be "nervous" around them?"

Them? I only said Sakura, but okay, whatever. I guess it'd be awkward being next to your crush's friends as well. Keeping that goofy grin on her face, she went on teasingly, "Okay, so you like Medicham, then."

"No! Geh. Dear God, no." He shivered. "I'd end up throwing myself off of a cliff."

She barely contained her laughter at his response. "Oh, okay, so you like being a mysterious bachelor!" She struck a pose mocking his arrogance and tried to imitate his deep voice, " "I'm too cool for chicks, kekekekeh!" "

"Oh, shut it. You're not one to talk. You just hang out with Sakura and talk about girly things." He shivered at the notion as if it was some horrifyingly evil thing to do.

"Only because most of the guys I've met are jerks." She gave him a look that said "and-you're-an-example", to which he replied with a glared "shut-up." "And the ones who aren't just aren't my type."

"Oh, so "tall, dark and handsome absol" or "strong and brave shiftry" aren't your cup of tea?" He smirked when she rolled her eyes. "Well, why not? I thought those were every girls' dream guys right there."

"Blade's too anti-social and broody," she explained. "And Shiftry's so full of himself, he would humiliate you." She snorted. "Hell, I'd rather date weirdo Xatu!"

"That guy's crazy."

She agreed but didn't say it aloud. "Anyways, I thought Medicham was the perfect girlfriend? She may be a bit talkative, but so are most girls. She's got the figure, surprisingly the brains, and always listens to you."

"And is as snobbish as hell. Do you listen to half of the things she says? It's always "dirty runt" this and "filthy brat" that."

"No, I try to tune her out and stare at Ekans' always twitching tail. It's rather fascinating to watch, actually; it never seems to just sit still, and it makes a soft rattling sound each time it moves."

He snickered. "Oh, I see. You're into the sensitive, cowardly guys like him, kekeh." At her indignant noise, he went on, "Well, it makes sense, because that's what every girl wants to change their boyfriends into. Why go to all the trouble, though, when you can just take the one that's already like that? Kekekeh, you can go write mushy-gushy poetry together and cuddle or something."

"Eww, no. And I suck at poetry." She scrunched her face at the prospect of being with the snake (Not that I hate him, but . . . eww!) before stopping to think for a moment, realizing the irrationality of the situation. I'm sitting at the foot of Mt. Freeze, talking to Gengar about relationships. Sakura would flip. Well, if she could, she would. ". . . How the hell did we get to this topic, anyways?"

He gave an annoyed huff and crossed his arms. "When you decided that I liked your partner. And I don't know how you came to that conclusion. You're just crazy."

"Maybe I am, but–"

She was interrupted by an unexpected yawn and then surprised to realize it came from her own mouth. Trying to shake her exhaustion off, she stiffened at a touch on her shoulder and slowly turned her head to stare at Gengar. He had put a claw there, but his gaze was off to the side as if he didn't want to see her questioning expression. It slid off quickly as they both felt awkward, but he eventually broke the silence with a mumble. "Go to sleep, I'll stay up the rest of the night." At her shocked silence, he added, "I mean, it's already been half the night, so I might as well stay up. And you need rest if you're going to get me through Mt. Freeze." A small smirk appeared on his face. "Kekekeh, it wouldn't do to have you collapse halfway through!"

She scoffed. "I wouldn't collapse–"

"Just go." He scowled at her. "It's strange enough trying to be civil towards you, so don't make it any harder."

She snapped her mouth shut and didn't argue any further, instead padding off to curl up beside the fire gratefully and finally relax her muscles. Thank God I can finally sleep . . . Almost immediately overcome by fatigue, she didn't get to thank him before she slipped into the darkness of slumber.

"Get up, brat!"

Kitty groaned and squinted her eyes at the sunlight that forced its way into them as soon as they were open. Her surroundings were all bright and white and cold, hurting her poor eyes as she scrunched them shut to escape the pain. "What . . . this isn't my house." Yawning, she ignored the strangeness to instead curl up and try to go back to sleep.

"Damn, she's impossible. Can you get her up?"

"Hold on." Something prodded her side, to which she batted it away with a sluggish paw, but it returned and persisted much to her irritation. "Oh, stop being difficult, Kitty. Or I'll tickle you."

"She's ticklish?"

"Yep. Watch!" Suddenly, she was being assaulted from both sides by what she assumed were Sakura's vines, and she shrieked before writhing in an attempt to escape the torture. Eventually her eyes shot open as she leapt to her feet and scurried behind Gengar for protection, hoping they wouldn't follow her there. Thankfully they didn't, but she heard her friend laugh at her "hiding spot," commenting to the shadow pokemon, "See? She hates it."

"Kekeh, I'll keep that in mind," was his cheeky reply, and she glared at his back before peeking from behind him and directing it at the venusaur she currently had on her blacklist. Sakura looked pleased to have embarrassed her in front of Gengar (Traitor.), but neither of them had a chance to talk about it as said ghost turned to look at the mountain looming over them. "Now, can we get a move on? I'm sure the scaredy-cat doesn't want to have to camp on the mountain." He looked like he was itching to get to the top, and she realized that he was eager to accomplish whatever it was he had come here to do.

Pushing her curiosity aside, she stretched her legs out and gave a contented sigh. She was glad to have gotten some sleep after all, and she almost thanked Gengar for it before realizing that Sakura was staring at her and figuring it would be better to wait until she wasn't paying attention. Don't want her asking any awkward questions, after all . . . Shaking the remaining sleepiness away, she turned and nodded at him. "Alright, let's go."

"Finally," was his muttered reply as he got into the middle of the line they made, and she rolled her eyes at him before keeping her attention focused on what was ahead. The silence only lasted an hour after they had started climbing, though, when it was then broken by a simple, sour statement of the obvious.

"I hate the cold." When no one immediately responded, Kitty continued to mutter to herself. "My paws are frozen, my back keeps getting covered in snow, and I can't feel my nose! I hate this place!"

Her ranting was heard but not appreciated. "Yes, I do, too." The venusaur sighed at the shivering fox leading them through the piles of snow, shaking off her own miniature white mountain. "But you don't have to keep talking about it!"

"But it's still cold!"

"I know!"

"So I still hate it!"

"We get that!"

After an hour of this went by, only interrupted by small pauses to regain their breath and the occasional zangoose or vigoroth, Gengar grew fed up with it and took it upon himself to stop them. "Geh, will both of you shut it?" He looked highly annoyed at their petty arguing, as if he was familiar with the scene and absolutely abhorred reenacting it with Team Foxfire. Admittedly, it had been a welcome relief from the awkward silence at first, but now it was plain irritating. "If you don't, I'll push you both off of this mountain!"

"At least it's warmer down there," Kitty mumbled, making Sakura throw her vines into the air in defeat and the ghost snort in disbelief. She kicked some snow away from her paws, glaring at the piles around them so high they could have buried her six feet under. "Stupid snow . . . why oh why did I push aside the idea of being a flareon? I could've kept warm with ease! But nope, being an umbreon would be more fun, I thought. Oh, what a stupid, stupid idea."

"You're talking to yourself again."

"No, I'm–gah!" Without any arms to throw up in frustration, she had to settle with tossing her head back and giving an aggravated growl. She then looked over her shoulder to glare at his smirk, not caring to decipher whether it was taunting or teasing her. "I don't care if it makes me look crazy! You're crazy! You're all crazy to have let me come out to this godforsaken–" She was startled by a sudden coldness on her nose, and she crossed her eyes to see a snowflake resting innocently there before looking up to the sky to see more drifting down. She moaned in agony, "Ohhh, now it's snowing! Just great!"

"Hey, look on the bright side!" Sakura's optimism sounded sarcastic, but Kitty figured it was just her insanity twisting it around. "That means we're almost there!"


"Shut up. Both of you. I swear, I never thought my own teammate would go against me like this . . ."

"What? "Go against you?" "

"Oh, God." The ghost held his face in his claws. "Here they go again, ugegeh . . ."


She couldn't believe her ears. No, she wouldn't believe them; they were trying to tell her that Ninetales had just said Gengar was the selfish human from the legend that got Gardevoir cursed in his stead. That was crazy! Gengar couldn't be a human! That would mean that he purposefully told the pokemon back in town that she was that selfish human just so she would take the blame instead! And . . . well, he couldn't be that mean, could he? Somewhere, deep down, she had still held the belief that he was good in a sense. But . . . this was a shocker.

She could only stare at the shadow pokemon as he begged for Ninetales to fix it. The wise fox stared at him coolly, never moving a muscle. She waited patiently until he was done arguing his case, falling into a silence broken only by his panting, and then her eyes snapped to the Umbreon that was still staring in disbelief.

"Yes." Her voice was calm, soothing, but firm. "Gengar was the human who brought the curse upon Gardevoir."

Kitty took a step back as if she had slapped her, her face contorting with doubt and incredulous surprise. ". . . no . . ." She shook her head as if to strengthen her thoughts. "No, he can't be. You're joking, aren't you?" Even as Ninetales shook her head, she wouldn't believe it. "No, you and him are in on a prank, aren't you? It's not very funny, you know. I don't know what you're trying–"

Sakura placed a vine on her shoulder and muttered, "Kitty, I . . ." She tried to say something, but she couldn't while she stared at her friend's face, and had to look away. "I don't think she's lying."

"But . . . she has to be! He's . . . he's not–"

Gengar interrupted her with a blunt, "Kitty." She immediately fell silent at that, staring at him with wide, unbelieving eyes as his frown grew even bigger. His crimson gaze watched her as if expecting her to yell at him, but she didn't. He then gave a heavy sigh and shook his head, as if pushing something away. "I was the human."

That completely shattered her resolve, and she took another step back, this time from him. At this, he tried to step towards her as if to coax her back, but she retreated even farther as she looked very much like a cornered rattata–even with no wall behind her. He looked stunned at her reaction, as did everyone else, and they all looked in shock as her lip quivered. She suddenly knew why he acted so strange, why he said "God" instead of a legendary pokemon, why he knew how difficult it was to adjust to a new body and how necessities made you try harder–she knew why.

"You . . . you lied to me." With that statement, she seemed to finally realize what he'd done. "You lied to everyone, a-and you blamed it on me. And you knew. You knew it. I didn't have my memory, but y-you . . ." She gulped, trying and failing to hold back the tears. All of the times she had doubted herself, thinking she might possibly be the cursed human, and he had known the truth. He had turned everyone against her, and it was only with much pain and anguish that she cleared her name and could return to town again. And . . . "You knew."

Sakura's heart broke as she watched her friend break down, remembering the many times she had had to comfort the fox while they were on the run, and she tried to calm her by putting a vine on her trembling shoulder. "Kitty, don't cry. It's going to be–"

"No!" The umbreon broke away from her friend's comforting touch, shutting her eyes from their pitying faces. "No, it's not! It's not gonna be okay! He lied! H-he lied about everything!" Sniffing and feeling rather small, she whipped around and broke into a run out of the cave they were gathered in, back to the vicious wind that froze her to the bone. Too torn to realize where she was going, she tripped over her own feet and fell down a small slope, luckily not falling over the edge completely. She came to a stop at the bottom but didn't bother to get up, her sobs racking her body as she began to feel numb in the harsh blizzard.

She couldn't believe it. Despite how mean he had been–how many pranks he had pulled, how many buttons of hers he had pushed–she couldn't exactly believe that he would have done that to her. To use her as a scapegoat in his place, to cast the blame of his selfish actions on her, instead of stepping forward and taking the blame himself. It . . . well, she shouldn't have been surprised. He was Gengar, after all. Maybe she should have expected as much from him, even if he had saved her after Rayquaza destroyed the meteor. One good deed couldn't make up for a lifetime (or two) of bad ones. He had probably been planning to blame her from the start, when he first found out she wasn't originally a pokemon.

She just wanted to lie there forever until the pain of betrayal faded away, but after some time passed she felt a prodding on her shoulder. Ignoring it as she scrunched her eyes shut rebelliously, she heard a soft sigh before something picked her up by the scruff of her neck. Limp as a rag-doll, she let herself be carried by what was probably Ninetales back to the cave where they were sheltered from the elements. She was set down gently to the floor where she curled up and hid her face, but she heard the calm fox's voice somewhere above her as the winds howled outside.

"I'm the only one here, Kitsune. Open your eyes."

Reluctantly, the umbreon complied with the older pokemon's request as she squinted from the glare on the snowy walls. The gorgeous fox sat beside her, maroon eyes trained on the littler fox as a thoughtful expression took over her face. Kitty looked up at her with curiosity and a small bit of awe; Ninetales had always brought on a massive wave of admiration of her grace and control, and at times the umbreon wished she could be just like her. Right now, though, all that she could think of was what she had learned, and it caused her vision to water as tears formed once more.

"Shh, don't cry." Of all of the pokemon she had expected to comfort her, for some reason Ninetales was the last one she thought would. (Well, almost last–a certain few like Gengar and Alakazam came to mind.) But the fox nuzzled her gently, like a mother would, and strangely Kitty found it soothing as her eyes nearly slid shut at the soft feeling of fur rubbing against fur. It reminded her faintly of something her mother used to do when she was a child; she couldn't remember the words she'd use or how she looked, but she knew that her mother would pet her head and whisper to her. This was almost the same, or something like the pokemon equivalent, and the precious revival of such a pleasant memory calmed her down almost immediately. "Don't cry."

". . . Okay."

The adult lied down on her belly beside her, her warmth a great comfort in the cold of the snow, and she whispered carefully, "Do you want to talk about it?"

"I . . ." Kitty opened her mouth, closed it, and opened it again before finally sighing and looking down at her paws. "I don't know. Maybe." She thought about it for a while, collecting her thoughts until she could make proper sense of them. Then she looked to the older fox and nodded. "Yes, I do."

When Ninetales gestured for her to continue, Kitty frowned in deep contemplation. She only began when she was sure she knew what she wanted to say. "I'm sorry for being a little . . . immature, for running off like that."

"It's fine. I understand how much that must have hurt, to learn that so suddenly."

Kitty sighed. "It's just . . . I know he's a mean guy, and he's never been really nice to me in the past, but I couldn't . . . I didn't want to think he'd go that low." Ninetales' ears perked up. "I guess I . . . sort of hoped that he didn't mean to be so mean or something. Like he couldn't help it. But . . . I don't know. I guess I try to see the good in everyone." She gave an empty chuckle at the thought, and it sounded hollow even to her own ears. "Good things don't always happen to good people."

"Why's that?" Her smooth voice was comforting, but distracted.

Kitty didn't notice this as she went on. "Because that would be too easy, and that's not how life works. It's got to be the most ironic thing possible, screwing up everything because it's fitting or something: The good guy gets killed trying to save the world; the good guy gets blamed for doing something he never did; the good guy is the outcast because he's not like the others." She sighed, realizing how depressed she sounded and barely finding the energy to care. "I'm sorry, I probably sound like a spoiled kid or something." Or would that be kit? Oh, who cares about specifics right now?

Ninetales' ears kept swiveling around, however, as if searching for something inside the cave, and then she suddenly turned to glance at a wall as she gave an aggravated sigh. "Come out of hiding, Gengar. I know you're there."

Kitty stiffened in surprise and horror as, after a tense, awkward moment, a familiar voice came from where they were looking. "Ugegegeh . . ." Then, a face materialized from the wall, and soon afterwards the purple ghost appeared in the "flesh" with a sour frown on his face. He winced at Ninetales' critical expression and glanced guiltily at Kitty's mortified one, but he rose to defend himself all the same. "Well, you two are talking about me, so I think I should have a right to listen!"

"Leave, Gengar." The wise pokemon gave him a stern look of dismissal. "This is not the time or the place."

"Well, no better time like the present." He stood defiantly before them, arms crossed as he returned her glare with pleasure. "No better place than right here."

Kitty, unable to look at him for too long, turned her gaze to the pokemon beside her. Ninetales sat up straight and tall, authority radiating off of her as she stared Gengar down with a cautioning in her eyes. She seemed to be telling him to tread lightly on the thin ice here, or else he'd break through and take them all with him. The umbreon found herself envious of the fox's smooth and cool attitude. "Leave."


"You have no right to be here."

"I have all the "right" I need!"

"Why stay?" Kitty interrupted their argument quietly with two simple words, but it silenced them immediately as their gazes turned to her. Her eyes fell to her paws as she listened for a response–there was none. She took a deep breath and continued, "Are you sure you really want to know what I think of you?"

". . . You want the truth?" She nodded. "Yes." Her head snapped up painfully quick as both foxes' eyes widened slightly in surprise and disbelief, but Gengar had a serious expression on his face much like the one he had when he approached her for help–and it was even more somber. His gaze was locked onto her, and it felt extremely weird for it to not be above a mischievous smirk, so much so that she gulped nervously.

"I do care what people think," he told her, "especially people who go to all of the trouble to escort me despite past experiences. And I . . ." He hesitated for a moment, and her ears perked subconsciously. "Geh, I would have told you. I tried, remember?" She opened her mouth to retort, but then she realized that he was right. And then she felt guilty for blaming him for everything, for jumping to conclusions before he could explain himself. And then she felt horrible. Her ears fell to lie flat and dejected on her skull, her eyes slipping from his as she felt truly ashamed. She was probably worse than he was, now, or ever was. Way worse.

". . . I'm sorry."

He seemed taken aback by that comment. "Ugegeh?"

She gulped, not wanting to speak past the lump in her throat although she knew it had to be done. "I'm sorry. I always judge you before you get to explain yourself, and th-that makes me worse than what I make you out to be. I-I–" She choked on her words and fell silent, closing her eyes to hide the tears she felt building up. She leaned into Ninetales for comforting once more, although she was sure the tears annoyed her, if they didn't hurt her. She wasn't exactly sure how fire types worked.

By the time she had regained her composure and opened her eyes once more, he was gone. She had expected as much, and so she immersed herself in the silence that had fallen in the cave, feeling strangely colder, even when pressed against Ninetales' flank, than she had out in the blizzard.

Lots of dragon-y love (and cookies!),
~DL ("Dragon Lover")