Dawn could only sit still and wait.

Being an impatient girl by nature, she was not one that was particularly inclined to wait for anything, but she knew that her persistence would be well rewarded this time. Lacing her fingers together, she tapped her thumbs aimlessly against the sides of her hands. Vaguely, she noticed the sleeves of her pink coat falling over her thin wrists, so she had to unclasp her hands and raise them up in the air so they could slide back down to the crooks of her elbows. It was pressed and starched clean—the way Cyrus always made sure her clothes were.

While she fidgeted, she thought of everything that had brought her to this imminent moment. How stupid she and Lucas had been—stupid indeed, to think that they could bring down an entire criminal organization with resilience and brawn alone. She truly realized what children they were together—and that was unusual, for when they were alone, they separately managed to find the maturity that helped them endure trials and tries of their courage. Sixteen and continually foolish, even at a time in their lives where teenagers didn't think they were inane after a certain age. She wanted to assert that she wasn't a child anymore, but putting themselves in mutual danger was indeed naïve, exactly how a child would react to a situation like Team Galactic.

Or perhaps she didn't want to imply that—after everything that happened, she wished she were a little girl again. It was so easy for one's innocence to be stripped from them violently and without remorse, and purity, once lost, could not be regained. When she had infiltrated Team Galactic's base with Lucas that afternoon four months ago, she ihad/i been a child, oblivious to the world's struggles and the hunger of man. And she still was, even as the Team kept her and Lucas prisoner and watched them deteriorate—and both in brutally different ways.

They starved Lucas; they allowed him to waste away into nothingness with only a minimal amount of food, without the opportunity to shower or wear clothes other than the rotting rags that he raged in Team Galactic's base with so long ago. He frolicked amongst the other prisoners, plotting and hatching ideas for escape—ideas that never came to fruition. Ratatta nibbled at his scraps and harassed him in his empty but just sleep. To Dawn, Lucas got the long end of the stick.

Dawn was fed. Dawn was clothed. Dawn slept in her own room, with tidy sheets and white walls like the Team Galactic grunts. But that pampering came with a price.

She was tortured in a very special way.

But when had that torture morphed into chore? And when had that chore become a pleasure? When did the dread that sank with the heaviness of a peach pit in her stomach turn to indifference, and when did her uncaring exterior blossom into love? When did Cyrus's bitter, heavy hands soften, and soon caress her with concern and gentle hesitation? The days here had bled into weeks and into months, and she knew not when any of this happened exactly. She merely knew that they did.

And now, she waited. She waited like a good girl, waited for her judgment to be imposed upon her.

Lucas loved her. He had always been in love with her, even when both of them were too young to know what constituted love. They had grown up together in the trees of Twinleaf Town, eagerly waiting at each other's doorsteps so they could run outside and climb the rowan trees that donated their name to the famed Pokemon Professor that lived in there. Lucas had given her homemade present every time Dawn had a birthday or the town openly celebrated Christmastime. Pinecones glued together with sloppy ribbons garnishing the top spears, leaves that had died and crumpled to the earth stuck to a piece of beige construction paper, and twigs bound together and sharpened to a fine point—a "sword," as Lucas had called it eons ago. (Dawn still had that somewhere back home in Twinleaf, she was certain.) And it became customary for Lucas to peck her on the cheek and blush, giving her holiday or celebratory greetings in a shy, drawn voice. Dawn knew that Lucas had always wished to be more to her than a friend, but Dawn could never bring herself to be a slave to such emotions as Lucas. Especially now, trapped in this place of warped logic and empty domain with nothing more but their wits to keep them alive.

But iCyrus./i

He was the coldest man Dawn had ever met—and perhaps the darkest heart to ever walk on the planet. He was so pitiless that Dawn was almost convinced that he did not have a soul; Cyrus, she believed, was encapsulated in a state of soullessness. With an unfaltering, steely gaze, Cyrus watched with extremely muted pleasure as the existence of Pokemon and humanity as species went extinct and their world yielded around them. Cyrus never smiled, nor did his general expression of bitter indifference ever change. The whole time Dawn had known him, he had never addressed her by name, only with indirect connotations and bland pronouns. To Dawn, he was cloistered, refusing to open himself up to anybody—not his Commanders, not his Pokemon, and certainly not her.

Yet Dawn iknew/i Cyrus, because she understood through him that even the most emotionless souls can show flickers of mercy. It had taken him months to warm up to her, but when he did, Dawn noticed things. She had seen even the slightest tenderness in his eyes when he touched her; she had felt his body slacken if she tried to tentatively embrace him and curl into hers, as if delighted by the contact. When he looked at her, even in the presence of his Commanders, she saw a grain of something very soft and delicate reflect in distant powder blue eyes. Dawn was thankful that his Commanders were not perceptive and couldn't pick up on such a miniscule shift in Cyrus's expression, for she knew only Cyrus communicated with her so surreptitiously.

Inversely, Lucas was jovial and optimistic, and Dawn herself was not much more pragmatic from the years they spent growing up in each other's presence. Many believed that she and Lucas would get together someday, once Dawn stopped with her eternal cold feet toward her childhood friend. Dawn and Lucas, the future couple, were always the amused talk of Twinleaf. Even their parents got along famously, laughing at the playful notoriety their children had gained.

But it was not Lucas who had been her first. Lucas knew Dawn's personality like his own, but it was Cyrus that knew her body. He was aware of her soft spots and where she was weakest, where she was sensitive and what elicited responses from her. Team Galactic was the fear of Sinnoh, and Cyrus was a man who was hated barely less than Giovanni of Team Rocket in Kanto and Johto. She saw his mug spread across the news like butter and stories of his exploits, followed by rewards offered if anyone could give insight to Team Galactic's heinous plans. If Dawn had been told four months ago that she would be in this position now, she would have ignored the thoughtless suggestion. Stupid whores for attention and gold-digging widows were the main source of sexual amusement for leaders of criminal organizations, after all.

Dawn was neither, and she was still mistress to a despised monster.

And what frightened her was that she iliked/i it.