It's after hours at school. There's a football game going on outside and it's cold!

Dawn and Hilda decided to let Paul stay at their secret base for awhile. The secret base actually used to be a bunker during a revolutionary war that happened decades ago. It was well hidden in the trees and it was huge. Hilbert and Nate actually found this place and, with the help of some pokemon, built multiple rooms. Hilda and Rosa added the furniture. Hugh also came in and added some appliances.

Dawn was training Hope in a clearing along with Rain. The pair made a good team and really showed off some good moves. Spirit and Paul watched from the front steps of the base. Dawn's other pokemon played. Dark came down the steps and stood next to Paul.

"You really like her, don't you?" Dark asked.

Paul had already talked to Dark a little bit.

"So what if I do?" He asked.

"Nothing. I'm just glad you feel the same as she does for you." he said.

They sat in silence for awhile. Dark broke it again.

"So... are you going to make a move?" he asked.

"Tch! I don't have time for that stuff! I need to find Ghetsis and pay him back for what he did." He said.

"If you wait too long, someone else will take her. I know a few people that have tried." Dark said.

"Then at least she'll be happy. Happier than she would if she was with me." He said.

"You don't know that. Admit your feelings and I'm sure she'd wait for you." Dark said.

"No. I couldn't do that to her. What if she found someone else? What then? We're only teenagers for fuck's sake!" he said.

Dark couldn't answer that. Then Paul had an idea. Something that would make sure that Dawn would know that he would come back. Paul grabs Diamond and asks Dark to follow. Spirit stood on the steps and stared at Hope.

"What if I ask Dawn if I could swap you two? Dark is strong enough to keep up with my team and Diamond needs to get stronger." he said.

"Umm... well... If this is what you want Paul. Dawn seems nice and I've always have been curious about how a coordinator trains their pokemon." Diamond said.

"I'm up for it. I'm not good with this contest stuff anyway. It would be nice to actually fight and not try on outfits, go shopping, and look pretty. I fail at those things. Don't get me wrong, I love Dawn to death but I need some time away from all this." Dark said gesturing around himself.

"Well... Who wants to tell this to Spirit that we leave tomorrow?" Paul asked.

"I'll do it." Diamond sighed.

Diamond jumped down from Paul's arms and off to find Spirit.

Dawn sat down on the couch the next morning with Diamond and Hope sitting next to her. All of them were missing Paul already. They swapped pokemon last night and Paul left at day break. Luckily, Dawn was up at the same time and got to say good bye to him with a kiss on the cheek. She fixed him some breakfast before they left.

It was really hard to pull Hope and Spirit apart. Luckily, they hadn't mated but Dawn really didn't like separating them. The two of them were snuggled up on Hope's favorite cushion in front of the fire place. Both Diamond and Dark were suprised that they didn't even try to mate. Usually, pokemon that do like each other mate right away and then they usually part, never to feel anything for eachother again.

"Maybe Spirit really is in love with Hope. He made no move to get her alone." Diamond said.

"What do you mean?" Dawn asked.

"Cross pokemon life mates are rare, Dawn. Pokemon who do decide to cross breed often just mate, lay eggs, then leave, that situation is common but not for life. Absols especially hardly ever mate for life considering the fact that they are normally solitary pokemon. My parents are only freinds, they aren't mates anymore. Hope's parents are a different story because it's common for her species to have families that are made up of many eeveelutions. Sometimes a vulpix or a ninetails would come into the family because they both have similar family behaviors. I do hope for her sake that Spirit won't do the same thing that our mom did to daddy. He still wishes they were mates. Lucarios normally mate for life no matter what." Diamond said.

"That's awful. He can't move on or mate with another pokemon?" Dawn asked.

"Nope. Not unless she died. Lucarios have a tendency to imprint on the ones they mate with." Diamond said.

"What do absols do?" Dawn asked.

"Absols will track a mate by scent. They then follow that scent until they find what they're looking for. Then the pair would mate for weeks and sometimes months. After awhile, they just go their seperate ways. Even the babies would leave eventually. It is extremely rare for the pair to stay together. It's not like it's anything personal, it's just their nature. If Spirit was acting naturally, he would have mated with Hope by now. But then again, she is the first female he's taken an interest in. It's hard to tell right now." She said.

"Have you asked him if he really loves her?" Dawn asked.

"He says he does but all absols usually do the first time they have a potential mate." Diamond answered.

Hope had been listening and she gritted her teeth and finally, she blew up at Diamond.

"UMBRE! UM! BREON! UM UMBREON! UM UM UMBRE!" she shouted before running out the door.

Dawn and Diamond both gaped at her.

"What's her problem?" Dawn asked.

"She told me that I should shut up because I'm too young to understand what love is. Maybe we should have left the room to discuss this. You better go after her." Diamond said.

Dawn quickly ran after her. She used Rascal to help track her down. She found her crying against Rye, whom was now a fully evolved serperior. They had been best freinds since day one.

Rain was also trying to console her favorite partner. Dawn grabbed Hope and pulled her into a hug.

"Listen Hope. I know how you feel. I swear I'm in love with Paul but I don't know if he really feels the same way or not. Just listen to your heart. I'm sure he'll feel the same." Dawn said.

Hope sniveled but smiled and nuzzled her cheek as a thank you.

"Your welcome." Dawn giggled.

Diamond watched the scene blankly.

"His crush will probably go away within a month." She muttered.

Diamond had lost faith on love when her parents broke it off.

One year and two months later...

Paul was at the giant chasm. He heard that a few Plasma grunts have been seen here. Spirit followed behind Paul on the right and Dark was on the left. Paul had noticed that Spirit had gotten a little more serious ever since he met Hope. He walked more with purpose than that prideful strut he used to have. He still kept an upbeat attitude but it wasn't as... 'up'.

He was also more careful. You couldn't even hear his claws hitting hard surfaces anymore. He was like a shadow.

Sometimes, Spirit would go away at nights. Paul followed him one night and found that he leaves to climb a high place and howl. He would come back when he would hear the night go still and the moon was in the middle of the sky. If there wasn't a moon, he wouldn't leave camp.

Tonight was a full moon. Paul allowed Spirit to go on his own.

"Why does he do that?" Paul asked Dark.

"He does it for Hope." He answered.

"He still likes her?!" He asked with shock evident in his voice.

"He doesn't like her. He loves her. If he just 'liked' her, he would have gone after another female by now." Dark said.

"After all this time..." He said to himself.

"You still like Dawn. It's not like there's a problem with it." Dark said.

"No there isn't. I just kind of feel bad for him." Paul said.

"Heh. Him and I both feel sorry for you. Spirit would gladly tell Hope how much he loves her but you won't even dare say a word to Dawn. I say you take the chance when we visit her if she's still available. You don't even have the guts to call." Dark said.

"Why would I start visiting her now?" he asked.

"Because I am not letting you skip the holiday seasons. I'll be damned if I do. This solitude isn't healthy. Besides, for all we know, Maylene could be your sister-in-law by now." Dark said.

"No. They won't get married yet. They want to be home to do it and they won't do it without me." Paul said.

"What if she's pregnant?" Dark asked.

"They won't try for kids until they're married. You wouldn't beleive the measures they take to make sure of that." Paul answered.

"What if Dawn's pregnant?" Dark asked.

"I doubt that." Paul said.

"What if... Dawn is dead?" He asked.

"I doubt that too." he said.

"What if she's hurt?" Dark asked.

"I would have heard about it by now." Paul said.

"What if she is dating Nate?" Dark asked in a taunting voice.


"I'll hold you to that." Dark said smugly.

"I know you will." Paul said before going to sleep.

He had grown even more taller since he left Dawn. He was almost as tall as Reggie. He already had to go shopping for different clothes. He had black pants, a dark dark purple (almost black) long sleeved shirt. He wore a black jacket accented with dark blue on the sleeves, pockets, and hood. His hair had grown down to his shoulders. He sometimes pulled it back in a ponytail or braid if he was up to it.

The next day, Paul set off to find Reggie and Maylene. He decided to call them first. Reggie's face quickly appeared on the screen.

"You're alive! It's a miracle!" He jokingly exclaimed.

"Yeah. I know it's been awhile since I last called but I decided to visit. where you guys at?" He asked.

"Nuvema Town. We kind of got attached to this place." Reggie said.

"I'm not suprised." Paul said.

"Oh and Dawn is also here. Is that okay with you?" He asked.

"Yes. That actually saves me the trouble of searching for her. See you later." He said before hanging up.

Reggie hung up his xtranceiver. He happily walked into the living room where Dawn, Johanna, Maylene, Hugh, Nate, Rosa, Hilda, Hilbert, and their mom were talking. They were all in the living room of Hilda and Hilbert's house.

"He's coming back!" Reggie said.

"Really?!" Dawn and Maylene shouted at the same time.

"Yes." Reggie said.

Hilda and Hilbert explained to their mother who 'he' was.

Dawn, like Paul, had also grown. She had completely filled out, her hair came down to the middle of her back, and she she really looked almost adult. She was wearing a holly green turtle neck with her old red scarf and she had white pants on.

Hope had also changed. She went from being the baby of the team to the leader of the team. She was tougher and stronger. She also had a strong maternal side. That side especially came out when they found a horribly injured cubchoo lost in a blizzard last year. She didn't sleep or leave his side until he awoke. That cubchoo had since evolved into a beartic and was part of the team. Dawn named him Storm because they found him in a storm. Even he didn't question Hope's leadership. Hope still tries to mother him sometimes.

Johanna had come to the Unova region to celebrate the holidays with her daughter. She also wanted to see the other pokemon on her team. Hope was playing with her parents out the in the back yard. Dawn put a red ribbon on her just to make her look cute. Most of the pokemon were out in the yard, including Hilda's Reshiram.

As for Diamond, she had evolved into a lucario. She wasn't strong but she wasn't weak either. She's actually good at contests, especially when her and Hope are partnered. She was having a snowball fight with her father and Storm.

Rascal was still a Herdier. He was one of those pokemon that didn't want to evolve. She gave him an everstone as an early Christmas present. He also wore a ribbon that was gold in color. It wasn't as big and frufru as Hope's but it had jingle bells on it. He played with Hope and her parents.

Rain was now a samurott and she still liked to play despite her size. She was bouncing two glameow kittens on her back. They were a result of Dawn's liepard and Johanna's glameow getting together. They were given to Hilda and Rosa as gifts.

Dawn's other pokemon from the Sinnoh region were also here too. All of them had just been let out to meet the other. So far, they've all been happy with each other.

Rye was more content on the porch observing the happy scene. A young tepig was asleep at his side.

This was the starter that was saved for Paul. Reggie kept the snivy and Maylene kept the oshawott. The shipment recently came in with the three of them and some others. They were given to Reggie and Maylene because they were so young.

Dawn gazed out the window and watched the happy scene. She smiled warmly and drank some hot cider her mom had made. She observed everyone of the pokemon and would notice little things that she had never really paid attention to.

Rye may not look like he's having fun but Dawn would see a small smile on his face sometimes. If she watched long enough, he would sometimes laugh. Rye tries to keep up a cool attitude it seems. Kind of like someone else she knows.

Rascal would spin a lot while playing. If Hope would surprise him, he would quickly spin and run away. He looks like a prancing ponyta when he spins. He'd sometimes do a summersault while running. Rascal was fun to watch.

Storm was a character. He would run around in the yard and sometimes stumble. He'd get up and shake his fur wildly before running around the yard again. He runs around like a wet herdier that just got bathed. Some would think he evolved too soon. He still had the playfulness of a cubchoo. He never lost his temper and he had incredible patience as far as beartics go.

Diamond would often jump high and land infront of whoever she was playing with. She would sometimes land on Storm's back. Storm didn't mind. He liked giving rides. Diamond's primary playmate was lopunny. Those two seemed to get along well and would seem to be talking and gossiping like teenage girls would.

Then there was Hope. She would often stop to look at the scene around her and smile warmly but that smile would falter sometimes. Hope was still lovesick as ever. She had matured a lot since she had been with Spirit. She went from being a baby to being a leader.

Then Togekiss landed in front of her. The two talked. It seems like the two had an understanding of each other. They both had a maternal side and they both looked after the team. Each conversation seemed polite and pleasant. This one seemed a little more serious than the last few. It was obviously about Spirit.

Hope looked down with a sad smile and togekiss patted her head with her wing. She seemed to have an understanding and sympathetic look. Hope gave her a greatful growl before running off to play with Rascal again.

Dawn could see that she was never completely happy even though she looks like she's having the time of her life. Before Dawn could observe more, Rain jumped in front of the window. She grinned and envited Dawn out to play. Dawn grinned and got her winter gear on. She put her cider on the table and she ran out the front door.

Right as Dawn started to forget about her worries, Hope suddenly paused and listened. Everyone could hear distant howls that were getting closer. Hope suddenly bolted out of the yard and through the fence. Dawn quickly ran to chase her.

"Hope! Come back!" Dawn shouted.

Dawn kept up with Hope enough to see her running to a familiar shiny absol. Hope leapt ten feet in the air before glomping him. Dawn was surprised. Paul was walking just a few yards behind Spirit. They were back for the holidays.

I was at a dead end with this chapter for awhile, so I decided to end it here so I have more space to work with. It's hard to be doing things on a busy schedule. My summer was mostly travel and now I have school. Least I had enough time to add this chapter. Besides, I'm in the holiday spirit now but don't expect the next chapter until sometime in December.