Vote results: 3 Gold & Crystal, 1 Ruby & Sapphire, 1 Diamond & Platinum, 2 Original Plans/No Vote. So, with a total of 5 (3 for Gold & Crystal, 2 for Original Plans) votes, SL #008 is Gold & Crystal.

Maybe I should've mentioned this earlier. Votes for "Original Plans/No Vote" will basically mean that those votes are for MY decisions. Yes. Those votes mean that you are trying to give a dastardly evil person absolute and supreme executive power (and this is not because some watery tart threw a sword at me. Reference!). However, that's not all bad. If my 'vote', as in what I feel like working on, is the same as one of the other options then the total count will be combined and if it becomes the majority vote, then that option will be taken.

And by the way, the status of a faithful reviewer can be revoked very quickly due to the very simple (and quite binary, really) requirements. That said, it's equally easy to regain that status, also due to the same requirements. So keep this in mind if you feel that your votes have been ignored. So far, two have had their status revoked.

Segment: Gold & Crystal.

Chapter 8: Competition

April 21, Pallet Town, 10:30 am…

"Professor! I'm back!" Crystal announced as she entered Professor Oak's lab. She didn't yell too loud, in case the professor was having a conversation somewhere.

On her way back to her research post, she looked at the calendar and happily counted the days she had left until her special day. She hoped that a special someone would have a special gift for her on that special day… She didn't really care what it was going to be, as long as it had some thought put into it.

Maybe that special someone would set up a small yet special event for that day. Maybe that person would offer to take her on some special adventures somewhere. But given that person's capability in planning (or rather, incapability), Crystal knew that her special day might just turn into a jumble of special randomness. But regardless, she knew that that day would turn out to be exciting. After all, every Dex Holder had very special lives where each and every day had a chance of becoming something unbelievable… no matter how slim that chance was.

But as Crystal thought, she seriously had doubts that the special someone even knew when her birthday was. That jerk… Even after all those gifts she sent him during his birthdays and holidays, he still didn't seem to care enough to remember her birthday. It wasn't that he didn't care about her, but rather, he didn't view her special enough to remember certain things about her.

Crystal had pestered him once, about Valentine's Day a couple of months ago. She even sent him a box of sweet, sweet chocolates as an example of how it's done. In response, he sent her… a bag of potato chips. But at least he gave her something, which was a start. Not a very good start, but enough for now. Besides, it's the… thought that counts?

Crystal walked past the 'living room' of the lab and spotted Professor Oak staring at the big box of furniture that the Johto Dex Holder had purchased a couple of hours ago. The professor appeared to be wondering how he was going to deliver that heavy box, and how he was going to hide that box from Daisy so that he could make it a surprise.

"Thank you for buying this for me, Crystal," the professor said as he turned to look at her. "Now I need to figure out where I'm going to hide this until the day of the wedding, and how I'm going to deliver this on that day."

"I'm sure Green could help with that," Crystal said.

"I suppose he could. He's not doing anything nowadays, anyways." The professor turned to stare at the box again. "You're done for today, Crystal. You can go home if you want."

Crystal appeared a little confused. "Oh… but you said that you needed me back in the lab."

Professor Oak turned to look at her again. "Ah right. Thanks for reminding me. I called you over because I wanted to give you a couple of things."

The girl became a little excited. "Really?" she asked as she looked at the professor expectantly.

The professor took out a small box filled with miniature Pokéballs from his lab coat. "First… This box contains various new prototypes of Pokéballs. A lot of these were designed to work opposite of existing Pokéballs. Such as… Solar Ball here, which works particularly well against Pokémon that evolve using the Sun Stone."

Crystal nodded. "So the opposite of a Moon Ball?"

"Yes. And there are the Feather Ball, Rival Ball, and Power Ball, the opposites of-"

"The Heavy, Love, and Level Balls, right?"

The professor nodded. "As a capture specialist, I'm sure you know more about these than I do. There are a few others in there, and I included a list in the box that has the names of these prototypes and what they're supposed to do. I want you to catch various Pokémon with these and see how they fare when compared to existing Pokéballs."

"Yes, professor," Crystal said as she received the box. She put it in her bag after taking a brief look at the minimized Pokéballs.

Professor Oak then reached into his other lab pocket. "And the other thing I wanted to give you…" He pulled out what appeared to be a brand new pure golden necklace with a large silver pendant. "I was going to give this to Daisy, but Bill bought an identical one before I could give it to her. So I might as well give it to you."

Crystal gasped in shock as she received the necklace. "Oh, wow. This is beautiful! Thank you so much!" she said happily.

"Your birthday's coming up, isn't it?" the professor asked. "So consider that to be an early birthday gift."

Crystal bowed to the professor in deep gratitude. "Thank you very much!"

The professor looked at her happy expression for a second. "Hmm… Crystal, I never thought you cared much about jewelry. You certain don't seem the type to get overly excited about a necklace."

"Well… I don't care that much," Crystal replied as she put the necklace in her bag. "But I really appreciate the idea of receiving an expensive gift. And the only pieces of jewelry I have are my earrings. Quite a few people I know, like my mom, pity me for that reason, and I always hated that."

"You really are unique, Crystal," the professor noted. "Most girls don't get jewelry to avoid being pitied…"

"I'm not extravagant like them," the girl answered. "I don't like spending money on purely appearance related items. Unlike someone I know…"

She sighed and shook her head as she remembered the attire her mother had forced her into last year. Once that 'field trip' to the Safari Zone was officially over and all that Team Rocket stuff was finished being dealt with, Crystal had promptly ditched that attire and returned to her regular. She kept the long socks on though, as it kept her legs warm. Mostly. The socks didn't quite reach up to her shorts, however, leaving a small portion of her legs bare. Crystal didn't like that so much, but she figured she'll get used to it. And more practically, the long socks offered her some knee protection against scrapes and scratches that may hinder her capturing abilities.

Before long, Professor Oak retreated to the dedicated conference room in the lab so that he could discuss some things with Professor Elm. Crystal bowed goodbye to the professor before she headed back home. Even though she didn't have to do anything, her lifestyle demanded that she did something productive or helpful. So instead of going into her house, she headed towards Earl's Academy so she could help out some more. And maybe after a few hours of that, she'd stop by New Bark Town and see if Gold would accompany her in testing out some of the Pokéball prototypes. She had to come up with a plausible excuse though, to avoid suspicion.

Several hours later, 3 pm, New Bark Town…

Gold took a deep breath and stared at the pool table in front of him. He needed full focus, as his next shot would determine whether he broke his personal record or not. He calculated his options after moving around the table to examine different angles. Having found the perfect angle, he took aim and holding his breath, prepared to take the shot…

But just before he did, he paused and glanced through the open windows, just in case someone or something tried to disrupt his focus. It was entirely possible that someone like the youngster Joey could come by, randomly lose balance, and smash into a fence.

Relieved that no random distractions were going to occur, Gold refocused on the pool table and prepared to take his shot. But unfortunately, just before the tip of his indestructible billiard cue hit the cue ball, his Pokégear vibrated quite violently from his pocket, making him jump in surprise and hit the cue ball in the wrong place. Gold watched in horror as his shot completely missed… there goes his record…

With clenched teeth, the goggled boy pulled out his Pokégear to see which suicidal human being decided to interrupt him and destroy his record. The caller ID was registered to the cutest girl in all of Johto, so he quickly picked it up.

"Hey, what's up?"

"Um… h – hi, Gold," came a timid female voice. "I – It's… um… m – my turn… So are… are you doing anything?"

"Not anymore," Gold answered.

"In… in that case, w – would you… want to?"

"Alright, sure. Where are you?"

"Oh, thank you so much!" the girl cried out excitedly. "I'm in my house in Violet City."

"And where is that?"

"It's on the same street as the orphanage. But if you'd want… maybe I'll wait for you in the Pokémon Center?"

"Alright then. I'll see you there."

Gold hung up and prepared to leave. After making sure that he had his Pokémon, billiard cue, hat, and goggles, he sent out his Mantine (and Remoraids) and headed towards Violet City. He briefly contemplated in getting some flowers in Cherrygrove City, but decided against it. The girl he was going to meet wasn't special. She wasn't really worth the effort. Besides, this girl was crazy for him as is.

30 minutes later, Gold arrived in Violet City. While in the air, he spotted several police cars and Pokémon gathered around what appeared to be a school of some sort. Wondering what was up, Gold got his Mantine to land nearby.

As the goggled boy walked closer, he could see that the school was in fact, Earl's Academy. As he approached, Falkner came up to meet him.

"Hey, Gold," he said with a wave.

Gold looked at him, trying to remember who he was. "… You're that Gym Leader cop, right?"

"I suppose I am," the Violet City Gym Leader answered.

"What's going on here?"

"An attempted murderer broke into the orphanage to evade us," the Gym Leader replied. "He tried to hold some of the people there hostage, but it didn't go so well."

Gold looked into the orphanage and soon spotted a familiar looking girl surrounded a group of crying little kids. The girl was trying her best to calm down the orphans, but had little success. All of the little kids were hugging her tight and crying. Except for four of them. Those four didn't seem to be affected in the slightest and simply glanced around.

"Hey, Crys!" Gold called.

The girl almost jumped in surprise and quickly spun to face his direction. "Hi, Gold!"

Gold walked over towards her and Crystal attempted to do the same. She didn't make much progress, as she still had 20 crying little orphans attached to her limbs.

"So Crys, what happened?" Gold asked. "I heard some guy broke in."

Crystal nodded. "Yeah, he did. He tried to hold me hostage so he could work out some kind of deal with the police."

Gold looked quite surprised. "He held you hostage?" He then noticed that Crystal had a band aid on her left cheek. "So are you okay?"

"I'm fine, thanks to those four," Crystal answered as she turned to look at the four orphans who were glancing around nonchalantly. She shook her head a little and smiled at Gold. "So Gold, what brings you here?"

"I came here to meet someone," Gold replied. "Well, not here specifically. She's waiting for me in the Pokémon Center."

'She? He came here to meet some girl?' Crystal thought as her expression started to darken. She forced herself to maintain the bright smile. "Wh – Who are you meeting?"

Gold didn't notice the change in her tone. "She's just some girl who's absolutely crazy for me. What can I say? Girls fall head over heels for my irresistible charm," he said with a smug look, unknowingly worsening his friend's mood. "She's really nice though. And very cute. She's pretty smart too, unlike the other pretty girls in New Bark Town."

Crystal clenched her teeth, forcing a certain unfamiliar feeling to stay deep inside her and not be revealed. "Did… did you see her a few times before? Like… a date?"

"Nah. This is the first. But she's been asking for this for quite a while now."

"So… do you l – like her?" Crystal asked, desperately trying to keep her voice steady.

Gold seems to have noticed her voice shaking this time. "Crys, you sure you're okay? Maybe you should go home and rest, and… do whatever a Super Serious Gal like you think is fun and relaxing."

Crystal then realized that her voice was shaking beyond control. Knowing that she couldn't calm down nearly as fast enough, she decided to take advantage of that hostage event from a short while ago. She pretended as if she was still distraught from that event (which actually wasn't nearly as terrible as some of her experiences from the past). That way, hopefully no one would figure out the real reason why her voice was starting to shake and why her legs were wobbling.

"N – Now that you mention it… I – I think… I'll go home. It's not every day that I – I have a knife pressed against my throat…"

"Big sis, please get better soon," the little orphans said as they released Crystal from their embrace.

Crystal nodded and patted some of the orphans on the head. "I will… I'll try to come back here tomorrow, okay?"

Gold glanced at the time on his Pokégear. "Whoa. I really need to get going…" He looked at Crystal and gave her a nod. "I'll see you later then, Crys. Try not to be held at knife point again, alright?"

Crystal forced herself to smile and nod. "O – Okay… Gold… Have fun with your… date."

Gold waved her goodbye and with his Mantine, headed towards Violet City's Pokémon Center. Crystal watched him leave and let out a long sigh of despair. It appears that she had waited far too long. If Gold was starting to go on dates with cute looking girls, then eventually, he would fall in love as well. Crystal knew that Gold didn't view her as attractive (given how he never complimented her appearance). But if he thought that the other girls were cute, there was no way that she would be able to compete against her 'rivals'. More she thought about it, the more depressed she became. She liked Gold, and even loved him. But there was absolutely no way that he would feel the same way about her…

Crystal soon finished comforting the orphans and slowly headed back home. She had no idea what she was going to do. Her original plan had her going to Gold's house in New Bark Town to see if he wanted to accompany her in testing the prototype Pokéballs. Her excuse was that the trip would be boring all by herself so she wanted Gold's company. It wasn't very plausible, but she doubted that he would realize it. But now that the goggled boy was on a date, she was stumped. She wasn't in a good enough mood to test the prototype Pokéballs, and since Professor Oak said that she wasn't needed, she couldn't help out on research either…

Upon arriving at her house, Crystal went up to her room and lied down on her bed. She needed to relax a little so that she could get her mind to focus. She let out a long sigh. Unfortunately, there was no way that she could just relax, as her mind was way too distracted. She needed to calm down first, and being alone wasn't going to fix that problem.

Crystal reached for her Pokégear and checked the list of contacts. The very first entry was her own house, and the one directly below was… Gold. She sighed again as the thought of Gold dating another girl popped up in her mind. She shook her head and scrolled down the list. She briefly contemplated in calling Emerald, but decided not to. He wouldn't really be of much help. There was no way that she would ever let her juniors see her in distress. Besides, he was on a mission somewhere and she didn't want to distract him.

Crystal soon spotted the name of a person who might be able to cheer her up. Sure, she didn't see him regularly, but she did contact him relatively frequently to see how he was doing. Even though his father was staying in Viridian City, he was still traveling here and there in Johto. Crystal wasn't sure whether she wanted to drag him into this mess, as she knew that he wouldn't like it at all. But she really needed some cheering.

After staring at her Pokégear for a couple of minutes, Crystal finally made up her mind. She sat up on her bed and called Silver.

There. A chapter that didn't really have an evil ending. I think… I'll have the evil endings for chapters that end a particular segment. … Like next chapter…

Note: the third paragraph in this chapter is specially (not a typo) redundant. Why? Take a guess. That paragraph has the titles to all of S-EARL, in order of creation. It was very painful (admittedly), so I will not try it again. That paragraph and the one before contains significant amount of the phrase "special day" because SL's first title idea was "Special Days". That title was scrapped and I have no regrets. S-EARD? That's ridiculous.