"It's haunted, you know…Ilex Forest. They say someone vanished in there." Silver narrowed his eyes and tried to ignore Hibiki's attempt at unsettling him on Halloween by shoving the ebony-haired boy across the edge of the plastic waiting chairs in the Pokemon Center. Hibiki yelped and managed to save himself at the last minute, tossing his head to the side and flashing the golden eye usually hidden under his mass of bangs.

"You honestly think I'd fall for some weak story like that?" Silver scoffed at Hibiki, openly expressing his distaste for anything further on the subject. Of course, it never seemed to get through to his rival, but he figured that one day he'd pay attention to something other than Pokemon battles and start registering all the signs he had for "You're annoying me" … It wouldn't have been hard to do because Silver knew that he had an arsenal of expressions and body languages that expressed the emotion, but Hibiki still remained clueless.

"It's not a weak story. It's true!" Silver didn't want to hear the story but he could tell that fighting Hibiki on the subject would be next to useless unless he could find a way to battle him to shut him up. However, their Pokemon were already weary from the few days of sparing that Hibiki insisted on doing, and it was why they were here in Azalea Town waiting for their partners to regain strength for another series of intense training battles before winding back in another Pokemon center with nothing to do except listen to Hibiki ramble on about some useless facts about the local area.

"Then enlighten me. Tell me why Ilex Forest is soooo scaaaary." Silver ended his sentence with a very bad stereotyping of ghost speak while wiggling his fingers in Hibiki's face. Hibiki swatted at the red-haired boy and frowned as though the very idea of the story of Ilex Forest being taken for a joke was going too far.

"You know about the Guardian of the Forest and how it can travel through time and stuff, so I'll leave that out, but even though it's pretty harmless on it's own, it's got a dark side."

"There's no way we can just skip to the scary part, is there?"

"You asked! So you're going to have to wait for that stuff because I know you don't know the story." Silver didn't feel like mentioning that the only reason he had said anything was because he knew that the rival wouldn't let it up and that he didn't even want to hear the story in the first place.

"Okay…okay. Continue." Hibiki seemed pleased with himself that he had won out over Silver's snarky tendencies and settled himself in for added comfort. Silver did not see this as a good sign.

"Back before either of us had been born, the forest was peaceful and the Guardian was seen all the time flitting from tree to tree…just observing and stuff. It was one of those things where you'd never expect something to go wrong, but it did. One night the forest burst into a stream of light so bright it rivaled the sun. No one knew what had happened but that didn't stop everyone from rushing into the forest to find out whether or not the Guardian had been disrupted. Where the shrine stands now is where everyone stopped and stared in horror." Hibiki paused, staring intently at Silver as though gauging for a reaction. Silver had remained quiet, not the least bit concerned but when Hibiki would not let up with that insistent gaze, Silver assumed there was only one thing his Rival was waiting on. He heaved a heavy sigh for being trapped in this.

"What did they find?"

"Blood. It was everywhere. Spattered across the branches in thickening clumps and dripping in globs onto the dark grass. It looked like someone had literally exploded right there at that very spot."

"That's disgusting." Silver didn't think Hibiki possessed descriptive power like that and it made him cringe a little. Hibiki smiled, assuming that Silver was more keen on hearing the story.

"I know. It's part of the haunting atmosphere. But anyway, everyone wondered who it could have been since everyone in the neighboring towns was there investigating. It never really occurred to them to suspect their kids or anything because they were all in bed…all of them except for one little girl.

"They found her bed empty and the window wide open the next morning when the parents went to check up on their kids to explain to them that everything seemed to be okay in the forest. After that it was only a question as to what might have happened to both her and the Guardian of the Forest. "

"Clearly she died. End of story." Silver couldn't help but feel the slightest bit unnerved that something like that had happened in such a place, but Hibiki shook his head, stating that that was not the case.

"You would think that she was dead, but even though there was all that blood, there were no other signs of a body. Bits of bone or maybe some organs might have convinced them that she was honestly and truly dead and then you have to think of the Guardian too. Had it done the unspeakable to the child or had it merely been trying to protect the girl from something even worse and used its time traveling abilities? In any event, they built the shrine and gave the girl her own funeral of sorts to put everyone's mind at ease and remember the events as a warning to anyone else who tried to do harm in the forest."

"And that's the end of the story right? Because even though that's vile, it doesn't make the place haunted." Hibiki smiled darkly.

"No…but there's the part where you can hear a child's scream on nights like this. There's also the occasional sighting of a girl darting through the forest like the Guardian used to do and trying to steal them away so she won't be lonely anymore. That's what makes it haunted." Silver did feel unnerved at that. For some reason it explained the few times he had felt like he had been trapped in an unseen gaze as he traveled through the thick forest, but he brushed it off as nothing more than the lingering mystery of Hibiki's story.

"Okay, that wasn't too bad…Now I'll tell you the story of the Lavender Town haunting."

. . . . .

Silver tossed and turned in the complementary cot that had been provided for both the boys while they stayed the night in Azalea Town. Something about that story had driven him to hear a soft giggling from time to time and have what seemed to be fog dance in and out of his vision throughout the rest of the day. Even now, when he was sure it was just his body crying out exhaustion from the training, the sights and sounds persisted. Sometimes, he swore he could hear someone whispering his name in his ear in a way that spoke of poorly restrained laughter.

Finally, he could stand no more and sat up, stretching his muscles in some kind of attempt to relax. When even that did nothing for him, he silently moved from the cot and found himself in the cool night air outside. From the corner of his eye, he thought he caught movement, and tried to see but no one was there. Now that he was actually looking around, there weren't even any Slowpoke lingering outside next to buildings like they sometimes did. It was utterly quiet and empty save for the light fog that was scattered throughout the town.

If Silver had been anyone else, he probably would have marched back into the Pokemon Center and waited out until the sleep finally came, but that would have been the weak thing to do and Silver prided himself on being the exact opposite of weak. In fact, he decided to peek into Ilex Forest just to look at the shrine and gauge from himself just how scary and haunted it was.

Across the town and through the gate. It was that easy and Silver found himself making his way on the grassy path to the Shrine. He couldn't believe how quiet the forest was, but it might have just been because of the late hours. Soon enough, the simple wood building was in his sight and as he stepped closer, he noticed that there appeared to be a girl sitting on top of it humming a soft tune.

"That's a shrine, you know. Have some respect and get down from there." Silver snapped at her more out of reflex than anything else. She turned her head and looked at him with big brown questioning eyes that blinked rapidly. Her face was framed by brown locks of hair that just covered her ears and behind those were big pigtails that stuck out to the side. On top of her head was a hat that looked like a marshmallow or cotton ball and he found himself wanting to tear it from her head and smash it into the ground because of how ridiculous it looked.

"Is it? This is a Shrine?" She questioned, raising her index finger to her mouth and tapping it on her lower lip in thought. Silver narrowed his eyes in their usual expression; a scowl.

"Yeah…what did you think it was?" She hopped down from the shrine in a graceful, catlike movement and rushed up to Silver, stopping just short of physically touching him. He stepped back, uneasy and the slightest bit annoyed as she studied him curiously.

"Just… a…building." Every pause was a step he tried to take away from her that she never let him keep.

"What are you doing?" She was weirding him out with her need to be suffocatingly close to him, but all she did was blink up at him, ever curious. Her hands folded together and she pressed them against her chest.

"It's been so long since I've seen another person. I'm sorry." She bowed forward in a kind of apology and Silver found that opportunity to turn around and walk away from her before she followed him. He already had Hibiki for a friend, he didn't think he could tolerate having two crazy people near him all the time.

She heard his footsteps as he walked away. Her face darkened before she fought it back and rushed to stand in front of him, effectively blocking his path. Silver growled and reached for her tiny shoulders to push her off to the side.

'Your overalls are dirty again! Do you know how much I hate cleaning up after you, you filthy child!'

Silver cringed from the harsh voice that screamed in his head from the contact with the girl. She merely stared at him with an unreadable expression on her face as he tried to regain his composure. His eyes wide, he looked at her and then to the gate, determined to ignore anything else the girl tried to do and get some rest.

"No…no don't go…" She paused, counting the steps he took. Her hand reached out to his fading silhouette as he paid her no more attention. "Come back!" Her scream rang in his ears, sounding of pure terror and when he looked back at her, he saw that she had a large gash in her side and blood was staining her blue overalls a dark wet color.

Silver didn't have time to think about anything else as the color drained from his face. He found himself rooted to the spot, unable to scream or cover his eyes as other wounds bloomed across her body from nowhere and added to the crimson on her being.

"Please stay. You could be my friend…protect me. I know we'd be good friends. I'd never hurt like this again." Her voice was quiet and almost unintelligible in comparison to the heavy beat of his heart in his ears. She started to walk toward him.

'Kotone had made it out of her window and into the forest. She was sure that she would be safe this time because the Guardian would protect her. But she could hear him coming just the same. A rage filled voice demanding that she come out and go back home before her punishment was any worse than it was already going to be.'

"I-I-I don't want to be your friend." Silver tried to keep his voice steady and hide the weakness he was sure he was showing. She gripped her side as though it would help. It did help hide the wound, but that didn't help anything. She took another step.

'He found her trembling in a tiny ball behind some thin shrubs. She yelped when he picked her up by her shirt collar and shook her.

'Is this how you repay me for taking care of you after your mother left?! By running away?! I could have shipped you off to an orphanage and that would have been the end of it. Are you that ungrateful for everything I've done?!' She cried silently and kept her head down as he yelled at her, unafraid to make any sounds or look at him.

'I'm sorry' She finally whimpered when he had gone quiet.

'Not yet, you aren't…''

Silver wanted to run screaming and never leave the Pokemon Center again. He suddenly found himself cursing having ever doubted Hibiki's warning and playing it off like nothing. But he couldn't run. He couldn't scream. And he couldn't tear his eyes from the now limping girl as she continued to move toward him and cry.

'His arms burned with how hard he found himself hitting her. His ears rang from the screams that she never seemed to run out of. His eyes stung as sweat forced its way into the corners of his eyes. Her tiny little body probably couldn't take much more, but he had one more thing to do. He reached in the back of his belt and pulled out a long knife that glittered cold in the moon light.

Her little eyes were all terror and tears as she looked up at him and silently begged him not to do it. She had learned her lesson and she'd never disobey him ever again. But he'd had enough of her rebelliousness. And he was tired of having to always take care of her. This would be the easiest thing he had ever done.'

An ear-splitting scream tore itself from her throat as she relived the pain he had inflicted on her. By then, she was only an arms length from him as she doubled over in pain and dropped to her knees, breathing heavily from the strain of her wounds. She stared up at him, her tears blending with the blood in her face as though she was pleading for him to change something…anything.

"Stay with me?" Her words were quiet and shaky as though she didn't have much more time to suffer. Silver could wait it out, couldn't he? She reached up a bloodied hand to touch him, but it hovered just in front of his right hand, waiting for permission to drag him with her.

His vision flickered as it fought with the onset of another one of those horrible flashbacks and he winced as something in him broke.

"I'll stay with you…I'll stay." He thought he caught her give some kind of malicious smile at his answer, but it was gone when she took his hand and everything faded into a brilliant white light.

. . . . .

Hibiki woke with a shuddering start to the sound of screams and laughter in his ears. Looking around, he noticed that Silver wasn't in his cot…

AN/ I'm not dead...Just busy as sin. I did manage to kick this out of my brain in time for Halloween and I'll share it with you to prove I'm not dead. I hope you all like this bit of slightly scary literature.
Also ... Kotone is stealer of souuuuuuuuuuuuls! XD