This is going to be a -only story. This will NOT go up on Deviantart.

I feel the need to write this. If my Pokemon fans are disappointed, I apologize. I'll still be working on Starting the Fire, I promise.

-Silent-Protagonist

()()()

After.

The sky was merely overcast today. Scott Shelby found that odd; it had been pouring rain for the past few weeks or so, letting up only long enough for the dank humidity of the aging city streets to dry the stagnant puddles before the churning clouds silently began crying again. Had circumstances not panned out the way they had, Shelby still might be free. He might be working, continually trapped in his lifelong struggle to find a man worthy of his veneration. But no droplets stained his orange jumpsuit today—it was different from other days in this respect. For so long, he had been drowning alongside his victims and refusing to swim for fear of losing against the surging tide.

Now, he was only restrained more.

Shelby sat alone in the long, musty prison bus, his thick neck bowed low and his graying strands of hair dull in the lack of light, his only other company being a few security guards from the jail from which he was being moved. Usually, inmates were transferred from one facility to another together, but Shelby was a special case. Murderers were always a special case. He'd been locked up with a wide range of men for a while—everything from petty thieves to pedophiles, husbands who had beat their wives and fathers who had raped their daughters—and correctional administrators didn't bat an eye. But, interestingly enough, moving him across the city required several professional guards, maximum security, and solitude. Serial killers were worlds away from everyone else—psychologically mismatched and deranged scraps of frustrated therapists who thought them to be lost hopes. The other men that Shelby had quartered with weren't necessarily sick; they were misguided, and the prison system was designed to reconstruct them.

Shelby was very, very different. He knew for a fact that he could never destroy the dark, unsettling thoughts that rustled like a fall breeze through his mind, threatening to rise and strike anyone unfortunate enough to be nearby. Unlike the men that bedded in cells around him and ate their meals in his proximity, he knew that he would never change. Scott Shelby was forever doomed to be a psychopath—and somehow, that hadn't bothered him until now.

Oh, if only I could make amends.

The bus hit a deep dip in the pavement of the Philadelphia streets, and the jostle caused the tarnished silver handcuffs around Shelby's wrists to dig in further. Biting back a snarl, Shelby gritted his teeth and glared down at his broad belly, swathed by the frayed orange jumpsuit that had probably seen several other inmates before him. Good God, he was large—even the strict exercise regimen in prison had not shed his weight. The recollection of Lauren hounding him to go on a diet when they were together briefly crossed his mind, but the moment that old, crumbling skeleton rattled its bones, Shelby quickly locked it away in the back of his memory, where it belonged. I can't think about her. Not now. Not ever again.

Still, the attempt to restrain himself had come too late—he was daydreaming about her once more, a set of reminisces that he had promised wouldn't cloud his intentions. Yes, he was a bit big, but she was very thin—too thin, and she'd agreed with him. Because of this, they did their best to eat a great meal at least once a day together, sitting at his rusting card table in his kitchen, where the floor was slightly stained maroon from mold that Lauren's obsessive cleanliness had long eliminated. Neither of them could cook very well, but Lauren continually joked that Scott's scrambled eggs were the best that she'd ever had. He thought of her with her incredibly dark hair, smooth as sand that sifted to the touch, tied back in a ponytail as she ate, glancing up occasionally to grin at him as she wolfed down her food. She's squeak back and forth in the chairs Shelby had picked up from the Philadelphia Police Station when he'd gone into retirement, her miniscule size barely making a sound. They would have a contest about who could make the most noise—a competition Scott always won, but Lauren gained the consolation prize of another batch of eggs.

I love you, Scott. I hope this never ends.

"We have to grow old and die sometime, Lauren." Scott found himself talking aloud to no one in particular, echoing the chipping canyon of his memories. He felt the eyes of the guards turn and settle on him as his soft but authoritative voice boomed, bouncing off the walls of the bus and prickling their skin. Scott knew they would write off his soliloquy as simple insanity; he knew none of them would listen.

He could speak. But no one would hear him.

Yeah, yeah, I know, but I've got a ways to go.

"Oh, so I'm the ancient one?"

You bet. Did I eat all the eggs again? Sorry. I really need to do my share in reducing the grocery bill.

Shelby perceived tears welling up in his sober hazel eyes, slowly permeating him like the rain that he found so much comfort—and so much anguish—in. He gazed out the window with his vision graying with the disheartening sadness of the hanging sky outside, the frost on the metal panes radiating a cold that only made him more bitter. Desperately, he waited for a raindrop. Just one—he didn't need any more than that. He needed the precipitation to fill him, drown the hole in his heart that his brother died in so many years ago. But the harder he prayed, the more the clouds seemed to lighten, precluding to the sun that crept with warm stealth behind their cover. The gods were tired of Scott Shelby's entreaties, exhausted of letting him kill in the midst of the rain. It seemed clear to him that they were through.

"Don't worry about it, sweetie," he whispered, a single tear slipping past his thick shield. "You can eat as much as you want."

As the bus pulled up to Shelby's new home, the sun broke through the clouds.

There was no more time for the rain.