Crystal - Dawn of a new Champion [20]
Content Rating: T-16
Published: 2012-08-06 19:30:17
Tags: Munna, Musharna, Pokémon, Pokemon, Riley, Dream Smoke, Red, Gold, Pansage, Mock Riley



Summary:
As Crystal and Pokabu continue their training for their upcoming Gym battle, they find many things changing around them. Pokémon are joining teams, new moves are learned and old ones are relearned, secrets are revealed, and Crystal finally gets a showdown with the puppet master behind her constant nightmares.

Author´s Notes and Disclaimers:
Thanks so much to titan-mark on DA for allowing me to use their beautiful(and creepy) Munna drawing! So Black2 and White2 come out just two days before my birthday! Is that awesome or what? Needless to say I probably won't be getting much done that week… Also sorry for disappearing for two months again! But honestly I don't feel too bad about it… And that is entirely because I got back into an old story of mine that I haven't written in… almost a year, I think! Maybe even two… it was around the time I got started on Quizilla. Anyway I had a fun couple of weeks reimagining it and remembering everything I had planned out for its characters. It's honestly my favourite story that I've written so far, not to mention the first series I got really serious about. But in all honesty the writing kinda sucked. XD But hey, I was twelve! Maybe I should put up the original first chapter someday… Anyway I'm back to writing Crystal! Also, I'm considering starting a new WWFFY following White 2's story. I'll still be working on Crystal, though. Working on both will either make updates a little faster or a lot slower. I guess we'll see.

Pokémon and its characters belong to the Pokémon Company, Game Freak, Nintendo, etc. I only claim ownership of the unique personalities and original characters.
Chapter 20
First Chapter | Previous Chapter
"Hey!" You turn to find Yanappu glaring at you.

"Oh, hey, Yanappu." You smile at him. "What's up?"

"Why'd you stop training at the Dream Yard? I thought you were training there because you're trying to get me to like humans."

"Well that was why I was training there, but… I've been told it's too dangerous for me there."

"What do you mean?" He frowns.

"I'm not exactly sure… But I think it's best if I stay away from the Dream Yard from now on."

"But…!" he starts to say, but catches himself, looking away from you.

"Well, I'll still be training, just in a clearing south of Striaton. You can come watch if you like." You smile as his head snaps up to look at you, a blush tinting his cheeks.

"A-as if!" he scoffs, turning his nose up at you.

"See you around, Yanappu." You wave to him as you head to the clearing. You hear him start to follow you after about a minute or so.

"Hey, Crystal!" Daikenki tackles you as you reach the clearing. "Guess what!"

"What?" you laugh, sitting up.

"Syabi and I are on Riley's team now!" she announces, beaming at you.

"Really? That's terrific! What made Syabi change his mind?"

"I talked to him." Lulu says, coming over to get Daikenki off you. "I think someone else heard, too." She nods at something behind you, and you turn to see Yanappu's tail disappearing into a clump of bushes. You smile.

"Thanks, Lulu." you thank her, standing. "Hey Riley, congrats!" you tell him, jogging over.

"Oh, uh, thanks, Crystal." He smiles at you, Syabi on his shoulder.

"Just so you know, I don't like all humans!" Syabi informs you. "So far it's just Riley!"

"Well that's fine. I'm sure you'll warm up to everyone eventually."

"I don't know about that…" he mumbles, looking a little taken aback by your response.

"So is Audrey joining your team too, Riley?" you ask.

"Nope. She's joining my team." Blue says, coming over.

"Really? Why's that?"

"I'd just rather be on Blue's team." Audrey says, smiling.

Audrey
Audino
Gentle; Alert to sounds
Ability; Healer
Moves; Growl; Refresh; Helping Hand; Double Slap;
Holding a Big Root

Syabi
Snivy
Timid; A little quick tempered
Ability; Contrary
Moves; Tackle; Leer; Vine Whip;
No held item

Daikenki
Oshawott
Bold; Likes to fight
Ability; Shell Armor
Moves; Tackle; Tail Whip; Water Gun;
No held item

"Hey! Can I fight Pokabu next?" Daikenki asks excitedly.

"I think he's a little out of your league…" Audrey says gently.

"Nah, that sounds like fun!" Pokabu says. "I don’t mind going a little easy on her. Besides, I need to practice more against Water types."

"Don't you dare go easy on me!" Daikenki pouts. "Actually you know what? I'm not gonna let you! I've been experimenting with this new move! At the end of this battle, you're gonna be asking me to go easy! Just you wait and see!"

"Okay, then." Pokabu laughs.

"Blue, you mind refereeing?" you ask him.

"Huh?"

"Daikenki and Pokabu want to fight each other."

"Oh! Yeah, of course!" You all move to your positions in the clearing, and you feel a small pair of eyes on you as Blue starts announcing the rules. "This is a one-on-one battle! No items and no substitutions! The winner will be determined when one or both Pokémon are unable to battle!"

"Hey, you sound almost like a professional ref!" you laugh.

"Well I'd hope so. I've been asking the Striaton Gym's ref for advice."

"You wanna become a referee?" He shrugs.

"Not really. I just wanna know how to judge a match for times like these."

"All right, then!"

"You may begin!"

"Pokabu, Tackle!" He runs at Daikenki.

"Daikenki, hop up into the air!" Riley commands.

"Just that? Why?"

"Just trust me on this!"

"All right…"

"Now!" She hops into the air, avoiding Pokabu's attack. "Water Gun!" She shoots a stream of water at him.

"Pokabu, to your left!" Pokabu hops aside to avoid the attack. "Get her with Ember!" He looks up and fires embers up at her.

"Ah!" Unable to dodge in midair, Daikenki is hit by the flames. She crashes to the ground, holding her burned arm.

"Daik!" Syabi yells worriedly from the sidelines.

"I'm all right!" she calls, standing. "Damn, this is fun!"

"Daikenki…" Audrey says warningly.

"Sorry! So, what next, my trainer?" she asks, grinning.

"Let's try that move you've been working on."

"Really?" She beams hopefully at him. He nods. "Yes!" She pumps a fist into the air, her body covering in water as she does so. "Let's just hope it works this time!"

"Wait, what?" Ignoring him, she jumps into the air, the water around her turning into a stream and propelling her through the air. She spirals upwards then dives down, going around the field and picking up speed, before turning towards Pokabu.

"What the hell is that move?!" you gasp.

"That would be Aqua Jet." Codie informs you from your pocket. "But Oshawott don't usually learn that move until at least level twenty-nine."

"Careful, Pokabu!" you tell him. "Get ready to dodge!" He nods and watches carefully as Daikenki tries to maintain a straight path to him. "Now!" At the last second, Pokabu hops to his right, but Daikenki takes a sudden swerve, crashing into him. "Pokabu!"

"Holy crap, that worked! It actually worked! I hit something other than a tree!" Daikenki laughs, doing a little dance and Pokabu stands, shaking himself dry.

"Need to work on power, though. That was more like getting hit by a Water Sport than anything else." he sighs, shaking his soaked ears out of his face.

"Hey, I actually hit what I was aiming for! I call that a win." She grins. "Hey, Syabi! I did it! Did'jya see? Huh? Huh? Did'jya?"

"That was… spectacular." Syabi says, letting out a sigh of relief. "Great job, Daik." He smiles at her, and she beams back.

"All right! Let's keep this battle going! I've got another move I've been working on!"

"Oh please God don't let it be-" Syabi starts to groan.

"Shell Blade!" Daikenki takes her scalchop off and wields it like a blade.

"Looks more like Razor Shell to me-"

"Shut up!" you hiss, smacking Codie again.

"Let's see what you've got." Pokabu says, smirking.

After that, the match turns more into a play fight than anything else. Daikenki tries out a bunch of half-baked moves that mostly either miss or fail completely. After about an hour of humoring her, Pokabu finally manages to pin her down.

"Told you I'd win!" he laughs.

"Pokabu…" Daikenki says carefully.

"Huh? What's wrong?"

"You're… glowing."

Holy shit.
Why's he glowing?
^Idiot. Isn't it obvious? [2; No.] Oh, then I won't give it away.
^That's surprisingly nice of you, Nishiko. [3; Isn't it?]
^More like unsurprisingly lazy. [2; Hey! I resent that! I don't deny it, but I still resent it.]
Oh… wow… Is… is he…?
^Yeah, I think so.
^Would someone tell me what the hell everyone is talking about?! [1; Shut up, Shiori.]
"What?" He blinks and looks at himself. "Holy crap!" He jumps back, staring wide-eyed at his glowing body.

"Pokabu!" You run to him, kneeling beside him. "What's happening?"

"You've never seen a Pokémon evolve before?" Blue asks.

"He's evolving?" you breathe.

No shit, Sherlock.
Wow… Pokabu's evolving…
Oh my gosh Pokabu's evolving! That's so amazing!
^Excited, Godek? [2; Well, yeah! Aren't you?] Of course. I'm just not squeeing and bouncing like a little kid on Christmas day. [2; I-I wasn't doing that! O///O] Aw, you're just the cutest, Godek. [8; Yu-] No, Shiori! Not Yuri. [8; Girl love?] No. Well, maybe Rokura and Shichi. [2; Say what now?!] [7; Like I'd date Rokura. Even if I weren't into boys to the point of obsession and violence, I could get a much better girl than her] [2; Yeah, well, you're not a prize either, Shichi.] [7; Not to you, maybe.]
Saw it coming.
^A mile away. You suck, Raven. [Ra; Shichi!]
^Ah'm on it. *grabs SR* [4; Wait, what?] C'mere, Sanae. [4; Oh, fuck! I was kidding! Kidding!] I don't really care either way, I just feel like causing some pain. ˃:3
^Ooh, that's gotta hurt! [2; Shichi stop hurting Sanae! DX] [5; Make me, Godek.]
"Crystal, I don't want to evolve!" Pokabu blurts. "I… I mean… not now!"

"Why not?"

"I don't know, I just… I don’t want this right now!" He squeezes his eyes shut. "I'm scared! What if I evolve into something ugly? Or what if I'm too big to stay out of my Poké Ball all the time? Or my personality changes? Or… or…!" You pull him to your chest, giving his head a comforting kiss.

Well fuck.
Guess we didn't tell him about Charlotte.
^That's a plot flaw. [Ra; *smack* Shut up I hadn't planned this yet when I wrote 18. I don't think. Honestly it's all kinda a blur…]
He doesn't want to evolve? Oh…
^Disappointed? [4; Well, yeah… I thought he was going to evolve. Who wouldn't be a little disappointed, finding out their Pokémon doesn't want to evolve?]
^Maybe it's for the best.
^What, you gonna spew some shit about how evolving is somehow bad for Pokémon? [6; Actually, no. I don't mean it that way. I mean maybe it's what's best for him personally. Not everyone wants the same things out of life.] Wow, that's deep. ……… SR smack to Rokura's boobs! *smack* [6; Ow! What the fuck Shichi?! What was that for?!] To lighten the mood! [6; HOW THE FUCK DOES THAT LIGHTEN THE MOOD?!] Oh you're just bitching because your boobs are sore. [6; And why exactly did you think that would lighten the mood?] 'Cause it's funny! [6; It is not funny.] Funny to me!
^Yeah! Hilarious! You should've seen the look on your face, Rokura! [6; NOT HELPING SHIORI.] Hey, I didn't come to help, I came to mock. [6; Stop quoting Big Bang, Shiori.] But Raj is hilarious! [Ra; And now I'm hearing you speak in Raj's voice for some reason. XD] Yay!
"Blue, Riley, is there any way we can postpone it or something?" you ask, looking up at them pleadingly.

"Here." Blue walks over and hands you a shard of a blue-grey stone strung on a piece of twine. You look at him questioningly. "It's an Everstone shard. It'll keep him from evolving as long as he wears it." You nod and slip the necklace over Pokabu's head, breathing a sigh of relief when he stops glowing. "If he ever decides he wants to evolve, all he has to do is take it off." Blue informs you.

"Thank you, Blue." You smile gratefully at him. A tint rises to his cheeks as he mumbles a 'you're welcome'. "You okay, Pokabu?" you ask, turning to him.

"I… I think so… I'm sorry, Crystal…" He drops head in shame.

"It's fine." you assure him. "Evolution is a big step. Let's just relax and we can talk about what we want to do about it, maybe find out a little more about what evolution means for your species. We don't have to decide anything right now."

"Okay." He buries his face in your chest, and you give him a reassuring squeeze.

"I'm gonna take him back to Fennel's." you tell the boys.

"Take the rest of the day off, Crystal." Riley tells you. "Evolution's a big decision, and you should take all the time you need deciding what you want to do."

"Thank you." You smile and wave to them before leaving for Fennel's. "Oh, I should probably tell you about Charlotte." you tell Pokabu. "She's actually what you-"

"Why don't you wanna evolve?" Yanappu asks, dropping into your path from a tree a while away from the clearing.

"Do you want to evolve?" you ask him, giving the upside-down Pokémon a pointed look.

"I didn't mean it like that. I have my reasons for wanting to stay like this. I was just curious what his reason is."

Huh? Yanappu doesn't want to evolve?
^I wonder why. [Ra; Oh shit I'm gonna have to answer that eventually aren't I?]
^If you're a half decent writer you are. [Ra; Crap! Yanappu, get over here! We need to figure out why you don't want to evolve!] [Yanappu; Can't you just write some crap about me wanting to stay this size?] [Ra; No. That excuse won't work yet. We need to come up with another reason.] [Yanappu; No, you need to come up with another reason. I'm going to take a nap.] [Ra; ˃:| ………………… Maybe I should just write you out.] [Y; Go ahead. I don't care.] [Ra; Well I didn't want you in the story anyway!]
^Wait, are you really taking Yanappu out of the story? I thought he was going to be one of Crystal's Pokémon. [Ra; What? No, that was a bit. He's still in the story.]
^A bit of what? [Ra; ………………………………………………………………………………… *smack*] That hurt! =D [Ra; I'm starting to regret creating you.] What? You're my mother? No… that can't be! That's impossumble! [Ra; …… I'm seriously considering killing you.]
^You're not really going to kill her, right? [Ra; ………] Right? [Ra; Right! I may just maim her a bit….]
^Ooh, can I help?
^Shichi, no helping Raven maim Shiori. [7; Can I do it by myself then?] Knock yourself out. [7; Yes! Shiori, fetch me my Super Rod!] [6; Wait, you're making Shiori fetch the thing you're going to use to hurt her?] [7; I do it all the time. What's your point?] [6; ……… Never mind. Carry on.]
"I think…" You look down at Pokabu curiously. "I think I wanna stay like this because…" he blushes and looks away as he mutters, "because of Erlade."

"Because of a girl?" Yanappu scoffs.

You ass.
Hey. Shut up.
^Yeah, dude, don't be a dick. You're making me hate you a little. [Yanappu; Like I care.]
^You do care, and you know it.
^Admit it, Yanappu! You loooooooove us! [Ya; Sh-shut up!]
^Aww, he's blushing! ˃:3 [Ya; A-am not! ˃///˂] He's so cute when he lies. It makes me want to beat his face. [All; O.O; ………] ……What?
^I'm scared.
^There is something seriously wrong with you, Shichi. [6; Like everyone didn't know that already.] Still. You're scaring Godek. [6; Sorry, Godek.] [7; Eep.] Not helping.
"You've clearly never been in love, Yanappu." In surprise, he releases his hold on the branch and falls to the ground. Quickly he hops up to face Lullaby as she comes closer.

"Don't judge me, Tranquill." he spits.

"I'm not judging, simply pointing out a fact." Lullaby returns, coolly staring him down.

"It's not nice to point, Lullaby." you tell her. She meets your eyes and gives an understanding smile.

"Well, you're right about that. I'll see you back at Fennel's after I take care of something."

"See you." She waves, and you nod in reply.

"What a bitch." Yanappu comments.

Ha! He totally called it! I knew she was a bitch from day one!
^You did not, you liar. [1; Did too.] Did not. [1; Nuh-huh.] Nuh-uh. [1; Nuh-huh] Nuh-uh [1; Nuh-huh] Nuh-uh [1; Nuh-huh] Nuh-uh [1; Nuh-huh] Nuh-uh [1; Nuh-huh] Nuh-uh [1; Nuh-huh] Nuh-uh [1; Nuh-huh] Nuh-uh [1; Nuh-huh] Nuh-uh [1; Nuh-huh] Nuh-uh [1; Nuh-huh] Nuh-uh [1; Nuh-huh] Nuh-uh [1; Nuh-huh] Nuh-uh-
^ENOUGH!!! Arceus you two are annoying! Bed. Now. [1 & 2; But-] Now. [1 & 2; Fine.]
^You're gonna make a great mom someday, Shichi. [3; Fuck off, Sanae.]
^Well someone's being a bitch. [3; Fuck you too, Rokura.]
^I feel like we're saying the f-word a lot lately… [3; No we're not. Now shut the fuck up, will ya Godek?] M'kay…
^Shichi, stop swearing at Godek. You're upsetting her. [3; Make me, Hachi.] Shiori.
^Yessir, Ma'am! *tosses Super Rod* [7; Heeeere, Shichi, Shichi…] [4; Holy crap Hachi's gotten sadistic.] I know. Isn't it wonderful? ^^ [4; It sure is, Shiori.] [5; …… You two are scaring me a little.]
"Don't say that." you scold him. "She's nice… normally."

"She just must not like you." Pokabu states. You nudge him and give him a pointed glare.

"Well I don't like her either." Yanappu pouts.

"So why don't you want to evolve?" you ask. He jumps at your question, looking at you in surprise.

"I'll be keeping an eye on you, Dawn." he says, turning to leave.

"See you around, Yanappu." you call after him, smiling.

[~*~]

"Okay… Try again. Remember what I told you; the move is still there, you just need to remember how to use it."

"Right." Pokabu takes a deep breath and wags his tail.

"There! Booster's defense was just lowered!" Mags smiles at him.

"I still fail to see the logic of that move." Pokabu chuckles, smiling proudly.

"Yeah, a lot of that stuff doesn't make sense." Booster laughs. "But hey, you did it! Now you know six moves at once!"

"The first six or seven are the hardest." Mags tells him. "Once you've mastered this technique, you'll never have to forget a move again. Though I'd still try to keep the number down; it can get kind of confusing after a while."

"How many moves do you know?" Pokabu asks.

"Uh… I think… fifteen."

"Wow… that's a lot." you say, resting your arms on your knees as you watch them train. "I don't see how Gold can remember all your moves, let alone Taubsi and his other Pokémon's."

"Don't get me wrong, it took a lot of practice and patience. But it helps that he has a brilliant memory." She smiles proudly.

"Say…" You pause, knowing it's an awkward question, but the curiosity is killing you. "What happened to Gold's other Pokémon?" Mags freezes. "I mean, I know he didn't travel through both Kanto and Johto with just you and Taubsi… right?"

"…… It's… complicated." she finally sighs.

"Mags?" Booster asks worriedly.

"You've only been a trainer for a month, so you haven't really learned this yet, but… Just the same as human friends, Pokémon friends come and go, too. And Gold has made a lot of friends on his journey. But like I said, eventually everyone parts ways. In the end, each of them had their reasons to leave. Taubsi and I are the only ones that never had a reason to leave him. We probably never will." she adds under her breath, a shadow casting over her face.

"Ah… Being a trainer can be lonely sometimes, can't it?" you say, looking over at her. "Even with one of your best friends standing by you."

"All trainers get lonely sometimes. But they mostly get homesick. I'm rather surprised you haven't gotten homesick yet."

"Look at you, getting all outspoken all of a sudden." Booster teases her, bumping his shoulder against hers and grinning as she blushes.

"I actually have." you tell Mags. "I miss my mom and everyone in Vermilion, but… I call my mom every week, so it's not so bad. I can't imagine what it must've been like for Gold, though… I heard Red say that he hasn't talked to his family since he went to Johto."

"Oh, he did talk to their mother." Mags tells you. "He called her every week, like you do. The only one he didn't talk to was Red. But that's because they're both so stubborn."

"Huh? I thought Gold said…"

"They're both stubborn idiots," Mags sighs. "That whole incident with the medicine just made Red a little more stubborn. But honestly Gold could have done more to-"

"Depressing!" Steaks announces, barreling into Pokabu. "Let's talk about something fun! Like you getting your ass handed to you by Cress and Shuĭ!" He grins wickedly as Pokabu pushes him off.

Why that little-
^Calm down, Ichiko. [1; No! I hate that fucking Purrloin! I want Choroneko back! What the hell ever happened to him, anyway?]
^I think N released him. [1; Damn it. I liked him.] How? We hardly even met him. I think he had like one line in a Bonus Scene. [1; I don't care I love him.] Pfft. [1; Shut up.]
Wait, what was that about Gold? What does she mean by 'could have done more'?
^Argh! This just keeps getting more and more complicated! Rrgh! This is fucking annoying!
Oh, I am so killing that cat.
^No you're not. [6; ……… Damn it, you're right.] Lawyered. ;3 [6; *slaps* No. You do not get to use Marshal's catchphrase.] Actually it's more of a catchword, so- [6; OH MY FUCKING GOD SHUT UP!]
…… I think I'm a vegetarian now. [6; Hanh?] [7; Ooh, ooh! Pick me, pick me!] Shiori. [7; You're vegetarian because you hate Steaks!] Bingo. ;) [6; *slaps 8* I'm sorry that joke was just too terrible.]
"Steaks? I thought you guys were on your way to Nacrene." you say, frowning.

"We were! But Bel lost her badge again. I swear, that girl would lose her rack if it weren't attached so perfectly to her- Ah!" he yelps as Roxanne tackles him.

"Don't talk about Bel's rack that way!" she growls, glaring at him as she pins him down. "How would you feel if someone made jokes about your rack all the time?"

"I don't have a rack." he replies bluntly. "But if I had one as magnificent as Bianca's, I'd take my comments as compliments."

"Hey, Roxanne. When did you evolve?" you ask, noticing that she's grown.

"Oh. We were in Wellspring Cave and I beat up this Roggenrola." she tells you, getting off of Steaks.

"Huh. I wonder what Haderia will look like when she evolves." you mutter, thinking of her different colored fur.

"Well, it'll probably be a while." Roxanne sighs. "She's at a pretty low level, so unless she beats something a lot stronger than her - and I mean a lot stronger - it could be months before she evolves."

Yaay, foreshadowing! [Ra; Shut up, Shiori.]
^So when are we going to see a Pokémon evolve? I assume Pokabu's not going to be evolving anytime soon. [Ra; Nope! In fact he might be one of the last Starters to evolve…]
^AHHH LALALALALALALA I CAN'T HEAR YOU. LALALALALALALA.
^Dude, what's your problem? [3; Raven keeps telling us spoilers! ˃A˂ I don't want to know that much about what happens!] [Ra; Oh, suck it up, Godek.]
^Raven, you tell us one more spoiler and I will take this Super Rod and shove it- [Ra; Bitch, please, you don't scare me. XD]
^Shichi, may I borrow that? ^^ [5; Uh… yeah, sure.] Thanks. *brandishes SR* Raven, seriously, one more spoiler and I will do all the things I did to Shichi in the last chapter to you. [Ra; O.O; …… Now you I'm scared of. Fine. I'll try to dial back the spoilers.] Good Raven. [Ra; Pushing it, Hachi. (-_- ╬)] Oh wow haven't seen that one in a while. I'd kinda thought you'd forgotten about it. [Ra; Yeah, well, you pissed me off so much I wanted to dig it up. (^-^ ╬)] Good to know. [5; Respect, sister.] Shut up, Shichi, I'm still mad at you for what you did to Ichiko. [5; Crap. I apologized to you for that, right, Ichiko?] [2; I do not recall that conversation.] Hmm? Do I need to teach you another lesson, Shichi? [5; No! No, I apologized, I swear! Oh god, not the face. Please not the face!]
^Yay, more violence. [5; Put a sock in it, Roku- OH GOD THE PAIN] Curious. I find that I am amused by your pain, Shichi.
^So… when exactly did you become evil? [7; I dunno. Around the same time you went crazy I guess?] Ah. So, forever then? [; Pretty much.] Cool.
"Do you mind if I scan you?" you ask, taking Codie out.

"Not at all!" She strikes a pose as you hold out Codie to scan her.

"Hey! You never asked to scan me!" Steaks complains.

"Evolve, then." Roxanne snaps.

"Herdier, the Loyal Dog Pokémon and the evolution of Lillipup, obviously." Codie says in her electronic voice, a 3D image of a Herdier appearing on her screen. "The cape-like fur on their backs are more like armor than fur; I mean it's hard enough to protect them from a good amount of damage. But what's the point if it's only on their back? 'Cause it's kind of-"

"Codie." you say sternly.

"Right." she sighs. "Anyway, Herdier are extremely loyal, especially to their trainers, and rarely disobey an order. They also have a pretty long history in helping Trainers raise Pokémon."

"Hm," you hum. "Bianca and Wally are lucky to have such loyal Pokémon."

"Hey." Blue greets you, walking over. "How's training going?"

"Good. Pokabu's always been a quick learner." you tell him as he sits next to you.

"Looks like Mags is a pretty good teacher, too." he says, nodding to where she's giving Pokabu tips on using Flame Charge.

"Yeah… Hey, I've been meaning to ask you guys something." You look at him out of the corner of your eye.

"'You guys'?"

"You, Red and Gold." you clarify. "Why don't you guys go on ahead to Nacrene without us? It's not fair to hold you back like this."

"Actually… we've discussed it, and we all agree; we enjoy travelling with you all too much to ditch you just because you lost a Gym Battle. Besides, we want to see you kick Cress's ass!" He gives you smile, nudging you with his shoulder.

"Thanks, Blue." You smile back. "Hey… about Red… Um, do you know if-"

"Roxanne!" You jump a little at Bianca's voice, turning to see her jogging towards you. "Come on, Cheren, hurry up!"

"Huff… huff… C-can't you slow down, Bianca?" Cheren pants, struggling to catch up with her.

"Come on, Cheren, stop being a wimp." she tells him, glancing over her shoulder. "We've walked to Nacrene and back twice this month, and you're honestly tired after jogging for five minutes?"

"We can't all be superhuman, Bianca." Cheren shoots back.

"Hi, guys!" you call, causing Bianca to jump in surprise.

"Oh! Uh, hi, Crystal! Blue!" Bianca smiles nervously as she walks over.

That was weird…
^You can say that- SHIORI, NO.
^Aw… ;A;
What's up with Bianca?
^Hey, maybe it's that thing you were talking about in 18. [4; What's that?] You know, that thing about there being more to Bianca's character than we know? [4; Oh yeah, I said that, didn't I?]
^It's a good thing Ichiko didn't say that. She'd be all over this, saying 'I told you, I fucking told you'.
^Oh, go fuck yourself, Sanae. I don't think that was me, anyway.
^No, that was definitely you. Chapter 8. While Shiori was panicking you were bitching at us about how none of us believed you. [2; *slaps* That was me, bitch. Get your facts straight.] ˃:*
"Steaks told us about what happened." you tell her, nodding at him. "You should really keep better track of your badge case."

"Sorry, I'm a total klutz." Bianca laughs nervously.

"To be fair, it wasn't entirely her fault." Cheren adds. "Now that we've caught the culprit, I'm sure we won't have to return here again."

"'The culprit'?" Blue asks curiously.

"This Minccino! Or, I guess I should say, my Minccino!" Bianca sends out a grey rodent Pokémon. "Meet Chiramii!"

"It's Jeremy, dumbass!" it growls.

"Minccino?" You point Codie at the small Pokémon as it glares at you.

"Minccino, the Chinchilla Pokémon." Codie says. "Though they should be called the Neat and Tidy Pokémon if you ask me. These things are obsessive compulsive with cleaning. Real neat freaks."

"I resent that." the Minccino snaps.

"Hey! Shut up. Anyway they use their tails to clean their shiny shit and greet other Minccino."

"Tell your stupid talking box to shut up before I make it!"

"Yeah, Codie, you might wanna shut up." you tell her.

"I'll say whatever I want to! It's zippy here's problem if he doesn't like what I- zzt."

"Totally forgot about the 'off' button." you laugh, putting Codie away.

"So if you caught the Pokémon who stole your badge, then why are you back here to get another one?" Blue asks.

"Bianca caught the Minccino, but we couldn't find its nest. And neither of us can talk to Pokémon, so we couldn't ask it where it is." Cheren explains.

"It wasn't me!" the Minccino argues, "I'm telling you, it was Sam! He's the one that likes to steal badges, not me!"

"Could you show us where this Sam keeps his treasures?" you ask him, standing.

"No way! I'd never betray another Minccino like that, even if he is the scum of the earth."

"What's he saying?" Bianca asks.

"Well he's not the one who stole your badge. There's a different Minccino named Sam that likes stealing badges, but he's not telling where Sam keeps his nest."

"I suggest torture!" Steaks says, raising his paw.

"No torture." Roxanne scolds him. "I'm sure he'll tell us eventually. He's just gotta warm up to us."

"Hey, in the meantime we can watch Crystal's rematch against Cress." Charlotte suggests.

"Yeah, I'd love to have you guys there!"

"What are you talking about?" Cheren frowns at you.

"Oh, Charlotte suggested that you two should come watch my rematch against Cress."

"That'd be great!" Bianca beams at you. "I can't wait to see what tricks you have up your sleeve!"

"Well we've got a kickass plan! Right, Pokabu?"

"Right!" He nods.

"Let's get back to training, hm?" You grab your water bottle as Pokabu runs back over to Mags. "Ah!" You drop the bottle, recoiling from the boiling water.

Oh, shit!
…… The fuck just happened?
Damn it, Pokabu!
^Cool your shit, babe. Why do you assume it was Pokabu? Maybe it was Mags. [1; *smack* Bitch, Mags wouldn't do that.]
^Or maybe it's like that thing in chapter 7 that happened like a year ago! [4; *slap* No.] You don't even remember what I'm talking about, do you? [4; ………………………………… Maybe.] OH MY GOD you guys seriously don't remember that fire shield thing?
^I do… [4; THAT RINGS NO BELLS.] [5; Stop being so dramatic. If you don't remember just say so.] [4; I BELIEVE WE JUST DID.] [5; ……… I- I don't know what she's doing. Does anyone know what bit this is?]
^I think she's doing some kind of pony thing. [3; Pony? What does that have to do with anything?] My Little Pony. There was an episode where a princess was speaking like that. [5; Pfft! Oh my god Shichi is a Brony! XD That is priceless!] [6; *SR smack* It's Pegasister, dumbass. And the show's not that bad.] Raven, have you by any chance started watching My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic? [Ra; …… Yes.] And were you watching ponies when you should have been writing this? [Ra; Maybe. Shut up, I can multitask!] Clearly you can't. ^^
^YAAAAAY PINKIE PIE WHEEEEE!!!! [Pinkie Pie; Let's PAR-TAY!] [2; NO.] [Pinkie; Meanie.] I know, right? [3; Shiori and Pinkie Pie together… This can only mean bad things.] [4; AHA! THE INSANITY HAS BEEN DOUBLED!] [3; Fuck my life.]
"Crystal?" Blue asks worriedly.

"Crap! Pokabu, did you heat my water bottle?"

"Why would I do that? Mags?"

"Wasn't me. What happened?"

You unscrew the top and show the boiling water to everyone.

"How are you holding that without burning your hand?" Cheren asks.

"Huh? I don't know…" You blink at the bottle.

"Maybe we should take you to the hospital." Blue suggests. "I wouldn't leave a burn like that untreated."

"Yeah, it feels pretty bad." you admit. "Pokabu, you stay here and keep training with Mags, okay?"

"Okay…" he agrees a little sadly.

"Hey…" Blue starts to say after you're a few dozen feet away from the others. "What was that thing you wanted to ask me?"

"Oh. Well… I was going to ask… Um, do you know if Red…" you look at him to ask the question, but blush and look away. "You know what, never mind. It wasn't really something I should be asking someone else about anyway." You catch Blue's mouth drop into a slight frown out of the corner of your eye, and he lags a little behind you the rest of the way to the hospital.

[~*~]

"Riley is evil." you groan, collapsing in a chair at the kitchen table. "I hate him a little."

"Why's that?" Red asks curiously, polishing off a sandwich.

"Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful he's training me and everything, but he could at least let me eat something other than a power bar for breakfast! And those things are not as filling as he thinks they are." You shoot a glare at the box of power bars sitting innocently on the shelf.

"You want me to make you something to eat?" Red asks, getting up to put his empty plate in the sink.

He can cook?
Red is now 20% hotter.
^Oh god no they got Ichiko!
^You've gotta admit, though, a guy being able to cook is incredibly sexy. [3; ……… Yeah. ˃////˃]
Yesssssss. Cook for us, Bishie! You're just one step closer to being our slave…
^You are certifiably insane, Shichi. [5; No, I'm not! Raven had me tested. Right?] [Ra; I sure did! According to the doctors, Shichi is not insane.] [5; Ha! Suck it, Rokura!] [Ra; *mutter* She only barely passed. I had to bribe the guy to let her retake it. Five times.]
^What about Shiori? Did you ever have her tested? [Ra; Um… yes, but…] But? [She never actually… finished the test.] What do you mean?
^I blew up the test! =D It was all like ch-bow! Kablam-o! Skadoosh! [Ra; Needless to say, we were banned from the Hoenn region.] Fun times…
"Hm?" You look at him in surprise. "You would do that?" He shrugs.

"Is that really so much of a surprise?"

"Well… yeah. I mean, I'm used to hanging out with three boys who can barely make toast. And that's when they actually feel like cooking. Though actually Silver's a pretty good cook, but Brendan's bugged him a few too many times, so…"

"So is that a yes or a no?" Red asks, an amused smile tugging at his lips.

"Oh! Yeah, sure. I mean, if you want to…" you say sheepishly.

"What do you want?" he asks you, opening the fridge.

"Um… a sandwich, I guess."

"Turkey, ham, or roast beef?"

"Turkey."

"What kind of cheese?"

"Anything but Swiss."

"Preferred condiments?"

"Uhm… whatever you think would be good."

"Okay… Toasted?"

"Sure." He nods and starts taking out a bunch of different ingredients. You fight a smile when he twirls a bottle of ketchup as he removes it from a shelf. "You seem to know what you're doing." you tease, smiling at him as he layers various ingredients on a slice of bread.

"It's just a sandwich." he tells you, popping it in the toaster. "But I am actually a pretty good cook. Or that's what Blue and Daisy say, anyway."

"What about your mom and Gold?"

"Well… I've never cooked for Gold… and the last time I cooked for my mom she just hugged me and told me how glad she was she had me for a son." He shrugs.

"Yeah, that sounds about right. So, how'd you get so good?"

"Daisy taught me. I didn't really go outside a lot when I was younger, and there wasn't much else to do, so…" He shrugs again. The toaster beeps, and he retrieves the sandwich from it. He stacks the cold ingredients on it, then smears some mayo on the top slice of bread and unceremoniously drops it on top. "Here." He slides the sandwich, cut in half, over the table to you.

You take a bite, then stare at him, eyes wide in amazement. He lifts his brow curiously at you.

"Dude." you say, swallowing. "This sandwich is fucking amazing."

"Yeah?"

"I can't even comprehend the full amazingness of this sandwich, man."

"I'm glad you like it." he chuckles, blushing a little. He watches you eat for a minute, trying not to smile in amusement at your little moans and groans. "Is it really that good?"

"Yeah! Want a bite?" you offer, holding out a half to him.

"No, that's fine." he declines. "Hey…" he says after another minute. You look at him curiously. "Um… we've, uh…" he stammers, looking away and blushing.

"What's on you mind?" you ask. "Spit it out." you press when he hesitates.

"We've kissed a few times - three, I think - and, well, I was wondering…" You wait anxiously for his question, shifting uncomfortably in your seat. "I don't have a lot of experience with these kinds of things so I don't really know, but… are we in some sort of relationship?"

"Hell if I know." you blurt out. "I mean, I don't exactly have a lot of experience in this field either, so…" You shrug. "But, uh… do you… want to be? In a relationship with me, I mean." you add.

"I'm not sure." he admits. "We haven't really been on a date or even discussed why we've been kissing…"

"Yeah, they were all kinda spur of the moment…" You chew your lip for a moment, thinking things over. "Let's go on a date!" you finally decide, grinning.

"A date?" He blinks at you.

Yes! A date! Finally!
Joy… [1; Oh, fuck you, Nishiko.]
Hm. Well, this should be interesting.
A date? Oh wow… I'm so excited. ^///^
^Yeah! Why wouldn't you be? [4; Well… I, um… kinda… *murmur* wish it was with… someone else. ˃////˃] Ohh? And who would that be, hmm? [4; I-I-! N-no one! I swear!] Aww, Godek, you're so adorable! [4; Oh, um… thanks… I-I guess…]
A date? As in… a date, date? O///O [5; What's wrong, Ichiko? Nervous? ;)] N-no! Not at all! I-it's just so silly, is all! ˃////˃ [5; Suuuure it is. ;3] Fuck you, Sanae.
Why do I have a sinking suspicion that this isn't going to turn out well?
^Because you're an uptight $#&@#? =D [7; …… Where did you learn that word?] Shichi taught it to me! ^^ [7; Shichi, remind me to have Hachi kick your ass later.]
"Yeah! Tonight! We'll go to Café Trío, take a walk around the city, see the sights and all that jazz!"

"Jazz?" He smiles a bit despite himself.

"It's an expression, shut up. So what do you say?"

"It's a date." You wince. "What?"

"That was reeeally corny, dude." you giggle.

"Like 'and all that jazz' wasn't." he returns.

"I retract my earlier statement." you announce, picking up your plate as you stand. "Let's meet up in the front hall at six. Thanks for the sandwich." you add, giving him a peck on the cheek on your way out.

"Huh? Tonight? But isn't your Gym battle tomorrow?" he asks, putting a hand on your arm and looking at you worriedly.

"Don't remind me." you sigh. "I know I'm ready, I know that in my mind, but… Look, I'd just like to get my mind off it for a night, all right? I mean, if you want, we could move the date to Sunday or Monday. But…" 'If I lose then I'll just be a downer for the whole date.' You hold back the words, afraid that voicing them will jinx your battle.

"Tonight's fine." Red says, giving an understanding smile.

"See you tonight." you tell him, giving him another kiss on the cheek before going upstairs to pick out your outfit and take a nap.

Woo! We get to go on a date with Red! Awesome!
Uck. A date with Red. Do we have to? Raven can't you write it so we can skip the date if we want to? [Ra; *smack* No.]
Wait, a nap? Oh shit.
^Why shit? [3; I have a bad feeling about this.]
^That's what you said just a minute ago. Calm down, Rokura. Nothing bad's going to happen. [4; Is it?! You don't know!] … What? [4; Galaxy Quest! =D] No, Shiori. Just no. [4; Aw.]
Wh-why do we keep kissing him?! ˃///˂ It's so embarrassing!
^Dude, chill. We only kissed him on the cheek. [1; Crying shame, that is.] Though there should be some awesome lip action on the date… [5; There will be?] [1; If there isn't I'm going to be teaching Raven a lesson.] [Ra; Just try, bitch.]
^Now, now, you two. Am I going to have to give you both 'time outs'? ^^ [1; …… I don't like that smile. It's too similar to Rokura's when she's being evil.] [Ra; Run.] [Ra & 1; *bolts*] And that, my friends, is how you put Raven and Shichi in their places. ^^ [7; Man, Hachi. You scare the shit out of me sometimes.] Thank you.
[~*~]

"God damn it, Riley, I don't have time for this! I have a date in like ten minutes!"

"If you hadn't spent five hours picking out your outfit we could be over and done with this by now with time to spare. And what outfit is there to pick, anyway? Last time I checked you only had two. And one is a pair of sleep wear." Mock Riley rolls his eyes at you.

"For your information I've bought a couple outfits since we came to Striaton." you snap.

"Figures."

"Shut up and get to the point, Riley. What 'traumatizing event' are you serving up on a silver platter this time?"

"You shouldn't take these dreams so lightly, Crystal." the Mock Riley warns. "Each one is carefully selected to help you learn a hard lesson."

"How?! I can't even remember half of them! What's the point of teaching me a lesson if I don't remember it?! Look, I get it. I was horribly scarred by my father not being around when I was little and now I pit my Pokémon against others in meaningless fights to try and become Champion in the vain hope that I can find him and make him proud of me. But I'm also helping Pokabu get stronger. And I'm getting stronger as well. And I know that not being able to graduate made me give up on being a trainer for a long time. But I am one now. And maybe I'm not the best, but I know in time I'll get better. Good enough to beat the Champion. And maybe I still have a crush on-"

"Crystal, this one is different. I swear." You don't like the solemn tone he's adopted.

Damn it, Riley! We were so close to saying who the hell we used to have a crush on!
^Like it's not obvious.
^Why do we even care? [1; Because he fucked with our minds! And he sits on some high pedestal in our minds, too! I mean just look at how we reacted when Mock Riley tried to take his form! We flipped out!] Like you're doing right now? [1; Hey. Shut up.]
^Jeez, Nishiko. Calm down. [1; The fuck did you tell me to do?] I-uh-what I meant was, uh… Maybe it's not as bad as you're making it out to be. [1; Hmph.]
What does he mean by 'this one is different'?
This can only mean bad things.
^Shiori is freaked out? We're going to die, aren't we?
^We're not going to die, Godek. It's just a dream. [7; If you die in dreams you die for real!] That was just a movie. Calm down. But I do have a feeling that things are going to get serious soon.
"What do you mean?" you ask warily.

"Just… watch." He snaps his fingers.

"Come on, Wally, I'll race you!" Your eyes widen at the familiar scene.

Six year old you is running a few feet ahead of a five year old Wally, a young Brendan about the same age waiting for you both at the other end of the abandoned construction site.

"W… wait!" Wally pants, struggling to keep up.

"Come on, Slowpoke!" Brendan calls.

"Yeah, come on, Wally! Wally? ……… Wally? Wally?!"

"Crystal, go get-"

You grab the Mock Riley by the throat, causing the buried memory to disperse.

"Don't." you growl, glaring daggers at his surprised face.

"H-how did you-" he gasps, grabbing at your hand.

"Practice, douche bag. Every night when you dropped me off at nightmareville, I practiced controlling the dreams. But being as pissed off as a herd of Tauros on the wrong end of a cattle prod helps."

"I- I'm sorry-"

"Don't even try to pretend like you're sorry." you snarl, tightening your grip. "You thought you crossed a line when you tried to take his form? That was smudging the line compared to this. You know, I could handle being lectured about my daddy issues, poor grades and fear of abandonment all day. But try to even touch this subject and I will shred you to pieces." you spit.

"Point taken. But… It's Rosa who decides what I show you, not me." he tells you softly.

"Tauros shit." You narrow your eyes at him.

"No, really! I just… mold them to best get across the point we're trying to make."

"Wake me up."

"Huh?"

"Wake me up so I can go find this bitch and get across a point of my own."

"I- I can't-"

"Wake me up now or I will tear your ass so asunder you will legally be a girl."

Snap.

"Fucking Musharna." you growl, hopping out of bed. You stomp out of your room and down the stairs, ignoring the curious looks you get from the boys as you pass. "I'm gonna kill her."

"Crystal?" someone calls worriedly - and a little fearfully - after you.

"I'm gonna fucking kill that Musharna!" you yell.

"We should go after her."

"Yeah." You hear them start to follow you, but you don't care.

"Rosa!" you shout, stomping into the Dream Yard. "Rosa, where the hell are you?!"

"You shouldn't have come here." Mock Riley says, appearing in front of you.

"I don't care. Now where's your master?" you snap.

"She's not here, Crystal."

"Tauros shit! If you're here, then that means that she's here too!"

"Or it could be us projecting Anthony." someone says from behind him. You look up to find two round Pokémon with flowers printed on their bodies - one pink and purple, the other yellow and green - floating behind the Mock Riley.

"Who?" you ask.

"The one you so cutely call 'Mock Riley'. " the pink one sneers. "Though he does seem to be quite taken with that form." She shoots a look at him, and he looks away, biting the inside of his cheek.

"Ashlynn, be nice. Anthony never identified himself by name. She had no way of knowing his real name." the yellow one - a male - cautioned.

"Aaron, honestly, when you speak, all I hear is this droning sound." the female sighs. "It's just horrible, really."

"Hold up." you say. "Why is that Munna yellow and green?"

"He's Shiny, dumbass." Codie barks.

"Oh. Wait a minute, Munna! Crap!" You cover your mouth. "They're using Dream Smoke, aren't they?!"

"Obviously. Dumbass."

"Shit!" you hiss. "Not good."

"Why not?"

"What do you mean, 'why not'?! You were there when Ben warned me about Dream Smoke."

"Two people warned you and you still came?! Damn, you're dumb." the pink Munna scoffs.

"Ashlynn…" the other Munna says carefully.

"Oh, come on. She was asking for that one."

"I came here because I need to talk with Rosa." you growl, glaring at the female.

"Well, Rosa's not here." she sneers.

"Then where is she?"

"She's here." the shiny Munna blurts.

"Aaron!"

"She is! Rosa told me to never lie!"

"We're lying to protect Rosa, dumbass!"

"Thank you for concern, Ashlynn, but I think I can take care of myself." The Munna freeze as a Musharna appears behind them.

"R-Rosa!" they gasp, turning to face her.

"I thought you were sleeping." Ashlynn says, looking at her accusingly.

"Who could sleep with all this racket above their bed?" Rosa replies coolly. "In any case, I thought I told you to stay away from the humans."

"But that girl was threatening to hurt you!" Ashlynn snaps. "Why are you helping her, anyway? I mean yeah, she's obviously messed up in the head, but not your kind of messed up! What gives?"

"You shouldn't speak about matters you know nothing about, Ashlynn." Rosa tells her darkly. "This girl's situation is far beyond your training."

"What do you mean by that?" you ask carefully.

"Crystal!"

"Oh no…" you breathe, glancing behind you to find the boys running to catch up with you. "If you do anything to hurt them or mess with their heads, I swear I'll-"

"Bad things, I know." Rosa says, cutting you off. "You have nothing to worry about, Crystal. I'm not worried about their troubles. They're the type that tend to resolve themselves with a girl like you around."

"What do you-"

"Crystal, what's going on?" Silver asks carefully, glancing between you, the Pokémon and Anthony.

"What, you never mentioned me to your friends? Crystal, I'm hurt." Anthony says, frowning.

"Bite me." you snap. "Guys, this is Anthony, the product of that Musharna's Dream Smoke and the host of the nightmares that have been making sleep hell for me for the past month. As you can see, he likes stealing Riley's form."

"I prefer the term 'borrow'." Anthony tells you.

"Agree to disagree. That Musharna's name is Rosa, and those are her two lackeys, Aaron and Ashlynn."

"We're students, dumbass." Ashlynn growls. "Rosa teaches us to heal the messed up minds of people like you."

"You're using my issues to train your fucking sidekicks?!"

"I'm training them to help people like you, Crystal." Rosa says coolly.

"Oh, well, that's okay, then."

"Why are you so hostile, Crystal?"

"Oh, I don't know, maybe it's because you have been giving me nightmares for the past month. And I don't know how you got that stupid idea into your head, but they are not helping me."

"Oh, really? Would you have realized you feelings for your friend over there without us? Or how badly the plane crash has affected you?"

"Shut up. If I want my friends to know about any of that, I'll tell them myself."

"Wait…" You turn to look at Red. "So you've been having nightmares for the past month? Why didn't you tell me?"

"I didn't tell anyone." you tell him softly. "Not other than Pokabu and Fennel, at least. It's not exactly something I wanted to talk about."

"I get that, I guess…" Red sighs. "But why'd he take Riley's form?"

"I simply took the form that Crystal would respond the best to. Or at least I tried to. She didn't like it when I tried to use either of my top two choices."

"Anthony, shut up."

"What? He doesn't know what my first choices were. For all he knows, it could be-"

"Shut it!" You shoot the most hateful glare you can muster at him. "What, messing with my dreams wasn't enough?! You have to mess with my life, now, too?!"

"We're not trying to mess with you, Crystal, we're trying to help you."

"Well I never asked you to! You know, I was doing just fine before you came along! It seems like all your so-called 'help' has done is mess everything up! There are things I don't want to think about! I don't want to think about Pokabu dying! I don't want to think about what would have happened if N hadn't saved me after the plane crash! I don't want to think about when Wally was in the hospital!"

"Crystal?" Wally asks softly.

"I don't want to remember that." you admit softly. "And anyway it's the past! Wally's better now! I'm better now! What does it matter?"

"It matters because it affects how you react to similar situations now!" Anthony burst, growing angry. "Would you just listen to us, Crystal?"

"Fuck off." you turn to stomp off.

"I didn't want it to turn out this way." Anthony says softly. "But you've left us no choice."

"Is that a threat?" you spit, turning back to him.

"I'm sorry, it is." Your eyes widen as the spot on Rosa's head glows, a faint humming sound reaching your ears.

"No!" As Rosa fires a Psychic attack at you, someone moves in front of you, taking the brunt of the attack.

Oh, shit!
Who saved us?
Fuck, Rosa! Are you trying to kill us?!
Crap! Who… who protected us?
I'm going to kill that bitch. I'm gonna kill her dead!
^Now, Shichi, there's no need to kill her dead. I think just killing her will suffice.
^No! She hurt one of the boys! That bitch needs to pay.
Oh, no… Who just got hit?
"Wh… what…" you breathe, falling to your knees next to Silver as he holds the gash in his side. "What did you do?!" you yell, partly at Silver but mostly at Rosa.

"Interesting," Ashlynn hums. "She's paralyzed when her friends are hurt, but when she has feelings for them…"

"Quiet!" you snarl, making her flinch. "You have no right to say anything! None of you have a right to say anything!" You turn to Rosa. "How could you do this? How the fuck is this supposed to help me?!"

"We did not intend to hurt anyone."

"Then why did you attack me? And don't give me any of that 'trying to help you' crap. That ship has sailed."

"Khff… Crystal…" Silver coughs.

"Ah! Silver! A-are you- um, that is… does it hurt?" you stammer, putting a hand on the side of his face.

"Don't worry, it… it doesn't hurt at all." he tries to reassure you, attempting a comforting smile but wincing instead.

"Idiot! That's even more cause for worry…" You lean down and bury your face in his chest.

"Crystal!" You snap your head up to look behind you as Red shouts. You spot Anthony muffling and restraining him.

"Anthony, let him-" you stop short when you see who's standing behind them.

A poorly formed Mock N is restraining one of your boys, a hand over his mouth to keep him from alerting you. You narrow your eyes at his distinctive red hair.

Son of a-
Those bastards!
^Wait, what's happening?
^Seriously? Come on. One of our boys? Red hair? It can only be one person! [3; Who?] -_- ……… Moron.
^Shiori, think about it. [3; ………… Ohhhhhhh!] There we go, sweetheart.
Oh my…
Shichi, you have my full permission to tear them each a new one. Two, if you feel like it.
^Fuck yes. Shiori, hand me my SR. [3; Yes, Ma'am!] [Ra; Shichi, no maiming characters in the story.] But she- [Ra; No.]
"What the…." You look down at Silver to find him gone, in his place a cloud of Dream Smoke. "Heh. You really had me going for a minute, there, Rosa. You really made me believe Silver was seriously hurt. But you would really stoop this low? Make me believe one of my best friends was dying?" You turn to glare at her.

"Anthony, I thought I told you and Rin to keep Crystal from noticing." Rosa says, dodging your question.

"I'm sorry, Rosa, we tried our best, but lover boy here just couldn't bear to watch his girlfriend fret over another guy for a second longer so he looked away over by Rin and saw everything. And of course he just had to warn her." Anthony rolls his eyes.

"Sorry, Aaron, I'm not as good at cloaking as Anthony is." the Mock N says sheepishly.

"You know, I didn't ask for any of this." you tell Rosa. "I just wanted to come to Striaton, run a couple of errands for Prof. Juniper, see the stupid tourist attractions, earn a Gym Badge and get the hell out. Was that so much to ask?"

"I'm sorry things did not turn out the way you wanted, Crystal." Rosa says softly.

"You should be! It's your fault everything got messed up!"

"Not entirely." Rosa says coldly, the look on her face growing angry. "Don't forget it was your lapse of judgment that caused harm to your Pokémon." Your breath catches in your throat. "It was also your need to always be the hero that put your life in danger, not me, not Team Plasma, not even those two 'grunts', Michale and Juliette." You back up a little, unable to argue with what she's saying. "And it's you who can't decide which of those boys you want to pursue a relationship with. And don't think you've chosen Red; you've chosen to try him. Face it, Crystal, you blame others for your mistakes."

"I… That's… I'm not like that…" you breathe, staring down at the ground.

"Stop it!" Brendan moves between you and Rosa, glaring at her. "I don't know what you're saying, but from what I gather you know how badly Wally's accident affected Crystal. And if you keep saying whatever it is you're saying Crystal's going to break again! I don't want to know how long it would take her to get better this time… So please stop. I'm begging you."

"…… You're a good boy, Brendan." Rosa says, shocking everyone by speaking English. "I still don't understand why you chose to be friends with Crystal rather than with that nice girl. What was her name again?"

"Wha… how do you know about that?" Brendan asks, taking a step back.

"I know everything about all of you. It's my job. … I'll do what you asked; I'll even suppress her memories so she doesn't remember me, Anthony or any of her nightmares. Is that acceptable?"

"Thank you. You're really trying to help Crystal, aren't you?"

"I am."

"Mm. Well, then, you should know that you're going about it completely the wrong way."

"Oh?"

"If you know everything like you say, then you should know that Crystal never responds positively to people who mess with her mind to try and get their point across."

"Yes, but from what I've seen, that is the only way to get my point across."

"Then you're not as smart as you think you are."

"And you're much smarter than anyone gives you credit for. Heh. I must warn you, though, about this trick I'm going to use to suppress Crystal's memories. It is not permanent, you understand? It will wear off eventually."

"Yeah. I understand."

"Good. Ashlynn, if you would."

"Hmph. Hold still." Ashlynn floats over and lands on your head, clamping on to it.

"Wh- what are you-" you stammer.

"Idiot. Didn't you hear anything the idiot and Rosa just said? Now shut up and let me do my job."

"Ah! Wait!" You start to struggle, but Anthony appears behind you and restrains you. "No! I don't want to forget! I want to kick Rosa's ass!" you yell, starting to feel drowsy. "I don'… don' w'nna… f'get…" You faintly feel yourself slump into Brendan's arms as everything goes black.

"I'm sorry, Crystal. This is for the best, really… I won't let you break again."

Wait, that's it?! We don't get to kick Rosa's butt? Crap!
^Eh, it's not so bad.
^Yeah, we got to see how much Brendan cares for us.
So… what happened that broke us?
^I think it has something to do with when Wally was in the hospital.
^I wonder what happened. I mean, I know it's gotta have something to do with his illness.
^Yeah, but what? And how did that affect us? Was whatever happened really that traumatic?
^Hey, we were six. Shit like that can really mess up a kid.



Chapter 20
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