Diamond 44: Give me Forgiveness
Diamond 44: Give me Forgiveness
The Viridian City park was very large and full of abundant plants and trees. It was not ideal for playing volleyball or tossing a frisbee due to the many obstacles. Yet it was perfect for young couples to sneak around without having to go to the forest's border in the outskirts of the city to find privacy. The park was located at the very center of the city, not too far away from the Viridian gym and the ruined stadium. Other than serving as a hiding place for couples, it was also the most obvious place where one would go to be alone. Brock's lonely grieving was interrupted by Ash, who had lost track of Misty. "Brock, have you seen Misty around here?"
Brock looked up from his position sitting under a tree hugging his knees to his chest, face buried in his arms. "She ran past me a few minutes ago. I called out to her, but she said she needed to be alone for a while. She said that if you came after her I should tell you that she's not in the very middle of the park, sitting by the little pond."
Ash frowned, "where is she then?"
Brock paused, observing Ash's perplexed expression, "in the very middle of the park, sitting by the little pond," he recited.
"Didn't you just say..." Ash understood as Pikachu jumped off his shoulders and encouraged his trainer. "Oh, I get it, I'll see you later."
xoxox xox xoxox
The pond was quite small but beautiful, with crystalline waters that shone as the summer sun hit them. Misty was sitting at the pond's edge in a similar posture to Brock's. She heard the approaching footsteps on the lush green grass and looked up to see Ash. He wordlessly sat down beside her.
They sat in silence for a few seconds until Ash finally asked, "why are you mad at me?"
Misty was used to needing to be direct. She had not completely grown out of the habit of dropping hints about how she felt and letting Ash attempt to figure it out, but she knew the limitations of that. Most of the time, he didn't understand unless she was direct. She loved him dearly, but she knew she had to spell things out to him sometimes. "I'm not mad," she moved closer, resting her head on his shoulder.
Ash responded by putting his arm around Misty's shoulders, tilting his head to rest on hers. "I know you're upset about something. Is it because of the mess we made at the stadium?"
"No, I don't blame you for that." Misty could have an explosive temper at times, but sometimes she just didn't feel like blowing up about the issue at hand. That only meant it really bothered her, she wasn't angry, she was worried. "Ash, I'm upset because of... well..." she searched for the right way to phrase it, shifting to meet his eyes. "I feel like you've been hiding something from me. You've been busy going from one tournament to another, which is normal, but you seemed more focus on the prizes than ever before and that worries me."
Misty continued, "usually you're in it for the challenge. I've just been seeing another side of you. It's fine to want a reward, but I don't want you to change. I want you to be the same carefree Ash who just wants to have fun and be the best. It doesn't matter if you're stubborn and dense, just don't get greedy. Don't put your pokemon or your friends in second place next to the glory, fame and riches. You didn't change when you became champion. You went on and on about it twenty-four seven for a week and drove everyone insane. But after that, you were back to your old self, ready to tackle life's next challenges."
Misty took a deep breath; she looked into Ash's brown eyes. Her cerulean eyes were full of adoration with a remaining hint of worry. "I really don't want you to change. I want you to be the Ash I fell in love with forever. I want to spend the rest of my life with you." Misty didn't know where the outburst came from, she just felt like speaking out her emotions.
Ash looked at Misty as if it was the first time he was seeing her in a long time. "Misty," the ring and the place didn't matter anymore. She didn't need to be impressed to say yes. Ash knew that from the start, he just wanted to do something big for her. He understood what his mother was trying to tell him before; Misty didn't want riches or power. She just wanted Ash to stay the same and be there for her. "That was my line." Ash took the silver sapphire ring from his pocket and placed it on Misty's finger, "will you marry me?"
Misty felt her breath catch in her throat and her heart beats speed up as tears of happiness began to fall from her eyes. She smiled, trying to find her voice, the image of Ash's hopeful and loving face forever engraved in her mind.
A sudden explosion came unexpectedly and the near by plants caught on fire. The abundant flora's proximity to each other only made it easier for the fire to spread. The explosion, originated underground, blasting through the land behind Ash and Misty. It left the couple frozen in shock in a tight embrace. They were between the pond and a hole on the ground. "Was that some kind of missile?" Ash stammered, trying to recover from the shock.
The missile had exploded on the ground as it broke through. Its effect was mostly thrown at the tunnel from where it was shot. But its force was enough for sparks to fly out of the hole along with pieces of scrap metal. As soon as Misty recovered from the shock, she sent out her Gyarados and a pair of Starmie, "water gun, everyone put out all the flames before they spread!" Psyduck popped out of his pokeball uncalled and ran around in a panic until Misty recalled him.
The yellow water pokemon would never evolve and Misty had come to terms with that. She discovered it one day when she took Psyduck to the Pokemon Center for a detailed examination. She hoped she could find out why he wouldn't evolve, even if she had been training him for years. After a series of tests, including an x-ray, nurse Joy discovered that Psyduck had swallowed an everstone. It resided inside his stomach for years.
Psyduck had apparently adapted to having the small everstone stuck in a corner of his stomach and out of the way for his digestive system to function normally. Joy had offered to operate Psyduck and take the everstone out. But seeing poor Psyduck so frightened about the surgery made Misty decide to leave him as he was.
Ash released his Blastoise from his pokeball, he had been with Ash since he was a Squirtle and remained as one for many years. "Help put the fire out!" Squirtle evolved into Warturtle when he began to travel with Ash again. He later evolved into Blastoise to put out a fire at the Pewter City Pokemon Center, where Ash and his friends were trapped. The fire had been started by a malfunction in Jessie and James' equipment, causing them to become trapped as well, though they were all saved in the end. Despite Blastoise having evolved, Bulbasaur still remained the same, determined to stay that way.
xoxox xox xoxox
Meanwhile, Delia had gone to the park to think. "I thought you would still be around here," she turned around at the familiar voice. She was surprised at just how familiar it felt. She had only heard it for a short time after an absence of many years.
She needed to compose herself and figure out what she was going to tell Ash about his father. She intended to delay the confession until after he sorted things out with Misty. She told herself that the procrastination was necessary and that she wasn't just escaping from the truth again, but she wasn't sure. "I didn't think you would come looking for me." Delia honestly didn't expect it. She assumed Giovanni would just disregard their meeting and forget about it. He made it clear he had more important things to do.
"You never told me what you came here to say," Giovanni reminded with a casual tone, as if their recent argument had never happened. He knew he purposely upset her, though it seemed to have hurt her more than he expected.
Frowning, Delia took a deep breath and tried to find the words that would allow her to make Giovanni forget about his curiosity. Maybe this was something he didn't need to know after all. "It's nothing vital to Team Rocket. In fact, you would probably say that it doesn't make a difference, especially not now. I don't know why I even bothered to come to you. Please forget about it, I didn't mean to make you waste your time," she didn't realize it, but she was crying.
"I don't understand," Giovanni admitted. "this is, important to you," he stated, still completely in the dark about what the secret Delia held could be. "Is this really about when you left? Delia, it's been so many years. You can't expect me to believe that's all there is to it. If it was something like that, something related to us, you would have forgotten about it by now." He felt as if she was using their past relationship to hide the real information that she came to reveal. He didn't understand that she would never simply forget about the past that was so precious to her.
Giovanni reflected on his own words. When Delia left, he felt betrayed and stubbornly refused to go after her. He restructured Team Rocket and focused on his work. He was in a foul mood for days, but during those first few days he would have welcomed Delia back if she returned. He knew she was in Pallet Town, it was easy to guess. Thanks to her letter, he knew she left of her own free will; no one kidnapped her or forced her to leave. He never understood her allusions to having a good reason to leave. He never found any justification in it, thinking it was something related to foolish ideals of justice.
When the days turned to weeks, Giovanni regarded Delia as a traitor. He was determined not to welcome her if she returned, but she never did. Even so, he somehow knew that she would not speak against him. He assumed she simply had enough of his criminal ways and left, thinking it was for the best. He was bitter that she had apparently chosen justice over him. He was selfish in that sense, wanting all her devotion to himself, knowing that for some time he had it.
Many years had passed, Giovanni reminded himself of that again. Why would Delia still care about him as she did before? The information she possessed about Team Rocket was mostly outdated. Save for a few details that hadn't changed, such as their main base of operations being hidden in the Viridian Gym, she didn't know anything important. They also had many other bases in several regions and the Viridian base wasn't a total secret from the police.
Was Delia trying to gather more information? Could the traitor he was seeking in an internal investigation have contacted her and put her up to this? He couldn't imagine her doing something like that. None the less, it had been many years and Delia had no reason to pledge her loyalty to him anymore. If this was a trick, Giovanni wouldn't fall for it. He wouldn't waste the opportunity to use Delia's possible situation of being a spy to his favor.
That was the only explanation Giovanni could think of. Delia was working with the enemy and Ash must be with them two. She must have been conflicted about it. Seeing him again must have pushed her into trying to confess her mission, though she was still unsure about doing so. Ash wasn't a Rocket, so he wasn't among the inside traitors, but he had to be part of their group. He was probably the one who discovered Delia's past and put her up to spying.
That had to be it. Why else would Delia show up and reminisce about the past, then get all emotional. Not only was Giovanni not falling for it, he would use their trick against them. Delia would go from infiltrator to double agent. She would ultimately take his side; Giovanni would make sure of it.
"Delia, I think I understand why you left," Giovanni calmly began. His tone and expression caught Delia off guard, he looked almost caring. "I was too focused on my own goals and wasn't paying attention to you. I wanted to give you what I thought you wanted and never asked you what you really wanted. You know Team Rocket is important to me, but so are you."
Delia stared at Giovanni in shock. She didn't understand his sudden change in attitude. She felt as if she was diving head first into a trap. Yet the only thing she could muster to say was "what do you mean are? I'm not important to you anymore."
He was moving too fast, it wasn't believable. Maybe Delia had become a little bit less naive over the years, but only a little. Giovanni was just as prideful, stubborn and confident as he had always been. He could think of nothing to say that would make his act sound believable and turn Delia into his double agent. He wanted her to pretend her infiltration mission was a big success and deliver convenient false information to the enemy.
Instead of answering her question, Giovanni pulled Delia close suddenly and kissed her. He caught her totally off guard and too shocked to oppose any resistance. The kiss didn't last too long. They parted abruptly when they heard an explosion near by.
xoxox xox xoxox
Thanks to the efforts of Gyarados, the two Starmie and Blastoise, the fire was put out without casualties. As the last of the flames were extinguished, Pikachu and Brock arrived. The hole had been covered up from the inside before any of them could see the people in black uniforms with red Rs running in the tunnel. Battle noises, arguments, accusations of betrayal, insults and curses could be heard faintly, with the tunnel's sound proof shield having been shattered.
Giovanni and Delia were the next two to arrive. Giovanni found the way Ash was kneeling on the ground examining a patch of exposed metal quite suspicious. The secret Team Rocket headquarters extended all over the underground area below the park. "What happened here?" Giovanni tried to sound as if he truly had no clue, while Delia was still in a confused daze.
"A missile came out of the ground!" Ash looked up to find his mother and the gym leader. Delia was looking shocked and her face was slightly red. All those present assumed it was because she heard the explosion and it startled her.
Comet was the next one to appear on the scene, ready to implement a hasty cover up. "Is everyone alright? Did anyone get hurt?" He asked with real worry, looking around the area and assessing the damage.
"We're alright," Misty replied, puzzled by the entire event, "what was that?" One second she was on cloud nine and the next she was harshly crashing down in an unpredictable and dangerous reality.
"I'm so sorry about that," Comet apologized deeply, "some of the fireworks we had set up for tonight malfunctioned. I apologize for the trouble it caused. Don't worry, it's all under control now. I'll have to ask you to leave this area so we can make some repairs to the mechanism. I apologize for the inconvenience." No one questioned Comet's explanation. Ash's version of it being a missile sounded much less believable than a fireworks malfunction. Even Ash concluded that he must have misinterpreted what he saw.
The group quietly made their way out of the park, with Giovanni going along with them as well. Delia was trying to tame her internal turmoil and figure out what to say to Ash and Giovanni. Her confusion was overwhelming.
Ash watched his mother and the gym leader from the corner of his eyes. At some point unknown to Delia she took Giovanni's hand or vice-versa and she still hadn't let go. Ash wasn't usually too observant, but there were a few rare occasions in which he took note of details. Then the realization hit him, Giovanni looked familiar because he was the man in the picture with his mother. They must have dated in the past.
A flood of questions invaded Ash's mind, he wondered if Giovanni was his father. His first impression of the gym leader was that he was cool and the way his mother spoke of his father was always good. If he was in Viridian City the entire time, why did he never visit? Even if they broke up, shouldn't he still want to see his son?
Then another thought occurred to Ash. His mother had said the man in the picture was her boyfriend, she didn't confirm he was Ash's father. There were no other pictures that Ash had ever seen of his mother with someone who could be identified as her date. That did not mean that the only picture available had to be of his father.
Maybe Giovanni had dated his mother before she met his father, Ash thought about it and it made sense. They broke up, his parents met, he was born, then his father was somehow out of the picture. An old theory resurfaced and Ash concluded that his father must have indeed passed away. His mother, in her grief, must have gotten rid of all his pictures. The picture of Giovanni was something she kept as a memento, remembering him as a friend.
It must have been awkward for Giovanni and that's why he never visited, even if Delia still wanted to be friends. That had to be the whole story; Ash became more certain of it with each passing second. It did not solve the mystery of his father's identity, but it did ease Ash's worries. He had become aware of how lonely his mother felt whenever he left on a journey and it would be nice if she had some company aside from her Pallet Town neighbors.
He knew that his mother would always love his father, but it had been many years since he passed away. Ash found nothing wrong with rediscovering a past love, given the circumstances. Maybe his recent proposal had left Ash in a somewhat cheesy romantic mood, his theory made perfect sense to him.
When they exited the park, Ash smiled and addressed both his mother and the gym leader, "there's something I have to do, so I'll be going now. Have a good time catching up."
Misty smiled, knowing exactly where Ash was going, though she still had a feeling of uneasiness and Brock was extremely quiet. She pushed the worries away, still in her romance high. She had to give Ash her answer without interruptions. "Right, see you later," she purposely waved with her left hand, bringing attention to the ring she was wearing. It brought a big smile to Delia's face.
Brock watched Ash and Misty leave, then looked at Delia and the man beside her for a moment in worry and uncertainty. In total silence, Brock hurried after Ash and Misty. He had to tell them something important. Delia didn't read too deeply into Brock's reaction, the poor boy was probably frustrated that he was still single.
The way the young group left was extremely suspicious to Giovanni. For the time being he would play along and pretend he didn't suspect anything. He would make them regret trying to trick him. He would find out the details about their group and lead them to a trap. Delia would be the key to that.
Delia decided not to worry about telling Ash the truth for the time being. He didn't seem to suspect anything about Giovanni's identity as his father after all, even if he must have recognized him as her past boyfriend. She didn't want to create drama when he was celebrating his engagement. Understandably, he would want to spend some time with Misty at the moment. Delia didn't want to ruin it. Plus she needed more time to sort things out with Giovanni. If only she knew where to start. "What was that back there? What was that... Charmander outburst all of a sudden?"
Giovanni grinned at hearing the nickname Delia used to call him. "I think that defines it pretty well," his acceptance of her return didn't make any more sense than her sudden return did. He had to make her believe he didn't suspect anything yet, which may involve keeping her occupied thinking of other things.
"But I... you..." It made no sense, it just made no sense and Delia didn't know what to say about it. She told herself over and over not to get her hopes up for a happy ending. Things like that did not happen outside of movies. She frowned thinking that maybe he was just amusing himself with her, enjoying watching her confusion. "Are you..." she paused, unable to continue.
Giovanni couldn't help it but to laugh slightly at her reaction. He couldn't deny he was enjoying it. He let go of her hand instead wrapping his arm around her waist, "maybe if you eat something you'll remember how to speak."
Delia could do nothing more than nod. She hoped that by the time they made it to wherever Giovanni was leading her, her perplexed brain recovered at least a little.
To be Continued
Disclaimer, I don't own Pokemon. More about the situation with Team Rocket will be revealed soon.