Diamond 79: Give me Curiosity
Diamond 79: Give me Curiosity
Giovanni glared at Jessie and James. He had built the impression over the years that there mere presence was enough to cause trouble. Jessie and James stood straight and silent as if awaiting orders in a line of soldiers. He decided not to say anything to them for being there.
Apparently their connection with the Waterflowers was better than he thought. If anything he could use that to get information from them in case anyone slipped up. Seeing Ash standing up for Jessie and James, offering to share the blame for the Viridian gym incident years ago, made Giovanni's thoughts about having a battle resurfaced. "I'll overlook that incident if you put up a good fight in a pokemon battle."
Ash's face was full of excitement, "right here and now?"
"No, not now," Delia interfered. "We're in the middle of a wedding party. Besides, look over there." Delia glanced towards Misty. "Misty is making a face that says 'this person is overloading me with invasive questions. Someone please give me an excuse to leave.' You should help her, go dance with her."
Ash observed Misty's expression. He stared and caught just the slightest most well hidden hint of discomfort. She kept staring back at him. "You can tell all that just by looking?" He was a little dense with subtle hints, but Misty couldn't give him anything obvious to work with at the time. "I'll go invite her to dance; I hope I don't step on her feet." He looked at Giovanni, the challenge still shining in his eyes, "we'll battle soon, I'm really looking forward to it."
"So am I," the uncontrollable desire to test his strength in a pokemon battle against Ash had resurfaced. It had to be done and soon. Once Ash was gone, Giovanni gave Jessie and James a serious look, "don't cause trouble, don't reveal anything and report on any information you hear about here."
"Yes, sir!" Jessie, James and Meowth chorused. Then their expressions turned to worry as they glanced at Delia. She wasn't supposed to know what that was about. Yet if that was the case, why did Giovanni speak so openly when she was listening?
Delia smiled sweetly with a reassuring expression, "it's okay, I know, but don't mention anything to Ash. I'm not quite ready for him to know yet." Delia felt terrible to still be keeping the secret from Ash, but that would end soon.
Jessie, James and Meowth knew that Delia was apparently dating Giovanni. Practically everyone in Kanto knew. They assumed that Giovanni kept his other identity a secret from her. They stood there in absolute shock, "stop making those faces, look natural," Giovanni urged with a threatening tone.
Jessie, James and Meowth nodded and occupied themselves eating. That was their way to look natural. They were still shocked that Delia knew about Giovanni's real career. They wondered just how much she knew. Sweet kind Delia with a mafia lord? Well, they do say that opposites attract.
Delia decided it was time to lessen the tensions and give Jessie and James the opportunity to get over their surprise in peace. "I want to dance," with that request, she got Giovanni away from Jessie and James.
Near the other end of the large party room, Lily shifted uncomfortably. "Do I have something on my face?" She finally asked.
"A lot of beauty," Brock replied, resisting the urge to take her hands in his. He didn't want to come off as too forward. He continued to stare at Lily and only Lily. If he kept his eyes on her, his gaze wouldn't wonder towards another pretty girl. There were many beautiful women in the party. At first the sight was too much for Brock, he had never seen so many attractive women in one place at the same time. He resolved his brain crash by volunteering to help make sure the pokemon were comfortable and well behaved at the church.
Lily looked away, feeling Brock's eyes still on her face. She looked back at him, his expression adoring and focused. "Stop it! You're like really creeping me out!"
Brock frowned, of course things had to end the same way they always did for him. He was so heartbroken he could cry. He tried really hard to be likable. He didn't try to take Lily's hand, or put his arm around her, or touch her in any way. He thought he was respecting her space and that if he kept doing that she would get closer to him when she felt ready. He looked at her the entire time, making sure to loyally focus his attention and not allow his eyes to wander. Nothing worked out for him. Perhaps he really would cry.
"Don't make that face, it's like you're about to cry," Lily paused, realizing just how right she was. "You really are about to cry. What's wrong? Do you like have a tummy ache?" Never before had she seen a man looking so agonized.
"You're not getting a restraining order are you? Nobody loves me!" Brock sniffled, his depression was simply too strong.
"Shh, don't make a scene," Lily smiled nervously and pulled Brock away to a quiet corner. "Like take a deep breath and calm down, then tell me what's wrong."
Brock nodded, breathing deeply. "I'm sad because I'm unlovable. I've been trying to be a good date but it's obvious I failed miserably. I tried to be loyal and have eyes only for you, but it backfired in the end. I'm cursed to loneliness."
"I have to admit, the staring was weird," Lily confessed, "I guess you're not such a bad date despite all that. It would be annoying if my date like spent the night looking at other girls. That doesn't mean you have to like completely avoid eye contact with every other female in the party." She decided she might as well make the most of her date. "Just try to relax, let's go dance for a while, okay?"
"Yes, my lady, anything you want, dear Lily!" Brock was quick to energetically agree.
"Right..." Lily still thought he went a bit far with his exaggerated attentions, but decided to view the date with an open mind.
The music and dancing continued until it was time for dinner. The guests were seated in long tables as the waiters and waitresses came and went with food. At Daisy's request, as many people as possible were invited. She wanted a big wedding with lots of guests. Because of that, Misty was encouraged to invite anyone she knew whom she thought could make it to the celebration, even if they were from other regions. Several nurse Joys were present, but there were no Jennys. Otoshi and his wife were there as well as other friends Misty contacted. Tracy had arrived from the Orange Islands just on time. Todd and Ritchie were among the sea of guests.
xoxox xox xoxox
While the wedding party was taking place at Vermilion City, the investigation continued in Cerulean City. The manager, Laiki and a few Rockets were studying the evidence in a secret basement at Razzo Albergo. Laiki watched the security videos again. The guard that had been accused of being an accomplice walked down the hall towards the camera room. He moved as if in a trance. Another guard passed by in the hall and greeted him. The suspicious guard didn't reply, as if he didn't see the other man, though he was hard to miss.
The accomplice continued towards the camera monitoring room and entered. That was the end of the significant part of the video from the restricted hallway. Seconds after the guard went inside the camera room, some of the hidden video cameras that secretly monitored the surrounding area outside of the hotel were deactivated. Shortly after, one of the still active cameras showed Delia walking down the side walk towards the hotel. None of the passer bys around her looked suspicious. Something caught Delia's attention and she disappeared behind the hotel. The cameras in that area were deactivated.
Laiki let out a breath and leaned back in the black chair. The camera room was dim, save for the lights of the multiple monitors. "I have a feeling this is going to be one tough case to crack," Laiki mused.
The strangest thing of all was that the accomplice had been found passed out in that very same camera room. After he deactivated the cameras outside he simply fainted. He had been interrogated, but apparently he didn't remember deactivating the cameras at all. His entire day was gone from his memories.
xoxox xox xoxox
It was well past midnight when the wedding party finally ended at Lando's mansion in Vermilion City. The celebration culminated with an impressive display of fireworks. The guests gathered outside to watch as the newlyweds' helicopter took off into the night. They were off to their honeymoon and would not be back for a few days. Afterwards, the guests were shown to their rooms. It was late and they had all been invited to stay at the many rooms of the mansion. Persian was spending the night with the other pokemon in their large room.
Delia recognized the luggage that had already been delivered there. "Did they ask you about the room when they were arranging everything? No one really told me about it."
"Yes, since I said you were staying with me, it seems they decided not to call you about it," Giovanni revealed.
"How considerate of you to take care of everything," Delia's sarcastic remark came out with less energy than intended. "It's finally over..."
"I take it you're not only talking about the party?" Giovanni watched her with puzzlement. She seemed sad about something, almost afraid.
"I have to tell Ash the truth after this. I've been keeping the secret for so long. At first I thought I had to, but later it came to the point where keeping it would just make things more difficult for when it was eventually known. None the less, I will do this," her voice trembled as she paused in thought. "We'll go to Pallet Town and everything will be revealed."
"Pallet Town?" The topic of what to do next had not really been discussed. "I can't let you go back there, not after what happened today."
"Pallet Town is my home; of course I'm going back," Delia insisted. "It's perfectly safe there, it has been for years."
"People didn't know you back then. I didn't expect something like this would come out of all this publicity," the publicity had been indeed good. The tensions had lessened and with the public occupied on a different topic, the inconvenient theories and rumors ceased.
"No one ever goes to Pallet Town," Delia argued. "It doesn't matter if people know me, that was just one incident. Besides, everyone knows everyone in Pallet Town and there are no lonely alleys to wander into.
Outside of the guest room where Giovanni and Delia were, Ash made his way down the hall. He thought he should at least say good night, since they had been caught up in the celebrations and not really talked much. The maid had said his mother was in the last room down the hall to the left. He stopped in front of the door and raised his hand to knock, but stopped before doing so.
He froze as he heard his mother's voice from inside, she sounded sad. Then there was something that sounded like an argument, but Ash couldn't understand the words. He placed his ear to the door and listened. He knew he shouldn't be spying, but he couldn't help it.
"You're taking this too lightly," Giovanni insisted, more harshly than he intended. "Someone tried to kill you. Don't you understand that? Either you come with me or I'll have to post guards all around your house twenty-four seven. Somehow I don't think the locals will be very happy with that."
Ash went pale; someone had tried to kill his mother? Who? When? Why?
"I don't need a battalion in my house, I have my pokemon. Last time I didn't have them with me. I'll be fine; no one will come after me. I'm not going to give up my freedom," Delia insisted, the volume of her voice rising with every word.
"I'm not saying you have to give up your freedom, just consider the risks," Giovanni was cut off when Delia interrupted.
"Do you consider the risks? You're not exactly very careful yourself and you're alive." Delia held her ground, "I'm going back to Pallet Town and I'm going to tell Ash everything!"
"What if you're interrupted by a bullet?" Giovanni argued without thinking. They both paused and an uncomfortable silence invaded the room.
"Do you think they'll go after Ash?" Delia spoke with worry, her voice shaking.
Giovanni paused and gave the situation some thought, "I don't think they know who he really is," he finally voiced, the previous anger gone.
"I wish..." Delia felt tears accumulating in her eyes and running down her face. "I wish that Ash's father was... the Viridian City gym leader, no one else. That's a selfish wish, I know. I won't wish for that anymore, I have no right to make that wish. This is what I feared, this is why I left. This is why I kept the truth from him. I have so many regrets..."
At that moment, Ash forced himself away from the door and stumbled in a shocked daze in the hallway. His heart was racing as were his thoughts. He wanted to listen at the door. He wanted to call his mother and listen to the truth right there. He just wanted to tare the door down and not leave until he had his answers. Yet he couldn't do it. His mother's past seemed to be more difficult and complicated than he ever thought.
The way she spoke gave him the impression that Giovanni wasn't his father. Was he a part of a complicated triangle which ended with a choice she later regretted? Just what did Giovanni mean by someone not knowing who he was? He was Ash Ketchum, he was the son of Delia and... a mysterious man. All the answers were in that man's identity. At least his mother sounded determined to reveal everything.
Misty saw Ash standing out in the hall looking shocked and worried. She hurried to him. "Are you alright?" He seemed to be unable to find his voice, standing there by himself. Pikachu had gone with the other pokemon. "Ash," Misty gave him a concerned look. "Did something happen?"
Ash finally pushed some sound out of his throat, "let's not talk here."
Misty nodded and they walked back to his room. Ash tried to organize his thoughts as best as he could on the way. "We're here," Misty breathed. She observed as Ash sat down unenergetically on his bed, his eyes still wide, face pale. "You're really worrying me." She sat beside him. "Tell me what's wrong."
"Someone tried to kill mom," Ash's revelation took Misty completely off guard. She was expecting something shocking judging by the state he was in, but not that. "I was just going to say good night. I overheard her arguing with Giovanni. He was saying it was too dangerous in Pallet Town because someone had tried to kill her. It couldn't have been in town, someone would know, then everyone would know. It must have been somewhere else."
"Are you sure that's what you heard?" Misty slowly asked. "Who would want to hurt Delia? She's always been so kind. I can't imagine why anyone would hold a grudge against her."
"That's what I heard," it was hard to believe, but Ash was certain of it. "It's something related to my father. I heard her say she wished Giovanni was my father. Whatever is going on has to be related to my father. Mom said something about her leaving for this reason and not telling me. She was trying to protect me, but I'm not sure from what. Just who in the world was my father, or who is he? She kept saying she had to tell me. Maybe I should go right now and ask."
"Wait, Ash," Misty stopped Ash as he stood up and pulled him to sit down again. She kept her hands on his shoulders, looking into his eyes. "I don't think you should rush into this or jump to conclusions." It was a lot to take in.
"Mom's going to tell me anyway, that's true," Ash considered that fact. "Tomorrow... I'll let her sort out the past tonight. It sounded like Giovanni already knew about it. I'll let them talk, then tomorrow if mom doesn't bring it up, I will."
xoxox xox xoxox
Back at Delia and Giovanni's room, "do you regret the past?" Giovanni asked, the question came out before he could stop himself, before he could even think about why he was asking that.
"No," Delia sounded absolutely certain. Despite her worries and tears, she smiled, "I treasure the past and I also treasure the present. I regret waiting for so long to tell you and Ash. I regret having stolen him away and kept him to myself. I regret taking him away from you and you from him. If I had stayed, I would have regretted not being able to give Ash a peaceful childhood. I would have regretted it if he didn't have the chance to see the world and explore so many lands, free and without anything to hold him back. I would have regretted the risks, the crimes, the tragedies."
Delia continued, her voice full of emotion, "no matter what choices I make and no matter how strongly I feel about them when I make them, I always end up with regrets. Maybe I want too much; maybe I try to take more than I can have. Whatever it is, it's not my choice alone, maybe that's what I haven't been able to understand. Maybe I'm just selfish, or maybe I'm just scared of facing the truth. Do you hate me for leaving? Do you hate me for never telling you until now? Do you hate me because of what I led Ash to become?"
It was indeed too bad that someone with such skill and power would probably never agree to use it to attempt to rule the world. Giovanni knew Ash's values were too solidly anchored to ever be forgotten. Ash had his priorities, so did Delia and so did he. Somehow, he found he couldn't hate her for it, seeing her tortured expression, hearing her take all the blame for herself. He hugged her and held her close. She hugged him back as if holding on to life itself. "I told you before; you can't carry the weight of the world all by yourself." Maybe they weren't so different after all. They both wanted to make the world their own place. "I don't hate you; I don't think I ever have." His denial finally crumbled as he realized he still loved her.
The last of her tears for the night escaped Delia. Her stubborn hope resurfaced again like a defense mechanism of survival trying to preserve her will to live. There was hope and there would be hope as long as those she loved still existed. There would always be hope.
There was too much to say, too much still left unresolved, but for just that moment they lived in the present, one second at a time. They kissed and it felt different than before, but at the same time familiar. There was no more pretending, there were no more doubts, no more misperceptions, no more lies. It was only them, real, imperfect, human, irreplaceable.
xoxox xox xoxox
When the next morning came the guests slowly left the mansion. Some stayed for breakfast, while others left early to return to their lives and businesses. A knock on the door woke Misty.
The knock was followed by Brock's voice calling, "Ash, are you awake? I need your advice! You're engaged, so that means you must have some good advice on relationships if you made it that far. C'mon Ash, wake up! I'm too embarrassed to ask Misty for advice. Ash?" Brock looked left and right up and down the long hallway. He was so excited and nervous he was spilling his heart out right there in the hall. He was sure he would die of embarrassment if anyone, especially Lily, happened to walk by at that moment.
Misty woke up in full, rather than the half asleep daze she was in for a few seconds. Ash was uneasy, she stayed with him to keep him calm and they fell asleep. She tried to get up, slipping out of Ash's arms. He was still sleeping peacefully, with his head on her chest, "don't steal my pillow," he mumbled in his sleep, cuddling Misty.
Misty felt her face turn pink, "Ash, wake up," she shook him awake, or almost awake.
"Five more minutes... The battle can wait for five more minutes. Tell them I'll be right there..." Ash began to fall asleep again.
"Wake up!" Misty insisted.
"The Indigo League!" Ash suddenly jumped to his feat, "I'm late! I'm late!" He ran in circles around the room before reality finally caught up to him. He looked around and found Misty watching him. She was invaded by a fit of laughter and he attributed her pink face to laughing so much. "Good morning," Ash scratched the back of his head, a little embarrassed by his reaction to his nightmare. He only ever had that nightmare when something was bothering him.
Ash soon recalled what he had heard the previous night. After a night of slumber, he started to wonder if he really had misheard something. Brock's voice out the door interrupted his thoughts. "Ash?"
"Brock?" Without a second thought, Ash went over to open the door. "Good morning, come in."
Brock immediately noticed that Misty was in the room. "Misty?!"
"Ash was having a nightmare," Misty quickly explained.
"You heard!" Brock was mortified.
"Heard what?" As it often happened in all matters somehow related to love, Ash was clueless.
"You didn't?" Brock looked back and forth between Ash and Misty.
Finally Misty spoke, "alright, you might as well come clean. What's your big dilemma? My advice will be more effective than Ash's anyway."
Ash's confusion grew, "dilemma?"
Brock took a deep breath and confessed. "Last night at the party, I asked Lily if she would go out with me in a second date. She said she would think about it. That's as close as I've ever been to a second date." It took less than one full date for him to scare off most women. "Should I wait until she decides to call me and say she'll go? Should I give her a day or two and ask again? Was she just letting me off easy? I don't know how to interpret this. I really don't want to mess this up."
"First and foremost, relax," Misty emphasized. "Next, try to be friends with Lily before asking her out again. Finally, you can go back to the Cerulean gym and help me deal with the separation anxiety I know is sure to come. Sooner or later it will sink in for Violet and Lily that Daisy is married and will be living with her husband. I'll say you just came over to hang out with me so Lily won't feel stalked, then you can hang out with all of us."
"Thanks Misty! I owe you my life!" Brock dramatized.
"One more thing, try to get some sleep, you have purple lines under your eyes," Misty insisted. "Relax, that is the key."
"Right, relax, relax," Brock was trying so hard to relax that he looked more tense. He had spent the entire night tossing and turning, trying to figure out what Lily's words really meant.
"I think I missed something," Ash correctly stated. Pikachu entered the room; the door had been left open. He was followed by Ash, Misty and Brock's other pokemon. "I have to go back to Pallet Town for a while," or to wherever his mother went so they could talk.
Misty nodded; she knew Ash needed some time alone with his mom. "Call me as soon as you can." She looked at the pokemon and smiled with trust, "take care of Ash for me." All the pokemon agreed cheerfully, though they didn't know the origin of the request.
To be Continued
Disclaimer, I don't own Pokemon. I'm sure everyone can guess what's happening in the next chapter. :D