Diamond 87: Give Me Reassurance
Diamond 87: Give Me Reassurance
At the Pallet House, the atmosphere had quieted. The occasional murmurs and playful laughter had faded as the pokemon gathered to listen to Ash.
"Life has a lot of twists and turns, doesn't it?" Misty voiced softly. She and Ash were still close together, as if they had melted into one.
"Yeah, it's pretty crazy," Ash breathed a little easier after letting out his bottled up confusion. "If a few years ago someone told me we would be so involved with the mafia, there's no way I would believe them. Maybe things really will work out," he tried to be optimistic.
"We'll make things work out," Misty tried to stay positive as well. This time the situation was far more complicated than a battle against an opposing force. This time, it all blended together and such different people needed to coexist.
Ash took his cell phone, which was all but forgotten on his belt and look at it with indecision. He opened it and looked at the contact list, pausing on his mother's new number.
"Call, if it will make you feel better, call her, she won't mind," Misty encouraged.
Ash nodded, then went back to staring at his cell phone. "I was thinking about sending him a message, a voice mail through mom's phone. Am I a coward?"
"Not at all," Misty soothed, "you can talk face to face when you're ready.
Ash pressed the button to bring up the options and chose to record a voice mail. "Hi mom, it's me Ash... but you already know that from the number and because you're hearing me," he stopped, he didn't mean to ramble. He deleted the recording and tried again. He took a deep breath and began, "mom, could you let dad listen to this message?" Dad, the word felt so foreign. It was as if he was speaking in an unknown language he was anything but fluent in, unsure of what his words meant. "I just wanted to let you know that I'm sorry for running off, I hope that didn't disappoint you too much. I just needed some time to think, but I want to talk to you in person soon." Ash summoned all his courage, this was more difficult than any other challenge he had ever faced. "I'll return tomorrow evening, I promise." That was the entirety of the message. He sent it before he changed his mind and watched the confirmation on the screen.
Misty gave him a reassuring smile, which made Ash smile back. He gave himself some extra time to think, giving his parents some time as well. He made a promise so he wouldn't run away again, to keep his will strong.
xoxox xox xoxox
At the Viridian gym, though Delia tried to stop it from happening, as she sat there alone with Giovanni, she saw it in her mind. She saw the dangers that were more than just urban legends. She pushed the images away and told her imagination to keep quiet. She enjoyed horror movies, though more so about mysteries and ghosts and not about gore. The reason for that was that it amused her how far the imagination would go; she didn't believe any of it.
To think that such events could be real sounded absurd, but it wasn't, not as long as he was out there. It was sad, that killer never decided to be a murderer, he never decided anything. He was turned into a being driven by instinct, it was as if his will had been stolen from him and he was condemn to suffer. "Look at me," she finally spoke.
Giovanni noticed then that he had been indeed avoiding her gaze. He expected to see her upset, angry and resentful, maybe even horrified and afraid. When he looked into her eyes, he found nothing but endless understanding and it confused him. "Delia..." her name escaped him as nothing but a whisper.
"You don't have to look away from me. You can tell me everything; you can tell me your mistakes. I won't hate you for it, just please, don't keep it all bottled up. Please, allow me to try to make it better," she hugged him tightly with full trust.
He returned the embrace, "you're too forgiving." He honestly expected her to at least scold him. She had scolded him for less in the past, though she was always forgiving in the end. She was always willing to put their differences aside and let things go after she spoke her disapproval. This time was different and he didn't know what made her react that way, as if she could see he simply didn't have the energy to argue. Did he look that exhausted, that troubled?
"I love you," her voice was so sweet and tender; he had to stare at her for a moment, taking in every detail of her expression. Supporting, loving, understanding, sincere, beautiful in so many ways.
"I love you too," their lips met, slowly, sweetly, gently at first. Then with a turmoil of emotion, their bodies locked in a tight embrace. For a moment, all was serenity amidst the chaos.
The moment was interrupted by the sound of a cell phone receiving a message. Though it was different from the insistent sound of an incoming call, Delia's mind went to Ash and she slowly pulled away. "Let me see if that's Ash," she examined the little cell phone's screen to find that it was indeed Ash sending the message, it was a voice mail.
xoxox xox xoxox
Hours passed and the night gave way to morning. The day promised to be eventful. There were several enemies still on the loose that could make a move at any moment. Then, in the evening, Ash would return to meet his parents at the mansion. Giovanni wasn't sure what he would say to Ash, but had a feeling that he would find out soon enough. He expected Ash to have thought of his questions by then, he had a lot of things to answer.
Though Delia didn't elaborate too much upon it, she said enough, "let's show Ash the better side of Team Rocket." She didn't want more tension and distance to be created. She certainly didn't want true anger to emerge.
It wasn't until that morning when Delia went through with her determination to speak to Luke. She smiled at Giovanni as cheerful as she could manage without being forceful of her expression, "I'll take care of giving Luke some advice." She set her mind on optimism and the thought that things were on their way to improve. The only unresolved aspect that still plagued her mind was the virus. As for Iblis and the clones, or as she called them, the survivors, she believed it was within Team Rocket's grasp to solve those problems if they really tried. It was about time Team Rocket stopped turning away and took responsibility.
While Delia was gone, Giovanni occupied himself with some Team Rocket work. After a while, he found he couldn't concentrate and his mind wandered into the battle field. He couldn't precise why, but that moment during the tournament at the Viridian Stadium, when his eyes met Ash's, resurfaced in his memories. He remembered seeing how Ash guided his pokemon; he remembered the trust between them that somehow seemed to amplify their power. He wanted to battle Ash and wondered if Ash wanted to battle him too. He knew it would happen one way or another, perhaps that particular destiny had already been decided the second their eyes met. He couldn't help it but to anticipate it and prepare his pokemon.
xoxox xox xoxox
Meanwhile, Delia and Luke had found a quiet spot in one of the gym's above ground conference rooms. Luke had gone on and on about his relief that Comet was healed. "So he's like back in training, you know? He like took like a lot of sick days and like wasted his break, you know? Comet like never really had like trouble staying in shape so I like think he'll do fine. He like got a lot of medical tests, you know? They say he's like perfectly healthy, man! I'm like so relieved, dudette."
Delia smiled sincerely, "that's wonderful, I'm so happy Comet is alright. Shouldn't he take some time to rest though?"
"Nah, don't like worry," Luke sounded sure of it, "everything's okay now, you know? It's all like good, like more good things will like come, I'm like sure, you know? We have to like totally stay positive, dudette."
"Yes, you're right, we really need to stay positive," Delia agreed then paused. She didn't know how to address the subject and Luke was giving her a confused and curious look. "The truth," she finally began, "have you considered telling him the truth?"
Luke was speechless for a moment. He stared at Delia, at the wall behind her, at the table, at his fidgeting gloved hands, then back at Delia. "Like why?"
"Because if you don't, he'll always have doubts," Delia pleaded. She expected convincing Luke would be difficult. Furthermore, some sort of proof might be needed or Comet might have even bigger doubts. She wouldn't run off to tell him herself, that was something his father had to do. "Doubts are painful; you should tell him the truth. The sooner you tell him, the better, right away if possible."
"Alright, I'll like totally tell him, you know?" Luke nodded with determination and maintained a smile.
"What..." Delia began to ask, her voice fading into nothing. She opened and closed her mouth like a Magikarp, eyes wide with questions.
Luke's smile never faltered, "I like trust you, you know? If you like say it's like best to tell him the truth, then I'll like tell him the truth, you know?"
"You trust me that much," Delia voiced softly, her surprise evident.
"Like totally!" Luke's smile grew, "you have like never given me bad advice, you know? I like totally trust you, dudette. I'll like totally like tell him right away, man!" With those words spoken, Luke got up and exited the conference room.
With her shock still frozen in her face, Delia bolted from her seat to see Luke jogging down the hall and disappearing past a corner. Unable to find her voice, she could do nothing more than to run after him. This was Luke, he talked funny, he wrote funny, he could be a little impulsive. Delia called out, "stop the elevator!" And dashed into the enclosed space where Luke was.
"Dudette, are you like okay?" Luke seemed surprise that she would run after him after he had promptly left to do what she suggested. Wasn't this what he was supposed to do?
Delia took a deep breath and nodded, "you need to phrase it properly." This was Luke, cheerful carefree Luke, but he wouldn't underestimate the consequences, would he?
"You like don't need to like worry, you know? Giovanni like gets annoyed when I like write like this, you know? But he like doesn't like mind like so much when I like talk like this, you know? Comet like understands, you know?" Once again, Luke's smile never faltered through his whole explanation as the elevator carried them below ground.
"I'm not talking about grammar, or verbal grammar," Delia tried to explain herself, wondering how it was possible that Comet didn't pick that up. Maybe Giovanni was so annoyed by Luke's reports that he made sure someone taught Comet how to speak and write with more clarity. They exited the elevator and walked towards a... subway? The underground train was black with red Rs on its sides. Its surface was polished and glossy as it sat elegantly on silver rails.
Rockets of various ranks came in and out of the train Luke was heading towards. Amazed by the sight, Delia followed him wordlessly. It was as if Team Rocket was a whole different society with its vast underground city. She knew about it, but seeing it was different, she never tried exploring this far before. Some of the Rockets looked at her curiously, recognizing her as the woman whom their boss was dating, but no one dared to say anything to her.
Some seats were coincidentally free right ahead as they walked through the wagon. They sat down and Delia took in the atmosphere. Some Rockets looked energetic and others a little tired, faces still flustered from their training sessions. Some had damp hair as if they had been swimming or had recently taken a shower. Some carried bags, varying in size.
The automatic train stopped on several occasions with a recorded voice reminding the passengers of their location. Upon hearing the announcement of "Aquatic Circuit XL" Luke got out of the train along with Delia.
She breathed deeply as she followed him through the training facilities. "I'll leave you to talk to Comet in private, just be tactful." Luke nodded and Delia's worries subsided, "I know you'll do fine. Comet will appreciate it, I'm sure of it."
Luke was about to reply, but he was interrupted by Laiki's loud squeal of "Delia!" The blond girl was wearing a rather small green bikini that matched her eyes. She walked with two men, one at each side, their arms linked with hers. Their faces hinted that they were still new to Team Rocket, as their surroundings still had them in awe. Furthermore, they were surprised by the casual tone Laiki used to refer to Lady Roketto. "Welcome to paradise!" She let go of her conquests and rushed towards Delia. "Have you come to partake in the awesome activity of man watching? If you have, I won't tell the boss, I promise!"
"Actually," Delia shifted somewhat embarrassed, "I just walked over here with Luke because we were talking. Now he has to go talk to Comet." She had been so focused on the situation with Luke and Comet, that she didn't really took notice of the multitude of people in swimsuits of varied sizes and styles all around her.
"Dudette, do you like know where he is?" Luke inquired naturally. He grew up as a beach loving surfer; there was little he had not already seen. The atmosphere all around them felt very natural and not at all awkward to him.
"He's getting ready for the race, it should be fun. Let's go watch from up there!" Laiki excitedly pointed at a balcony above their heads, stretching out from the wall above the entrance.
"That sounds fun," Delia automatically agreed, though she was honestly curious about the race Laiki mentioned. The area identified as Aquatic Circuit XL was a vast tunnel that stretched out left and right, with people coming and going walking along the pool.
From that level, Delia could see a pair of long pools side by side, with some space between them. They must be extremely deep underground, since the ceiling was so tall and Giovanni wouldn't risk the facilities being discovered. The structure was made of silvery metal, it was the same strong seismic proof enforced material used in other areas of the headquarters. The large square lamps on the ceiling would at first glance appear to be a sort of sunroof in a very sunny day, but they were artificial lights.
Delia, Luke, Laiki and her two admirers used an elevator to go up to the balcony. Laiki had not stopped talking the whole way there. "So I told Pixel, you have to come and see Comet race, he's really good at it. Do you know what she told me? She said she had some studying to do. I mean come on, at this rate they'll never get together if she keeps picking codes over him, not that his fan girls would mind. Either way, Comet doesn't like clingy girls. He likes a girl who picks violent video games over romance movies and mystery meat pizza from the cafeteria over a candlelit dinner." Not to mention she would probably add chocolate syrup to it, because Pixel would add chocolate syrup to anything.
Laiki continued after pausing to take in a deep breath, "speaking of which, I never thought he'd find one to suit his taste, but he did. Pixel is so unromantic, but then again, Comet wouldn't know romance if it punched him in that handsome face of his. I keep telling him, listen Comet, I know you're hot but fan service can only get you so far. Did he listen? Of course he didn't! Then I told Pixel that her geekyness was a turn off for guys, but did she listen to me? No she didn't! They even have that in common, they don't follow my advice! Then she's suddenly all buddy-buddy with Comet, even if she hardly said hello to him the first time they met. They became friends over video games and action movies and you can practically smell the attraction."
With another deep breath, Laiki proceeded, "did you know Pixel's been here for a while? I used to call her rookie because she was like a rookie, not having found her place in Team Rocket. It's not like that anymore; she's really on track now. The point is, that they've known each other long enough to know they like each other. I told Comet, I told him, you listen here, you're never going to find a girl who's as dismissive of monthaversaries and other such occasions as this one. She's the only one who's not even going to notice if you happen to forget one or all of them. She's the only one that is most likely to laugh at sweet talk instead of appreciating it. She's the one who will actually like to hear things simple and direct. I told him to go for it, I really did!"
Laiki's incessant rant continued, her words came out at an almost inhumanly high speed. "Do you know what Pixel said? She goes and says that she's only into guys that are older than her. Then she makes it sound like three years are three hundred! I've dated with a seven year difference on both directions and it went just fine! So I dared Pixel to come over here and watch Comet race. Maybe she just needs some fan service to motivate her that they really are perfect for each other."
"Then they can have their unromantic relationship and discuss virtual weaponry while hunting down alien pokemon in a simulated world. They can continue acting as if they're just friends and the world can remain oblivious to what happens behind closed doors. Because you know," Laiki paused to wink, "unromantic people are still human after all."
"Laiki," the familiar voice of Pixel interrupted Laiki's rant, as the other young woman made her arrival known. She crossed her arms and raised an eyebrow, "too Torchic to come watch, am I?"
"You came!" Laiki cheered.
Delia's unvoiced thoughts were 'not a moment too soon.' Luke was too dizzy to think at all, he gripped the railing to avoid losing his balance. Delia wanted to lend an ear, she really did. After all, Laiki had grown up without a mother. She had Binks, but he was troubled, plus he was a man and she clearly had the necessity for girl talk. Still, she had to question how healthy it was to listen to this girl go on and on about her friends. Laiki's two admirers had fled, unable to follow her quick words and afraid they would be pushed to insanity.
From the balcony, Delia could see that the two long pools were actually one gigantic oval shaped pool. At the starting line, there were several Rockets riding on water pokemon. Pillars came up from the bottom of the pool, rising above the water. The mechanism on the pillars activated, splitting them into two hexagonal hoops, one above the other. Comet was at the starting line with Gyarados. His opponents were a brown haired man on a Tentacruel, a blond woman on a Milotic and a blond man on a Blastoise.
Rockets were free to sign up for a variety of events as many times as they wished, or had time for during the week. These events, albeit viewed by many as recreation, served as training and were lucrative to Team Rocket through bets and entry fees. Most of the time it was the fans who purchased entry tickets for their favorite contestants, in hopes of seeing them in action again. The prizes, aside from bragging rights, consisted of Rocket points, which were received or lost depending on one's ranking and record. Those points contributed a bonus to the rank score, sometimes being enough to make the difference between one rank and the next. The rank in turn decided certain benefits that included, but were not limited to, the type of mission assignments and payment. Of course, there were also missions that had special requirements aside from rank.
Once a week, four contestants would be chosen for the championship race. They would be: the contestant with the fastest racing record over all, the fastest record for the week, the largest total number of wins over all and the largest number of wins for the week. If one person held more than one of those titles, the runner ups for the titles that were repeated would face off for a chance to fill up the open spot. If any of those titles were held by two or more people, there would be a tie breaker race to determine who would go to the championship. If the holder of any of those titles could not be present, the title would not be lost, as the reason could be something more important, such as an official mission. However, for that week, the runner up would fill in the empty space. Tie breakers were in order if more than one runner up existed. The weekly championship wins were counted separately from the regular victories.
"The Electric Ring Race weekly championship will no longer be taking bets," the announcer sounded a lot like Jango. He had served as the referee in the Viridian Stadium tournament. "Let's get ready to race! Back for a rematch, we have Tyson riding on Tentacruel. He posted the fastest time of the week. Tyson came close to winning last week's championship race, giving our next contestant quite a challenge. Attila is a fierce competitor who joins the races very often. With his Blastoise, he holds the record for most wins overall."
Jango's voice came from seemingly everywhere, "enjoying a winning streak, we have the beauty of the Aquatic Circuit, Domino. Riding on her elegant Milotic, she had the most wins this week. Finally, after being absent from last week's championship, we have the return of Comet, riding on Gyarados. Comet holds the fastest time overall and is tied with Attila for most championship wins."
Jango then made a quick recap of the rules, "both the pokemon and the trainer need to pass through each of the seven sets of circles. You do not need to stay in your initial lane. If you miss a ring, you can't move on until you succeed in the jump. On your marks, ready... Go!" A loud sound reminiscent of a gunshot rung out, though it was only a recording.
To be Continued
Disclaimer, I don't own Pokemon. Tyson, Attila and Domino are all canon characters. I have a picture of the Aquatic Circuit XL in Deviant Art. There's a link in my profile.