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  1. #181
    I came in like a wrecking ball... [Desolate Divine]'s Avatar
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    Down to a sub two week gap, and liking where things are progressing. Keen to keep writing while I have time off!

    Episode 6 is done! Nearing the halfway point of the season!

  2. #182
    I came in like a wrecking ball... [Desolate Divine]'s Avatar
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    Just finished writing what is likely my favourite episode from Season 5 but being late, am holding off proofreading and publishing until tomorrow. But tonight, I can have some fun.

    Most likely to...
    Spoiler:

    Gonna keep this with Jon and the original five since I know their characters best.
    Who is most likely to have a snappy comeback?
    Charlotte. Definitely Charlotte.
    Who is most likely to answer the phone if you call in the middle of a night?
    Jon.
    Who is most likely to treat your house like their house?
    Chris
    Who is most likely to get along better with your parents than you do?
    Abbee
    Who is most likely to throw you a surprise party?
    Abbee
    Who is most likely to have the best snacks?
    Chris
    Who is most likely to drive you somewhere?
    Charlotte
    Who is most likely to say something awkward to a significant other’s parents?
    Chris
    Who is most likely to save you from a bad blind date?
    Chris
    Who is most likely to hand-make you a birthday present?
    Abbee
    Who is most likely to try to embarrass you in front of your crush?
    Chris
    Who is most likely to make you laugh when you are sad?
    Chris
    Who is most likely to take care of you when you are sick?
    Abbee
    Who is most likely to bake you a birthday cake?
    Abbee
    Who is most likely to back you up in an argument, even if you are wrong?
    Chris
    Who is most likely to give you a nickname?
    Chris
    Who is most likely to be the life of the party?
    Chris
    Who is most likely to get into shenanigans?
    Chris (I'm getting a lot of Chris...)
    Who is most likely to forget to text back?
    Chris
    Who is most likely to text back immediately?
    Dylan
    Who is most likely to forget to return a borrowed item?
    Chris
    Who is most likely to reply all to an email?
    Jon
    Who is most likely to have the best Zoom background?
    Justin
    Who is most likely to walk off with your pen?
    Justin
    Who is most likely to accidentally tell a customer, “I love you?”
    Justin
    Who is most likely to reply to your email within a minute?
    Dylan
    Who is most likely to forget to mute the microphone during Zoom calls?
    Jon
    Who is most likely to teach you a new skill?
    Dylan
    Who is most likely to calm down an upset client?
    Abbee
    Who is most likely to bring their dog to the office?
    Jon (Latios is effectively a beer drinking, psychic, flying, dragon-dog)
    Who is most likely to invent a smart new office system?
    Dylan
    Who is most likely to give the perfect interview?
    Abbee
    Who is most likely to have forty tabs open at once?
    Justin
    Who is most likely to create an app?
    Dylan
    Who is most likely to have a side hustle?
    Chris
    Who is most likely to get a good review from a customer?
    Abbee
    Who is most likely to have a million dollar idea?
    Jon
    Who is most likely to have your back?
    Jon
    Who is most likely to nail a presentation?
    Abbee
    Who is most likely to close a tricky sale?
    Charlotte
    Who is most likely to troubleshoot a tech issue?
    Dylan
    Who is most likely to start an office pizza pool?
    Chris
    Who is most likely to plan a team outing?
    Abbee
    Who is most likely to be the boss one day?
    Dylan
    Who is most likely to mishear the lyrics to a rap song?
    Justin
    Who is most likely to get blocked by a celebrity on Twitter?
    Charlotte is most likely to get blocked. Chris is most likely to get banned.
    Who is most likely to own a unicorn onesie?
    Abbee
    Who is most likely to be allergic to cashews?
    Justin
    Who is most likely to know every word to We Didn’t Start the Fire?
    Chris
    Who is most likely to be mistaken for Brad Pitt?
    Justin
    Who is most likely to cry at animal adoption commercials?
    Abbee
    Who is most likely to know how to perform a magic trick?
    Chris
    Who is most likely to eat pizza for breakfast?
    Chris
    Who is most likely to leave only a handful of cereal in the box?
    Chris
    Who is most likely to forget their wallet in a McDonalds?
    Chris
    Who is most likely to talk in the movie theater during a movie?
    Again, more Chris. Realising how much the butt of the joke he is...
    Who is most likely to wind up in the ER after getting a papercut?
    Abbee
    Who is most likely to appear in a music video?
    Justin
    Who is most likely to go to Disneyland on every vacation?
    Abbee
    Who is most likely to backpack across Thailand?
    Justin
    Who is most likely to mispronounce the word acai?
    Jon
    Who is most likely to make a cameo in a soap opera?
    Justin
    Who is most likely to sneakily eat Doritos in bed?
    All of them.
    Who is most likely to impulse buy an inflatable dinosaur suit?
    Chris
    Who is most likely to argue with their pet?
    Jon
    Who is most likely to fake their birthday at a restaurant for free cake?
    Chris
    Who is most likely to scream in the middle of a horror movie?
    Abbee
    Who is most likely to randomly burst out into song?
    Abbee
    Who is most likely to cheat at a board game?
    Jon (I actually had a filler episode planned where this happens, but forgot about it...)
    Who is most likely to be a spy?
    Jon
    Who is most likely to be a ninja?
    Charlotte
    Who is most likely to be a secret superhero?
    Dylan
    Who is most likely to become a meme?
    Justin
    Who is most likely to faceplant in front of a crowd?
    Justin
    Who is most likely to get insulted by a child?
    Chris
    Who is most likely to pick their nose when they think nobody is watching?
    Chris
    Who is most likely to have a hidden candy stash?
    Chris
    Who is most likely to crash a wedding?
    Chris
    Who is most likely to be afraid of clowns?
    Charlotte
    Who is most likely to date a celebrity?
    Justin did it first.
    Who is most likely to hide a zombie bite?
    Abbee
    Who is most likely to wear a speedo?
    Justin
    Who is most likely to fake a foreign accent?
    Chris
    Who is most likely to own a pair of mom jeans?
    Charlotte
    Who is most likely to make you laugh?
    Chris
    Who is most likely to make you smile?
    Abbee
    Who is most likely to help you solve an issue?
    Jon or Dylan
    Who is most likely to make you forget your problems?
    Abbee
    Who is most likely to be a role model for the group?
    Jon (whether he likes it or not)
    Who is most likely to always take the time to listen?
    Justin
    Who is most likely to be a great leader?
    Charlotte will naturally lead, though will happily forgo diplomacy for results. Justin can lead if the situation warrants it, and lead well, though is naturally more of a follower.
    Who is most likely to save the day?
    Jon or Dylan
    Who is most likely to give you a compliment behind your back?
    Abbee
    Who is most likely to inspire you?
    All in their own ways
    Who is most likely to bring out your best self?
    Jon
    Who is most likely to earn a place in history?
    Justin and Jon both have already
    Who is most likely to show up for moral support?
    Abbee
    Who is most likely to give you a compliment?
    Abbee
    Who is most likely to pick out the perfect present?
    Justin
    Who is most likely to help a stranger?
    Justin
    Who is most likely to make new friends wherever they go?
    Abbee
    Who is most likely to win a Nobel prize?
    Dylan
    Who is most likely to change the world?
    Jon
    Who is most likely to adopt a rescue pet?
    Dylan
    Who is most likely to write a bestselling book?
    Dylan
    Who is most likely to break a world record?
    Chris
    Who is most likely to give the best Secret Santa gift?
    Abbee
    Who is most likely to get you an inappropriate present?
    Chris
    Who is most likely to bake holiday cookies for the office?
    Abbee
    Who is most likely to send you a holiday card?
    Abbee
    Who is most likely to celebrate pop culture holidays?
    Chris
    Who is most likely to start listening to Christmas music in October?
    None of them. They aren't monsters...
    Who is most likely to wear a Halloween costume to work?
    Abbee
    Who is most likely to turn their house into a haunted house for Halloween?
    Jon
    Who is most likely to spend thousands of dollars on holiday lawn decorations?
    Jon
    Who is most likely to raid their kids’ Halloween candy?
    Charlotte
    Who is most likely to have a Thanksgiving cooking fiasco?
    Chris
    Who is most likely to make the tastiest Thanksgiving dish?
    Justin
    Who is most likely to break their New Years resolution first?
    Abbee
    Who is most likely to give you a Valentine?
    Abbee
    Who is most likely to forget to wear green on St. Patrick’s Day?
    Justin
    Who is most likely to sneak a bite of your chocolate Easter bunny?
    Chris
    Who is most likely to have a close call with fireworks on the Fourth of July?
    Jon
    Who is most likely to have a unique holiday tradition?
    Abbee
    Who is most likely to have a killer holiday recipe?
    Justin
    Who is most likely to knock over the Christmas tree?
    Chris
    Who is most likely to wait until Christmas Eve to finish shopping?
    Jon
    Who is most likely to finish holiday shopping in July?
    Charlotte
    Who is most likely to have the funniest ugly sweater?
    Jon
    Who is most likely to leave Christmas lights up year round?
    Justin. He may do this once he moves to Snowpoint.
    Who is most likely to forget the words to a holiday carol?
    Justin
    Who is most likely to dress up as Santa?
    Chris
    Who is most likely to tutor you?
    Jon or Charlotte
    Who is most likely to ask a question right before class ends?
    Charlotte
    Who is most likely to loan you a pencil?
    Abbee
    Who is most likely to do voices when reading out loud?
    Chris
    Who is most likely to get a little too competitive in gym class?
    Chris and Charlotte
    Who is most likely to snack in class?
    Chris
    Who is most likely to panic about failing and then receive an A?
    Justin
    Who is most likely to be valedictorian?
    Charlotte
    Who is most likely to play a prank on the teacher?
    Chris
    Who is most likely to wait until the last minute to do a project and still get an A?
    Chris
    Who is most likely to have a glamorous yearbook photo?
    Abbee
    Who is most likely to have an awkward yearbook photo?
    Dylan
    Who is most likely to have a messy desk or locker?
    Chris
    Who is most likely to succeed after graduation?
    Spoilers ;)
    Who is most likely to win a big game?
    Charlotte
    Who is most likely to become a teacher one day?
    Charlotte
    Who is most likely to be able to solve multi-digit multiplication problems in their head?
    Dylan or Justin
    Who is most likely to steal a scene in the play?
    Jon
    Who is most likely to be an entertaining mascot?
    Chris
    Who is most likely to win prom king or prom queen?
    Justin
    Who is most likely to recognize you ten years from now?
    Jon
    Who is most likely to wear a crazy outfit to prom?
    Chris

  3. #183
    I came in like a wrecking ball... [Desolate Divine]'s Avatar
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    Season 5 Episode 7: Last Resorts
    Spoiler:

    “What have you got planned?” Dylan asked Abbee, as he walked into the lounge of the staff lodge. It was shortly after 7am, with the other staff members either still asleep, or already out of the lodge. Dylan had awoken to a message half an hour earlier from his girlfriend, who had been awake taking the last overnight watch shift.

    ”I’ve got a surprise for you. Meet me in the staff lounge before breakfast…”

    Abbee grinned, before succumbing to a yawn stemming from having been awake since four that morning, and having spent the last three hours outside, watching the skies for any indicator of Willow’s alarm being triggered by intruders. She was thankful that she had Victini as a Pokemon partner. Even without her ability to understand Pokemon audibly, Victini had a solid enough understanding of telepathy to hold a conversation and keep her occupied as the night dragged on, making the shift bearable.

    “Well, I had a genius moment last night when I was on watch,” Abbee answered. “You know how you suck to buy for?”

    Dylan couldn’t help but grin at Abbee’s description of him. He was an odd person, in a sense that he was both very minimalistic, yet also willing to spend money if there was something he needed. He spent little money for the sake of leisure, deeming a lot of it impractical. However, the moment a potential purchase became practical, he would not hesitate to spend, even going for premium options of whatever purchase, hoping the extra cost would be reflected in the quality of the product. His phone was the same, old and slow model he had since before he and Abbee even met, and his laptop was the same one he purchased four years ago, after moving into the Academy. However, when his car was destroyed by Deoxys three summers earlier, and after nearly a year was finally compensated, Dylan spent the majority of the money he had available to purchase a brand new car to replace it, figuring it would last longer, hold its value better, and be cheaper to maintain given the warranty it held.

    As such, with Dylan’s birthday approximately a month away, Abbee was trying to figure out what to get him. It would be his twenty-second birthday, however given his twenty-first was in the wake of Spiritwater, nobody, especially Dylan, was feeling particularly festive. Because of this, Abbee was hoping that they could make up for it with this year’s birthday.

    “I wouldn’t say that,” Dylan retorted, though knew she wasn’t exactly wrong.

    “Dylan, it was down to buying you power-tools for your birthday, which I know you’d just buy yourself anyway, or clothes…” Abbee said flatly. “You suck to buy for…”

    “Point taken, but my birthday isn’t for another month…”

    “I’m well aware,” Abbee answered. “But by the time your actual birthday rolls around, April Sunsets will be long gone from Mossdeep…”

    Dylan’s eyes widened hearing this.

    “You got tickets to April Sunsets?”

    The pop-punk band, April Sunsets, had quickly become a favourite of Dylan’s, after coming across them by chance during one of his many times listening to recommended music on Spotify. And whilst seeing them live was one of the few leisure expenses that Dylan would consider, he had missed out on tickets. Despite the band coming to Mossdeep in their current tour, Mossdeep was not renowned for its live music, with all the venues being small compared to what Slateport, Rustboro and Lilycove had to offer. Tickets had sold out within minutes, and whilst there were resale options, Dylan could not consider spending the amount they were asking whilst maintaining his self respect.

    Abbee grinned.

    “Wednesday night,” Abbee answered. “Consider it an early birthday present!”

    “You’re amazing…” Dylan said, pulling her into a tight hug. “But you didn’t pay the ridiculous prices they were asking, did you?”

    “Trust you to be worried about that,” Abbee laughed. “No, but I jumped on Twitter and put it to my followers. Asked if anybody had two spare tickets they were selling. Within the hour, someone approached me saying they had accidentally bought four, and wanted to make their money back on the extra two. So I paid the standard price…”

    Dylan’s eyes widened. Out of the original five students, all of whom having reached a level of online fame due to their exploits at the Eon Academy, Dylan hated the attention most of all, though Justin was in close second. However, he had never considered the perks of that fame, like Abbee obviously had.

    “And Jon is cool with us disappearing for a few hours Wednesday night?”

    “He came out to keep me company for a bit during my shift,” Abbee explained. Jon had had another seizure the day before, and as such, slept most of the afternoon and early evening. Dylan wasn’t surprised that Jon had awoken in the early hours of the morning and sought company from whoever was on watch at the time. “He was fine with it. Thought it was a great idea…”

    “How was he?” Dylan asked, Abbee knowing what Dylan was asking about specifically.

    “Surprisingly optimistic,” Abbee answered. “He said that even if he still has the same amount of seizures this fortnight, it is progress…”

    Jon had been scheduled the Thursday of the week prior to see his specialist, with his seizures having become frequent enough that they could trial dosages of medication to hopefully prevent them, and see the effectiveness of the dosage relatively quickly. However, the afternoon he was scheduled for that appointment, he had a seizure, causing him to have to reschedule. Saturday he had attended the appointment, where he was put on an initially small dose of medication. He had been warned that the dose was likely too small to have much of an effect, and to record each one of his seizures over the next two weeks, as well as any side effects he experienced, in order to figure out how much they may need to increase the dosage. Despite Jon’s optimism, at the fact that there was finally respite on the horizon, even if it weren’t for at least another fortnight, if he were lucky. Dylan however, didn’t see this as anything worth celebrating. Even if the medication prevented the seizures, Jon was going to be relying on taking pills twice a day in order to live a normal life, something he shouldn’t be doing until ideally double his current age.

    Sensing Dylan’s apprehension, Abbee steered the conversation back to where it had originally been.

    “It’ll be great to just have a night out and do something fun,” she said casually. “Between our normal work here, and staying up half the night three nights a week, it’ll be nice to just pretend we’re normal people for a night…”

    “What makes us not normal?” Dylan asked, half sarcastically. Abbee grinned in response.

    “Tell me how many other nineteen to twenty-one year olds have night shifts to watch for terrorist groups or witchcraft cells that might target them for the egg of a Pokemon that controls time?”

    Dylan went to speak, but Abbee added one more condition.

    “That isn’t Justin, Charlotte or Chris…”

    ************************************************** ************************************************** *****

    “I think it’s the salt air that’s done it,” Chris explained, as he sat in the passenger seat of Dylan’s car, Charlotte driving the pair back to the Eon Academy as the sun was beginning to set in the sky. “Only explanation, seeing as the bike is less than two years old…”

    That afternoon, Chris had been planning on taking his motorcycle for a ride around the island, just to keep it running smoothly, seeing as he rarely needed to leave the Academy. He had made it to the end of the driveway when the chain had snapped, forcing him to have to walk the motorcycle back up the hill to the Academy

    “I’m just hoping that it hasn’t done any other damage. It’d suck if I got stranded in the middle of Second to None,” Chris said, before adding, “Thanks for driving me by the way. If you had said no, I don’t know how I would have gotten it there…

    Chris had approached Charlotte shortly after returning with his bike, asking her to help him out. Firstly, to try and convince Dylan to lend his ute, the tub at the back being just large enough to fit the motorcycle in diagonally, and secondly, to drive Chris and the motorcycle to the local motorcycle mechanic, to have the chain replaced. Despite there being glaring questions raised to Charlotte, such as why Chris wouldn’t man up and ask Dylan to help him directly, knowing the answer, she obliged the favour, for no other reason than it would be an hour or two that she got to spend with him.

    Even Charlotte was surprised at the fact that Dylan had given her the keys, no questions asked. Whilst she hadn’t expected him to outright refuse, or to try and use Chris’ need as leverage, she had at least expected Dylan to ask why she is the one asking the favour, or to tell her that if Chris wants to borrow his car, he can ask himself. From there, the pair spent some time removing the hard lid that covered the tub, before loading the motorbike in and securing it. They hadn’t even needed to unload the bike at the mechanic’s workshop, the young mechanic simply climbing into the tub himself and putting on the new chain there.

    “You don’t need to keep laying it on,” Charlotte joked. “The bike is fixed and on it’s way back. You’ve already convinced me.”

    “No word of a lie, I’d have been pretty boned if you hadn’t helped me,” Chris retorted. “Jon can’t drive again until he goes a year without a seizure. Alyssa is flat out with work. I wouldn’t have asked Cassandra anyway, but after what happened last week, it’d be pretty tactless of me to go and ask favours from her best friends…”

    Chris was counting people on his hands, before adding.

    “And Justin is only licensed to drive an automatic,” Chris added. Charlotte chuckled to herself.

    “Considering how many guys I know who treat driving a manual like a contest measuring something else,” Charlotte said as Chris choked back a laugh, “I’m surprised you don’t have any more to say about that…”

    “Well normally I’d make a joke about it, but he only got an automatic licence because all the Sinnoh P.D. patrol cars are auto, so why bother with the extra fuss,” Chris explained. “And that’s pretty much the same reason why I have my motorbike licence but no car licence…”

    “Very mature of you,” Charlotte said, with just a hint of condescension. “But there was another option…”

    “That is?”

    “You could have just asked Dylan,” Charlotte answered. Chris sighed.

    “Abbee and I are on speaking terms again, though it’s still far from comfortable. And Dylan even less,” Chris said, before adding, a little quieter and more solemnly, “honestly, I think we’d all be better off if I just left them alone…”

    Charlotte had asked the question, for the sake of confirming that this would be Chris’ answer. Despite her own feelings about Chris, she had drawn a line in the sand that she would not cross, even if she wanted to. She was not going to bother trying to be anything more than friends with Chris, until she knew he didn’t harbour feelings for Abbee anymore. And having known Chris longer than anybody else at the Academy, she knew that his apprehension towards her, and anxiety about being a burden for her, and by extension, Dylan, stemmed from the fact that despite their relationship having ended nearly two years ago, a part of him, whether Chris knew this or not, still wanted to be with her.

    Knowing that she’d only just depress herself if she kept talking about this, she shifted the topic of conversation to something that came naturally to her, despite her feelings towards Chris. Berating Chris.

    “I still can’t believe how much you ran your mouth the other day!” Charlotte said exasperatedly. “I thought we’d all grown out of Jon having to tell us off!”

    “That makes two of us,” Chris muttered, as Charlotte shot him a glare for as long as she could whilst driving. “I mean, she started it! And she made it personal!”

    Charlotte knew that whilst Chris had been the first to lose his temper, Cassandra had started the conversation which led to the bitter argument between the pair of them the week before, and had been the first to make a low remark about Chris. Neither trainer had told her what happened, nor did Jon, however, Charlotte had been made aware of misbehaviour of a member of her team thay, and had gone and looked at the stadium security cameras to see if she could find any proof of it. Instead, she came across what looks like the worst verbal altercation that the Eon Academy had ever seen, and proof that Jon had a limit to how calm he could be when handling something like this. Despite having built a rapport with Cassandra, Charlotte hadn’t known her long enough to feel comfortable confronting her about it. Chris however…

    ”She started it,” Charlotte said condescendingly. “I haven’t heard that s**t since I lived with all my brothers…”

    “Well it’s true,” Chris protested, though not aggressively.

    “I know she started it, and if you had kept it together, it would have only reflected on her. But you retaliated, and both of you copped it,” Charlotte explained. “The difference is, she doesn’t have the sort of history here you do, so if people hear half the story, who do you think they’ll blame?”

    “I know,” Chris said with a sigh.

    “Good,” Charlotte answered with a sense of finality. “I don’t want to see you screwing things up for yourself…”

    ************************************************** ************************************************** *****

    The next two days seemed to move at a crawl for Dylan, who was only growing more eager to see April Sunsets with Abbee on Wednesday evening. Dylan’s good mood seemed to be contagious for those closest to him, who were most aware of just how much of his old self he seemed to have left in Alola. Jon in particular was thankful for the change in Dylan, even if only temporarily, especially when a letter for Dylan arrived, and Jon, recognising the logo, knew what it contained. During Dylan’s team’s training session with Jon that afternoon, Jon told Dylan of the letter, and for him to come to he and Alyssa’s house after the session. It was shortly after five that afternoon when Dylan, Jon and Alyssa sat at the small table in the kitchen, and Dylan nervously opened the envelope, having recognised the logo himself. Once he removed the letter, containing two pages, he read the first aloud.

    ”Dear Mr. Squier.

    We are thrilled to inform you that the land you have reserved by placing a ten percent deposit has now been titled, and is available for purchase. Your reservation of the land will stand for the next ninety days, after which, the developer has the right to refund your deposit, and terminate your holding. If you have not already, we recommend you seek financial advice from a reputable lender, in order to purchase the land within the next ninety days. Please find details attached.

    Sincerely,
    Curtis Grant.
    Curtis Grant Real Estate, Unova.”


    It didn’t seem real to Dylan that within the next three months, he would be the owner of a substantial amount of land in Unova. Not even the fact that technically he would be paying the bank back for decades in order to own the land was souring this moment for him. Jon was thankful that the letter had arrived today, when Dylan’s headspace was at the best it had been since returning from Alola.

    “So now, I gotta speak to a mortgage broker?” Dylan asked, as Jon nodded.

    “The sooner the better,” Jon explained. “Ninety days might seem like a lot, but considering every little step takes three to five business days, if you leave it too late, and realise that one of your documents has an issue, you risk missing the deadline…”

    Dylan nodded, understanding completely, as Jon checked the time.

    “You’ll be heading off soon?”

    “Doors open at seven,” Dylan answered, and Jon was glad to hear eagerness in his voice. “So we’ll probably leave at about six…”

    “Well, I’ve got period two free tomorrow, so I’ll ask around about mortgage brokers, see if we can’t find one better than the one we used,” Jon explained. “I agreed to do a few practise matches with Rose and a few of her friends tonight, so I won’t be able to do much now. They’ve got a new tactic they want to try and get past me. But after I finish training tomorrow, let’s meet here, and start narrowing down potential brokers…”

    “I’ve got a lighter day tomorrow, so I’ll do some digging as well,” Alyssa added. “It might seem excessive, but it could be thousands in interest difference.”

    Dylan nodded, before standing from his chair.

    “It’s all coming together,” Dylan said, to convince himself more than anyone.

    “It is,” Alyssa said with a grin. “We’re really proud of you Dylan.”

    Dylan thanked the pair of them, before making his way back to the staff lodge, where Abbee would be waiting for him. He still wanted to shower and get changed before going out, so knew he didn’t have a great deal of time to dawdle, telling Abbee about his news. Instead he decided that he’d tell her in the car on the way to the show. However, as he entered the staff lodge, he was greeted by the familiar sound of someone in the bathroom, vomiting. He walked towards the downstairs bathroom where the sound was coming from, and saw Charlotte standing out the front of the closed door.

    “Is everything alright?” Dylan asked Charlotte, who looked grave.

    “It’s Abbee,” Charlotte said. “Food poisoning…”

    Concern flooded across Dylan, as he knocked on the door.

    “Abbee, I’m coming in…”

    After hearing no protest, Dylan slowly opened the door, squeezing through the gap, into the bathroom to find Abbee, kneeling on the ground by the toilet, seeming to be in a short respite between retching.

    “Are you okay?” Dylan asked quietly, forcing himself to ignore the smell of vomit, before Abbee flushed the toilet.

    “Nope,” Abbee said, her voice breaking a little. “Didn’t realise that some of my snacks expired. I’d been having them during my class this morning before I realised. And now I’m paying for it…”

    Before she could say anymore, her eyes widened as she looked back towards the toilet, and Dylan looked away as another round of vomiting came over her. When it seemed to cease, she flushed the toilet again, as she began to sob.

    “I can’t believe it,” she said. “I was really looking forward to seeing this show tonight with you. We’ve been together a year now, and we’ve barely done anything like this. And now…”

    Abbee broke down, as Dylan pulled her into a tight embrace, sobbing into his chest, Dylan thankful that he had been planning on showering and getting changed as he felt the bile that had been around Abbee’s mouth soaking through his shirt.

    “It’s fine,” Dylan said. “There’ll be another show. Once you’re feeling up to it, we’ll just chuck a movie on and have a quiet one…”

    Abbee seemed to quieten hearing this, before pulling away and looking at Dylan.

    “No, just because I’m sick, I don’t want you to miss out!”

    “Abbee-” Dylan began, though Abbee refused to consider it.

    “I don’t care if someone has to drag you there kicking and screaming, I’m not letting you miss this show for my sake!” Abbee said, gaining resolve. “You’re right. There’ll be another show, and I’ll see that one with you. But you’re not missing out on tonight!”

    Before Dylan could protest, Abbee called out.

    “Charlotte, can you come here?”

    Cautiously, Charlotte opened the door, stepping into the now crowded bathroom.

    “I’ve got a job for you,” Abbee said to Charlotte, surprising her with the level of determination. “Make sure Dylan goes to the show tonight, and make sure he enjoys himself!”

    “Abbee-” Dylan tried again, though Abbee shook her head.

    “Dylan, I swear to God, I will pop a few of Jon’s nausea pills, go upstairs, get changed, and go this show, food poisoning be damned, before I let you miss it because of this…”

    “She will,” Charlotte noted, as Dylan shot her a look. “Just saying…”

    “Dylan, if you love me, you will take the tickets I bought for us to see April Sunsets, and take another girl to see it with you instead…”

    Charlotte couldn’t help but grin at Abbee’s explanation of the situation. Dylan let out a sigh of resignation.

    “You want to see April Sunsets?” Dylan asked Charlotte, who grinned.

    “It sounds like you’ll be dumped if I say no…”

    ************************************************** ************************************************** *****

    “I can’t believe they asked to see your ID but not mine,” Charlotte said as the stood at the bar of the noisy venue, waiting to be served. “I’m barely twenty, and could easily pass for three or four years younger. You though?”

    “There’s a simple reason for it,” Dylan answered with a grin. “You’re a girl…”

    “And?”

    “Doesn’t matter how many guys are here. If a girl isn’t planning on coming she won’t. But if there are heaps of girls, chances are there will be guys who rock up, not caring about any of the bands playing, just to try their luck,” Dylan said as Charlotte shuddered.

    “So I’m a selling point?” Charlotte answered in disbelief.

    “More like a small cog in a big machine,” Dylan suggested, as he noticed a bartender approaching. “What are you drinking?”

    “I can get myself a drink,” Charlotte offered, though realised it was a waste of time to argue. “Cider.”

    When Dylan had the attention of the bartender, a young man similar to age in him, with neatly cut black hair, and a confident face, he ordered himself a beer, and Charlotte a cider.

    “You’re Charlotte Jones, right,” the bartender said to Charlotte as he handed the pair their drinks. “From the Eon Academy?”

    “Yeah, that’s me,” Charlotte said, a little unused to being recognised, but not surprised by it. She noticed Dylan with a worried look, and saw it amplify when the bartender looked towards Dylan.

    “And is this your boyfriend?”

    “No, just a friend who had a spare ticket for tonight,” Charlotte answered. “You’re a fan?”

    “Considering what happened in 2019 with the Space Centre, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone on Mossdeep who isn’t a fan,” the bartender said. “And not just catching the Pokemon, but training it to be safe in less than a year?”

    Charlotte found it ironic that she was getting the attention for the Eon Academy saving the island, when really, it was Dylan’s leadership that led to that. Even if it was her idea to find the Master Balls stored in the lodge, and her plan to capture it that succeeded, it was Latios who took the risk and succeeded in catching the Pokemon. Dylan however, knowing that he wouldn’t be recognised, seemed content to let her take the credit.

    “It was a team effort,” Charlotte said, before looking for a name tag. The bartender seemed to notice this.

    “Cole,” he said, answering Charlotte’s unspoken question.

    “Nice to meet you,” Charlotte said. “And as for training it, Jon had caught and trained Rayquaza two and a half years earlier, so had a bit of experience in training unruly Legendary Pokemon. Between myself, Jon and Steven, we managed to pull it off.”

    “You knew about Rayquaza?”

    “I only found out when we started training Deoxys, since we’d be using Rayquaza to contain it if it got violent,” Charlotte answered. In her peripheral vision, she noticed a few other patrons, waiting for service and glaring at her. “Cole, I think you might have some customers.”

    Cole glanced over his shoulder, realising he had been slacking off, before nodding his thanks.

    “Was nice meeting you, Charlotte…”

    The pair made their way from the bar to a nearby counter with a decent view of the stage. Whilst Dylan knew that Abbee would have likely wanted to make her way into the pit, despite being at highest risk of injury, being a slim, five-foot four, and likely not able to see more than the back of the head of the person in front of her, he wasn’t too fond of being in close quarters with hundreds of sweaty strangers, and being shoved during heavier songs. He was glad that Charlotte seemed to hold the same sentiment.

    “Thanks for not pointing me out,” Dylan said, as the pair waited for the support band to take to the stage. “I hate being recognised by strangers…”

    Before Charlotte could speak, she heard a vaguely familiar voice call out.

    “Dylan?”

    The timing was sickening, and Charlotte saw Dylan’s eyes widen, at the thought of being noticed by strangers. However, he turned, and after a split second, recognised the woman who called out to him. Whilst last time he saw her, she wore a waitress uniform for the Firehouse, he recognised the friendly face, brown eyes, and dark red hair. This time, she wore a pair of tight black jeans, with an April Sunset’s tee, under a red and black flannel.

    “Hey Isabelle,” Dylan said, thankful that it wasn’t a complete stranger. “It’s been a while.”

    It took Charlotte a moment to realise who this was, having only met her once, when Abbee, much to Dylan’s annoyance, had attempted to set him up with Isabelle. That night had been the last time Dylan and Chris had been on genuinely good terms.

    “It’s good to see you,” Isabelle said, before looking towards Charlotte, though unable to hide completely the slightly surprised look in her eyes. “You too Charlotte.”

    “You still waitressing?” Charlotte asked. Isabelle shook her head.

    “Got my degree at the end of last year. Been working at the bank since,” Isabelle said with a grin. “It’s interesting work, and pays well enough, though my boss is pretty old fashioned. I think he’d have a heart attack if he saw how half the people around here were dressed…”

    Charlotte and Dylan both grinned.

    “I might be dropping by there soon,” Dylan explained. “I’ve got a deposit on some land, which has just titled. Got ninety days to convince someone to sign me up to the debt gang.”

    “It’s titled?” Charlotte asked with shock. Dylan nodded.

    “I just got the letter before I came to the lodge this afternoon,” Dylan explained. “Jon and Alyssa are looking up mortgage brokers and we’ll make some calls tomorrow.”

    “That’s great,” Isabelle said. “Is the land local?”

    Dylan shook his head.

    “Outside Nimbasa City. A rural property. The plan is to open a Pokemon Breeding business there,” Dylan explained. “And Abbee will be made Gym Leader of Nimbasa City when this summer is over, so it made sense.”

    Isabelle let out a sigh of relief, earning a confused look from both Dylan and Charlotte, before grinning.

    “When I saw you here with Charlotte, I was worried for a second that things with Abbee hadn’t worked out,” Isabelle commented. Dylan understood exactly what she meant.

    “Abbee bought the tickets as an early birthday present. She was going to come but got food poisoning, and refused to let me stay home with her,” Dylan explained, as Charlotte grinned.

    “Dylan, if you love me, you will take the tickets I bought for us to see April Sunsets, and take another girl to see it with you instead…” Charlotte said, obviously quoting Abbee, earning a laugh from Isabelle. “That’s how I ended up coming…”

    “Well, she’s got her priorities right,” Isabelle answered. “Sounds like a keeper.”

    Dylan nodded before looking around.

    “Are you here alone?”

    “I’ve got some friends, but figured I’d come say hello by myself,” Isabelle explained. “I know for sure they’d recognise Charlotte, but they might recognise you as well, and I figured that’s the last thing you want…”

    “You’re not wrong,” Dylan admitted. “I appreciate it.”

    Isabelle said goodbye, as Charlotte gave Dylan a knowing look. Whilst he pretended not to notice for a moment he knew he couldn’t do it forever.

    “You and Abbee keep private the fact you are together,” Charlotte stated. “Nothing online shows you being anything more than friends, because of how much Justin and Candice get harassed.”

    “And?”

    “Well, I didn’t realise you kept in touch with Isabelle?”

    “Not really,” Dylan answered back. “If April Sunsets, or another band like them releases a new song we might exchange a message or two about it, but nothing more than that.”

    “Then how does she know about you and Abbee?”

    Dylan tried not to make eye contact, but could see in his peripheral vision, Charlotte staring him down.

    “Okay, fine,” Dylan said with a sigh. “When I gave her a ride home that night, she sorta asked me out, and I turned her down. And she knew that it was because there was someone else. I told you all I struck out, because I figured that would make you all uncomfortable enough to drop the whole thing. And it worked.”

    “I knew it,” Charlotte said with a grin. “The moment you said it, I knew you were lying…”

    Dylan shrugged. The whole ordeal was two years ago, and he was now with Abbee.

    “The reason she was worried was because if things hadn’t worked out with Abbee and I, she got turned down for nothing,” Dylan explained. Charlotte nodded, before Dylan asked a question that took her by surprise. “What about you?”

    “What about me?”

    “When are you going to do something about Chris?” Dylan asked. “You know how oblivious he can be. You’re gonna need to take matters into your own hands if you want anything to actually happen…”

    Charlotte felt her face burn red, as she tried denying it.

    “There’s nothing between Chris and I,” Charlotte said, although the sentence came out a little too rehearsed.

    “Charlotte, you’re not the only one who can put the pieces together,” Dylan said, unable to hide his own grin.

    “And what pieces would they be?”

    “Well for one, I would bet the deposit I paid on my land that if Justin, or really anyone but Chris, asked you to ask me about borrowing my car, you’d have told them to grow a pair and ask themselves…” Dylan said, as Charlotte went still. Taking this as confirmation, Dylan grinned.

    “Well I did tell him he should have asked you,” Charlotte said, though regretted it, realising the follow-up question it invited.

    “When?”

    “In the car on the way back…” Charlotte admitted. Dylan’s grin widened.

    “That, and the fact that I genuinely believe that if Jon had sent you last summer to keep an eye on anyone else, you would have ignored that instruction and joined Jon in Alola,” Dylan added.

    “Chris needed us there,” Charlotte retorted. “He wasn’t in a good headspace!”

    “I know. I’m glad you and Justin were there, because if you weren’t he would have likely been taken hostage alone. That and we nearly lost Abbee in Alola, and I am glad that the three of you weren’t in that level of danger,” Dylan explained. “But logically speaking, you had the choice between helping Jon with a cataclysmic level even, or helping Chris get his s**t together. I know you’re brave, and you’re certainly not stupid, yet you still picked the less logical option.”

    “We were going to come straight after,” Charlotte protested. Dylan laughed.

    “You think I doubt that?” Dylan explained. “Straight after you helped Chris…”

    “Justin made the same decision,” Charlotte retorted. “Yet I don’t see you interrogating him about loving Chris?”

    “Love?”

    “Shut up,” Charlotte said. “You know what I mean, and the point remains…”

    “Well Charlotte, even if we decide to ignore the fact that Justin is in a long term relationship with someone he adores, fact is, Justin is a follower. He will lead when the situation warrants it, and is capable of doing that well, but he is more at home following orders,” Dylan explained. “Why do you think Jon called you with his request for the pair of you to help Chris?”

    “Because if he called Justin, he thought I would have refused to not help you guys in Alola, and Justin would have a snowball’s chance in hell of convincing me otherwise…” Charlotte admitted.

    “Exactly. He called you and got you on board first, because he knew once you did, Justin would follow your lead…”

    “Okay fine,” Charlotte said in exasperation. “I like him. Happy?”

    Dylan raised his eyebrows a little, before taking a sip of his beer. Despite the question being asked out of irritation, she had to admit, this was the happiest she had seen Dylan since his return from Alola.

    “Happier,” Dylan replied. “But my original question stands. When are you going to do something about Chris?”

    “When he stops walking on eggshells around Abbee and you…”

    The words were almost too quiet for Dylan to make out with the background music being played through the speakers, and the sounds of the growing crowd. Charlotte took a sip of her cider, as Dylan’s expression softened a little.

    “Charlotte, I don’t care if something happened between you and him, even with what has happened, and I know for sure Abbee would be thrilled for you both…”

    “It’s not that-” Charlotte said quickly.

    “Then what?”

    “He doesn’t hold a grudge against you or Abbee, and he knows you two aren’t holding what happened against him anymore,” Charlotte said, before having a thought. “You don’t, do you?”

    “Abbee felt sorry for him more than anything since that night back in Jubilife, and is just glad to see he has picked up the pieces. As for me, well actions speak louder than words, and his actions this summer haven’t done anything to warrant me holding a grudge…” Dylan admitted. “If he starts acting out like he did two years ago, sure, I won’t take it lying down. But he was literally a kid then, and it’s been two years…”

    “So if he doesn’t hold a grudge, and he knows the pair of you don’t hold a grudge, why do you think he is still so uncomfortable being around you or Abbee?”

    It wasn’t the words that Charlotte used which gave Dylan his answer, but the stare she held as she said it.

    “After this long?” Dylan asked.

    “Don’t worry, he won’t do anything about it,” Charlotte said. “But he has Abbee placed on some sort of pedestal, and because of that is worried he’d be doing wrong by her if he didn’t just live with the consequences of how he treated you, and moved on…”

    For the first time in years, Dylan felt a surge of pity for Chris, as he took a swig of his own drink. Once he placed his glass down, he addressed Charlotte, his tone more serious than it had been all night.

    “Would it help if I spoke to him?” Dylan asked. “Extended an olive branch?”

    Charlotte shook her head.

    “Sometimes the worst thing someone can do is be nice to you when you don’t think you deserve it,” Charlotte said. “No, Chris needs to come to terms with all this on his own. But I’m not going to try and make myself a priority in his life, if even after this long, I’m fighting against Abbee for that spot. Until things are normal between her and Chris, he and I will only be friends…”

    Dylan nodded in understanding, feeling himself somehow respecting Charlotte even more. When Dylan had seen something blossoming between Abbee and Chris during their second summer, he had shut himself away, isolating himself in his work. Charlotte had given him some hard truths that he needed to hear. And now, being in this situation herself, he saw her taking her own advice.

    “Just don’t tell Abbee any of this,” Charlotte added. “I didn’t want to have this conversation with you, let alone her, and if she knew, she’d try to fix things with him. But this is something he needs to do himself.”

    The pair were interrupted by cheers erupting from the pit, as the support band took to the stage.

    “Dylan…” Charlotte said, her gaze fixed. He nodded.

    “You have my word…”

    ************************************************** ************************************************** *****

    Despite how energetic the show was, Charlotte fell asleep in the car as Dylan drove the pair back to the Academy. It was shortly before eleven when they arrived back, Dylan waking Charlotte as he parked under the carport, next to Jon and Alyssa’s house. The lights were off, which was standard for that time of evening. The pair quietly walked back, and weren’t surprised to see lights on in the staff lodge, knowing most of the staff tended to head to sleep in the next hour or so, with the exception of whoever had the second watch shift, Justin being scheduled for that night. Dylan was scheduled to start his shift that evening at eleven.

    Dylan entered, and noticed Cassandra, Violet and Jarena talking quietly in the dining room to the right of the foyer, and Abbee and Willow in the lounge. Despite the fact that Abbee, once her vomiting had stopped, had gotten changed into her pyjamas, Dylan noticed that she was now dressed, albeit very casually, in something she’d let herself be seen wearing outside of this building.

    “Hey,” Abbee said, approaching him to give him a hug. She sounded pleased to see him, though as if she had other things on her mind. “How was the show?”

    “It was great,” Dylan said quickly, before looking around. “Is everything alright?”

    Abbee sighed, giving Dylan his answer.

    “Jon had another seizure, and there were a few kids with him when it happened,” Abbee explained. “He says the dosage he is on is too small, but they require him to stick with it for a fortnight before they will adjust it, to make sure that it isn’t working.”

    “So why are you dressed?” Dylan asked, looking around. “If you’re sick, surely someone else could have helped out?”

    “Rose was one of the kids there, and she was pretty upset,” Abbee explained, being particularly close with Jon and Alyssa’s niece. “Jon had been helping them with some extra training when it happened. You wouldn’t have seen this from where you stood, but when this happened in the stadium the other week, the sandstorm covered a lot of it. All the rest of us saw was the sandstorm clear, and Jon on the ground. But Rose saw this happen. The lights going out, and him just collapsing. And none of us were there at the time, so they panicked.”

    “How are they now?”

    “I’ve spoken to them all and they’re still a bit shaken up, but honestly, there was nothing I could do but assure them that it will get better, and that they are just fine-tuning the meds,” Abbee answered. “I only got back in here about twenty minutes ago…”

    “And how are you feeling?”

    “Exhausted,” Abbee admitted. “I haven’t thrown up in hours, but have only been having water. Don’t want to risk having food just yet, but am taking tomorrow off to recover. I wanted to see you before I went to sleep.”

    Dylan nodded in understanding, before kissing her on the cheek.

    “Thanks for tonight. Next time, we’ll both go,” Dylan said. “Go get some sleep.”

    Abbee gave a tired grin, before nodding, and making her way upstairs, saying goodnight to Willow as she left. Once Abbee was gone, Charlotte, who had intentionally gone to speak to the Diamond Ladies, wandered in to speak to Dylan.

    “You okay?” Charlotte asked.

    “I’m fine,” Dylan said, a little too quickly.

    “I can cover your shift tonight-”

    “Charlotte, I’m fine. I don’t need someone covering for me every time Jon has a seizure. I’m not useless when this happens,” Dylan said, his tone making obvious the fact that he was tired of this recurring event.

    “Dylan, none of us think you’re useless…”

    “Sorry,” Dylan apologised. “I’m fine. You fell asleep in the car, so I’m not sure having you take first watch is a great idea. I’ll handle it…”

    Knowing that arguing with Dylan further would only make him less willing to change his mind, Charlotte nodded, saying goodnight, and making her way upstairs. After a few minutes, when Dylan couldn’t hear footsteps on the floor above, and knew he would not be approached, he walked up to his room, grabbing his laptop from his desk, before going outside.

    Thankfully, that evening the students were all relatively calm, and lights were off, with cabins near silent, by the time Dylan emerged, placing himself at the usual bench where whoever was on watch would perch. Normally, he didn’t bring a device to pass the time, knowing it was a distraction from the job he was there to do. However, tonight, making a conscious effort to keep looking at the skies periodically, he needed to distract himself from his thoughts.

    He opened a web browser, thankful that he had made sure to install access points in all buildings to allow their wireless network to carry across the entire property, and typed in the URL for a real estate website. After spending a few minutes putting in filters, namely the size of the land, the classification of it, and the price, Dylan pressed enter.

    The results shown were all pieces of land on Mossdeep Island. None were the size of the land outside Nimbasa City, at least none within his budget, and he knew he would be getting less for his money. One piece of land listed, he realised, was on the other side of the Eon Academy’s eastern fence, although not as good as the land he had reserved. However, he had another thought.

    The reason he had bought the untitled land was for two reasons. The first was that the size, location and usability of the land suited him. It was a very large property, that was not too far from main highways, with various habitats present across it. Theoretically, he could allow hundreds of Pokemon to live free range there, which he would be able to use for breeding purposes, and wild Pokemon would potentially live there of their own volition. This was something Mossdeep lacked, with most of the larger plots of land being subdivisions of farm land.The second reason however, was the potential for the land to become worth more. By placing the deposit, he reserved the price they were asking at the time for it, which meant that should the land value increase before it titles, he would be getting a better deal. Considering the fact the land suited his purposes regardless of value, he saw it as the right choice.

    Dylan spent the next hour researching the surrounding area, and future developments. He found news articles of proposed highways passing it, as well as a high speed train line, connecting Nimbasa and Driftviel, as well as propositions for nearby suburban developments. All promised by an opposing mayoral candidate, hoping to be elected in November. Curious, he began looking on the real estate website for land similar to his own in that area.

    “How was the show?”

    Dylan looked around to see Jon approaching him.

    “Yeah, it was great,” Dylan said. “Keen to go to their next one, hopefully with Abbee.”

    “Well no band with half a brain would play a show out here, and not Nimbasa,” Jon retorted. “I doubt you’ll have to wait long for that to happen.”

    Jon took a seat at the bench, breathing in the fresh air. He didn’t need to explain why he was about. It was the same story as almost every other time. In sleeping off the after effects of his seizure, his sleeping pattern was disturbed, resulting in his being awake at one in the morning, wandering towards whoever was still awake to keep him company.

    “How’re you feeling?” Dylan asked.

    “Usual,” Jon said casually. “Tired as hell, but I have to wake up now and stay up for a little while if I want to try and have some sort of schedule.”

    Not wanting to talk to Dylan, who he knew would be most affected by that evenings seizure, about this, he nodded towards the laptop.

    “What’re you looking at?”

    “Nimbasa City has an election in November, and I’m seeing what the politicians are promising. Figure it’ll affect my land.”

    Jon nodded in understanding, however spoke again.

    “I know it’s rich, seeing as I’m too much of an invalid to actually do one of these shifts, but it’s probably not a great idea to let yourself be distracted,” Jon said. “Given what’s at stake…”

    Dylan nodded, and began closing windows on the laptop in preparation to turn it off. However, Jon noticed one window appear as Dylan closed the one on top of it.

    “Wait, what’s that?” Jon asked. On screen was the real estate website, showing a listing for a property that looked familiar. One of the images listed showed an aerial view of the property, where Jon recognised the fence and buildings of the property next to it. “Is that next door?”

    Dylan nodded.

    “Why were you looking there?”

    Dylan knew Jon was too intelligent to buy anything but the truth.

    “I was thinking, what if I bought that property, and set up there instead…” Dylan admitted. “That way I could still help out here. I mean, I don’t think this will have me flat off my feet for a while yet. I’d still have plenty of time in the week I could work here, and I’d be available in case of emergencies…”

    Before Dylan could close it, Jon snatched the laptop, and looked over the figures of the listing.

    “Dylan, you’d be paying more for a piece of land that is a quarter of the size, and less useful,” Jon said, his tone shocked. “Honestly, the only reason it is being listed is because the person who owns the property knows the land is too s**t to use for farming, so he may as well make a buck off it…”

    “It doesn’t have to be that one,” Dylan said defensively. “There are better properties, some that could be great!”

    “Dylan, I know the property market here. I bought this place, remember?” Jon explained. “Even with a six hundred thousand dollar head start from the High Seas Tournament, I still ended up borrowing money to fund this operation here. Logically, it made little sense. We chose Mossdeep because we wanted to raise a family here, even though from a business perspective, it was impractical to open here. Alyssa and I are just lucky it worked out for us. But with your deposit, you’re not going to be able to afford anything anywhere near as good as what you will have in Unova!”

    “I looked at properties near them. Similar to mine. They have doubled in value because of the development happening out there,” Dylan explained. “I could buy the land at the price I reserved, and sell it for its current value, and I’d be able to afford decent land here!”

    Jon rubbed his eyes in exasperation at Dylan’s words.

    “Are you even listening to yourself Dylan?” Jon asked. “You’ve literally got a golden ticket, and you want to swap it for the nosebleed section. If your land has doubled in value, then the bank will give you a much better offer on your loan, because the value will be so much higher. You would pay tens of thousands less in interest. All of that money that you can spend improving the land, or improving your business…”

    “Jon-”

    “No, Dylan, there is no argument about this,” Jon said intently. “You have a piece of land available to you, now at far below market value, which will get you a better deal from the bank than anyone else in your position ever would, that will suit your purposes for it, and be in a perfect location for the business you want to start. There is no argument that will make me be okay with you giving that all up, just to stay in Mossdeep. I don’t care if I start having seizures every day, and have to close the Academy. I’m not letting you do this to yourself!”

    “Jon-”

    “What about Abbee?” Jon asked angrily. “Do you want to marry her someday?”

    Jon didn’t wait for an answer.

    “Abbee has been offered a job that she has been dreaming of and working towards for years! I haven’t ever seen her this excited, and you knew this was a possibility for her! That’s why you chose Nimbasa City. But if you stay here, what do you expect from Abbee?” Jon asked. “For her to give up her dreams and stay here with you? Or for her to be content with the pair of you always being thousands of miles apart?”

    “Jon, this is my decision!” Dylan said, a little too loudly, as Jon glanced around at the nearby cabins, making sure nobody had woken up. When he made sure that nobody was stirring, he looked at Dylan with a mixture of shock and disappointment. Something Dylan had never seen from Jon personally.

    “You’re right, this is your decision,” Jon said quietly, looking away from Dylan, preparing himself for what he knew he had to say. “And this is mine…”

    Jon looked up at Dylan, gathering his resolve, as he was about to say the last thing he actually wanted to.

    “Dylan, you’ve got ninety days to get your loan in order before you lose that land in Unova. And regardless of what happens between now and then, the moment those ninety days are up, so is your time working at the Eon Academy…”

    Dylan’s eyes widened as he realised what Jon was saying.

    “You’re firing me?!”

    “I’m giving you notice,” Jon answered solemnly. “After that point, you will no longer be employed at the Eon Academy, and no longer allowed to live on site here…”

    “Jon!” Dylan said angrily, as Jon shot him a glare, not wanting Dylan to wake up the sleeping campers.

    “You now have no reason to throw away what you have waiting for you in Unova,” Jon said quietly, before walking back to the house. “And there is no f**king way I’ll let myself be the reason you do that…”

    ************************************************** ************************************************** *****

    “Dylan, open up!”

    Charlotte pounded on the door of Dylan’s room, knowing he was in there. It was Friday evening, two days since the pair had gone to the April Sunsets gig, and Charlotte had not seen Dylan since. He had avoided all meals, and any time that he was not working, be it outside of class, mornings or evenings, he had been shut up in his room. When Charlotte had asked Abbee, she had simply said it wasn’t her place to say. Charlotte however, after two days of this, was growing tired of it.

    Waiting until dinner, when the staff lodge would be empty, she had made her way to Dylan’s room, where she found herself now.

    “I swear to God Dylan, I have knocked in one of these doors before, and broken my shoulder to do it, and I will do it again, unless you grow a pair, and open up!”

    There was still no reply, causing Charlotte to pound the door harder.

    “Stop being a goddamn baby and open up!”

    There was a rush of wind as Dylan whipped the door open, furious, as he stepped into Charlotte’s space.

    “Who the hell do you think you are, that you can have any f**king say over how I spend my out of work time?!” Dylan yelled. “If I want to keep to myself, that’s none of your f**king business, so don’t you dare come in here, and disrespect me like that!”

    Furious, Charlotte shoved Dylan, despite the fact he had half a foot over her in height, causing him to step back, and allowing her an opportunity to enter the room, slamming the door behind her. The room smelt musty, as Charlotte noticed piles of dirty clothes, and unwashed dishes.

    “It seems like I’m the only one but Jon with enough backbone to tell you when you’re being an idiot!” Charlotte retorted. “What the hell is going on?!”

    “It’s none of your f**king business!”

    “No, it’s not!” Charlotte yelled, before pointing out the door with her thumb. “But my best friend has spent the last two days worried sick about her manchild boyfriend, who locks himself up every time he gets the f**king sads! She’s spent the last two days trying to cover for you, because I’m not the only one who has noticed what you’re doing!”

    Dylan’s eyes narrowed on Charlotte, which only strengthened her conviction, as she continued.

    “Abbee has been on the brink of an emotional breakdown for the last twenty-four hours because of you and this bulls**t little habit you have of locking yourself in your room like a f**king teenager, and doing her best to hold it together!” Charlotte answered. “The difference is, she isn’t hiding from everyone like you are! I don’t give two s**ts if you decide to make yourself a hermit, but I won’t sit with my thumb planted firmly up my a**and stand by while after everything that has happened, Abbee falls apart because you’re too much of a coward to deal with whatever is upsetting you!”

    Dylan had spoken to Abbee a small handful of times since Jon’s decision to fire him after summer. They had spoken in person, when Dylan had told her, and a few times through messages. At the mention of Abbee’s emotional state, Dylan deflated a little.

    “You don’t understand…” Dylan muttered.

    “No, because you’re holed up in here like an idiot,” Charlotte retorted. “So make me understand.”

    Dylan was silent for a minute, knowing he couldn’t argue with Charlotte. Finally, he spoke, albeit quietly.

    “Jon’s fired me, and is kicking me out. Effective after summer…”

    Charlotte had not known what to expect, however, that was the last thing she expected. With Dylan having worked at the Academy during its formative years, and being Jon’s second in charge, all present knew that Dylan’s opinion was practically that of Jon. Charlotte expected all of them to be fired, and the skies to fall down before she ever heard those words.

    “Jon’s fired you?” Charlotte asked. “Why the hell would he do that?”

    “To give me no reason to stay here,” Dylan muttered. “I was considering selling my land in Unova and buying something here, so that I could keep helping Jon with the Academy…”

    Charlotte groaned, as she understood exactly why Jon had made the decision he had made, and found herself admiring him further. She knew that Jon loved Dylan like a son, and that it would have been harder for him than anyone to make that decision.

    “No wonder,” Charlotte muttered. “I’m glad he had the backbone to do that…”

    Dylan glared at Charlotte, who, despite ceasing her yelling, was far from in the mood for this.

    “F**k off,” she said. “Seriously, you didn’t really leave him any other choice!”

    “My land’s value is almost guaranteed to be double what I pay for it! I could have sold it, and bought something just as good here!”

    “Which would be f**king stupid and you know it!” Charlotte retorted. “You’d be screwing yourself over, and screwing Abbee over too!”

    “Leave Abbee out of this!”

    “No, because you’re acting just as bad as Chris was, trying to plan a future she can’t fit into!” Charlotte retorted.

    “Shut the f**k up!”

    “Actually, I was wrong!” Charlotte retorted. “You’re worse than Chris was, because he wasn’t sucking her into his pity party! At least she was able to see clearly enough to dump him before she let herself be dragged down! But you? I’m scared she’ll feel too sorry for you to actually do what’s right by her!”

    Charlotte moved to the door, opening it to leave.

    “I don’t care if you cut me off, or screw yourself over. I’m not going to waste my time worrying about someone who refuses to help themselves. I told Chris the same thing that night in Jubilife,” Charlotte said. “But I’m sure as hell not going to be silent while you try to ruin Abbee’s life to appease your own conscience…”

    Charlotte slammed the door behind her, swearing under her breath, leaving Dylan alone.

  4. #184
    I came in like a wrecking ball... [Desolate Divine]'s Avatar
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    Season 5 Episode 8: An Unlikely Team
    Spoiler:

    “I still can’t believe how much food this place goes through,” Charlotte said in disbelief, as Cassandra drove the pair of them back to the Academy in Jon’s car. The back seat and the boot were both completely packed with bags of groceries. “We spent more today than I’ll earn all summer…”

    “There’re over two hundred people on site,” Cassandra commented. “Then we also try and make a point of feeding most of the Academy’s Pokemon.”

    Charlotte nodded, though was still surprised at the sheer amount.

    It was Thursday afternoon of the eighth week of the summer. A little over a week since she and Dylan had seen April Sunsets, and a little under a week since her and Dylan’s screaming match in the staff lodge. The next day he had resumed work life as normal, making a point of not keeping to himself too much, although Charlotte knew that he was likely doing this to not put too much strain on Abbee, both with concern for him, and the fact that as his girlfriend, it made sense for her to be the first person someone asked if they were worried about Dylan themselves. From what Charlotte had heard from Abbee, after, to her dismay, having told her about her fight with Dylan the night before, Jon’s plan, although not placing him in Dylan’s good books, had worked. Dylan now had no reason to stay in Mossdeep, because even if he did, Jon would refuse his help, or to even see him. This alone, despite Dylan still being visibly unhappy with the arrangement, had caused any discussion of Dylan’s life after that summer to be had with a whole lot less uncertainty than it had in the weeks prior.

    Despite having been on medication for almost two weeks now, Jon’s condition was still worsening, having had five seizures in the eleven days since he began medication, however he still seemed optimistic, though Charlotte had a hunch this was for everyone else's sake. He insisted that the first fortnight was purely to assess the effects of a small dose, and that whilst things seemed bad, this was likely the worst things would be. Despite this however, the Eon Academy had remained largely unaffected. Whilst Jon was missing multiple classes a week, the rest of the staff were covering for him, and after Chris’ demonstration with Dustin, no students had doubts about their time at the Academy being well spent without Jon as involved as previous summers.

    Charlotte was pulled from her thoughts by a violent beeping that emerged from the dashboard, causing Cassandra to jump.

    “Everything alright?” Charlotte asked, as Cassandra swore under her breath.

    “Check engine light,” she said, looking for somewhere safe to pull over. However, the road they were on did not have an adequate shoulder to stop on. “I’ll pull over as soon as I can…”

    A minute later however, the car jolted, and seemed to slow.

    “What the hell?” Cassandra said, looking across the dashboard. When first learning to drive back home in Johto, her dad had told her to always check the temperature gauge, both to know instinctively how hot the car should be running, and to be able to tell if it is running too hot, to stop it before it did more damage. The gauge however sat exactly where it needed to. “The car isn’t letting me go above forty. I have my foot down and nothing happens…”

    Charlotte looked at the road ahead, and saw a bus stop that was far longer than it needed to be.

    “Pull into here, and back up as far as you can, in case a bus comes,” Charlotte said, as Cassandra, seeing the bus stop, acknowledged the instruction, and pulled over. Once the car stopped, Charlotte said, “open ‘er up.”

    Cassandra pulled the latch to release the bonnet, as Charlotte climbed out, and fumbled for the latch behind the grille to raise it.

    “I didn’t realise you knew how to work on cars?” Cassandra said. Charlotte grinned.

    “I don’t,” Charlotte answered. “But the engine doesn’t look to have exploded so I think we’re off to a good start…”

    Whilst Cassandra considered calling someone from the Academy, she knew Jon was training with Abbee’s team, and even if she called him, she had a solid idea of what she would be told. She looked at the roadside assistance sticker in the top corner of the windscreen, and began dialling the number.

    As the phone rang, she climbed out of the car, it being a hot day, and the bus shelter providing shade, whilst the car would likely turn into an oven without the engine running to power the air conditioner.

    “I think we might be here a while…” Cassandra said, as the automated voice on the other end of the line explained that they had a high volume of callers, before she was placed on hold.

    Charlotte herself, despite the heat of the day, wasn’t as concerned with herself being stuck with the car whilst they waited for assistance. What she did worry about however, was the perishable food that needed refrigeration, which would spoil if left too long in the car.

    Despite having not spoken to Dylan in nearly a week, other than when the jobs warranted, she grabbed her own phone. She wasn’t petty enough to let potentially hundreds of dollars worth of food spoil because there was bad blood between them. As she opened her contacts list to call Dylan, her attention was piqued by a loud, white car, pulling into the bus stop ahead of them, before the engine shut off. The car was a large sedan, seeming to be a late seventies model, that whilst not in showroom condition, seemed like it was well cared for and maintained. Charlotte gave Cassandra a puzzled look, before the door opened and a vaguely familiar young man stepped out, closing the door behind him with a heavy thud. He had neatly cut black hair, with dark eyes, and tattoos down his right arm, wearing a pair of black shorts and a black and green, button-up work shirt. His face seemed covered in dust and the odd smear of oil. Charlotte knew she had met him somewhere, though he looked like a mechanic, which confused Charlotte. She wondered if he had been the one to fix Chris’ bike the week before.

    “Need some help Charlotte?”

    This confused her even more as she had not spoken to the motorcycle mechanic, let alone given her name. He seemed to notice this confusion, deciding to answer her question.

    “Cole. We spoke at the April Sunsets gig last week,” he said, as Charlotte remembered now. He had worked at the bar, though his tattoos were covered, and he was cleaner.

    “Sorry,” Charlotte said quickly. “I was wondering if you were at the workshop I was at earlier that day.”

    “I hope not for this,” Cole said, nodding towards Jon’s car, hazard lights flashing, and the bonnet up. “I’d be getting my money back…”

    “Not for this,” Charlotte agreed. “Was helping a friend transport his motorbike. This is something else…”

    Whatever that something else was, Charlotte had no clue. Cassandra stood to approach, though kept far enough back that should she be taken off hold, she wasn’t struggling to hear the roadside assist representative over Charlotte and Cole’s talking.

    “So what happened?” Cole asked, looking at the engine bay of Jon’s car.

    “No clue,” Charlotte admitted. “We were driving back, and got a check engine light. Before we found somewhere to pull over, the car just slowed down, and we couldn’t get it above fourty kilometres an hour. I’m just hoping we haven’t done any lasting damage…”

    Cole shook his head.

    “That in and of itself isn’t a problem…” Cole said, as he crouched down to look under the car for any liquids that may be leaking. Once he was certain the only liquid was condensation from the air conditioner, he looked in the engine bay, gently tugging on various hoses and plugs to make sure they were still connected.

    Charlotte gave Cole a puzzled look.

    “Well, I doubt Jon wants his car back, not being able to go reach the speed limit outside of school zones?”

    “This is Jon’s car?” Cole asked. “I’d better be careful. But no, it’ll drive normally when you start it again. When the car detects a fault, it will sometimes prevent you from going too fast, just so you can find somewhere safe to pull over. Limp mode. So that you don’t drive the car as if it’s fine when something is wrong and damage something, or cause an accident.”

    “So the car was meant to slow down like that?”

    Cole nodded.
    “It could be that there is nothing wrong. Modern cars are more like computers than cars themselves, with sensors for everything. All it takes is something like a bit of dirt getting in one of the speed sensors, and the car will think something is wrong,” Cole explained. “That’s why I drive older cars. New ones are too stressful…”

    “And if it’s not that?”

    “Well, it could be any number of things,” Cole answered. “If we were closer to work, I’d just grab a scanner and plug it in…”

    “I thought you worked as a barman?” Charlotte asked, the thought only striking her. Cole grinned.

    “Weekends and some weeknights. I work during the days as a mechanic,” Cole explained. “Having any sort of passion for cars will drain your bank accounts. So it’s better for me to have a bit of extra income…”

    Charlotte nodded, before looking back to the car.

    “So can you figure it out without a scanner?”

    “Maybe,” Cole said. “You mind starting it up?”

    “That won’t damage the car will it?” Cassandra asked from where she stood. Cole looked over, and seemed to recognise her.

    “No more than driving it after the light came on would have if it did,” Cole answered. This seemed to appease Cassandra, as Charlotte jumped into the driver’s seat and turned the key. The engine effortlessly roared to life.

    “No warnings?” Cole asked after half a minute.

    “None,” Charlotte explained.

    “Give it a little bit of a rev…” he instructed as he walked to the back of the car, inspecting the exhaust pipe.

    Charlotte pressed the accelerator gently, as the tachometer slowly began to rise.

    “Still nothing?”

    “Nothing,” Charlotte called back. She climbed out of the car to speak to Cole.

    “Well good news is that it likely isn’t anything wrong with the engine itself,” Cole explained, partially to himself. “If it were, there’d be warnings popping up by now. Could still be the transmission, which we wouldn’t be able to know for sure without actually driving it…”

    Cole looked to Charlotte, before nodding to the cabin.

    “You mind chucking it in drive, but keeping your foot on the brake?” Cole asked. “If there is something wrong with the transmission, that may cause it to fire a warning?”

    Charlotte nodded, climbing into the car. She placed her foot on the brake, before pulling the selector out of park, past reverse and neutral, and into drive. Nothing happened on the dashboard, however, she heard Cole laugh from behind the car. Cassandra, who still remained on hold, looked over, slightly confused.

    “I’ve figured it out,” Cole called out, as Charlotte put the car back into park. “You did have your foot on the brakes, right?”

    “Yeah.”

    “Well you have no brake lights,” Cole called out.

    “Wait really?” Cassandra asked, as she hung up the phone. “They were working when we left the Academy. I saw them lighting up the back of the carport?”

    “So the fact the globes are dead caused the car to give a check engine light?” Charlotte asked in disbelief. Cole nodded.

    “I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Modern cars are more computer than cars. They have sensors for everything, and the moment it detects even the smallest thing, it panics,” Cole explained. “The globes are fine. Turn on the headlights.”

    Charlotte flicked the dial at the end of the indicator stalk from auto to on. Both tail lights lit up.

    “There is a switch at the end of the brake pedal that gets pushed when you press it, and that powers the brake lights,” Cole explained. “If that switch dies, your brake lights won’t turn on.”

    “And the car thinks the engine will blow up?” Charlotte asked, being intentional about the simplicity of the question.

    “Most brake light switches will control other elements of the car. Cruise control is one, so that if you’re in cruise and tap the brakes, it will turn off. The other one is the automatic transmission. This switch lets the car know if you’re pressing the brakes, so it can figure out whether or not to change gear,” Cole explained. “What’s more likely is that the car wasn’t getting that signal, which confused it, and caused it to give you the error.”

    “So what now?” Cassandra asked. “Is it safe to drive home?”

    “The Academy’s not far from here,” Cole explained. “If you turn off traction control, put the car into sports mode and shift gears manually, and just take it easy going back, you should be able to get it to the Academy without it throwing an error light. If it does, just pull over and restart the car. The part itself is dirt cheap, and there are youtube videos that show you how to change it in under a minute.

    Cassandra nodded, before thanking Cole, and climbing into the driver’s seat.

    “Thanks for your help,” Charlotte said with a grin. Cole nodded, though as Charlotte turned to leave, he spoke.

    “Actually, Charlotte, I’m glad I ran into you,” Cole said, trying to sound confident. “I was actually wanting to ask whether you maybe wanted to go out sometime? Get some dinner?”

    This took Charlotte completely by surprise. Whilst she thought Cole was a nice guy, and had enjoyed chatting with him on the two occasions they had crossed paths, her immediate thought was that she didn’t want to go out with him. However, she couldn’t help but wonder whether the reason for that was because of anything to do with Cole personally, or because she would have rathered it be Chris asking the question instead.

    Cole seemed to notice her uneasiness, and acted.

    “No pressure,” Cole said quickly, as he grabbed his wallet, and pulled out a business card. “Take this, in case something does go wrong with the car…”

    Charlotte accepted the card, seeing that it listed a workshop, with Cole as the assistant store manager.

    “And if you do wanna grab dinner,” Cole said, as he turned to walk back to his car. “You know where to find me…”

    “Thanks,” Charlotte said, unsure whether she was thanking him for the help with the car, the offer of dinner, or both. Cole waved, as he climbed into his own car, and started the engine. He took off, the engine noisy and the smell of petrol in the air, as Charlotte climbed into the passenger seat. She noticed Cassandra smirking at her.

    “What?” Charlotte asked, though knew the answer.

    “Nothing,” Cassandra said casually. “Just glad that it was you who came with me. I get the feeling if Violet or Jarena had helped me this afternoon, I’d still be waiting on hold for roadside assist…”

    “I’m sure he’d have helped anyway,” Charlotte answered, as Cassandra’s smirk widened.

    Cassandra pulled out of the bus stop, this time having held in the button with the logo of a sliding car, and pulled the gear selector across to sports mode, allowing her to change gears manually.

    “So do you think you’ll call him?”

    “I’m sure Dylan will be able to install the part for us,” Charlotte answered.

    “That’s not what I’m asking…”

    “Do you make a habit of listening in on other people's conversations?” Charlotte asked.

    “When they’re had next to my open window, it’s hard not to,” Cassandra retorted, as Charlotte sighed, knowing she didn’t have a leg to stand on.

    “I don’t think so,” Charlotte answered.

    “He seemed nice,” Cassandra said casually. “And he has a decent job which is more than I can say for a lot of guys his age…”

    “Well you can call him if you like,” Charlotte answered, as Cassandra laughed.

    “I think he’d be too terrified of taking me out on a date,” Cassandra joked. “He recognised me pretty quickly, and most guys are a little cautious about risking upsetting someone who could blind them with a thought…”

    Charlotte couldn’t help but laugh at that.

    “It’s not that there’s anything wrong with him,” Charlotte admitted. “He does seem nice. But in a month, I’ll be leaving Mossdeep, and won’t be returning for more than a visit to Jon and Alyssa at this rate. Even if I did go out with him, I don’t see how that would work long term with my travelling.”

    Cassandra considered Charlotte’s words, before answering carefully.

    “Can I give some advice?” Cassandra asked.

    “I get the feeling you will anyway?” Charlotte retorted, as Cassandra grinned.

    “As someone who was one of the most famous battlers in the world, having achieved unequivocal success, regardless of how legitimate it was, when I see what Jon and Alyssa have together, hell, even Dylan and Abbee, or what I have heard about Justin and Candice, a small part of me does wish I had have let my career take second place every so often,” Cassandra said. “By all means, it worked out for the best that I didn’t. If I had a partner when things went belly-up on the S.S. Wishmaker, that would have made disappearing harder than it already was…”

    Charlotte nodded in understanding as Cassandra continued.

    “I let my career get in the way of a lot of things. My own conscience being a major one, and spending time with my family. And this Cassandra explained. “Before I knew it, I was at the top of the world, where even if I did want to risk letting someone get close to me and them find out the truth, the only people who had the nerve to ask me what Cole asked you, were the ones I had to get restraining orders against, before I spent four years in hiding, and now, I’m twenty-eight having not been on a date in over a decade, and I don’t know whether I’ll meet anyone any time soon who will be able to completely look past my history enough that I can have what Jon and Alyssa, Dylan and Abbee, and Justin and Candice have.

    As they pulled into Arcadia Drive, the quiet road that housed the Eon Academy, Cassandra continued.

    “I won’t labour the point any further than this,” Cassandra concluded. “It’s good to have an idea of where you want the future to take you. But don’t let too much slip by because of that…”

    Charlotte couldn’t help but think of Chris and Abbee’s relationship breaking down for that very reason. Chris had an idea of what his future held, and focused on that to the point of letting Abbee slip away…

    “I appreciate it…” Charlotte said, genuinely. Despite her being a mentor to Cassandra in terms of battling, Cassandra had years of experience with success, that Charlotte had no insight into.

    Cassandra parked as close to the main hall as possible, in order to unload the groceries directly into the kitchen. They were joined shortly after by Jon, who they filled in on the car situation, though Charlotte was thankful Cassandra did not mention her theory as to why their Good Samaritan was as good as he was. What Charlotte did notice however, was that when she didn’t give Jon, or even mention Cole’s business card, Cassandra seemed to have a slight grin on her face as they packed away groceries.

    Once the groceries were packed, Charlotte made her way to the staff lodge, thankful that it was empty, before making her way to her room. She laid down on the bed, holding the business card up in front of her.

    She was genuinely of two minds about it. The more she thought about Cole, the more she seemed to be interested in him, and the more she felt like she was only saying no, because of how she had felt about Chris. But she knew where Chris’ feelings were.

    Her thoughts darted back between the two options she felt were in front of her, to not call Cole, and hope that Chris would be able to work out his own feelings, or to call Cole and give someone who seemed nice, and genuinely interested in her, a chance. As they did however, she remembered Cassandra’s words in the car, about not letting her ideas of what the future holds, cause her to let the present slip by.

    As she did, she thought about the fact that it had been three years since she first found herself thinking this way about Chris, as he began a relationship with Abbee. And when that crumbled, Chris plummeted, acting like a completely different person. In the year since Spiritwater, they had spoken more than the year prior, and Chris seemed like he was more himself, though still working through a lot.

    But Charlotte also knew that both of them would be leaving the Academy in a month and not returning. She would be training for the High Seas Tournament, and Chris would be beginning Second To None. And there wouldn’t be next summer to reconvene at the Academy, and see if Chris was finally acting like his old self.

    Charlotte sat up, grabbing her phone off her bedside table and typing in the mobile number on the card. Pressing the call button, she lifted the phone to her ear. After a few rings, she heard a familiar voice.

    Cole speaking…”

    Wondering if she was doing the right thing, Charlotte spoke.

    “Hey, it’s Charlotte, from the Academy…”

    ”Charlotte, everything okay?” Cole asked. ”Did the car get back alright?”

    “Yeah, the car got back fine,” Charlotte said. “Listen, does that offer for dinner still stand?”

    ************************************************** ************************************************** *****

    “What’s the occasion?”

    Charlotte had exited the staff lodge the following evening, and had been asked the question by Chris, who had been on his way inside, wanting to put his phone on charge during dinner that evening, so that it had plenty of charge for his shift that evening.

    “Just getting dinner,” Charlotte said casually.

    “Who with?” Chris asked. “I didn’t realise there were people going into town?”

    “Nobody from here,” Charlotte answered, trying to not raise more questions. “Just someone from the show last week.”

    “Oh.”

    “You don’t think I’m overdressed, do you?” Charlotte asked, now worried.

    “Not particularly,” Chris explained. “For bumming around here, definitely, but if you’ve got a date…”

    She was more dressed up than she normally was, wearing a navy blue sleeveless, button-up top, with a matching loose skirt. Her hair, usually tied back in the name of practicality, was down, having been straightened for good measure. Around her wrist was a bracelet with a singular, large charm dangling from it.

    “So who’s the lucky guy?” Chris asked with a grin, Charlotte unsure if she had wanted him to seem less content about the situation.

    “A guy Dylan and I met at the gig last week. Cole,” Charlotte answered. “He does bar work on weekends, but works as a mechanic. He saw Cass and I pulled over with Jon’s car playing up, and helped us out of a tight spot.”

    “Then asked you to dinner?”

    “Pretty much,” Charlotte said, looking at her watch. She normally didn’t wear it, not wanting to risk it being damaged, however had put it on for the occasion. Chris realising why, gave her a grin.

    “Well, I won’t make you keep him waiting,” Chris said, before walking to the door to the student lodge. “Have fun…”

    Charlotte was glad that it was only Chris. Whilst she wasn’t embarrassed by the whole thing, she didn’t want the whole Academy knowing that she had a date that night, or not even the entire staff. Cassandra knew, and Charlotte had told Abbee, partially because she wasn’t sure what to wear, and also because she figured it was the sort of thing that would distract Abbee from what she was dealing with with Dylan. Now Chris knew, though, he seemed that unperturbed by it, that she doubted he would tell anyone.

    Quietly she walked to the gates, where, on the other side, sat the familiar white car with its low rumbling engine audible as it idled. Cole stood, leaning against the front quarter panel, flashing her with a grin as she stepped through the gates, closing them behind her. He wore a pair of beige shorts under a white button up shirt with a very subtle leaf pattern.

    “You look nice,” Cole said with a grin.

    “Thanks,” Charlotte replied, unsure of how best to respond. “You too…”

    Cole opened the passenger side door, and stepped aside as Charlotte slid into the passenger seat. The interior was simple but clean. The seats were black leather, with black fabric making up the carpet and headlining. On the dash sat a small, backlit analogue clock, and the radio seemed like the one that came with it, playing what Charlotte quickly identified by the quirky noises coming from the speakers, the eastern Hoenn alternative station.

    “Had a busy day?”

    “Not overly,” Charlotte answered, trying to sound casual. “Taught for two hours in the morning, then had the rest of the day to prepare for next week’s classes.”

    “What do you teach?” Cole asked, intrigued by this.

    “Practical training,” Charlotte explained. “With Jon. Basically, give the students a chance to put into practise all the theoretical stuff they learn from their other classes. It’s a bit chaotic at times.”

    Cole nodded in understanding, and despite only a split second having passed, Charlotte felt like she needed to fill the silence.

    “What about yourself?”

    “Fridays are always stupidly busy,” Cole laughed. “People decide they want their car serviced by the weekend, as well as every other problem they have let get worse for the last six months, and expect it done in time to go on holidays Friday night. Today was standard for Friday, which means twice as busy as the rest of the week…”

    The pair made polite small talk as Cole drove, Charlotte noticing glances from pedestrians and other drivers towards the car she sat in, though not knowing enough about it to understand why. Before too long, Cole slowed to a stop in the carpark of a bowling alley.

    “I had a place in mind for dinner,” Cole explained, as if reading Charlotte’s mind. “But the earliest booking I could get was for eight. We can find somewhere else that’ll take walk-ins if you’ve got a curfew or something? Otherwise, we can kill some time here?”

    “Bowling’s good,” Charlotte said, though getting anxious at the thought that she had not been bowling in many years, and her coordination in the sport back then was laughable. She hoped that she wasn’t about to make a fool of herself.

    The pair entered the bowling alley, booking a lane, and exchanging their shoes for a pair of bowling shoes. Cole had paid for three games for the pair of them, not giving Charlotte an opportunity to offer to pay for half, so she made a mental note to cover the bill for dinner, presuming that Cole didn’t decide to order caviar.

    The first game, Charlotte was having fifty-fifty odds on whether she struck a pin at all, or got gutter balls. When she did strike pins, she normally got the bulk of them, however, it wasn’t enough. Even with Cole, subtly, yet not subtle enough, trying to get a few gutter balls himself, she lost the first game. Between rounds, she quickly scanned the racks at the bowling alley, before swapping out her bowling ball for one a little lighter, hoping that would help.

    Her first bowl of the second game was worse than any of her first. Being unused to the weight, she had accidentally thrown it a third of the way down the lane before it hit the floor with a crash. Charlotte winced at the sound, and the embarrassment, however Cole didn’t make fun of her, like she knew Chris would have. He didn’t even acknowledge it, instead pretending it had been a normal bowl, which for a split second, annoyed her. She almost would have rathered it be made fun of, so she could then talk back. However she quickly dismissed this thought, telling herself that Cole is just trying to be nice.

    The second game, Charlotte won, having bowled far better, though she could see Cole still holding back a little, and rushing a few too many of his bowls to be convinced they were genuine.

    Charlotte’s first bowl of the third game was a gutterball, Charlotte being distracted by her thoughts, about whether or not she disliked the fact Cole was letting her win, and whether or not she should say anything.

    “I find that the lower I get it to the ground, and the lower it is when I release it, gives it just a few more kilowatts, and helps it stay on course,” Cole commented, and despite herself, Charlotte fought back irritation.

    “Is that working for you, seeing as I won the last round?” Charlotte said, only half jokingly. “Or were you holding back…”

    Cole smiled, which Charlotte wasn’t sure how she felt about that. She had been a little rude to him just then, yet he continued to be completely polite.

    “I think I just needed a bit of time to warm up…”

    Charlotte had got her wish however. It was the last of their three rounds, but she could now see Cole not holding back, and his score seemed to reflect that, surpassing his final score of the round before by the time they were halfway there. This however, was what Charlotte wanted, her competitive nature now firing up, and causing her to bowl better. In the end though, it wasn’t enough, and Cole won, though Charlotte was more satisfied with that result than her own win in the previous game.

    The pair left the bowling alley, getting back into Cole’s car. From there, he drove them to a Mediterranean restaurant that seemed just as fancy as the Firehouse, which from her own trip there, she knew was not a cheap venue.

    “So rumour has it you’re going to be competing in the High Seas Tournament next year?” Cole asked. Charlotte nodded, grinning.

    “Not rumour anymore,” Charlotte answered. “Just got announced last weekend.”

    “Surely you’re breaking some sort of record by competing?” Cole noted. “Youngest competitor or something?”

    “I am, but not by much. I’ll be twenty-one and I think the current holder is only like twenty-three,” Charlotte explained. “But currently Jon holds the record for youngest winner, and he was twenty-nine, so if I win it, not only do I take the massive prize and all the publicity and titles that come with it, but I take that record as well…”

    The pair ordered and ate, making polite conversation, and despite the fact that Cole had no visible faults, other than the annoying habit he had shown of letting her win at the bowling alley, Charlotte couldn’t help but feel like she wasn’t enjoying herself. This, along with the anxiety of not wanting this to be obvious, and by extension, offensive to Cole, made it even more difficult to enjoy herself. She couldn’t help but think about how different it would be if it were her and Chris. The big difference she knew being that she likely would be wearing something she felt more comfortable in, and that the pair would not have left the bowling alley, both being too eager to one-up the other. The best of three would have gone on to be best of five, then best of seven, until they were either too broke to continue, or kicked out by the bowling alley closing. She found herself wistful at this, quickly dismissing the thoughts, as Cole excused himself to go to the bathroom. She quickly withdrew her phone from the pocket she was thankful her skirt had hidden, and saw a message from Cassandra.

    ”When you’ve got a minute, how are things going?”

    Charlotte considered replying, however pocketed the phone, wanting to be honest with Cass, but knowing she needed more than a text, and more time than Cole’s trip to the bathroom to do that. It was nearing ten, with the pair having been at the restaurant for nearly two hours.

    “You ready to go?” Cole asked as he returned.

    “Sure,” Charlotte replied. “Just let me go settle the bill.”

    “Already taken care of,” Cole said with a grin.

    “But you paid for bowling,” Charlotte protested, pulling her small wallet from her pocket to withdraw some cash. “At least let me pay you back.”

    “It’s fine,” Cole said. “There’s one last place I wanted to go.”

    Whilst Charlotte was ready to call it a night, having decided by this point that whilst Cole was nice, she didn’t see herself wanting to see him under the same circumstances again, she decided to let him have this last place. She figured if he had paid for everything that night, and there was somewhere he wanted her to see, she should at least give him a little more time, especially if she was planning on not going on a second date. She figured if wherever they went next cost anything, she could at least cover that.

    As the pair drove in Cole’s rumbly old car, the conversation continued to confirm to her what she thought of Cole. He was a nice guy. Someone who, should he take not being given a second date well, she’d get a drink with as friends, should he loosen up a little, and be less perfect. But she could not see herself being in a relationship with him.

    It was forty minutes later when Cole slowed to a stop in an empty car park, overlooking the beach.

    “So why here?” Charlotte asked curiously.

    “It’s the one place on the island where you can see Lilycove, across the ocean,” Cole explained. “Every other part of the beach that faces out to sea at this angle, has rock formations blocking the view. But not here…”

    Charlotte caught a glimpse of faint lights in the distance over the sea, with a glow in the sky above it from the light pollution. She figured that it was more visible during the night of the new moon, however the moon was a few nights off being full. Despite trying to give Cole a chance, and get through the night, she found herself underwhelmed, wishing that she had feigned fatigue at the restaurant and gone home instead.

    Looking out to the lights, she tried to see if she could identify the light of the Lilycove Department store, and as she did, felt a cold chill run down her spine, as she felt Colt’s arm place itself over her shoulder.

    “It’s an amazing view, isn’t it,” Cole said, his tone sickly sweet.

    “Yeah, it’s nice…” Charlotte said quietly

    “I’m glad it’s just the two of us…”

    Charlotte felt sick to her stomach, at the thought of where this was going.

    “Listen, Cole, I’m pretty exhausted. I didn’t get much sleep last night,” Charlotte said, trying to sound casual, as if she were saying this to a long time friend. “Do you mind if we call it a night and head off?”

    “Well if you’re that tired, my place isn’t far from here.”

    “I’d rather just go home,” Charlotte said, her tone hardening a little, making it clear that she was not interested.

    “You sure?” Cole asked, maintaining the same disgustingly sweet tone.

    “Sure…” Charlotte answered, as her left hand moved quietly into her left pocket which contained the shrunken Pokeball containing Gengar. She had been thankful that given her own history of being attacked, be it at the Whirl Islands, or in Goldenrod City the summer before, that she made a point of carrying a Pokemon with her. Whilst Deoxys was her most powerful Pokemon, it was also potentially extremely dangerous. Meanwhile Gengar, when given a boost by the keystone that dangled from Charlotte’s bracelet, could handle almost as much. She had brought the Pokeball on the rare chance she was attacked, be it by poachers, witches, or even Blackstone. This however…

    She felt a sense of relief as Cole withdrew his hand, however seized up when he spoke.

    “I paid for all of tonight, and all I get is ’I’m tired, take me home’...”

    Cole’s tone had changed, now dripping with anger.

    “I was going to cover dinner. I didn’t realise you would pay,” Charlotte retorted. “You wouldn’t even accept my money…”

    “It’s not about the money…”

    The whining and sense of entitlement that emanated from those words caused something to snap in Charlotte.

    “I know it’s not about the money. I’d have to be stupid to not see what it’s about,” Charlotte said irritably to Cole. “Do you do this often? Flatter girls, pay for a nice night out, then bring them here and try and convince them to put out?”

    Charlotte’s blunt tone and language took Cole by surprise. Without knowing why, she opened the glove box in front of her, and was unsurprised to see inside, a strip of small square plastic packets, attached to each other. She couldn’t help but smirk.

    “Tell me this, has it ever worked?” Charlotte asked smugly. “Because you seem to have a fair few of these…”

    “Get out.”

    “You’re disgusting,” Charlotte sneered, as she opened the door, and climbed out of the car, slamming it hard behind her, causing the window to rattle. As the door closed, the engine rumbled to life, and Cole backed the car out, before taking off aggressively. The wide rear tyres kicked up loose stones, as Charlotte attempted to shield her eyes from the dust with one hand, and raised her middle finger to the rear windshield of the car with the other. As it settled, and Charlotte realised she had been stranded, alone, on the other side of the island, the reality of her situation hit her. Her phone listed the time as eleven, and Charlotte realised that if she didn’t reply to Cassandra’s message now, she’d likely get worried.

    ”I’ll tell you about it when I get back. Don’t wait up…”

    She slowly began to walk back towards the main road, which would take her to the Eon Academy. She knew that this late in the evening, the island’s public transport had shut down, and whilst she could have called almost any of the staff who could drive for a ride, no questions asked, or pay for a cab, she didn’t want to get back to the Academy just yet. Now that the adrenaline had worn off, she felt numb from what she just experienced and needed the time to process her thoughts. And besides, even if her shoes caused her feet to blister on the walk home, at least she’d be feeling something…

    ************************************************** ************************************************** *****

    Chris’ phone showed the time as two in the morning, as he sat in silence, listening to a podcast he had found during the year. Hosted by Leon of the Galar League, it discussed various regional Leagues, and the level of difficulty each of them posed.

    Despite the fact he was on watch, he had gotten clearance from Jon to listen to the podcast whilst he had his watch, thankfully before Jon had a seizure that evening. Jon had allowed it, because Chris had purchased a pair of bone conduction headphones, which allowed him to listen to content without reducing his hearing to almost nothing. This way he was still focused on the skies, which would likely alert him to any intruders before his ears would. Or so he thought.

    He heard something, which at first, he thought was an audio artefact in the recording he was listening to. However, as he turned it up, he heard it again, this time, less obviously. He quickly paused the podcast, and stood to his feet, looking at the skies, but seeing no sign of an intruder. However, he heard the sound again, and without it competing for his attention with Leon’s voice, he was able to identify it. The sound of choked back sobs.

    Chris grabbed his flashlight, the same one he had used to knock out an intruder the first time someone attempted to break into the Eon Academy in his first summer, and flicked it on, pointing it at the source of the sound. From the south, where the entrance gates were, he saw a solitary figure raise her hands to block the light, and once his eyes adjusted, he recognised them.

    “Charlotte?”

    Chris had forgotten about Charlotte, with Cassandra having told him before he went out for his watch that Charlotte had told her she’d be home late and likely would show up during his shift. In his eagerness to listen to Leon’s podcast, this had slipped his mind.

    Charlotte said nothing, and seemed to avoid his gaze. The light seemed to reflect especially from her eyes, as Chris realised she was trying not to cry.

    “Charlotte, are you alright?”

    “I’m fine,” Charlotte said, although Chris knew that was obviously not the case.

    “Come on, let’s go inside…”

    “You’re on watch!”

    “Yeah, and I’ll keep the windows of the lodge open so I can keep an eye out.”

    Not having the energy to fight with Chris, having made it back to the Academy on foot, as Chris placed an arm around her and lead her to the lodge, Charlotte obliged, following along as he opened the door.

    The pair sat in the lounge, as Chris, despite trying his best to look out the windows for potential intruders, sat in shock. Charlotte was one of the strongest people he knew, and the closest he had seen her to this state was when they and Justin had watched Rayquaza fall battling Giratina on television the summer before. This however, had her even more upset.

    “Charlotte, did he-” Chris tried to ask, though Charlotte shook her head violently, as Chris breathed a silent sigh of relief, though concern still flooded him.

    “Charlotte…”

    The voice came from the foyer, where both looked up to see Abbee, standing in the doorway, shock evident in her green eyes, followed closely by Cassandra, both having heard the noises.

    “Charlotte, what happened?” Cassandra asked, as she rushed to take a seat, as did Abbee. A wave of guilt hit her, knowing that Charlotte had been apprehensive about seeing Cole, and Cassandra, wanting to give her useful advice, had suggested she consider it.

    Charlotte didn’t want to talk about it, however knew, especially based on Chris’ question before, that they would assume the worst if she didn’t tell them. And at least if she were honest about it now, she may be able to make sure that none of this left the room.

    “He was acting really nice. Too nice. Letting me win when we went bowling, and paying for everything before I even had a chance. It drove me crazy and I wasn’t sure if it was because I thought he was faking it, or I thought he was just too much of a pushover, so I ignored it…” Charlotte explained. “We ended up going to this empty part of the beach, because he said you could see Lilycove from there, but then he started dropping all these hints…”

    Tears began to form in Abbee’s eyes, as Cassandra felt the same wave of guilt intensify. Chris however, felt a silent, devastating rage building up, unable to look any of them in the eye, because he didn’t know what they would see if they looked into his.

    “So I told him I was tired, and asked if we could call it a night, and he tried to tell me we should go back to his place. But when I told him I’d rather just go home, he changed. Started ranting about how he paid for everything, and I got angry and called him out,” Charlotte said, as Abbee’s eyes widened. “I asked him if he does this often, flattering girls and spoiling them on a night out, to try and get them to…”

    The words dwindled, as Abbee, despite her own tears, chuckled.

    “It never ceases to amaze me how brave you are…”

    Charlotte chuckled despite herself.

    “He left me there and drove off. Kicked dirt and rocks up with his tyres into me…”

    “So you walked back?” Cassandra asked in shock. “Why didn’t you call me? I would have come and picked you up…”

    “I just wanted to be alone for a little while…” Charlotte admitted. “The walk home seemed like a good opportunity for that…”

    Abbee looked at Charlotte, who was a mess, and obviously exhausted.

    “Go get some sleep,” Abbee said. “If you want, we can talk more about it in the morning…”

    “Don’t tell the others,” Charlotte said, with renewed sobs. “Please…”

    “We won’t say a thing,” Cassandra assured. Abbee helped Charlotte to her feet, who, having now rested, was feeling the effects of the three hour walk back to the Academy, and despite her own above average level of fitness, struggled to stand at first. The pair made their way upstairs, leaving Chris and Cassandra in silence. Cassandra glanced over at Chris, and noticed he seemed deeply in thought, staring at the coffee table.

    It was nearly fifteen minutes before Abbee returned, and collapsed onto the couch.

    “Are you two alright?” Abbee asked. This seemed to pull Chris out of his trance.

    “I’m going to find this guy, and break his f**king legs…”

    Abbee shot Chris a concerned look, as Cassandra glared at Chris.

    “All that’s going to do is get you in trouble with the law, and cause problems for Jon and Charlotte,” Cassandra said. “I’m just as angry as you are, but you can’t just beat this guy up and expect it to fix things.”

    “Bulls**t,” Chris muttered.

    “Chris…” Abbee warned, though lacked the motivation necessary for the point to be made.

    “It won’t fix anything!” Cassandra reiterated, though Chris shook his head.

    “Not that,” Chris said coldly. “Bulls**t you’re just as angry as I am, because if you were, you wouldn’t be content letting this guy get away with it.”

    “You think I’m not furious-” Cassandra began, though Chris interrupted her, speaking with a cold and quiet rage that Abbee had never seen from Chris, whose temper was usually explosive.

    “You’ve known Charlotte for what, two months? I’ve known Charlotte for nearly a decade, and she is the strongest person I know. Even when we were in the hospital room, last summer, thinking that Giratina had won, and the world was going to change forever, she was handling it better than this…” Chris said quietly. “I’ve seen Charlotte face Legendary Pokemon, poachers, witches, corrupt politicians, and even former League Champions, and face them all with her head held higher than anyone. So if anyone is enough of a piece of s**t to put her in the state we just saw her in, then I’m beyond angry. I’m going to teach this guy a lesson…”

    “Abbee, help me out here,” Cassandra pleaded, knowing that Chris would not listen to her, even if she were completely right. Abbee was silent for a moment.

    “I agree…” Abbee said quietly. “He needs to be taught a lesson…”

    Chris looked over at Abbee in shock, making eye contact with another person for the first time since Charlotte had told them of what happened.

    “I’m not saying we break his legs or something,” Abbee said quickly. “But Charlotte is up there in tears, and God knows how many other girls he has done this to, or will do this to if he isn’t taught a lesson…”

    “Abbee, you’re going to be a Gym Leader!” Cassandra replied, unable to believe she was having this conversation with Abbee of all people. “You could lose your job!”

    “Or I could keep my job, and know that when someone hurt my best friend, I didn’t do a damn thing about it…”

    Chris nodded in agreement, as Cassandra sighed.

    “I know I promised Charlotte I wouldn’t tell anyone,” Cassandra said. “But if I get wind of you two trying to get back at this guy, I will tell Jon. So that he can either talk some sense into the pair of you, or do what he needs to so that if this blows up in his face, he isn’t caught in it…”

    “You’d break your word to Charlotte?” Chris asked, although his tone indicated he wasn’t surprised.

    “Wrong. You would be, by forcing my hand…”

    ************************************************** ************************************************** *****

    When Chris saw Charlotte the next day, he almost wondered whether the previous night didn’t happen. She seemed her normal self, and Chris knew that had Charlotte returned unnoticed the evening before, he would not have known of anything happening the night before. However, he had caught glimpses of her seeming a little deflated when she thought nobody was looking her way. What Chris also noticed was Cassandra keeping an annoyingly close eye on him. If he walked in the general direction of Abbee for any reason, it would get Cassandra’s attention, and he had caught her sneaking glances of his phone when he had it open in front of him, he suspected to see if he was planning anything with Abbee.

    Chris still wanted to teach this guy a lesson, however he had no clue who the guy even was. He didn’t even know his name, and the only other people who had met him were Dylan, who Chris did not want to confide in about this, knowing Charlotte did not want word of what happened last night to get out, and Cassandra, who would not do anything that could enable Chris’ rash course of action.

    During dinner that night, the four of them were spread out at four different tables with the students scattered across all of them, Charlotte sitting with Jon, discussing their plans for classes the following week, Chris sitting with Justin, Abbee with Dylan and Cassandra with Violet and Jarena. Chris sat quietly, thinking about the situation when he felt a strangely familiar presence in his mind.

    ”Don’t react. Cass is watching you like a hawk…”

    It took Chris a moment to recognise the voice as Victini’s. Without moving his head, Chris looked across the room to where Abbee sat with Dylan, and sitting on the table, despite the health code violations it invited, was Victini, who ate the remainder of Abbee’s unfinished meal, seemingly oblivious to the world around him. Chris however knew that this was something Victini was well practised in.

    ”What’s going on?” Chris asked with his own thoughts, as he made a point of eating his meal.

    ”We’re teaching this scumbug a lesson, but Cass is going to be keeping an eye on you after what Abbee told me went down last night…” Victini said.

    ”You’re okay with this?” Chris asked. ”Intentionally working against your former trainer?”

    ”Charlotte is my friend, and I’m not going to do nothing,” Victini answered. ”And Abbee is my trainer now, so it’s her call whether or not we do this…”

    Having no doubts about Victini’s loyalty having heard that, Chris couldn’t help but nod.

    ”Don’t nod, genius!”

    Chris winced at the carelessness of what he had just done, though tried to change the subject.

    ”So what’s the plan?” Chris asked.

    ”Abbee thinks she has a way to find this guy, but will need to sneak into Charlotte’s room, and can’t do that safely with both Cass and Charlotte unchecked…” Victini explained. ”I will keep an eye on Charlotte and let Abbee know if she will be caught but Cass is watching us as well, and will be able to see what I am up to…”

    ”So you need me to distract Cassandra?”

    ”Exactly. You get Cass distracted, Abbee will sneak back to the lodge, and I’ll stay here and keep an eye on Charlotte…” Victini answered.

    ”When should we start?”

    ”The sooner, the better…”

    Chris considered his options.

    ”You’re watching Charlotte, right?” Chris asked. ”Well let me know when she is focused away from me…”

    After a few moments, Chris heard Victini’s cue, before standing abruptly, and leaving the table without saying a word. Charlotte didn’t seem to notice him, however Cassandra did. He placed his empty plate with the other dirty dishes, a little too forcefully, before leaving, letting the door slam shut behind him.

    ”She’s on the move…” said Victini’s voice. ”Lure her away from the lodge…”

    Knowing that if he were being watched, this would imply exactly what Cassandra was expecting of him, Chris withdrew his keys from his pocket, containing the key for his motorbike, and walked towards Jon and Alyssa’s house intently. Whilst he didn’t want to risk giving them away by looking back, he was certain Cassandra was tailing him.

    ”Abbee is on the move…”

    Despite having no idea where to even find their target, as far as he was aware, Cassandra had no way of knowing for sure that Chris’ biggest obstacle right now in his plan for revenge was a lack of knowledge. He arrived at his motorcycle which sat under Jon and Alyssa’s carport, opened the locker that contained his riding gear, and began to dress himself. Once his helmet was on, he placed the key in the ignition.

    “Where are you off to?”

    Chris was glad the helmet covered most of his face, because he could not hide the grin. Victini knew his former trainer well. Cassandra had emerged from behind Jon’s car. Chris knew he had a delicate balance to keep. He knew that should he and Cassandra fight like they did over Jon’s statement, there would be serious consequences for them both. However he also knew that the harder he pushed back against Cassandra, the less she’d budge, just like himself. Additionally, he needed to be suspicious enough that Cassandra would waste time here arguing with him, but not suspicious enough that she’d inform Jon of what happened to Charlotte, and he and Abbee’s own desire to get back at the person who hurt her.

    “I didn’t realise I needed your permission to go anywhere,” Chris said pointedly. “Last I checked, I don’t ask questions about how you spend your free time. You don’t need to concern yourself with how I spend mine…”

    ”Abbee’s in the lodge…”

    “If I had any faith you were going to behave yourself, I wouldn’t be asking,” Cassandra retorted.

    “Well you aren’t Jon. It’s not your job to make sure I behave myself.”

    “No it isn’t. But seeing as I get the feeling you’re going to do something that could affect the Academy itself badly, I gotta waste my time doing this anyway,” Cassandra answered.

    ”She’s in Charlotte’s room…”

    “So what, even if you have no proof that I am leaving right now to teach this guy a lesson, you’ll go rat me out to Jon, even though you told Charlotte you wouldn’t tell anyone about last night?” Chris asked.

    “Well if I had more reason to believe you weren’t about to do something stupid, I wouldn’t have to…”

    ”Abbee has found the intel,” said Victini’s voice, a little too amused by the operation they were conducting. ”Keep buying time for her to slip back into the dining hall…”

    “Guilty until proven innocent? But I suppose you’re used to that,” Chris said to Cassandra, and noticed her temper flare. “Well fine, I’ll tell you where I’m going, not because I think you have any goddamn right to know, but because I don’t want you using me to justify breaking your word to Charlotte…”

    Chris grabbed a Pokeball off his belt.

    “I was the punching bag for today’s seminar, remember?” Chris asked, holding it up. “My Pokemon need a Pokemon Centre if they’re to stand any chance of holding their own tonight if there is another incident…”

    “The seminar finished hours ago-” Cassandra retorted.

    “And it was thirty-eight degrees outside when it wrapped up. Do you know how hot it would be wearing motorbike leathers in that heat?” Chris asked without waiting for an answer. “I waited for the temperature to drop…”

    Chris was surprised at how quickly he was coming up with reasons for this, considering he had practically no plan at all leading up to this moment. Despite this, Cassandra wasn’t convinced. Chris decided to lace in a little bit of self deprecating truth, in order to make the story more believable.

    “As much as I want to beat this a**hole senseless, I don’t even know the p***k’s name, let alone where to find him,” Chris said to Cassandra. “I only knew she was out with a guy when I bumped into her on her way out of the lodge. Even if I wanted to be going out to find him, I couldn’t. Now if you’ll excuse me, I was hoping to not leave the others short a staff member for too long after dinner, and you’re wasting both of our time…”

    ”Abbee is back in position. You can let Cass go,” Victini said.

    ”I gotta disappear for an hour or two to keep my cover believable and keep Cassandra off our backs,” Chris replied quickly with his thoughts. ”Tell Abbee to lay low until I get back…

    Cassandra seemed to realise that Chris could likely be telling the truth, and sighed, stepping aside.

    “I don’t like having to be the one to do this,” Cassandra muttered.

    “Then don’t,” Chris said back bitterly, before turning the key on his motorbike and climbing on. Before Cassandra could say anything else, he had taken off towards the gate.

    ************************************************** ************************************************** *****

    Despite not planning on going to the Pokemon Centre that evening, Chris’ lie had given him the opportunity to get his Pokemon healed, something he was, in all honesty going to do tomorrow, knowing that he had not used Lugia at all during the seminar, and would likely be able to rely solely on his Legendary Pokemon in the event of an emergency. Whilst he was gone, he got a message from Abbee, for the first time in years.

    ”When you get back, meet me in the laundry room…”

    He returned to the Academy an hour later, turning off the engine of his bike and walking it past the gates. He knew the sound would give him away, but he could justify the desire for silence by not wanting to wake Amelia with the noise if she happened to be asleep. Once he had it back in place, he quickly, though trying not to raise suspicion, made his way to the small room in the student lodge blocks that contained washing machines for the students' laundry and bedding. The door was closed and locked, so Chris knocked on the door.

    For a moment he felt the now more familiar presence of Victini in his mind, before he heard the door click. He opened it, stepping in and closing it behind him. Abbee held a finger to her mouth to indicate silence, as she closed the door behind him, and turned on the nearby clothes dryer, creating enough noise that they could speak without being overheard.

    “Good work keeping her busy,” Abbee said. “I got what I was after…”

    “What was that?”

    Abbee opened her phone, showing a picture of a business card.

    “Charlotte mentioned to me that she hadn’t given him an answer, so he gave her his business card, in case the car had other issues. This was how she called him…”

    The name on the business card was Cole Fletcher, listing him as the assistant manager of a small independent workshop.

    “I’ve found him on Facebook but his account is private. I can’t see anything but his name, and profile picture,” Abbee explained. “Any ideas?”

    Chris considered this for a moment.

    “Dylan was the one who set up the CCTV for this place, wasn’t he?” Chris asked. Abbee nodded in agreement. “Is he the sort to use the same password for everything?”

    Realising what Chris was getting towards, Abbee opened her phone’s app store. She had seen the NVR which recorded all the footage before, and after searching quickly, found an app with the same logo, downloading it.

    “The fact he uses the same credentials is what let us change the Eon Academy billboard earlier this summer,” Abbee said, as she typed in the username and password. She took a breath as she hit the login button and it began to load. Suddenly the screen disappeared and was replaced with a variety of camera feeds. She showed Chris.

    “So, can you tell me what car picked Charlotte up last night?” Chris asked.

    Scrolling down to the camera that observed the front gate, Abbee clicked on it, and scrolled back to six the previous evening, and sure enough, found the car, and showed Chris.

    “These sorts of guys will have their personal account private as all hell, but some will make an account for pictures of their car, and it be completely public…” Chris explained. He recognised the badge of the make, so began searching online, narrowing down the results until finally he knew the make, model and rough year of the car. He then googled those terms, alongside white and Mossdeep. “Can you look up the workshop where this guy works?”

    After a few more minutes searching, he came across an Instagram profile dedicated to a white car that looked identical to the one in the footage, which seemed to be their target.

    “Got any pictures of that workshop?” Chris asked. Abbee nodded, giving Chris her phone. On his own, Chris opened a picture of the white car on a hoist, showing work being done to it, before comparing the background to a photo of the workshop on Abbee’s phone. Once he determined they were a match, Chris said, “this is him…”

    He copied the link to the Instagram profile to a text to Abbee, as both looked through it, trying to find anything that looked like it may have location details. Abbee was the first to speak.

    “Any idea what MCM is?”

    “No clue,” Chris answered before googling the acronym.

    “Because he posted a story a few hours ago,” Abbee answered. “It says ’MCM at ten.’

    Mossdeep Car Meets,” Chris answered, before searching for the term itself. He found a Facebook page with the same name. “It’s a meet, happening on the island tonight.”

    “Where?”

    “The carpark of the ruined space centre,” Chris explained. “Going up that mountain is probably a fun drive, and the cops would not be too prevalent there…”

    “So what do you think, we get him tonight?” Abbee asked. Chris nodded.

    “I guess the question is, what should we do with him?” Chris asked. To his surprise, Abbee grinned.

    “Leave that with me,” Abbee explained. “I have ideas. Nothing that should get us into too much trouble or do permanent damage if we are identified. But enough to teach him a pretty hard lesson…”

    ************************************************** ************************************************** *****

    The pair had planned how they would escape the Academy that evening under Cassandra’s watch, with Abbee having the idea that would be how they pulled it off. That day during the seminar, Chris had battled against Jon, who had used Blaziken, Jolteon and Scizor. All the staff knew that Jon kept Rayquaza, Giratina and Latios in rotation at all times which meant that the rest of his Pokemon were in storage. However, being a business that owned numerous Pokemon, with the facilities to store them on site, all of Jon’s out of rotation Pokemon were kept in Pokeballs in the spare bedroom on the second floor of the lodge, where Dylan had set up the storage system years prior. Chris had no reason to not enter this room, being the trainer of eight Pokemon himself, two being kept in there during the summer. However, instead of exchanging one of his own Pokemon, he instead withdrew one of Jon’s, hoping that the Pokemon was well trained enough to obey him.

    Justin was scheduled to start his watch shift that evening at ten, and Chris knew he and Abbee’s best bet was to make their escape before then. Though students would still be around, none knew that Cassandra was watching Chris, and the worst that could come of them seeing him and Abbee leaving together, would be rumours.

    Chris had spent most of the evening in his room, whilst Abbee had been in the lounge of the staff lodge, where she could see Cassandra sitting with Violet in the dining room as they looked at a website on Violet’s laptop. Upon receiving the message from Abbee that it was time to go, Chris opened the Pokeball he had borrowed from Jon, as light flashed in the room, revealing Jon’s white and red Zoroark. The Pokemon itself was only a little shorter than him, though its wavy fur seemed to float unnaturally above it, dwarfing Chris.

    “Zoroark,” Chris said quietly, as he put on a pair of over-ear headphones. “Can you make an illusion to look like me?”

    The Pokemon was silent, and staring at him intently, the sight of which was unnerving. However, Chris blinked and found himself staring at an exact copy of himself, albeit with a blank expression. Somehow he found this to be even more unnerving. Either way, so far the plan seemed to be working. Chris grabbed the handwritten note from his desk, and held it out for Zoroark.

    “If you get found out, give whoever finds you this note,” Chris explained. The note simply said Zoroark’s Pokeball was in his room. “But I want you to walk out of this room, out of the building, and do a lap of the property, starting from the top…”

    Zoroark nodded obediently. Chris walked to the door, opening it, and allowing the Pokemon out.

    Downstairs, Abbee noticed Cassandra look to the stairway, before hearing footsteps herself, and pretending to focus on the TV. In her peripheral vision, Chris walked downstairs, and silently left the lodge. A few moments later, Cassandra excused herself and followed after him. She quickly sent Chris a text.

    ”Now.”

    Less than thirty seconds later, Chris had arrived downstairs, confusing Violet who sat in the dining room, something that could not be prevented. Abbee picked up the small backpack she had hidden on the floor next to the couch, as the pair of them quickly left the lodge, and briskly made their way south towards the gate.

    “I can’t believe that worked…” Abbee said, despite what they were going to do, sounding excited by the scheming.

    “I told you, she’s convinced I’m going to do something, so all I have to do is act a little shady, and she’ll follow me…”

    The gate had just come back into sight, when Chris heard footsteps approaching. He turned around, to see Cassandra walking towards him and Abbee, obviously annoyed.

    “How stupid do you think I am?” Cassandra asked quietly. “A Zoroark? Jon had planned to use the same trick to cover for us back on the S.S. Wishmaker…”

    Chris however had an angry thought.

    “What did you tell Violet?” Chris asked.

    “What does Violet have to do with any of this?” Cassandra asked, confusion evident in her voice.

    “Violet saw me leave the lodge twice. First the Zoroark, and then me,” Chris asked, his tone rising. “So what have you told her that when she notices that, the first thing she does is contact you?”

    Abbee looked at Cassandra, shocked at what Chris was implying.

    “I get threatening to tell Jon about what happened to Charlotte to keep us in line,” Abbee said. “But telling Violet so she could help you out?”

    “I didn’t tell Violet!” Cassandra said defensively. “She didn’t tell me where you two had gone!”

    “Then how did you know to come here so quickly?” Chris asked, though Abbee had the answer.

    “How did you know Zoroark had left Chris’ room when you were in the lodge?” Abbee asked. “I assumed that you just had better hearing than me and heard its footsteps but…”

    Cassandra went silent, as Chris realised what Abbee was talking about.

    “You’ve jinxed my bedroom door, haven’t you?!” Chris asked indignantly. “What, does it tip you off whenever someone walks through it?”

    Cassandra began to stutter a little bit, not expecting to be caught out, which all but confirmed Chris and Abbee’s suspicions.

    “You were tipped off when the Zoroark left the room, which is why you seemed to know,” Abbee said, appreciating the genius of the plan. “But then, you had left, and Chris triggered the spell when he walked through it himself, so you came back…”

    “I’m sick of this,” Chris muttered, before turning back to the gates. “Come on Abbee, let’s go…”

    “Where are you going?” Cassandra asked.

    “Isn’t it obvious?” Chris asked irritably. “We’re going to teach this piece of s**t a lesson. We know where to find him and we have a plan.”

    “And what if I tell Jon?”

    Chris snorted with derision.

    “My mind is made up. I am calling your bluff, and going after this guy regardless. Charlotte is my friend, and he hurt her. Nothing you can say or do will change my mind. This is happening,” Chris retorted. “So the only thing undecided about how tonight will play out, is whether or not you go and break Charlotte’s trust in you.”

    Abbee until then had been considering throwing in the towel, however she knew Chris well enough to know that he meant every word. Nothing would change what he did that night, which meant that all Cassandra’s threat stood to do was hurt Charlotte further. And despite not knowing Cassandra too well, she knew this was the last thing she wanted to do.

    “Then I’m coming with you…”

    The words took even Chris by surprise.

    “Why? So you can try and talk us out of it?” Chris asked. “Or try and sabotage us before we do anything you don’t like?”

    “To make sure you aren’t recognised, and don’t go too far…” Cassandra said firmly. Chris remained silent, unsure of what to make of her. Abbee however, spoke to Chris in a whisper.

    “With what she can do, having her in our corner could make this whole thing run a lot smoother…”

    Chris considered Abbee’s words. If Cassandra were with them, he knew that she wasn’t likely sabotaging their plans back at the Academy, or ratting them out.

    Taking Chris’ silence as consent, Abbee addressed Cassandra.

    “What we have planned for Cole, is all my doing. Chris helped to iron out a few creases, but is largely here tonight to be extra muscle,” Abbee said, resolve evident in her words. “What I have planned for Cole will not hurt him, but teach him a lesson. You have my word on that…”

    Cassandra nodded.

    “If you’re coming, you’re coming to help us, and if we have any reason to believe you are going to jeopardise the mission, we will intervene as much as necessary,” Chris said. Cassandra looked at him, a smirk lining her face.

    “You think you could stop me?” Cassandra asked.

    “Chris…” Abbee said, not wanting to begin this unlikely partnership with threats of conflict.

    “There’s a reason Jon doesn’t have you taking shift on night watch. He said it himself. Witch or not, you couldn’t hold your own against our twelve Pokemon. I’ve battled witches before, and I get the feeling we could handle you if we needed to,” Chris explained. “And I don’t think you’d particularly want to incapacitate my Pokemon just because you’ve got a grudge with me…”

    Cassandra knew both of Chris’ reasons were true. Whilst she was an exceptional user of Shadowcraft, one of very few who could perform it non-verbally, she would struggle to hold her own against both Chris and Abbee’s Pokemon, and wouldn’t want to fight them anyway.

    “If what Abbee says is true, that you’re not going there just to hurt this guy, then I should have no reason to interfere…”

    ************************************************** ************************************************** *****

    The trio got clear of the Eon Academy, finding a nearby paddock that was dark and empty, where Chris sent out his Lugia, which would provide transport for the three of them. Despite the island being small, it was not a simple trip, Lugia intentionally having to fly above clouds and avoid bright patches of the island, in order to remain unseen, though Chris was certain that somebody would have spotted the large Pokemon. As they flew, Cassandra asked about the plan, and despite Abbee being content with telling her, Chris wanted to keep that between them for now. Cassandra did notice however, that before they climbed onto Lugia’s back, Chris had taken Abbee’s backpack, which obviously was far heavier than it appeared. She heard a metallic clinking as they moved.

    Lugia landed in a paddock a few kilometres from the meet, which they could just see from the skies, visible by the headlights. From there, the trio and Victini, whom Abbee had removed from his Pokeball, silently made their way on foot towards the meet, stopping when they reached the edge of the woodland surrounding the gravel car park. It was nearly midnight by this point, and there were still a half dozen cars. Chris quickly spotted the white car parked at the back of the group, and the man who stood by it, talking to another enthusiast.

    “Is that him?” Chris whispered.

    “Yeah, that’s him…” Cassandra answered bitterly. “Do I want to know how you knew he’d be here tonight?”

    “No…” Chris said intently, shutting down the small talk.

    Another hour passed, before cars began to leave.

    “Victini, remember what we talked about?” Chris whispered.

    ”Yeah, I practised on Jon’s car after dinner…”

    Concerned, Cassandra shot Chris a puzzled look, however Chris ignored it. Victini began to concentrate, staring at the wheels of Cole’s car. As Cassandra watched, she realised what was happening. The air was slowly being let out of one of the rear tyres, causing the whole car to lower. Victini had telekinetically unscrewed the cap on the tyre stem, and was holding it in the air, as he also held the pin inside, allowing air to hiss out. Once it was empty, with a shocking amount of finesse, Victini replaced the cap, leaving the tyre looking as it was, albeit flat.

    Half an hour passed, before cars began to leave, with Cole, being at the back of the group, stuck being the last to leave. Eventually there were three cars left, then two, and finally, Cole and his car were alone, as he turned on the engine to let it warm up.

    “While he is changing the tyre, Victini, kill the headlights,” Abbee whispered. “Chris, get behind him and hold his arms. I’ll put the bag over his head, and tie his arms behind his back. Then we’ll take him to the main road…”

    Cassandra shot Abbee a look.

    “The bag isn’t to choke him out!” Abbee said, offended that Cassandra would think such a thing of her. “Just so he doesn’t see our faces…”

    Cassandra considered this for a second, before, against her better judgement, making up her mind.

    “Abbee, be ready with the rope, but don’t go for the bag,” Cassandra said. “Once the lights go out and Chris has him restrained, I’ll place a hex on him to blind him temporarily, and another to confuse him. I don’t know what you have planned once he gets to the main road, but he will be back to normal in a few hours, with no idea of how he got there…”

    For the first time towards Cassandra, Chris grinned, without any sense of contempt or ill will. Abbee however seemed concerned.

    “Won’t that incriminate you, or the others?” Abbee asked, thinking of Violet, Jarena and Willow. Chris however was the one to answer.

    “That same effect could be caused by a Psychic Pokemon using Hypnosis, and if he really does have a history of pulling this s**t, anyone could have done this,” Chris answered. “And even then, I don’t think he will exactly want to tell the police how he acted, hoping to incriminate Charlotte…”

    Cassandra nodded in agreement. They heard the door close, as Cole climbed into his car, however he only drove a matter of metres before stopping, as he realised his tyre was flat. They watched him walk to the back tyre to inspect it.

    “Victini, be ready for the signal…” Chris whispered, as the Mythical Pokemon nodded, now tuning into his thoughts. When Cole had removed his jack, and placed it under the car, the trio quietly edged closer to the car, thankful that Cole had left the engine running, which only served to muffle their footsteps. Once they were a few metres away, Chris knew that it was time.

    ”Now!”

    From where he sat on Abbee’s shoulder, Victini telekinetically turned the dial on the end of the indicator stalk, causing the car’s lights to turn off. At that exact moment, Chris rushed Cole, slamming his shoulder into him to knock him off balance, before grabbing an arm. Cole yelled out in pain and fright, as Chris grabbed the other, and held both behind his back, pushing Cole up against the running car.

    “What the f**k?!” Cole yelled, as Chris held him in place. He heard footsteps come next to him, as Cassandra approached, placing a hand on Cole, who continued to yell. First she placed the blinding hex, which Cole didn’t even notice with how dark it already was. Then she placed the confusion hex, as Chris felt Cole’s resistance disappear.

    “Is he still conscious?” Chris whispered.

    “Yes, just very dazed, and easy to manipulate…” Cassandra said. “Come on, let’s get this over with before we’re seen…”

    “One second…”

    Chris removed his phone, and turned on the torch. He walked towards the open driver’s door, and turned off the car, removing the keys from the ignition. Abbee grinned as he then threw the keys over the fence that surrounded the ruins of the Space Centre.

    “Okay, now I’m ready…”

    With Cole now hexed and compliant, Chris tied his hands together in front of him, and led him with a length of rope like a half asleep Growlithe.

    “How long will this hex last?” Chris asked.

    “If I don’t remove it early, a few hours,” Cassandra answered. Chris nodded.

    “Plenty of time…”

    The trio leading Cole reached the nearby highway, which, whilst they were relying on it being quiet overnight, they knew would be busy come morning.

    “If a car drives past while we are doing this, we are done for,” Abbee explained as they waited within the treeline that was closest to the lightpost they had decided would suit their purposes. “So we have to make this quick…”

    Unsure of what they had planned, Cassandra watched as Abbee opened her backpack, removing some cans of bright pink spray paint and handing it to Chris. Under the dim streetlight, Cassandra saw metres upon metres of chain, and numerous padlocks, and got a rough idea of what they had planned.

    “I’ll get a start on the exhibit description, Chris, you make sure he won’t be going anywhere when he comes to…” Abbee explained. Chris nodded.

    Chris sent out his Charizard, which Victini climbed onto the back of, before it flew high into the air. As they waited for the signal, Cassandra had an idea.

    “It’s not going to be cold tonight, is it?” Cassandra asked.

    “No colder than it is now?” Abbee asked, a little confused.

    “Good…” Cassandra said menacingly. “Let’s strip him…”

    Abbee’s eyes widened, though Chris couldn’t help but laugh. As they waited for Victini to give them the all clear, Chris began removing Cole’s socks and shoes, before his jeans, while Cassandra removed his shirt. Still confused by the hex, Cole simply moved whatever way the pair motioned for him to, as they left him in his underwear.

    ”No cars for miles. You’ve got time. Do it now…”

    On Victini’s signal, they rushed forward, Chris and Cassandra moving Cole towards the light post on the median strip of the road, as Abbee sent out her Ampharos to provide light, and began spray painting an arrow on the road pointing at Cole, and large words next to it.

    Chris quickly untied Cole’s hands, and tied them again behind him, though left them loose enough that he wasn’t going to hurt himself. They wouldn’t be the only thing holding them in place, and whilst he may have normally been able to wriggle free of them, the chains would prevent that. Meanwhile, Cassandra began unravelling the chain, and once Cole had been sat down, the pair began wrapping the chains around him and the pole, making sure to cover all possible points where he could wriggle out. Once they were done, they grabbed the five padlocks they had brought, using them to tie the ends of the chain together, as well as some sections of it.

    “One more thing,” Cassandra said quietly, as the last lock was placed. None were touching Cole himself, which meant that her plan should work as intended. She began placing hexes on the individual padlocks.

    “What’re you doing that for?” Abbee asked.

    “So that if anybody touches them and tries to help him, they’ll desperately need to find a bathroom…” Cassandra explained as Chris burst into laughter. “Willow did the same thing to protect the box that powers our security system. This should buy him a few more hours before someone lets him out…”

    ************************************************** ************************************************** *****

    Charlotte sat in silence during her shift of watch, not expecting anything to happen, though still trying to remain vigilant, knowing that complacency would be what screwed them over should someone actually attack. The thought that her shift only had half an hour left before Abbee was due to relieve her was comforting.

    That day, she had tried especially hard to pretend the evening before hadn’t happened. She didn’t want Cassandra’s apologies, as it was her decision to call Cole and accept his offer of dinner. And she didn’t want the others worrying about her, as if she were that fragile that this had all but broke her.

    She sighed.

    She did however, worry about the fact that by wanting to bury the events of the night before, that someone else may be noticed by Cole, and might not have the nerve that she had to call him out before things got bad.

    She was pulled from her thoughts by the sound of voices, and began scanning the sky, though saw no lights. The voices grew louder though. She turned on the light on her phone, figuring them to be students out of bed, and walked towards them, turning a corner near the staff lodge, and being shocked to find Chris, Cassandra and Abbee. What was even more shocking than the unlikely trio, was the fact that all, despite being tired, seemed to be enjoying eachothers company.

    “What are you three doing?” she asked, as the trio noticed her for the first time. “Where have you been?”

    “Abbee and I had some business to take care of, and Cassandra decided to help us out,” Chris said casually with a yawn. “But I’m exhausted, so I’m going to get some sleep…”

    Abbee looked at her phone, seeing the time.

    “Charlotte, you go get some sleep as well,” Abbee said. “I’d be covering you in half an hour anyway…”

    Charlotte looked between the three of them in shocked disbelief. She made eye contact with Cassandra, who flashed her a grin.

    “I’m not sure I want to know…” Charlotte muttered to herself…

    ************************************************** ************************************************** *****

    The next morning, Charlotte awoke to the sounds of discussion downstairs. Unsure what this was, and having a hunch it had to do with the disappearance of three of their number the evening before, Charlotte went downstairs in her pyjamas. It was barely 7am on Sunday morning, but Dylan, Justin, Violet, Jarena and Willow all sat around the TV, watching the morning news. Chris sat in the dining room, eating a bowl of cereal, and noticed Charlotte enter the foyer. He approached her, as she saw what had taken the attention of the rest of the staff. At the same time, Abbee entered from outside, her shift having just finished, and made her way to where Charlotte and Chris stood.

    Charlotte’s jaw dropped, as on screen, she saw a news program showing footage of a man she recognised as Cole, in his underwear and chained to a lightpost, looking furious and humiliated. Spray painted on the ground in front of him was an arrow, pointing towards him, and the words in oddly familiar hand-writing ’I try to take advantage of girls, and leave them to walk home in the middle of nowhere if they don’t comply…’

    “You didn’t…” Charlotte said quietly in disbelief to her two friends.

    “I don’t know what you’re talking about…” Chris said, his tone him away. “But I’d almost say that whoever this guy is, he got what he deserved. What do you think, Abbee?”

    “Oh definitely…” Abbee said with a grin. “Don’t know him, but I’d say he got what was coming to him…”

    Chris couldn’t help but laugh a little at this, earning a couple of glances from those who were watching the live footage, as a police officer with a pair of bolt cutters, placed them against one of the locks, before quickly removing it, and excusing himself.

    “That’s the third time that’s happened…” Justin said, as Willow seemed to stare intently at the screen, wondering if she was seeing what she thought she was seeing.

    “Anyway, I’m going to get some sleep,” Abbee said to Charlotte and Chris. “I’ll see you at lunch?”

    “Yeah, see you there,” Chris said casually as Charlotte nodded. When she had awoken that morning, she hadn’t expected her day to go this well. Not even seeing Cole getting what he deserved. But instead, for the first time in years, Chris and Abbee being friends, and by extension, what that could mean for herself and Chris…

    Charlotte went upstairs to get dressed, and on her way out, ran into Cassandra.

    “I saw the news…” Charlotte said, sounding oblivious. “How convenient that someone decided to make him pay…”

    “I’m not sure I know what you’re talking about…” Cassandra said, though unable to hide the grin from her face.

    “I don’t know what was more shocking,” Charlotte said lowering her voice. “Seeing that on the news, or seeing you and Chris, and it almost looking like you were getting along?”

    Cassandra sighed.

    “I was wrong about him. I mean, I knew I was being unfair on him, but thought he was justifying it. I guess I just understand him a little better now…” Cassandra said quietly. “Even if he is Lance’s cousin, I don’t think Lance would ever go to the lengths to help a friend that Chris did. That speaks volumes, which is good enough for me…”

  5. #185
    I came in like a wrecking ball... [Desolate Divine]'s Avatar
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    This was an episode I have been sitting on for ages! Glad to write it and
    Spoiler:

    finally have Chris on good terms with almost everyone at the Academy again.

  6. #186
    I came in like a wrecking ball... [Desolate Divine]'s Avatar
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    Season 5 Episode 9: Redemption
    Spoiler:

    “Is everything alright?” Abbee asked Jon nervously, as she sat in the lounge of the staff lodge with the rest of the on-site staff members. Like herself, all had received a message from Jon that evening, telling them to meet with him there at eleven. Dylan was scheduled to be starting his watch, however Jon had told him Latios would handle it whilst he spoke with them.

    “Everything’s fine,” Jon said casually. “That’s why I’m here…”

    It was Wednesday of the tenth week of summer, a little under two weeks since Charlotte’s disastrous date with Cole, and Abbee, Chris and Cassandra’s subsequent revenge. It hadn’t gone unnoticed to all present that Chris now was speaking to Abbee on the same terms he was prior to when they started dating during their second summer, as if nothing had happened, and even more surprising was the fact that he and Cassandra actually seemed to be getting along. Nobody seemed able to get a straight answer out of the three of them as to what had happened, not even Dylan, who was unused to Abbee keeping secrets from him, though assured him that there was nothing to be concerned about, simply that she had promised a friend she wouldn’t speak of it.

    The biggest change however, was Jon. During the Saturday of the sixth week of summer, Jon had attended an appointment with his specialist in order to begin taking anticonvulsant medication, in order to prevent his seizures. He had been given a dosage to take, and ordered to take it for two weeks, monitoring any seizures he may have. At the time, it seemed like it was doing nothing, as for the next two weeks, Jon’s seizures continued, growing more frequent at the same rate they had been all summer. Two weeks after that initial appointment, Jon attended another, where the dosage was increased. And thankfully, the increase in dosage seemed to have worked. It had been a few days shy of a fortnight since Jon had a seizure, something that had been unheard of since the beginning of summer, and Jon seemed optimistic that he may have them under control now that he was medicated for it. Whilst there were side effects, such as nausea, it was extremely minor, which was attributed to the two weeks of low dosage, as his body got used to the presence of the medication.

    “Fact is, even though I haven’t missed a class, or been absent for nearly two weeks, there’s still this haze over the place,” Jon explained. “The students are still walking on eggshells, and I don’t blame them. Nearly half the summer has passed since they found out the truth, and most of that, they’ve been seeing me disappearing, and sometimes even seeing these fits happening…”

    There was a murmur of agreement from all present, as Jon continued.

    “Until now, I haven’t been in a position to do anything about it. It was all I could do to keep things running smoothly,” Jon continued. “So now that I have a bit less on my plate, I was thinking it might be a good time to do something fun and exciting, and try to raise morale…”

    “Could we do another prom?” Justin asked. “Last summer we were here, the students seemed to enjoy that…”

    “They were laughing at you and Candice dancing,” Chris interjected, as Justin rolled his eyes, and Abbee couldn’t help but laugh. Jon grinned, thankful, despite the butting of heads he had seen amongst his staff this year, that things seemed to have sorted themselves out.

    “If we had more time, I’d say yes, but I don’t think we could pull it off. We’ve got a little over two weeks left of summer, and double the students we had then. We’d need more time to prepare,” Jon answered, as Justin nodded in understanding. “That, and I don’t want the prom to become a staple, because if we aren’t in a position to do it next year, I don’t want students thinking they are missing out on something that really, is just an extra…”

    “Could we come up with another Shadowcraft game?” Cassandra asked, looking to Willow. “The first one went down well…”

    “I’m game,” Willow answered. “And I think between the four of us, we could come up with a few ideas…”

    “Count me in!” Jarena said enthusiastically. Last time Cassandra and Violet came up with a game, Jarena had been scheduled to help Justin get students to quieten down that evening, and as such, was resting that afternoon in preparation. Once she heard what the game had entailed, she had been eager to be involved in another.

    “I have another idea,” Abbee added. “Something we can do in addition to that…”

    Abbee realised quickly all eyes were now on her, and attempted to keep her composure.

    “When Victini and I thought we had a way to force you to let him battle Scizor, the thought of there being an S.S. Wishmaker Grudge Match seemed to get them all excited,” Abbee explained. “I mean, we managed to get nearly a hundred and seventy students to keep that training session free to take to the stands when given the signal…”

    Jon grinned.

    “Is this your way of trying to give Victini his grudge match?”

    “Well you said yourself, I’ve got a little over two weeks to get Victini that win, and I know you want to give Victini the chance, you just want to make sure he has earned it,” Abbee explained. “I think that if I were to challenge you, be it for this purpose or another, you’d battle with Scizor to give Victini and I the opportunity to force that match to happen, and make us fight for it…”

    All eyes moved to Jon, whose grin widened.

    “You know me well,” Jon admitted. “Yes, if you were to challenge me to any standard battle, I’d make sure to use Scizor, but would not make it easy for it to battle Victini…”

    “Well how about this,” Abbee explained. “If I know you’d battle me, with Scizor guaranteed to make an appearance if I challenged you, I challenge you, for Friday night, to a standard battle. But this time, instead of doing everything on the down-low, and coordinating things behind your back, we make an event of it. It will be good for student morale, and honestly if we were to live stream you battling at your best, cursed arm and all, it may be good publicity for next summer…”

    “And if you beat me?” Jon asked.

    “Even better…”

    Jon considered this for a moment, before looking to the four resident Shadowcraft experts.

    “Do you think you could have two games prepared, one for this Saturday, and one for the next?” Jon asked.

    “With more than a morning’s notice, I think so,” Willow answered with a grin, as Jon nodded.

    “Well then, Friday night, Abbee and I battle, for Victini’s chance to have a crack at Scizor,” Jon concluded. “Then the next two Saturdays, we have property-wide games for all the students with a Shadowcraft twist…”

    There were murmurs of agreement, before Jon concluded the informal meeting, and left, Dylan leaving a minute later to begin his own night shift.

    Once Jon had left, Charlotte looked to Abbee.

    “So how are you going to force him to let Scizor battle Victini?”

    “I’m not sure yet,” Abbee admitted. “I was going to spend tomorrow night planning once the students were all in bed…”

    “Typical, the night when I’m on watch…” Charlotte sighed. Abbee gave her a glance.

    “You want to help?” Abbee asked, somewhat surprised.

    “Considering the bait and switch Jon pulled last time, I think all of us want to see him taken down a peg,” Chris answered, as Justin nodded in agreement. “And now that his seizures seem to be under control, I wouldn’t feel like we’re ganging up on a cripple if we were to help you beat him…”

    There were groans at the poor taste of Chris’ joke, though all present had to admit, he raised a valid point, even if none wanted to admit that it was slightly amusing.

    “Would you all be interested in helping Victini and I plan?” Abbee asked, addressing all in the room.

    “We still owe him for training our students on how to beat us,” Justin explained.

    “I’d like to see him brought down to earth,” Cassandra added. “Will help me figure out just how far ahead of me he is…”

    There were murmurs of agreement, as Abbee grinned.

    “Well tomorrow night, let’s meet at the watch point at eleven-thirty,” Abbee decided. “It’s far enough from the property’s edge that if someone were to trespass tomorrow, they shouldn’t hear us before we’d notice, assuming we’re quiet enough to not keep students awake…”

    There were grins and words of agreement. Abbee couldn’t help but feel excited for it.

    “Well between now and then, be thinking of ideas…”

    ************************************************** ************************************************** *****

    By Thursday afternoon, word of the Victini-Scizor Grudge Match had spread like wildfire amongst students, as all grew eager for Friday evening. Even on Twitter, by noon, the original hashtags were trending again, now that word had gotten out that Abbee Strauss and Jon Drake had agreed to a battle, both promising to use Victini and Scizor, but no promises from Jon about whether the two Pokemon would grace the battlefield together. With all knowing one party wanted nothing more than for that to happen, and having a feeling that the other would want nothing less, it had made for a perfect storm. By noon, various broadcasters were approaching Jon about the match, asking permission to attend and broadcast it, filling the hole in the summer season from that year's High Seas Tournament having now come to a close.

    Charlotte had been looking for Dylan since her team had finished their training session with Jon three quarters of an hour earlier. He hadn’t been in the main hall, the classrooms or the staff lodge. For a moment she thought he had locked himself in his room again, however, after ten minutes of knocking on the door, had been informed by Chris that he hadn’t been in the lodge for hours. It wasn’t until Charlotte decided to check Jon and Alyssa’s house that she found him.

    Dylan stood by Jon’s car, his phone in one hand, and a small cardboard box in another. The driver’s door was opened, and Charlotte could hear the dialogue of an automotive tutorial. Hearing her footsteps, Dylan looked up, and paused the video.

    “Hey,” Charlotte called out casually, as Dylan nodded in response.

    Despite the fact that the last time her and Dylan had a conversation alone together, it had ended with harsh words, the pair had been on generally friendly terms since. Charlotte’s aggressive visit was enough of a wake-up call for him to stop hiding, knowing that it was making things awkward and difficult for Abbee. What had been present however, was an awkward tension between the pair of them. For Charlotte, it was knowing that she had spoken some very harsh words to Dylan, telling him he was being worse than Chris in how he was treating Abbee. She wished she didn’t have to say them, but didn’t want to risk the message not sinking in by apologising for it. Dylan on the other hand, knew that Charlotte had told him exactly what he needed to hear, which was made obvious by the fact that once Jon’s medication had started to take effect a few days later, he didn’t have another seizure, and for the first time, Dylan felt that should he leave the Academy, Jon could survive without him.

    “I see you’re busy, so I’ll cut to the chase,” Charlotte continued. “Can I borrow your car? I gotta go into town for some supplies…”

    Dylan considered the question, before answering.

    “I should have this fixed in five minutes, then I need to take it for a test drive,” Dylan explained, nodding towards Jon’s car. “How about I kill two birds with one stone, and drive you there?”

    “Thanks,” Charlotte said awkwardly, before remembering the events of the fortnight prior. Given what had happened the night after, Charlotte had forgotten about the issues she and Cassandra had with Jon’s car, which had been the starting point for all that followed. “Is it still not fixed?”

    Dylan shook his head.

    “Jon can’t drive, and Alyssa takes her car if she goes out. The other’s have been borrowing Alyssa’s car. But since this one hasn’t been driven, there hasn’t been any urgency to fix it,” Dylan explained. “I got sick of seeing it here, so I got the part myself after lunch…”

    Dylan pressed play on the video, which continued for another minute, as Charlotte wandered around the car to watch it. On screen, the technician demonstrated holding the brake pedal up in order to stop it from making contact with the old brake light switch, before unplugging the old and faulty switch, and twisting it to unlatch it from where it sat, then simply doing the reverse to install the new one. Once the video finished, Dylan knelt down, grimacing as the hard bitumen dug into his knees, before sticking his head under the steering wheel. After a minute, he removed the old switch, before holding his hand out.

    “Mind passing me the new one,” he said, his voice muffled in the footwell. Charlotte grabbed the small cardboard box that sat on the bonnet, and opened it, removing an identical, albeit cleaner, switch, and exchanging it with the one in Dylan’s hand. He quickly put it into place, as Charlotte walked to the back of the car.

    “Any luck?” Dylan asked, as he pressed down on the brake. Charlotte saw the red brake lights light up, before turning off as Dylan released the pedal, and back on as he pressed it again.

    “Yeah, they’re good,” Charlotte answered. Dylan turned the key in the ignition, before quietly climbing into the driver’s seat, and Charlotte made her way to the passenger seat.

    The car took off with both driver and passenger silent, and it wasn’t until Dylan turned out of the Eon Academy’s driveway that he realised that if he didn’t acknowledge what had been said, they’d be sitting in silence for the next half hour.

    “Listen,” Dylan said, a little quickly. “I’m sorry about how I spoke to you the other week. You were right. Jon was right. As much as I hated the thought of leaving whilst Jon’s health was as bad as it was, he wouldn’t have wanted me to give up my plans to stay and help him. And I would have been doing the wrong thing by Abbee if I had followed through with that idea. And I was not thinking about her when I shut myself up in my room. It was stupid and selfish of me…”

    Charlotte nodded in understanding, appreciating the gesture.

    “And I’m sorry for kicking you so hard while you were down,” Charlotte said. “I know it must have been heartbreaking for Jon to tell you that you couldn’t come back, but I didn’t want you to do something you and Abbee would regret whilst you were upset about it all…”

    “I needed to hear it,” Dylan agreed. “Especially from Jon. I shouldn’t have put him in that position…”

    Charlotte nodded, as silence overtook the pair again. Finally, Charlotte spoke.

    “So what made you see sense?”

    Dylan was quiet, as he considered his words.

    “I mean, I knew you were right pretty much as soon as you left, but I didn’t want to believe that you were. Because, to believe that, would have been to accept that Jon was only going to get worse, and the best thing I could do was look the other way,” Dylan said quietly. “I felt like if I believed that, I was dooming Jon to that path, and was doing wrong by him by not looking for another way…”

    “And now, the medication seems to have worked?”

    Dylan nodded.

    “Honestly, I’d forgotten what it was like to have a day go past, and not be worried that Jon would just collapse into a fit…” Dylan muttered. “To be able to be around him, and not be on edge. To not worry about being close enough to roll him over if he has a seizure, or keeping an eye out for sharp edges he might hit his head on…”

    Charlotte nodded in understanding. She, like Chris and Justin, had only found out of Jon’s cursed hand and seizures at the beginning of that summer. Dylan had been living with this, albeit, less frequently, for a few months shy of a year…

    “So you’re feeling better about leaving?”

    Dylan opened his mouth to answer, but couldn’t, and remained silent.

    “Dylan?” Charlotte asked, now worried.

    “If I’m being honest, I’m not…” Dylan explained. “I’m just as anxious about leaving as I was that night when Jon told me he wouldn’t let me stay…”

    “But I thought you-”

    “I know you and him are right,” Dylan amended. “I know it one hundred percent. But despite that, I still have this unshakable feeling that if I did leave, everything would just fall apart…”

    “You’re still going to go to Unova though, right?” Charlotte asked, worry evident in her voice. Dylan nodded.

    “Myself, Jon and Alyssa will be visiting a mortgage broker on Sunday to get finance sorted. I’ve got about ten weeks left to do it before I lose the hold and the price,” Dylan answered. “And even if I feel like I am making every wrong decision by going through with it, I’ll do it. I may just not be able to sleep at night until I get there, and it’s made completely obvious to me I’ve done the right thing…”

    Charlotte nodded in understanding, not envying Dylan of his current situation. It made sense to her, that Dylan knew what he needed to do, while every instinct he had, told him he was making the wrong decision.

    “Well if we’re lucky, these meds he is on will keep working their magic, and by the time you’re ready to leave, the seizures are just a bad memory…”

    ************************************************** ************************************************** *****

    “Did we really need this much food?”

    Charlotte was looking at the wooden outdoor table that had been covered in various snacks. It was almost eleven thirty that evening when Abbee had brought the provisions that could feed a small army out, whilst the others made their way from the lodge to join them. They spoke quietly, not wanting to arouse suspicions of their students who slept in the lodges nearby.

    “I figure if we’re having a late one, the sugar fix should keep us alert,” Abbee explained.

    “No complaints here,” Chris retorted as he opened a box of icecreams, and passed one to Justin. He looked over to where Jarena and Cassandra sat, holding up the box in offering. Jarena shook her head, though Cassandra nodded, voicing her thanks as Chris passed her one. Justin grabbed a large can from a box that was black with a neon green logo, and Charlotte knew was packed full of caffeine.

    “I don’t know how you can drink that…” Charlotte muttered at Justin in distaste. “I tried one once, and couldn’t get through a quarter of the can, it was that sweet…”

    “Do a law degree at Jubilife, then tell me,” Justin teased, as Charlotte rolled her eyes. “Honestly, these things helped me pass my exams…”

    “And probably gave you diabetes as well…”

    “God, it feels weird to think you’re going to graduate university,” Chris noted. “I mean, if someone told us back in our first year that in five years, you’d be the only one of us with a degree, I’d have laughed in their face…”

    “I would have too…” Justin muttered, as Violet looked between the pair of them.

    “Why is that so unbelievable?” Violet asked. “Justin seems like he has his head screwed on straight?”

    “I didn’t always,” Justin admitted.

    “Funny what happens when you date an older woman,” Chris remarked.

    “Because you’d know?” Justin retorted, as Violet couldn’t help but laugh at the back and forth.

    “Anyway,” Abbee said, a little too loudly. “We aren’t here to talk about who has the most degrees…”

    There was a quiet laugh, as Abbee continued. She pressed the button on Victini’s Pokeball, before speaking.

    “We’re here because in less than twenty-four hours, Victini and I will battle Jon, trying to make sure Victini has a crack at Scizor before summer ends and we leave this place,” Abbee said, sounding almost like a drill sergeant. “If we let this opportunity slip by, chances are we won’t get it back. Tomorrow has to be a win…”

    There were quiet cheers, intentional as to not wake sleeping students, as Abbee addressed Victini.

    “Keep your ear out for anything nearby,” Abbee said to Victini.

    “Do you think we’ll be attacked?” Willow asked. Abbee shook her head.

    “Latios,” Abbee explained. “He may well be right here, invisible, and listening in to everything. Maybe even transmitting everything straight to Jon…”

    “I’ll drink to that…” Violet muttered, earning a laugh from Jarena and a grin from Cassandra.

    Abbee removed her laptop from the bag she brought with her, and opened up the recording she had saved of her and Victini’s last battle against Jon.

    “I want us to watch this. Pause it whenever you want, if something stands out to you…” Abbee instructed. “I’ve seen it that many times, I am just seeing the same thing over and over again…”

    Abbee pressed play, as the battle began. Cassandra was interested to see how the five students, and even her own newer addition friends, would view this match. The opening matchup of Ariados and Nidoking appeared on screen, as Nidoking quickly dispatched of Ariados. Justin was the first to interject, causing Abbee to pause the video.

    “It seems like that opening matchup put you in second place almost instantly…” Justin noted. “Even if Nidoking didn’t have an innate type advantage…”

    “You’re right,” Abbee said with a sigh. “There were a few reasons for it. The first being that I was hijacking a demonstration battle, and as such, needed the battle to begin in a way that it appeared we were demonstrating the point. And Ariados suited that, especially seeing as I was relying heavily on Glaceon to actually enact my plans…”

    Justin nodded, as Cassandra spoke.

    “So there needs to be more intentionality with the starting Pokemon?” Cassandra asked.

    “Yes and no,” Charlotte answered. “Because the start of the battle can make or break a strategy, having a tactic that relies very much on your opening Pokemon can be risky, seeing as if your opponent happens to open with something that counters it easily, you may not be able to get past the first step of your plan. That’s where Abbee’s tactic last time, using Glaceon as her second to lock in Jon’s third Pokemon worked well. The fact Ariados went down quickly didn’t write off what she had planned with Glaceon.”

    “However, I do need to be careful of what Pokemon I begin with,” Abbee explained. “Because as much as I love Ariados, on the grand scheme of things, it isn’t a naturally strong Pokemon. At a guess, my Typhlosion is thirty percent or so stronger than it, and Victini would be almost fifty percent stronger…”

    “So other than Victini, what is your strongest Pokemon?” Violet asked. Abbee’s brow furrowed as she tried to guess the answer.

    “I have an Electivire I use at the Gym, which has the potential to be strongest, but it has the least experience of all my Pokemon. If I were to rank them in terms of natural strength, it would be Electivire, Typhlosion, Glaceon, Gardevoir, Poliwrath, Ampharos and Ariados,” Abbee explained. “But in terms of experience, it would be more accurate to say Typhlosion, Ampharos, Ariados, Poliwrath, Glaceon, Gardevoir then Electivire…”

    “Typhlosion wouldn’t be a bad opening Pokemon,” Chris noted. “It’s mono-type so it has a total of three weaknesses, and your chances of Jon being able to really exploit that are slim…”

    “How so?” Cassandra asked, curious by Chris’ observation.

    “It may be cheap to think like this, but in terms of his six Pokemon, Jon always keeps Latios, Rayquaza and Giratina with him. Both in case of an emergency, and so there is no risk of someone getting a hold of any of their Pokeballs. This battle won’t change that…” Chris explained, holding up three fingers. “Then he has also given his word that Scizor will make an appearance in this battle…”

    Chris held up a fourth finger.

    “Which leaves a total of two Pokemon he can have in his party, that he must use in this battle…” Chris explained.

    “There wasn’t any agreement that Jon wouldn’t use any of his Legendary Pokemon…” Charlotte interjected, though Abbee shook her head.

    “He may use Latios, but I don’t think he’d use Rayquaza, and I think he is even less likely to use Giratina,” Abbee explained, as Chris nodded in agreement.

    “He used Rayquaza against you last time?” Justin noted.

    “Because I forced his hand,” Abbee said, as realisation dawned on her. “Think about what Chris just said. The three Legendary Pokemon, Jon keeps with him at all times. That is three of six spoken for. The other three Pokemon he had with him would have been Nidoking, Zoroark and Scizor…”

    Chris’ eyes widened at this.

    “Of course!” he said, excitement growing in his voice. “You beat Nidoking, then he sent out Zoroark and we all thought it was Scizor. And he was probably expecting you to have Victini attack it and break the illusion, after which, he would have sent out Scizor…”

    Abbee nodded.

    “But I didn’t even try to hit Scizor,” Abbee explained. “I just forced it off the field, which left Jon with two options. Send out the real Scizor, and give away what he probably was looking forward to being a big reveal, or send out Latios or Rayquaza…”

    “He really loves the theatrics,” Willow said with a laugh. Dylan nodded in agreement.

    “So really, I think Jon might use Latios, though I doubt it…” Chris explained. “So let’s say you open with Typhlosion. It is weak to Water, Ground and Rock types. Only one of those Jon has, is Nidoking…”

    “Blaziken does know Earthquake, Bulldoze and Stone Edge,” Charlotte interjected.

    “But Typhlosion knows Earthquake and Bulldoze as well, as well as a few moves strong against Fighting Types, and off the mark, is quicker than Blaziken…” Abbee added, realising that this was by far her best bet.

    “What other moves could it use to beat Jon’s other Pokemon?” Dylan asked, as Abbee began rattling off information.

    “Typhlosion is faster than Nidoking, Absol and Scizor. Jolteon and Zoroark are faster though,” Abbee explained. “Focus Blast would deal with Absol, and Bulldoze or Earthquake would handle Jolteon if it doesn’t knock Typhlosion out first. Scizor isn’t an issue, as Jon wouldn’t open with Scizor anyway…”

    “And if he did, and you opened with Typhlosion, he’d likely withdraw Scizor pretty quickly, which would only help you,” Jarena chimed in.

    “Zoroark is Normal and Ghost Type, right?” Abbee asked. Dylan nodded in agreement. “Well if he opened with Zoroark, I’d have Typhlosion use Eruption. If Typhlosion is at full health, it will deal massive damage, and since Zoroark is faster than all of Jon’s Pokemon but Jolteon, he’d likely be having it use some speed-buff as its first move to make it hard to tell whether it is the Pokemon it’s pretending to be, or Zoroark…”

    “So that leaves only Nidoking…” Violet muttered. Abbee, however, grinned.

    “Zen Headbutt,” Abbee said, remembering the move. “Nidoking is slower than Typhlosion, has mediocre defence, and is Poison Type.”

    “So you open with Typhlosion?” Cassandra asked.

    “I open with Typhlosion…”

    “There’s something else I’ve noticed,” Charlotte said, earning the attention of those present. All knew that if Charlotte had wisdom for battling, even Jon, it was worth listening to.

    “One of the flaws with your last plan is that there was too much time between when Jon figured out what you were doing, and when it would have paid off. We just didn’t notice it because Scizor was never even in that battle…” Charlotte explained. “Imagine Zoroark wasn’t there and it was Scizor. You made your decisive move when Jon had two Pokemon at full strength left, but you wouldn’t have been able to reap the benefits of that until you beat his second Pokemon. So then he sends out Rayquaza to try and get in the way. And, hypothetically, Victini has to do most of the work to knock out Rayquaza, so goes into the final matchup weakened…”

    Abbee nodded, following so far.

    “Whatever you do now, you need to reduce that time gap,” Charlotte said. “Make sure that either as soon as Jon knows what you’re doing, you’re able to make the most of it, or the other way. Jon doesn’t know what you’re doing, until you’ve done it and it’s paid off. Anything else, and you’re giving him an opportunity to screw up your plans…”

    “You really are terrifying,” Chris said to Charlotte, who couldn’t help but grin at the compliment. Cassandra looked in awe at the younger trainer who this summer had been a mentor to her. She knew that at her current skill level, she never would have thought of that herself.

    “It’s what Jon did against Camilla Blakely,” Charlotte explained. “She didn’t know what he had planned until her Suicune was beaten by Blaziken…”

    Hearing of this, Abbee had a thought. She quickly grabbed the laptop, and began searching online for the recording of the battle Charlotte was referring to, and opening it.

    “I think I have an idea…”

    ************************************************** ************************************************** *****

    Friday passed quickly for Dylan, as he found himself sitting in the familiar office of Dr. Tanner that afternoon. It had been a fortnight since he had last been here, with the wounds of Jon’s decision to not let Dylan remain at the Academy after this summer, as well as Charlotte’s harsh words, both still fresh. Additionally, that day two weeks earlier, Jon had another seizure. Dylan had been in the waiting room, when Dr. Tanner had invited him in, and the pair exchanged pleasantries. Once both were comfortable, the psychologist was the first to speak.

    “I have to admit, I’m surprised to see you doing as well as you are today, given our last session…” Dr. Tanner explained, although there was a hint of caution in her tone. “Has anything happened in the last fortnight to cause that? Or have you just had time to process it all?”

    “A mixture of both,” Dylan admitted. “I was talking to Charlotte the other day, and was telling her that when we had our argument, at the time, I knew she and Jon were right, that the best decision I could make was to not let what was happening get in the way of my plans. But I felt like doing that would be giving up on finding a better solution, and just dooming Jon to get worse on his own…”

    “So what happened to change that?”

    “The day after I was here last, Jon’s dosage was increased, and it actually worked,” Dylan answered. “It’s been a fortnight since his last one, and all of us are feeling optimistic that the medication will keep them away, and let him live his life…”

    “That’s great news,” Dr. Tanner said with a smile. “In light of that, how are you feeling about the move?”

    Dylan hesitated for a second, before speaking to attempt to hide it.

    “On Sunday, Jon, Alyssa and myself will be seeing a mortgage broker to try and get that sorted so I can buy the land,” Dylan explained. Dr. Tanner nodded.

    “That’s great, but wasn’t what I asked…”

    Dylan went quiet at this.

    “Do you feel better about leaving Mossdeep?”

    Dylan sighed at the question, before the logical part of him, the same logical part that knew that Jon and Charlotte were both right, pointed out how stupid it was to try and hide the things that were bothering him, from the person he was paying to help him figure them out.

    “No, I still don’t feel right about it…” Dylan answered. “I know that it’s the right thing to do, but it still doesn’t sit right with me…”

    “And how are you coping with that?” Dr. Tanner asked softly, as she took notes.

    “Honestly, I’m forcing myself to ignore my instincts, telling me that I shouldn’t go,” Dylan explained. “It makes the most sense for me to leave, but I’m not at peace with it…”

    “And does ignoring it help?’

    “It keeps everyone else happy…”

    “But does it help?” Dr. Tanner asked, not wanting Dylan to avoid the question.

    “No…” Dylan admitted. “I struggle to sleep at night, but now, instead of it being because of what happened in Alola, it’s because of this. I can barely focus, because at any given point, this is in the back of my mind, dragging my attention towards it…”

    Dylan looked at the now familiar painting of the Legendary Pokemon Ho-oh, as he collected his thoughts.

    “Then, it just leaves me feeling guilty, that now I am being given the chance to be close to Abbee and not just see her during summers, something I have wanted for years, but now my instincts are telling me it’s the wrong thing to do,” Dylan said quietly. “She broke up with her last boyfriend because the plans he had for his future didn’t leave any room for her in it. I’ve had plans for months that had room for her, and now, the thought of following through with them keeps me awake at night. I thought that I did right by her more than he did. But I worry I may be worse…”

    “If you had to explain it,” Dr. Tanner began. “What part of the thought of leaving makes you anxious?”

    Dylan considered the question, before realising something. He genuinely couldn’t answer it.

    “I don’t know…” Dylan answered. “Like, I thought it was leaving Jon to run the Academy without me with his health declining. But now, he is improving, but I still don’t feel right leaving…”

    Dr. Tanner nodded, writing something quickly, before closing her notebook and placing it on the coffee table that sat between them. She leaned forward.

    “Dylan, can I share some observations? A theory I have?”

    “Isn’t that why I’m here?” Dylan asked, trying to be funny. Dr. Tanner grinned.

    “Dylan, I think you’d be just as anxious about leaving, if what happened last summer in Alola never happened,” Dr. Tanner explained. “The fact it did, and it had such a profound effect on you, and your circumstances, means that anyone would tend to look at what you’re feeling right now, and link it to what happened last summer, and the consequences of that…”

    This was the last thing Dylan expected.

    “Maybe not just as anxious, but overall, I think you’d be feeling the same thing, because honestly, anybody in your position would be justified in feeling this way…” Dr. Tanner explained. “If I’m being honest, now that you believe that Jon and the Academy will be okay without you, there is only one thing from last summer that I think is playing into this, but I’ll get to that…”

    Dylan nodded, as Dr. Tanner held up her thumb to begin counting.

    “Firstly, would you say that after your mum left, your step-dad’s house felt like home?”

    “No,” Dylan answered, as Dr. Tanner nodded. She opened her notebook, to clarify her information, before speaking.

    “Your mum walked out when you were ten, leaving you with your stepdad who ended up abusing you, and you said yourself, that place was not home for you. The first place in nearly a decade that did become home, was the Eon Academy. Not only because you were offered a place there by Jon and Alyssa, but because you earned it. You defended it when Deoxys attacked. You helped with the legal battle for Jon to retain it. Even this summer, you defended it from intruders who meant to do it harm,” Dr. Tanner explained. “The Eon Academy isn’t just a place you work at, or live. It is your home, and the most significant home you have ever had. For the first time in a long time, it was a place where you felt safe. And now, you’re planning on leaving, and making home elsewhere. There is a level of anxiety that is standard for someone your age moving out of their parents house for the first time, especially if they grew up there. But for you, the Academy is far more than that. Not only did you earn the right to call it your home, it developed you into the adult you are now. It helped you discover your own talents, and inner strength, and capacity to lead. You said it yourself, it was the difference between two very different lives you could find yourself living. And now, you’re at the point of wanting to build a life independent of it, and that means you need to leave. And to do that is to take away the safety net it represents, and step into the unknown…”

    Dylan was shocked hearing this, as Dr. Tanner said, “that is my first observation…”

    “And your second?”

    “My second, is that there has always been a comfortable amount of distance between yourself and Abbee. You’ve been together for a year, but you mentioned having been romantically interested in her since you were nineteen?”

    Dylan nodded, a little embarrassed at how impartial and impersonal Dr. Tanner was being about this.

    “That entire time, with a few odd exceptions, you saw Abbee for twelve weeks each year, most of that under the context of both of you working. Despite how you felt about her, there was always a very safe distance between you. But if you follow the plans you’ve set, you’re going from having a very safe distance, to having almost none when compared to the last four years,” Dr. Tanner explained. “You will be going from seeing Abbee three months a year, as coworkers, with the odd meeting outside of summers, to geographically being closer to her than anyone else in your life. You won’t be working together which means the extent of your relationship will be completely personal. There will be nothing to stop you spending every free moment together. There will be nothing to stop the pair of you even living together. That safe and comfortable distance is now gone, and that scares you…”

    “Why would that scare me?”

    “One of two reasons, and I’d bet my qualification that I know which one. The first is that you’re worried about the damage she could do to you without that safe distance between you,” the psychologist explained. “But I doubt that. I think instead, you’re worried about the damage you could do to her without that safe distance between you. The capacity you have to hurt her…”

    Dylan was silent, as Dr. Tanner asked a question.

    “Have you forgiven yourself for not heeding her advice last summer? Or for the fact she was nearly killed when she risked herself to try and save you?”

    Dylan remained silent, however, knowing that Dr. Tanner would not take silence for an answer, shook his head.

    “Have you forgiven yourself for the things you said to her, that created the rift between you and her last boyfriend?”

    Dylan hadn’t thought of that night, the things he said, or the effect it had on Abbee, in a very long time. However, now that it was brought up, he shook his head.

    “What was it that Charlotte said to you, that got you to stop isolating yourself?”

    “That it was hurting Abbee…”

    “I have no doubt that Jon’s condition played a role in your anxiety about moving on,” Dr. Tanner explained. “But you’ve been given a golden ticket, because Jon’s condition is the one factor in all this that no matter how well you come to terms with it, it would never change. And now, it has. And now, based on what you have told me, the things that are holding you back, are things that with enough understanding and intentionality, you can actually change. You can come to accept Unova, and the house you build there as your home, and it will be even more significant to you than the Eon Academy. And you can grow to be excited to remove this distance between you and Abbee, instead of being scared of it…”

    “How do I do that?” Dylan asked, no doubt in his mind of what Dr. Tanner was saying.

    “My brother in law has raced rally cars as a hobby for nearly thirty years, and my sister rode as his copilot for many of those years. Both got injured more times than I care to remember, but I remember talking to my sister about it, and she told me something that has stuck with me since,” Dr. Tanner said anecdotally. Dylan nodded, gesturing for her to continue. “She told me that if her husband were to lose control of the car, and they were on a collision course with a tree, she would never point out the tree…”

    Dylan gave Dr. Tanner a puzzled look, as she grinned.

    “Instead, she’d tell him to look for the gap, because if his focus is on the tree, he’s going to hit it. But if he is focused on the gap instead…”

    “So what, it’s a matter of just being painfully optimistic?” Dylan asked cynically.

    “They both knew the tree was there. But if they were too focused on the tree, they would miss the gap,” Dr. Tanner explained. “It may sound like borderline toxic positivity, but there’s a nugget of truth in it. I can almost guarantee you that if you make the effort to look for the gap, the home and business you’re going to build for yourself, and the closeness you’ll develop with Abbee, you will gravitate more towards that, and less towards the worry about leaving the Academy behind, and being more responsible for Abbee’s wellbeing.”

    Dr. Tanner closed the book, and looked Dylan in the eye.

    “It’s up to you…”

    ************************************************** ************************************************** *****

    At seven o’clock, Friday evening, Abbee made her way into the stadium, where Jon waited, as did the roaring crowd of students and spectators. She noticed the same array of broadcast quality cameras, and drones piloted by experts wearing goggles that streamed their view directly to them, as the first live stream the Eon Academy had hosted four years ago. In less than forty-eight hours, this battle had attained almost as many expected viewers as the first High Seas Tournament. Abbee knew why though. Everyone who watched the first High Seas Tournament saw Victini brutally and humiliatingly beaten by Scizor. And now, Victini had a chance at levelling the score.

    The night prior, Abbee had come up with the skeleton of a plan in order to force Jon’s Scizor to battle her Victini. The others had contributed, pointing out potential holes, and coming up with countermeasures. Given the success of the evening before, it took a lot of self-control for Abbee to not feel overconfident. Victini sat on her shoulder, ready for his opportunity. Across the stands, all the other staff members, including Steven and Alyssa, were scattered, ready to see if Victini could make the most of this last chance he would have to get his grudge match.

    Jon approached Abbee, offering his hand to shake, as Abbee withdrew hers from the overly large hoodie she had borrowed from Dylan. Jon gave Victini a grin, something the competitive Pokemon did not reciprocate. In this moment, Victini saw Jon as a barrier who would do everything he could to get in Victini’s way. Once the formalities were out of the way, with the referee who had been borrowed from Mossdeep City Gym, having gone over the format of their battle, and the broadcasters had announced the beginning of the battle, both trainers made their way to their sides of the battlefield. On one side, first High Seas Champion, and Founder of the Eon Academy, Jon Drake, and on the other, one of his first pupils, and very soon to be Gym Leader of Nimbasa City, Abbee Strauss.

    Both trainers selected a Pokeball, Jon unable to hide the smirk from his face at the thought of the fun he was going to have with this. Victini on the other hand, finally grinned himself, at the thought of wiping that look from Jon’s face.

    ”Begin!”

    Abbee and Jon both sent out their first Pokemon. As planned, Typhlosion appeared in front of Abbee, roaring with determination, as Blaziken appeared on Jon’s side, quiet and focused, waiting for Jon’s orders.

    “Smokescreen Typhlosion!” Abbee called out, as Jon gave his first order.

    “Power-Up Punch!” Jon commanded.

    Flames erupted from Typhlosion’s back, as it roared, causing smoke to bellow from its jaws, flooding Abbee’s side of the field. Despite not being as fast as Typhlosion however, Blaziken darted forward, landing the hit which whilst not doing a great deal of damage, would increase its attack power, whilst Blaziken’s speed increased by the same factor thanks to its Speed Boost ability.

    Even in the opening seconds of the battle, Jon couldn’t help but appreciate how far Abbee had come. As her own skill had grown, she had also grown into the concerning habit of relying on Victini a little too much, and as a result, had neglected using Typhlosion in battle as much since, figuring it to be too risky to use two Fire Type Pokemon. However, against him, Jon had to admit, Typhlosion was the best choice to open with, given both its excellent variety of attacks, few resistances, and decent speed. And now, Abbee was making good use of Typhlosion, even in her first move.

    “Bulldoze!” Jon ordered Blaziken. The Ground Type move was one that would both hit hard against Typhlosion, and reduce its speed, giving Blaziken a larger advantage. Additionally, it was a relatively accurate move, only being possible to miss now that Typhlosion had used Smokescreen, and had no drawback for failing, such as a move like Close Combat.

    Blaziken rushed into the smoke, where Typhlosion had been a few moments earlier, as the ground erupted in front of it, hitting Typhlosion, but only grazing it. Abbee however, wasn’t too concerned by this.

    “Zen Headbutt!” Abbee yelled, as Typhlosion, now in easy melee range of Blaziken, rushed at the part-Fighting Type, its head encased in a telekinetic aura, and slammed itself head-first into Blaziken, knocking the Pokemon back.

    “Power-Up Punch!” Jon commanded, knowing that one more hit would finish Typhlosion, and the boost to attack power would give Blaziken an even bigger edge over Abbee’s next Pokemon.

    Blaziken attempted the attack, however between the sheer amount of smoke, and being slightly dazed by the heavy Zen Headbutt attack, just missed, leaving itself again in Typhlosion’s attack range.

    “Again!” Abbee shouted.

    Typhlosion, barely visible amidst the smoke, despite it starting to clear, spun on its hind legs, before launching another Zen Headbutt attack, striking Blaziken. This time however, Blaziken seemed to teeter for a second, and Abbee knew this was it.

    “Follow it up with Quick Attack!”

    Typhlosion cried out before darting forward at breakneck speeds, launching itself bodily into Blaziken, knocking the Pokemon back. Blaziken staggered back, before falling backwards, and not getting up.

    There was a roar from the crowd, as Abbee heard the commentators for various broadcasters highlighting the battle that had just occurred. Jon grinned at Abbee as he returned Blaziken to its Pokeball.

    “Should I be worried?” Jon asked, his tone almost sarcastic.

    “Not about me,” Abbee called back with a grin. “Him on the other hand…”

    Abbee nodded to Victini who sat on her shoulder. Jon chuckled to himself, before sending out his next Pokemon. In front of him appeared Scizor. Or so it appeared. Jon could tell exactly what Abbee was thinking as she saw the Pokemon.

    “So is it Scizor, or is it Zoroark? No using Victini to check!” Jon called out. “Will you send Victini out, and risk having Zoroark weaken it before the main event? Or will you risk Scizor being taken down before Victini has a crack at it. Or worse, Scizor ramping up before battling Victini and things ending the same way they did back then…”

    “Boo!”

    From where she stood in the stands, Cassandra heard the loud voice, and looked across to see Chris leading the cries against Jon, and couldn’t help but grin.

    “Wipe that smug look off his face, Victini!” Cassandra yelled, getting quite into the spirit of the battle.

    Abbee didn’t respond, and nodded towards the referee, who took the nod to mean Abbee would not be switching her Typhlosion out.

    “Begin!”

    “Agility!” Jon yelled to Scizor, and Abbee grimaced at the situation she just realised Jon had placed her in during the last matchup. Typhlosion and Victini were Abbee’s two fastest Pokemon, and whilst Scizor was naturally slower than them, Zoroark wasn’t, making the speed of the Pokemon in front of her the giveaway, unless Jon decided to train Zoroark to feign slowness. However, by having Blaziken use Bulldoze, which would reduce Typhlosion’s speed, she now had no accurate point of reference. Both Scizor and Zoroark would be faster than Typhlosion having been slowed. And whilst Dylan, Charlotte, and maybe even Chris, would be able to tell based on the speed they saw, she didn’t have that same sense that they did.

    Scizor cried out, as it darted from side to side, its speed doubling, now making it impossible for Abbee to determine its true identity by comparison, unless she were to have Victini match its speed adjustment. The smoke was now thin, and she knew Typhlosion would likely only have time for one more attack.

    “Smokescreen!” Abbee commanded, as Typhlosion began refilling the air with dense, black smoke, obscuring visibility of her side of the field, and partially herself as well.

    “Swift!”

    Despite the smoke in the air obscuring vision, Swift was an attack known not for its strength, but its ability to home in on its target and always hit. And Abbee knew that both Zoroark and Scizor knew the move. The only hunch she had now about whether or not the Scizor on the field was actually Zoroark, was that Swift would have hit much harder coming from Zoroark than Scizor, though given Typhlosion being exhausted from the previous battle, even the weaker variant that Scizor would produce would be enough to finish the match-up.

    Stars of white light shot like bullets through the smoke, striking Typhlosion, and knocking Abbee’s oldest Pokemon unconscious. She called back her starter, commending it on its performance. It had done all she had needed it to…

    Abbee looked to the referee who was looking towards Jon, though she couldn’t see him herself through the smoke. The referee then looked at her, as she selected her next Pokemon.

    “Go, Gardevoir!”

    Once Gardevoir was on the battlefield, her focus directly ahead of her, the referee called for the next round.

    ”Begin!”

    “Swords Dance!” Jon shouted, as Abbee felt the confusion over which Pokemon Jon had in front of her return. Despite the use of Swift seeming to indicate that it was Zoroark, Dylan had told her and the others the evening before that whilst Zoroark was an effective physical attacker, it was almost twenty-five percent more powerful in special attacks. Meanwhile, Scizor’s special attacking ability was almost negligible compared to its physical attacks, which Swords Dance would boost further. However, Abbee had to consider something else. Gardevoir’s defensive capability was much higher in holding out against special attacks, with physical attacks being a point of weakness.

    She quickly shook the moment of analysis away, knowing that Jon could not keep this up forever. Eventually he would have to act in a way that would give away which Pokemon he was actually using. If it was Scizor, he would be foolish not to attack Gardevoir with a move like X-Scissor, which, given the Swords Dance and Gardevoir’s own weak defence to it, Gardevoir would not last more than a single attack, leaving Scizor primed and ready to battle Victini with an edge. If Jon didn’t do that, then Abbee was certain that the Pokemon she faced was Zoroark.

    “Double Team!” Abbee instructed, as Gardevoir multiplied into five spectral clones of itself.

    “Swift!”

    The bright stars pounded through the smoke, hitting Gardevoir. Abbee knew that the smoke would not last much longer. She had a hunch, but wanted to confirm it.

    “Calm Mind!” Abbee commanded, knowing this would worry Jon, and if nothing else, cause him to make a move that gave away his Pokemon.

    “Swift!”

    Abbee now knew it was Zoroark. Even if it was a definite hit amidst very uncertain visibility, Swift was a relatively weak move, even when empowered by sharing a type with Zoroark. Although it would be riskier, if it were Scizor, Jon would have used a Bug Type move by now, risk of missing be damned.

    “Gardevoir, Baton Pass!”

    ”That could be a problem…” Charlotte had said the evening before as Abbee explained the idea she had. “Gardevoir doesn’t learn Baton Pass, does it?”

    Abbee shook her head.

    “I could use another move, but if Jon thought Victini were about to take to the field, covered by smoke, and under the effect of Double Team and Calm Mind, that might be enough to rattle him…” Abbee explained.

    “And what if Jon knows that Gardevoir can’t learn Baton Pass?” Justin asked. “Or Jon realises that he didn’t hear Gardevoir’s Pokeball?”

    “Then I gotta hope that the battle has him focused enough that he doesn’t think twice, or the fact that he knows that, and will somehow see Victini in front of him will rattle him even more…”


    From where she stood, Charlotte looked towards Jon, as Abbee gave the command for Gardevoir to use Baton Pass. She knew this could make or break the match. However, Jon didn’t seem to react at all to Abbee’s command, instead giving his next order.

    “Shadow Ball!” Jon instructed, knowing that if Abbee was withdrawing Gardevoir, she had to be sending in Victini.

    The attack missed, as Abbee felt something crawl off her shoulder, and into her jumper, hidden from Jon’s view by the smoke.

    [i]”I need you to listen very carefully,” Abbee had said to her Gardevoir that afternoon, in the privacy of her room, having ironed out the last details of her plan. “During the battle with Jon, I will tell you at some point to use Baton Pass. I know you can’t use that move, so when I give that order, I want you to use another move instead. Role Play…”

    Despite his cool composure, Jon couldn’t help but feel like something didn’t add up in what was happening in the battle, though could not place a finger on it. However, the smoke started to clear, and in front of Abbee, he saw multiple instances of Victini’s small form, thanks to the inherited Double Team, standing proud, and ready to fight.

    “Future Sight!” Abbee commanded, as Jon attempted to predict the damage of the attack. Even empowered by Calm Mind, Victini’s strength was in its versatility. It was as fast as it was strong, as it was resilient. Whilst Gardevoir was stronger for special offensive attacks, Victini lacked the same sheer strength, making up for it in his other attributes. Additionally, Jon knew nothing he could do now would reduce the damage to Zoroark, seeing as the attack had already been foreseen. Any adjustments to Victini’s attack, or Zoroark’s defence would not impact Future Sight when it hit. Instead, knowing Scizor would hold a tremendous advantage over Gardevoir if Abbee had to return it, he focused his attention on using Zoroark to weaken Victini as much as possible.

    “Shadow Ball!”

    The large ghostly and spectral orb appeared in front of Zoroark, before launching, taking out three of the five imposters, and striking the original. However, as it made contact, Jon’s jaw dropped, as silence spread like wildfire through the arena.

    Upon taking the hit, Victini vanished, and was instead replaced by a worn, but still standing, Gardevoir…

    ”Role Play will let you copy your opponent's ability, and if used on Zoroark, it should let you copy it, and pretend to be Victini…” Abbee had said to Gardevoir, explaining the plan. “And if Jon thinks you’re Victini, he is going to waste a lot of time and energy having Zoroark try to weaken Victini, to give his Scizor a chance at winning…”

    Jon looked at Abbee in disbelief, and watched as a small cream and orange head, with a V-shaped crown, emerged from the collar of Abbee’s borrowed and oversized hoodie, understanding dawning on Jon.

    ”Bet you didn’t see that coming…” Victini said telepathically to all present but addressing his words to Jon, causing the crowd to roar.

    “Psychic Terrain!” Abbee ordered, knowing that this was Gardevoir’s last stand in this battle. Jon seemed to have the same idea. When he thought that Victini had used Future Sight, he hadn’t been too worried. But now he knew that Gardevoir had, he knew that his moments were numbered.

    “Rain Dance!”

    The ground beneath them began to distort, as if shimmering from heat, which was juxtaposed by the dark clouds that manifested above the battlefield, despite being indoors, and began pouring rain. Abbee knew exactly why Jon had done this. He was nervous…

    Before anything else could be said, there was a boom, as a powerful, telekinetic blast struck Scizor, throwing it across the battlefield. In the moment between it being launched from the ground, and hitting, it had returned to its natural form of a Zoroark, lying unconscious.

    Both trainers returned their Pokemon, though Gardevoir was still conscious, and counted towards Abbee’s score, and both sent out their final Pokemon. Victini, and Scizor, both the real deal.

    “That was pretty clever!” Jon called out. “I thought something was up, but never would have guessed that…”

    ”Less talking and more battling!” Victini said telepathically. ”I’ve got a score to settle…”

    Jon laughed, as the referee, for what Abbee hoped would be the last time, ordered the start of the round.

    ”Begin!”

    Abbee knew that as Victini’s trainer, she had to take the lead now. Victini was an incredible Pokemon, and had proven itself powerful on many occasions. But at the same time, it had proven itself competitive, and when that streak was present, headstrong and reckless.

    “Flamethrower!” Abbee ordered, knowing if she didn’t Victini would hit with something heavier, and Jon would likely be acting very intentionally to avoid Scizor taking a hit, damage reduced by the falling rain or not.

    Victini opened his mouth as a powerful, although dampened, jet of flames erupted. Jon however, didn’t order Scizor to dodge, instead, trusting that the rain would help his cause, ordered it to get in close.

    “Pounce!” Jon ordered. With blinding speed, Scizor leapt onto Victini, striking at it, and leaving Victini unsteady on his feet, and Abbee realised a little slower. However she realised this was Jon’s plan.

    “Struggle Bug!”

    Knowing that she only had a split second to make a decision, Abbee felt her mind race to what she knew of Scizor, having seen Jon use it in battle many times over her years at the Academy. At light speed, she recalled Scizor’s sub-par special attacking ability, and the fact that Struggle Bug was a special move, which would reduce Victini’s special attacking power on a hit. Scizor opened its claws, as swarms of microscopic bugs launched from them, and began pestering Victini.

    “Encore!” Abbee ordered, before even knowing exactly why. As Victini’s eyes flashed, and Scizor came under his spell, she realised. Scizor was going to do far less damage to Victini with Struggle Bug, and even if Victini’s Searing Shot and Flamethrower attacks would be significantly weakened by sustaining multiple hits, his physical attacks would be as powerful as they should be.

    As Jon heard Abbee’s command, he realised the match was over, and when Scizor used a second Struggle Bug attack, he knew it was too late to resign. He only hoped that Victini wouldn’t hospitalise Scizor in what was going to be his final attack…

    “V-Create!” Abbee roared, her own determination amplified by the roaring crowd.

    ”I’d say I’m sorry for what’s about to happen…” Victini said to Scizor. ”But I’d be lying…”

    Victini’s crown erupted into flames, as a small explosion from behind him, launched him forward, directly into Scizor who was thrown back, hitting the ground in front of Jon, as Victini landed gently between Abbee and Scizor.

    ”You might have beat Cass that night,” Victini said to Jon, as he stood victorious. ”But Scizor got lucky…”

    Cheers erupted from the stands, as commentators and broadcasters announced Abbee as the winner, noting that this was Jon’s first official loss since the first High Seas Tournament five years earlier. From where she stood, Cassandra watched as Abbee rushed forward to pick up Victini, holding her partner tight in a hug, before being swarmed by broadcasters to ask about her win, and her future as Nimbasa City’s new Gym Leader. As Cassandra saw this however, she couldn’t help but disagree with Victini.

    Scizor hadn’t gotten lucky five years earlier. Or if it did, it was lucky to be trained and raised by a trainer who was willing to put in the work, something Victini didn’t have. However, and this surprised her, Cassandra wasn’t feeling guilty or dejected by this. Instead she felt determined. She saw her former partner just prove to the world that with hard work, a hell of a lot of hard work, he could rise above what had happened, what was his lowest and most humiliating point, and beat the opponent who had once beaten him with ease. And more than ever, she now saw the possibility to do the same thing herself.

    “Don’t get too comfortable Jon,” Cassandra said quietly, though Violet and Jarena who sat next to her heard. “I’ll be next…”
    Last edited by [Desolate Divine]; 01-12-2023 at 04:05 AM.

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