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COMPLETE: To Care for Him

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Yeah, and Gio probably won't go away totally. I mean, I have introduced Oak and Hale (the young linguist Oak hired) to show that their fates are interconnected in some ways. So there might still be room for Gio in the other acts.
 
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To Care for Him
ACT 1: DIAMONDSHIPPING
Chapter 9: Two Sides of the Same Coin​

Delia held the pokeball in her jeans pocket to keep it from coming out as she rode furiously to Giovanni’s gym, taking the trail to ensure a smoother (if longer) ride to Viridian. Roll-On had been sweating profusely and vomiting this morning, its white flesh becoming even paler, if that were possible. She had started to see strange bruises all over its body when she decided to take the thing to the one who should know how to fix it.

She couldn’t take it to Professor Oak -- this pokemon wasn’t from Kanto and even if he knew something about it, she didn’t trust him.

He’d take Roll-On away from her, she just knew it.

She finally burst into the gym -- not the basement, but the gym on the main floor, under construction and replacing the main dining room of the restaurant. Large doors were being erected as she walked past the security guards with their growlithes and arboks. She headed straight for his small office at the back of the building. When she entered, she noticed the young student of Oak’s standing beside Giovanni as he sat in a dark leather chair. The student, still obsessed with his brunette mullet, was pointing to some ancient-looking gold coins on the desk, talking about the language featured on several of the specimens. He looked up at Delia in shock, aware no doubt that she must look like her whole family had been killed. Giovanni, on the other hand, was sweating and coughing momentarily, stifling it as she came closer. He dabbed his forehead with a silk handkerchief. “Delia, if this can wait…”

She angrily thrust the pokeball on his mahogany desk, causing the coins to scatter onto the floor. “It can’t! This was your pokemon -- you fix it!”

He struggled to keep his breathing smooth. He glanced at Oak’s student. “Have you ascertained the thief?”

The student nodded. “A young meowth has been caught outside the back of the pokemon center -- it’s been stealing coins from numerous houses.” He paused and nodded toward Delia. “Perhaps I can appraise these for you after her visit?”

“No, Spencer,” Giovanni coughed, waving at him dismissively. He gasped. “Appraise them now.”

“But --” Spencer and Delia muttered at the same time.

Giovanni wheezed and tossed a small lozenge into his mouth. “Does this meowth have taste or is it just a petty thief?”

Spencer cleared his throat, the stench of sickness beginning to permeate the room. “The coins are rare and at least several centuries old, predating most cities of Kanto. They could be as old as, but unlikely to be older than, the extinct city of Pokemopolis. To answer your question -- this meowth is quite the coin collector.”

“How are you going to fix Roll-On?” Delia demanded. However, as upset as she was, she was concerned that both her pokemon and her lover appeared to be weakening. What if she were to lose both of them? Maybe she could get over the loss of her pokemon, since she’d only known it for a short time, but she had known Giovanni since she was ten.

“It’s symptoms?” he asked curtly.

She couldn’t believe he wasn’t taking this more seriously. “Whatever you seem to have, but worse.”

A flicker of recognition seemed to ignite in his eyes briefly, but it soon vanished. He nodded. “Take it down to the basement. We’ve got some first aid stuff down there. We’ll figure out what’s wrong.”

“You should call a pokemon nurse in Hoenn,” Spencer advised, his voice serious and low.

Giovanni looked at him in surprise. “How do you know where this thing comes from?”

Spencer frowned. “I read, sir.”

Delia shoved Spencer into one of the office walls, causing a picture of his mother and her friend Miyamoto to shatter on the floor. “If you know so much about it, why don’t you tell me how to fix it?”

He grabbed her hands and shook her away. He straightened his blue shirt and tan jeans. “I’ve only read brief articles about Hoenn pokemon. I don’t know what’s wrong with yours specifically, but it sounds as though it’s poisoned.”

Giovanni stood, but wobbled slightly. “All the more reason to bring it down to the basement, Delia.” He stopped to catch his breath. “We have a ton of antidotes -- weedle and beedrill have become a problem in the forest, so I make sure everyone here has at least a few antidotes lying around.” He pushed a button on his phone, a red one set apart from the numerical keys, and two young men entered the office and took the pokeball and left.

Delia looked at her lover pleadingly. “What are they going to do?”

“They will attempt a biopsy to determine the poison’s nature,” he replied, popping another lozenge.

“They’re going to kill it?” she screamed. She felt as though she were going to faint.

Spencer shook his head imperceptibly. “A biopsy, not an autopsy. Your pokemon will be alive. Autopsies are examinations for the already dead.”

She sighed in deep relief. “Oh.” She finally nodded. “I’ll go down there so she won’t feel lonely.” She started to leave, but stopped and turned and stared at Giovanni with a concerned look. “Are you going to be okay? Have you been poisoned too?” She looked at the door, then looked back at her lover. “Maybe those freakin’ little bugs are starting to poison everyone who comes through the forest.”

Giovanni smiled warmly -- well, as well as he could since he looked like his insides were liquefying. “I’m certain I’ll be fine momentarily. Once I uncover an answer, I always recover from the question.”

She nodded and left, blowing him a kiss on the way out.

Shortly after she walked into the small clinic in the basement, she was joined by Giovanni. He leaned against her for support, although she could tell his stamina was returning. She didn’t like seeing him that way -- vulnerable. He was always getting on top of things.

Like the time she met him in the town square six years ago, during a traveling fair, he was untouchable. He was shooting balloons at a cart just inside the entrance. She had stopped following her family to watch as he shot balloon after balloon. They were filled with gas and the idea was to shoot them before the expanding gas popped them. A young boy was next to him and the child was laughing with his friends, not paying attention to where he was shooting. A shot rang out …

And soon after, another. Delia’s eyes had closed to prevent her from seeing something she was sure would be awful -- but she opened them again when she heard a string of swear words before the sound of a man, the vendor, fainting. Giovanni had shot directly at the vendor, his bullet striking the errant bullet and causing it to ricochet off into the frame of the cart. He grabbed the stunned boy’s gun and, emptying out the bullets, tossed it aside. “Grow some brains before you play, moron!” he shouted angrily.


But now, here he was, sick for maybe the first time ever since she’d known him. It made her blood run cold. She nuzzled him for several minutes, certain he was nuzzling her back.

Until an olive-skinned woman appeared and bowed solemnly. “The pokemon did not survive, young sir,” she announced, then turned abruptly and left.

Delia remembered screaming, rushing toward the woman as she walked away, only to be stopped by the firm hands of her lover. He pulled her back to him. He brushed her soft brown hair out of her face and spoke with a renewed sense of vigor, “Don’t torture yourself, Delia. Death happens. It was inconvenient and a terrible loss for you but life goes on. We can’t obsess over every little mishap.”
 
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To Care for Him
ACT 1: DIAMONDSHIPPING
Chapter 10: Roughing Up the Diamond​

Giovanni was beginning to think she couldn’t take it. If she couldn’t get past one simple pokemon death, how was she to deal with the traumas Team Rocket could expose to her?

Torture and death happened daily, there was no avoiding it. Even on days when torture and death were absent, you could still count on someone planning them.

When he was five, he remembered his mother, a very young woman, as she began to tear her living room apart. He started to cry. She stopped only long enough to slap him. “You ungrateful little brat!” she roared. “I could have had everything -- I could have been a master at training pokemon by now -- but you’ve ruined that for me! All that stupid moron can talk about is how we need to settle down and raise our family -- but he’s living in some God-forsaken dream world! I don’t want a family! I wanted power! I wanted money! Now I’m stuck with some blood-sucking brat that’s stealing the best years of my life away from me!” She screamed, exasperated, and stomped out of the house.

He had watched the sun come up five times before his mother returned. He had eaten what was in the fridge, but he was smelly and hungry. She finally opened the front door, a large bottle in hand, and used it to strike him down when she realized through her haze that he still existed. Instead of crying, however, he stood back up and kicked her in the shins. “You can’t treat me that way!” he yelled.

She paused, wobbling. Finally she laughed. “That’s what I told HIM, kid.” She tossed the empty bottle in the kitchen sink and sat down on the living room couch. “I’m not going to let him or you drag me down. I released all my pokemon yesterday. I’m going to go to Lavender tomorrow and start catching some pokemon that might actually help me get what I want. I want him to suffer, kid,” she told him as if she were handing out orders at a corporate meeting. “If I have to channel all the unholy energies of Hell itself, I will make that freak repent the day he dared to suggest I was a two-bit failure.”


Giovanni caressed Delia’s long brown hair. “I’m so glad you’ve decided to join us,” he told her lovingly. “You can have all the pokemon you want.”

She jerked back and slapped him, pure dark hatred seething from her eyes. “Is that all you think about?” she asked furiously. “Don’t you care that she died?”

He scoffed. “It wasn’t one-of-a-kind, Delia,” he replied matter-of-factly. “You weren’t around it long enough to form any appreciable bond. You have to take the card God dealt you and rise above it. If you can’t do that -- I don’t know how else to help you.” He tried to wipe the tears from her cheek but she pulled away. He sighed. “I tried to help, Delia. My operatives did try to save … her. You could be a little more grateful.” He grit his teeth in frustration. Come on, Delia -- say it! Tell me that you will rise above adversity!

She frowned. “You’re a heartless son of a …”

He grabbed her face, using his thick hands to muffle her. His face reddened. “Witch! You won’t speak like that again. I may despise my mother with the fury of a million beedrill, but you won’t be calling her unsightly names again. She’s useful to me … for the moment … and you will not live to jeopardize it.” He growled in pain as she bit his hand and pulled back, jumping back several paces to put herself out of arm’s reach. He started to punch her but she nimbly leaned back, falling to the floor, and kicking his legs out from under him. As he fell toward her, and before he could brace himself, her hand formed a blade and slammed into his throat. She rolled out from under him and got behind him and kicked him hard where it counted. He was still gasping for air … in a much higher voice … as she ran back toward Pallet.

***

Delia ran to the southern edge of Viridian, where she saw Professor Oak, in his new white lab coat, talking to Spencer, his student linguist. Tears were streaming down her face as she ran towards them. Spencer looked shocked but took hold of her as she tried to make her way past them. He examined her face and neck carefully before holding her close in his arms.

Author’s Note: This is the end of Act I, Diamondshipping.
 
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very good. Ralts died though which will be hard to cope with. the fics going great. can't wait for the rest of it.
 
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Very interesting. I like the description of Madame Boss. And you can really feel the emotion going on in your scenes.
 
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To Care for Him
ACT 2: HALESHIPPING
Chapter 11: Destiny Beckons​

Ten Years Later

Delia awoke beside … a stray pillow atop her bed. Her eyes opened more widely and she realized he was not there. A pang of guilt swept through her, turning her stomach into a knotted mass. She shouldn’t have done it, she thought to herself. She wanted to be the good wife, the perfect complement to her rising-star husband, Spencer Hale. After everything she’s been through the last ten years -- the stalking incidents, the restraining orders, the Johto wedding, the new job as part-time pokemon caretaker at Professor Oak’s laboratory -- she didn’t want to mess it up by doing something rash and stupid.

Still, she wondered if Spencer would feel the magic of what happened last night, for it seemed to her as though it possessed the whole bedroom like a strong perfume. The expert coordination of movements, the scents, the strategies -- it was all so invigorating that she still seemed breathless the following morning. She got up and put on a simple blue robe, loosely tying the belt around her waist so that one could still see the sheer nightgown Spencer had bought for her last Valentine’s day.

He was in the kitchen, preparing breakfast. He had laid out all the ingredients on the counter, down to the last pinch of salt, and Delia was amazed that he cheerfully organized cooking ingredients when she more or less tended to just throw everything together. He saw her and smiled. “Are we ready for another lesson today?” he asked, smiling.

She shook her head. “I wouldn’t want to ruin your masterpiece,” she laughed.

He shook his head in turn. “No, you should learn the right way to cook. It’s important.”

She tenderly wrapped her arms around his waist. “Why? When you’re here to make me feel special?”

He cleared his throat. “I’m a professor now, Delia,” he noted in a more serious tone. “Sometimes … well, sometimes I have to go to seminars and stuff like that. You should try to be more independent.”

She let go and frowned, turning him so that he would meet her eyes. “When did you intend to tell me that you’re leaving on an assignment?”

“I wanted to break it to you easy,” he replied, running his strong fingers through her long brown hair. “I’m to take a young student out to a dig -- she’s phenomenal, rising through academia and she isn’t even in her teens yet. A brain like hers must be nurtured.”

Delia looked over at the eggs and flour on the counter. “So does a marriage. A few months of perfection won’t counter …” she retorted, in a pained sad voice, “… abandonment.”

Spencer sighed. He was already dressed in khakis and a rugged work shirt and vest, its pockets filled with small archaeological tools. “Grow up, Delia. You have a job and I have a job. I can’t be here to drop greppa berries in your mouth as you lie on a silk couch or something. Bills must be paid and life must go on. When will you understand that marriage is more than just the wedding?”

She slapped him square in the jaw. “If you ever call me a child again, I will ensure you live to regret it!” she screamed. “How dare you? I married you because you promised to help me escape my past. You’re my daring knight storming through on a shiny rapidash … if I wanted to be left alone in the house all day I would’ve stayed single!”

He nursed the reddening spot on his jaw. “Surely we don’t have to fight about this. It’s only an assignment.”

“And just how many more ‘assignments’ are you going to have?”

He sighed again and spoke increasingly slowly. “Since this is my job, it will … be … a … major … part … of … it.” He stared at her, forgetting about breakfast. “I don’t resent the hours you spend helping Professor Oak.”

“I don’t have month-long assignments like you,” she replied angrily. “And whereas you come over while I’m working, I have yet to join you on one of your missions.”

“Professor Oak’s lab isn’t dangerous,” he replied sharply, finally losing his patience with such a dim-witted woman, “but some of the sites I visit are. I don’t want you to get hurt.”

She turned and started to walk out of the kitchen. Without looking back, she retorted, “Yet, a mere child will be perfectly safe.”

“Delia …”

“No,” she said, shaking her head. “Don’t start now. I have a job to go to today. Have a wonderful time at work … honey.”


Author’s Note: This was deliberately set up so you could imagine Ash’s father to be whatever ship you like best. Use your imagination.
 
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To Care for Him
ACT 2: HALESHIPPING
Chapter 12: Two Weeks Later​

Delia was exhausted, having been in the bathroom most of the early morning hours. It was like she was attached to the toilet, plus she was as pale as the bathroom appliance. She couldn’t bare the thought of going to work today, but perhaps it would be best to seek out help at Professor Oak’s lab.

Delia slowly traveled to Oak’s ranch, apologized for being late, and began to head out toward a stream where poliwag, blue and white tadpole-like pokemon, were known to swim. She looked around to make sure no one was following her. She dipped into the stream, smiling at the poliwag, and sighed as she felt a warmness below her. When she was through, she left the stream and headed back to the lab. Professor Oak was attending to some squirtles that had been shipped for the next round of beginning trainers -- inspecting their beaks, rubbing vitamin-laced salve on their shells, and clipping the ends of their claws. He looked up and saw a drenched young woman.

“What happened?” he asked.

She shrugged. “I wanted to see how the water pokemon were doing, that’s all.”

“You shouldn’t get wet, not in your condition,” he replied, setting down one particularly fussy squirtle.

Delia growled, “What condition?”

Taken aback, Oak smiled nervously. “You’re late because you’re sick, right? I don’t want one of my pokemon caretakers to get pneumonia, that’s all.”

Delia tried to hide a sigh of relief. “Oh.” Trying to change the subject, she asked, “Have you heard from Spencer yet?”

Professor Oak shook his head. “No. Hasn’t he called you by now? Surely he’s found Pokemopolis’ temple. I think, if I remember correctly -- wait!” he exclaimed as he tried to run down the grouchy squirtle as it tried to dash out of the lab, who doused him with water gun, making his slightly graying hair glistening with drops of shiny beads of water. He coughed and squeezed his lab jacket to wring out the water and looked back at Delia with a sheepish grin on his face. “Well, I haven’t heard back from him today. His report isn’t due for another week or so, so you’ll be the first one he calls if he tries to contact anyone before then.”

Delia nodded and bowed slightly. “Thank you, Professor.” As she turned to leave, he coughed. She glanced back at him.

“Ahem, Delia,” he said in a serious tone, “if you need any assistance, just let me know.”

She smiled barely. “Thanks, Professor, but I’m fine. Really.”

She turned to leave again but bumped into a solid mass of a man. She gasped as she stumbled backwards, tripping on a pokeball left lying on the floor. Professor Oak managed to catch her just before she smacked her head against the small table where the squirtle looked on nervously.

The man, his brown hair slicked back, dusted off his black pinstriped suit and glanced briefly at Delia before turning his attention to Professor Oak. “I’ve come to …”

“… ignore your restraining order,” Delia interrupted, frowning as she stood back up.

Giovanni ignored her. “I’ve come to check your database you use to input entries into the pokedex, Professor. My gym has had a lot of pokemon lately that bite my kadabra and it’s doing more damage than it should.”

“So the old abra you caught evolved, then?” Professor Oak asked, patting Delia on the shoulder. He glanced at her. “Why don’t you go on ahead home, Delia. Come back when you’re more fully rested.”

“You’re sick?” Giovanni asked dryly, showing little if any emotion. “What are your symptoms?”

Delia groaned. “It’s just something I ate, that’s all. I’m not going to deal with this today. I think I will go home.” As she tried to make it past Giovanni, a young researcher entered excitedly, his face aglow with information.

“Professor! Professor! The poliwag in the stream downwind of the tauros herd are laying a bunch of unfertilized eggs on the shore! It’s not mating season -- maybe there’s something wrong with the water?”

Delia glanced at Giovanni. She noted with horror that he returned her glance for an instant, as if he knew the significance of the news. She glanced back at Professor Oak. “Is it alright if I leave, Professor? I should be better by tomorrow. I’ll let you know if Spencer calls.”

Professor Oak nodded in half-interest, as he was taking notes from the hyperactive researcher, who couldn’t help jumping up and down and gesturing wildly as he recounted the events he witnessed.

As Delia brushed by Giovanni, he whispered into her ear. “Let me know if you need some lum berry bread, Delia. My wife says it cured her of nausea … perhaps it would help you as well.”

“Back off,” she whispered back angrily as she left the lab.
 
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To Care for Him
ACT 2: HALESHIPPING
Chapter 13: Thinking of You​

Spencer Hale lightly dusted the pottery shards early that morning as Eve brought him a couple of boxes for sorting the different items. They weren’t too far away from Pallet Town, but it would still be a long drive to see Delia since the roads were clogged with excavation equipment. The girl was very bright, he thought to himself -- maybe in a year or two she could finally get her doctorate in archaeology. He was still amazed to hear that she was less than ten years old. He had never met a child as gifted as she was. Well, it could happen. One day he and Delia would be parents and hopefully their child would be just as intelligent.

“With all the huts we’ve discovered, surely the temple can’t be that far off,” Eve noted wistfully. He had noticed that she never complained of the tedious work but veiled her boredom as wishful thinking.

He smiled at her. “Yes, I think you’re right. We should be honing in on it now. We’re just going to have to look at that cliff face again.” He placed some shards in one of the boxes. “The entire cliff seems to be sloping in certain places, like a heap of eroded rocks in a landslide. Perhaps the temple entrance is behind those rocks.”

“Are you going to tell Mrs. Hale?” she asked. “I bet she’d like to come and see this.”

He paused before replying. “Yes. I’m sure she would too.”

He bounced up and down on his toes for a moment, anxiously awaiting the music to start. They had decided to do the ceremony on the southern coast of Kanto, just a few miles south of Pallet Town. The salty air and the bright sunshine and the relaxing sound of waves crashing would add to the mood of the event. They had rented a small cabin nearby to get dressed and feed the multitude at the reception, and soon Spencer was wondering if they had done the right thing -- the cabin seemed so small now. Already, the fifty or so pews in two columns were filled with relatives and neighbors from both Kanto and Johto. Nothing but the guests whispering and the wild pokemon chirping and singing could be heard. It was so perfect.

Now, if she’d only start the ceremony.

Finally, he sighed as a light melody started to waft from the chorus situated just ahead of him and to the right, while the rabbi and the preacher stood together in ceremonial robes, awaiting the bride with only slightly less anxiety than the groom. Spencer looked up and saw a rainbow appear in the sky. Odd, he thought, since there wasn’t the slightest chance of rain forecast for that day. In any case, he smiled to himself, it added a fine touch to an already beautiful scene.


He wondered if he should call Delia and invite her over to the site. There was little danger, after all. Still, she was so moody lately. She had hung up on him the last couple of times he tried to talk to her, so he stopped. She seemed depressed and angry and happy in shorter and shorter intervals. He wondered if his job was really bothering her that much. He racked his brain but he didn’t understand what the problem was. They both had jobs. Why did she resent his so much? It’s not like he was excavating in Johto or anything. He was making enough from the digs and his university salary to allow them to make that little house in Pallet a cute summer home. For the rest of the year, he wanted them to live in Johto. He had family there, plus it was his home region. He would always prefer living there. His perfect idea of a happy life would be to run around Johto, exploring every nook and cranny, randomly picking spots to camp and excavate. Johto had so much archaeological potential -- unlike Kanto. Kanto was becoming more and more the urban intrusion into the landscape, while Johto struggled to maintain its historic and mythic sites.

That, he noted sullenly to himself, and he didn’t live in Johto.

He knew she sometimes took pictures out of a scrapbook and gazed at them, almost longingly. How she could still love a man who nearly beat her to death and killed her pokemon in a sadistic power play was beyond him. Yet, every time he mentioned it, it only upset her to think about him. Maybe she wasn’t missing Giovanni. Maybe she just wondered what could have been done differently. He supposed he could try to understand that.

On the other hand, maybe it was her parents. Her father had passed away the week after the wedding and her mother left for Lavender, never leaving a forwarding address. Surely that must be what was bothering her, he thought.

He just wished he knew. Perhaps he’d try emailing her. That way, they couldn’t get into an argument over the phone. He nodded slightly. Yes, that would be the safest route since she was so volatile lately.

As the music began to rise in volume, he turned to see Delia approaching the back of the crowd. Her hair was loosely curled and tied up high on the back of her head, the curls unfurling around her face and neck and onto her shoulders, which were bare save for the straps that held up her gleaming white dress. It was simply cut yet costly, as preserved berry flowers of multiple kinds were sewn onto the base of the dress so that she would resemble a flurry of petal dance attacks around a tapered pillar of white.

The rabbi and the preacher began their speeches when Delia walked up the red-carpeted pathway with her father, who stoically walked beside her despite the pain of the cancer eating away at him inside. To all those in attendance, he would seem the most loving father in the world, proud of the momentous occasion. However, he knew that he was merely thankful to get her out of the house, having complained for several years that she should’ve grown up and fled the nest sooner rather than later. Delia’s expression barely acknowledged this, however, and she cried as she met up with her groom, who wore the traditional black tuxedo and white undershirt, topped off with a black yarmulke embroidered with white geometric designs.


He stopped for a moment after lunch and sat down next to his laptop, typing away a message for his wife:

Dear Delia:

I hope this message finds you well. I’ve been thinking of you all the time. The good news is that we are very close to uncovering the temple entrance. I would want you here for such a momentous occasion. It will be a great moment for archaeology. We can celebrate together, you and I. I hope you will say yes. It would bring me great joy to know that you are at my side.

Love Always,
Spencer


He sent the email and waited. She didn’t appear to be online. Well, they were at least a few days away from finding the temple entrance -- she had plenty of time to consider his offer.
 
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To Care for Him
ACT 2: HALESHIPPING
Chapter 14: The Storm and Amelia​

It had struck sooner than he had wanted. A researcher had exploded into the tent where Spencer had been going over the plan to blast the rock away from the cliff face, sweating and pale. He barely had time to wheeze that a Zapdos had been seen approaching from the east when an army of black thunderstorm clouds rolled into view, lightning cracking and striking various trees along the way.

Spencer had to scream even into a megaphone just to be heard over the howling winds. “Stow the equipment in the shelter! Abandon the site! Repeat: abandon the site! Head to high ground!” He followed several researchers, picking up a still-working Eve and hoisting her over his shoulder, and running to his Jeep. He thrust the girl inside and revved the engine and took off just as a torrential downpour threatened to wash away the tents they had left behind. The site of Pokemopolis was in an ancient riverbed, the water having long ago abated into a green valley. The problem was that particularly vicious storms could flood the site -- indeed, it may have been the cause of that civilization’s demise centuries ago. Normal rainfall did little, but Zapdos, a yellow and black bird with electrified wings and a sharp orange beak, was the Titan of Lightning and therefore normal weather patterns could be tossed out the meteorologist’s drawing board.

He sped with the other vehicles toward a road that led to a hill some five miles away. Pokemon of all types were clogging the roads trying themselves to escape the resulting tempest. He was certain he had hit a few, until they finally understood the danger and moved off the roads.

Before long it was almost impossible to see for the driving rains, and he heard several vehicles smash into trees in the dense forest. Yet after several more harrowing minutes of driving, what was left of the fleeing caravan parked at a small pokemon center located high up on the hill.

They rushed inside and Eve asked the attending nurse if they had a room where she could change clothes. As the nurse showed her the way, the adult researchers flopped down on the numerous small couches dotting the floor of the center. It wasn’t as big as the one in Viridian, but the furniture was cleverly arranged to maximize space. Instead of a large desk jutting out into the middle of the room, it was recessed into the wall and the reception area for the nurses was only a few feet across. The lobby and the operating rooms in the back were the only major worries in the architecture -- everything else was pared down or eliminated to save space.

A young woman with short brown hair appeared next to Spencer with a handful of towels. He graciously accepted one of them and began to dry off. She left to hand the others some towels and then disappeared again behind the doors leading to the operating rooms. When she finally returned to check on everyone, Spencer rose from his seat to introduce himself.

“Oh, I know, you’re the archaeologist Spencer Hale,” she noted before he could even say his name. “Nurse Joy told me there was a research team in the valley. So, as soon as word spread that Zapdos was threatening the area, we started making preparations since we figured you’d try to head here instead of Pallet. The roads that way can be awfully dangerous, especially in storms.”

“And you are?”

She smiled warmly. “My name is Amelia. I’m originally from Fortune Island. Lazy trainers also call it Six Island.”

“ ‘Fortune Island’?” Spencer asked, tilting his head in confusion. “That’s not part of the Orange Islands, is it?”

She shook her head and glanced at ground in a sheepish expression. “We get a few trainers who confuse us with those islands. We’re not affiliated with the Orange Islands at all. We are the Sevii Islands, for they were formed in seven days, but no one knows how. There are plenty of mysterious ruins you could check out, once you’re done with the valley, of course,” she offered, blushing slightly.

Spencer smiled, and patted her on the shoulder. “You must tell me where these ruins are. They sound fascinating. However, if you’ll excuse me, I have to inform my wife of my location. She might be worried about me.”

Amelia nodded and backed away. “Of course. Tell your crew that we don’t have a lot to eat here -- there just wasn’t enough time to prepare -- but you’re welcome to stay as long as you want.”

“Thank you,” he said. “By the way, are you a nurse? I think I sprained my ankle running to my Jeep when the storm hit.”

She laughed. “No, I’m not a nurse. I’m in Kanto on vacation. I was on my way back to the coast to leave for Cinnabar tomorrow.”

“Oh? You won’t leave via the port at Vermillion?”

“No,” she replied. “I’m a tech assistant and I have some business in Cinnabar to attend to. You know, like wiring networks and stuff like that. There’s a defossilization facility being set up on Cinnabar Island and I’m going to stop by for a quick consulting gig before I work my way back to Fortune Island. They have jobs opening up, you know. There’s going to be a lot of major work on fossils going on there.”

“Thanks, but I’m fine working with Saffron University,” he told her with a warm smile. “Let’s keep in touch though, since together we could probably find some nice ruins or something.”

Amelia grinned from ear to ear. “Yes, that sounds lovely. I mean,” she stopped, laughing nervously, “I mean that it would be nice to work with someone of your reputation. That’s all.”

As they parted ways, Spencer, still smiling from his encounter, walked over to a computer terminal and called Delia. She answered after a few rings. Her face seemed red and yet drained of life.

“Is something wrong, Delia?” he asked in a concerned voice. “I just wanted to call and tell you we escaped the storm’s fury at Pokemopolis.”

She nodded and stifled a sob. “That’s good. I just wanted you to be safe, you know. I was worried about you. I wish you could come home. I really want to talk to you.”

“Don’t worry, unless the storm destroys our camp we should be exposing the temple entrance tomorrow.”

“No,” Delia said emphatically. “I want to talk to you now.”

Spencer’s gut wrenched. What could be so terrible? “What is it, then?”

She glanced away from the screen and then returned her gaze toward him in a submissive way. “I … I … I’m going to be a mother, Spencer.” She started crying. “I’m sorry. I’m trying to control myself, but my head and my heart are confusing all my emotions. I’m happy we’re going to have a child, but … but … I don’t want to face that alone. I don’t know what to do!”

Spencer sighed. “Call Professor Oak. He can look after you until I get home. This discovery will climax in a couple of days. Then I’ll be home and we can plan this out together.” He kissed his fingers and touched them to the screen. “I’ll be home soon, Am … Delia. Just don’t over-exert yourself until I get there.”
 
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To Care for Him
ACT 2: HALESHIPPING
Chapter 15: Delia and the Egg​

Three months had passed since she confessed her pregnancy and Delia was uncomfortable, not only from the physical discomfort of adding about fifty pounds in the midsection but also the discomfort of knowing that her husband was far away.

Not physically, but emotionally.

Spencer had only agreed to come back to Pallet after the torrential rainfall spawned by Zapdos swept away much of the archaeology team’s equipment and many artifacts. Worse still, a giant mudslide had buried what Spencer was certain was the entrance to the Pokemopolis temple, rumored to contain not only ancient pokemon storage facilities, but also a near-divine language that had the power to alter reality. It had taken weeks to prod answers from her husband and Delia was exhausted.

Delia combed the brown mane of Spencer’s mullet as he rested on a small hammock in the center of Professor Oak’s ranch, singing gently, trying to hide her discomfort as her baby grew inside her. He smiled, completely relaxed -- for the moment. However, he soon frowned and Delia spoke softly to her husband.

“Sometimes it’s best to let things remain hidden,” she noted.

He scoffed, keeping his eyes closed as the warm summer sun radiated heat and light. “The temple was in my grasp, Delia. We were mere hours from discovery. Now,” he paused, sighing, “all that progress is lost. Eve returned to her professor with the scant evidence we scavenged and I’m left with broken dreams.”

“You don’t find it a coincidence that Zapdos appeared in the area when your discovery seemed imminent?”

He glanced at her briefly in bemused disbelief and closed his eyes again, smiling as she continued to comb his hair. If he had been a Persian while under Delia’s expert stimulation, he’d purr. “I don’t … well, I don’t think it’s anything more than a coincidence. I can’t imagine why a Titan would be angered by something that is irrelevant to such a powerful creature. I haven’t been trying to research Zapdos or any other legendary pokemon. I just want … artifacts. Artifacts that permit us to see what we were in the past. Artifacts that give us a place in life. I want to be the Key that unlocks all of life’s mysteries.”

Delia didn’t say anything for a few moments. How could she compete with that? If she had known … well, she didn’t know how high-minded he was when she met him, and there was no use trying to change him now. After all, their marriage was more or less a rescue mission, and they both knew it. She had only turned to him because he was merely the supposed alternative to Giovanni’s selfish and arrogant outbursts.


Delia sat down on a large tree stump in the middle of the Viridian forest, sweating from the extra weight she was carrying. Never in her wildest dreams did she ever imagine that becoming a mother could be so tiring. And the child wasn’t even here, yet. She started to cry. All she could think about was playing second fiddle to Spencer’s dreams of academic stardom, all she could think about was caring for a child while her husband went on all kinds of adventures. Already he was famous for taking four days to trek across the Viridian forest, a trip that even on the longest trail only took ten hours. He wanted to explore every last facet of the forest, seek every corner. He wanted to know if there were any mysteries to behold.

Delia wanted him to focus on her, on their family, on anything besides the ruins of ancient people who weren’t going to help raise a family. Every time she asked him to stay home and comfort her, he merely noted that she should stop acting like a child and grow a backbone, that modern women should be able to fend for themselves.

She didn’t want to think about him, but she did. She couldn’t help it, and her heart beat faster despite the pain he had caused. She realized that, in a way, Spencer was like an alternate-universe Giovanni. He wasn’t cruel, but he was neglectful. He expressed his selfishness not by commanding a black-market gang of thugs, but by leaving her out of his plans. He loved, but with practicality, not with passion. They both wanted her to be self-sufficient, if only so that they wouldn’t have to care for her themselves.

She hated it.

She hated being inconvenient.

“Are you quite alright, Miss?” a deep Southern drawl asked. She looked up and found a gentleman in an antique-styled suit with wavy dark blue hair and a goatee standing before her, carrying an pale yellow egg with brown stripes running horizontally on one side. She shook her head, no sense being dishonest when your face is red and puffy, now is there? He leaned back and shook his head. “I assume that some no-account has not the chivalry God gave a golduck to escort you to Viridian through this forest?” After being met with a blank stare, he sighed. “Let me put this another way then, Miss,” he said. “Is there or is there not a man alive in this forest to help you while you suffer in this condition?” She shook her head. Sighing, he declared in an exasperated voice, “This is what I’ve been tellin’ my dear sweet Jasmine about before my cell phone cut off in this here forest: the men in this region have no sense of decency and decorum. You are a lady expecting a wonderful gift to the world and no one is here to carry you to safety.”

“I’m fine, really,” Delia objected, although she blushed at being called a lady. “I can make it myself.”

He waved her off dismissively. “No offense, Miss, but that is hardly the point of the matter. A true man protects his family with all the love his heart can give. That child will be your heir, your chance at living in immortality. Your child must be nurtured and cared for and guided into the ways of better livin’ so that he or she can be an improvement on you, just like the way I treat my own boy.”

“What is that egg for?” she asked, trying to change the subject.

He looked down at it briefly and shrugged, sighing. “A man over in Viridian City gave me this. I was here to pick up such an egg as I wanted a suitable pet for my son, but I have a strong feelin’ that this egg is no good. I don’t hardly feel no warmth from it at all. I have half a mind to toss this useless thing in the creek over yonder behind you. For all the money I spent to get it, I can tell you with the utmost honesty that I’m quite disappointed in that man’s business practices, selling me this bum egg.” He was just about to toss it away when it cracked and shattered, revealing a strange runt of a yellow pokemon that seemed to be a big-eared, shrunken deformed version of a pikachu. It quickly glanced at both the gentleman and Delia and began to snarl.

“PI … PICHU!” it yelled, its cheeks sparking, its fur standing on end. It charged for Delia, but the gentleman whipped out an ivory cane from seemingly nowhere and whacked it on the head.

“How dare you attack a woman in her condition?” he bellowed in an indignant voice.

“Stop it! You’re scaring it!” Delia protested, rising to block any more of the gentleman’s attacks.

The gentleman looked at her, baffled. “Young Miss, I declare you to be the most unbelievable feminine species ever created. It is attacking you! Why are you defending it? What if that ungrateful creature zaps you with electricity? How do you think that will affect your unborn child? You think a tiny baby can shrug off a thundershock attack with impunity?” He shoved her out of the way, although he did not knock her down. “I believe, Miss, that your womanly sentiments for this creature are getting in the way of the motherly sentiments you should be having for your child! If you aren’t going to be careful in this encounter, then by my duty as a gentleman I shall even protect you from yourself!” With that, he continued to strike at the newly-hatched creature, yet he could not find his mark. The creature, who in the future would be identified in scientific annals as a pichu, or the pre-evolution of a pikachu, was remarkably adept at avoiding the cane strikes.

Finally, the little creature had had enough and leapt onto the gentleman’s head and growled. Before the gentleman could knock it off, however, the young pokemon started sparking and sent a spark of electricity through the irritating male human. The close contact, combined with entry into the head, made the attack even more dangerous, sending the gentleman to the ground as if he had been struck by lightning. The baby jumped just as the man hit the ground, and snarled at Delia.

Delia could never admit that she was afraid Spencer might leave her, even though she was pregnant. She was banking on the concept that his sense of duty would never allow him to abandon a child and his mother. As she combed her husband’s hair on Professor Oak’s ranch, she wondered if she could do anything to impress her husband so that he would stay. How could she take care of her child by herself?

As she contemplated her situation, Delia continued to sing gently, matching the summer breeze that eased the heat of the season. Spencer had finally admitted to her his life dreams, and she noted with disappointment that none of them seemed to include having a family with her. And yet, she still needed him, whether he liked it or not. She just couldn’t do it on her own.

She had tried nagging him, she had tried going over his head to Professor Oak, but she realized that she had become passive-aggressive like her mother. And that didn’t last…

So, as painful as it might be, she decided she would support his dream, even if it meant he abandoned her later. She had gone through every intervention to save her marriage she could think of , save the one thing he seemed to want more than anything -- supporting his academic pursuits even as they took him away from her.

She smiled, in the way women do when they resign themselves to being beaten, the humble smile of the traditional woman. “I’m sorry your dig site was irretrievable,” she told him softly. “I know it must have killed you to lose such an important find.”

He opened his eyes in amazement and stared at her. She hadn’t seen him look at her in such a loving way in a long time. “Yes, that’s exactly how I feel! That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you!” He held her hands in his. “I was beginning to think I could never make you understand…. My work … my work is the most important thing in my life! I need someone to support me in this. I can’t … I just can’t do it on my own. Such a big dream requires a lot of sacrifice and effort and discipline.” He kissed her. “I’ve felt … bound … chained … encapsulated in a shell … and I couldn’t find my way out. I was attracted to the purity of your heart from the first moment I met you. You inspired me to reach out to new dreams and break free from my shell and pursue all that life has to offer! And now, you finally understand how much this means to me -- to everyone in the world!” He tenderly caressed her face, kissing her once more. “Delia, I love you.”


Author’s Note: Yes, the angry little pichu will grow up to be Ash’s pikachu, so I don’t want anyone confused or anything. The pichu serves as a metaphor for Spencer or Giovanni or any other relationship Delia has. If she can calm this furious pokemon down, she will make leaps and bounds toward becoming the tender caregiver we see she is now. Since pichus only evolve into pikachus when they’re substantially happy and loved, this helps explain why it doesn’t become a pikachu until maybe a few months before being captured by Professor Oak (and it doesn’t help totally, or Pikachu wouldn’t have been so mean to Ash in the beginning). So, Ash’s Pikachu is about six months older than he is. It’s also alluding to a rumor I’ve read on the internet where Pikachu escaped from Team Rocket’s experiments before Oak caught him. The gentleman is James’ father, in case you didn’t notice. I liked the episode where James convinces an amnesiac Pikachu that he is Pikachu’s best friend since childhood. This little part of my fic honors that by making it almost true, had not James’ father considered the egg and then the baby pokemon substandard.
 
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To Care for Him
ACT 2: HALESHIPPING
Chapter 16: Dying to Protect You​

The little newly-hatched yellow pokemon snarled at Delia. She was terrified. What if its electric attacks hurt her baby? Surely, no matter how angry the pokemon was, it wouldn’t attack an obviously pregnant woman. And, considering the way the gentleman handled things, force wasn’t going to work.

She tried to smile despite the tightness in her throat. Very slowly, she lowered herself (admittedly very awkwardly due to her large abdomen) and kneeled. She wrapped her arms protectively against her abdomen and bowed her head. She looked up briefly and saw the pichu standing there, suddenly silent and almost pensive, with its head tilted to the side to denote curiosity. Maintaining her humble posture was difficult, but it would be worth it if it meant protecting her unborn child.

“What a wonderful spark you have, little one,” she said in a half-cheerful/half-submissive tone. “I’m sure you make your parents proud. I beg of you, little one -- please allow me to pass in this forest. I am going to have a baby and ….”

“Pi … pichu!” it replied, its fur standing as its back arched defensively. Well, Delia thought, supplication isn’t working all that great either. How can a newborn pokemon have such great distrust in humans?

Delia could see its leg muscles twitch as it anticipated its attack. She didn’t know what this strange pokemon was, maybe it was from another region like Roll-On, her ralts, had been. She didn’t have the slightest clue what its attacks might be, although she had figured out that it was an electric elemental. She contemplated giving up, just allowing this newborn creature to end it all for her and her child. After all, she mused, her marriage was almost lifeless anyway now. Yes, she had sacrificed herself to please her husband, just as she had almost done with Giovanni. If this creature could just cure her of her dependency, the world might be a better place.

As she started to whimper quietly, a tender children’s melody spontaneously came into being from her head:

The lightning makes sparks, Little One, Little One …
The growlithe barks loudly, Little One, Little One …
I wonder what new things will scare me today
I can’t think of how to make them go away
I just want to feel close to the sun’s warming rays …
But I shiver at sandslash’s quivers, Little One, Little One.

The trees wail in the wind, Little One, Little One …
The charizard burns them to cinders, Little One, Little One …
My heart beats faster, faster until I’m in pain
I feel soaking and lonely in the cold pouring rain
I just want to be happy and safe once again…
So let’s shelter each other, my precious Little One.​

She did not even look up as she finished her song. She didn’t want to know whether or not music truly soothed the savage beast. All she knew was that she herself felt comforted by the song, and her heart slowed considerably for what seemed like an eternity.

A roar high above her made her yank her head up to scan the skies for danger. The familiar silhouette of a winged dragon against the bright yellow sun sent shivers down her already aching spine. The charizard was approaching at diving speed, aiming straight for the little yellow pokemon.

*****

The little pichu saw the great winged beast coming at him. He quickly glanced at the female human with the round belly -- she was just as shocked as he was, so she couldn’t have been the one responsible. Even so, he thought to himself, she and that male human only wanted to see him cooped up like that other male -- the one who had put him to sleep with something sharp and painful. The little pichu had then woken up to find himself trapped in what looked like an egg, but a foul chemical odor emanated from the shell. He could see cracks, very minute, and this foul-smelling stuff seemed to be sealing it, forming an egg-shaped prison.

Even though he was only a few days old, he knew that his egg days were over. He wanted to run and jump and attack and dodge -- not be forced to be curled up into a fetal position and left to rot. Yet, before he could attack with as much electricity as he could muster, the female human stood defiantly in front of him, facing the airborne enemy, holding out her arms as her voice betrayed her crying and pleading…

*****

“Please STOP!” Delia begged loudly, staring at the incoming charizard. “You can’t fly like that in a forest! The trees will rip your wings to shreds!”

As if in response, Professor Oak’s charizard’s mouth opened and a wide stream of fire shot forth, vaporizing the tops of the trees as it neared Delia and the little yellow pokemon. She wasn’t sure, but she could swear she saw a confident smirk in the old lizard’s face. Soon it landed just in front of her, its wings kicking up a gust of wind that didn’t affect Delia as much as it affected the baby pokemon, its light weight making it victim to the strong winds, flinging it into a tree trunk nearby, stunning it momentarily. The charizard roared in triumph and nuzzled Delia’s face with its nose. Despite his age, Charizard was the lookout, the protector, of everyone on his master’s ranch -- including Delia. Oak had sent him to watch over her whenever she traveled, and he grudgingly admitted to himself that he had lost her temporarily in the thick Viridian forest canopy.

The little pichu shook his head to clear his mind of the fog brought on by smacking a tree trunk. He understood now that this large orange creature was protecting the human female -- a fact he did not appreciate. How could a pokemon protect such beings, he thought angrily to himself? They were cruel -- they didn’t deserve the protection this fire-breathing creature gave her.

“Pi! Pi! Pi! Pichupi!” it snarled, its fur bristling, sparks crackling over its tiny frame.

The charizard returned a furious roar of his own. Delia was puzzled, but realized the two were arguing -- probably about her. However, she did not have time to think much about it as a bright white light dazzled both her and Charizard, blinding them. A sudden hot flash ensued as Delia was knocked back and to her left as a great force pounded her. Just before she hit the ground, she heard a tremendous crack followed by an even greater one, which preceded a long groan as wood splintered. Even though she couldn’t see, her heart went cold as she realized what was happening -- that the newborn creature had used a powerful electric attack to blind them and shatter a tree behind them. The groan intensified and then Delia was shaken to her very core as a thunderous thud sound generated right in front of her. She tried to reach in front of her, scanning the area with her arms as her eyes could not see, and she was petrified to find leathery wings underneath the hot, splintered trunk of the tree shattered by a pokemon she could no longer hear.
 
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To Care for Him
ACT 2: HALESHIPPING
Chapter 17: Student and Teacher​

Spencer inspected the titles of all the books in Professor Oak’s library, which took up two floors in the newest addition to his house, which was now called a Lab by everyone in Pallet. People tended to forget that Oak actually lived there. He turned when he heard footsteps.

Smiling, Spencer said to Professor Oak, “You have a wonderful art and biology collection here, Professor.”

Professor Samuel Oak, Primary Kanto League Scientist, smiled. His graying hair was testament to the long days he worked studying his pokemon at the ranch at all hours of the day. “Yes, art and science belong together. You can’t have fact without a little emotion. The heart sometimes sees what the head does not.” He was carrying a large box of loose paper and set it down next to a white computer desk against the north wall of the room. He sighed in relief and rubbed his back, smiling. “This would be hard work even if it were a box of pidgey feathers, unfortunately,” he noted, laughing. “It’s like the paper actually absorbs the weight of the studies printed on them.”

Spencer returned the smile. “How is your study of avian biology coming? I’m surprised I haven’t seen a new article from you in a month or so.”

Professor Oak sighed and walked across the room to a small blue couch, where he propped his feet up on a dark mahogany coffee table and leaned back, staring at the ceiling. “Well, the study is on hold for now, I’m afraid,” he said wistfully. “I’ve been going through some of my old notebooks and I’ve found inspiration to start a project on grass pokemon.” He smiled, as though reliving important childhood memories. “I want to study the water quality grass pokemon require, whether water quality actually affects the temperament and attack scheme of certain species.” He continued to smile gently as he glanced up at Spencer, who sat down on the couch beside him. “How’s Delia?”

Spencer cleared his throat. “She’s been traumatized for the last several days. From what I can get out of her incoherent cries is that a baby pokemon attacked, one with incredible power, and she was terrified for her life.” He stared intently at Professor Oak. “How are you handling the loss of Charizard? You two have always been together.”

Oak sighed. “Well, he has been with me a long time, ever since I was eight or nine, I think, when he was a charmander. I remember finding him on a rocky cliff, climbing up to get at a small rock nest filled with pokemon eggs. Apparently he offered some pokemon a symbiotic relationship, he would heat and protect the eggs and get a meal from the parents when they returned from hunting. I always admired his need to protect the vulnerable. I grew up trying to emulate that as best I could. Still, he was probably around forty-five years old when …” he paused to wipe a tear from his eyes. He tried hard to not let it get to him, Spencer realized, but the fact was the loss was a dark and heavy blow. He shook his head finally to clear the memory of retrieving his dear friend’s body. “Well, my friend left this world doing what he did best, protecting his young charges. He was true to himself to the very end -- I hope my family can say as much when it’s my time to go.”

“You’re not that old yet, Professor,” Spencer objected, discomforted by the thought.

“Neither was charizard,” the professor replied. “From what I understand, reptilian pokemon, especially dragon or dragon-related pokemon, can live up to a couple hundred years if they’re physically fit enough.” He turned, his smile waning, becoming a frown. “You never answered my question about Delia -- you just brushed it off.”

Spencer looked at his teacher as though the mentor had crawled up out of the sewers. “I did tell you about her, Professor Oak. She’s upset.”

“You’re being flippant,” Oak protested in a condemning voice. “You know very well what I meant.”

Spencer bowed his head low, not only out of respect to his teacher but also to hide his scowl. “I respectfully submit that our marriage is our business.”

“Spencer,” Professor Oak began solemnly, “I have always cared about all my students, just as I care about the pokemon who live here. Delia has been traumatized -- your word, I might add -- and she’s with child and you’re here discussing biology studies with me instead of comforting her. I’m just trying to guide you so you can learn about priorities. You two seemed to hold such promise and you’re, quite frankly, treating her with casual disrespect. I just don’t want your marriage to end up like my son’s,” he noted, bringing his voice down to almost a whisper. “… Or, if I must be honest, mine.”

Spencer batted his eyes in disbelief. “You have a son?”

“Don’t change the subject, but yes, I have children, a son and a daughter, although by different mothers. My son was from my first relationship. My wife had become a glory seeker and nothing I ever did was good enough for her. I became a hindrance to her fame, in her eyes. I see the same thing in you and it would break my heart to see you two break up because you can’t give her the proper attention. She almost kisses your feet every day and you repay her love with sparse emails and phone conversations. It’s more than what my son did with his wife, but I’ve just learned that my daughter-in-law is expecting and she’s threatening to take the child to Hoenn, far from my son’s eyes. Their divorce is getting ugly and I don’t want the same to befall you. You’ve heard my opinion, now what’s yours?”

Spencer thought carefully for the moment, glancing up at the ceiling. After several minutes, he sighed. “I’ve met someone who appreciates my work, Professor. I’m like a rock-star in her eyes.”

“Amelia?”

Spencer shot up and stood, his face suddenly pale. “How … how did you know that?”

Professor Oak shook his head and pointed at the computer on the other side of the room. “She’s been emailing me for weeks, trying to set up meetings with you. She seems to think you spend a lot of time here when you’re not in the field. I surmised the situation when her subject lines got more and more … suggestive. I didn’t say anything because I was afraid Delia might discover them. I just deleted them from my hard drive. I called you over here finally because I don’t like the idea of Delia being strung along by someone who no longer loves her. If you abandon an expectant mother of your children, needless to say, I’ll be very disappointed in you, Spencer.”

Spencer growled to himself, gritting his teeth. “Do you still talk with your ex-wife? Or your son? I don’t see you going to children’s birthday parties yourself, sir.”

Professor Oak stood, frowning, his face tightening in ever-growing anger. “I maintain contact with my elusive son. He does not like talking with me, I’ll have you know. The only way I can get him to stay on the phone for longer than five minutes is if we discuss pokemon science or business ventures.” He paused to give what he was going to say next added weight. “He only cares for his work, Spencer. Not his mother, not me, not his wife, and probably not his child -- he cares only for himself. You would do well to learn from someone with experience that losing one’s family is the most painful thing you could ever do.”
 
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ACT 2: HALESHIPPING
Chapter 18: Papers​

The following sequence refers to Star Wars, owned by George Lucas, not by me. It also references Pokemon 3 (and maybe 4), owned by Nintendo, not by me.

Spencer winced as the sweltering heat cracked open his skin here and there and soon nearly all over his body. His tongue was parched and stuck sometimes on the roof of his mouth. He couldn’t tell if the wavy nature of reality was from the invisible waves of heat rising from the surface of the volcano or his own waffling when it came to discussing his problems with his family.

He was going to have a child, one who could carry on his family’s legacy. He or his child would discover the key to the universe -- no other goal was important. That’s why she couldn’t understand, he thought to himself bitterly. She had no vision. She was content to be the little woman she was, never questioning the big questions, never rocking the boat or stirring the pot and seeing what happened next. He, on the other hand, had drive … had initiative -- he wasn’t content to just sit by and watch the universe roll on with or without him. He had to be an integral part of the system. If he ever decided he wasn’t -- well, why would he even a reason to be alive at all?

Out of the glowing volcano, the redness of the lava enveloping his very being, a large winged reptilian creature swept up mercilessly, glaring at him with cruel yellow eyes. He could not grasp the shape completely, so he had no idea if this were pokemon or true monster. He would not allow the thing, whatever it was, to identify itself one way or the other. This creature that could very well, had circumstances permitted, be friendly and kind and warm to him -- but he knew the murderous intentions that he saw.

He picked up a piece of still-warm black lava rock and held it up to the great violent beast, who was intent on ripping him limb from limb. As he held it, it glowed and an aura of lava surrounded him, turning into a sphere of fire that he subsequently hurled at the roaring monster, certain it would tear the vile thing to pieces. Yet its spirit was undeterred. It roared even more ferociously, beating its fiery wings with greater intensity.

Rather than be intimidated, Spencer relished the opportunity to prove himself worthy of being the Key. He concentrated hard on the lava rock until it glowed once more, into a white-hot ball of light, so bright it would blind those even a few miles away. The extreme heat exploded the rock, shooting it straight toward the neck of the great dragon, which roared only briefly, this time in pain, as it fell limp below the waves of simmering lava.

As he triumphantly walked down the volcano, his skin nurtured by the damp rain clouds that had appeared to cool his blistering thirst, he met Professor Oak, the ever-watchful and ever-nosy teacher in the white lab coat. He bragged to his professor about his deed, his defeat of the one true impediment to becoming the Key.

The professor, however, bowed his head in sorrowful prayer, holding a rose in his hand. Without looking up, he said mournfully, “Don’t speak that way about your son.”


Spencer awoke, sans his pajama top, his bare chest drenched in sweat even though he discovered he had kicked the covers off his bed at some point that night. What in God’s name had that been about, he wondered. Yet he did not want to awaken the lovely brunette beside him, although already he could hear her turning in her sleep. Was she plagued by nightmares such as this? Surely he wasn’t the only one to suffer such nightly hauntings. He placed his hand on the nightstand beside him to regain his sense of place. He had just returned from a long dig the night before, he remembered. He and Delia had argued for weeks about the relative importance of his finds. She, naturally, considered his being there more important. He, on the other hand, knew that she wouldn’t really need him until late in this her last trimester, so she could wait until he had uncovered the secrets he had been searching for.

And, after a brief time debating this with himself, he decided he must go home.

He realized with a surprise the sensation of a stack of papers underneath his hand. He turned to look at them, and although the lamp was turned off he knew instinctively what they were.

When Amelia awoke at dawn, he thought to himself, he’d kiss her on the cheek and board a bus to Pallet and deliver the divorce papers himself.

After all, he was not a coward. Only a coward would get a lawyer or sheriff to give the summons, perhaps at two o’clock in the morning when the victim would be too dazed from sleep to comprehend fully the extent of the matter.

He would not run from his responsibilities to himself or his future…

He would deliver them himself.

This is the end of Haleshipping.
 
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To Care for Him
ACT 3: ASH
Chapter 19: Visitation​

Author’s Note: “To Care for Him” also refers to Delia’s relationship with Ash, not just her romantic liaisons, so this act serves as a bridge between Haleshipping and Eldershipping. This will be a short act, simply because I’m starting it off with Ash at age five and Eldershipping will start in just a few short years. This act will also update Delia’s relationships with her past two lovers, Giovanni and Spencer, as well as further her attempts to placate the hostile pichu running around Viridian Forest. I’m still going to leave the identity of Ash’s father up for grabs, because the anime still hasn’t made up its mind one way or the other. Also, this act will be different in that it takes place solely from Delia‘s point of view -- simply ‘cause I don‘t know how to write a five-year-old‘s perspective. Hey, at least I‘m honest, right?

The little brunette girl wailed as loud as an ambulance siren. She had run to Delia, which surprised the mother of the future pokemon hero. Delia tried to wipe away the girl’s tears, but the child kept on screaming at the top of her lungs. Try as she might, she couldn’t get the young girl to calm down long enough to tell her what happened, although she already suspected Ash was involved. The three-year-old girl screamed whenever she didn’t get her way, as far as Delia knew. Inwardly, Delia admitted to herself that although she still had a lot to learn about parenting, she at least knew that catering to a spoiled child was harmful to her future.

At last, after fifteen minutes of nonstop wailing, a cheerful child of five ran over to Delia as she dusted herself off from landing in a sand pit in front of the long slide at the National Park in Johto. The girl seemed to like Ash and always played with him, despite the fact that she rarely got to see her friend. She, like the screaming child in front of her, lived in Johto, although she lived near the Kanto border along Victory Road, the path pokemon trainers took to go north to the Pokemon League situated atop Indigo Plateau.

Delia, her nerves weary from the high-pitched screaming, looked up and saw the older girl in her yellow sundress that Easter morning. She was rather shocked to see her with sea-green instead of blonde hair, which cascaded down her shoulders. Despite her surprise, she managed to say, “Amber, do you know why Molly’s crying?”

Amber nodded. “Uh-huh, Missus Ketzum,” she said. “Ash said he found a cool pokemon and asked Molly an’ me to go see it. Ash is a liar, Missus Ketzum. He pulled out a plastic ekans an’ threw it on Molly and hissed like an ekans and it scared Molly and she started crying.”

“Oh dear,” Delia replied. “Where is Ash now?”

“Ekans!” Molly shouted, interrupting.

Delia patted the still-crying child on the head. “Yes, yes -- I know. Even though it wasn’t real, it wasn’t nice of Ash to do that to you. I’ll make sure he gets punished for it.”

Amber pointed to the edge of the park, where a giant hole in the fence had been created just a week ago when a pokemon rampaged into the park. Delia could just barely see Ash tossing and turning on the ground, laughing.

Delia took Molly by the hand and walked several yards to where Ash was laughing, holding up the plastic ekans and pretending to be a shivering Molly. “Ash! Apologize to Molly this instant!”

Ash dropped the toy and gawked at his mother in shock. “I didn’t do anything! She’s a liar!”

“Nuh-uh, Ash!” Amber retorted, pointing at him in accusation. “You’re the liar! I saw you throw that ekans to Molly! You’re just being mean!”

Ash growled at Amber. “You keep outta this! No tattle-tales!”

“Just ‘cause she’s younger dan you doesn’t mean you can be mean to her, Ash!” Amber yelled in reply.

“Who taught you playing mean tricks was okay?” Delia asked him sternly.

Ash rubbed his nose and looked to the ground, shuffling his feet. “It was Gary’s idea,” he said reluctantly.

“Ash, Gary is at home in Pallet. Don’t blame him for something you did.”

Ash looked up defiantly. “It was Gary’s idea. He did that to me yesterday and we both thought it was funny! He said I should try it on Molly when we went to her house!”

Delia sighed and shook her head. “It’s not funny, Ash. Other people don’t share your sense of humor. And we both know Gary likes to make you in trouble. You remember what he did last week, don’t you? Weren’t you angry at him for pulling that prank on you?”

“Yeah, but …”

“No,” Delia told him, wagging her finger, “don’t say ‘Yeah, but …’. Apologize to Molly right now.”

“No!” Ash replied angrily, stomping his foot on the ground. “I’m not her brother or anything!”

Molly started to sniffle and pout. Delia held her close to try to comfort her. “Ash Ketchum! How dare you! If you don’t apologize right now, I’ll take your video games away when we get home.”

Ash snorted defiantly. “Good! Gary comes up with better games anyway!”

“Is everything alright here?” a deep male voice asked from behind. Delia turned to find Spencer, still wearing that awful brown mullet hairstyle, standing next to an older man, a few years older than Professor Oak even, with solid gray hair and a pointed goatee.

Delia fought the urge to yell at Spencer for leaving the park to go talk to colleagues, but she held her tongue. Instead, she took a deep breath and nodded toward Molly. “Ash pulled a prank on Molly and scared her. I’m taking care of it. Just …” and she realized too late that she couldn’t hold back her criticism of her ex-husband, “… go back to your academic lecturing and let me handle the kids.”

She could see for a brief instant a scowl on Spencer’s face, but she didn’t care. Every other month she took the trip to Johto so that Ash could visit with his father, while in the other months Spencer came to Pallet. Yet in nearly all instances, he would leave early or talk on his cell throughout -- giving his son only cursory attention. And what was worse, he would have the audacity to criticize her parenting techniques! The only reasons she still agreed to these visitations, if one could call them that, were that Molly had learned to be friends with Ash and that she felt genuinely sorry for the child that surely must feel as abandoned as Ash did sometimes, to the point of waking in the middle of the night with questions about what he did to make his father not want to see him. Spencer never saw those parts of Ash’s life. Like always, he only saw what he wanted to see.

The other man, meanwhile, blushed and coughed nervously. “Amber, let’s go.”

“But Daddy!” she whined. “I’m not done playing with Ash yet!”

“Yes you are. Ash needs to talk to his parents in private. We can visit them again later. I’ll buy you an ice cream on the way home.” He nodded to Spencer. “You can finish your story later. This is more important. Good-bye.” With that, they left the arguing ex-couple to themselves.'
 
That Darn Eldershipper
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Ooooh! I am enjoying this fic, and getting excited for my favorite ship (Eldershipping) to get started up! Keep up the good work.
 
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Thanks! More next week! Ash and Gary! Giovanni! Foreshadows of Amber's demise (possible)!
 
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To Care for Him
ACT 3: ASH
Chapter 20: Shocking Waters​

A cold front was coming in that afternoon, a dark line of thunderstorms advancing toward Pallet Town. The winds were picking up within the Viridian Forest, the branches swaying violently to the point of breaking, a howling sound reverberating throughout the whole area, as if a group of Lapras, sea-going blue pokemon which resembled somewhat cuter versions of the Loch Ness Monster, wailed their sad Perish Song, dooming everyone within earshot to unconsciousness and possibly death. Scores of bird and bug pokemon were leaving the forest in droves, a veritable exodus of pokemon. Pokemon could sense severe changes in the weather and they always tried to avoid such phenomena. A beedrill, a large yellow-jacket-looking pokemon with drill-shaped front limbs, flew haphazardly through the gusts but could not stay aloft and crashed near a small lake deep within the forest. He had fallen on something soft, sparing his insect wings from too much damage, and so he turned to see what he had landed on.

A brunette woman lay face down on the ground on the shore of the lake, her skin pale and lightning-shaped marks zigzagged across it. Her outer coverings were soaking yet there was the distinct smell of electric burns. He poked the human female once or twice with his drill-shaped limbs, then shrugged and walked awkwardly away, certain that flying meant certain doom.

As Delia finally awoke as cold rain started to pelt her, she groaned in pain as she realized her body felt like it was burning in several spots. She felt tingly and numb and yet also on fire and extremely cold. Every body part ached as though she had been injected with some type of acidic substance that threatened to destroy every nerve in her body.

How long had she been there, she wondered to herself. The clouds prevented her from seeing the sun and the darkness soon grew worse, almost to the point where day seemed like a moonless night. She even had trouble remembering why she was there.

“Hey!” a young voice yelled out from deep within the forest. Delia turned in the direction of the voice and saw a teenager pop out of some shrubs a few yards away. Her hair was sunny blonde, visible even in this low light. However, she must be wearing some pretty dark clothing, Delia surmised, because in the darkness everything but her head seemed to be hidden in shadow. The female shined a flashlight in Delia’s face, which caused her an extreme headache. Shutting off the flashlight, the young teenage woman walked quickly up to the barely-sitting victim. “Can you walk?” she said curtly. Delia shook her head. The teen sighed in exasperation. “Great. My luck. You do know it’s suicidal to be in a forest during a major thunderstorm, right?” No answer. “Well, I’m here to locate and acquire you since no one seems to know where you are.” She studied Delia’s injuries. “Were you struck by lightning?”

Delia chuckled weakly. “I … I don’t know. I can’t remember how I got here. Everything is just a dark blur in my mind.”

“That would be symptomatic, I guess,” the teenager reasoned out loud. “Obviously your system was fried. No doubts there. I’ve got an emergency beacon. Help will arrive within minutes. If he thinks I’m going to carry you through a God-forsaken forest, he’s crazy. I’m strong but I don’t do miracles. No offense, lady.”

Delia looked up at her and smiled. “You’re compassion … is … overwhelming,” she said in a quiet but sarcastic voice.

The girl shrugged, flicking her curly blonde locks away from her face as the rain started to pour. “I’m not interested in compassion, lady. I follow orders.” Now that she was standing so close to Delia, Delia could see the teenager was wearing a black long-sleeved sweater, reinforced with Kevlar, and black pants with short black boots. Her belt was red and held not poke balls but small pockets. A large red R emblazoned the front of the sweater.

Delia felt as though she were going to throw up, from both the electrocution that she couldn’t remember and the realization who had ordered her rescue.

A couple of hours later she sat on the couch at Professor Oak’s lab, across from several large bookshelves. The teenager had changed shirts in the car that arrived in the forest to rescue them, and she now wore a simple short-sleeved white blouse although she still had on the pants and boots from before. She was casually using a hair dryer as she sat near the computer desk nearby, completely oblivious to the others around her. Delia, meanwhile, was sipping some tea brought to her by one of Professor Oak’s assistants, Serge. He had dark hair and black-rimmed glasses and wore the traditional white lab coat. He had been dutifully explaining the wondrous benefits of certain tea blends as Delia sat dazed on the couch.

“Serge?” Professor Oak asked as he walked into the library from the basement staircase. “Why don’t you let me take over for awhile and you can get back to searching for Aquascale.”

Delia looked up. “Aquascale?”

Professor Oak nodded. “A blastoise I use for breeding purposes here at the ranch. She has a fine pedigree and her squirtles are well-suited for battling.” He sat beside her on the couch, glancing at her soaked clothes with charred spots on them. “Are you okay?”

Delia sat for a few moments without answering. Suddenly, she remembered -- “Ash! Where is he? Is he okay?”

“Yes,” Professor Oak noted as he tried to soothe her with his voice. “Ash and Gary are playing with some toys upstairs. I don’t think they’re quite ready yet to handle pokemon.” He chuckled.

“Pokemon?” Delia wondered.

Professor Oak’s grin vanished. “You don’t remember?”

Delia shook her head. “The last thing I remember is taking Ash to the National Park to play with Molly.” She scowled. “Well, he was supposed to visit with Spencer, but Spencer continues to think meeting with colleagues is more important. Ash was being the typical five-year-old prankster, tossing a plastic ekans to poor Molly. She screamed and I tried to make Ash apologize but he just wouldn’t. He said it was Gary’s idea.”

She noticed Professor Oak glancing first at the blonde-headed teenager, who seemed surprised at Delia’s story, and then at Serge, who cleared his throat and nodded toward the basement staircase, announcing quietly that he would go and try to link up with Aquascale’s transmitter. Professor Oak cleared his throat and glanced once more at the young woman, who got the silent hint and left the room, smiling. He said in a very low voice, “Delia, when did this visitation happen?”

Delia shrugged slightly, the pain in her body refusing to release her. “Yesterday?”

Professor Oak sighed. “Have you spoken to Ash recently in the forest?”

“No, I don’t know where he is.” She paused. “Wait, you said he was upstairs now, right?”

Oak nodded. “Delia. Whatever happened to you caused you to dream or to hallucinate.”

Delia frowned. “How could you say that? I was there, Professor!”

“Delia, try to think about it carefully: Ash had been five-years-old for six months before Molly was even born. She only just now turned three this year. Ash is eight now. Spencer was over here at the lab with Molly and Amelia a week ago. We took Ash and Molly to go see the pokemon in the ranch, remember? What you saw couldn’t have been real.” He placed his hand gingerly on her shoulder. “What do you remember about being in Viridian Forest?”

“Nothing!”

“Shh,” he reprimanded. “Ash might hear you. A child might not accept such profound memory loss,” he advised in hush tones. “Don’t you remember Ash and Gary fighting over one of Aquascale’s little squirtles? One of the little ones got scared over their arguing and ran out of the lab, with both of them in hot pursuit. You don’t remember? We chased after them …”

Delia shook her head, tears starting to well up in her eyes. “It seemed so real …” she said finally in a child-like voice.

“I know,” Oak told her, sighing. “After an hour of running after the fastest boys in Pallet, we lost them in the forest. I sent Aquascale to go find them, since her ability to recognize her progeny by smell would be useful. She was also extremely powerful and could easily defend both her little squirtle and the children if need be. That was several hours ago. There was a large electric spark that came out of the sky just before the rains came -- and I realized you and I had gotten separated. I put out an alert for everyone in the area to come looking for you, and finally received word from Giovanni that one of his part-timers had located you and that you were badly injured. I kept Gary and Ash upstairs so they wouldn’t see you in this condition. I wanted to make sure you were okay before I let them in on what happened.”

A look of confusion washed over Delia’s face. “Why would Giovanni rescue me?” She laughed nervously to herself. “I mean, I can’t stand the thought of being near him!”

Professor Oak smiled tenderly. “He was concerned about the missing children, actually. When Gary and Ash exited the forest on their own, having bored themselves with chasing after the little squirtle, I told him you were missing and there had been some sort of electrical event deep within the forest. He promised to send someone to ‘fetch’ you, but he told me that you would think it inappropriate for him to find you personally. That’s why he sent that young woman. He thought you’d trust a strange teenage woman over him,” he told her, not capable of holding back a brief chuckle.

For several moments, Delia stared ahead at nothing in particular. She was trying to rack her brains of anything that could help her remember what happened in the forest. Suddenly the lab assistant Serge came running from the basement, proudly announcing that Aquascale had returned to the ranch with the little squirtle and that she had appeared to understand that the children had already been found. The little squirtle then followed the assistant into the library, some electric burn marks visible on its turtle shell.

Delia gasped.

Delia had been screaming for Ash and Gary and even the little squirtle for half an hour before she finally found the squirtle deep within the forest. She chased it to the shore of the little lake nearby and hoped that Ash and Gary would appear as well. When they didn’t, she started to panic, her heart racing. They heard a rustling noise in the brush nearby, but it was caused by something far too small to be the children. A yellow mouse-shaped pokemon, the pichu Delia had seen on occasion in the forest, hopped out and yelped out in surprise at the sight of the human and the squirtle. Sparks crackled in its rosy cheeks, but the squirtle, using its own language, threatened the intruding pokemon. Delia helped care for the pokemon at Professor Oak’s ranch, and Delia had always been friendly to the little one, even if she didn’t always stop her own offspring from teasing the pokemon residents.

The pichu confidently beckoned for the water pokemon to approach, certain it would prevail. As the squirtle launched forward to tackle the intruder, a spark of electricity shot forward and threw the turtle-like blue pokemon into the lake. The squirtle reappeared on the surface, shaking its head to get rid of its dizziness and headache, and glared at his opponent. The pichu charged up, its cheeks glowing and crackling with electricity, for this pokemon did not believe in going easy on the opponents it faced, since it had been proven time and time again that humans and pokemon alike were incredibly stubborn when it came to bothering this pokemon who only wanted to be left alone. Delia gasped when she realized the pichu intended to light up the entire lake with the squirtle in it, possibly killing it. Still gripped with the image of the fallen charizard of Professor Oak’s, she couldn’t let this continue. She threw herself in between the two warring pokemon just as the pichu unleashed a powerful shockwave. Just before it struck her, however, a wave of water came crashing in front of her and rushing toward the pichu. The wall of water carried the electric current with it and succeeded in both drenching and electrocuting the tiny angry pokemon.

Yet Delia, having been near the wall of water, took some of the electricity anyway and fell to the ground, unconscious.


Author’s Note: Whoops. I realized that the previous chapter could not have happened, assuming that Ash appears to be about five or six years older than Molly. So, I fixed it. There’s only one or two chapters of this act left, then Eldershipping can begin.
 
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To Care for Him
ACT 3: ASH
Chapter 21: The Funeral​

Delia stood in her small kitchen, coring her freshly-grown tomatoes to place them in a blender. She gathered some spices and set everything neatly on the counter, as Spencer had taught her to do … back when he was part of the family. For a week she had been building a small makeshift shrine in a hidden spot deep within Viridian Forest. Apples seemed to attract rattata, little gray rodent pokemon, while berries attracted bird pokemon. It was only after she spotted teeth marks on her tomatoes in her garden and the footprints that led back to the forest did she realize how to placate the angry pokemon that haunted the forest.

She didn’t mind wearing a frail white apron, one that had belonged to her mother, as she prepared a bottle of homemade ketchup, over her black dress. She hadn’t yet decided on what to tell Ash. As she prepared the condiment, she was reminded of a few weeks back when Professor Oak met her in her garden as she tended the tomatoes:

He had been checking up on her for a few months now, making sure the electric attack had done no permanent damage. The squirtle who had run away had pantomimed what happened: his opponent had tried to shock him, so in order to protect himself and Delia, he launched surf, a mighty tidal wave from the lake behind her. However, when they were all still injured, he and his opponent staggered around until they finally noticed the human was not getting back up. The squirtle intended to attack the opponent for making this happen, but paused when the creature timidly poked at the still body. It ran off, whimpering. The squirtle then ran off as well, to find its momma.

He handed her her mail as she weeded the garden. “Mrs. Ketchum?” he asked in a bemused tone. She looked up, shocked that he would call her something so formal after the years they had known each other. He continued, his smile fading, “Nobody you know goes by that name. Why did you change it?”

“I’m no longer married to Spencer, Professor,” she noted, looking back to the tomatoes, trying to avoid his gaze. “I don’t want to be Mrs. Hale the First or something like that. I took your advice. You told me years ago that I need to stop acting like I belong to others. So I gave us both a new name.” She smirked, although he couldn’t see it. “Don’t you like it?”

He cleared his throat and paused several moments before he answered. “It’s just that …” he finally noted, but found he could not find the strength to continue the sentence. “Well, never mind. If that makes you happy, that’s all that’s important.”


The funeral would be in two hours. She wondered why Professor Oak had seemed so spooked with the knowledge that Delia had changed hers and Ash’s name to Ketchum. Still, she shrugged it off. Gary and Ash would arrive shortly with Professor Oak, all dressed in black.

She wondered how to tell an eight-year-old boy about death.

She hurried to the shrine she had hidden in the woods and placed a ribbon from her ponytail and a small white bowl of homemade ketchup inside the little wooden shrine, which stood no taller than her knees. She bowed her head reverently and then returned to her house, awaiting her son.

When the children arrived with Professor Oak, who wore a black suit instead of the usual red shirt, khakis and white lab coat, they were downcast and somber. One look from the Professor told her that he had been discussing what they were going to see and that it would be best to leave for Viridian for the funeral.

When they arrived in the open-air chapel located in a meadow to the west of Viridian, they found a few strangers and friends of the Oak family, as well as the scholar Delia recognized from her days with Spencer, who also happened to be there. The man, the father of the young girl named Amber, was sobbing on the arms of Spencer, who patted his back in sympathy.

Awkward, Delia could not help but think as she stepped forward to the simple pews behind the steel casket, which was closed.

She felt it especially so when she spotted Giovanni, his head bowed in humility, in the first row. The person in the casket had died in a car accident -- the gas tank had exploded somehow as it drove away from the grocery store. Delia could not believe that both Giovanni and Spencer could care about someone deeply enough to seem downcast at one’s funeral.

As Professor Oak reached Spencer and, Delia later learned, his colleague Dr. Fuji, the one with the solid white goatee, she saw him ask Dr. Fuji something tenderly. Fuji nodded as he cried, and Delia could just barely make out that he told Oak that he could bear both tragedies today and not to worry about him.

As the service started, the male priest somber in voice and robes, Delia bowed her head as she held on to Ash’s small frame:

Those who suffer will do so only temporarily. Regardless of the backgrounds of the people here today, we should all agree that, one way or another, suffering in life is always temporary. May we be comforted by this thought, and wish this woman a peaceful journey and destination. Ms. Oak, as she was known by some here in Viridian, is survived by her former husband, Giovanni Oak, and her son, Gary. May the police find justice if this is done by the hand of man, and may Ms. Oak find peace and solace if her departure from this world was natural and destined….
 
Myuu151
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Just read the entire thing--personally, it's very, very good.

But with the inclusion of Amber, Dr. Fuji, and Jessie's mother ("Miyamoto", right?)...does that mean you're going to talk about Mew and Mewtwo too, and how Miyamoto disappeared in pursuit of Mew (and Jessie getting punted to a foster home)?
 
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I'd like to include Mewtwo somewhere, but I don't see how to make him actually appear (at least where the story is now, because Amber has only recently died and I feel there should be at least a couple of years between the death and Mewtwo's awakening). I might allude to him through Giovanni's subplots, though. I will add some more about Miyamoto later, in flashback, because ... uh ... I'm planning something and I want Delia to have met and bonded with Miyamoto before she died/disappeared. I know Pokemon Live isn't canon, but I really like the idea of Delia having a shady past because she's always portrayed as the ultimate good girl. Amber and Fuji were mentioned because, in my other fic, Professor Oak and the Rainbow Wing, http://www.fanfiction.net/s/2579540/1/ , I wanted to contrast Fuji with Oak and how loss of family turned them in different directions (which isn't the whole theme, but it's a major one). I just like how tragic Fuji's story is, which is why I put them in here too. While Delia just fears losing her only child, it's already happened to Fuji. The same, really, with Miyamoto. Well, actually, the gentleman Delia meets in Viridian Forest (with the pichu) is James' father, who also "lost" a kid. Delia meeting all these people who have lost loved ones (if not now then later in the story) reinforces her fear of loneliness and desolation. This is why Delia clung to Giovanni early in her life -- she wanted to be protected and almost completely manipulated by a man because she felt her parents didn't care for her. As she got older, she realized a violent boyfriend/husband wasn't the answer, so she turned to the stale academic Spencer -- but he turned out to be just as selfish (if not as violent) as Giovanni was. So, now Delia is focusing solely on protecting her child -- she feels that if no man will love her then she must love her child so that her life will have meaning. This is a story about a woman whose sense of love and meaning must mature. So, while there may be many cameos here and there, it still all revolves round Delia's search to accept herself.

Hey, did you like how Gary's mom died? After all, there was "an ugly divorce" and "she died when her car exploded" -- interesting, hm?
 
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