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Don't Give Me Diamonds

By Mikari

Drama / Romance

Chapter 1

The story of a romance between a good girl with a strong sense of justice and a gang leader aspiring to be a mafia lord. Will such a past ever be revealed to the one who came as a result? A tale detailing Delia's past with Giovanni, the start of Team Rocket, Ash's birth and when Ash finally finds out about everything. (GiovannixDelia, AshxMisty, JamesxJessie)

Don't Give Me Diamonds

Diamond 001: Give me Memories

Ash never thought that when he stopped at Pallet Town, taking a break from his journey, he would be caught up in his mother's spring cleaning. The young man pictured a calm visit in the company of his mother, Delia, his girlfriend, Misty and his dear friend, Brock, albeit a short visit since he had another pokemon tournament to attend soon. It was a small tournament in Viridian City, a tourist attraction more so than an official competition, but it had a nice cash price and Ash was saving up for something important.

He went up the stairs that led to the attic where Misty had disappeared to a few minutes earlier. He snuck up behind the redhead, though he made no effort to hide the sound of his footsteps, he didn't want to startle Misty into dropping the vase she was cleaning. Ash wrapped his arms around Misty's waist and rested his head on her shoulder.

"What do you think?" Misty held up the now clean vase, "your mom mentioned wanting a vase to put flowers in, she thought she had one up here. Could this be the one she was thinking of?"

"It looks right to me," not that Ash saw a huge difference between one vase and another.

"I think it's very pretty," it was not a surprising statement coming from Misty, given that the vase was painted in shades of blue and decorated with ocean waves. "We should show your mom."

"In a few minutes..." Ash kissed her neck.

Misty placed the vase down on top of a pile of boxes, turning around to face Ash, "look who decided to stop ignoring me."

"I wasn't ignoring you, I've just been busy... by the way, I have another tournament coming up," Ash confessed.

"Oh... I haven't heard of any major tournaments, which is it?" Misty inquired.

"It's a small tournament in Viridian City; the shops around the area are sponsoring it, probably to attract tourists. They say the Viridian gym leader will participate in the final match, so the winner of the tournament will have to face him. Do you remember when I got my Earth Badge years ago? It was against Team Rocket, I never saw the Viridian city gym leader," Ash recalled. "Thinking back on it, maybe we should have stayed back there and made sure the real leader was okay, with Team Rocket having taken over the gym like that he might have been hurt. I suppose there's no use in thinking about that now; it looks like everything turned out well in the end after the gym was repaired."

"I see," Misty's face, which had looked a bit tired before, brightened at the explanation. "You want to face the gym leader because you didn't have a chance to battle him before."

"Yeah, plus there's a really good cash price," Ash smiled and Misty frowned. "What is it? What's wrong?"

"Nothing, Ash," she pouted, tired of Ash's seemingly greedy attitude recently. She also felt excluded, as if he was keeping a secret from her, one that Pikachu and the rest of his pokemon knew, but Ash had not shared with her, denying he was hiding anything when she asked.

"Misty..." as she walked away in the crowded attic and he followed, they tripped and pulled each other down when trying to regain their balance, bumping into more boxes and causing an avalanche, thankfully far enough from the vase not to knock it down.

The loud noise summoned Delia to the scene, who found her son and Misty digging themselves out from under the pile of boxes, "are you both alright?" She rushed to help set them free of the avalanche.

"I'm fine, are you okay, Misty?" Ash who had landed on top, was the first to get on his feet, extending his hand to help Misty up.

"Yeah, I'm alright," she accepted the help and observed the disarray of boxes, some of which had been opened by the impact, the old tape unable to hold together after such a long time, spilling their contents on the dusty attic floor. "I hope nothing was broken."

"Don't worry about it," Delia began to sort through the random items, "these boxes have been here for a long time, I've forgotten what's in them by now."

Misty saw a sparkle and picked it up. It was an earring, which had fallen out of an exquisitely decorated golden box with clear crystals. Misty placed the earring back in the box and picked it up, surprised by its weight. "What beautiful rhinestones!"  She wondered why such lovely jewelry was stashed up in an attic and not sitting with dignity on Delia's dresser.

"Rhinestones?" Delia looked up with curiosity; she received the heavy box from Misty, who obviously didn't notice it was made of gold, otherwise she would have mentioned it. She must have assumed it was gold painted iron to explain its weight, an accurate imitation of a golden box, but an imitation none the less. That was not the truth and Delia knew it, the box was made of gold and the decorative crystals were diamonds. The jewelry didn't include a single rhinestone; they were all real diamonds, very expensive and very nostalgic. "Oh my, I had almost forgotten these..."

"Shouldn't you keep them in your room? They're very pretty," Misty observed.

"Yes, I should," Delia smiled, forcing the turmoil of emotion that had surfaced to stay calm for just a little longer.

"Mom, who is this?" Ash held up a brown wooden picture frame, it was very average looking, unlike the elegance contained in the image it held.

Delia stared at the picture. For some time, she had that frame in her room, Professor Oak's guest room where she stayed when she first moved to Pallet Town, then her bedroom in the little house she was finally able to afford after establishing the only restaurant in the small town. No one previously thought was sufficiently large to support a food establishment, but it proved to be enough.

In the distant past, she would look at that picture before falling asleep and wonder what he was doing, if he thought of her, if he missed her or if he had moved on. She questioned her choice to leave him and to keep her pregnancy a secret. Then she fell asleep and dreamt of a happy time forever lost to the past, waking up with renewed determination and also renewed regret.

When Ash was born, the little boy soon occupied her dreams with expectations of a bright future. Her son gave her strength because she new he needed her to be strong for him. She still kept the picture in her room, albeit her other mementos had been stored away.

One day, little Ash who was a little over a year old, toddled over to her nightstand and reached for the picture, stretching his little body until he grabbed hold of the edge of the frame and pulled the picture off the table. The behavior was unusual, Ash was certainly a curious little boy, but his mother had taught him to ask, rather than grab things. He listened most of the time, pointing at the object of his curiosity and letting out a stream of hasty baby babble with a few words mixed in.

"Ash, honey, be careful not to break mommy's picture," Delia extended her hand, but Ash didn't give her the picture right away.

Instead the boy curiously looked at it, recognizing the image of his own mother, "mama..." he paused, examining the image of a man next to her. He had been over to Gary's house before, another boy his age; Gary had a grandfather, a mother and a father. "dada?"

Delia should have seen this coming; kids are smarter than they're given credit for. "Yes, that's your dad." She never mentioned his name, but she saw Ash's face brighten at the confirmation, then look puzzled, as if wanting to ask where his father was and being unable to find the words to do so. "He's on a journey, he's a pokemon trainer." From a certain perspective, it was the truth.

Delia didn't directly lie, she instead told Ash bits and pieces of the truth, carefully selected to sound interesting yet ambiguous. Giovanni had started out as a pokemon trainer, traveling from one city to another.

After Ash finally let go of the picture, Delia deemed it too dangerous to keep in such a visible place and put it away. She didn't want Ash to become too curious about his father and search for him when he was old enough to do so but still too young not to be easily convinced. She didn't want Ash getting caught up with the mafia.

It was, as expected, not the end of Ash's questions, far from it, it was only the beginning. When Ash seemed to wonder about the missing picture, Delia would tell him an exciting story about his father and his pokemon and that would keep him entertained. Soon the boy no longer searched for the picture, instead asking for stories.

As Ash grew, the picture he saw as a toddler was forgotten and he came to understand that, though his mother was happy to tell him stories, she had no intentions of revealing the identity of his father, and Ash would feel bad pressuring her. Though he was young, he knew that people didn't live forever; maybe his father had passed away tragically and his mother would be sad if she was pressured to talk about it. However, something in the way his mother spoke hinted that his father was still alive somewhere.

Did they divorce? Did he abandon her? The second theory made little sense to Ash. He would expect his mother to be upset if that was the case, but she didn't speak badly of his father, though she might be sugar coating the stories. Maybe they divorced, handling the situation as adults did and somehow agreeing to go their separate ways. Ash didn't really understand it, but he believed he would when he was older, with that theory, he remained patient.

The subject of his father was one of the few, probably the only, topic in which Ash was patient. The boy was very impatient otherwise and he could be quite stubborn too, much like his father. His curiosity knew no boundaries and he asked about everything, especially pokemon. He was fascinated by the creatures and their mysterious powers.

Strong, independent and with an iron will, Ash reminded Delia of Giovanni in many ways, thus she took extra care in guiding him down the right path and teaching him not to give into the temptation of power.

Years later, that little boy stood before her, now a young man and though he was taller than her now, his eyes still looked at her with the same curiosity of that year old boy who wanted to know his father. The boy who had to settle for ambiguous stories, spoken often, casually and cheerfully, while holding so many untold secrets.

Delia forced herself to smile, "he was my boyfriend," she didn't lie, the picture screamed of a formal date. One with live music, dancing, tuxedos, dresses and jewelry, diamonds... "I should put these away," taking the golden diamond filled box and the picture, Delia turned away. "Oh, the vase, I knew it was around here, thank you for cleaning it!" She picked it up as well and left the attic.

Delia placed the vase on the living room table on her way, glanced out the window at Brock who was hard at work cleaning the carpets in the yard and petted Pikachu as she made her way down the hall to her room. Even the pokemon were helping with the cleaning so it should be done soon.

She closed her room's door and locked it, knowing she would only be able to hold back for so long, then collapsed into a disarray of emotions with quiet sobs. She pushed herself to her feet and placed the jewelry box on the dresser and the picture on the nightstand, refusing to hide the items any longer. Then she let herself fall into bed and buried her face in the pillow, her imagination carrying her to a time so long ago.

She tried to compose herself and got up, walked over to the dresser and retrieved a little black box from the jewelry box and from it a ring. Rhinestone on silver, one would assume at first glance. Yet the sparkle was too brilliant to be false, a diamond, a diamond on white gold, a diamond that large? They would still be wrong.

She slid the platinum diamond ring on her finger; it felt heavy and it reminded her of her sorrow during the occasion that should have been happy. This was the first time she ever wore that ring, but the action could have no significance after so many years.

She saw herself as a young girl, dreaming that one day, her prince would come, handsome and strong, to offer her a diamond ring and ask for her hand in marriage. When she grew up she found that she didn't like diamonds after all, she preferred love.

To be Continued

Pokemon belongs to Nintendo.

Special thanks to Nafatali and Rocketlord who inspired me with their stories and motivated me to finish mine, and to Destinie, who also helped keep my interest in Pokemon alive with her websites.

Here are some notes about the stories...

When I wrote most of these stories, Unova was the latest region revealed (Black and White) and there were no mega evolutions yet. The only exception is Awakening, which was written around the time X and Y came out.

Don't Give Me Diamonds

Diamond 002: Give me Excitement

"Mom? Are you alright?" Ash's voice accompanied by his knocking on the door woke Delia from her nap.

She stumbled out of bed in a daze and rushed to open the door to her bedroom. "I fell asleep, sorry about that. I put my guests to work then I doze off, how terrible of me. What time is it? I haven't even started dinner." She tried to sound alert, hiding the numbness that had invaded her.

"It's okay, it's just that it's not like you, are you feeling sick?" Ash asked with concern. He had been ignoring his own questions for many years. He wanted to know more about his father, but told himself it wouldn't hurt to wait. Either way, the man was absent and even if his identity was revealed he would remain absent. Yet Ash couldn't help it but to wonder if that past boyfriend was the one.

Ash had the sensation that he had seen that man before, maybe from far away. Or perhaps it was the picture he had seen too long ago to clearly remember it. He wasn't sure, but he let it go. "Let's go out for dinner, Viridian City is a day away on foot, but it's not so far if we take the car. It may not be as great as Pallet Town's main restaurant, but I think the chef there needs a holiday. Besides, I'm participating in a tournament there tomorrow and the sign ups are on the same day. I want to be there early, why don't we spend the night over at the Pokemon Center?"

Delia laughed; her restaurant was the only one in Pallet Town. "That sounds good, by the way," she lowered her voice to a hushed whisper, "when are you planning to ask Misty?"

"As soon as I have a ring," Ash whispered back.

"Did you lose it?" Delia distinctly remembered Ash showing her the ring he intended to give Misty and her bittersweet euphoria at the realization that her little boy was all grown up and would soon be engaged. Delia was very fond of Misty and would happily welcome her as her daughter.

Ash reached into his pocket and took out a ring, the sapphire centerpiece glittering an endless blue. "It's not good enough."

"Misty wouldn't say that," Delia encouraged.

"I know, she would be happy, but I want to give her something better. I want to give her a diamond, a diamond in a gold ring, no, platinum, a really big diamond. That's why I have to win tomorrow, there's a good cash price and if I add that to my savings, it should be enough to give Misty the ring she deserves," Ash's excitement grew as he pictured the perfect moment for the proposal. It would be by the sea, Misty loved the sea, he would give her the ring as the sun set and the light would bounce off the diamond more beautiful than a million stars, she would be impressed.

Delia's expression darkened, "Ash Ketchum, don't you dare..." Ash was shocked at his mother's serious tone. "Don't you dare ignore Misty for the sake of running off to earn money. She's not like that; you of all people should know it better than anyone. Misty doesn't want a diamond; she wants you to be there for her."

"It's not like I'm abandoning her or anything. She's coming too; she'll watch the tournament and cheer for me like she always does. Then we can all go out together after it's over," Ash smiled, trying to lighten the mood.

"You don't understand..." Delia sighed. She caught Ash glancing at the picture of Giovanni and herself. She remembered that she promised herself that she would one day go find him and explain her sudden disappearance. She would tell him they had a son, as soon as that son was old enough not to be tempted by dreams of power. Ash could handle the truth; she knew he could, though it would be a great strain on him and herself. "I'll tell you about him soon, after the tournament."

"Why not now?" This was as far as Ash had ever gotten to a real answer, and the hope of finally receiving it made him impatient.

"Be patient for just a little longer Ash, it will all make sense soon and I promise you a name this time," Delia assured.

Ash smiled brightly, like a child who was promised candy if he behaved for the day. "Alright, I'll wait a little longer," the truth would not rewrite the years without a father, but it would put the mystery to rest and at that point, that was enough for Ash. Taking one last long look at the picture, Ash led the way to where Misty and Brock were in the yard with the pokemon and they all piled up in Ash's indigo car, on their way to Viridian City.

xoxox xox xoxox

Dinner last night was delicious, but Delia was distracted by her own thoughts, as was Ash, though his cheer was genuine. It was a new day and Ash and his friends were standing in the long sign up line for the pokemon tournament, though only Ash had intentions of entering. They kept each other company and talked to make the wait less boring.

"There are some things I have to take care of; I'll be back as soon as possible," Delia announced.

"Okay, see you later," Ash replied naturally at first, then the wheels in his head turned and he wondered if his mother's sudden need to run some errands had anything to do with her promise to reveal his father's name. He stood frozen, until Misty woke him from his daze because the long line was finally moving forward, albeit at a Slowpoke's pace. He pushed the thoughts and theories away for the moment, he would get his answer soon; his patience would finally pay off.

xoxox xox xoxox

Delia made her way through the crowds that had gathered in Viridian City to watch the tournament. She headed towards the gym, walking past the Pokemon Center and remembering a different Pokemon Center from long ago, it was in Cerulean City where they first met.

xoxox xox xoxox

"You've done a wonderful job Delia, thank you for helping so much," the nurse in charge of the Cerulean City Pokemon Center commended. She was a cheerful woman with pink hair, her name was Joy. She had a young daughter who looked a lot like her; the girl's name was Joy as well.

"Thank you!" Delia smiled with equal, if not greater, cheer. She was a young pokemon researcher who had studied under the guidance of Professor Oak at Pallet Town. She was currently doing on internship at the Pokemon Center.

After all the pokemon had gone to sleep, as had Joy and Delia, a gang broke into the center and began to steal pokemon. Delia had coincidentally woken up and went out of her room towards the kitchen to quench her midnight thirst with a glass of cool water. She saw a shadow from the corner of her eyes and thought a pokemon might have gotten out of its pokeball. Maybe the little one was in pain and needed help.

She ventured down the dark halls of the Pokemon Center, searching for the source of the perceived movement. Maybe she had imagined it... Then she saw it, a human figure wearing black clothes stuffing numerous pokeballs into a sack. She wanted to scream in alert, to let Joy know they needed to call the police and to make it clear to the intruder she was not going to allow this.

Before any sounds came from her throat, a hand firmly covered her mouth, while the other held both her hands behind her back. "Idiot, didn't you even see her?" It was a man, judging by his voice and built.

"Sorry boss, I'm done here anyway, these are all of them," the other man, noticeably smaller than her captor, threw the full sack over his shoulder.

"Gather the others, we're leaving, as for you..." before her fate could be decided, Delia bit the man's hand, causing him to let her go.

"Nurse Joy!" Delia screamed as loud as she could. "Call the police, there are thieves stealing the pokemon!"

"Damn it, you'll pay for that!" Ignoring the threat, Delia sprinted after the man with the sack and pushed him to the floor, causing some of the pokeballs to spill out of the sack and roll away.

She slammed his face into the floor hard before the same man from before picked her up, holding her hands behind her again. "Let go of me!" She was noisy, but he wouldn't make the same mistake again. Instead he silenced her by gripping her neck, hard enough to cut the flow of oxygen, but not enough to injure her.

Feeling her consciousness slip away, Delia desperately stomped on the man's foot, he growled in pain, but held her firmly. "Hurry, get out of here, forget the pokeballs just take what's still in the sack," the man ordered. No doubt the nurse had heard the girl yelling and the police must be on their way.

As sirens were heard in the horizon, the gang made a hasty get away, dragging Delia along. When they were far enough from the Pokemon Center, the mysterious man finally let her go; she had been struggling all the way and slowed him down considerably. "I won't let you get away with this!" Delia declared.

"You should be thankful that we're letting you go," the man who had brought her there spoke, he was clearly the leader.

"We're letting her go?" The man with the half empty sack of pokeballs protested, it was his face that had been smashed against the floor after all.

"She'll squeal on us," a woman dressed in the same black attire as the rest of the gang warned.

Delia could see by the moonlight that they all had a red R on their shirts. There were five of them, three men and two women. The leader smirked, almost amused, some might see a handsome man, but Delia only saw a villain. "Maybe you'd like to join us."

"Never!" Delia firmly refused.

"Your loss," the leader walked away, followed by his gang. The man with the sack gave Delia one last bitter look before catching up with his companions.

"I told you I'm not letting you go!" As soon as his back was turned, Delia ripped the sack out of the man's hands and ran away with it.

"Come back here!" He ran after her, only to watch her stop, coming face to face with one of the female gang members, the one who had spoken before.

The woman in black shook her head, "so predictable, I knew you were looking for a chance to steal back those pokemon." She lunged at Delia and started a tug of war with the sack, which was ripped in two, sending the pokeballs to roll all over the ground.

"The pokeballs!" The man who had previously been carrying the sack jumped between the two quarrelling women, intent on solving the problem himself, but quickly retreated after receiving injuries from both sides.

"Dude," the other man, who was witnessing the fight spoke, "you can't like jump between like two fighting girls like that, it's like jumping between like two angry Persians, you know? Like fury swipes, man!"

"Don't just stand there you two, stop her!" The leader commanded, and the pair rushed into action, grabbing Delia's arms one each and holding her firmly back.

The woman who had been fighting with Delia glared angrily, "you'll regret messing with Team Rocket!"

"I'll save those pokemon, what you're doing is wrong, you'll never get away with it!" Delia insisted.

"How ignorant," the leader called out a pokemon, Ivysaur. "Just because something is wrong, doesn't mean you or anyone can make it right. This world is controlled by power, that's all that matters. Vine whip, tie her up!" The pokemon obeyed and Delia was tied up. The leader took out a knife and cut the vines, causing the Ivysaur to cry out in pain, much to Delia's horror, but she was soon silenced when she was called back into its pokeball. He made sure the vines were securely tied around the girl's torso and legs, binding her arms, and preventing her from running. "Let's go."

"We're leaving her like that?" The man who received the most damage that night protested, though it was hard to tell if he wanted revenge or felt pity.

"I said we're leaving, pick up the pokeballs and leave the girl, that's an order." No one dared to question him after that. The four gang members piled the pokeballs uncomfortably in their arms and followed their leader, then the five of them disappeared into the night.

xoxox xox xoxox

"Wait! Wait for me!" The leader stopped and looked back.

"You have got to be kidding me!" One of the women hissed.

"Dude, she's like totally like stubborn, man!" A man commented.

Delia was jumping towards them, still tied up by the vines. She tripped, falling at the leader's feet, but pushed herself back on her feet with difficulty "Let me join your gang."

Before the others could protest, the leader raised his hand in a sign of silence. "What's your goal?"

"The pokemon you stole are ill, there's been an epidemic going around. The purpose of my internship at the Pokemon Center was to study the symptoms and help find a cure for them, that's what most researchers' efforts are going towards right now. You'll need someone to treat them if you're going to sell them or whatever you're planning to do." She gritted her teeth in bitter defeat, "if I can't save them from you, I at least want to care for them. I won't try anything, I won't get myself kicked out of the gang, because if I do, there will be no one there to treat the sick and injured pokemon you steal. Stopping you is beyond my power right now, but I'll keep the pokemon safe until someone does."

"In other words it's a mutually beneficial deal in a sense. You'll help the pokemon and we'll have better merchandise, but it's clear we can't trust you as one of the gang," the leader concluded.

"Take me as a prisoner then," Delia desperately offered.

"You would give away your freedom for the sake of these pokemon? Fine, I'll take you up on your offer," the leader decided.

The leader took out his knife again, making Delia shudder from the memories, and used it to cut her free of the vines. "I want to treat your Ivysaur as well."

"Fine... I'm Giovanni Roketto," he introduced himself, "the leader of Team Rocket, I'll expect you to follow my orders."

"Delia Ketchum," she replied sharply.

"Dudette, my name's like Luke," this man had red hair, ocean blue eyes and suntanned skin. He seemed to emanate a friendly aura, which reassured Delia a little.

"I'm Leah," the woman standing next to him spoke for the first time; she had a gentle voice despite being part of Team Rocket. She had soft brown hair, kind honey colored eyes and fair skin. She seemed quiet and shy.

"Aayla," the other female on the team glared at Delia. She had dark skin, deep violet hair and stunning green eyes. She carried herself in a way that reminded Delia of a Ninetails, elegant, strong and dangerous.

The last man remained silent until Aayla elbowed him, "Binks, my name is Binks," he was a thin and pale man with brown eyes and blond hair.

Delia tried to reassure herself thinking she was on the side of justice, so somehow, she would be alright. Giovanni was wrong, karma was strong and justice would prevail.

"Welcome to Team Rocket," Giovanni's voice carried a hint of sarcasm since she wasn't an official member, but for a split second she felt cool, as if she was joining a secret club. She pushed the silly thoughts away and focused on reality, they were criminals and she had a mission.

To be Continued

Don't Give Me Diamonds

Diamond 003: Give me Hope

Did anyone see that? No? Good. However, even if no one saw him fall on his face, the fact still stood that Giovanni had indeed face-planted the cold hard floor of the Rocket warehouse. The one who caused him to trip crawled out from under his legs and hurriedly pulled his arm attempting to help him stand up, albeit she almost succeeded in making him lose his balance again.

"I'm so sorry!" Delia tried to wipe away the non-existent dirt from his clothes; the floor was like a mirror since she started taking care of the warehouse. "You're not hurt, are you?"

"I'm fine, but why were you on the floor?" Giovanni inquired, his anger being replaced by puzzlement.

Delia was a diligent worker, resourceful and energetic. She had significantly improved the health of the pokemon since she got there, not that it mattered much. The pokemon were still ill and they would remain ill until a cure was discovered, that was why certain key research laboratories were buying them.

An epidemic had broken out and an antidote was yet to be developed. Under the guise of a friendly caring company, several pokemon research laboratories were racing to find a cure and cash in. As for the origin of the illness, it remained unknown. It was for that reason that Team Rocket was taking the opportunity to steal sick pokemon and gain easy money to fund their various illegal activities, during a time when pokemon battles were becoming rare between gangs due to the shortage of healthy pokemon.

Even if she had no way of curing the pokemon, Delia continued to carefully take care of them day and night, without leaving the warehouse. Giovanni had tested her, leaving the doors unlocked and posting hidden guards out, but she made no attempts to escape.

On one occasion, Binks bitterly reported that Luke had left the door wide open, though Leah was quick to witness that Delia had simply closed it, muttering something about the breeze being too cold. Clearly, she wasn't going anywhere. It was as if the pokemon were more important to her than whatever life she led before.

"I was tired, so I sat down. I guess I must have fallen asleep," Delia explained.

"Don't you have a place to sleep there?" Giovanni pointed to the corner of the warehouse, but found the sleeping bag was occupied by a Persian and she was not moving.

"Persian!" Delia rushed to the pokemon's side and checked her vital signs, it was too late. "If I hadn't fallen asleep, if I had stayed by her side..." Delia began to cry. "She was doing better, I thought it was best to keep her out of the pokeball, I thought it would help her fever if she had more breathing room. She woke up and looked at me, not with that lost look they have when they're sick, she looked right at me, I put the egg she laid yesterday next to her because eggs can't get the virus, it has been proven. I thought that being near her child would give her strength. I tended to her then went to check the pokemon in the pokeballs. I put the last one back and had to sit down, then..."

"If you keep this up you'll end up sick yourself," Giovanni warned.

Delia shook her head, "humans can't catch this," the fact had been proven for certain.

"I don't mean because of the epidemic," Giovanni knew that Delia could be a valuable addition to the team, being such a hard worker. It was clear she intended to stay, so he might as well keep her around. Maybe one day she would get used to this new life and really be a part of Team Rocket. "You'll be living in our hideout now. You're no longer on trial and your skills in treating pokemon and researching their abilities will be useful."

Delia shook her head, though she followed Giovanni out, taking the Persian's egg with her and watched as he locked the warehouse. "I'm going to clean this egg and get supplies. I didn't join to help your organization; I'm here for the pokemon. But lately I've been thinking you're not so bad. Your methods are questionable, but the truth is the Pokemon Center didn't have the resources to treat those pokemon. You're just thinking of profits, but giving those pokemon to the laboratories is their only hope. People often hold on to those they care for selfishly, but letting them go is sometimes for the best, though their trainers will be sad, it was best to send them to the laboratories."

"You're so naive," Giovanni observed.

"Why do you say that? Because I have hope?" Delia herself didn't know how or why she started to change her mind. Perhaps it was all a mental defense to protect herself amidst the crisis. They both got in the car, with Giovanni in the driver's seat, "seatbelt..."

He rolled his eyes but humored her. "The laboratories are not making much progress, that's why they keep asking for more pokemon." That and their methods of research were rather painful for the subjects.

"Even so, they're trying, even if they just want to get rich from an antidote, they're still trying. It's just like Team Rocket, you're lawless vigilantes."

He couldn't help it; Giovanni had to laugh, "vigilantes? Delia, we're criminals aspiring to control the mafia."

"Once you learn of the satisfaction of helping others you'll change your ways and use your power for good. I'll join you for real then, I'll help guide you, I'll be your conscience," Delia offered.

"You'll wake up soon enough," those words from Giovanni were the last spoken during the car ride to the Team Rocket hideout deep in the mountains, west of Cerulean and east of Pewter City.

xoxox xox xoxox

After Delia moved into their hideout, she saw Luke, Leah, Aayla and Binks on a daily basis, along with many other people. Luke and Leah were the easiest to talk to, they weren't really bad, Luke simply craved adventure and Leah followed him. Binks had an undying admiration for Giovanni and Aayla wanted power, though her true motivation was unknown. Most of the others were after power and riches. Most of the time Delia just kept to herself.

"Dudette, it's like broken," Luke held up the pokeball for Delia to examine, she had just walked into the common area of their crowded hideout, only Giovanni had his own room; the others had roommates and she was roomed with Leah and Aayla.

Delia took the pokeball and looked at it from different angles, searching for cracks, "where is it broken?"

"Not the ball, the Shellder, I caught it like yesterday, but its shell is totally cracked. I still caught it because it was alive, I mean like really alive and jumping around, you know?" Luke explained.

"It doesn't have the virus?" Delia was surprised; the epidemic had been spreading fast. "I think I can help with the shell, I'll examine the damage and do my best, then return Shellder as soon as possible."

"You keep it, I have healthy pokemon and they're not broken. If you come with us on missions, you need pokemon." Luke encouraged, his blue eyes shining with hope. Maybe Delia could replace Binks as the third member of their team.

"I'm needed here," Delia declined, "sorry, but I can't join your team right now."

"I'm the leader but it's more like Leah's team, you know?" Luke commented, "she's like the real leader, I just get Binks to listen to her, you know? She's like really smart, you know?"

It was hard to imagine the quiet Leah leading their trio of thieves, which would explain why Luke had to relay the orders. Binks was always muttering about how he should be the leader, he was not the most respected Team Rocket member, and sometimes got picked on, though he tried to keep up a tough guy act. At the time the teams consisted of three people, though Giovanni considered lowering it to two.

Sending members out on solo missions would be risky, save for certain occasions when being found meant a failed mission, even if there was someone there to help. For now they were fine in trios, until their training was improved and two could do what three were needed to accomplish now.

Aayla was the leader of her team, not surprisingly, with two adoring fans constantly arguing among themselves for her attention. She knew how to set them straight and make them work together when it was needed.

Leah had joined Luke and Delia, politely greeting them in a barely audible voice. Luke went on to tell a story about a past mission and commended Delia on her work at their little base.

The three were still talking when the common area suddenly felt silent. The lack of voices in the background made them pause their conversation and look towards the one that called their attention without even having to say a word; it was the boss of Team Rocket, Giovanni.

Giovanni waved his hand nonchalantly, signaling for everyone to go about their business and the multiple conversations were resumed. He walked over to Delia, "I'm going out on an investigation mission, I'm assigning you as my partner; I think you'll find it to be interesting."

Delia was surprised but nodded anyway, "yes..." Giovanni couldn't be taking her to steal pokemon; he knew she would just get in the way. Maybe she was supposed to conduct some kind of research.

"We're leaving right away; pack some clothes, enough for a week. Don't worry about food and supplies, that's been taken care of," Giovanni knew everyone was curious about his mission and wondered if he would have a story to tell them when they returned. "I'll be waiting."

"Yes!" Delia hastily exchanged her goodbyes with Luke and Leah, "see you guys in a week!" then turned towards Giovanni, who was walking back to his room. "Giovanni! My duties at the base and the warehouse, someone will take over while I'm gone, right?"

"Everything is taken care of," Giovanni assured, though Delia wasn't too convinced.

None the less she packed her clothes, consisting of identical Team Rocket uniforms, a few normal clothes just in case, and a water pokemon first aid kit for her new Shellder. She might as well take Shellder along, she felt safer personally making sure he wasn't exposed to catching the virus. She took the egg obtained from Persian as well and hoped Giovanni didn't mind her side projects, more so she hoped she had time to take care of them and complete her research.

Once Delia was ready, she informed Giovanni and they both left in his car. She was yet to know where they were going or about the specifics of their mission, but assumed that Giovanni would explain everything in detail soon. Though the situation was grim, Delia held on to the hope that this mission would hold some kind of key information that would lead to a cure for the virus.

To be Continued

Don't Give Me Diamonds

Diamond 004: Give me Courage

Giovanni and Delia had been traveling for quite some time. Delia was anxious to treat Shellder, but couldn't do it in the car. The sandy colored egg she had obtained from the Persian sat on her lap.

"I wondered what you did with that egg; I should have known you were taking care of it yourself," Giovanni broke the long silence that had bored him.

"The others are busy, besides, I don't think they want a pokemon egg," Delia explained.

"I'm sure they don't..." the leader agreed.

Delia got the impression Giovanni found the egg to be useless and reminded him, "it will hatch one day."

"I suppose so; it doesn't require too much care, does it?"

"Not really..." After being trusted not to run away and moving to the hideout, Delia was given more freedom. She once went to the Pokemon Center in Cerulean City and reassured nurse Joy that the mysterious gang were vigilantes looking out for the pokemon's well being, so she didn't need to worry. She told Joy she would return to continue her studies in Pallet Town with Professor Oak.

Then she called Professor Oak and told him she had become fascinated with the world outside of her small town home and wanted to journey to do some research in other areas. The professor agreed and encouraged Delia, thinking that she might find something while traveling that could be missed in the Pokemon Centers and laboratories. She felt bad about hiding her true intentions, but told herself it was for a good cause.

"Where are we going?" Delia finally asked, they had been driving for some time and had gone past Cerulean City. They would soon reach the coast.

"To my secret get away," he waited for her reaction.

"Your secret get away?" Delia was puzzled, completely missing the hint. "A research laboratory?"

"No, a beach house," Giovanni revealed.

Delia laughed; she didn't even know Giovanni could make silly sarcastic jokes like that. The problem was he wasn't laughing. "You're not really serious, are you?"

"Why wouldn't I be? Even future mafia lords need vacations every now and then. I've been working hard and so have you. We're going on a little one week holiday, I'm sure you'll-" Delia slammed her fist hard on the dashboard and Giovanni instinctively stomped on the breaks. "What are you doing?!"

To say Delia was furious would be an understatement, "Giovanni Roketto, pokemon are dying."

He decided it was time for a change of tactics, least the mood be ruined further. "I was kidding, we are going to my beach house, but it's for research purposes." The next part was not really a lie, "Luke told me he found healthy pokemon at the beach. Researchers have been looking at the ill pokemon, trying to find a cause and a cure. Maybe looking at healthy pokemon and their environment will reveal new information. I thought you could make comparisons and see what's present in one situation and not in the other."

Delia took a deep breath and calmed down, "I'm sorry for losing my temper; I've just been so stressed about the pokemon and the virus. The thought of taking a vacation when the pokemon need me the most is impossible. I apologize."

"It's alright; just try to relax, you'll do better in your research with a clear mind and don't forget to stay open to the possibilities." Albeit the possibilities he had in mind didn't involve researching pokemon.

"Yes, you're right, I'll try my best." The rest of the way to the beach was calm and quiet.

xoxox xox xoxox

Giovanni and Delia arrived at the secluded little beach house, which stood modest but cozy. "What's first on the schedule?" Delia inquired.

"There is no schedule, just do what you feel you need to do," Giovanni replied with an inviting smile.

"Right, then I'll get started right away. I want to check on Shellder, I'll treat him at the beach, I don't think his condition is really serious and this area should be safe." Said and done, Delia got to work right away.

xoxox xox xoxox

Delia was focused on sealing the cracks on Shellder's shell when a shadow indicated that someone was behind her. "Delia..."

"Yes?" She continued focusing on her work without looking up. She recognized the voice as being Giovanni's.

"This..." He extended his hand over her shoulder, holding out a bottle of sun-block where she could see it.

"Oh yes, thank you," she took the bottle and poured some lotion into her hands then proceeded to cover every inch of exposed skin she had. She was still wearing her Team Rocket uniform so that wasn't a lot.

"You know, there's a shop near here that sells beach supplies. You could get a bikini..." Giovanni suggested.

"To go for a swim and take samples of the water for further study? Good idea..." Delia played along, ignoring his real meaning.

"I need sun block too..." he continued.

"I'm done, you can take the bottle back." Delia held the bottle over her shoulder and still refused to look at him. She knew what to expect.

"Aren't you going to help me put it on?" That was the last drop.

Delia stood, seeing that Giovanni was in fact wearing only swim trunks and he had set up a large umbrella, a couple of beach chairs and a cooler near by. She glared at him then pitched the sun-block bottle into the ocean as hard as she could. She then sat next to Shellder and resumed her work.

Instead of getting angry, Giovanni laughed and welcomed the challenge. Delia liked to play hard to get, but she was cute, resourceful and brave, certainly worth the challenge and Giovanni was proud and arrogant enough to believe he could get whatever he wanted. Soon enough, she would come to him.

xoxox xox xoxox

After Shellder was taken care of, Delia started taking samples of the sand. She didn't have the proper equipment to analyze them at the Team Rocket hideout and she still had a lot to learn about the process, but maybe she could send some samples to Professor Oak. She did say she would be researching so it fit her story, as for Team Rocket, this wouldn't put them in any danger of being discovered so she wouldn't get into any big trouble, thus would be allowed to continue caring for their pokemon.

Giovanni was swimming around near by, occasionally glancing at Delia to see if she was looking. She was, but only slightly and with annoyance. Then her expression suddenly changed to alarm when she spotted something big heading towards him. "Get out of the water! There's something behind you, get out quick!"

Knowing that she wouldn't give him a false alert of danger, Giovanni tried to get to shore as fast as he could, but felt something pull him underwater. The creature surfaced along with him, revealing itself to be a Gyarados. The Gyarados roared angrily and looked at Delia who was at the beach, furious at her as well.

Delia couldn't move; she just stood there looking at the Gyarados' mixture of rage and agony. Did she seek shelter in this beach running away from an area that was contaminated by the virus? Were pokemon truly that aware of the epidemic, perhaps more aware than researchers? It was as if the Gyarados was blaming her and Giovanni, blaming all humans for this disaster and assuming they were at the beach to spread it.

"Shellder, shellder!" The smaller pokemon argued with the Gyarados, defending the human who had helped him. The Gyarados roared angrily in return, pained and unforgiving.

"Let him go," Delia pleaded with the Gyarados. "Please let him go! We didn't do anything wrong! We're not the cause of the virus; we're trying to find a cure for it! Please believe me, I'm taking sand and water samples to study them, I'm trying to figure out what's going on."

"Shellder!" The pokemon offered his support, but the Gyarados was too angry to listen to reason.

The Gyarados held Giovanni tightly, her long body wrapped around the uselessly struggling human. For a moment it looked like she would devour him, but Shellder jumped towards the Gyarados trying to tackle her and was caught in the massive pokemon's mouth.

"Shellder, Giovanni!" Delia panicked; she didn't know what to do. What could she do? She had no other pokemon save for the egg inside the house, and she couldn't fight the Gyarados herself, she was far too big and strong. Now the angry sea pokemon had them both. It looked like Shellder was about to be crushed to peaces. "Stay strong Shellder, I'll be right back!"

Delia rushed to the house as fast as she could. She dug through her luggage, searching for that water stone she packed just in case. She found it, ran back and threw the water stone at Shellder. Unfortunately, Gyarados was moving too much in her attempt to find the strength to crush Shellder and the water stone fell to the sea.

Full of determination, Delia dived after it, retrieving the water stone while Shellder still kept Gyarados busy. She surfaced and climbed on to Gyarados' body where the pokemon held Giovanni.

Angered, Gyarados prepared to use a hyper beam, trying to take out the traitorous Shellder that sided with humans and the troublesome humans all at once. When Gyarados aimed, Delia took the opportunity to throw the water stone at Shellder, causing him to evolve into Cloyster. "Aurora beam!"

Cloyster broke free of Gyarados' grip and attacked, defeating the larger pokemon. As Gyarados fell, seemingly unconscious, Delia and Giovanni struggled not to be trapped under her heavy body while Cloyster helped them get to shore.

"Thank you Cloyster, you saved our lives," Delia gave the pokemon her sincere gratitude as she hugged him. "What do you say?" She paused and waited for Giovanni to speak, but he only looked puzzled, "say thank you to Cloyster, he saved our lives!"

"I'm not in the mood to argue, thank you Cloyster." Giovanni couldn't believe what he was saying, though he didn't care too much, it was just to keep Delia calm because he really wasn't in the mood to argue right now.

"Well, it seems Gyarados will need a long rest, we'll be fine for a while. You've done very well; come rest in your pokeball," Delia searched around for the pokeball on the beach and spotted it half buried in the sand. "Cloyster, return!"

"That was close; I didn't think there would be wild Gyarados in this beach."

"She was looking for shelter, or vengeance. She's gone now," Delia felt herself start to cry again, how many had passed away like this.

She noticed Giovanni's confused look, "why are you crying? We're safe now, and you were very brave."

"She's dead; the Gyarados is dead, not just fainted. I didn't want Cloyster to feel bad, so I pretended she just passed out and called him to his pokeball so he wouldn't know. She was fighting the virus, she was weak from it. Cloyster is very strong I'm sure, but to take out a Gyarados capable of using hyper beam in one hit right after evolving? Maybe what really makes Cloyster so strong is that he was able to stay healthy."

Giovanni looked at the still Gyarados. She really was dead, that virus was more powerful than anyone thought. He wondered if it would end up wiping out the existence of pokemon completely. He didn't say that to Delia, she was upset enough as it was. He hugged her and allowed her to get her frustration and sadness out of her system; she had been very helpful after all.

They stayed like that for some time, until Delia calmed down. "I want to take sand and water samples; I also want to sample Gyarados scales and a blood sample. I want to send these samples to Professor Oak; I assure you I won't mention Team Rocket. He thinks I'm traveling around doing research, so this won't seem odd, all the opposite, he might find it odd if I don't share anything from my research with him."

"Alright, I'll trust you to keep Team Rocket a secret." He could trust her, he somehow knew it. "I'll help you get the samples; we better leave after we're done." Delia's connections might prove useful as well.

They quietly got to work collecting the needed samples. While they worked, a Krabby approached them and they noted it looked healthy. The pokemon opposed no resistance to being caught by Delia, as if he had witnessed Cloyster's strength and wished to be trained too.

After the samples were collected, they were packed up, ready to be delivered to Professor Oak. They changed into normal clothes that didn't identify them as being part of Team Rocket and went on their way to Pallet Town.

To be Continued

Don't Give Me Diamonds

Diamond 005: Give me Passion

"You're not going to try anything, are you?" Delia shot Giovanni a warning glare as the car steadily advanced towards Pallet Town. She recognized she was too honest at times and shouldn't have spoken of Professor Oak so carelessly.

"That depends on what you mean," Giovanni replied coolly.

"I want you to spare Professor Oak's research center. Don't steal from him, don't sabotage, vandalize or do any other bad thing," Delia warned with all seriousness. A part of her, the part that always spoke too late in her mind, went over her possible action if he refused to comply and it was up to her to stop him; there was little she could do.

Giovanni paused, weighing the pros and cons of his possible reply. Delia saw his silence as a good sign; he was considering her words instead of simply refusing to listen to her. Finally he grinned, concluding that maybe there was something he wanted more than pokemon at the moment and his pride wouldn't allow him to rest until he obtained it. "Go out with me."

"Excuse me?" Delia could feel her anger rising at the blackmail.

"I think you heard," Giovanni was looking confident, he had Delia right where he wanted her.

"Is threatening people the only way you can get a date?" Delia pouted indignantly and waited for her words to have their effect. She knew Giovanni was prideful and would not take them well.

"One week," he no longer sounded as calm as before, but his frustration was only a well hidden hint. "I'll stay away from Oak and his pokemon forever and you only need to give me one week, after that you're off the hook. Of course that doesn't mean we have to break up after the week is over."

Delia considered the offer, one week wasn't a long time, but Giovanni was... well, he was a young man like any other and that presented certain difficulties to deal with. Still, if certain lines were not crossed, Delia thought she could deal with it. She played the possible scenarios in her head and thought of what she would do on each one. "No crossing the line," she finally consented.

"What line?" Giovanni knew exactly what she meant, but he asked anyway.

Delia didn't dignify him with a direct answer and instead opted to give him some information. "We can talk as much as you want, granted that it doesn't get in the way of my duties taking care of the pokemon." That was why she followed him after all, she had to right the wrong, turn Team Rocket into a good organization and support the pokemon until that was possible. She knew it would take time, but she was patient.

"Go on..." Giovanni pressed.

"I don't think this is the proper time to take too many breaks so I'm afraid I'll have to decline movie dates and the like. However, we can eat our meals together," She paused, trying to think of a way to make up for the lack of dates. "I'll cook for you whenever you want, I'll make anything you like as long as the ingredients are available."

"I would like to try your cooking," Giovanni agreed thus far, though it wasn't quite enough. "What else?"

"We could..." Delia tried to think of something to say, something that couples did that was still acceptable to a pretend couple. "We can hold hands!"

"What are we, seven years old?" Giovanni wasn't sure if he should be frustrated or amused, but slow and small progress was still progress, he decided to try to be patient. "You could be a little more..." he searched for a word that wouldn't sound too forward to her, "affectionate."

"If you need a hug, I'll give it to you," Delia offered, knowing full well that the bargain wouldn't work.

"And a kiss?" He inquired.

She blushed, which he caught from the corner of his eyes. She was quite the enigma, strong willed but naive, brave but innocent, yet her mix of fury and shyness had its charm. "Don't rush me."

"Don't be so stressed, relax, you weren't this nervous at the beach," back there, she was a fury, but not a nervous fury.

Delia took a deep breath and released it slowly. "I'll try to stay focused on what's important." She wouldn't let him forget the current crisis; this was no time for romance, especially such an imposed romance.

Giovanni shifted uncomfortably, he wanted to say something more, but his skin had been stinging for some time and it was becoming so painful he couldn't concentrate on the conversation.

Noting his discomfort, Delia apologized, "I'm sorry, I didn't know it would be so bad."

"What would be?" He shifted again, how annoying.

"The sun burn..." Delia cringed, imagining how much more pain Giovanni would have to endure by the end of the day. His skin was still tender, having been burned recently, but the pain would get worse. "It's because I threw away your sun block, I'm really sorry."

Trying to be brave, Giovanni grinned nonchalantly, "this is nothing, don't worry about it."

xoxox xox xoxox

Though they had plenty of time to rest while sitting in the car after their near death experiences at the beach, the long drive only made Giovanni and Delia more tired. It was night by the time they reached Pewter City and they headed towards a hotel.

While they checked in, Delia gave Giovanni a meaningful glance, followed by a sweet smile and a whispered, "two rooms."

To the lady at the front desk it might have sounded something like 'your room' as if they were deliberately rooming separately for appearances only and had no intentions of spending the night apart. However, the lady showed no indication of having noticed Delia's whisper; she merely pushed up her glasses and maintained her neutral smile, while listening to Giovanni's request for two rooms. He didn't want Delia to throw a fit.

At the doors to their respective rooms, which were side by side, Delia and Giovanni stopped and each waited for the other to say something.

They open their mouths simultaneously and were unanimously interrupted by the growling of their stomachs. "Do you feel like going out to dinner?" Giovanni jumped on the opportunity, pushing away any feelings of silly embarrassment; after all, her stomach was just as loud as his.

Though Delia thought that dating during a crisis was wasting valuable time that could be put towards helping alleviate said crisis, food was still a necessity so she agreed to getting some dinner.

xoxox xox xoxox

Dinner was relatively uneventful though delicious, especially to those with empty stomachs. Delia caught herself several times talking to Giovanni as if her situation with him was not unusual at all. However, she quickly reminded herself to keep her guard up, though it was difficult being so sleepy, which made her distracted.

"Maybe we should get ready for bed; we need to get an early start tomorrow." Before Giovanni could make a comment Delia clarified, "I mean you in your room and me in mine."

xoxox xox xoxox

At the hotel, they once again stood in front of their respective doors. "Don't I get a good night," he stopped, he had decided not to be too direct, to let Delia come to him, he could manage that, it would work. Besides, she was glaring daggers, "hug?"

Delia nodded; seemingly pleased not to be pressured for more, though her glare might have been the reason. She cheerfully, though not too energetically due to the day's activities, walked over to Giovanni and tightly wrapped her arms around him. It took him a second to return the embrace and he was very tense. "Oh my!" The realization sunk in for Delia, "your sunburn, that must have hurt, I'm sorry, I should have known to be more gentle."

"I told you, it's nothing!" Giovanni pulled Delia close for another hug as if to prove that he felt no discomfort, though he certainly did.

"You don't have to push yourself. Get some rest, you'll feel better in a few days and thank you for listening to me during dinner. I want to hear about your life next time."

xoxox xox xoxox

It had been over an hour since they each returned to their respective rooms. Giovanni could clearly hear the shower next door for a while, then the water was shut off and there was silence. He thought that Delia must be able to hear his shower as well on the other side of the thin wall and might not want to be kept awake, but the cool water was soothing so he stayed under it for much longer than he normally would.

What made him finally leave the shower was a knock on the door. "Delia?"

"Sorry to interrupt, but you've been in the shower for a long time, I can tell, I heard you get in. Not to be a nagger but it's not nice to waste so much water; besides, I think I can make you feel better."

In a split second Giovanni was at the door dripping wet with only a towel loosely wrapped around his waist. "Come in," he spoke in his most seductive tone.

"Um... ah..." Delia looked left and right, up and down the hall, then went inside, clutching a white plastic bag. "I hope no one saw me," she muttered under her breath, the scene could easily lend itself to the wrong conclusions.

"No one is going to judge you," Giovanni smiled confidently.

Delia glared, her face bright red in both embarrassment and anger. "Listen here Charmander, if you let that towel fall you'll never have descendants."

"But you-"

"That's not what I'm here for. I went out to get you some medicine for your sun burn!" She shoved the bag at him, it contained various supplies from a near by pharmacy.

"How considerate..." it was a pity she didn't show that same consideration for his pride. He mentally counted to ten, made sure the towel was secure around his waist and told himself to be patient or he would further ruin what little progress they made at dinner. "I didn't mean to jump to conclusions, I'm just..."

"A man?" Delia offered.


Her voice turned even more fierce, "that's no excuse!" she scolded, "show some self control. Now, if you promise to behave I'll rub some anti-burn cream on your back so you don't have to trouble yourself reaching; that is after you've dried yourself of course. You can take care of the rest, okay?"

"I would like that," she couldn't keep her hands off him, Giovanni assured himself. He went back into the bathroom to dry himself off and decided not to take unnecessary risks angering Delia, thus he emerged wearing pants and sat down, closing his eyes and relaxing.

His bliss didn't last long as he found that the anti-burn cream stung terribly and he was sure Delia was scratching him on purpose, but he refused to show any signs of pain. "I know this will sting," Delia saw through his act, "but you have to put it on, it's super effective. I'll know if you did, I'll be able to see the results tomorrow."

"I will..." He would put it on; she knew he would, because he was stubborn.

Delia grinned, feeling sorry for his pain, but at the same time concluding it was karma. Giovanni cursed his luck, this could be quite enjoyable minus the pain, but sadly, he couldn't even feel Delia's soft hands beyond the sting, though he could certainly feel her nails.

To be Continued

Don't Give Me Diamonds

Diamond 006: Give me Comfort

When morning came at the little inn in Pewter City, things looked better for Giovanni than they had the night before. That anti-burn cream Delia got him was super effective and he appeared to be fully healed. He took the bottle and examined it closely. He had put it on as promised, she was certainly right about being able to tell if he used it, the difference was as noticeable as day and night. However, his satisfaction was short lived, "this stuff is made for pokemon!"

He found himself pushing back his temper once more, Delia was only trying to help and the cream did result in a little miracle for him. Deciding not to mention his discovery, Giovanni concluded that he wasn't all that curious to know if Delia was aware of the fact the lotion was for pokemon or not. After the morning activities were completed, the pair met out in the hall, coming out of their rooms simultaneously.

"You look good today," Delia suddenly complimented, albeit Giovanni's ego didn't have time to grow before she added, "I told you that anti-burn cream would work, see what happens when you listen to people's well intended advice like a good boy?"

Motherly was a term that described Delia well, she was often motherly towards the other Team Rocket members and specially towards the pokemon, but that was not the mood he wanted her in. Yet he could think of nothing to say before she started down the stairs.

"Giovanni, hurry up or we'll be late!" Giovanni rushed down the stairs to meet Delia, they checked out of the inn and returned to the car.

"It's still early, we could go out for breakfast in a nice restaurant," Giovanni suggested.

"Time is of the essence, but you're right in that we should remember to take care of ourselves. Let's just go to a place that has food ready quickly so we can get on the road again. Pallet Town is still a long way from here; we need to pass through Viridian City first."

"Don't worry, we're making great progress," with Delia in a rush to deliver the samples, there was little time left to take advantage of their deal.

They stopped in front of a fancy restaurant, which Delia declined, "they'll take too long to bring the food. These places are for people who have time to sit and talk while they wait and we don't."

In the end they settled for the breakfast menu of a fast food place and were on the road again soon after.

xoxox xox xoxox

Time passed and they made it to the Viridian Forest fairly quickly. That was the slowest part of the trip since the forest was so thick and no one bothered to take good care of the road. Viridian was the closest major city to Pallet Town, though clear of the abundant trees of the forest, Giovanni knew the road would not be good past the city, no one had much of a reason to go that way anyway.

They were slowly but surely making their way through the forest when the car suddenly jerked violently, causing Giovanni to stomp on the breaks and Delia to close her eyes, clutching the pokemon egg protectively. The car came to a full stop feeling unbalanced. "Great... it looks like a flat tire."

"Did you bring a spare?" Delia certainly hoped he did.

"No, that was the spare; I changed it a few days ago," and forgot to replace it. Things were not looking good for Giovanni.

Even so, Delia didn't lose her optimistic mood. "Viridian City isn't far; we'll get another tire and replace it."

"Right, I'll go get it, wait here," Giovanni got out of the car, silently cursing his luck.

"I'll come too and you should get a spare while you're at it," Delia got out of the car as well.

Their conversation was interrupted by an approaching pokemon loudly calling out, "machoke!" while pointing at them.

"What is it Machoke?" A woman was fast approaching and for a moment Delia feared she was a police officer that somehow knew the leader of Team Rocket would be heading that way, though how she obtained that information would be inexplicable.

The police usually used Growlithe as their main pokemon, but exceptions were not unheard of. "Giovanni, the police!" Delia couldn't be caught like this. For a fleeting moment she considered claiming she had been taken hostage by Giovanni. She had good friends who could vouch for her character and it wasn't an unlikely possibility. Yet she couldn't bring herself to abandon Giovanni. She reached for her pokeballs, adding a plan B hastily in. "Giovanni, take the pokemon and battle the police, if they win, take me hostage and escape." It was wrong to pretend to be a hostage, but she would much rather turn Giovanni into a righteous vigilante than see him imprisoned.

Giovanni shook his head, "Delia, relax, put those pokeballs away. No one knows who we are."

Embarrassed by her sudden panic because of the Machoke's alarm, Delia nodded hurriedly and quickly put the pokeballs away, thankful that that pokemon couldn't talk, thus the Machoke would not be a dangerous witness.

"Oh my, you got a flat tire!"  The woman was not wearing a police uniform, nor did she have anything that identified her as an officer.

Delia then understood that the Machoke was only trying to alert his trainer that there were people there who appeared to be in need of assistance. It then sunk in that she had subconsciously gotten into a somewhat criminal mind frame worrying about being caught. She remained lost in thought while Giovanni casually made up a story to tell the woman.

They learned that Machoke's trainer, Amethyst, was the leader of the Viridian City gym, which she had inherited from her father. She was known in the city as a cheerful young woman, with a vast willingness to help others and a bit of a shy side at times. She was also very beautiful with violet eyes and brilliant golden hair.

With some help from Amethyst's Machoke, the flat tire problem was solved swiftly. None the less, one distraction led to another and the group had lunch in Viridian City. Delia didn't want to rush out too quickly, albeit she could come up with a believable normal sounding excuse to be in a hurry, she was still jumpy from her earlier scare and wanted to avoid unnecessary suspicion.

It was when Delia called out Cloyster and Krabby for lunch, apologizing for having woken them up so early for breakfast before, that Giovanni realized she had been taking care of feeding the pokemon all along. She must have gone out to buy pokemon food when she got the anti-burn cream for him and given them dinner later that night. Then they must have had breakfast before Delia exited her room that morning.

Giovanni had all but forgotten about his Ivysaur, which had only been fed once early on the previous day. He considered hiding the pokemon, though if she was too weak to battle that would defeat the purpose of having brought her along for emergencies. Besides, Delia didn't need to know he forgot. He called out Ivysaur who was used to being forgotten and didn't make a fuss about being hungry, though she was certainly happy to have some lunch with the other pokemon.

Delia gave Giovanni a discreet glance, noticing his hand caught in the cookie jar expression, which he found impossible to hide completely. Fortunately, albeit the looks were easy to catch for those who expected them, the silent exchange went unnoticed by Amethyst.

After lunch, the act of friendly travelers was finalized with an expression of gratitude to Amethyst and her Machoke, and Giovanni and Delia were finally on the road to Pallet town once again.

As expected, when they left Viridian City behind, Delia brought up the topic of Ivysaur, but was not too energetic in scolding Giovanni, "please don't let Ivysaur go hungry again."

"Are you alright?"


"You sound tired, ever since we ran into Amethyst you've been uncomfortable," he paused and allowed his mind to come up with a pleasant theory, though he was smart enough not to voice that he thought, or at least hoped, it was all due to jealousy caused by the false friendly act he put up with Amethyst.  

"I panicked back there and it made me realize what it's like to be on the run," Delia confessed.

"We're not on the run; we can go out in the open anywhere. I don't think you know the difference between a mafia organization and a gang of common thieves. Granted that's how we started, but it's not so simple anymore, it stopped being simple since before you joined. We'll be a powerful force, right now we're unknown and by the time they learn who we are, the police won't come after us, they'll know better than to start a war."

His words did the opposite of reassuring Delia, "you're aiming high and in the wrong direction," the second day, today was the second day, she would count yesterday as a full day even if Giovanni didn't like it. In another five days their deal would be off and she would no longer have a criminal boyfriend.

"Delia..." She automatically looked at him, suppressing the need to tell him he should be paying attention to the road instead of her. The path was straight and there was nothing to crash into anyway. "I'll protect you."

She blinked, blushed, then laughed, the last reaction understandably surprising Giovanni. She shook her head and composed herself, "a spy movie, you sounded just like the protagonist of a spy movie." She would never admit that she was laughing herself out of a dreamy daze in which she wanted to believe she was safe.

She just had to keep reminding herself that real life bad boys were not like movie bad boys, and yet, she still held on to the hope of someday making him change his ways. Perhaps she knew he was inevitably destined for power and wanted to make sure that power was used well.

Giovanni wasn't sure if he should be angry or glad. At least Delia was taking things better than he thought, or maybe she was running away from the facts. He concluded that it was useless to go around in circles trying to figure her out, she really was an enigma. "I like spy movies," he tried to guide the conversation into a casual topic.

Delia was all too happy to distract herself from her worries and played along. Soon they relaxed and carried out a normal conversation about movies, music and the like.

xoxox xox xoxox

When they entered Pallet Town, Delia was surprised. She knew it wasn't a very long way from Viridian to Pallet in a car, though pokemon trainers sometimes took up to three days to travel on foot, it was quite possible to make it in one, the delay was probably due to multiple stops along the way to pursue wild pokemon. Still, the remainder of the trip had gone by very quickly.

"Right down the street, there on that little hill," she directed him towards Professor Oak's research lab. Giovanni stopped in front of the stairs leading to the house; the gates had been left open. Delia exited the car, carrying the pokemon egg in one arm and a box full of samples on the other, which she had retrieved from the back of the car. She was half way up the stairs when she stopped and called back at Giovanni, "aren't you coming? You'll get bored waiting in the car for so long."

Giovanni didn't like the sound of this. "You mean you're not just going to drop off the samples?" He knew the answer would be a negative and wasted no time waiting for it before starting up the stairs. Then again, this might be for the best, he would know a little more about the resources and contacts Delia had and how he could use them in the future, this trip had stopped being only a vacation a long time ago.

"I want to take a look at the samples too, hear Professor Oak's opinion and say hi to the pokemon. This place is bigger than it looks; I stayed here for a long time as a student. I'm sure that Professor Oak will have a couple of spare rooms and invite us to stay," Delia explained.

"Fine, have it your way then," he took the box and placed his other arm around her waist, they did have a deal. He was her boyfriend for a week, not her secret boyfriend.

"If you're going to play the boyfriend card, you'll have to be nice to Professor Oak and help out. We'll be busy with the samples so you'll have to help with the pokemon and you need to treat them well."

For all his work, Giovanni felt he wouldn't receive any rewards right away, but having a look around the lab would be good. "Alright, I'll play nice, but try not to extend the visit too much. We should leave tomorrow at the latest." Sometimes he wondered why he was so tolerant with her. Either way; it wouldn't take him long to asset the situation and know what cards he held for later so there was no need to stay for more than a day.

"I'll try; believe me I'm in a hurry to see if we can learn anything from these samples so we will be working as fast as possible."

Delia rang the door bell and noted Professor Oak's solemn expression as he opened the door, which he tried to brighten when he realized who it was. "Delia, welcome back, and you've brought a guest, come in, come in."

Delia was quick to cut to the chase, "you look sad, did something happen? How are the pokemon? Has the epidemic reached here? We collected some samples from the beach east of Cerulean City where a healthy Shellder was found, although there was also a sick Gyarados, but I don't think she was originally from that area. I have water, sand and even scales from the Gyarados. The Shellder is now a Cloyster and I have him with me, as well as a healthy Krabby caught in the same beach. I would also like to conduct a more detailed examination on this pokemon egg, it came from a Persian, she..." Delia sniffled, "passed away..." and started crying, unable to hold back any longer.

Professor Oak feared his expression had been far too easy to read and didn't know what to say. Giovanni resolved to hug Delia quietly until she calmed down, though he was as confused as ever with her outburst. However, neither needed to wait for Oak to tell them the epidemic had reached his lab, it was written all over his face even if he tried to hide it.

Several minutes passed before Delia let out her bottled up stress and became focused again. Professor Oak first examined the egg, confirming that as Delia previously determined, the virus had not been passed from mother to child. Oak then got to work on studying the samples, though Delia's studies had concentrated more on the pokemon directly than on analyzing their environment.

She took Oak's gentle suggestion to take a break and go for a walk in the spacious yard. She didn't want to get in the way and knew he would work faster if he didn't have to explain what he was doing as he went along, this was no time for an academic lecture; he needed to concentrate in his research.

Between the rush, the sadness and the overall drama, Giovanni was eventually introduced, with Delia feeling the obligation to point out he was her boyfriend. Albeit the casual pleasantries were cut short, due to the call of duty to focus on research, for which Giovanni was secretly thankful.

Delia restlessly made her way through the yard, which looked sadly empty with so few healthy pokemon left in the area. "I wish I was an expert in pokemon but my training is far from over, I would just slow him down if I go in there to help Professor Oak." The egg had been left inside the lab along with Cloyster and Krabby for further examinations.

"You've done a lot already, for all we know, this could be the key to solving the mystery of the epidemic," Giovanni consoled her, though it had little effect.

"You may be right, I am naive, but not this much, nothing in life is that easy." For a moment it looked like Delia would suffer a nervous break down and Giovanni could only think of hugging her, though she unexpectedly looked up at him with confidence. "I won't give up, no matter what." Taking a deep breath, she focused on her other mission, trying to turn Giovanni good. Perhaps if she opened her heart to him just a little, she would find him easier to understand and easier to guide towards the right path. "It's a bit empty now, but this place is very beautiful, I enjoyed taking walks here as a student."

Giovanni was surprised by the sudden shift in Delia's mood when she took his hand and started hurrying towards the other side of the grassy fields where there was a little pond. Concluding he would never understand women, he went along with the nicer mood and took the opportunity to relax and take a break from the stress that dominated the majority of their time lately.

To be Continued

Don't Give Me Diamonds

Diamond 007: Give me Understanding

"Poor pokemon..." As Delia had predicted, Professor Oak did invite them to spend the night over, though he confessed that most of the rooms in the house were occupied by pokemon that were too sick to go into their pokeballs, leaving Delia and Giovanni to share the only available guest room.

Delia had been cheered up a little, spending time relaxing outside, though Giovanni's attempt to charm her with sweet nothings failed miserably, since his nothings were too spicy to be sweet. It only caused Delia to scold him, making use of the Charmander nickname again; which she had decided fit him well. He didn't like it, but that only made it better.

Upon being harshly thrown back into reality, Delia only nodded in a daze, not questioning Oak's assumption until she and Giovanni were inside the room, at which time she rushed out. "Professor Oak! Are you sure you don't have another room?"

Oak laughed lightly, finding renewed hope in the refreshing atmosphere of youth. "Calm down you're an adult, no one is judging you. Besides, I already heard from a colleague who was staying at Pewter City last night. You should have heard him dramatizing over the phone. I told him times change and-"

"No!" Delia snapped; someone had seen her after all. "I mean, I don't, I didn't-"

"Delia honey, calm down, you don't need to worry, it's obvious Professor Oak is a very understanding and open-minded person, an admirable quality, especially for a brilliant researcher," Giovanni grinned victoriously.

"Thank you," Oak was flattered, but Delia knew Giovanni was only complimenting him to encourage his wrong conclusions.

Delia found herself caught in a corner and decided not to allow Giovanni's victory to go to his head. "Thank you for being so understanding," she smiled sugary sweet at Oak, with murder flashing in her eyes and went back into the guest room.

Professor Oak gave Giovanni a look of sympathy, which the younger man caught but did not understand. The researcher left, off to his own room to turn in for the night and Giovanni entered the guest room, hearing the sound of the shower behind the closed door of the annexed bathroom.

He assumed that Delia would be locked in the bathroom for a long time, but she finished fairly quickly and emerged in her pink pajamas, which did not show any skin in a way she would deem unnecessary. She nonchalantly retrieved a brush from the luggage that had been moved inside a little earlier, and began to brush her hair.

Without a word, Giovanni went to take a shower, almost expecting to find some kind of trap somewhere, but found nothing out of place. When he came out, wearing a pair of pajama pants, since he was not stupid enough to come out in a towel given Delia's threat from last time, she found her sitting on the bed reading a book about pokemon, which he assumed she must have borrowed from Professor Oak's personal library.

"Are we going to sleep now?" He had to break the silence. Delia only shook her head. "Are you going to read all night?" She nodded at that.

Judging by her position sitting on the bed and her stubborn resolve, her plan must be to stay up all night and force him to do the same, preventing him from crawling under the covers to block out the light.

"Fine," if it wasn't one thing, it was another, the situation was hopeless at the moment, but tomorrow was another day and Giovanni liked challenges. "Have a nice night of reading; I'll be sleeping on the couch."

xoxox xox xoxox

Giovanni shifted and turned, then sat up in frustration. Professor Oak desperately needed to buy a new couch because the one he had was as hard as an Onix. He caught a glimpse of a shadow approaching in the darkness, illuminated only by the faint light seeping in through the windows from outside. "Delia?"

"You were awake..." it was a statement, rather than a question. She gave him a pillow and blanket, revealing the delivery to be the purpose of her visit. "I know Professor Oak's couch is as hard as an Onix so I felt bad about you sleeping on it. Also, it's not entirely your fault that we ended up sharing, even if we haven't been seen at Pewter City, all the guest rooms are still full."

"It's not so bad, and I'm not tired anyway..."

"You should be, the last few days have been long, but it was nice this afternoon, to forget about my worries for a little while. I just hope a cure can be found soon."

"You really care about pokemon."

"I do..." Almost without realizing it, Delia sat down on the rock hard couch beside Giovanni. "I've always found them to be so cute and charming, but..."

A moment of silence passed, "go on," he encouraged with genuine curiosity, though her tone implied that the next part wouldn't be cheerful.

"You only see them as a source of power," her voice was filled with so much agony that it surprised Giovanni. Why did she care so much? It made no sense to him. "I think they're our friends. What was your first pokemon like?"

"I've forgotten."

"Lies," she didn't believe he would forget his first pokemon, no one could forget something like that.

"It was a Squirtle."

"What happened to it? The truth please."

"I don't have it anymore; I don't know what happened to it."

"It's dead," she concluded.

"How do you know that?" Delia had suddenly become an even bigger enigma to Giovanni.

"You just said you didn't have it, you didn't say you traded it or why you don't have it, so I guessed the worse and you confirmed it," Delia explained, her voice unexpectedly even.

"Alright, I fell for it and now you're going to ask for the full story, aren't you?" Surprisingly, Delia shook her head and it was Giovanni who insisted. "If I don't tell you, you'll assume the worse. I didn't kill it and it didn't die of starvation or exhaustion, even if I did push it a lot. It died in a battle. Gang pokemon battles can get far more violent than any official or casual battle. A lot of the pokemon are drugged to become more powerful for a short time, but in the long run it kills them. That wasn't the case with Blastoise; Squirtle had already evolved at the time. I was confident Blastoise was strong enough to win and sent it out to battle against a Nidoking, it was two on two and Blastoise had already defeated a Primeape. Nidoking was too strong and Blastoise was killed. I sent out a Bulbasaur then, I didn't seriously think I could win, but I wasn't going to give up. Nidoking was overdosed and his strength didn't last much longer, so Bulbasaur won, it's the same Ivysaur I have now."

There was a long silence.


Tears were silently running down her face, "I feel sorry for Blastoise and even more so for Nidoking. I fear to think of the fate of Primeape, maybe it was the same as Nidoking. Giovanni, please don't do that, if you must see pokemon as power, see their natural power, don't experiment with them; that only hurts them. You faced your opponent with pokemon without illegal enhancements, that much was good, even if you shouldn't have put your pokemon in that situation in the first place."

"You're not angry at me? You're sad about the pokemon, but I thought you would be furious at me."

"Even so, you told me the truth, thank you for that, please feel free to tell me anything, you can trust me, I'll help," she tried to be quiet, she didn't want to disturb the sleeping pokemon or wake Professor Oak.

He hugged her and caressed her hair.

"You're right to say I'm naive, maybe the worse part is that I'm like that by choice. Maybe the truth is that the police can't handle things like that, there's too much going on in the shadows. Maybe that's why I hold on to Team Rocket, because I can't stand to throw away the opportunity to save the pokemon. After the epidemic is resolved, as I have to believe it will be, let's establish Team Rocket firmly and make it good, it doesn't even have to be legal if the law slows it down. It can even be feared; maybe it should be, but let it be feared by the villains, not by the innocent."

"We gather strong Pokemon and gain power and riches, that's all there really is to it."

"Let me believe there's more."

He said nothing more after that, he only held her tightly. She was set in believing what she wanted to believe. Could she really fully adapt to the life style of Team Rocket? She had been struggling, yet thinking she could change their organization, she remained loyal.

She drifted off to sleep without realizing it and he carried her back to the guest room where they slept for the rest of the night.

xoxox xox xoxox

Delia was dreaming about something she had not dreamed of in a while. It was the carefree dream of a little girl waiting for her prince. But she was no longer a little girl in her dream and her prince was instead an aspiring mafia lord. However, the rest of the dream played out in the same fashion it had many times before.

She was wearing a pretty dress, surrounded by elegance in a palace. The color and style of her dress varied every time she had the dream, it had been pink, cyan, various shades of blue and even yellow. Yet this was the first time it had appeared in white, it was a strapless dress, decorated with diamonds, with a long flowing skirt, the fabric extending infinitely. She wore a diamond necklace with matching earrings, bracelets and a tiara that sparkled beautifully.

Her prince in a formal black tuxedo; kneeled before her and took her hand, placing a ring on her finger with the most brilliant diamond of all. "My princess, will you marry me?"

She smiled with pure radiant joy, "I will!"

The dream changed instantly, the palace background was gone and instead they were in a church crowded with people. "I now pronounce you husband and wife," the priest announced.

Delia looked at her husband beside her, but she had to look down because he was a little Charmander. Much to her horror, Delia discovered that she was not only getting married to a Charmander, but she was doing so in her pajamas. Despite the lack of formal elegance of her outfit, she still somehow kept all her diamond jewelry, which made her pajamas look even more plain in comparison.

"Char! Char!" Her little husband called out to her and it was the last image Delia saw in her dream before she woke up.

xoxox xox xoxox

"Ah!" Startled, Delia rolled off the bed and fell on the floor.

"Delia!" Giovanni was immediately woken by her sudden yell, but was unable to stop her from falling on time. "Are you alright? Don't be so dramatic, I didn't do anything; I just slept next to you, that's all. If we had stayed on that couch we would be sore all day," he explained as he helped her up.

She nodded; the odd dream still vivid in her mind. "I believe you," she finally assured after a moment. Taking a deep breath, she couldn't help it but to confess the latter portion of her dream, intentionally leaving out the first part. "I had a really strange dream. I was getting married to a Charmander in my pajamas! Can you believe it, getting married in my pajamas?"

"You were marrying a pokemon and you were worried about what you were wearing?" Giovanni couldn't help it but to be amused.

"Of course I was worried about that too!" Delia pouted in embarrassment; then laughed at the sheer silliness of the dream. It was a new day full of hope.

xoxox xox xoxox

The early morning flowed relatively uneventful. Professor Oak returned Cloyster and Krabby after taking blood samples from both. The pokemon, including Ivysaur, were fed and the humans had their breakfast as well.

Delia discussed a few things with Professor Oak concerning the epidemic research; he was especially fascinated by the examination of the Gyarados' scales through the microscope, finding some small differences from the data previously collected from other sick Gyarados and made public to the scientific community.

After they were done talking, Delia got the pokemon egg and said her final goodbyes while Giovanni loaded their luggage back in the car. He pushed himself to put up one final nice boyfriend act and politely say goodbye to Professor Oak, then they were gone.

xoxox xox xoxox

"Back to HQ?" Delia inquired as the car advanced through the rural roads on its way out of Pallet Town.

"There are some things I need to do first."

"Excuses," Delia shook her head. She might be naive, optimistic and trusting, but she was not dumb.

Before Giovanni could reply, his phone rang; he had specifically instructed Aayla when he left her in charge of the hideout not to call unless it was an extreme emergency. "What happened?"

"Dude Giovanni, it's like totally terrible, you know?"


"Aayla told me to call; she's with the others, like" a gasp for breath, "battling! The Tempest Gang is like totally invading us, man!"

"I'm on my way, hold them off, don't let them get to the warehouse and don't let them take over the hideout!" Giovanni hung up and looked at Delia intently; "hold on, we'll be moving fast."

Delia securely wrapped her arms around the pokemon egg which sat on her lap and Giovanni stepped on the gas until the pedal couldn't go any further. The car roared loudly and sped away recklessly.

To be Continued

Don't Give Me Diamonds

Diamond 008: Give me Adventure

Giovanni cursed loudly as the side mirror was knocked off his car after brushing against a tree. People's screams as they rushed to get out of the way in Viridian City still echoes in Delia's head. They were pursued by the police for their reckless driving through the city, though fortunately they didn't hit anything or anyone before making it to the forest.

Giovanni knew he couldn't lead the police to the hideout, thus far from slowing down to navigate the forest, he sped up even more. "Are they still after us?"

Delia looked back, trying to perceive any trace of the police through the tick forest, too focused on the rush of the moment to care if they had already seen her face. "I don't see them, but they could catch up."

The empty warning light was bright on the dashboard, Giovanni knew he should have refueled when he had the chance, he intended to stop at Viridian City on the way back from Pallet Town, but he rushed through in his haste and didn't refuel.

Having consumed the last drop of gas, the car finally came to a full stop. "Damn it! Why now?" He punched the steering wheel hard, fortunately missing the horn.

"Because you didn't refuel!" Delia yelled back. A million thoughts ran through her head, about her life as a criminal, because that's what she felt like, about how she could have avoided this, and most of all, about what was happening at the hideout. "The others are in danger, one of the bad gangs is there; our comrades need us!" She wasn't sure where that came from, but she didn't want to picture her friends from Team Rocket or their pokemon getting hurt.

"Growlithe! Growl! Growlithe!" The barking of a pack of Growlithe echoed loudly, fast approaching.

"We have to run," Giovanni dug out a backpack from the back of the car for Delia to put the pokemon egg in it and they both ran through the thick forest.

There was nothing particularly incriminating in the car other than the Team Rocket uniforms, but that didn't matter, Team Rocket was a gang of pokemon thieves, a few driving tickets to their name were nothing.

The barking of the Growlithe became closer and came from multiple directions. "They must have alerted the Pewter City police!" Giovanni concluded; they were trapped from both sides. Maybe they could hide in the thick forest surrounding Viridian until they lost the police, but that would slow them down too much.

"What do we do? I don't want to fight the police," the seriousness of the situation sunk in like a Golem in a pool for Delia and her fighting spirit which came out when they were previously found by Machoke was gone. However, she still didn't want to give up, she didn't want her friends and their pokemon to get hurt; she wanted to help them, even if they were criminals.

"We're too outnumbered anyway, I'll have to take you hostage after all," He took out a knife, "just play along, don't be scared... actually, yes, try to look scared."

"I won't have to put up much of an act for that," Delia stayed perfectly still, allowing Giovanni to hold her hands behind her back and the knife at her throat.

"Stop!" A woman with blue hair wearing a police uniform emerged from beyond the dense flora followed by three men also in police uniforms.

"Don't come any closer or the girl dies!" Giovanni threatened.

Delia gave the officer, whose name happened to be Jenny, an absolutely terrified look, which matched her situation perfectly. Jenny would never guess the source of Delia's fear were the officers, rather than the man holding her hostage.

"Don't do anything rash now," the police was obviously under a lot of tension. Several other officers had caught up, including another blue haired woman identical to the first, who came from the opposite direction. "Just let her go." The Viridian City Jenny kept her voice gentle, hoping not to startle the criminal into slicing the hostage's throat.

Giovanni glanced back for a second, he should have slowed down in the city, but he could only think of the battle that waited against the rival gang and his hasty mistake came at a high price. There were officers and Growlithe all around them, having come from both Viridian and Pewter City. "Stay back, I'm serious!"

Dragging Delia along threateningly, Giovanni made his way out of the circle of officers and through the forest. He knew the officers were following them from a distance, but the hostage situation only allowed them to walk at a slow pace.

When they were far enough not to be seen, though the Growlithe could surely follow their scent with ease, Giovanni released Delia and they ran deep into the forest until they reached a stream.

"Can you swim?" Giovanni hastily asked.

"Yes..." Delia gasped in fright. "Oh, I think I understand; it's to make the trail harder to follow for the Growlithe... Good idea, let's go." Her heart was pounding and she couldn't catch her breath.

"Delia, pull yourself together, you'll drown if you don't calm down," Giovanni urged.

Delia nodded, she didn't know what she was doing anymore and even if Giovanni wasn't really forcing her to follow him, she felt very much like his real hostage. "I'm alright, I can do this."

They jumped into the stream, making use of the current to move faster. They came out down stream and continued their run, exhausted, wet and cold, but with no intentions of stopping.

"Pewter City is up ahead, we'll go around it quietly steal a transport and hurry to the hideout," Giovanni decided.

"We can't steal anything; it's wrong! I found a way to justify taking the pokemon thinking they would be treated better but... oh, what am I doing here anyway?" Delia felt it was too late to question the motives she should have questioned from the start.

"When you see something you think is wrong, you can't leave it alone. You want to carry the weight of the world by yourself, that's why you won't stop following me," Giovanni had been holding her hand since they left the stream, making sure she didn't fall behind or run off on her own, but finally, he let her go. "Stay here if you want, you're just an innocent hostage after all. I trust you won't reveal the location of the hideout; it would cause a lot of trouble for everyone. Go back to Pallet Town; I'll find you when things calm down."

Delia watched Giovanni run towards the outskirts of Pewter City and take cover. She really shouldn't have followed him, every logical and sane brain cell she had was screaming at her not to follow him. Yet he was right about one thing, she couldn't leave this wrong alone, because she knew she could make it right. Thus she followed him, sneaking around, dangerously close to the police station, ready to allow him to take her hostage again if it came to that. "What are you doing?" She whispered.

"They're distracted; I'll steal a motorcycle and get out of here. They sent most of their officers to the forest and left the station almost empty." The opportunity was one of the kind and Giovanni knew it might be his only chance to get away fast. "I guess this is where we go our separate ways."

Giovanni quietly made his way to the motorcycle parking lot outside the station. Someone had conveniently left the keys on the ignition of one of the motorcycles. He slashed the tires of the other vehicles in the parking lot; that should slow them down considerably. He took the donut carelessly left on the seat and threw it away, imagining the face of the officer finding that the donut was there on the ground, but the motorcycle had disappeared.

Delia rushed after Giovanni and sat behind him, wrapping her arms tightly around his waist, which took him by surprise. "What are you doing?"

"Chill out Charmander, I just don't want to fall off. You're right, I can't leave things as they are and I'm not letting you get away. Sorry, you're stuck with me; now let's get moving before they see us!" Delia urged. She had decided to follow her instincts and dream she could take on the world.

"Hold on," Giovanni started the engine and the noise caught the attention of the few officers that were left behind at the station, but it was too late, they were already making their get away.

Out of Pewter City and into the mountains they went recklessly fast. They knew they were being followed, but most of the officers were probably still looking for them at the Viridian forest when they made their get away from Pewter City and those at Pewter were left to pursue them on foot without the help of pokemon to trail them.

When the terrain became too rough, they abandoned the motorcycle and continued on foot until they saw smoke. "It's on fire... the hideout is on fire!" Delia yelled.

"Tempest will pay for this!" Giovanni rushed down the mountain towards the area next to the flames, where a pokemon battle was still raging.

The opposing pokemon looked furious, but at the same time lost. What shocked Delia most was that they were wounded but didn't seem to notice and continued to push themselves being ripped apart. "What have they done to those poor pokemon?"

Team Rocket looked like they were in trouble, though Aayla kept insisting that they had to stay strong, "keep battling everyone, the boss will be here soon!"

"I'm already here," Giovanni ran towards the fight. A chorus of his name was heard among the members of Team Rocket as they found renewed strength.

"Sorry boss, the warehouse and the hideout are both up in flames," Aayla apologized. "They outnumber us three to one humans and five to one pokemon."

The odds were clearly against them, but Team Rocket somehow still looked strong after Giovanni had arrived. Some of the members even had the courage to threaten their enemies from the Tempest Gang, certain that their leader's arrival would assure their victory. Delia was both puzzled and amazed, how could they have so much faith in Giovanni?

"We can still win, we won't let them get away with this, Team Rocket doesn't retreat!" Cheers came from Team Rocket as they stood beside Giovanni with confidence, ready to continue the fight.

A man stepped forward from the Tempest Gang; he had cyan hair and eerie yet enthralling red eyes. His body was perfectly proportioned and his face quite handsome. He possessed a unique commanding aura. "Good to see you again Aayla," he mocked.

"Venom," Aayla growled in response, "The Boss is here now; Team Rocket is taking you out!"

"It doesn't look like it," Venom laughed evilly, "you Rocket trash don't know what you're up against. You should be running for your lives!"

Before Giovanni could step forward to answer to the rival gang leader, Delia's voice echoed with the command of "aurora beam!" and Venom was knocked to the ground by Cloyster's attack. "The way you people treat pokemon is terrible, I won't let you get away with it! Krabby use bubble!"

The atmosphere was covered in bubbles and Giovanni make good use of the distraction as well as Delia's strategy, calling out Ivysaur to join the other pokemon. "Everyone attack! Knock out all the trainers!"

"Alright dudes, all's fair in love and war, you know? Let's like throw the rule book out the window, man!" Luke sent his pokemon, Poliwhirl and Tentacool on the offensive.

"This is a bold move Giovanni, it will have repercussions. I take it Delia doesn't know the agreement, that the pokemon fight and the humans can't be attacked until all their pokemon are defeated," Binks complained, while holding his unconscious Rattata protectively.

"We'll do what we have to do to win," Giovanni insisted.

"If this is the choice that has been made, so be it..." Leah quietly accepted it, "Butterfree, use sleep powder on the enemy trainers!"

"It's about time we gave them what they deserve!" Aayla was pleased with the turn the battle had taken, "Ghastly, confuse ray on the trainers!"

"This is an outrage! How dare you?" Venom yelled in anger. "Rhyhorn!" He called his pokemon out of its pokeball. However, before he could command the pokemon to take revenge on Delia, Giovanni made his way through the multitude of confused and groggy Tempest Gant members and delivered a solid punch, effectively knocking a couple of Venom's teeth out. He quickly snatched Rhyhorn's pokeball and called the pokemon back, he would train it as his own later, but it was too soon to expect it to effectively obey right away.

Venom crawled away, shocked and frightened; he was used to relying on his strong chemically enhanced pokemon and had no fighting power of his own. Now his perfect face was ruined. "Retreat!" He started to run away, followed by his gang members.

"You're not going anywhere until you hand over your pokemon!" Delia chased after them, leading Cloyster and Krabby's fierce attack, which brought Krabby to evolve into Kingler during the fight. This was her mission, to save the pokemon from the bad gangs. However, her mission was interrupted by the sound of helicopters...

To be Continued

Don't Give Me Diamonds

Diamond 009: Give Me Inspiration

"The police are coming!" Giovanni alerted, "escape plan C!" The Team Rocket members called back their pokemon and scrambled in separate directions to throw off the police, as previously discussed in plan C.

Delia had not been present when the escape plan was explained and she didn't know what to do, but she knew this was trouble. She was trying to save pokemon from an evil gang that the police didn't or couldn't stop, this time Team Rocket were the good guys from her point of view. Besides, those terrible people had set fire to their hideout and warehouse, sacrificing so many pokemon and risking humans. Delia could not forgive them, but with the arrival of the police, she remembered that vigilantes are also outlaws.

"Delia, call them back!" Giovanni urged.

"Cloyster, Kingler, return!" Delia recalled her pokemon and stood unsure until Giovanni took her hand and led her away in a rush; they ventured into the wilderness and disappeared from the view of the police.

They ran like they never ran before for many hours. Night fell and they continued running non-stop. Delia's confusion slowly melted away, she wasn't a criminal, just a vigilante, an outlaw, but not an evil one. She couldn't live in doubt so she forced herself to make up her mind, this was the only option for her now so she embraced it; she couldn't leave her work unfinished.

xoxox xox xoxox

Exhausted, Giovanni and Delia had hastily bought some food and supplies at Celadon City, then promptly left, walking the rest of the way to the meeting point in the coast of the peninsula south of the city. It would be terribly unsafe to stay in the city; it was enough of a risk to enter it, even if it was only to approach a small kiosk in its outskirts, their disheveled state made them look too suspicious.

They had avoided all the main routes, venturing through the wilderness, the shallow scratches all over their bodies and the thorn fabric of their clothes bared witness to the harsh terrain they crossed. No one said the life of a vigilante or a thief was glamorous, at least not now.

Giovanni knew one day he would have minions to do his dirty work while he lounged in a luxurious yacht somewhere near Cinnabar Island. Somehow Delia appeared in the mental picture as well, vacationing with him. She was even braver than he thought; she had been surprising him ever since the incident at the beach east of Cerulean. She was clearly set on turning Team Rocket into a team of vigilantes to protect pokemon, but that aside, she could be cunning and reckless when she wanted to be and he liked that.

"Where is the meeting place? Is it this beach?" It was certainly a desolated region, the rocks near the shore made it impossible to surf or swim, thus the area was rejected by tourists and locals alike. Even so, Delia was expecting a place that was more covered.

"We're almost there, it's just ahead," though Giovanni said that, Delia saw nothing but rocks ahead. "Here's the entrance." Behind a rock formation there was a cave, the rocks kept the tide from invading it, though it would surely flood if the tide rose too much.

"Is it safe?" Delia felt silly asking that question. Of all the things they had been doing lately this had to be the safest.

"It's a big cave, even if it doesn't look it from the entrance. There are some high places inside; if the tide goes up we'll have to go deeper and wait it out, but I don't think that will be necessary in this season," Giovanni assured.

They entered the cave, walked to the higher sub-terrain area and sat down. "I didn't realize how tired I was until I finally sat down. I don't think I'll be able to get up for a while."

"We can rest here, the others should join us soon, our paths are different to throw off pursuers," Giovanni explained.

"I hope they make it here alright. Our poor pokemon must be so hungry and restless. For how long did we run? I lost track of time. Poor pokemon, they must be famished," she paused as if remembering something, "and so must we."

"We must be," he agreed, "it's odd how you forget about those things sometimes."

"You're the one who told me not to let myself get sick," Delia called out her pokemon, reminding Giovanni to let his out as well.

While the pokemon ate from the supplies purchased at Celadon, the pair of humans ate as well, devouring the food as if it were the best they've ever tasted, though they would have thought differently if they weren't so hungry.

"This is a relaxing place," Delia observed after her hunger and thirst had been satisfied. "Sitting here with the sound of the ocean," she closed her eyes, savoring the moment and focusing only on the present. Giovanni placed his arm around her shoulders, pleased that she naturally leaned on him. "How did you find this place?"

"Luke told us about it," Giovanni remembered, "we were talking about were we should meet if for whatever reason we had to escape in an emergency. We decided on moving separately to make it easier to lose anyone after us. Luke suggested this place because he said it was one of his favorite, I chouse it because it's so well hidden."

"What about everyone's escape route? Is it very different?" Delia inquired.

"Yes, but the longest doesn't take more than a day in comparison to the others. We were actually not supposed to be the first to get here judging by distance, but I'm sure everything is fine, we just ran the fastest."

"I hope it's only that. Are you calm because you trust them or because you'd leave them behind?"

"Which do you think?"

"I'll make sure you never abandon a comrade," Delia decided. "You know them well and they look up to you a lot."

"I only know the basic stuff I need to know to put them into a strategy."

"Tell me about them, about our comrades."

Giovanni wasn't sure about the source of Delia's interest, but he told her anyway. "Let's see, Luke is a good pokemon trainer but not a very good strategist. Things that require planning are more Leah's field; she's a big strategist and good at sneaking around, but it's easy to forget she's even there, those two work very well in a team complimenting each other. Binks is kind of clumsy, but he's very loyal and has some good scientific knowledge. Aayla is respected among the team so she's good to relay orders when I'm away, she used to be with Tempest but now she hates them, I don't know the specifics but it looks like a personal grudge against Venom. Either way, the point is she won't betray Team Rocket, that's what really matters."

"Venom is terrible, leading his gang to kill all those defenseless sick pokemon in the warehouse and they're just as bad for following him. The world needs heroes!"

"You need a reality check."

"Believe in yourself just like your team does!" Delia encouraged, with an inexplicable determination.

"You lost me," he wondered where she got all that optimism.

"You are lost, but I found you and I'll show you the way!" Delia insisted. "I know the life of a vigilante won't be easy, but I know you can do it. It's clear the team will follow you and it's your responsibility to lead them well. I'll help in any way I can!"

She had wondered why despite being the leader, he didn't carry many pokemon. There was a shortage of healthy pokemon and he didn't want any of the little sub teams the gang was divided into to go without them. It would not be effective to keep them all to himself during the shortage, it was a good strategy.

He had rushed back to the hideout blowing their cover, a hasty bad move, but it was for a good reason, more casualties might have occurred if they haven't arrived when they did. He might be aiming to be a rich crime lord, but the fact still stood he had the skills and intellect to do something great. She just had to show him how to care, guide him to the light. She would remain by his side and do so.

"I don't know about that, but you did really well back there. You were fearless, also reckless, but we won in the end."

Despite all the negative things that happened, even if there were tragedies that couldn't be forgotten, Delia smiled proudly. She wasn't a weak sheltered girl with nothing but dreams; she was living her life and reaching out for her goals, noble goals of justice for pokemon.

It gave her a certain satisfaction to be recognized. She rested her head on his shoulder, not minding the closeness, she was comfortable and that's all that mattered. Her breathing was even and calm and she drifted off to sleep.

xoxox xox xoxox

Delia slowly woke up, she was comfortable and she didn't want to move, but her pillow wasn't a pillow, because pillows don't have a heartbeat. "Hmm..." She finally opened her eyes, Giovanni was still sleeping, his arms tightly wrapped around her.

It must be uncomfortable for him to sleep on the hard cave floor, but he was sleeping soundly none the less, his deep slumber fueled by over-exhaustion. Feeling a bit guilty about using him as a pillow, Delia set her head down again and relaxed, drifting off to sleep once more.

When she woke up again, there was a small fire burning a few feet away with the pokemon sitting around it, but Giovanni was still playing the part of her pillow so he couldn't have started it. Upon closer inspection, she found that he was awake this time, "sorry about that," she got off.

"I don't mind, you can sleep on me whenever you want."

"Chill out Charmander, we have company, who is it?" She curiously inquired, knowing it had to be someone from the team.

"Leah, it shouldn't be long before they keep on arriving. We've been asleep for about twelve hours, though I can't be sure," He sat up and stretched, feeling stiff as an effect of sleeping on the cave floor.

"Well at least I feel refreshed. A warm bubble bath is too much to ask for, but a shower would be nice."

"We are at a beach and I never got to see you in a bikini last time," he reminded.

"I told you to stay cool Charmander," she giggled, no longer feeling the annoyance she did before when he tried to flirt with her.

"By any chance is the Charmander in your dream related to that nickname?" Giovanni inquired with a tone of innocence that hid mischief.

"I'm sure it's just a coincidence," Delia was quick to reply, hiding her blush. "Besides, the dream was blurry, it could have been a Parasect for all I know or maybe it was a Vulpix or a Flareon. Anyway, thanks for making my nap more comfortable. I could give you a massage if you think that will make you feel better. Don't get any ideas I just thought I owed you at least that much."

"How's the party going dudes?" Luke's voice echoed from outside, followed by his cheerful entrance to the cave. "I'm like totally tired, you know? That was a wild fight, man!" Giovanni glared at the interruption, causing the still miraculously energetic Luke to let out a little yelp and rush to another section of the cave as he apologized. "Sorry dudes, I didn't mean to like kill the atmosphere, you know?"

"What atmosphere?" Delia called after Luke, following him to the adjacent section of the cave were Leah was.

"The one he just murdered," Giovanni muttered as he followed Delia, who had seemingly forgotten about her offer to give him a massage.

xoxox xox xoxox

The other members of the team eventually arrived, telling stories of their aching feet and sore bodies. "Like seriously dudes, what are we, old?"

"Shut it Luke," Aayla growled, "anyone would be sore after all that running, but we made it here, we were strong enough, that's what counts."

"Touchy," Luke teased.

Aayla consequently picked up a small stone and threw it at him. The small rock flew over his shoulder like a bullet and shattered upon impact on the cave wall behind him. "The next one won't miss," after Aayla's warning, Luke wisely decided to remain quiet.

"We are homeless," Leah grimaced, though no one really heard her.

Even Aayla who spoke to Leah seconds later missed her comment about their lack of place of residence. "Hey Leah, could you go to Celadon and get a few things," the rest of Aayla's request was a very quiet whisper.

Leah looked like she was about to point out that this was not the time for that, but nodded anyway and snuck out of the cave unnoticed. The team needed to keep up their morale after all.

Tempest was a powerful gang and to see their leader humiliated was a big triumph, one that made them temporarily forget about the possibility of future consequences while they were caught up in the celebration.

Everyone congratulated each other on some special move that had stood out during the chaos. Delia received a lot of praise for her courage in facing Venom; she had been called an inspiration. Predictably, Giovanni got most of the credit for everything despite his late arrival; he gave the team a feeling of security just by being there. Delia understood that better now and regardless of what the future might hold, she knew she had found inspiration in Team Rocket and she would follow it.

To be Continued

Don't Give Me Diamonds

Diamond 010: Give me Fun

"We're still homeless," Leah pointed out softly while Aayla examined the merchandise she had brought from Celadon City.

Aayla was too caught up looking through the clothes to hear her, she was pleased. "Very nice, oh, I want this one!" She held up the lavender bikini over her thorn clothes confirming it was the right size. "It's perfect, you should try the yellow one, it would match your eyes. Where are the other girls? Call them over."

Team Rocket had gone out of their cave hideout after waiting some time and were mostly sitting outside at the lonely beach, with the exception of Aayla who had called Leah to go inside as soon as she returned from Celadon, so that she may be the first to go over the clothes and bathing suits, having the first choice of what she liked.

"This top... these jeans, oh yes, perfect... I'll take the sandals too; okay that's it for me. Let the girls know these are off limits, I'm going to change and hit the beach, the change room will be, this section here," she pointed towards a small tunnel that led to a dead end and disappeared into its darkness.

"I suppose being homeless isn't bad if we have fun..." Leah picked her clothes, a sunflower sundress and decided to follow Aayla's advice on swimwear. Then she called the other female Team Rocket members to examine the merchandise.

xoxox xox xoxox

In another section of the cave, Luke was looking over a few bags, examining their contents. "This, this or maybe this..." He was thankful that Team Rocket had uniforms when he joined, because he could never make up his mind about what to wear. All the more reason why he would rather spend his days at the beach, there wasn't much to wear there and he didn't have to worry about matching when only one article was involved.

"What are you doing back there Luke?" Just when Giovanni was hoping to get Delia away from the group for a while, Leah had called her, her little voice barely audible, but Delia noticed it anyway.

Giovanni had followed, though Leah shyly pointed out, "guys that way, girls this way," and led Delia away towards the left side of the cave.

Giovanni ventured into the right side of the cave, wondering what this was about and there he found Luke, who looked up from his task with an expression of distress. "Dude, Giovanni, I can't pick, man! It's like totally hard, you know? I'll just take this and think of the rest later." Luke took a pair of bright red swim trunks with yellow flowers out of one of the bags then headed off to the designated change room area.

Giovanni examined the contents of the bag with curiosity. "What is this, a beach party? Who came up with this?" It didn't matter, relaxing at the beach for a while did sound pleasant and it would give him time to think of what to do about their lack of a formal hideout.

xoxox xox xoxox

"Stop giving me that grin, Charmander," Delia pouted and smacked him upside the head. "I'm only putting sun block on you because I don't want you to suffer with sun burn again. Don't get any ideas."

"Whatever you say Delia, I'll be happy to return the favor."

"I mean it!" She half scolded and half laughed.

The scenes around them were cheerful. Luke kept complaining about how he couldn't surf in that area, but even so he didn't stop professing his adoration for the location, his favorite place. "The ocean waves crashing, dudes, it's poetic. The bright sun shining, this like totally relaxes me. Feel that ocean breeze, it's awesome, you know? Even without surfing, I love this place, man!" The blindingly brightly colored lime green frisbee hit him right in the nose, causing him to flail chaotically and trip over his own feet, falling flat on his back on the sand.

"Pay attention Luke!" Aayla called out, while Leah giggled quietly and Binks was relieved that it wasn't him in Luke's place, as it usually was.

"In coming!" Luke jumped to his feet and tossed the frisbee, which collided with Binks' forehead, knocking him down.

"You did that on purpose!" Binks growled as he got up.

"Oh, quit being a baby and throw it!" Aayla scolded.

"You'll pay for that!" Binks started his battle charge towards Luke, but somehow slipped on the sand and fell face first, causing the rest of Team Rocket to erupt in laughter.

"Sorry dude, but that last one, totally not my fault, you know?" Luke joined the laughter as well.

A few additional trips to Celadon had provided the group with more supplies, such as the food currently being cooked in a rustic fire by a newbie member whose name everyone kept forgetting.

Delia couldn't help it but to smile, she was having fun and had forgotten her worries, at least for now. The pokemon played around at the beach, some even making sand castles which many researches would find fascinating to watch, though for now, Delia just thought it was adorable.

"It's your turn..."

"Huh?" She shook her head realizing what Giovanni meant, "I already put on enough sun block, thank you."

"I just wanted to return the favor."

"How kind of you," her voice carried sarcasm but also amusement, though her smile faded when she saw the police car stop at the beach side. She quickly turned her face away, hiding her nervous and worried expression from the blue haired woman who was exiting the car and walking towards them. "Giovanni, the police..."

"Relax," he assured quietly.

Delia observed the scenes around her and the way the rest of Team Rocket acted. Binks had stopped cold, which brought Luke to loudly call out, "you can't catch me!" and snap him out of his daze.

"I'll get you for that!" Binks continued chasing after Luke.

Aayla tossed the frisbee at another member, "heads up, here it comes!" who snapped into attention on time to catch it and see her discreet signal to throw it to someone else.

"Guys, help me out here, they're done and need to be moved away from the fire before they burn!" The designated cook called a few others to form a circle around the fire, taking the meat on a stick barbecue snacks and putting them on plastic plates to cool.

"We should make smores too," someone suggested, "has anyone seen the chocolate?"

"I'll find it," another replied searching through their food supplies, "I saw it around here..."

Someone fell victim to stress, but another member was quick to say, "come sit over here and have some juice, I'm sure that will make your stomachache go away."

They were putting up a good act, appearing as innocent civilians and those who were distracted or alarmed were quickly saved by the others. Delia knew she had to act too. She pretended she was spending the day with her friends at the beach and nothing more, she pretended they had never done anything illegal and she pushed away all worries. She was like an invincible heroine behind a mask; no one could recognize her.

"May I have your attention please?" The officer from Celadon City, who was probably named Jenny and had a look alike daughter named after her, loudly called out. "Attention!"

It took a moment for everyone to look at her; some continued their activities for a few more seconds until she called out the next time. Others were apparently called to attention by their companions and some even looked surprised to see the police woman, as if wondering where she came from and how long she had been standing there. In truth they had all noticed her right away, but it would be odd for people who were supposed to be relaxing at the beach to be so alert.

"Listen up everyone, you can stay here if you want, it's a public beach, but I need to warn you not to attempt cliff diving or surfing. Stay close to the shore and keep an eye on each other. The currents around here can get strong suddenly and you'll get dragged to the rocks, if you crash into them you can be knocked out and drown. Is everyone clear on this?"

A few murmurs were heard before people started answering, "yeah!" "no problem," "relax, we're not kids," "we know that," "don't worry," "thanks for the warning," and other such replies were among them.

When the officer left, muttering something about troublesome college kids, Delia breathed in relief. "That was... it wasn't really a close call after all. She had no idea." The police's communication was slow to none and they weren't followed that far. Getting away like that gave Delia a rush of power. She really did feel like a masked heroine unrecognizable as a civilian; it made her feel invincible.

xoxox xox xoxox

The day at the beach was fun. Aayla had started it out of wanting a holiday and Giovanni allowed it without complaint because he knew it would hold the team together despite the loss of their hideout and merchandise. The night was spent around a bonfire and they slept under the stars.

The next day came and everyone was crowded in the cave for breakfast, most of them possibly because of the unconscious need to feel some sort of roof over their heads after a while. Others joined them following their friends or simply because the majority of the team was gathered there.

They wore their uniforms, though not the same from before. In preparation for the need to use this escape plan imperishable supplies such as equipment, first aid materials and clothes were buried at the beach long ago in a pirate style treasure chest, the location of which was forgotten, but through trial and error it was found. Seeing each other like that, in a sea of flawless black fabric with red R's, seemed to lift their morale, maybe even more than the day at the beach.

Then suddenly, "Nidoking!" "Nidoqueen!" "Roar!" The battle cries echoed as the enemy pokemon rushed to the cave.

"You'll pay for what you've done to me; you'll pay with your lives!" It looked like Venom had no intentions of laying low to recover from the recent battle. The Tempest Gang had tracked down Team Rocket much better than the police ever could and was ready for another fight. "Nidoking, Nidoqueen, attack! Onix bring this place down!"

The large rock pokemon slammed against the crowded cave walls, causing the entire place to shake with great force, its eyes glowing threateningly. The pokemon had been clearly overdosed with chemicals to make it stronger.

"The ground is shaking... it's shaking..." Leah whispered in fright, it was as if she didn't notice anything going on around her, only focusing on the earthquake-like vibrations. "I'm sorry Han, it was my fault..."

"Leah, be careful!" Luke pulled her out of harm's way, saving her from being crushed by the Onix.

Giovanni was shouting orders to pokemon and humans alike, trying to retaliate against Tempest's surprise attack. He knew Tempest would return stronger than before, they had a base to go back to and more pokemon to send out, that's why he tried to avoid another confrontation so soon.

Tempest never ventured into the southern region looking for a fight, this was far from their usual western territory. The north belonged to Team Rocket, the south was no gang's land and the east was controlled by several smaller gangs constantly fighting for power.

With another massive earthquake caused by the rampaging Onix, the cave started coming down and in the chaos, Giovanni and Delia ended up behind a wall of rocks, separated from their pokemon and the rest of the team. From the other side, Luke could be heard, shouting orders to the pokemon, trying to make them regroup after that last attack. Aayla had taken direction of the humans while Leah was still in a panic.

"Boss! Boss!" Binks called desperately.

"My pokemon egg," Delia cried, she couldn't get to it on time during the chaos. "It was in my backpack, what happened to it?"

"Egg..." Binks spotted the aforementioned backpack, which had been miraculously missed by the falling rocks. He as well as the others had gained respect for Delia, despite the events that occurred in their first meeting, thus were more likely to listen to her concerns. "I found it! It looks like it's fine!" Binks called from the other side of the wall.

"Please take care of it!" Delia requested; she then looked at Giovanni, hoping that he had an idea as to how to deal with the situation.

"Everyone needs to get out of this cave!" Tempest was outside, trying to trap them in and make the cave collapse completely. "Break through their forces, attack together, Team Rocket will not be defeated!"

"You heard the boss, and if you didn't he said we have to trash them, let's do this! Rattata, on the attack!" Binks was easily excited, but his Rattata had already been knocked out. "Rattata!" He called her back into her pokeball and recklessly charged forward to fight the enemy with his own hands.

"Giovanni, Delia, we're making an opening and getting out of here!" Aayla called out.

"We'll meet everyone outside!" Giovanni replied, then ventured further into the pitch-black cave along with Delia in hopes of finding another exit.

To be Continued

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