The Ones who are Special
Two men sat in silence; eyes wide, mouth so open in awe, a Sandshrew could fit in there. Clearly, this expression was shock as they continued to stare beyond the rocky mountains that led into a vast sea of sand. They had not seen the sun rise in such a long time, they could only marvel at the scene as bright orange and yellow rays danced above the horizon.
"...H-How..." One of the men finally managed to move, a cool breeze filled with sand drifting into his nostrils. The winds were calm; although saturated with sand, the grains did not pelt him like before as he leaned forward, gazing upon the silent beauty of the desert before him. Hills upon hills of amber and grey, the sand dunes were so clear for the first time in days, they slowly ascended and descended in random fashion. The low mountains that lay just below the rising sun in the far distance were visible as well; the long border that prevented his eyes from looking beyond to the lush meadows of Route 119 as he gaped at the entire scenery.
The man then fumbled with his radio gear, cursing as he dropped it before quickly picking it up. The usual buzz and static droning of the device tainted the purity of the early morning sounds of nature before a muffled voice tiredly greeted him. The man did not even greet the voice as the radio slid against his ears.
"The sandstorm...I-It's... It's gone."
It was another warm day, sun glaring overhead yet pleasant to a young man that sat cross legged in front of a large plant. He eyed the yellow and dry leaves at the tips of the stem with annoyance. One bead of sweat slid down his neck as he looked back over his shoulder, dark brown eyes narrowed once sharp green eyes locked onto him.
For the past 3 days, he had been coming to this part of his father's ranch, the very edge of the large fields that was just at the foot of the mountain range to train his Pokemon and apparently himself, or whatever his grandmother was trying to teach him. The Pokemon training was not the problem, they were all succeeding beyond his expectations.
It was his training that was the problem.
Avoiding the woman's watchful eyes, he turned back to the overgrown plant that had seen better days. Taking one hand slowly, hesitating with his control, he pulled gently on one of the yellow petals that forked from the stem.
"Damnit." Cole swore as he heard another tired sigh from behind him.
"Watch your mouth." The voice was sharp, clearly irritated from the failed performance yet again. "What did I tell you before?"
"To remove the dead ones gently..." Cole replied, his voice tired as he shifted uncomfortably. The chatter of Pokemon from the ranch reached his ears as another warm gust of wind rolled by. He let out another breath before reaching for another decaying fold of plant flesh.
"Come on!" Cole huffed out in frustration as he fell back. His messy black hair sprawled out onto the thick grass beneath him. He had tried everything. His right hand, left hand, using his lowest amount of strength possible.
"Yet..." He leaned up, the large plant swaying slowly with the continuous warm winds that came in from the desert. Every single time he tried to remove one of the decaying pieces, the entire stem of the large plant snapped, bringing everything down with it.
The soft shuffling of footsteps through thick grass snapped the man from his thoughts. He looked behind him to see his grandmother peering down towards him. "It's not working..." Cole sighed, leaning back onto his elbows. "Every time I try to take one off, the whole thing breaks."
"You're too strong."
Another warm gust of wind rolled by, Cole remained silent. Kenna's words alone felt like they were the ones that nearly knocked him back down onto the thick grass. What did she mean by that? 'Too strong?' He glared back at the plant's swaying form.
"Maybe you should get a new plant." He argued, attempting to get up before he was stopped gently once an small hand landed on his shoulder.
"Cole," Kenna started, her hand never leaving his shoulder. "Ever since the first day you came back to us, I realized how strong you've become." Her grandson remained quiet, his dark brown eyes never drifting from the old plant. "All of your Pokemon: Houndoom, Flygon, Lairon and Solrock are in top shape, even your father confirmed that for me. You really did put all of your effort into making them fine Pokemon to battle along the way." She let her hand drop from his shoulder before walking over to the large ageing plant that stood before her.
"You're a strong Trainer now...I can see that...But what have you lost along the way?"
"Lost?" Dark brown eyes narrowed in thought from the old woman's question. His grandmother was the wisest person he knew. Whenever she asked him questions like this, he would always be at a loss. This time was no different. "I only lost Nidoking and Shedinja." Cole could only mutter out his answer. He bit his lip to prevent his next words from escaping. She was wrong, he lost them because he was weak. He failed Team Magma, that's why his Pokemon were punished for his mistakes.
"You lost more than just your Pokemon."
His eyes widened in shock from her words. "What?"
"Look at this plant." Kenna quickly hinted towards its green and yellow stems. "Some old, some new. I asked you to tear off the petals that were decaying and damaged." Cole nodded his head, even though she was still looking at the withered petals. "I didn't give you any tools to help you because you're strong enough to take those petals off with ease now. You've grown into a fine man, Cole." Kenna then turned back to her grandson, her face soft.
"Yet, whenever you try to remove the damaged petals, you end up tearing off the healthy ones." She eyed him silently before turning back to the plants. "Think of this plant as everyone you've met. Some good...some bad."
Cole immediately snapped his attention to the decaying foliage, his eyes wide. He did not understand. What was she trying to tell him now. "Those peta-"
"Your mother...father...Your Pokemon..." Kenna's stern voice cut him off quickly as she gently reached out for a large stem. Along with that stem, healthy and decaying petals were budding at its tip, waving gently along with the warm breeze. Cole eyed the decaying petals that were intertwined with the healthy ones themselves.
"Kyra...the people you want to protect and live for...and the others...like Team Magma-" In one swift motion, she tore the decaying stems from the plant; to Cole's blatant surprise, the stem remained in tact, only moving to the flow of the warm winds as Kenna dropped the decaying petals onto the thick grass.
"You need to weed them out now. Too much strength can hurt the things you love too."
A strong gust of wind rolled by, carrying the scent of his hometown. Charcoal and pine...
He watched his grandmother pull off a few more decaying petals before his eyes. 'Too much strength...' Eyeing her softly, her words sunk into his heart before Kenna slowly turned back to him.
He did hurt them...Cole quickly looked away from his grandmother's gentle eyes. He had seen that same look in Kyra after their first battle. He involved all of them with Team Magma. They all looked hurt, yet continued to smile. "Grandma-" He cleared his throat before slowly getting back on his feet, his eyes still downcast. "I'm sorry..."
She smiled softly before placing a gentle hand onto his cheek. "We all need to make mistakes in order to become better people. I'm just happy you're with us now." She lifted his chin slightly to see his deep brown eyes once again. "...Now, bring out the meddlesome one."
Cole smiled slightly, she had pretty much given all of her Pokemon nicknames when he first brought them home. The young man reached for his belt before tossing a Poke ball into the air. In a flash of bright light, a large dragon-like Pokemon materialized onto the thick grass. It yawned loudly, stretching its massive triangular wings to full extension before turning to Cole with wide eyes that were protected behind large red lenses.
"Hey..." Cole smiled softly up to his Flygon, earning a curious look in response. He gently lay a hand on the dragon's claws, "Have a good sleep?" Flygon nodded its head softly before it turned its attention to Kenna's watchful eyes. It let out a small whine before something caught its eye beside Kenna.
"Don't." Kenna's voice was sharp as the Mystic Pokemon passed a confused Trainer towards the large plant. It sniffed the petals, first at the top, then bottom, then circled the object before glancing back at Kenna's annoyed glare. There was a reason she came up with that nickname on the spot when she first met him as a Trapinch.
In one swift motion, Flygon literally inhaled the plant into its mouth, its eyes wide with curiosity as it nibbled on the thick flesh.
"Flygon!" Cole barked at his Pokemon as it continued to chew on the plant without a care in the world. He instantly remembered now as Kenna grabbed onto Flygon's wings and pulled angrily for the Pokemon to stop. He always used to wreak havoc on the house when he first captured him so many years ago. With such a large mouth and sharp teeth back then; he sighed, remembering the damage Trapinch caused in the yards of the house and the neighbours themselves back then. As much as he loved the first Pokemon he ever captured by himself, he quickly turned out be more of a problem once he was forced to do even more chores for the town because of Trapinch's curious mouth.
"You never learn..." Kenna's voice was laced with annoyance as Flygon burped loudly, petals spewing from its small mouth onto Kenna's face before it happily rubbed its belly. She then reached for a Poke ball in her kimono, easily catching Cole's attention. "You're lucky you came back the same time as me Cole. I found a move that can actually make the meddlesome one's big mouth useful."
She tossed the Poke ball into the air, the sphere sparkling brightly as it spun with a high rotation. "When I was in Sinnoh for my vacation to the Resort area, I found a very good move."
In a flash of bright light, Cole's eyes softened once a massive, and he meant it, massive beast materialized onto the thick grass. He was always mesmerized whenever his grandmother would bring this old Pokemon out, its thick creamy mane dancing with the winds that graced its large orange body accented with deep black stripes. It barked loudly, catching Flygon's attention before kneeling down to its Trainer.
"Morning, Windy." Kenna greeted softly as she nuzzled her face into the thick fur of her Arcanine. The large Pokemon whined happily from her Trainer's touch before glancing at Cole.
"Arrr!" Windy eyed Cole with a small smirk. This was not the first time she had seen the small one, the one known as Cole. They had been training for the past few days after all. Windy looked around for the pup before barking at Cole.
"He's at home." Cole droned, earning a small growl from the massive canine. Clearly she was looking for her pup, Houndoom, but he had left him and the others home for the day. They had all received their training already.
"Windy." Kenna's soft voice easily caught the Fire Pokemon's attention. She pointed to the mountain face, not too far from them. "We're going to teach Flygon a new move today." Windy nodded, leaving the warmth of its long time friend before trotting away from the small group, facing the jagged rocks.
Cole and Flygon watched the Fire Pokemon carefully as it deeply inhaled, the air shimmering around its body as both Trainer and Pokemon felt the temperature around them rise.
Suddenly, as if a storm fell upon them, Cole and Flygon gasped in shock as a powerful shock wave of condensed air spewed from Windy's jaw towards the cliff face. A piercing shriek of wind and cracking rocks screeched against Cole's ears as he cringed from the deafening sound, the shock wave of wind tearing into the jagged rocks.
"Unreal!" Cole muttered in astonishment as the powerful attack literally obliterated the rocks in front of them. Shards of stone and debris crumbled onto the patches of grass before the large canine turned back to Cole and Flygon, a small smirk gracing her lips.
"It's a powerful Dragon attack that we were able to learn while in Sinnoh." Kenna started as she walked up behind her grandson, eyeing her Pokemon's work carefully. There was a small pause as Cole took in her words before she glanced at him, "...Interested?"
Flygon let out a small growl of approval, watching Cole as he smirked from her words. Knowing his Trainer for years, the answer would be obvious.
Meanwhile, deep in the heart of Lavaridge, a small group walked through the busy markets. The youngest one of the trio, a young girl sneered to herself as she paced forward, ahead of the chatting pair behind her, making it obvious to pretty much everyone that she did not want to talk to them.
'Why do I have to be their servants?' Kyra growled to herself before glancing back at the guests that were still staying at her house. Over the past couple of days, her mother had forcefully made her cooperate with them in order to show them around town.
Ignoring the perverted blonde freak that she had met first back at the gym, dark brown eyes narrowed once they lay on the taller, more dorky looking girl. 'Why is Cole even travelling with her?' The young Trainer was still at a loss from what her brother had told her.
He was travelling with her to collect certain treasures. 'But why?' She huffed angrily, easily shoving a passing resident that sadly got too close to her, earning a small yelp of fear. Her brother had been gone for 5 years, leaving his family, his home, all for the sake of Team Magma to get stronger.
Where the hell did it get him?
'Nowhere.' She cursed to herself, turning a corner quickly in an attempt to lose them, but only hung her head in anger once something sharp nipped at the back of her leg. Glaring down, she locked onto sharp red eyes that matched her own intensity.
"What? I'm not trying to ditch them!" Kyra barked at the fire hound as it eyed her with a bored look.
Kyra jumped slightly, her cheek twitching once she heard the girl's soft voice ring in her ears. "N-Nothing!" She quickly snapped back, waving her hand for them to follow. She glared back at Houndoom who eyed her carefully as their guests caught up to them. There was a reason Cole made Houndoom travel along with her for the day after he learned that she would be showing his friends around town.
'I wasn't really going to ditch them...' The young girl paced forward again, trying to get as far away as the Fire Pokemon would let her. 'I just want to be in one place, while they're in another place...' She smirked at her own words before glancing back to Houndoom.
She smiled softly. Remembering the days when it was a little Houndour that would obediently listen to his Trainer's words.
'Make sure she doesn't get into trouble!'
Her brother's warning words hit her hard before Kyra slammed her hands onto her hips, avoiding the watchful glare of Houndoom once again. Back then when they were kids, when Houndour was finally big enough to fend for himself, he had literally become her watch dog, keeping her on the leash instead of the other way around.
"That's why you're the leader huh..." She let the words slip from her mouth as Houndoom nipped at her leg again, earning a small yelp again. "Okay! Okay! Stop!" She whined, slowing her pace for the others to catch up again.
The oldest of the group watched Kyra silently as they continued through the markets. She was not entirely sure where they were going; having already visited the Herb shop where Katherine worked and just coming back from Ethon's farm where she was able to talk to Cole.
Glancing back, her thoughts traced back to the quiet, messy haired man. 'Why can't I tell him?' She cursed. 3 days had passed since that fateful night she cracked the code of the Ocean Plate. 3 days that she did not tell anyone of her experience, not even Cole.
Why was she stalling? Was it the fact that she witnessed such an event for herself during their journey? Or...
'What will happen to Cole...' Hazel eyes darkened as the thoughts raced through her mind.
What would happen to them? He was linked to the Dragon Plates. She knew this day would come, it was the only reason they were travelling together. It wasn't the great times she spent with him and Noah, the places they would visit along the way. How comfortable she felt around him whenever they talked. His sarcastic personality that made her giggle at all his dry comments. The lessons he laid out for her in order to defend herself-
All of those memories....'Useless.'
"Hey, Noah..." She turned to the young boy, his aqua eyes glancing towards her, shining childishly.
"Sup?" He grinned, his hands clasped at the back of his head as he strolled along beside her. Though that smile faded softly once he noticed the anxious look in her hazel eyes.
She hesitated with her next words, avoiding his curious gaze. "H-Have you...Have you enjoyed travelling with me?-I mean the three of us?"
His brow furled in thought at her question before giving her a confused look. "That's a weird question Elisa. You going somewhere?" He laughed, earning a childish pout from the young woman. He snickered lightly before waving off her worried expression. "Of course, its fun. Why wouldn't I?" He then scrunched his face up in mock annoyance, "If Cole wasn't picking on me everyday, it would make me a lot happier though."
Elisa smiled thoughtfully from his words. 'He's enjoying this too...' She then stifled a laugh, "He hasn't picked on you everyday."
"Yeah...You would know." A devilish grin graced his lips. "Since you two always stay in the same bedroom every time he gets back from training."
"Wha-Wha? N-No!" Elisa face tinged red as the boy laughed, easily getting the upper hand once again. "He just asks about the Dragon Plates-That's it!" She shot back. If she knew that Noah had been spying on them whenever Cole visited her at night, she would have thrown Cole out on the spot.
"But you let him sleep with you."
Both Elisa and Noah yelped in shock once they bumped into something hard. Elisa's cheeks burned now as she looked down to the judgmental glare of Kyra who remained fixed in her firm stance. "I-I...He-" Okay, so it was true Cole sometimes fell asleep on that bloated Snorlax doll after coming back from his daily training; who wouldn't? It was tiring work from what he told her. And maybe she couldn't fight the temptation of possibly having his head pressing against her own-
"You slept with him?!" Noah barged in, his voice hysterical as he gaped at the flustered woman. Some residents glanced their way as he cringed, his face painted with disgust as he took a step back. "Ewww! I've been travelling with you guys for weeks! W-Why would you do-"
"N-No!" Elisa cried, face more red than Houndoom's now wide eyes. "W-We didn't do anything!"
It was Kyra's turn to send a dark look towards Elisa before she stepped forward. "Mhmm? Taking advantage of my brother?!"
"Elisa, I never knew you had it in you." Noah chipped in, his cheeks beginning to heat up. Those two were nearing their twenties after all. Cole, he knew, must have had some experience...As much as he didn't want to think about it, he was too cool not to...
But Elisa? She was the good one! 'I mean...Is she really into-' He shook his head frantically before Kyra stomped her feet angrily, baring her teeth with anger.
"He's too good for you!" Kyra snapped before she pointed an accusing finger towards Elisa's stunned face, "Stop sleeping with my brother!"
It seemed like the entire market turned into a ghost town after the words escaped Kyra's lips. The fiery girl dropped her finger slowly, finally realizing her actions before turning around to see everyone gaping at her in shock. Her cheek twitched slightly as a tumbleweed suddenly rolled by.
"What the hell are you all staring at! Get on with your damn lives!"
Their unwanted audience yelped in fear, quickly turning away from the trio, desperately trying to look 'normal' under Kyra's heated glare. She huffed angrily before turning back to the accused girl. "Stupid perverted townspeople...As I was saying. Stop trying to sle-" She blinked, realizing that she was talking to thin air before turning her head in every direction for the dark haired girl.
"...Where did she go?"
"You don't know Elisa at all." Noah's childish laugh caught her attention. "You just embarrassed her in front of the entire town."
"Me?" She gasped, "You started it!"
Aqua eyes widened in shock from her words. "You just yelled out her sex life to everyone here!" What he had learned about Cole's sister over the brief 3 days he spent with her was that she clearly did not like Elisa once she noticed the closeness she shared with her brother. So she had personally made it her mission to cause the older girl discomfort whenever she had the chance.
Kyra's face flushed red from the boy's words before she huffed angrily, folding her arms over her chest. "S-Shut up! Cole wouldn't dare like a girl who's such a wimp!" She barked, "He should like someone stronger, cooler, and...and who's a Trainer! It's her fault anyway for always sticking to Cole like he's some-Oof!" She gasped as a dark figure bumped between the pair.
"H-Houndoom?!" Kyra gasped as the Dark/Fire type sprinted down the road.
"Wait up!" Kyra and Noah both yelled as the fire hound quickly vanished into the thick of the market crowds. Cole had firmly told him that he had to protect Elisa during their stay in Lavaridge, he would not disobey his Trainer.
"This wouldn't have happened if you just kept your mouth shut!" Kyra swore as she sprinted after Houndoom, her dark goggles dangling back and forth with each powered step.
"You started it!" Noah shot back as he ran after the fire hound as well.
Not too far from the retreating trio, a tall figure stood by a kiosk; his head lowered, dark spiky hair covering his eyes as he spun a pair of goggles around his finger. He turned back to the goggles before quickly catching it back into his palm.
He smirked, that public display had caught everyone's attention, especially his. With the powerful sandstorm finally dying out last night, he had come to Lavaridge to get the famed Go-Goggles. His canine teeth glinting from the sunlight overhead, he did not expect to see such a wonderful surprise.
"Houndoom." He spat the name out, he knew who that Pokemon belonged to. The same Houndoom that had defeated his Pokemon over and over again every year since he joined them. That same Houndoom that would listen to his Trainer's commands without flinching once. That damned Houn-
He looked up from the tinted goggles. Sapphire eyes hardened once the small man in front of him cringed from his glare. "What." His voice was low, threatening to the small man as he backed away slightly.
"A-Are you-" He gulped before shakily pointing to the item in the man's hand. "Are you interested in purchasing the Go-Goggles?" He gasped once the strange man's hulking figure leaned in, sapphire eyes piercing into his very soul.
"Actually..." He smirked. "I was thinking about borrowing these goggles. Permanently." His proposal was pretty much final, pulling out a Poke ball from his belt and holding it to the clerk's face. The shop clerk yelped, his body beginning to tremble once he learned where this would be going. "Have a problem with that?"
"Thought so." He turned away with a smug smirk, spinning the goggles on his finger once again. 'Since Houndoom is still here, that idiot must be wasting time with something.' He almost laughed as he turned a corner, exiting the markets before he reached a patch of open grass. 'I'll get the Earth Plate for Holland, without any stupid help. Then he'll see who's the best.'
He threw his Poke ball into the air, in a flash of white light, a stone dragon-like creature materialized onto the grass. Its large snout sniffed at the fresh air before it glanced at its Trainer. Opening its massive jaw, as if grinning from its own Trainer's smirk; sharp, saw-like teeth all glinted in a perfect row as it growled lowly to greet him.
"Play time's over. The desert is finally open." Even though his body frame was considered large, intimidating even to many people, his Pokemon did not even flinch as he straddled its back. Snapping its gaping jaws shut, its small claws at the points of its wings flexed before it stretched to its full wing span.
"Let's get that Earth Plate."
The purple skin of its under wing flapped lightly as the stone-like dragon began to lift itself into the sky with its Trainer.
Her breath ragged, a young woman finally collapsed to her knees, gasping for breath before she leaned against a tree for support from her long run. The thick rustling of leaves tickled her ears from above as she glanced up before looking back in the directions of the markets; she fought back the urge to scream out from the embarrassment she just went through.
"Emma...Cole...Noah...and now her!" Elisa cried as she forced her head into her hands. Why was she so easy to get to? For her entire life, she always had to deal with someone that would get under her skin, be they nice or completely insulting.
"Kyra..." She growled; the two girls were already on the bad side of a relationship, ever since they first met. 'What did I ever do to her!' Her mind repeated the words as she sunk lower into the base of the tree. She had tried, she really did, to get to know the younger girl more during their stay in Lavaridge; but if she even dared to say a word to her, she would get a fiery comeback immediately.
Just remembering that hot glare that was always sent her way from Kyra only proved her weakness in never wanting to talk to people. Back in her university classes, she remembered when she first tried going to one of their social events.
"Worst day..." She sulked. She felt so awkward between the chattering groups around her that she never once spoke up to introduce herself. She had a few friends back in high school, but they had moved to different schools around Hoenn, or travelled to completely different regions; so she was forced to make new friends.
Sure there would be people to talk to here and there, but not one of them developed into someone she could really call a friend. She sniffled, fighting back the stinging sensation in her eyes before something damp tapped her forehead. Hazel eyes slowly looked up to meet calm red eyes.
"Houndoom..." Elisa muttered before the fire hound lay down beside her, watching her quietly. "I'm sorry..."
The fire hound gave her a quizzical look.
She smiled softly as the dog cocked his head to the side from her words. "Seems like I can't be like you or Cole..." She huddled inward again, avoiding his soft gaze. "You guys are so confident...and don't let anything faze you-"
She gasped. A small jolt in her side, she looked to her waist to see Houndoom poking her gently. He whined softly, rubbing his snout into her side as if he was trying to comfort her. "Y-You're...A-Are you trying to make me feel better?"
Houndoom nodded softly, wagging his tail. A small smile graced her lips from the Pokemon's thoughtful gesture before he suddenly got up on all fours. "What is it?" She turned around, only to see a brown basket in front of her face.
"What are you doing out here alone?"
Elisa glanced up, only to smile brightly once deep brown eyes twinkled back at her.
"Did Kyra ditch you again?"
"N-No!" Elisa waved her hands frantically before the older woman gently pulled her up by the wrist. "I...I just wanted to-" She blinked. "Again?" Elisa's usual soft face contorted into an annoyed frown as Katherine giggled softly at her expression. "She doesn't really like me I guess..."
"She's like that with everyone!" Katherine mused as she brushed off Elisa softly with her free hand, the other holding a batch of herbs neatly placed into a basket. "It'll take some time, but she'll warm up to you soon enough. You just need to spend more time together."
"Thanks." Elisa forced a smile as Katherine began to fix the loose strands of hair that had fallen onto her cheek. If she had to choose who was the most nice to her over the past few days, Cole's mother would have won 1st place by a landslide.
Ever since their first day together, something just seemed to click between them. Maybe it was her nicer personality, maybe it was the way she stood up for her whenever Cole or Kyra would tease her. She smiled softly at her as the older woman looked her over one more time. 'Or maybe...' Elisa looked away from her kind eyes, suddenly interested in the dirt roads below her.
She shyly twiddled with her fingers before glancing back to Katherine. She definitely fit the role of a strong mother...compared to any other she could think of.
"Are you okay dear?"
Elisa jolted up, her face in a slight panic as she felt another soft nudge in her thigh. She looked down, noticing Houndoom poking her softly once again. "Y-Yeah..." She had never noticed this before, but the look in Houndoom's deep eyes. 'He's really that worried?'
Katherine gazed upon the young girl quietly as Houndoom continued his relentless poking of Elisa who couldn't help but playfully attempt to push him away to no avail. Watching her son's friend giggle softly from Houndoom's nostalgic antics, she smiled softly at the scene before her. 'He looks really happy with her...'
Katherine's attention was particularly focused on the fire hound as his tail began to wag back and forth, Elisa's laughter only making the Pokemon bark happily, pleased with making the young woman laugh. 'I hope Cole has kept you playful and happy all these years too...' She stifled a giggle before gently clasping onto Elisa's hand, catching her attention.
Elisa blushed slightly, quickly realizing her actions from the small grin that graced the older woman's cheeks. "S-Sorry."
"You don't need to apologize!" Katherine laughed. "I was just surprised from how Houndoom seems to have taken a liking to you so easily..." She glanced down to Cole's first Pokemon, her memories flooding back to the first day it hatched in Cole's arms; those small, loveable puppy-dog eyes that curiously stared back at him that day. She really missed those days. But they had new days to cherish now.
New days with her son.
"Elisa." Katherine started, pulling on the young woman's wrist softly. "How about we go with the boys for dinner tonight? My treat."
"The boys?...You mean...like Noah-"
"No, no!" Katherine gave her a childish glare. "The kids can stay with mum tonight and help her with taking care of the Pokemon..." She glanced down to Houndoom's dead-panned look, already realizing that he would not be with his Trainer again. She gave him a silent apology before turning back to Elisa. "Just you, me, my husband of course...and Cole." She winked at her, earning a small yelp in return.
'Is she talking about a double date?' A small grin cracked her lips before she avoided the coy look that graced Katherine's deep brown eyes.
Despite her denials from Katherine's sneaky questions about her son over the past couple of days whenever they were alone, she really could not pass up this opportunity. 'I mean...It would be rude of me to say no.' She mentally patted herself on the back for the excuse before smiling at Katherine.
"Oh, okay I guess." Elisa mumbled, trying her best not to sound too excited.
"Great! Since I'm done with my work for today, let's head back home now." Elisa nodded from her words as the two started towards the home of the Hughes until suddenly, rushing footsteps could be heard just behind them.
"There you are!" Kyra barked, sliding to a stop just in front of Elisa with Noah just behind her. She exhaled once more before sending a heated glare towards the quiet girl. "You can't just run off like that! It's a pain already just taking you-" Her words were suddenly caught in her throat once she noticed the dark figure creeping just behind Elisa's shoulder. It did not take her very long to realize who it was as a fast hand suddenly snatched onto her left ear.
"Owowowow!" Kyra screeched, cringing from the jolt of pain as her mother glared down at her, a dark smirk laced on her features, Noah snorted trying his best to mask his laughter before Kyra sent him her darkest glare yet. "M-Mom! I-I thought you were-"
"Running away from Elisa, huh?"
Elisa felt a cold sweat begin to run down the back of her neck as the words escaped Katherine's lips. Maybe she did not give the full description of Cole's mother before. As nice as she was at times, she could flip it around in a heartbeat.
"N-No!" Kyra desperately answered as she squirmed from her firm grasp, waving her hands around hysterically but her mother would not let go. "Sh-She ran away from me! I wouldn't ditch her!"
Katherine glanced back at Elisa, giving her a kind smile, which only freaked her out, before turning back to her daughter. "We're heading back home now."
"Ow!...S-Stop-OW! M-M-Mommy!" Kyra's face flushed red as a righteous smirk broke from her mother's lips. Her shoulders slumped as Katherine finally let go of her swollen earlobe. Kyra cringed from the sensation, licking her fingers before gently rubbing the throbbing skin. She gave Elisa a dark glare as her mother turned around, heading in the same direction as their home.
"You're just lucky mom was here!" Kyra spat before sticking out her tongue.
Elisa took a step back, clearly shocked by her actions before lightly clenching her fist. Taking a deep breath, she stuck her tongue out, right back at Kyra to her own surprise before she hurriedly clasped at her mouth. "I-" She really didn't mean to do that, but the horrified look on the younger girl's face made her eyes twinkle with a glimmer of satisfaction.
Maybe it was all of those times Emma used to tease her were finally resurfacing, and Kyra was the catalyst for actions to take form. She didn't regret it though as the feisty girl sneered at her before running after her mother.
A young girl scrunched up her face as she sat in her chair at the family table, glaring at the massive pot that boiled from the kitchen stove just beside her.
Her weary eyes finally peeling themselves away from the poisonous ooze, she turned to the young boy beside her, only to lean back once she noticed the heart-shaped eyes that stared deep into her own fearful ones.
"What." She demanded.
"Did I ever tell you how beautiful you look in the kitchen's lights?"
She gave the perverted boy a quick punch in the nose, knocking him off his seat before feeling an intense glare aimed at the back of her head.
"What granny?" She asked innocently.
Not even a second after the words left her grandmother's lips, two bowls landed on the table in front of her. She grimaced. Not even Team Aqua storming her house again could put this much fear into her.
"Kenna's special herb soup..." Kyra droned the title her grandmother had proudly given her work. Peering at the green and purple liquid before her, she didn't know whether it was a meal or... "A weapon-"
"What was that?"
"Nothing!" Kyra shot back, hesitating before slowly taking a small spoon into her trembling hands. 'I can't do it!' Her nerves were wracked, just the overpowering fruity stench alone was making her stomach shrivel. There had to be a way out of this...
"Y-You really...Know how to punch Kyra! Like a true Goddess!" Noah groaned as he climbed back onto his chair, pinching the bridge of his nose as he smiled at Kyra's bewildered face. "...You're one in a million!" He cried, wobbling in his seat before he noticed the two bowls in front of him. "Oh! You're done Kenna!"
The old woman smiled softly. "Yes, now eat up. This one has a lot of nutrients for growth."
Kyra grimaced as the boy took his spoon in hand. '...Should I stop him?' She opened her mouth to say something before a bubble popped from her own bowl. "Uh...Hey, you." She tapped Noah on his shoulder.
"Yes!" Noah dropped his spoon instantly, his eyes sparkling as the girl finally acknowledged him.
"...Do you want to...try mine first?" She asked hopefully, tipping her head to the side in the nicest possible way she knew of, which wasn't cute at all unless you were-
Noah beamed. 'This is it!' She may have been Cole's sister, related to his long time tormentor but he could turn a blind eye to that right now. She was actually willing to share something with him. "I just knew you thought of me the same way!" He quickly grabbed Kyra's bowl and her spoon, blushing from the small grin she was giving him before he hurriedly shoved a mouthful of the substance into his mouth.
"Hck!" He choked up, his eyes suddenly darkening in front of the young girl before his head wavered back and forth. 'This...This-'
"Noah?" Kenna asked as the boy's head hit the table instantly, the spoon in his hand clattering onto the wood floor. She quickly snapped her attention to her granddaughter who had somehow seemed to be out the kitchen, her Quilava just at her feet.
Kyra smirked darkly as the boy twitched multiple times before waving to her grandmother. "Noah said he'll have mine! Night!"
As the young girl sprinted for her own bedroom, Kenna exhaled tiredly. She reached for the spoon that had fallen but blinked once Wartortle quickly flicked the spoon up into its mouth with its tail before leaning up to her with a small smile. "Oh...Thank you, young one." Kenna smiled before patting the Pokemon gently on his head.
She turned to Noah's lifeless form, her face still innocent. "Seems like everyone still loves the Berry soup..."
She was nervous, more nervous than that time she tried to take that university level exam for the class she didn't care about without studying. She exhaled softly, her hands awkwardly fiddling with the end of her light brown t-shirt that accented her rather blue jeans that Katherine had surprisingly purchased for her earlier that day. Without her warm grey sweater that easily wrapped around her fingers here to keep her feeling at ease, she felt completely out of place right now.
'You planned this from the beginning!' Elisa glared at the woman in front of her who continued on with one arm around a manlier, if that was possible, version of Cole.
She let out a sigh, oblivious to the chatter of Lavaridge's streets. She would forgive Katherine if the only person she wanted to see her like this would approve of her appearance. Hazel eyes slowly looked up. He was calm, as usual. Those dark brown eyes were focused straight ahead to the pair in front of them that had been so kind to invite her and Cole out for the night.
Doing her best to avoid the ever growing attractive features of his stone-like face, meaning all of it, in the warm glow of the overhead lanterns that lit their way, she glanced up, noticing the crescent moon that hid behind rolling clouds, peeking every few minutes with its audience of stars beside it.
As beautiful as the moon could be to her, she couldn't resist her urge to gaze upon the new look Cole was given for the night. She held her breath, from his sharp black jeans all the way up to his dark jacket that fit to his frame just concealing a white dress shirt. Definitely a step in the right direction from his usual brown jacket that had seen better days; but she wasn't complaining.
'This would be a good time to tell him about the Ocean Plate!' Her mind screamed. Letting out a soft breath, she quickened her pace to match his, avoiding his gaze whenever it would wonder back to her. The silence between them was driving her crazy again, "...Cole?"
The words seemed to snap the man from his thoughts as he blinked before turning to her. "Yeah?"
For one, she could tell him that she cracked the code of the Ocean Plate. "Um...I um..." She hesitated again, earning a small smirk to grace the man's lips, which only worked against her. 'Say something-'
"You alright?" He asked, turning to her now. "You've been really quiet for the past couple days." Thoughtful dark brown met daydreaming hazel once again, making the young woman burn up under his stare, completely mute.
Cole for one did not like this. He thought he was getting closer to Elisa during their travels together, but it was like she was becoming less talkative around him as they travelled. If you were becoming friends, wouldn't it become easier to at least chat with each other?
He didn't get it all.
"H-How was your training today?" Elisa managed to mutter aloud.
"...You came by already, remember?"
"Oh yeah...You're right...Hehehe!" She forced herself to laugh, mentally kicking herself for such a stupid question. 'Stupid! The plates!' She grimaced at the thought, avoiding his rugged look yet again, her heart began to pound from just locking eyes with him.
'You really know how to talk to the guys Elisa.' Her brain mocked again.
'What's wrong with me!' She screamed at herself, clearly frustrated as she avoided his stare. 'Every time I get a chance to talk to him...It's...It's just like...' Elisa pouted softly before focusing her attention on the woman of the pair in front of them.
She couldn't blame Katherine, could she? 'Why did she have to say it was a date...' Was that the reason she felt so nervous around him right now? It would be her first time after all on a date.
But that couldn't explain the last couple of days. It was just like yesterday...And the day before that...and repeat. She didn't get it. When she first thought about spending time with Cole, she was excited; but now that her little wish was walking right beside her-
"Elisa?" It was Cole.
The young researcher blinked, realizing that she was standing alone with Cole in the middle of the town's street. 'Why me...' She blushed once she noticed Cole smirking at her while hearing small laughter from a small bar; Ethon and Katherine were waving them over as they took their seats on the open stools that stood just in front of the open grill.
"Come on now! Let's eat!" Ethon called, snickering at the awkward pair.
As Cole and Elisa sat down beside the two, Elisa and Katherine sitting in the middle with Cole and Ethon on their respective sides, Katherine tapped the young woman's thigh softly as menu's were placed before them. "Enjoying your date?"
She blushed scarlet, her face hysterical before quickly grabbing the menu and forcing it up to her face to hide from Cole's curious eyes. "I-It's not a date!" Elisa cried softly, trying her best to hush the older woman's emerging grin.
"Then what is it?"
"...Um..Uh-A simple get together!"
"Oh come now," Katherine pouted at her words before gently tugging onto the girl's menu, only making her squeal fearfully. "You like my son? Don't you?" She only had one son after all. She had to milk these kinds of moments to their fullest. Her mother did the same thing to her too.
"Yes-" Elisa nearly choked on her words, earning a worried look from Cole which only Katherine noticed. "I mean no!...I..." Her shoulders were ridged, the main topic of their conversation just behind her. Hopefully he did not hear anything.
"Well you can't have both." Katherine smiled coyly. Elisa was a very nice girl, reminding her of a younger version of her that used to act the same way around a certain young boy that was her neighbour when she first moved to Lavaridge from Johto. She glanced back at Ethon, who was too preoccupied with drooling over the menu. Sighing, she turned back to Elisa.
She may have missed out on the growing years of her son, but the smile that Cole tried to hide from her whenever she brought up Elisa's name was enough for her realize that she was more than just a travelling partner to him.
He liked this girl.
"Well? Yes or no?"
Elisa hesitated with her answer before shamefully looking down, avoiding the family's apparent trademark smirk. '...Do I...Do I really...like him?'
No...He was just a good friend.
'Stop lying to yourself!' Elisa bit her lip, avoiding Katherine's gaze.
Could that be the reason it was so hard to talk to him now? Was that the reason her stomach would flutter just from the small smirk he would send her way whenever he passed her? Was it the same reason she was worried about telling him the truth of the Ocean Plate's message to her? What would happen to him if he knew? They were only meant to travel the region in order to collect the Dragon Plates, nothing more. Cole had told her that.
But was that something she wanted to accept?
'Elisa...When you find the one you love...I bet you won't even be able to talk for one minute with him!' Her sister's fading words slapped her in the face.
Twiddling the folds of her menu, nervously chewing on her lip, she refused to look back up. Whenever she was around him, she felt happier than usual; the warmth that welled up in her when she was able to talk to him. Everything just seemed so easy, so comfortable when she was with him...
This is what it felt like...to fall for someone?
Elisa jolted up, turning to the source of the noise to see 4 large bowls spin to a gentle stop on the wooden counter before rattling to a stop. They were all filled with thick beef that floated elegantly in a sea of steamy soup that wafted into her nostrils, earning a small growl from her stomach.
"We get a discount if we come in pairs." Ethon started, already drooling over the heavenly scent before digging in with an eager grin on his face. Katherine gave him a hopeless look which only got her a small chuckle in return.
"I haven't eaten all day!" Cole followed suit just like his father, tearing into the meal before him, completely oblivious to the man's words as he chowed down on the meat happily.
"Slow down! You might choke!" Elisa blurted out her words of concern before she clasped at her mouth.
Her cheeks burning scarlet, her wide eyes darted back and forth between Cole and his parents before she shoved her hands between her legs. She then meekly leaned forward before taking a small sip of her own soup, avoiding everyone's gaze as they stared at her in silent awe.
"...Yeah...sorry." Cole muttered softly.
'I can't believe it.' Katherine remained silent during the whole ordeal, watching her son actually slow down from Elisa's words as he lowered the bowl to take more controlled sips. Her lips curled upward, a smile breaking through as the realization finally hit her dead on.
Elisa loves Cole.