Bluebells Are Forever

Town Travels

My eyes snapped open and I jolted upright. A stinging pain forced me back down and I winced as I collapsed back down.

Pillows were behind me, and I felt a sheet from my waist down. I opened my eyes again and noticed the white ceiling and walls. Before I even checked the walls and desks for the first aid equipment, I already knew I was in the medical room.

Lightly, I moved my hand down to my side. Gently, I brushed my hand over where I had been stabbed and felt the bandage there. With a sigh, I let my arm drop and pressed my lips together.

The door opened and General Rhydon walked in.

"Ah, so you're awake," he observed as his frown curved into a smile.

"Yes, sir," I nodded. "When do you need me up and running by?"

"Need?" he blinked. "I want you up as soon as possible, but I need you to get up when you're ready, and not a minute before."

For a moment, I was at a loss for words. "Sir, I…you need me," I insisted.

"Are you really going to argue over it?" he challenged. "You are recovering from both a stab wound and poisons. It hasn't been a full day yet. And you want to just go charging back out to practice, and hope that you don't bleed out when someone hits your marked weakness?"

Quietly, he watched me as I scratched my sheets.

"There's no war right now," the General asserted. "I need to you to get better in time, and not do something stupid."

"Already took care of that, sir," I bemoaned.

"From what I was told, that Primeape screeched at you to lower your guard," he explained. "He did that while Greninja was beating the fur off of him, so don't think it's because of a lack of effort on his part or a misstep on yours. They were just sneaky and clever."

"We need to be able to get around enemies like that," I argued. "This was an easy fight. We shouldn't have had any problems. Worse situations will be waiting for us."

General Rhydon studied me for a moment. "You have a point," he relented. "And we will keep working to minimalism these kinds of situations. But war is war, and only one side can win." He sighed and continued, "Folks are going to die on both sides. We can't eliminate that completely. And I'll keep training the lot of you every day that I can. But we can't predict every situation, nor every outcome." He then patted my shoulder. "You're not invincible, and I can't make you that way. So don't beat yourself up over this, especially when you stopped them and probably saved lives."

"Saved?"

"You got two bandits on the run and the other two aren't going to be thieving anyone else any time soon," the General went on. "Most importantly, you didn't die over this. I'd say that's a win, and I'd bet that the two that got away won't be jumping back into the fray any time soon."

It wasn't exactly the most comforting news, but a small smile came to my face. "That's good." I paused and tried to recall the rest, but couldn't. So, I asked, "What else happened after I went down? Did anyone tell you?"

"Ah, the rest," General Rhydon nodded. "Delphox burnt their mage to bits and recovered the…jewel. Samurott stopped Scrafty and slammed the other two off to who knows where in the woods. Greninja gave them nice souvenirs though."

"Greninja…?" I remembered him turn to look at me, and he was near me at one point when someone tried to hit him.

"Yes, the frog ninja that fended off two of the bandits while keeping you alive," laughed the General. "Carved a nice hole in the Toxicroak's back and nailed the Primeape in the eye."

"That's pretty harsh," I murmured.

"They're the two that could have killed you," Rhydon reminded me. "And in between that, he washed out as much poison from your system as he could. Plus," he held up a dark and bloodied rag that was tied together in a few places, "he ripped up his own clothes to help suppress the bleeding."

"He did that?" I studied the makeshift tourniquet again; aside from the blood, they did look like the ninja's robes.

"Yep, he did." He thought for a moment. "Come to think of it, I was told that, since Greninja did that, you're a lot better off and should be feeling better a lot sooner than if he hadn't." He laughed again. "You owe him a big 'thank you,' plus interest."

"Definitely," I agreed. A cough escaped me and I felt a pang flare up again.

The General scoffed, "And you wanted to go back out today."

"Maybe not today, but I figured soon," I groaned.

General Rhydon shook his head. "Soon, as in a week, maybe." I let out another groan and he laughed.

I heard the door open again and watched King Nidoking walk in.

"Ah, good, he's awake," he smiled. The King looked at my pained face, and then glared at the General's grin. "Why would you be laughing? Look at him!"

"Bah, he was fine a minute ago," huffed Rhydon. "Chesnaught was insisting that he could go right back out, and then a cough did him in."

"Oh, so agonizing coughs are funny now?" snapped Nidoking. His glare only grew darker.

Rhydon's face dropped and began to lose color. "N-No," he protested. "Nido…you know I would never, not about her, I didn't mean…I wasn't trying to—"

"Sire, he was trying to talk sense into me," I defended. "He laughed because I only proved his point."

The King's expression softened a bit and he nodded. General Rhydon was still quite pale, but shot me a grateful look.

To break the silence, I asked, "Is there anything I can do for you, milord?"

"Relax," Nidoking insisted and sighed. "The last thing I need is to lose one of my best knights over precautionary tasks."

My head tilted and I gave him a quizzical glance. "Precautionary, sir?"

"Ah, yes," the King waved off. "Just making sure that no new thieves with mages will be able to snatch it up. With the new spells that are discovered and learned, it's only a matter of time before someone figures out how to break enchanted seals."

Though I wasn't aware of anything of the sort, I nodded. Even with the diversion of topics, he King still seemed out of sorts while the General hadn't regained the color to his face.

Naturally, my next words were…carefully chosen: "So, sire, how did you like the gift that General got you?"

General Rhydon's eyes widened while Nidoking's expression became more confused. "What gift?"

"Oh, you mean you didn't give it to him yet, sir?" I asked as I exaggerated my surprise. "By the way you talked about it, I thought that you had already…"

Nidoking then eyed Rhydon with renewed interest. "When did you get a gift?"

"Um…uh…" was all that came from the poor General, losing color once again. He shot me a panicked expression, but I couldn't acknowledge it, for his own sake.

"You're not going to tell him now, are you?" I piped in. "The way you spoke about it, I could have sworn it was a surprise."

"A surprise gift?" questioned Nidoking. "Rhydon, what…why?"

"Don't worry, your majesty," I lowered my eyes and winked. "He'll give it to you soon, I'm sure. Then you'll understand it perfectly."

The King shifted his gaze back and forth between Rhydon and I. "Well…this certainly piqued my curiosity," he chuckled.

"Of course, sire," I laughed. "You'll love it, I'm certain."

Then, a soft red glow lit up Nidoking's face and he smiled at Rhydon, who returned with a contorted grin.

"So, ah, Chesnaught," the King returned his attention to me, "Would you mind if I told anyone you were up?"

"I don't see why not," I nodded.

"Good, then we'll let others know that they can visit you," grinned Nidoking. "Greninja had asked about seeing you earlier."

"He did?"

"Of course," laughed Nidoking. He stopped with a cough and continued, "He stayed with you until we had you put in here, and then had to be dragged off to bed. The poor fellow was worried sick over you."

At that, my heartbeat picked up. Anyone else might have done the same; Greninja actually went through on all fronts.

"Well, I'll remember to tell him to stop by as soon as I find him," Nidoking smirked as he grasped my shoulder. "You, feel better." Then he turned to Rhydon. "And you, sir, well…I'll be waiting." And with that, he reached up, planted a smooch on the General's cheek, and walked out of the room.

Poorly, I tried to stifle my laughter at the General's face, which shot from pale gray to scarlet in seconds.

"There are other beds, if you need one, sir," I joked.

The General nodded and blinked. Then, relaxing himself, he turned to me again. "So…I bought our King a surprise gift that he'll love for certain?"

"You're welcome."

"Yes," he deadpanned, "thank you for putting me back in his good graces by digging me into a brand new hole entirely. Perfect save."

"Hey, it was either that or have him scowl at you for the next week and a half," I argued. "You two are better off when you're together and happy. Last time you were angry with him, our drills became intense on disproportionate levels. And the last time he was angry with you…well, you remember how he ran everyone ragged, right?"

General Rhydon winced at the memory. "Don't remind me."

"Then, I'm doing our Kingdom a favor," I finished. "Just remember to get him a thoughtful gift."

"Right. Thoughtful," he mumbled. Rhydon cleared his throat. "Are you sure you don't have any feelings for Greninja? You seemed a little more tense each time someone brought him up."

"I didn't say I didn't have any feelings for him," I blurted out. "Just…I'm not sure they're the feelings that you two think they are."

"You know, the other day," recalled Rhydon, "Nidoking raised a good point: have you considered the notion of getting together with Greninja?"

"Sir, we don't really—"

"Know each other, perhaps not. But," he pressed on, "the more time you two spend together, the more you will get to know each other. Take a minute to drop the reservations you have about starting a relationship and just think of what would keep you from Greninja. What are they?"

"Uh…he might be…too vengeful?" I pondered aloud. "Maybe that would be overprotective of me. Um…I guess he's kind of impulsive…a little too shy…I'd need more time to think this through."

"Ok, but what do you like about him? Even as just a friend."

"Well, I do like that he's protective," I admitted. "He's also pretty smart, tough, and knows different strategies for fighting. He seems determined. Good looking. Kind, so long as you're his ally. Friendly, once you get to know him better. Um…should I go on?"

The General now had a goofy grin plastered onto his face. "That's what you had off the top of your head?"

Confused, all that came out was, "…Yes?"

"And yet," he challenged, "you don't like him beyond friendship?"

For a minute or two, nothing came out of my mouth. Then, "I…uh…hadn't thought of it like that?"

General Rhydon laughed. Then, more seriously, he continued, "Look, even if it is too fast, I think you should at least consider him as a valid option. Greninja had risked his life to keep you safe. That's worth some points, wouldn't you agree?"

It was.

"And, more importantly," he went on, "is there anyone else that you're interested in? Anyone that you'd rather date right now, instead of Greninja?"

"…No."

"Then? What's the hold up for?" he contested. "You don't have to marry him tomorrow, but why not give him a chance?" Rhydon scratched his chin. "I wasn't sure earlier, but he definitely has to at least like you. Ask him out, even if it's just for one night." He paused, and then added, "When you're better, of course."

My cheeks began to burn a little. "I…I guess I could."

"You guess?" The General laughed again. "Don't do this because I'm telling you to! Do it because you actually want to!"

Did I want to? I wasn't entirely certain of it myself. Still, as General Rhydon stretched and turned to leave, I did entertain the possibility. "Thank you, sir, I…I'll consider it."

"You do that," he murmured. "And if not him, just let me know whoever else you end up falling for. I owe you big for the, ah, romance department." He gently and fondly rubbed his cheek, and then walked out of the door.

With a yawn, I rolled back over and drifted off…to sleep…


Today was a bit of an odd day, at least for me. Samurott had taken most of the knights to see if he could track down the other two bandits; they left while I was still waiting on Chesnaught. Gardevoir and Delphox were busy practicing spells and brewing new potions; they offered to let me watch them, but after several vials exploded, I decided to excuse myself.

Instead, I found myself behind the castle, and sat on the edge of a marble-encased fountain. At the top, there was a four-legged beast with a hexagonal crest on its head that streamed water from its maw. This legendary creature, if I recalled the myths from home, was believed to purify polluted waters.

My hand circled in its basin and studied my reflection. I hadn't changed from yesterday, still wearing my torn robes. Though I felt exposed, something about seeing my bare arms during normal hours of the day was strangely comforting. No longer having a hood was a little less relaxing, but I tried not to focus on it.

For a minute, I glanced up and observed the yard around me. Bushes coated the castle's perimeter, with small flowers that grew within them. The white and brown stone walkways were neatly laid out and paved, with even the grass around it well attended to.

Further out was where others practiced against the golem knight, Golurk, who was…missing? I blinked and wondered where he could have gone.

"Looking for the biggest lug of the bunch?" asked a voice from behind me. I turned to find Escavalier coming over from the castle. "He loves to play hide and seek. Practically a champion at it."

"Is that so?" I questioned with interest. "I'll have to challenge him sometime."

Escavalier laughed, but slowly stopped. I tilted my head.

"Did you need something, Escavalier?"

"Ah…yes, actually," he nodded. "You see, uh, it's for the wife. Anniversary."

"Right."

"Well…" he stared at me, as if waiting for me to read his mind. "I figured that you might, um, know Accelgor well enough…to help me think of a great gift."

Confused, I asked, "This is something you need my help for?"

"Surprisingly, yes," he admitted. "Accelgor and I haven't exactly…well, we weren't always on top of anniversaries every single year, even when we were just dating. And…it's been a while since we really celebrated, well, us."

"What did you two do for the years you were apart?" I asked before I could stop myself.

"We just…sent gifts and letters whenever we had the time to," clarified Escavalier. "But I want this year to be different. We're together and I know it's coming up soon, so I just wanted to do something extra special for her." He sighed. "Problem is, I already took her around the castle grounds and all over town. I spoiled her so much already that I've run out of ideas on what else I can give her."

"Wouldn't just being together be enough?" I tried.

"Don't give me that simple and easy way out," snapped Escavalier. "Even if it is true, I can do better! …I just need ideas…"

"Um, I hate to break it to you, but I'm probably no better to ask than anyone else," I confessed. "Accelgor and I don't socialize all that much. I really respect her and I think she sees potential in me, and we enjoy working together, but we're not all that close, when it really comes down to it. Plus, I'm single and haven't had a date in a while." I tapped my hands together and bit my tongue for telling him such, but it was the truth; better to let him down here than later.

Still, Escavalier shook his head. "You don't get it. No one else here knows her outside of us two. You're literally my only option to work with. Even if it's just work related or if you can even recall a color she might like, I need that."

Oh no. Guilt. He employed the same tactics as his wife. And, somehow, they worked!

"Ok, ok, fine, I'll help," I conceded. "So…what are you looking for?"

"Well, there are different gifts that are traditional to get your spouse," he explained. "Or, uh, themes, at least." He thought for a moment, and continued, "This will be our fourth year married so…this year's gifts should be flowers and fruits."

"That's it? Sounds easy."

"No it isn't," he argued. "We eat both fruits and flowers. I'll need something doubly delicious and then something else for the lasting appeal."

"Or, you could just eat the fruit and save the flowers," I suggested.

"But that's no fun."

"Look, you either keep the flowers or break your shell over other gifts," I cautioned. "You can get her multiple gifts, but I think these two have to count the most, no?"

"Fine, flowers for lasting appeal," he relented. "You do realize that there's going to be courting for a ball soon and that ruins the gift, right?"

"Ball?"

"What, no one told you?" Escavalier questioned. "There's going to be a ball in a couple of months that people get dates for in a few weeks. My wife must have mentioned it by now."

"…Oh, right, she did," I recalled.

"So, do I need to get her another kind of flower now?"

"Not at all," I shook my head. "That can be the first part of your anniversary gift to her. Later, you can give her a fruit basket of her favorites." I thought for a moment, and then added, "You should probably get her some extra equipment; she does take work seriously, doesn't she?"

"Ah, equipment! Of course," cheered Escavalier. "See? This is exactly what I needed you for."

"Oh, I don't know about that," I scratched the back of my head.

"Sure I did! Now," he continued, "what kind of flowers do I get for the fourth anniversary?"

"If I remember correctly, it should be hydrangea," I informed him.

Escavalier blankly stared at me. "Hydra what?"

"It's a bunch of blue flowers that clump together…you had to have seen them somewhere before," I contested.

"Nope."

"Really?"

"Yep," he nodded. "Come to think of it, how and why do you know about it?"

"Uh…I…like flowers?"

He narrowed his eyes and studied me with contempt. "How about you answer me honestly on that one, huh?"

I might as well; Accelgor could have figured it out and told him already. "Well, I have a crush on this Grass type—"

"Aha! There it is," he laughed. "Don't worry, lad, I'm sure you'll impress her some day." …I take it back; he's clueless.

"Hopefully, yeah," I chuckled in agreement.

"All right, what's say you to running around town and checking for these flowers?"

"Wait, what?"

Before I could argue, Escavalier wrapped his arm under mine and dragged me off. Barely, I saw Nidoking step outside.

"Greninja? I was just looking for you," he called.

"Um, I guess I'll be back later?" I shouted back as Escavalier flew off from the castle.


The lance-armed knight finally stopped once we were across the town and outside of a florist's shop. If my head weren't spinning, I might have had the chance to admire the decorated bushes and vast variety just outside of the shop alone.

"Oh, come on, I'm the slowest in the army," grunted Escavalier.

"It…doesn't help when you…drag me…across the ground…" I managed, rubbing the bruises that formed along my arms.

"You act like exercise isn't good for you," he huffed.

"Somehow, I'm under the impression you might be trying to kill me," I muttered.

"Ha, come off it and let's go in," he nudged me to move inside.

Once we went in to the quaint little shop, however, I was ready to turn right back around and walk outside. Right inside was my apparent rival for a knight's affection.

"Excuse me? Miss?" Escavalier called for her attention.

"Hello there," greeted Lilligant as she turned around. "Did you need something?"

"Yes, ah, I was looking into purchasing some…ah…" he froze before he whirled around to me. "Hydra whatever they are?"

"Hydrangea," I spat. "Fourth anniversary."

"Oh! Congratulations, you two," she cheered.

"Ah, no, not us," corrected Escavalier. "It's for my wife, actually. This is just a friend of mine who tagged along." Is that what he called dragging me here against my will?

"My apologies," she bowed her head. "Anyway, I remember browsing at them over…here."

She pulled Escavalier over to the right side of the store and identified the blue bouquet to him. Hesitantly, I followed them over.

"These are the special ones they sell for anniversaries. It's good that you're buying it for a celebration; sometimes, they're classified as a vain or boastful gift, but for anniversaries, they can also be meant for heartfelt feelings, sincerity. Otherwise, they could also be used to show an appreciation for understanding."

"Um…sure," Escavalier nervously nodded.

"'They sell?'" I repeated. "You don't work here?"

"No, I'm just a collector," she explained. "Usually, they don't have anything new here for me. I do love visiting the shop though."

"How nice," my voice deadpanned, though elicited no reaction.

"Would you like any helping picking some out?" Lilligant offered. "I'm pretty good at spotting the best of the bunch, if I do say so myself."

"If you'll be here in the coming weeks, certainly," laughed Escavalier. "I'd like to present her fresh flowers, and if I buy anything now, it'll be dead before the time comes to give it to her!"

"Right, so you're just checking up on what you need to buy her," observed Lilligant. "That's a good idea! Smart to stay on top of things. Oh! Actually," she glided over to another wall and came back before we could move. "Here," she handed Escavalier a small green book, "these have information on the plants they sell here. They're pretty helpful, free, and even go over the symbolism for the different varieties."

"Ah, thank you," Escavalier put the book under his arm. "That'll be hilarious to struggle with later!"

"Oh, I'm so sorry, I didn't mean—"

"Please, milady, nothing to worry about," he insisted. "If I didn't know how to work with books in spite of having lances for hands, well…I probably wouldn't be where I am today!"

"A knight, of course," smiled Lilligant. Suddenly, her eyes snapped open and she set her attention directly on me. "And you're a ninja," she studied. "From the same castle, I take it?"

"Yes," I curtly responded.

"Then, you must know of Sir Chesnaught," she clapped her leafy hands together.

"Correct," I nodded. "Did you need to give him a message or something?"

"Um, no, I…" Lilligant trailed off and closed her eyes for a moment. They opened again and she asked, "Are you friends with him?"

"I…suppose so, yes."

"You are," she reaffirmed. "That's good. It sounds like he's coming out of his shell."

"He's pretty social," I contested, but Lilligant shook her head.

"Chesnaught's nice and talks a lot, but he doesn't have strong ties with anyone," she enlightened me. "I wouldn't know who he calls a friend, but if someone else were to call him one, I'd imagine that he'd begin thinking the same of that one, in time."

It didn't seem like the case to me, but I imagined that if anyone knew Chesnaught well, it would probably be his crush. My eye twitched and I bit my tongue, annoyed that Lilligant did have that edge over me.

"Greninja, we need to get going," prodded Escavalier. "I've got more shopping to do, but the king will want you back at the castle soon, I'd imagine."

"Nidoking can wait," I assured him. "We should finish shopping for your wife while we're out."

"Ah…about that," nervously chuckled Escavalier. "Our anniversary isn't for another two months."

My head drooped and I stared blankly at him. "Then why were we out today?"

"Uh, I just wanted to get a head start," admitted Escavalier. "It seemed like a good idea, wouldn't you agree?" A powerful urge to start attacking him was difficult to suppress, but I somehow managed it.

We turned to walk out, but Lilligant stopped me. She handed me the same book she had given Escavalier. For it, I gave her a puzzled look.

"Sir Chesnaught is pretty knowledgeable of flowers," she clarified. "I imagine that you could read up on them sometime and have more to talk about with him." She paused before she added: "We usually do that at my house."

Among other things, I'd wager, but I nodded quietly and accepted the book. And then it hit me that I failed to mention what happened to Chesnaught last night.

"Let's go, Greninja!" Escavalier called.

"One moment," I told him. To Lilligant, I sighed. "Last night, um, Chesnaught was attacked by a bandit. Poisoned. He should be all right soon, but I just figured that I should let you know."

"Ah, so that's why the other knights came through town to hunt those bandits," realized Lilligant. "Thank you, that clears things up. And please send Chesnaught my best."

Without hesitation, I promised, "I will. Is there anything else you want to tell him?"

"Not at the moment," she shook her head. "But please, do watch out for him. I get the feeling that you'd be the best one for the job."

Considering that he was attacked while I was with him, I wasn't so certain of that. Still, I nodded to her and hurried out of the shop with Escavalier.

"Now, I don't mean to pry," murmured Escavalier, "but was that lass the Grass type that you fancy—?"

"No," I cut in before he insinuated anything else. "Now how about I drag you back to the castle?"


We managed to return to the castle around the same time as the mages finished their brewing. To my surprise, Accelgor walked out with Gardevoir.

"Could you run this by me again?" Accelgor asked. "You have your inherent arsenal of attacks, like most of us do, but you can also create different spells on top of those abilities as well?"

"Yep," nodded Gardevoir. "And we can mix various potions to utilize as well. Spells make up for whatever we can't normally do, sometimes outside of our type range, and other times completely outside types altogether."

"Give me an example," my fellow ninja insisted.

"Well, for non-Psychic types, they could move and manipulate objects without telekinesis," explained Gardevoir. "For myself, I'm not able to use Dark type abilities, so with dark arts, I might be able to tap into that. Though, I'd rather not, since it can be pretty pricey."

"That's fascinating stuff," exclaimed Accelgor.

"Please stop, she'll ask you to teach her how to use them against me," Escavalier finally broke in.

"Hush, or I will," teased Accelgor and pulled her husband away.

I watched them disappear around a corner and turned back to Gardevoir. "Where's Delphox?"

"Back inside, cleaning," noted Gardevoir. "Ooh, and I probably should go help him. Last time I didn't, he took it out on Gallade."

"Yikes."

"Yeah, so I'll get to that," she giggled. "If I'm not mistaken, our brave hunters might be getting back home soon, if they're not already. Why don't you go check?"

"Sure, I'll check the courtyard," I nodded and we parted ways.

Back outside, Gardevoir was right, and the knights had dispersed back from their search. Scizor, Heracross, and Armaldo went off to the back, while Typhlosion was following Bisharp around, poking him and laughing. Samurott sighed and sheathed one of his blades before he noticed me and strolled over.

"Search party went well?" I asked.

Samurott shook his head. "No, turned out to be a bust," he muttered. "We'll catch those creeps one day, though, I guarantee it."

"Let me know if you ever need any help," I offered and he laughed.

"Absolutely. They're probably still licking their wounds that you gave them," he smirked. I nodded, but didn't share his enthusiasm over it. "Anyway, how's Chesnaught?"

"Hmm, I…I'm not sure," I glumly murmured. "Escavalier dragged me out today, so I wasn't able to find out yet. And no one told me anything since I've been back, so…"

His hand rested on my shoulder. "Don't worry about it, Greninja, I'm sure he'll be fine," assured Samurott. He scratched his chin and then decided, "How about I take you up there to see how he is?"

"Would you?"

"Of course, but it'll cost you," he chuckled. "I take you up there and get you in, to which afterwards, you tell me that secret that I'm out of the loop on."

With a deep sigh, I realized that I hadn't told him already. Worse still, he was right: of my friends, only Samurott didn't know.

"Why don't I just tell you now?" I offered.

"Now? You don't drive a bargain if you're showing me your hand already," advised Samurott. "Are you sure?"

"If I tell you now or later, would you really not take me up there, either way?" I questioned.

He smiled and shrugged. "Fair point."

"Then, let me just get this over with," I mumbled as my face fired up.

We waited in silence for a minute and I tapped my hands against my tongue.

"Um…you want to tell me now, or…?"

"Yes, now is better," I forced out.

"Ok, if you insist," Samurott scratched his head and looked around. No spectators.

"All right, uh…so…I have a crush on Chesnaught," I confessed.

Samurott stared at me, but then frowned. "Oh. So you do love him." His voice was so plain, so…nonchalant.

"You…you knew?"

"I had my suspicions," he clarified. "It's nice to actually have them confirmed."

"Uh, right," I nodded.

Again, we fell silent. My heart raced and I pulled on my tongue.

"Look, I'm sorry," I blurted out. "I didn't tell you because I didn't want to make you feel, I don't know, awkward around me, and now I feel like I did just that."

"…How did you—?"

"Come on," I interrupted. "You don't have to pretend that it's not…that you're not bothered by knowing. About my…uh…interests."

"What, that you're gay?" Samurott asked.

"W-Well…yes," I sighed.

"See, I get why you kept it a secret, but I don't mind that at all," explained Samurott. "If he's the one you like, then…well, he's the one you like. Nothing else to it."

"That…doesn't bother you?"

"Not because you're both male, no," he shook his head. "I'm not sure about you being interested in Chesnaught, mostly because I feel like he can slack off sometimes, but I believe you're entitled to whoever you like." He smiled, a little too broadly, perhaps. "Are you going to ask him out soon?"

"W-What? No," I admitted.

"Why not?"

"Because…well…I don't know," I relented.

"This may be a plain way of looking it over," murmured Samurott, "but you should do what you did with me and get it over with." He paused and lowered his gaze as he added, "If you really do like him, that is."

"So…what should I do?" I asked, my head spinning a bit.

"Tell him," Samurott told me as he walked off. "If you keep it in any longer, you'll wake up one day and find him with someone else. Tell him as soon as you get the next available chance."

"But…how do I know when that is?" I questioned as I followed him.

"You don't know when," he clarified. "You choose when."

"And what…what if he doesn't…?" I tried to go on, but rejection was a sore subject.

"Greninja, you're good looking and have a great personality," Samurott flatly answered. "If Chesnaught's not interested, someone else will be."

My eyes met his and we watched one another for a bit. His were a darker red than my own, perhaps thanks to his helmet, but…for a moment, I thought I saw…a bit of melancholy behind them.

"Samurott…?"

"Come on," he smiled again. "Let's get you up there already."

He turned back to the castle and we stepped inside to find Nidoking and Rhydon waiting for us.

"S…Sirs?" Samurott greeted with confusion.

"Welcome back, Samurott," Nidoking returned. "And Greninja, there you are! I tried to tell you before you took off, but you were gone before I had the chance."

"Dragged off," I corrected. "What do you need, sire?"

"He doesn't need anything," piped up Rhydon. "Chesnaught's awake, been up for a while now. You wanted to see him, right?"

"I…yes," I nodded quickly.

"We were just on our way to see him now," added Samurott.

"Perfect, no one's stopped by yet," Nidoking informed us. "Well, besides Rhydon and myself, but I'm sure he's looking forward to better company. So, go! He'll be happy to see you two, I'm sure."

Samurott started to walk up the stairs, but turned back when I didn't follow immediately. "Well? You heard them," he laughed. "I thought you wanted to go see him, already."

"Right," I shook my head. "Let's go."

Swiftly, I hurried up the stairs after Samurott and we made our way through the halls to the medical room. I barely paid any attention to the green draped windows and desks, as I rushed forward and kept my eyes on the green carpeting.

"Easy, Greninja!" Samurott grabbed my shoulder to slow me down. "He'll still be there in a minute or two."

"No one's seen him all day," I contended. "He's probably bored out of his mind!"

"Oh no, how dreadful," deadpanned Samurott.

"Hush up," I snapped. "Besides, maybe I should just tell him now."

"While he's in a sour mood and confined to a bed?" Samurott questioned. "I thought you wanted him to like you."

"How much longer should I wait?" I demanded.

"It's your choice," repeated Samurott. "I'd just advise against the second you slam in there and rush to his side."

"You make it sound so dramatic," I huffed.

"Honestly, you're kind of reacting that way," noted Samurott. "And the door's right here, by the way."

I turned and stared at the white wooden door, which stood out from the usual browns and grays of the other doors.

"After you," Samurott teased as he held the door open. I glared at him, but walked into the full white room as Chesnaught yawned and sat up from his bed.

"Hey," I waved as I strolled over.

"Greninja, hey," he smiled and blinked his eyes open a few times.

"How do you feel? Any better?" I asked as Samurott closed the door.

"Better, I think," Chesnaught mumbled as he felt his side. "I was told it was thanks in part to you."

My face burned up immediately. "Oh, I didn't really—"

"Don't be modest," he yawned. "I owe you."

"Stop," I insisted. "You would have done the same."

"Well, it wasn't me, it was you," he persisted as well. "So, if you don't need any rescuing any time soon, then I owe you something else."

"Like what?" I asked.

"Drinks," he suggested. "Maybe…dinner too, if you'd like."

"Oho, are you asking him out?" snickered Samurott.

"Ah…not like that," chuckled Chesnaught. "…Unless you want—?"

"Drinks and dinner sounds good," I cut in. "So, uh…did you want to see anyone else? I could go send—"

"No," Chesnaught shook his head. "Just you two, for a little while. It's easier."

Samurott bumped me a little closer as he went to the other side of the room to get chairs. I caught myself on the edge of the bed and my hands brushed against Chesnaught's arm.

Mortified, I glanced up to apologize, only to find his cheeks just the slightest bit red as well. He grabbed one of my hands and held it for a minute.

"Thanks again," he murmured.

"That's what friends do," I mumbled back.

Even after Samurott joined us and I sat down, we didn't let go of each other's hands right away. Time slipped by, but I lost track of it as Chesnaught, Samurott, and I chattered the minutes, hours, away.


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