Chapter 5: Roses
“So what was it this time?” Misty asked her friend as he threw himself, quite literally, into the pool water before her, belly first. A huge splash emanated and the ginger haired trainer blocked most of the water from her face as the body before her floated like a dead carcass. After tapping him precariously, the infamous researcher and Viridian City gym leader, Gary Oak, finally surfaced looking much like a soaked Growlithe puppy. The cerulean eyed girl had tried desperately to keep the snort from leaving her, but couldn’t contain it after his pouty look. The affection overflowed her senses as her companion tried to be cute but serious.
“It’s not funny Red! This borders on stalkerish, I tell you!” And just like a child, the tall male stood and smacked his hands against the water’s surface in frustration. The situation was made more ridiculous because he’d jumped into the water in his cargo pants and t-shirt (though never his precious leather jacket). The waist deep water combined with the wet clothing weighed him down so much that he had to waddle to reach her only a few steps away. Waddle just like her little Psyduck used to. She snorted again when he grabbed her bare shoulders and tried to shake her.
“Gary, what could possibly be worse than receiving a Pokemon Moonstone, something that supposedly makes humans celestially bound and in love, dipped in blood?” Misty sarcastically asked. You see Gary Oak was, to Misty’s previous knowledge and observation, what they called a egotistical playboy. He had dated around extensively by the time they had all turned thirteen, he’d used his charms to enamour innocent hearts for his life’s purposes, and most importantly, he’d gotten himself a couple of stalkers.
Before the youngest Oak had taken up the position of Viridian’s gym leader, the youngest Waterflower would have probably laughed and poked fun of the brunette’s little behaviors and problems. However, after more than four years of knowing the real Gary Oak, becoming friends, and developing a mini crush on her fearless fellow gym leader, Misty could only be sympathetic to his woes. His most recent fangirl and stalker, the girl they codenamed Crazy Clair or C.C., tailed him for weeks with bizarre memorabilia being somehow hidden inside the gym, his office, and even his home. The last time the pair had talked about C.C., the green eyed trainer showed the cerulean eyed gym leader a Moonstone amulet he had found in his coffee cup dipped in blood; alongside it was a letter that told Gary it was his fangirl’s blood and if he’d add some of his own to it, they’d be destined to be together for eternity. If the redhead was honest with herself, she'd admit it made her sick to her stomach, and she didn’t know how the man with the cinnamon spikes slept at night. An overzealous fan of that sort was nothing to truly joke about.
“Roses, Misty. Six of them. Blue in color, and in my underwear drawer.” The poor Growlithe puppy in front of her dropped all acting and looked genuinely upset. His arms slackened and his face took on a ghostly pallor. The ginger haired girl reached out to steady the trainer in front of her for fear that he would truly collapse into the pool and hurt himself. She’d never seen Gary behave like this before. Not that Misty could blame him since such a disturbing incident was just related.
“Oh Gary, that’s awful! That crazy fangirl, really? Your underwear drawer . . .” the owner of the Cerulean City gym lead her ill-looking friend slowly out of the pool as she spoke, shuddering at the thought. If she’d been in the Oak’s position, she’d have gone on a murder spree to find this girl or something. The situation at hand was far too creepy and scary for anything less extreme.
“Yeah . . .” was her breathy response. Misty managed to get the brunette through the locker room doors and sat him upon the bench as she pulled a towel out for him. Wrapping him up and trying to dry him off a tad, she could feel the strange tenseness that came with an exhausted demeanor. Despite always playing things cooly, this was really draining her poor friend. Misty let her mind go over the newest present left for Gary as she grabbed a second towel and started working on his feathery soft spikes.
“Blues roses . . . You know those mean something is unattainable or impossible to get, since the color doesn’t actually exist in nature,” the redhead said as she continued to dry off her companion, feeling oddly at ease touching him in such a manner. “And six of them, I think I remember in the floral arrangement classes I took with Daisy that they meant a lacking or desperate need of love.” The Viridian gym leader finally peeked through his bangs that Misty was collecting moisture from and snorted at this description.
“I don’t know what’s more ironic, my stalker declaring her loneliness or you taking a flower arrangement class.” A smirked was finally returning to his distressed face and Misty didn’t have the heart to beat down his cockiness in regards to the circumstances. She opted to comment in an unaffected manner as she released the youngest Oak and turned to dry herself off.
“It was courtesy of Erika, thank you very much. And I enjoyed it. Anyway, C.C.’s basically getting desperate Gary. I mean, I’ve seen your freak outs, but to her, you probably appear apathetic to her cause and that’s just going to make her more impetuous.” When Misty turned to face her fellow gym leader, his humor completely disappeared. “You need to make her to stop. To see that this is unhealthy and impossible, that you’re not interested, and you’ll report her.”
“You don’t think I’ve tried that?” the other huffed, wobbly standing up and moving towards her. “I’ve been in contact with the police, but this damn girl is a ghost. They don’t know how she gets in my home or the gym, and there’s never a trace of evidence to actually suggest anything!” Frustrated, the brunette, now standing before the water type trainer, dropped from his height to place his forehead on Misty’s shoulder.
“I’m losing it Red. I can’t sleep at night because I’m worried she’ll break in and steal or hurt my Pokemon. I can’t eat at home because I’m afraid anything I have will be drugged or something. I haven’t battled any trainers for weeks because I can’t concentrate and all I can think about is that lunatic.” The situation was far more serious than he'd let on, that much the ginger haired girl was sure of. Her friend was always strong-faced and a great tactical thinker, but psychological wars were things that could bring down even an Elite Four member. In a show of comfort, Misty collected the Viridian gym leader in her arms and hugged him.
“Gary, I think you should stay in Cerulean tonight, get some real sleep. And in the meantime, I’ll plot something to get C.C. to end this,” Misty reassured. When the Oak looked up in exhaustion and surprise, whether from the hug or the information she wasn’t sure, he fish-mouthed.
“What? What do you plan on doing Red?” The girl released him and winked in a fashion she’d picked up from her sisters.
“Just trust me Gary. I’m sick of this girl and I’m gonna take her out of your life.”
“Is this really going to work?” The scepticism was heavy as Misty and Gary, both dressed in black and hiding near the bleachers of the Viridian City’s gym, waited within the tense silence.
“I hope so. Otherwise, you’re finished Gary.” Misty, the concocter of this plan, waited with apprehension. She had asked Gary, once he'd returned to the gym after a few days of recuperation, to leave a note on his gym doors declaring all battles halted until ‘the love of his life’ appeared to him this evening at midnight. Needless to say, trainers desperate to meet with the Oak and attain the Earth Badge, one of the toughest badges to get in Kanto, took to the streets in rage, proclaiming the news to every corner of Viridian City and beyond. Misty was positive that C.C. would have received the news and be ecstatic to meet and elope with her green eyed friend. She only hoped that the bait was enough to drive her here immediately, if only before the Pokemon League Association caught wind of Gary’s battle refusals and took measures against him.
A sudden whining echoed from the other side of the gym, the metallic doors of the gym swinging open to let a person slide in. The pair had purposefully left them open in hopes that the perpetrator would interpret it as a sign of truth. A shadow moved forward, moonlight from behind the only guiding light. It came to the center of the battlefield. Misty’s hand found Gary’s as she squeezed it encouragingly and wished him luck. With that, the trainer disappeared from her side, moving like his Umbreon through the shadows noiselessly.
In the next few quiet seconds, shuffling was heard before a girlish voice called out to the darkness.
“Gary?” Misty was surprised by the sweet quality that came with the voice. It certainly didn’t match the picture of a monstrously manly voiced girl with evil intent to hurt her fellow gym leader. She tried to peek over the bleacher to get a better look, but with the gym lights off it was nearly impossible to see.
“I’m here,” a husky voice called. The water Pokemon trainer nearly stumbled back, she’d never heard him sound so . . . smooth. Was this the tone he used when he was charming someone? Misty had to admit, the attractiveness couldn’t be denied. She wondered why he never used those talents of his on her. Wasn’t she attractive enough . . .? The attention was drawn back to the two as they started to speak.
“Oh my, finally you’ve answered. I was starting to wonder if you hadn’t gotten any of my confessions. But now I know your feelings!” If Misty hadn’t known the strange and disturbing nature of this girl’s gifts, the Cerulean gym leader would have written this girl off as an overzealous teen crush. She just seemed so normal and innocent.
“Yes, well, but my reply wasn’t an answer to your love. I just used the words of your last letter to me. You did call yourself ‘the love of my life’ didn’t you?” The collected manner with which he spoke, despite the charming quality, was like a kick to the stomach. Even Misty could feel that with every word there was quiet anger and dismissal. Clearly the opposing party was not expecting it.
“W-what? Your n-not returning my f-feelings?” The quiver to the girl’s voice was endearing, but the Cerulean City gym leader didn’t let it get to her. This was important for Gary, and she would not take the side of anyone else but her friend. Regardless of whether her emotions were relatable or not. The aqua eyed girl shook away the image of a certain black haired Pokemon trainer that came to mind; she did not feel that way about him anymore. She had found herself more inclined to another nowadays . . .
“No. And I’d appreciate it if you’d stop all this nonsense. I’ve never even met you before, let alone fallen in love with you.” A shocked gasp was heard from C.C.’s side, and Misty too felt the twinge of hurt at the callous way he framed the verbal attack. On the other hand, she was praising him for his courage and finality in standing up to his stalker. The poor gym leader had put up with this for long enough.
“You d-don’t mean that. We’re m-meant for each other! W-why are you hiding in the dark while sp-speaking? Show me your face, Gary! Then I’ll know you’re just saying that without meaning it!” The dejection, the denial, the pain was all easily noted in the girl’s voice. Misty wasn’t sure if she was ready to see it all on this girl's face when the brunette lit up the place, but she didn’t have time to ponder it as the lights burst on and set the arena aglow in neon brightness. On her left stood a fire-red haired girl with pretty pale skin, green eyes to match Gary’s, and a small frame. Misty was accurate with her previous assessment; the girl looked harmless on the surface. To her right, the youngest Oak stood near the light switches of the gym, bronze spikes sticking out in their usual manner, face stony. Being dressed in all black gave him a menacing aura, but to Misty it was even more attractive. She pushed her odd thoughts from her mind, reminding herself that she was the tall trainer’s pillar of strength tonight.
“I. Have. No. Feelings. Toward. You.” he enunciated. If it were appropriate, the hiding cerulean eyed girl would have whooped in support. However, she was only backup in case something went wrong. Her presence would remain unknown if things settled themselves according to the plan. So Misty watched as Gary slowly moved toward the now teary eyed girl, stalking her like a hunting Liepard. When he arrived before her, he pulled out the Moonstone necklace left for him by C.C. from inside his jacket and hung it before her face. As it swung, the flame haired girl looked away and cried more.
“N-no, th-that’s not p-possible! You, you like a girl with red hair! Mary made that clear on the radio a while back when your Grandfather accidentally revealed it! I heard it with my own ears!” she cried in futility, shaking her head as if the amulet would disappear from her vision. Misty, on the other hand, was more curious of what C.C. was yelling about. What and when did Professor Oak say anything about Gary liking a redhead? As far as Misty knew, Gary hadn’t been attracted to anyone as of late. He’d told her so himself a couple of times, stating that no woman was to his taste.
“And I’m the only redhead in Viridian, I made sure! You had to be referring to me, t-there’s no one else! Y-you have to l-like me!” C.C. tried to reach out and grab hold of her obsession, but the former researcher was two steps ahead of her and had retreated a safe distance away. Gary then proceeded to toss her the amulet along with another item, knowing that she wouldn’t let it touch the ground and be defiled. He wasn’t wrong as the pretty girl with thick tears streaming down her cheeks anxiously caught her gift and held it to her chest. She stared upon the flower twirled sloppily around the chain, a long stemmed striped carnation. Misty knew, as a sender of flower messages, the girl would understand her desire’s rejection. The water Pokemon trainer had specifically told Gary to get a carnation that meant ‘No, I refuse’.
“W-why? I’m a redhead and you like a girl with---”
“Maybe my Grandpa slipped up and mentioned my feelings, but I’m certain he never said I liked a redheaded girl from Viridian. I could never just like someone from one meeting or based on appearances alone. I’m not a shallow guy despite the rumors spread about me. IF you knew me, you’d understand that.” Misty, who’d been curiously listening for awhile, let her eyes widen at this admittance. If Gary did like a girl, that was one thing, but a redhead he knew well and that wasn’t from Viridian . . . no way could it be her . . .
“I'm asking you to leave me alone, my feelings aren’t towards you. Please just move on with your life and let me live mine,” he stated with finality. Gary was a picture of the icy prince, no remorse written on his features. Seeing this must have been the straw that broke the Camerupt’s back for C.C. because you could barely understand her through her sobs.
“I-I h-hate you G-Gary O-Oak! You’re a t-terrible h-human being! I o-only wish the w-worst for you!” She viciously threw the amulet and flower at her heartbreaker, hitting him in the forehead with strangely precise aim. Then a Pokemon sprang forth before the weeping girl, a Drifblim, and took her into it’s arms as they quickly floated away through the opened gym doors soundlessly. Well, at least now they knew how C.C. had been entering the premises and leaving things.
It had been silent for more than a few minutes as Gary stood facing the doors of his gym where his obsessive fangirl finally departed, his features set in a frown. Misty decided to stand and quietly head down to where her fellow gym leader was stiffly positioned, unsure of what to do or say. He hadn’t moved or even acknowledged her presence so she stepped in front of him to catch his eyes. But the taller trainer kept his gaze set forward above her head, as if in a trace.
The aqua eyed girl, still unsure of how to approach the situation, looked at his tight jaw muscles and his emotionless eyes before reaching his temple, where it was bleeding from being hit. Instinctively she pulled her small hand forward to stroke the red liquid from dripping into his eye, surprised when he caught her hand in his firm grip and finally dropped his gaze to her. What was once masked indifference now showed vulnerability. They stared at each other in heavier silence before Misty spoke.
“Gary, we should take care of that cut---”
“I like you.” It was a simple statement loaded with implications. The ginger haired teen had no idea how to respond, even though her heart suddenly fluttered with joy. She’d been feeling romantic inclinations for the cinnamon haired gym leader for quite some time, but she always pushed it out of her head. They were close friends, and she hadn’t wanted to believe in potential and then be heartbroken like she’d experienced with her former travelling companion. Especially because Gary was a difficult and picky guy. Misty always assumed that she was beneath certain standards he held for love and affection.
“Are . . . are you serious?” she couldn’t help but ask. This seemed too dream like, too fantastical to be reality. She found Gary’s fingers slowly weaving into hers as a vulnerable smile graced his lips.
“I was going to tell you . . . eventually. But it never seemed like the right time, or the right way.” He used his other hand to reach into his jacket and pull out a red, fully bloomed rose that he presented to her. “Even though this still doesn’t feel appropriate, I figured the Meowth would be let out of the bag tonight when you’d formulated this plan. I was being sincere when I told that girl I liked someone. It was always you, the one redheaded girl who’d never bent to my whims, who didn’t judge me as just my grandfather’s prodigy, who shared the perspective of the world with me. . . It was you for a long time now that I’ve liked.”
He anxiously watched her face as Misty roamed her eyes over his countenance, still in awe. Could it be possible that finally, finally she had a chance to have someone she wanted? Could a shred of happiness be falling into her hands after so many defeating life trials? Misty didn’t want to blindly accept a false declaration, but there was no deception in his vivid green orbs, especially with the way they darkened in hurt as he took her silence for refusal.
“It’s alright if you don’t see me that way Mist---”
“I like you too. More than like you,” she spit out as she snatched the rose from his hand and held it to her heart. He was momentarily shocked before his lips curved upwards. The Cerulean gym leader too smiled at him, feeling exceptionally good for getting her true emotions out of her head and heart and onto him. “It’s been hard trying to pretend not to like you for so long---”
“You’re not joking? You liked me for more than these past ten heroic minutes?” he interrupted. At her amused nod, he further questioned her. “So if I’d asked you, say, a year ago your answer would still be ‘yes, you more than like me’?” Misty nodded again with building laughter, thinking how ridiculous this was if he was about to say what she thought he was going to say.
“So we could have already been dating if I weren’t such an idiot?” Misty let her giggle out as she pulled their joined hands towards her and aimed her lips up to land on his. They enjoyed the time of their first kiss fully, he tangling his hands in her short hair and she looping her arms around his neck. When they parted, Misty slipped one hand between them to brush his unruly spikes from his eyes before moving to poke Gary’s nose.
“You know, the gesture is really sweet and all, but I’ve never liked roses; and after your creepy stalker that you just kicked out in order to confess to me, I like them even less. Next time you tell me your feelings, I’ll accept lilies happily.” Gary’s chuckle rumbled between them as he pecked her cheek and squeezed her to him tightly.
“I’ll remember that for my next horror fangirl encounter. Now can Nurse Misty take care of my battle wound before I bleed to death?” he asked her with exaggeration, nuzzling her neck. Misty laughed at his antics and agreed happily, gripping his confession rose in her hand lovingly.