Vines of Deceit

BY : Manifest Destiny
Category: Pokemon > General
Dragon prints: 13172
Disclaimer: Disclaimer: I do not own Pokemon. Pokemon is copy write by GameFreak, INC. and Nintendo. I make no money from this story, nor do I seek any.

—————

Chapter 12: Assist

—————

“I’m not going in there.” Draya stood on the sidewalk outside the Castelia City Gym disguised as a Servine. Her feet were firmly planted in a defiant stance, staring up at her human trainer with her false red eyes. “I’ve tolerated Cole up until now, and I’ve barely even seen the new little guy you picked up in the forest, but I’m not going into a place where its sole purpose is to house and keep bug Pokémon!”

Tristan crossed his arms and silently wondered how much his hidden Zoroark cared about the other humans around her hearing her talk. “Don’t you think you’re overreacting a little bit? I told you, we’re just here talk.”

“Tell that to the last two Gym Leaders you went to,” she said. “Look, just go and get your badge or whatever you’re here to do. I can stay out here and be fine by myself. I don’t want any part of this.”

“Don’t you enjoy battling?” asked Tristan. “You had a lot of fun in our past matches.”

“Yeah, and those weren’t against exclusively bug opponents.” Draya turned away from him, adjusting her illusion to that of a young adult woman. “You’ll be fine without me for a few hours, right?”

“Can…” Tristan looked around at the people walking past the two of them. “Can anyone else see what happens when you do things like that?”

“They might see something in the corner of their eye,” Draya said, turning around in her human form. She wrapped her arms around Tristan’s neck and whispered into his ear. “But you’re the only one who sees the real me.”

“Alright,” Tristan said. “It’s a big city, so be careful.”

“I always am.” Draya backed away from him, letting her hand linger on Tristan’s face as she waltzed off into the crowd. “I’ll meet you back here in a bit, okay?”

“Fine…” Tristan said. He turned around and finally opened the door to the Castelia Gym. “This might make things easier.”

To his surprise, the inside was very clean and had a modern design aesthetic. The floors, walls, and furniture were a dull white. The flat color and blandness of the lobby was broken up by the few people and Pokémon that were inside. Hanging on the walls were various pieces of art, some abstract and others with definitive subjects. All of them were done by the gym’s Leader himself, Tristan noticed. He could see a large double set of doors that led to the main battle arena across the lobby. Tristan kept his hands in his pockets as he slowly walked up to the receptionist’s desk.

“I’m sorry,” the man said, “but battle registration for the day is between ten and two.”

“Ah, that’s okay. I wasn’t exactly here for a battle. I was wondering if the Leader is in right now,” Tristan smiled. “I was hoping I could speak with him.”

“Well, Leader Burgh usually spends his evenings outside the gym once he’s finished with his battles for the day. Though I suppose if you catch him on his way out—”

“Tristan Blake, is that you?” called Burgh from the other side of the lobby. He cleared the room quickly, taking long strides with his legs, eager to greet Tristan. “Well isn’t this a nice surprise? I take it you figured out my day job?”

“I did,” he said, shaking the leader’s hand. “I was wondering if you had some spare time.”

“My schedule just cleared up, as a matter of fact,” Burgh said. “I was just having a rather lackluster, ‘by-the-books’ battle with a young trainer a moment ago and now and I could use some interesting interactions to clear my palette.”

Tristan glanced behind the excited Gym Leader and saw Cheren walking out of the building. Tristan couldn’t tell if he was ignoring him on purpose or if he just didn’t notice him. He decided it was best they keep some distance between the two of them for now.

“Well, I wasn’t exactly looking for a battle,” said Tristan.

Burgh gave Tristan a quizzical look, raising an eyebrow. “You came to a Pokémon Gym and sought out the Gym Leader and you don’t want a battle? Why then, would you come to the Gym Leader specifically?”

“I was hoping to talk to a stranger on a bus, actually,” Tristan said.

The Bug type specialist retained his questioning stare for a short moment before catching on. He smiled, “I get it. Come with me, we’ll head up to my office.”

The two bid farewell to the receptionist and walked off toward the main gym arena. Inside was a high-ceiling gymnasium with multiple battlefields for trainers to battle. The walls on either side were lined with spectator seating. Tristan saw a few trainers going over tactics and techniques with their Pokémon, giving him a small urge to do the same soon. The past few days hadn’t lent themselves very well to the life of the average Pokémon trainer. He continued to follow Burgh to a set of stairs that jutted from the wall of the gym and scaled up the side of the wall. The railed stairway led to a small room that overlooked the gym floor. Large windows allowed for the Leader to survey the entire room beneath. Burgh sat down in a chair with his back to the glass and waved for Tristan to do the same.

“This place seems so unlike you,” Tristan said as he sat down. The office was very clean and plain; records and official documents sat in neat piles on the desk, the walls were bare and surprisingly without any of Burgh’s artwork.

“I guess you can see why I like to get out as much as I can.” Burgh waved at the office in front of him. “This life here and out on the battle floor isn’t what I’d like to be doing most of the time. But I am the best at what I do right now, and until someone else can show they can fill my position as Gym Leader of Castelia City better than I can, I’ll be damn sure I do my job. Plus, by making my work life as boring as I can makes my time off seem that much more lively and interesting.”

“How do you find the time to do both?” asked Tristan.

“Why do I get the feeling that question relates to what you wanted to talk to me about?” Burgh rested his elbows on the desk and leaned forward, letting his chin rest in his hands.

“You really must have someone feeding your tips about my life,” Tristan chuckled, defeated. “Yes, it does. I feel like I’m being pulled in a million different directions and I don’t know where to start focusing my attention.”

“Well if you don’t know, then how can I help?” asked Burgh. “Oh, I know; why don’t we just pick up where we left off on the bus? There was mention of a girl, was there not? How did that go, did you two talk?”

Tristan shifted uncomfortably in his seat. “Well, I wasn’t very clear about the details last time we talked.”

“You don’t need to worry about me spilling any beans I shouldn’t, you know,” Burgh said. “I’ve had to keep my share of secrets before.”

Taking a deep breath, Tristan began to lay out his increasingly awkward situation he has found himself in to the Gym Leader. He talked about how his surprise Snivy ended up being a disguise worn by a Zorua. He told him that once she had evolved, Draya began to show interest in becoming much more intimate and even pursue a romantic relationship with him.

“And, I feel like it should be an easy thing to accept, you know?” Tristan continued. “But I can’t let myself to just go with it. It’s not the fact that she’s a Zoroark, and not human or whatever. That’s— I don’t mind that. But something has me worried about it all. And it’s not like the situation with my friends is helping either.”

“What do you mean?” asked Burgh.

“Well, Cheren—one of my friends from my hometown, I think you just battled him—has feelings for our friend Bianca. The three of us grew up together in Nuvema Town. The problems with that are; one: Bianca is clueless about how Cheren feels, two: he is too stubborn and afraid to make a move on her, three: I’m pretty sure Bianca has a crush on me, and four: I only see her as a friend!” Tristan leaned back against the chair, staring up at the ceiling. “And now that we’re trying to deal with Team Plasma, we’re being—”

“Whoa there now,” Burgh put his hands up. “You’re doing what with Team Plasma?”

“We—my friends and I, we’ve been going up against them from town to town stopping them from doing terrible things.” Tristan explained how he and Bianca ran into the infamous group at the Dreamyard, how he and Cheren stopped them from stealing Pokémon from children, his failed bust in Nacrene City, and their combined efforts in the city the day before. “We believe the group is up to something terrible.”

Burgh sat in silence for a long time, staring at his hands clasped together on his desk. When he finally broke the silence, he slammed his palms on the desk’s surface. The loud smack startled Tristan.

“You should go on a date!” he exclaimed with a bright smile. “I mean really treat this girl to something nice. I know of a nice little restaurant that’s out of the way that will definitely suit your needs.”

“Wh—What?”

“You are so uncertain about your prospective love life, so I figured what better way to get your feet wet than jumping in the deep end? What do you say, little leaf?”

“But,” Tristan started. “What about my problems with Team Plasma? My friends?”

Burgh stood up from his chair and walked around to Tristan, putting his hands on his shoulders. “My boy, you and your friends have done more in the fight against Team Plasma than those of us that are in-the-know are even aware of. Hell, we don’t even have a whole lot of proof they’re doing anything at all, but you seem to stumble into them at all the right times. You have put forth a great deal of effort for the sake of everyone else, and on behalf of everyone who can’t, let me say ‘thank you’. Thank you for doing what you think is right.”

“You’re welcome? But how is a date supposed to help me?”

“It’ll hopefully solve some, if not all of your problems simultaneously. You can spend some much needed time on your personal life. Everyone needs a life outside of what they do. You say you’re unsure about being in a relationship with your Zoroark, well why not try it? Make the first move—or, whatever the count is—the next move. In any case, you’ve had all this stuff sprung on you and you’re expected to react to it: her real identity, her feelings for you, and that’s all on top of your relationships with your friends. I feel you need to take control of something in your life. You need to really see what this opportunity holds for you.”

“That’s a nice thought, but again, how is this supposed to help with anything other than… well, the obvious?” Tristan asked.

“Well, you and Draya will figure yourselves out in time, and if Bianca pays attention, she’ll see your attentions are elsewhere and stop pursuing you and perhaps notice Cheren.”

“I don’t know how well that’s going to go down after earlier,” Tristan said. Burgh grabbed the young trainer’s shoulders and shook them to get his attention.

“There you go again, worrying about others before yourself! That’s admirable Tristan, but everyone has needs. Go tend to them!” Burgh finally let go of Tristan and rushed to grab a blank piece of paper from inside his desk. He quickly scribbled down an address onto it, folded it up, and handed it to Tristan. “I know the owners of this place. I think they’ll be able to set you up with a nice table if you mention that I sent you their way.”

Tristan took the folded piece of paper from him and immediately noticed something had been placed inside it. He shook the makeshift envelope and the contents into his hand, a small metallic pin in the shape of a green insect’s wing.

“This is your Gym Badge,” Tristan stated. “Are you giving this to me?”

“I sure am,” Burgh said with a smile. “I know what you’re thinking: ‘But we didn’t battle, so why?’ Because I get to decide who is worthy and deserving of my badge. Only trainers who are capable and willing to take on the dangers on the road ahead can have it. Some trainers need to beat me in a Pokémon battle in order to prove it. You didn’t need to.”

Tristan stared at the Insect Badge in his palm for a few moments before Burgh continued.

“Just don’t go spreading the word that I give these out without a fight. That wouldn’t do much for my reputation with the League,” he laughed.

The younger trainer thanked Burgh for his time and his vote of confidence. The two of them walked back to the lobby of Castelia’s gym and said their goodbyes. As he stepped out into the summer air, Tristan pinned his newest badge next to the two others beneath the collar of his jacket. He stared out at the bustling sidewalk in front of him, looking up and down the road. He wondered whether or not to wait here for Draya to return, or to try and find her on his own; he remembered how difficult it was the last time.

His thoughts began it idly wander to what the peculiar young man, whose was simply named “N”, was doing at that moment. He had helped Tristan find Draya after she had ran off in Nacrene City, and Tristan felt he might’ve lost her if not for him. It was a curious thing, Tristan thought; Why would N go out of his way to help him find his Pokémon despite seeming to agree with Team Plasma’s goal of separating humans and Pokémon for good?

Before he could drift any farther into his own mind, Tristan felt a pair of arms slowly wrap around his neck from behind him. A faint purple shimmer surrounded him and immediately the arms felt much more familiar. Thick dark fur and red claws covered up his eyes.

“Guess who?”

Tristan grinned, and grabbed one of Draya’s paws and spun her around in front of him.

“Uh oh,” said Draya. “You’re smiling. What’s wrong?”

“Nothing. Not a thing,” Tristan pulled her close. “I’m really glad you’re here right now.”

“You are?” she asked, looking up at him. “Must have been some talk you had.”

“Burgh helped me realize I needed to focus on what’s important to me every now and then. Right now, with everything that’s going on, that’s you. Only you.”

Tristan smiled as he left his usually very forward Zoroark speechless.

“Come on,” he said. “I’ve got a surprise for you.”

Draya hugged Tristan’s arm as they began to walk down the street, laying her head on his shoulder. “And here I thought I was the one who was supposed to surprise you.”

—————

The two held casual conversation as they traversed the crowded streets of Castelia City. The sun was just beginning to set, but the tall buildings hid the last rays of daylight, leaving some of the more crowded roads and alleyways in a premature evening gloom. Finding the restaurant that Burgh had recommended was proving to be a difficult task. Tristan was anything but accustomed to the big city and when he finally found the street the address listed, it appeared to be an abandoned and desolate back road. Walking further down the narrow road revealed a staircase and signboard advertising the restaurant.

“‘Café Sonata’, this is the place,” Tristan said with a sigh of relief.

“I was starting to wonder if this place even existed,” teased Draya.

Walking down the steep, but short flight of stairs to the door, Tristan finally caught a glimpse of the interior. While outside had been a bleak and rather messy back alley, inside the basement restaurant itself was actually rather warm and inviting. The stark contrast that the plush red carpeting had to the cold concrete streets was incredibly relaxing and the dim lighting inside was just bright enough so to not strain their eyes. Tristan half wondered how much the dark would even bother Draya if the lights had been shut off entirely.

A lone musician sat on a stool underneath a modest spotlight further in near the bar. He strummed a melody that didn’t demand your entire attention, but left you wanting to get lost in the notes. Couples would pause in their conversations from time to time to watch him as he transitioned into a livelier segment.

An older woman wearing an apron and carrying a tray of drinks noticed them as she passed by the door.

“Give me a moment you two; I’m the only one on the floor right now.” Her tone wasn’t so much annoyed as it was to reassure them that she wasn’t ignoring their needs. As she came back, she pushed a stray lock of hair back behind her ear.

“So, what brings the both of you here this evening? Is it just the two of you?”

“Yes, it’ll just be us. We were looking for a quiet evening and Burgh, the Gym Leader, pointed us in this direction.” Tristan saw the waitress’s face light up at the mention.

“Oh that boy, always giving us business. You know, this place might not be right on a main road, but we try and maintain it as best we can. Sometimes it’s not enough. One day, Burgh strides in and is taken by the place. Called it ‘A diamond in the rough that is this city’, or some other poetic gibberish. Still, he’s really helped keep us in business.” She picked up a menu from the service station and beckoned for them to follow her.

Draya laid her head on Tristan’s shoulder and hugged his arm tightly as they walked through the restaurant.

“I take it you and your Serperior would prefer a booth?” she asked. “You two are dining ‘together’, right?”

“My Serperior?” Tristan asked, caught off guard. He glanced over to his shoulder at Draya who only gave him a wide grin. “Oh, that’s right. She’s just evolved, so I’m still not quite used to thinking of her like this. She’s been a handful; even more so now. A booth would be fine, thanks.”

They continued until they reached the back corner of the seating area where a large circular table sat a bit further away from the rest of the booths. The cushioned bench that surrounded the table looked like it was meant to seat a party of at least eight people, Tristan guessed.

“You two just relax and look over the menu,” said the waitress, letting them take their seats. “Take your time. I’ll be back in a few minutes to check on you.”

Once they were both alone, the two patrons relaxed into the cushioned seating and took in the restaurant’s decor. The heavy table in front of them was made of a dark brown wood, worn smooth over years of use.

Draya leaned on Tristan’s shoulder, grabbing his attention away from a painting he suspected Burgh had painted. Looking at her in the low light, he thought he could see her cyan eyes glowing softly.

“Okay, I’m intrigued now. This is the surprise you had for me?” Draya asked. She curiously looked around their booth and struggled to find anything too interesting. “I know some things about how humans live their lives, but does this mean what I think it does?”

“We’re on what’s called a ‘date’,” said Tristan. Draya nodded, at least recognizing the term. “It’s a tradition that humans have with how we, well, look for our partners. But I bet this is lame, isn’t it?”

“It’s not really something I’m used to. My parents told me to choose a mate who could fool me without an ounce of suspicion, and who is worthy enough to see through my own lies. An impressive illusion weaver,” Draya patted him on his chest and flashed her teeth at him. “You’ll do though.”

“I said I would try and return your feelings, and I am sticking by that,” he said. Listening to Draya talk so casually about someone else she could be involved with made him feel secondary and unwanted. “Look, if I’m not good enough—”

“Hey, I never said you needed to be a Zoroark. I’m more than willing to try my luck with a human mate,” Draya leaned in closer to him, letting one of her clawed paws rest on his thigh. “I like you as you are, but if you’re so desperate to know how well you do tonight, maybe I can give you a thorough review later tonight.”

The vivid thoughts that ran through Tristan’s mind took him out of the moment and into a fit of flustered stumbling to find his words. In the painful silence that followed, his mind raced to find exactly what he wanted to say. The things that Draya was saying to him and the meaning behind what she was suggesting felt monumental and crushing. At Draya’s quiet laughter he realized she was merely teasing him, which only bolstered the feeling of being pushed around and gathered himself.

Tristan wasn’t sure on many things in his life at the moment; the work to stop Team Plasma, his friends, and his trainer career, they all had a feeling of mystery and uncertainty to them. But in his head, he imagined declining Draya’s offer of any sort of romantic involvement, and he immediately didn’t want that. In fact, being honest with himself, Tristan felt an attraction to Draya the moment he saw her evolved form. The thoughts had just stayed in the back of his mind until now, due to dealing with everything that had occurred over the past few days. But here, it was just the two of them, and he knew what he wanted now.

Tristan decided to meet her head on.

“Alright, let’s do it.”

Her reaction was a mix of shock and anticipation. It stopped her laughter dead in her throat, her eyes widened.

“Okay,” she said quietly. “I think I might end up liking dates.”

Draya snuggled close to her human companion again. They sat quietly finally looked over the menu while they waited for their waitress to return and take their meal orders. Once their food had finally arrived, they sat further away from each other to fully enjoy their meals. Time ticked away as they enjoyed each other’s company in their secluded little corner. The outside world seemed to fall into nothing as they ate their dinner in almost uninterrupted peace.

“Hey, can I say something?”

Draya broke the silence of the moment and crossed her hands underneath her chin, resting her head on them. She looked Tristan in the eye, taking a deep breath. “I know that I’ve been a little pushy. But, it’s for a good reason.”

“I never thought it wasn’t,” Tristan started, but Draya cut him off.

“Please, let me finish,” she said. “I never once felt bad for how I lived my life. I lied, I cheated, I stole, and disguised myself. I did anything and everything that I could think of to survive. I looked down on humans and hated them without giving them a chance. I blamed them for what happened to me, even though it was my fault. It never crossed my mind that I might hurt someone because of how I lived my life.” She looked down at her paws, admiring the shine of her red claws in the low light.

“And then I met you,” Draya said, looking back at him. “For the first time in a really long time, someone cared about me. I met you with the same goals in mind that I always had, just to steal whatever I needed from you and leave before I was found out.” She shook her head. “But I stayed with you just because you asked me to! You were instantly welcoming and open to me. That really meant something to me. It still does.”

“Why did you hide who, or what, you were for so long?” asked Tristan.

“Because I was… too stubborn. My world was changing every day. First I was some human’s Pokémon, then you found out I could speak your language, then I met your friends and even began to like them…” she closed her eyes and smiled. “And I had so much fun. I had fun being ‘Draya the Snivy’. I wasn’t willing to give up that little role.” Draya reached across the table they shared and placed her paw on Tristan’s hand. “But as time went on, I began to feel guilty for not telling you the truth about what I was. It wasn’t fair for you to put forth the effort you did toward some Pokémon that didn’t even exist. Not in my mind.”

“If you could have chosen,” Tristan asked, grabbing her hand, “when would you have shown yourself to me?”

“Oh I don’t know,” she said. “Ever since I almost evolved in those caves and my illusion almost broke against my will, the thought was on my mind. Since then, we were pretty much non-stop with anti-Team Plasma activities, or Gym battles… I think then,” Draya decided. “After we won in Nacrene, I would have.”

“But you didn’t, and you got exposed,” said Tristan. “I have to say, if I looked back at all my time with you before then, it was pretty obvious you weren’t a Snivy. You never used a single Grass type attack. I wouldn’t change a thing about our time together though. You’ve turned out to be one hell of battler.”

“That’s sweet,” Draya said, flashing a smile. “But I got off track. What I wanted to say is: I love who you are and what you mean to me. I know that for you, I must be going a mile a minute with ‘us’, but I won’t hide who I am from you anymore. You’re kind, accommodating, adaptable, trusting, ever forgiving, and you’re everything that I’m not. I love you, Tristan, and the fact that you’re unsure about us right now doesn’t scare me. Because you’re willing to try and taking me out on this date proves that to me. It’s things like that that make me love you even more.”

Tristan sat in awe of Draya’s heartfelt speech, unable to find any real words of his own.

“It’s okay,” she said, looking away shyly. “You don’t have to say it back right away.”

“I…” Tristan started, but held back. “You really know how to put a guy on the spot. Are you just saying what I want to hear so that you get what you want?”

“I don’t know, it’s in my nature to manipulate and twist isn’t it? Would you hate me if I was?”

“What if I want to find out on my own?” Tristan caught on to Draya’s teasing.

“Are you saying you’re going to make me honest?” said Draya. “You have your work cut out for you.”

Draya leaned toward Tristan slowly, bringing one of her hands up to caress his face.

“I have to say; one thing I’m glad you humans came up with is kissing. Really helps set the mood.”

Before she could reach him she paused, looking over to her right. Someone had come over to their table.

“Hey buddy, a little privacy?” Tristan said, without looking directly at their guest.

“For what?” they asked. “I was hoping to join you for a moment.”

“We’re in the middle of—” Tristan looked up at their rude arrival and fell over his words.

The strange young man named N stood by their table with an expectant look on his face.

“What are you in the middle of? Seems like a pleasant night out, to be sure,” said N. He brought a hand to his chin, looking confused. “This place seems a little too intimate for a simple meal with your Pokémon, however.”

Draya huffed, sliding back to her original seat and waved her hand toward N. A purple shimmer of light danced across his gray eyes.

“Oh!”

Tristan assumed Draya just allowed N to see through her illusion.

“I had my suspicions you were there, my friend!” N saw no boundaries and took a seat next to Draya and grinned. “You’ve evolved spectacularly. Such nice fur!”

“N!” Tristan said in a hushed but harsh tone. “We’re kind of on a date right now, okay?”

“Aren’t we all? Every day is a date.” There was no sense of humor in his voice. N seemed absolutely clueless.

Now it was Tristan’s turn to sigh in annoyance. Draya looked at him in desperation. The both of them wanted the eccentric man gone as soon as possible.

“What is it?” Tristan asked. “What do you need? How did you even find us?”

“I have many more eyes and ears than you do it seems,” N said coyly. “So, do you have it? Am I correct?”

“What are you talking about?” asked Tristan.

“Surely you know; the dragon! Zekrom! You are its master, yes? Just as I had calculated.” N pointed a finger up. “I have seen footage of just yesterday afternoon, Zekrom flying in this city. And here you are, in the same place, and I heard that you had also arrived yesterday. This is not coincidence!”

“Well, it kind of is,” Draya butted in.

N turned his head in confusion.

“We were the cause of Zekrom showing up, but it wasn’t real. It was an illusion that I made.” Draya gave a sheepish smile and backed away from the now devastated looking N.

“It… It was you? How? Why would you have made that? For what purpose did you conjure Zekrom yesterday?”

As N’s voice rose, Tristan hoped Draya’s illusion was drowning it out for the sake of the other patrons in the restaurant.

“I told her to do it,” Tristan finally said.

He began to tell N the tale of Team Plasma’s assault on Liberty Garden island, their target, and how they fooled them with a fake Legendary Pokémon.

“I… I appear to have been… mistaken,” N said.

“Why did you think I had Zekrom?” Tristan could not figure out the connection.

“I have been on a quest, of sorts. To seek out the Truth in this world and the living embodiment of that Truth. Legend tells of an incredible beast of fire: Reshiram. It is my destiny to find it and save this world from itself. I know that Reshiram is waiting for me to awaken it from its slumber. And together we shall make my dream come true.”

“And what does that have to with me?”

“I feel a deep connection to you, my friend.” N’s face looked somber. “I cannot describe it, but you and I feel fated to clash for the sake of everything. You are my opposite. So I feel that Zekrom is tied to your destiny as Reshiram is tied to mine.”

“How can you believe that?” asked Tristan. “I’m nothing special.”

“You couldn’t be further from the truth,” N said with a smile. “You strive for what you believe in. You believe in the good of people for the sake of Pokémon. You bring others up around you. But I already know what this world is like, and I do not believe it can change. I can only bring others down.”

Draya looked between the two of them in worry.

“I don’t understand.” Tristan shook his head. “What is the point in you telling me all this? That we’re going to fight and we have these Legendary Pokémon tied to us?”

“I must confess that when I learned of Zekrom’s appearance, I was disheartened. If the Hero of Ideals had surfaced, then surely the Hero of Truth would be close behind them. In my mind, I held two theories: First, that I was not the one destined to join Reshiram and I would have to watch from the sidelines as the fate of the world played out before me. The second, which I acted on today, was that it was you! I felt that if my rival was one such as you, perhaps we could come to an agreement on what this world should be.”

Tristan slumped down in his seat and groaned.

“This isn’t how I pictured this date going. Sorry…” he offered his apology toward Draya.

“I do not understand why today is so special,” N said with a shrug. “In any case, it appears my worries have been for nothing. But that doesn’t mean my plans must go to waste.”

N stood and extended a hand over the table to Tristan.

“Will you assist me in my search for Reshiram?”

Silence filled their little booth in the back of the restaurant. What N was suggesting felt immense and out of his depth. Tristan knew the stories of the two Heroes of Unova, and their troubled pasts. They always ended in conflict and conflict always resulted in a winner and a loser. The weight of N’s words weighed heavily on his mind, bringing back everything Tristan had hoped to forget by going on the date Burgh had suggested. Team Plasma, the conflict with his friends, and now these dragons. Tristan’s life felt more and more out of his control.

He felt his Zoroark’s claws touch his hand under the table to snap him out of his trance. They shared a look with each other.

“I don’t know what to say,” Tristan said after a quiet moment. “This is all—”

Draya leaned in closer to him and whispered into his ear.

“If it gets him to leave sooner, just say ‘yes’.” She leaned back and flashed purple energy across her eyes. “I could make him think whatever we want him to.”

“No, don’t”, said Tristan. He looked up at N and stood to meet him. He took his hand, “I will, N. I will help you find whatever it is you’re searching for.”

“I’m searching for a large white dragon who breathes fire,” N said in a matter of fact tone.

“Right…” Tristan said. “Say, how about tomorrow, you and I get started on the search? Let us have the rest of the night to rest and prepare, and you can gather some solid leads?”

“Oh I have a very good idea where Reshiram sleeps at this very moment, but I do agree. Tomorrow, we shall set out on our adventure.” N left the booth and let Tristan take his seat again.

“I leave you two to the rest of this date,” he said. “Perhaps later you can explain what made today so special when we meet again?”

N turned and walked off towards the exit. It wasn’t until they heard the door’s bell chime and shut did Tristan and Draya sigh in relief. They were alone again.

“I am not explaining tonight to him. He’s your friend,” said Draya, resting her head on his shoulder.

“Hey,” Tristan said, “this might seem out of nowhere, but why did you change your disguise to be a Serperior?”

“Two reasons,” Draya sat up and shimmered, showing off her disguise for Tristan to see. Her body, taking the form of a large green snake, was laid out on most of the remaining space in the booth, as well as coiling her long, slender length around him. Tristan felt it, the heavy weight and texture of the scales of the Serperior everyone else must see. The illusion faded, returning the black and red furred fox grinning in her seat.

“First, we get all this space to ourselves if people think I’m as large as that. How could I not?”

“I don’t like exploiting others just for comfort, you know,” Tristan scolded her.

“Too bad,” Draya stuck her tongue out at him. “And the other reason, I guess… I wanted to put Cheren in his place. Where does he get off calling you weak? You’re the strongest human I’ve ever met, and easily the most admirable male I’ve had my sights set on. So I thought that if my fake-self was fully evolved, he’d think again.”

“You don’t have to do that,” said Tristan. “Cheren will come to his senses eventually. We don’t need to prove ourselves to him.”

“But I want to.”

“I’m not angry at him, Draya. I understand where he’s coming from, at least from the ‘telling the truth’ aspect. We all decided to go after Team Plasma together and I’m not exactly cooperating with everyone.”

“Then it’s that little imp Victini’s fault for wanting to cover his tracks so badly,” Draya said bitterly.

“I lied for your sake too, you know,” Tristan said. “How else was I going to explain what you did down in that cellar? I had to lie and make that Zekrom real to keep them from suspecting what you really are.”

“Are you… blaming me?” Draya sunk down in her seat and her eyes widened. “Is keeping my secret too much of a hassle for you now?”

“No, not at all!” Tristan caught himself too late, not wanting his voice to raise that much.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it that way.” Tristan reached out and offered his hand to his Zoroark date. She let the moment draw out, obviously trying to milk his guilt a little before she laid a paw in his hand. He squeezed it gently.

“I promise I’ll do whatever it takes to keep your identity a secret as long as you want it to be. Iris and Bianca believed my story easily, but Cheren’s too clever for that. He’s could tell Looker already knew what really went on, somehow, and that I was covering for something. I’m sure he probably doesn’t really care about what I lied about, but he cares about why I lied. And part of it was about protecting you.” Tristan began to stroke the fur on her hand, appreciating how soft it was.

“If he wants to get bent out of shape about it,” he continued, “I say we let him. If— No, when push comes to shove, he’ll still help us against Plasma.”

“That’s not what I’m worried about. I don’t want you alienating your friends because you’re jumping through all these hoops for me. Believe me; it’s sweet and I love it, but they were in your life first.” Draya looked away, staring down at the table.

Tristan moved closer, putting an arm around her waist, and lifted her head up to look her in the eyes.

“Come here,” he said, leaning in for a kiss. He held it for a short moment, feeling her relax and lean into him. When she broke the contact between them, she looked much more at ease.

“You are important to me, in a way I can’t say I’ve ever experienced before. I’m willing to take steps to make sure you’re as comfortable as possible. Plus, I’ve been friends with Cheren long enough to know that when he gets angry and pushy like he did, he just cares about you a lot. They might be my past, but you could be my future.”

It was Draya’s turn to be at a loss for words.

“Okay, do whatever you need to do to get us out of this place and back to our room,” Draya said. “It’s time I showed you want a Zoroark can do for her mate.”

—————

After a hastily paid bill and an even faster jaunt back to their hotel room above the Pokémon Center, Tristan and Draya found themselves locked in a heavy exchange of deep kisses and roaming hands as they rode the elevator up to their floor.

Tristan pulled away after particularly long and heated make-out session as the sliding doors opened with a ding.

“O-Okay, what was that?” he asked, short of breath.

“You like it? I can fool all the senses.”

“You tasted like chocolate.”

“I’ll take that as a ‘yes’,” said Draya.

The two chased each other down the hallway to their room. When Tristan’s shaky and eager hands finally opened the door, he and Draya saw the worst thing the two could think of waiting for them on their bed.

Sitting cross-legged and upright watching their television was N, his hat off and lying in front of him.

“Welcome back, you two! Did you know that the news is on at all hours of the day? Or should I say ‘date’?”

“How did you— Why are you here N?” Tristan asked, aghast. Draya bit into his shoulder and sobbed.

“I do not have lodging in this city and thought it expedient, since we were to venture out together tomorrow, to simply share yours.”

“But the door was locked,” Draya whined. “And we— I wanted—” she hid behind Tristan, covering herself behind her mane.

“N, please go away.”

“I can sleep on the floor, it is no trouble.”

“That’s not the point!”

—————

To Be Continued…

—————



You need to be logged in to leave a review for this story.
Report Story