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.

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Chapter 17: Best Friends

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Somewhere, in a place that was both hidden from view and lying in wait, a man with the name “Harmonia” made his way as quickly as he could down an ornate hallway decorated in Team Plasma’s coat of arms. If all went according to plan, their grand castle would soon rise up and tower over the Unova region. Before that could happen, however, a new and unexpected problem had to be addressed.

Ghetsis scowled as he kept up the uncomfortable pace; his body had grown unfit for such urgent movement. Less than twenty-four hours ago he had finally acquired the most crucial piece to his plan. It had brought a genuine smile to his face to know that his efforts over the years were finally moving toward his final design. That was until his good mood had been ruined when he had heard the news; the King and his Dragon were refusing to be approached or even be seen by anyone, for reasons unknown.

To call such behavior an unfitting return after such a triumphant debut would be an understatement. If a King were to be perceived as weak, how could anyone be expected to follow him?

Even after being chosen to represent Truth itself, that boy still acts like a child

Some of the reports from the time immediately following the King’s return had been quite troubling—some acolytes even needing treatment for burns and other such injuries. Unpleasant memories reminded Ghetsis of what might await him should he attempt to confront the situation unprepared, so the decision to bring along an escort had been an easy one.

Floating silently through the air on its six torn and tattered wings, Ghetsis’ own dragon followed behind his shambling footsteps. The vicious beast snarled and snapped at every denizen of the castle that it passed by, but never at its master below. It had been taught that valuable lesson from very early on in its life.

A piercing, howling roar echoed down the corridor, freezing Ghetsis in his tracks. He heard his Hydreigon growl behind his back, whether in response to the source of the roar or at himself for dragging the Brutal Pokémon into what might be a dangerous situation, Ghetsis didn’t care. His anger grew as he saw members of his organization fleeing down the hallway away from the source of the commotion.

“He will not ruin everything I have worked for,” he cursed to himself.

Rounding the final corner on the way to the King’s chambers, he found something he did not expect. After seeing the reactions from so many of his underlings, he had not anticipated anybody else would dare venture so close to N’s room. And yet there they were. His two goddesses.

“Anthea,” he addressed the young woman with bright, pink hair. “Concordia. Would the two of you care to explain what is going on here? Why has our King hidden himself away?”

The two girls gave the High Sage of Plasma a respectful bow, and the latter, a woman with blonde hair kept in a long braid, spoke up.

“My Lord, our King is not well.” Saying the words seemed to cause her pain. Concordia brought her hands together and held them close to her chest. “He is deeply troubled by something and refuses anybody who wishes an audience.”

“If I may,” Anthea spoke up, “I don’t believe it’s our King who is shutting everyone out.”

“It’s his new pet, is it?” Ghetsis scowled again.

“Yes.” Anthea looked toward the closed doors behind her. “It seems that Reshiram is being very protective of Lord N. When the two of them first arrived, Lord N was initially welcoming of everyone’s attention, but.it was clear that something was bothering our King and he would not open up to either of us. He spoke at length only with Reshiram, paying less and less attention to anybody else who came to him.”

“If we or anyone else tried to insist upon him, Reshiram would lash out as if we were a threat to our Lord.” Concordia shivered slightly as she recalled the terrifying roars of the Dragon of Truth. “Thankfully, no one has been hurt very badly.”

“Even if it is Reshiram’s doing, my son is still allowing it to happen. He must be able to reign in his own Pokémon. Now stand aside, you two. I will see to our King myself.”

The Goddesses of Peace and Love both shook their heads at Ghetsis, worry flashing over their faces.

“Please, you mustn’t!” Concordia pleaded. “If you were to enter his chambers with your own beast, there’s no telling what might happen!”

“Lord Ghetsis, forgive me for saying so, I feel we should allow Reshiram to—” Anthea’s voice wavered ever so slightly as she spoke against the High Sage.

“Are you refusing to let me enter?” Ghetsis raised his left hand out from inside his robe, signaling to his dragon. “Or will you stand aside?”

“My Lord I cannot recommend—!”

“Sister, please,” Concordia pulled her twin away from the doors. “Enough people have been hurt today!”

“But our King—”

“He will answer to me now.” Ghetsis snapped his fingers and his Hydreigon let loose a Dragon Pulse that blew the tall doors off of their frame and scattered them into pieces throughout the room inside.

The loud, destructive intrusion did not go unnoticed.

The same howling roar Ghetsis had heard from the far reaches of the castle assailed him again, but this time from only a few feet away. He steeled his resolve and looked on at what awaited him.

The inside of the room had been all but demolished; furniture overturned and broken, the floors and walls were left scratched and scorched from the tantrums of the legendary Pokémon. The Dragon of Truth herself was lying down on the floor of N’s personal chambers, covering herself with her large, feathery wings. She had raised her head to the intruders and stared them down with the rage of a mother protecting her child.

This display did little to sway Ghetsis from his current goal, and he stepped forward into the room without further delay.

“You do not frighten me, o’ great Reshiram!” Ghetsis called out. “I am merely here to remind my King of the Truth! You wouldn’t want to shield your Hero from the Truth, would you?”

Reshiram snorted at the old man’s words, shifting her attention and glaring at the floating dragon beside him.

“My friend wishes nothing more than to protect me. Surely you can understand.”

The white dragon’s response came in the form of an unconvinced-sounding, low growl that rumbled throughout the room.

“Tell me, Father…” came a voice from beneath Reshiram’s feathery wings. “Why is it that you chose me to be King?”

Not long after speaking up, N was revealed as Reshiram spread out her wings. He sat on the floor with his legs crossed, staring at a metallic cube puzzle that he held in his hands. He turned and twisted each side and plane around a few times, unsatisfied with the result every time and changing it again.

“I cannot help but wonder if someone like you would do a better job.”

“I am unfit to rule,” Ghetsis said, trying to sound remorseful. “My life has been filled with hardships and darkness. All that I can do now is raise you above all of the evil in this world and show them the true way. Look; your pure heart awoke Reshiram from its eternal slumber! Living and breathing proof that you are the only one to bring about the perfect world.”

“How can that be?” N looked up, desperate for any sort of answer. “I was so sure that Tristan Blake was to become my ally, and yet he rejected our righteous cause! How can I be fit to rule over this troubled world when I failed to judge the merit of a single person?”

Ghetsis sighed quietly as he watched the Vast White dragon attempt to comfort his distraught son. The beast hummed soothingly as she nuzzled her human champion, looking as if she were trying to say something heartfelt to the boy. If anybody could hear what that dragon had to say, it would be N.

“I caution you, my son. That child and his allies have stood against me— against Team Plasma— time and time again. Tristan Blake himself was responsible for stopping the liberation of the Spirit of Victory. That poor creature is now undoubtedly in the hands of some cruel person seeking only to better themselves with its power.” Ghetsis continued forward into the room, kneeling down in front of his son.

“But you shouldn’t despair, my son. After he saw the two of you emerge victorious over the Embodiment of the Sun and reveal yourself to the world, Tristan Blake showed you—and everybody else in the region—his true self. An idealistic boy like that was always destined to become our enemy.”

“Then…” N looked over to his dragon, then back to his father. “Why do I still feel such a strong kinship with someone like him? Despite our different beliefs, despite coming from different worlds, I cannot ignore this sensation that he and I are the same. Why must the two of us fight?”

“Much like how the poles of a magnet will always be drawn to their opposite, people often find themselves being pulled toward their greatest challenge. You have always been sensitive to the hearts and souls of Pokémon. I believe that you can sense Zekrom’s spirit guiding that boy toward what he thinks is an ideal world.” Ghetsis placed a hand on his son’s shoulder, ignoring the low growl that came from Reshiram in response to the gesture. “But an ideal world does not exist. You will prevail, my son. You fight for what is right; the true world.”

“I understand that.” N looked down at the golden cube once more. “All the same, I feel I must try and find a way to avoid fighting against a friend.”

Ghetsis stood up slowly, taking extra caution as he did so. He could see Reshiram watching his every move.

“Then I wish you luck, my son. Keep in mind, however,” he turned and beckoned his Hydreigon to leave the room, “that violence is the only language some people will ever understand.”

—————

This is awkward… Why is this so awkward?

Bianca stood outside of Nimbasa Gym with her back against the wall a few feet from the entrance. The wall would rumble lightly whenever the loud music that played inside the building hit certain notes or beats. She was waiting for Tristan to come back from his talk with the Gym Leader, growing more anxious by the minute. She had done something incredibly embarrassing after they had won their battle, and Tristan had told her that they would talk about it when he got back. Hearing that made her feel more nervous than when she had to listen to her father yell at Elesa and the referee earlier that day.

She looked down at her feet, trying to figure out what to do when her friend finally joined her outside.

I mean, I know why. It’s because I kissed him. I kissed him! What was I thinking?! What can I even say to him? What does he think of me now? And why did he say he was sorry? It should be me who should apologize, right?

A leafy tail poking her in the cheek lightly reminded Bianca that she wasn’t alone. The sudden contact startled her, almost causing her to fall over. She braced herself on the wall and looked over at the concerned Serperior who had prodded her.

“Hey,” Draya whispered, “What’s the matter? You look awful.”

When Bianca had first met Draya as a little Snivy, she had thought she was cute—especially when she had revealed that she could speak to humans. She didn’t seem to have changed very much when she had evolved into a Servine, but now that Draya had changed into such a big snake, there was something unsettling about her that Bianca couldn’t quite place.

“I’m just…” she began, standing up straight, “…nervous, I guess. I didn’t mean to kiss Tristan like that. I just got swept up in the moment.”

Bianca jolted again when Draya started to slowly coil her long, green and yellow body around her.

The Serperior circled around the human girl’s waist and then slid over her shoulder, stretching out so that she could look Bianca in the eye. Draya tightened her body and gave the nervous girl a gentle squeeze; the snake’s best imitation of a hug.

“You don’t have anything to worry about, I promise,” Draya said to her, staring at her with bright red eyes. “He cares about you a lot.”

“I know that…” Bianca looked away. “I just don’t know how much he cares about me.”

“You got him to run to your rescue with just a few words at a moment’s notice,” Draya poked at her forehead with her snout. “Isn’t that enough?”

“It is!” Bianca fought back. “I can’t ask for any more than that, but… I can’t help but want more sometimes, you know?”

“I know what that’s like,” Draya told her.

“You do?”

“Is that so hard to imagine? I think everyone has something that they want more than anything in the world.” Draya let her long body slide off of the girl and raised herself upright, looking out around the lively pier. She turned back to the human girl, bearing down at her with an intense glare. “Just be careful and don’t get your hopes up for something you might never have.”

“What do you mean, ‘never’?” Bianca nervously gripped the strap of her purse in her hands. “Do you know whether Tristan likes me back or not?”

“Did I say that?”

“You’re not saying you didn’t.” She stepped forward toward her friend’s Pokémon, defiantly staring back into the snake’s eyes. She didn’t know why she felt the need to be so aggressive, but something behind the snake’s words dug under her skin and made her even more anxious than before. “What do you mean that I ‘might never have’ him, Draya?”

“Hey, take it easy.” Draya shrunk away, lowering her head and coiling up her body. “I meant just that. Just because you want something to happen doesn’t mean it ever will. Don’t let it be the end of your world if he turns you down,” she stuck her tongue out at Bianca. “I’m trying to look out for you because I like you.”

“Well you’ve got a weird way of showing it. Must be a Pokémon thing…” Bianca relaxed a little, feeling slightly embarrassed that she had been so confrontational with a friend’s Pokémon.

Why did I get so defensive like that? It’s just Draya.

“You could always just talk to him yourself,” Draya pointed off to the right with her leafy tail, snickering.

Bianca’s eyes widened and she could feel her face begin heating up as she slowly turned to see her friend standing a few feet away from her, arms crossed and looking like he could hardly believe what he was seeing.

“So, this is what happens when I leave you two alone together?” Tristan asked, walking forward. He reached out and poked Draya on her scaly forehead. “What’d you say to get Bianca of all people mad at you?”

“Nothing!” Draya dodged his second strike and caught his hand with her tail. “I was trying to be nice. You know me.”

“Yeah, I do; that’s why I’m worried.” Tristan pulled his hand free and affectionately cupped the side of his Serperior’s face, rubbing the smooth scales on her neck. He turned to face Bianca, “Was she giving you too much grief?”

“N-No, not really. I just misunderstood something she said.” Bianca looked away for a brief moment before looking back at him. “So… how much did you hear?”

Tristan gave her a sympathetic smile.

“Enough that I think we should find someplace quiet and talk. It’s been forever since we just hung out, huh?” He held out his hand, offering for her to take it.

Bianca felt herself freeze; she’d never held Tristan’s hand before. Then again, she hadn’t kissed him before today either. Things were different now. She watched as Draya slithered behind Tristan and up his back, draping herself over one of his shoulders. It felt as if the Regal Pokémon’s red eyes were looking right through her.

Even if it’s impossible… even if he says ‘no’…

Pushing aside her doubts, Bianca reached out meekly and grabbed Tristan’s hand.

I’m still going to try!

“Did you have somewhere in mind?” she asked as the two began to walk together.

Draya slithered back to the ground and followed alongside them, with Tristan walking in between both girls.

“I couldn’t get a very good look at the city from up there last night,” Tristan said, pointing up to the sky.

“What do you mean, ‘up there’?” asked Bianca, trying to figure out where he was pointing to.

“I flew into the city with a Sigilyph on my back,” Tristan said plainly.

Bianca couldn’t stop herself from looking shocked.

“It was either that, or ride on Reshiram’s back,” Tristan waved his hand.

“That’s so crazy…” Bianca chuckled nervously. “With everything that happened today, would you take it the wrong way if I said I kinda forgot about everything that went on last night?”

“I’d actually be a little jealous,” Tristan told her. “Anyway, all I’ve seen are a few signs for places that I saw on the way here. How long have you been in the city?”

“Well I got here…” The change in subject helped pull Bianca back to the present. “I mean, Iris and I got here about a week ago. We’d been training together for a while, but she said she had to go somewhere after she saw what happened last night. I didn’t want to sit around and do nothing, so I decided to challenge Elesa at the gym.”

Bianca paused for a moment and took a deep breath, pushing past her hesitation. “Have you heard from Cheren at all since he ditched us back in Castelia City?”

“Just this morning, actually,” Tristan admitted. “He let me know in his own special way that he saw what happened to me last night.” He stopped walking and nodded toward something they had come across on their short walk.

“How about this?”

Bianca had been so focused on making sure she kept apace with Tristan—and not squeezing his hand too tightly— that she hadn’t really been paying attention to where they had been going. Towering over the two of them was the largest attraction that Nimbasa City’s amusement park had to offer: the ferris wheel. The kind with enclosed, private cars that couples would ride for a romantic look out over the city.

She doubted there was any other place on the Neon Pier that she wanted Tristan to take her to.

Did he really pick this, or is it just the first place he saw? This doesn’t mean what I think it does, does it? What if it does? How will that change things going forward? Will we start going out? Will Cheren be okay with that? How long have I been standing here just looking up at it? Say something!

“S-Sure!” Bianca did little to hide how pleased she was about his choice. “I’m a little afraid of heights, though.”

 No, don’t say that! Just go with it!

“We can go someplace else if you—”

“No!” Bianca pulled Tristan toward the line to the ferris wheel. “I mean, I’ll be fine. Let’s go.”

“Alright, alright,” Tristan chuckled lightly. “Draya, do you mind if we go without you?”

Bianca stopped and turned around, silently pleading to the Serperior to let her have her chance.

Draya simply nodded happily and slithered off into the crowds walking up and down the pier.

Bianca’s relief was short-lived however, as she worriedly asked, “I-Is she going to be okay? What if she gets lost, or stolen? Team Plasma is still a problem.”

Tristan continued toward the queue, urging Bianca along.

“She’s been off by herself before. Draya’ll be fine.”

“Well, I mean, if you’re sure.”

Bianca caught up and stood beside him, waiting patiently for their turn to board the ferris wheel.

The two friends stood silently in the sun and watched the slow turn of the wheel for a moment, still holding onto each other’s hand.

As the gap in their conversation continued to widen, Bianca grew more and more uncertain on how to get it moving again. When the time finally came for them to board their own car on the ferris wheel, the two still hadn’t spoken at all about what she had done after their gym battle that day.

The interior of the wheel’s car was plain and sleek, with cushioned seating on either side and windows on all sides. The car itself was large enough to seat four people comfortably despite the ride’s popularity with couples. They both let each other’s hand go free and entered the enclosed space, sitting across from one another. The door to their cabin closed and shortly after the large wheel began to slowly rotate again.

“I’m glad they keep these air-conditioned,” Tristan said as he idly looked around their capsule. “I’ve had my share of heat these past few days.”

Bianca wondered if this was his way of avoiding the subject. She decided that if her instincts told her to kiss him out of the blue, she would listen to them again.

“I kissed you.” Bianca clenched her fists tightly, gripping the fabric of her skirt. She found she couldn’t bring herself to look him in the eye after saying it so matter-of-factly.

The sudden comment brought Tristan’s attention back to the girl sitting in front of him. He let out a short sigh, defeated in his endeavors to stall.

“You did,” he agreed.

“What— uh, do you think about that?” she chanced a look up at him.

“I think you were happy that we won our gym battle,” he started, “but… I think there might have been another reason why you did it.”

“And… if there is?” she asked him, her heart pounding in her chest.

Tristan looked at her with a heavy expression, his mouth opening but unable to speak.

“I… I’m sorry.” Tristan ran one of his hands through his hair, looking down at his feet. “I’m the one who wanted to talk about this, but now I can’t figure out what to say.”

“I like you, okay?” Bianca stamped her foot on the floor of the car. “There, I said it. Now you say what you have to say!”

“I know you do,” he told her. “Like I said, I’ve known for a while. It’s just—” he swallowed, taking any chance he could to stall for time to think, “—it’s a bad situation overall.”

“What do you mean?” Bianca asked.

“I feel like I can’t win no matter what. I know that’s a bad way to put it, but I just don’t think there’s a… happy ending to this conversation.”

“S-So…” Bianca fought hard to get the words out of her mouth. “Y-You… don’t…?”

“I don’t, no.” Tristan stared back at her, leaning forward across the gap between them. “No one told me that you liked me, I just figured it out. I didn’t say anything to you because I wanted you to tell me when you were ready.”

“Why…? Why make me wait like that all this time?”

“I just wanted to give you the chance to realize that I only see you as a friend— one of my best friends. I didn’t want to take that from you.”

“That’s… that’s so stupid!” Bianca stood up shouted in the car, her voice resounding off of the closed walls. “How was I supposed to know you didn’t like me that way?! I couldn’t just ask! You’ve never even liked any other girls before, so all I had was the way you treated me!”

Bianca crossed the short distance between the two sets of seats and stood over Tristan as he backed as far away from the angry girl as the bench would allow.

“Do you have any idea how this makes me feel? I’ve been holding onto the tiny little hope that you might like me back for years!”

She leaned down and poked Tristan in the chest aggressively along with each of her next words, “Will. You. Just. Say. Some. Thing!?”

“You’re right,” Tristan gave her a weak smile in defeat, throwing his hands up. “I should’ve said something.” He leaned forward slightly, making sure to keep eye contact with her. “But it still would’ve been the same answer.”

Just then, a strong gust of wind blew through the area, rocking their cabin from side to side a little bit. Bianca was about to assault Tristan with another series of scathing words but the sudden motion caused her to lose her balance. She fell forward on top of him, the latter quickly wrapping his arms around the girl to keep her from falling onto the floor.

“Are you—” Tristan started, but was cut off.

Bianca’s own arms went to Tristan’s shoulders, gripping them tightly. She kept her face hidden, looking down at his chest.

When she finally looked up at him, her self-control failed her and with tears in her eyes, she kissed him for the second time that day. She pressed her lips against his for a few full seconds before backing away.

“Last chance,” she warned him. “Am I just— Will I ever be more to you than just your best friend?”

“I'm sorry, but I don't think so,” Tristan said, placing a hand on one of her arms. “I just hope we can at least keep what we already have.”

“Well of course we can!” Bianca stood up quickly and crossed her arms. “How could you think anything else?!”

“I didn’t! I just don’t want us to stop being friends because of this.”

“Neither do I!”

“So, we’re good?”

“I guess!” Bianca huffed and sat down in the seat next to Tristan. She couldn’t find it in herself to look at her friend at that moment, so she looked out the window to her left, only to realize how high up they had gotten. She quickly shut her eyes and tensed up, gripping the seat with her hands to steady herself. After a quiet moment filled with deep breaths Bianca managed to calm herself down.

I did this to myself

Tristan sat back up in his seat, “I’m sorry.”

“It’s not all your fault,” she relented. Bianca finally turned to face him and gave a sympathetic smile.

“I could’ve told you as many times as you could’ve told me. We both could have told the other how we felt, but we didn’t. We’re both just stupid.”

“The dumbest.”

“Hey! Don’t agree with that!”

“You said it!” Tristan pointed out.

Bianca frowned, which only caused Tristan to finally break into the laughter he had been holding back for the past few exchanges. The sound was infectious, and she soon found herself joining in.

She didn’t know why she felt like laughing. She just had her first and only crush turn her down. Even though she was sad, it still felt good to laugh with him after everything that had happened.

Bianca decided it was simply because Tristan was, and would continue to be, one of her best friends. No matter what might happen to either of them.

Their ride on the ferris wheel was nearing its end, their car next in line to be returned to ground level. Back down on the ground, the world would be right in front of them once more, with all of its problems and impending troubles waiting for them.

“We’re going to be okay, aren’t we?” she asked Tristan, leaning against his shoulder.

“What do you mean; we just talked about that.”

“I mean… with Team Plasma. Will you be okay? That N guy has Reshiram now, and… you’re going to have to fight him with your own dragon? Do you really think you can do it?”

“I’m going to have to,” he said, standing up as the car came to a stop at its original spot. “Nobody else can wake up Zekrom. I’m sure of that.”

He offered his hand to Bianca to help her up from her seat, but Bianca stood up on her own.

“You won’t be alone though.” She gave him her most confident smile. “We’ll beat Plasma together, like we always planned to. Dragons or not.”

“You bet.”

The doors to the pod opened up for the two young trainers to exit, the summer heat assailing the both of them once more. They made their way through the exit line and back toward the main walkway of the pier.

Bianca stopped and let Tristan continue on a few steps before saying, “Don’t worry about me.”

Tristan turned around, a curious expression on his face.

“I’m probably going to be sad about you turning me down, but I’ll be fine. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but I’ll be okay eventually,” Bianca stepped forward and hugged her friend. “You might not like me back… but I’m at least glad that my first kiss was with you.”

“What about your second?”

“Well yeah, that one too,” Bianca pushed him away. “Just promise me you won’t let N win, okay? You’re not allowed to lose.”

“I wasn’t planning on it,” Tristan said.

Bianca waved goodbye to her friend as he turned around and walked off into the crowd. 

As Tristan left her view, she wondered about what kind of life he was moving toward. The whole world would be paying attention to the Unova Region now that Reshiram was alive. Stories about the Heroes of Truth and Ideals had always seemed too fantastic to ever be real. Bianca also thought those stories were sad; they never had happy endings.

Tristan was moving further away from her now—not just along the pier, but in the scope of her own life. They had been just a group of rookie trainers a few months ago, and now they were caught in the middle of a national crisis. Bianca never imagined becoming involved in something like those fairy tales.

If anyone were to ask her how she felt about having to watch one of her best friends risk their life for the sake of everybody else, Bianca would be hard-pressed to answer honestly. She was terrified. The whole idea of literal legends coming to life just to fight one another made Bianca want to run home and hide.

However, another fear pushed her forward; even stronger than her fear for her dear friend.

Bianca was afraid she wouldn’t be strong enough to help him when he needed it.

He can’t do this all on his own. If he needs someone to lean on, I’ll be there. Even if… that’s all I’ll be.

She took a deep breath to stop a new wave of sadness from washing over her. Thinking about what awaited Tristan in his future made her own troubles feel tiny in comparison.

If he can deal with his problems, then I can deal with mine.

As she began to walk forward, tears once again began to build up in her eyes.

Maybe… just not right this second.

—————

To Be Continued…

—————



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