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winter will be here until
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 Like a Red, Red Rose
 Posted: Oct 10 2017, 06:24 PM


"Miss, you can't be h-" the man found himself doubled over in pain as a sharp thwack struck his midsection.

"Get out of my way!" screamed a hysterical voice. "You can't take him!" the speaker thrashed forward, a thick, half-carved stick in her hand that she brandished at anyone who came close to her.

"Calm down. It's too late. He's already gone."

"NO!" she shrieked, and she tried to shove her way past the policeman, but he was prepared for her onslaught. His Growlithe leaped out of thin air, appearing in a flash of white light. He grabbed the wooden baton in between his sharp teeth, and crunched down on it. It promptly shattered under the pressure of his jaws, splintering into three useless pieces, two of which thudded to the soft dirt beneath their feet. "Let me in! I have to see him!" she demanded, her shaking hand still grasping one of the splinters of wood.

"No," the policeman responded flatly. "Trust me, you don't want to see him like this."

A man and his Machoke, both wearing medical masks and white gloves, emerged from the house, one after the other. The man was leading a stretcher, though it was clear all the work was being done by the Pokemon. At the heels of a Machoke was a whimpering Poochyena, its ears drooping and its usually fierce red eyes taking on a pathetic sheen.

"Why are you taking him? You can't!" she made to jump towards the stretcher-bearers, but the Growlithe resolutely stood in her way. "Get. Out. Of. My way!" she snarled at the K-9, raising her fist, still clenched around the wood.

"Miss, please don't threaten the police," the man spoke sharply and rose to his full height, towering over the teenage girl.

She was still not deterred, "I said go away!" and she rushed forward, thrusting the blunt pointed stick at the dog, who ducked out of the way. But the Growlithe wasn't retreating. In perfect sync with the Pokemon's movement, the policeman, with surprising agility, darted forward. As the girl struck out, the Pokemon, to her surprise, had actually ducked towards her, causing her to fall forward. The policeman caught her before she fell on her own makeshift weapon fragment, and promptly snatched the small stake of wood from her hands, twisting it until it was pried loose from her fingers and tossing it away.

The stretcher was being carried away now, into the back of an ambulance. "Stop!" her voice raised to a scream once again and she struggled in the policeman's grasp. "You have to stop!" her chest was heaving with effort and choked-back sobs as she stared desperately at the truck that was bearing her friend away. Her vision swam with darkness as she continued her valiant effort to kick free, and a wordless scream tore from her oxygen-deprived lungs until she was aware of nothing.

 Posted: Oct 10 2017, 07:22 PM


***Several days ago***

"I don't know how to explain it; he's just different!" the girl spoke pleadingly, with a shine in her green eyes that stirred the jealous beast growing within his breast. He pursed his lips tightly and looked away from the feral tangles of knots in her hair, the leafy-hued orbs, the callouses on her otherwise delicate, feminine hands.

"You keep saying that," he huffed, "But you still won't answer me. Do you love him? I never get to see you anymore. Why is that, Cynthia? Why?"

Her face flushed red when he said the word "love", and she backtracked stammeringly, "I don't... I never said I love him..." She looked down at her shoes. Those scuffed leather shoes with the flexible tops and the steel bases. Ideal for running like the wind over thorns, rocks, spikes, you name it.

"Oh, really? That doesn't explain the way you act. Or the way I found you two," his voice dripped with more venom than he intended. He could see it, condensing out of the air just in front of his face, combining into thick specks of purple toxic mist that floated to the ground at her feet. He breathed slowly, but deeply, as he struggled to regain control over himself.

"I told you! We weren't even touching!" her voice grew uncharacteristically shrill as embarrassment and horror flooded her brain. "We were just taking a nap. Everyone else had gone home for lunch so we were just waiting and-"

"And what?!" the disgusted boy glared at his sister. "What could you possibly say that makes this okay?" She stopped and a crushed expression lingered over her features. A little creature of guilt trotted with his heartbeat, but it was quickly overrun by a stampede of satisfaction. "If you keep seeing him, I'm telling Mom," he threatened. Storm clouds were gathering in the sky above them, but neither of them dared move.

"You... wouldn't," she spoke in a pained whine. It hurt to feel this way. It hurt to be this way. She had always been a proud and strong girl, but right now, she felt weak. Unacceptable. She rallied her nerve and lifted her head to stare her brother right in the eye, "You won't." They were the same height, but right now... she felt oddly taller.

A tick of nervousness etched itself into his brow. "Oh? Won't I?" he tried to retain his upper hand, but she was right. He would never be able to tell their mother. She knew his greatest weakness. His only shortcoming. His fatal flaw. No matter how hard he tried, he could never convince their mother to listen to a word he had to say. And the longer the unrelenting river of time crashed along the canyon that divided him from Mom, the deeper and wider it grew.

"No," she spoke, a note of triumph in her tone of voice and her back straightening up. "You won't." She turned on her heel and walked away from him.

His head spiraled about him. He reached out to her, but it was like looking through a spyglass the wrong way. She seemed to be miles away already, and his hand stretched out through the light-years that separated them, but he couldn't reach her. She was already gone. Panic set in when she turned the corner and disappeared from sight. If Cynthia left... If she left... What would he have left?

"M-Meda..." he stumbled to the sapling where his Natu silently observed the situation. "Meda, what will happen? If I let Cynthia go... Where will she go? Where will I be?"

You'll have me. You'll always have me, the bird spoke directly to the teenage boy's psyche.

"I-I mean of course. But what about Cynthia?" he replied shakily, sinking to the ground and sitting cross-legged, pressing his temples into his palms and rocking back and forth.

The small Natu hesitated. You shouldn't keep using my Future Sight. It's... really not healthy for your human brain. You know this.

"I don't care!" the boy snapped his head upwards, fixing his sky blue eyes on the bird's beady black ones. "I have to know!"

Relenting, the Natu fluttered downwards from his perch on the sapling to the boy's shoulder, nestling just against his head. Okay. I guess one more time can't hurt. He closed his eyes and focused all his energy on beginning to use Future Sight.

The boy closed his eyes, too, waiting. It took a minute, but soon he felt the thrum of powerful psychic energy, ripping a peephole through time and different realities. Meda was careful to leave the mental connection weak. Or at least, as weak as he knew how. The Natu's gift was becoming a curse as he grew older and even more powerful. He couldn't control how much of the Future Sight his human friend was able to see when they linked minds like this.

His vision was a bit blurry. Probably because of his roiling emotions. He could see himself, sitting alone at the dinner table. Usually Cynthia ate with him, or at least sat with him until he finished eating. But she wasn't there... Then he saw her. But she wasn't in the room with him. She was somewhere else. She was wearing all white, a surprisingly long dress flowed from her shoulders all the way to her ankles. She hated those dresses, though, right? Why would she... There was a ring. A pair of gold and silver bands. Cynthia's hand, smoother than he could remember ever seeing it, as if she'd gotten a manicure, lifted up in front of the bands, and one of them floated up into the air - wait, no, it was being lifted by someone else's hand - and onto her finger. It was a perfect fit, of course. She was married.

"NO!" he shouted as he threw his head forward and smashed it into his knees. He had pulled himself into a fetal position without noticing. White stars shot through his vision as he tried to pick himself up. Meda had fluttered off in surprise at his outburst. "How can this happen? She always told me she'd never do it. She said she wouldn't fall for a man, no matter how charming. Was she lying? She never lies! Not to me... right?" He groaned softly as his hands clasped his head tightly.

She's not lying... But she's not a child anymore, either. You understand. You like a lot of different girls. Meda tried to calm him down by speaking with reason.

But Paul was distraught beyond any kind of reasoning. "No, no, no! It doesn't... It doesn't make sense. It can't be. He did something to her! He must have promised her something or done something or... or... brainwashed her or..." his mind, normally so eloquent and brighter than the sun, failed to put sentences together, failed to even come up with the words to describe his thoughts. His hands grabbed at his blond hair and pulled until the pain coming from his scalp matched the pain in his imploding chest.

"I'm going to fix this," he spoke resolutely, a dangerous calm suddenly releasing the tight grasp of his hair. The twisted, squinting, furrowed expression on his face vanished. His face had been hidden behind thick, gray clouds, but a sudden gust of wind had blown them away and left the sun to shine down on him, a radiant beam of white light.

 Posted: Oct 10 2017, 07:54 PM


***Several seasons ago***

Humming a happy little tune, Cynthia carefully began stringing the bows. Her friends would be here to celebrate her fifteenth birthday soon, and she didn't want to waste any time doing bow maintenance when they could be romping through the trees and searching for random Pidgeys or Rattatas to fire at. She was just finishing up the third bow when a crack of twigs alerted her to someone's presence.

She whirled around and smiled, "Oh, you're earl-" The smile vanished and her sentence fell flat.

"A-Ah! I'm sorry. I didn't mean to... Um... I didn't realize anyone was here. Uh. I'll go. If you want. I'm sorry," a boy, probably around her age, stammered as he clutched the net he was carrying and looked away nervously. A Poochyena at his feet flicked his eyes anxiously between the boy and the girl.

"Wait," she spoke before he could tear away into the forest. There was an awkward pause. She'd never really talked to a boy before, other than to tell him to get lost. But she... well. She kind of liked the way he apologized and was willing to get lost all on his own. "So... Is that a net?" she pointed to the large swath of netting at the end of a stick.

"Uh... Oh. Um. Yes. It's my net," he examined it closely, as though he'd never seen it before. It appeared he was still unwilling to look at her directly.

Cynthia couldn't help but smile, and she asked, "What do you use it for?"

The boy mumbled, "Just... catching stuff sometimes... usually water Pokemon... sometimes bug Pokemon... once I even tried to catch a Spearow... Its beak was too sharp and it broke out after just a little while." His voice gained life as he began to tell his tale eagerly, "But not before Sirius gave it a good chomp! It couldn't get away once Sirius and I were working together." He gave a proud smile at the Poochyena by his feet.

Despite herself, Cynthia was impressed. "Do you know how to shoot a bow?" she found herself asking before she could stop herself. She knew she shouldn't be talking to him, but the way he acted, and the things he did, they were so... different from the usual boys. Maybe she'd make an exception, just this once, and let a boy into her little club. He shook his head, eyes wide as he finally looked at her and caught sight of the bows, a few strung, a few not.

Mildly annoyed at his silent wide-eyed response, she pressed further, "Do you want to know how? I can show you. It's not that hard."

He asked, "Are... Are you sure? Only if you want... I don't want to impose." The Poochyena, Sirius, nudged him forward hard, and he nearly tripped on his own feet as he stumbled towards her.

She grabbed an arrow from the quiver that was already strapped over her back, and she nocked it in the string loosely. Lifting the arrow up to her chest, she drew a deep breath at the same time she drew the arrow back. She extended it all the way back until the arrowhead was nearly touching her knuckles, then she glanced at the boy and said, "That's all it takes. Then all you have to do is loose your hold on the string." The bow gently relaxed and the arrow found itself back in her hand. She offered him the bow. "Go on. Take it," she urged.

His uncertainty ebbing away with her continued reassurance, he picked it up, carefully mimicking the way she had been holding it with his own hands. She pressed the arrow into his other hand, and he fumbled with the string as he tried to get the nock of the arrow to stay on it.

"Just get it on and then use some pressure to keep it on," Cynthia advised. After a few more seconds of fumbling, he managed to pull the string back with the arrow attached.

He pulled the string back about halfway before gasping, "It's... It's strong! I didn't think it would be so hard to pull back." Cynthia smiled encouragingly, and he pulled it a few more inches before his fingers holding the arrow on the string slipped. A noisy, ugly slap was heard, followed by a thud of the arrow hitting the dirt. The boy's face was screwed up with pain. "Ow..." he winced when Cynthia turned a surprised look to him.

On his inside of his forearm, there was already a red mark where the string had snapped back and struck him. "Oh... Sorry. I forgot to tell you to keep your bow arm sort of... out of the way. You can't lock your elbow like that."

He gave a grim smile, "Oh. Well. Thanks for letting me know now."

She couldn't help herself. She laughed. After a few surprised moments, the boy threw his head back and laughed too.

 Posted: Oct 10 2017, 08:11 PM


***Several seasons and several days later***

"It's pretty rare for a Skorupi to be found around these parts... Let alone in someone's house. Maybe it was looking for somewhere to hide for the winter? They do prefer it warm. Plus, given the size of the Skorupi, it may have been searching for a place-"

"Enough. My question was if you suspect any foul play, not if you could give me a lesson on the biology of Skorupi."

"F-Foul play? Why, I don't precisely know, Detective. All I can say is that the symptoms and the puncture wounds are consistent with Skorupi venom. So... Unless you want to hunt down and ask the Skorupi if it knows Foul Play..."

"Shut up. This is serious. A child is dead. His window was forced open from the outside, and the Skorupi can't be found anywhere."

"Ah, yes. Sorry, sir. Um... I don't know about these things, really. With all due respect, I'm just a coroner. But I can say that based on the size of the stinger, the Skorupi was probably strong enough to open the window. In fact... As I was saying before I was rudely interrupted, it may have been partway through evolving into a Drapion. Based just on the size and behavior, you understand? The chemical differences between the venom of a Skorupi and a Drapion are practically nil."

The man who had been addressed as "Detective" donned his hat as a solemn look came over his face, "I see. It could just be an accident."

The first man paused and looked at him curiously, "You sound like that saddens you. Isn't it better than having a murderer on the loose?"

With his face half in shadow, the detective replied, "Normally? Yes, I suppose. But this... He is - was - just a kid. For a senseless accident to happen... It's even worse. His parents want someone to blame. His friends want someone to blame. Hell, Morrison, even I want someone to blame." Silence fell in the cold room. Finally, he sighed heavily and turned to leave, "Life sure is a cruel son-of-a-Muk, sometimes."

 Posted: Oct 10 2017, 08:33 PM


There was no rain. Not even a storm cloud. Even though winter was coming soon with the desolate chill that it brought, the sky was bright and blue. Unforgivingly bright. Coldly blue. Most of the crowd had already left. The ground was splayed open with a wound, deep and dark. Cynthia's eyes were dry, but the dark green irises were surrounded by red. They shouldn't be dry, should they?

The only ones left were his parents, Sirius, and Cynthia herself. She didn't want to talk to them. She wanted silence. And silence fell. Even the whimpering of the Poochyena had finally given way to that golden silence.

She stood at the edge of the trench, looking down into it. The dark, shiny wood gleamed cruelly at her, reminding her of the moon that they had once looked up at together. She should have told him how she felt. She should have protected him. Everyone kept saying it wasn't her fault. Everyone kept saying that nobody could have known. Nobody could have seen that coming. Nobody could have stopped it. What did they know?

Her hand was limply holding two red roses. They barely stayed in her fingers. She knew she was meant to put them in the ground, but despite how weakly she held them, she couldn't seem to drop them. She really should, but instead she stared at them. The brilliant hue of deep red seemed to belong to another world. They were more saturated than blood, yet somehow lighter. Softer. The roses looked as though they should weigh more than a thousand lives; they were so rich and so intense. Maybe it was just the lighting. The cursedly bright sunlight. But she could've sworn that the two roses she still faintly clutched in her hand were redder and darker than anything she'd ever seen before.

She should drop the roses into the ground. The pair of them meant nothing anymore, right? But even just the thought of lifting her arm so that they were positioned above the gaping hole was too much to bear, and she simply... didn't. All these things she should do. She simply didn't.

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