"I have to make a phone call to the gym!" Roy yelled as his voice was drowned by the helicopter departing nearby.
Roy and Mae had just arrived in Sootopolis city. The wealthy young man had to arrange a private flight for them to travel in the city as it was impossible to reach the isolated island by other means of transportation besides water related ones.
The blustering wind played roughly with Mae's dark shoulder length hair which was thrown into a messy, yet presentable bun. It caused her to drop her purse as she quickly tried to hold her hair in place. She had spent a great amount of time making sure it looked nice for her meeting with Nero and didn't want even a strand out of its' place.
"Okay! Let's go inside!" she cried out. He waved his hand in the air dismissing what she had said. She rolled her large black eyes and dragged her belongings inside the building. A tall, lean male in a dark suit stopped her in her tracks and offered to assist with her the luggage.
"Welcome to Sootopolis City, Ms. Reed," he said kindly.Wow, this really shows how well the Blackwells are respected in this region. Amazing.
"I'll be inside!" she added before heading inside.
Roy nodded and gave her a thumbs-up to let her know he heard her. The greeter shut the heavy door behind them and led Mae into the Pokemart's dining level.
Roy watched as his family's helicopter flew off into the warm evening sunset to his parent's destination. Using his newly updated Pokègear, he made a phone call.
"Hello?" An older voice answered. It was Mae's grandfather speaking.
"Hey. It's Roy. We've finally arrived and she still has no idea of what's planned," he started to laugh, "She thinks I'm calling the gym right now to make sure we still have an arrangement to meet Nero."
A deep chuckle could be heard on the other line.
"You're quite the liar right now. You better hope this works out the way you planned, otherwise, Mae will be deeply upset by your little secrets and she'll probably never forgive you," the elder man warned.
"I know. It'll be fine. I'll be heading out to the gym later tonight. Nero knows he'll have a challenger, but he won't expect it to be me."
"Alright, I confirmed with Nero's grandfather that he still hasn't got a clue that it will be you battling him so things are still going your way thus far
"That's great news, I have to go now; Mae's waiting."
"Okay, good luck, Roy."
The call ended and Roy took a moment to rethink if what he was conjuring up was a good idea or not. He flashed a wide grin and tucked the Pokègear in his side pocket. I know I can keep this promise. Mae, I'll make up for what I did. Trust my word.
Mae practically choked on the small sandwich she was snacking on.
"Don't speak with your mouth full," Roy scolded.
Mae gulped her food down and glared evilly at Roy.
"Don't tell me what I can and can't do, Blackwell. This is unbelievable. He's not at the gym? I waited forever for this
When will he be back?"
"Whomever I spoke to said he is estimated to come back in a few weeks. He took a leave for a few weeks."
Mae stared at a small box which was falling out of her purse.
"I guess, we'll just have to wait until he comes back then
Right, Roy? I really just want to see him
just at least for a few minutes. Please, let's stay."
"I don't know, Mae. I have a lot of things that need to be done."
Roy noticed that his childhood friend looked really disappointed and started to feel ashamed for lying to her.
"Hey, it's only 6 p.m. right now. I heard this city looks beautiful when the sun starts to set. It would be great to walk around and do a bit of shopping during this time!"
"Okay. Oh! I heard that too! Let's go to the Pokèmart first, I have to replenish on a few supplies anyway! The gentleman, who helped me carry my luggage in, told me there's a huge annual sale going on too! We'll have to see what's being sold!"
"Well, let's head out then. I'll make sure someone takes care of our belongings and -"
"Wait! Roy, you never answered
" interrupted Mae.
The young male let out a long sigh.
"Okay, fine. I'll have to rearrange a few things. When Nero comes back, we will only stay for that evening. I need to leave as soon as possible."
Mae hugged Roy and nuzzled her face in his chest.
Roy parted from her hug. It was hard for him seeing her so happy about someone else.
"Come on! Knowing you, you'll buy a truck load of stuff and want to spend hours in the store so let's go. You'll be well distracted. However, beforehand, I want to show you Nero's gym."
"OH MY GOSH HIS GYM. I totally forgot about it. NERO'S
GYM! Ah! I'm so excited!"
Mae rushed out of exit door leaving Roy behind. She had forgotten her purse and Roy picked it up for her. He tossed the rest of her unfinished food into a garbage can nearby. Under a wrapper, he noticed a package that was on the floor. She could have forgotten about this. Silly girl.
He placed it inside her purse and hurried along to catch up with Mae.
"Mae! Slow down!" Roy panted as he tried catching up with her. She was pretty quick on her toes.
"AHHH- but I want to see Nero's gym."
Roy held his hand in the air in a stop motion.
there," he pointed across to the other side of the road. He was breathing heavily although Mae seemed to still have a ton of energy.
"OH WOW!!!!" Mae gasped. She was taken by surprise by how large and modern the gym looked. It was shaped like a regular rectangular building; however, it had four floors and a railing along its rooftop. On the top of the building, Mae could see stone statues of water type Pokèmon and a glass dome on top. It reflected hues of orange and red from the early evening sky. The concrete building was paired with many large windows and stone pillars and a red stone paved path guided any visitors to the entry of the gym.
Mae ran up near the entry of the building and saw a bench outside. She sat down and happily hummed as she waited for Roy to catch up.
"I'M SO HAPPYYYYY," she squealed.
"Don't you want to go shopping?" Roy asked. He laughed at how childish she was acting. People walking by stared and giggled as they passed.
"Just wait, hold on. YAYYYY!!! NERO HAS A GYMMMM!" Mae yelled out loud. She was a bit too
"Come on woman!" Roy yanked her off the bench and forced her to follow him to the Pokèmart nearby. "You're embarrassing me! Why don't you buy something nice for Nero while you're shopping?"
"I was just soaking in the fact that he has accomplished his biggest dream. I'm fine again now," she grinned.
"Okay, let's go-- again," Roy murmured.
Mae skipped along Roy's side the entire time until they reached the Pokèmart nearby.
"What about this one?" Mae held up a Slowpoke piggy bank to get Roy's opinion of it.
"Why would Nero want that
? It's useless for him!" Roy responded.
"Mae, he-- we men, don't care if it's cute. Get him something he'll use."
"Fine," Mae puffed. She stared at the crowd ahead of her, if she could make it across the large department store quickly, she could grab the backpack that first caught her attention when she arrived on that floor.
"Where are you going?" Roy asked as he pushed his way through the crowd. The Pokèmart was extremely packed full of customers seeking a deal for their annual sale.
"There's a backpack-" Mae froze. Her attention was on the glass elevator that was just about to close. She saw the side profile of a young man with ice blue hair. His outfit was dark with blue designs. He wore a hat much similar to her childhood friend's..."NERO? Nero, wait! Nero!"
Mae pushed her way to the crowd, but she wasn't quick enough to reach the elevator. That's weird, I swear I heard someone call out my name
Nero was pressed his back against the elevator walls due to the crowding of all the shoppers. The glass on the elevator was so clean he could easily see his reflection. Time has changed how I look so much... At least, I hope it doesn't change how you feel about me Mae...
Nero focused his vision a dark haired girl speaking to a guy who looked just like Roy Blackwell, a rival of his. He couldn't see the girl's face; just a messy bun at the back of her head was visible. Hmm, reminds me of Mae
Now I'm seeing you everywhere... I think I'm going crazy.
Nero sighed and waited patiently for elevator to hit the first floor. Ping!
The elevator stopped. Nero let the others exit the elevator first. He didn't come to shop for the annual sale; he had only come by the Pokèmart to grab a snack for himself and his Pokémon. There's only about half an hour left and then it's time for battle, I better prepare myself...
Nero readjusted his hat and walked out of the Pokémart and headed off back to his gym.
"Roy, I think- I think I just saw Nero!" Mae said excitedly as grip tightened on his arm. "Let's follow him!"
He patted Mae's hand; it was his way of letting her know that she was starting to hurt him.
"Mae, it can't be him, he's out of town. Don't you remember what I just told you a bit ago?"
"Oh yeah... I forgot..." she started to sulk in disappointment. She felt like she was going crazy and that she was starting to hallucinate. She just missed Nero so much.
"Mae, I have to go now." Roy said.
"What-What do you mean you have to go? We just got here a bit ago!"
"I have a business meeting in a few minutes, it's nearby, but I'm not sure how long it's going to last. It's almost 7 p.m. right now, why don't you meet me at the bench by Nero's gym at 8 p.m. or so. I don't think it will last more than an hour, but just stay and wait for me there okay? Grab a book; I know you love reading so that will make time pass by quickly."
"A meeting? UGH, fine, I'll go get that backpack... I'll see you later tonight then."
Mae parted away from Roy to see if the backpack was still available and moments later she disappeared into the crowd.Everything is going according to plan. I've have to get going now.
Roy was able to make it through the jam packed building in just a few minutes. Let's see how this will turn out...
"Is the challenger here yet?" Nero asked the battle referee as he paced across the gym impatiently.
"He should be here any-"
"I'm here," Roy said as the arena's entry doors swung open for his dramatic entrance. He took a moment to take in the view of impressive arena. The evening sun shone through the glass dome above and the battle area was well kept for their battle. There was a deep pool where water based battles were held. Three sides were solid walls while one side was a wall of what seemed to be incredibly durable glass. The entire place looked very expensive to build. As Roy skimmed the arena he saw where Nero stood opposite of him.
"Ah- as he himself just said, our challenger has arrived. Today our challenger is Roy Blackwell and he will be facing Sootopolis' gym leader, Nero Heartly!" He announced on the intercom.
The audience roared. The gym hadn't had many challengers lately, so this time around the bleachers were full of people anticipating a grand battle.
"ROY BLACKWELL?! OH MY GOD!" high pitch screams could be heard from young girls and women in the crowd.
"What the hell are you doing here?" Nero asked rudely.
"Why- I'm your challenger of course." Roy stood firmly across the gym from Nero. It was a very large gym; however, even with the distance between them, Roy could feel Nero's stare pierce right through him.
"Where's Mae?" Nero spat.
"Why would Mae come to see you
?" Roy replied. He could feel the tension rise between them and the patience of the audience growing weary. "Let's not keep these guys waiting; I would like to have a one-on-one battle with you, Nero. Your specialty is water Pokémon, let's do water versus water. The toughest trainer will win. What do you think of that?"
"Fine with me. I hardly see you battle, this just means you'll lose quickly," Nero jeered.
"Alright folks, looks like it are going to be a one on one battle. For today, it will be a one on one water type versus water type battle. This has got to be interesting!"
Whistles and squeals could be heard from teenage girls in the audience for both Roy and Nero.
"It seems like you're even well known around here. Great." Nero said sarcastically.
"Oh stop it, you're embarrassing me," Roy joked.
"Let's just get this over with." Nero was losing his patience, he had grown hot headed the moment he saw Roy enter the gym.
"You heard him Kingdra!" Roy quickly withdrew a dive ball out of a small black pouch which was held against his hip bone.
A beam of red light flashed from the heart of the Pokéball. Instantly, a sea horse like Pokémon appeared in the pool before them. The crowd awed at the Pokémon. It was rare to catch sight of a Kingdra out of an underwater cave.
"Alright, time to knock 'em out!"
Nero held out a Pokéball and aimed it near him. A light shone brightly and a Blastoise appeared next to him. It stood firmly on the cold gym flooring waiting for a command.
"How about we start off with body slam?" Nero pointed straight at the Kingdra that swam rapidly in the water. "Charge into it so it's pinned against a wall!"
The giant tortoise like Pokémon broke the surface of the pool's water and aimed its body towards the drifting Kingdra. Nero stood firmly on the ground impatiently waiting for the attack to make an impact.
"Kingdra!" Roy shouted loudly to get the attention of his battle companion over the roaring crowd. "Use agility!"
Kingdra dashed out of the way and clones of itself appeared out of nowhere and filled enormous tank. Blastoise's heavy body collided directly into a wall due to the confusion. The hit could be felt from where Roy and Nero both stood.
Nero gritted his teeth. He didn't expect Roy to be a strategic challenger. Nero's dark teal eyes tried to concentrate on the real Kingdra, but it was too difficult.
"Blastoise, use hydro pump!" Nero yelled loudly so his voice could be heard underneath the water's surface. The tension quickly rose further between the two trainers.
"What good will that do under water?" Roy scoffed.
"Shut up!" Nero snapped.
Blastoise braced itself for the recoil of its own water cannons. The pressure from the forceful streams of water stopped the real Kingdra in its tracks. The entire pool was filled with what seemed to be a white cloud created from the bubbles from the jet streams. The audience rose in anticipation of the next move as the cloud disappeared.
"Quick, pin it against the other wall!" Nero commanded.
Blastoise withdrew into his shell instantly and spun itself towards Kingdra. Within seconds it rammed itself against the smaller Pokémon and pressed it against a wall. Kingdra winced and couldn't move.
"Kingdra, use smoke screen then get out of the way!" ordered Roy.
Kingdra aimed its snout at Blastoise's face and shot out a cloud of dark ink obscuring its view. Blastoise released its grip and furiously swiped the water near it to try to dilute the ink faster.
"Now- use whirl pool and trap him!" Roy's face was taken over with a dauntless expression. "We've got this!"
The water in the gigantic pool began to spin in a clock wise motion. It promptly picked up in speed and within moments the large Blastoise was caught in the middle of a whirl pool.
"What are you going to do now?" Roy ridiculed his opponent.
Nero was stunned. He couldn't believe his eyes. Roy was not as easy to beat as he had imagined. He couldn't think quickly and Blastoise grew weaker and weaker as the whirl pool inflicted damage.
"I think it's going to be over. I can't wait to tell Mae about this!" Roy boasted. He was becoming a bit too over confident.
The comment angered Nero. The light haired boy shook his head to clear his mind and conjured up a plan.
"Blastoise, use rapid spin and get out of the trap before it's too late!"
A moment passed and nothing had happened.
"Looks like it's not going to work, little Nero! Just give up already, he's trapped-"
"Alright!" Nero rejoiced as he saw the brown blur that had escaped the whirlpool.
Blastoise quickly took charge towards Kingdra and slammed into it multiple times.
"What?!" Roy was worrisome. Kingdra was losing its strength with every advance.
"Now, come to the surface Blastoise!" What is Nero up to?
Roy wondered. He was interested in his rival's battling style. He's quite unpredictable...
Blastoise shot out of the water and landed near Nero. He was panting heavily and was growing tired from the battle.
"Just hang in a bit longer," Nero said, "We have to beat him, and we have to end this now... you know what to do"
Blastoise nodded. He left his mouth agape and a yellow glow started to appear in its mouth.
"Oh shit- Kingdra, quickly, use hyper beam!" Roy shouted. Good thing I taught Kingdra this or else we'd have nothing else against Blastoise...
At the tip of Kingdra's snout appeared a yellow glow, identical to Blastoise's.
"I think we all better take cover..." added the referee over the microphone.
Both water type Pokémon had been taught the considerably strong normal type move by using a technical machine. The trainers and the audience knew how powerful this move was. Both trainers readied themselves for what was about to happen.
From both of the Pokémon's positions, a yellow beam shot out and the energy radiating from the beams could be felt throughout the entire gym. Just a few seconds later, the beams collided into one another and a white light lit the gym's glass dome. An explosion followed that blew dust and debris into the air. Screams could be heard from the audience and coughs from both trainers were heard. Water drenched the entire battle area and as the smoke cleared, it was easy to see that the gym was badly damaged. Both Pokémon were at the verge of fainting from battling.
Nero's face was hidden behind his forearms as he tried to cover his face from the gust that came from beams impacting one another. He slightly opened one eye to see how well the attack had gone. He was shocked.
"It's still not over!" announced the referee. The entire audience sat back up and dusted themselves off to see the battle continue.
Roy coughed and looked over at his Kingdra that started to slowly drift towards the bottom of the battle tank. Half the water had vanished from the tank from the blow and some cracks could be seen in the glass that was closest to the audience.
"Blastoise..." Nero was worried. He saw his companion struggle to stay up and quickly ran over to him. Nero attempted to help his friend by offering a hyper potion. Blastoise knocked it out of his hand and glared at the Kingdra that had trouble staying afloat in the tank. He grunted and slightly pushed Nero away from him. "Blastoise, you can't..."
Roy watched from afar. He knew Blastoise wouldn't give up until the very end. He took a step forward and looked at his rival. He walked across the gym to the other side as all eyes watched him. Nero didn't blink once as he neared him. Roy extended an arm out in the notion of a handshake.
"What?" Nero questioned. "What are you talking about?"
"I said, I forfeit, I give up." Roy restated.
"You've come this far
You've almost won the badge- why would you give up now?" Nero didn't understand what Roy was thinking.
"I'm not battling you for a badge. That's not important to me. I just wanted to see how tough you've really gotten and I've got to admit, you're good."
"Of course, I'm "good". I'm a gym leader now!" Nero looked at Roy with cold eyes before continuing with a calmer attitude, "You're good too I guess. Let's just call it a draw."
Nero slowly raised his arm up to complete the handshake, but Roy backed away and shook his head.
"No, I forfeit. I am backing out."
"What are you talking about? This was a great match, it's a draw. Let's shake."
"Just- shut up, Roy!"
"Not the battle, Nero. I mean I'm backing out - I'm not interfering with your relationship with Mae anymore. The battle as a draw is fine; I don't care much about that."
Nero let his hand down and stared at the ground for a moment until he looked over at Blastoise.
"Time to return and rest boy." He held out his Pokéball and asked for Blastoise to take a well-earned rest. The Pokémon obeyed.
"Same for you, Kingdra, you were amazing!" Roy smiled and allowed his Kingdra to recover in the comfort of it's Pokéball.
Nero raised his hand up motioning the referee to announce the outcome of the battle.
"Wasn't this battle a sight?! Looks like the outcome will be a draw for now. Let's hope for a future rematch!"
There was a mixture of emotions from the audience. Some booed, some clapped, and some were simply still fan girl-ling from earlier. Trainers that assisted in Nero's gym opened the exit doors and quickly showed the audience the way out.
Roy picked up a large rock and tossed it in the pool.
"What a mess..." Nero said, "
I want to ask you some things, come up to the roof top with me; they'll start cleaning up part of this mess soon."
Roy agreed and followed Nero up to roof top of the gym. It was a pleasant view from above. The rooftop was decorated with statues of rare water Pokémon and Roy could see the intricate details of the glass dome from where he stood. The gym was even more beautiful with the night lights reflecting light onto the glass dome.
"So, here it is, my g- AH!"
"Whoa there," Roy had caught Nero who lost his balance. He would have fallen down completely if Roy hadn't helped him. Nero looked up and felt awkward having a guy hold him. Nero slightly blushed from the embarrassment.
"I didn't need your help," Nero brushed himself off and looked at his right leg. There was a rip in his pants and it seemed as if a rock or some sort of debris had hurt his shin. A bit of blood stained darkened his gray pants.
"Whatever. Could you at least be polite?"
"Um, how about no? Look I know you don't do things without a purpose, so what are you doing here, Roy?" Nero avoided leaning on Roy for help and lifted himself up with the help of a nearby statue. "I know you did something to conjure up this one on one battle with me, what is going on?"
" Roy hated letting go of the girl he cared for so deeply, "Mae wanted to me to fix things."
"Fix things?" Nero listened carefully. He sat down on a stone bench next the statue he was leaning on. "I'm not being polite, but you can sit down next to me. I want to know everything."
Roy let out a laugh. "Ha, thanks, okay."
Roy sighed. "Well, this is kind of hard. I mean, you know how much I care for Mae."
Nero could see how upset Roy was, but didn't care.
"Just tell me."
"I kissed her."
"Multiple times in fact." Roy had pleasure seeing Nero's face twist from the facts.
Nero fumed inside, he was overwhelmed with jealousy. He hadn't been besides Mae in her presence for so long and the entire time Roy was locking lips with her.
"She and I dated."
"OKAY, THAT'S IT!" Nero frantically got up, stood in front of Roy, they locked eyes then Nero punched him square in the face.
"WHAT THE F- I'm bleeding, you made my damn nose bleed!" Roy wiped away the blood that ran down from left nostril. He felt a bit light headed from the punch, but got up quickly to face Nero.
Roy stood a few inches taller than Nero and had a more confident stance. He grabbed Nero by the collar of his shirt and was positioning himself for a fight. Nero's hands curled into fists and he was ready to smack Roy with an uppercut. Roy breathed deeply and calmed his nerves. He put Nero down then patted his hat and pushed him a few inches away. Nero wasn't sure what to say.He's so weird, I can't understand what's running through Roy's head.
Roy walked over the railing of the building and leaned his back against it.
"I'll keep it simple. Mae and I had a serious thing going. I didn't want anything to ruin it. She wrote to you and you responded. I kept the letters you wrote to her. I never read them; I just never let her have them."
"You kept them from her? You're a real jerk; I hope you feel great about that." Nero didn't even bother being aggressive. He let Roy speak. He knew there would be no point in them fighting anymore.
"Yeah, I do thanks. I gave her the love ball you had given her as a gift. She misplaced it, and I came across it one day and decided to give it to her. It took a lot of courage, but I did it. That's when I started to feel really guilty about her being with me. She always had you on her mind
It was rather annoying."
"Oh yeah?" Nero grinned and relaxed his back across on the stone bench. He enjoyed hearing about how Mae thought of him.
"Yep, and she also thought you were a prick for hurting her so badly and that's when she decided to move on." Roy liked making Nero feel guilty for what he had done. It made him feel better about himself and his own mistake.
A look of disgust came across Nero's face. He was unhappy with himself for what he had done to Mae. He could clearly recall the day he officially broke it off with her and a few days after that she had left their home town. It ached his heart thinking about it.
"Yeah, yeah, so what brought you
all the way here?"
"Well, Mae found the letters. I broke her trust. I guess we both did in a way. She had always loved you and wanted you. I don't know why, but for some stupid reason, I couldn't and can't compare to you. I felt horrible and told her I'd make things right."
"And somehow battling against me and wanting to forfeit makes it, right?"
"No, seeing how strong you are and how much you care for Mae still
and letting her go to have her be happy is why I'm here."
"Okay, great, so you're willing to be out of the picture," Nero sighed, "I have a gym here, I can't just walk away from it to go be with her, it's more difficult than that."
"Yeah," Roy turned his back towards Nero and peered over the railing at a young female that sat quietly reading a book near the gym's entrance, "
that's why I brought her here."
Nero quickly jerked himself up and didn't let the blood rush from the motion bug him.
"You're telling me, she's here, in the city now?"
"Yeah- and I'm guessing you were at that big Pokémart earlier?"
"You've got to be kidding me, that was you and
that was Mae
it was.. Mae
I wasn't going crazy."
"She thought she was going crazy too when she thought she had seen you in the elevator," Roy added, "but I told her it wasn't you."
"And why did you say that?"
"So you and I could have this chat first."
" Nero couldn't concentrate. The fact that Mae was in the city right now drove him wild. "Where is she?"
Roy waved him over to where he stood and pointed his finger towards a young woman who sat leaning against a bench.
I have to go see her now," Nero turned around to head down below to meet the girl, but Roy grabbed him roughly by the arm.
"Take a second to realize what you're rushing into. Are you going to make her upset as you did before again? You have a career now and hers is blossoming too. You're both successful now. Before you let your goals get in the way and you pushed Mae aside. She doesn't deserve to be treated like that and I don't want to see her-"
Nero aggressively pulled his arm away from Roy's grasp.
going to be there for her now. I want to be there for her from now on. She won't have to depend on anyone else. As you've said, it's always been me anyway, so just stop mentoring me."
"Just take a moment to think and relax before running down there. I'm going to leave now. I have a flight scheduled for early in the morning. Here give Mae this for me, would you?"
Roy slowly smiled. What he was doing was hurting him deeply inside. He loved Mae, but he had to make sure she was genuinely happy. He was her friend too; he had to make sure she had the best. Roy looked over at his rival, took Nero's hat off and tousled his hair.
"Hey, what the- stop that!" Nero watched as Roy placed the hat into his hands along with an envelope and walked away towards heading back into the gym. Roy waved good bye.
"Take care of her Nero. Good luck." Moments later, he vanished into the building.
Nero couldn't help but smile. He was glad Roy arranged the whole scheme for Mae and himself to finally be together again. He glanced over the edge and felt his heart race once he caught sight of Mae again. Even from afar, her hair looked well groomed and the lamp post beside her gave her a glowing appearance. He took a moment to remember the good times he had with Mae and to put aside the bad memories. He looked at his hat and the small envelope that Roy had given to him and closed his eyes for a few seconds. He could practically hear his own heart beating loudly
This is it, the moment he's been waiting for.
The pain in Nero's leg disappeared as he took the long back stair case from the back of the gym that lead to the ground floor. In only a couple of minutes he'd be in arms reach of Mae, the girl he's always wanted to spend the rest of his life with
He was closing in on her and wasn't sure how to surprise the girl. The closer Nero got, the more comfortable he felt. Quietly standing behind Mae, he covered her eyes with one of his hands and placed his hat on top her head with the other.
"Oh! You surprised meRoy?" Her giggles made Nero feel butterflies in his stomach. He just wanted to hold her.
"Keep your eyes closed," Nero whispered in her ear.
Mae was speechless. She recognized the voice and she squeezed her eyes shut as she immediately felt the urge to cry out of joy. Can tears still run down my face if my eyes are shut this tight? Is this really going to be Nero? Where's Roy?
Nero walked around and helped her off the bench as her eyes were closed. He saw how tightly she squeezed her lashes together and could see her lips slightly tremble. They looked soft and beautiful like the rest of face. She had changed the way she looked. She wore a soft bun for a hair do and a light green dress accented with a pink belt. She also wore a white trim vest along with the necklace that her grandfather had given to her before she left Littleroot. Nero was brimming with happiness. Here she is, right in front of me.
Nero kissed Mae's lips softly and hugged her closely afterwards. He could feel her start to hiccup from keeping her tears away.
"You can open your eyes now."
Mae slowly opened her eyes and rubbed the tears off her face. She recalled when Nero had called her a cry baby during their last fight and didn't want the nickname to follow her anymore.
"You know- I'm not really a cry baby anymore," she smile as she hid her tears of happiness. She took Nero's hat off her head gave it back it back to him.
Mae toughened up and tried to put her feelings aside as best as possible.
"I-I'm sorry, Nero, I'm waiting for someone, I didn't think I'd see you today
" her voice trailed off as Nero placed an envelope with Roy's writing on it into her hands.
"Roy said it's for you. He's already spoken to me and well," Nero let out a forced laugh, "he planned this whole thing you know? He left already and told me to meet you here. I had no idea I was going to see you after he and I battled."
"You two battled? He kept this from me?! Why?"
"Yeah, that's how I got this cut," Nero showed Mae his pants and then continued, "He wanted to talk to me first, to let me know
that I had to take good care of you now."
"Take good care of me?" Mae's reaction wasn't what Nero expected. He was expecting her to ask more about his leg instead of putting up a barrier. "I'm not a child anymore." She pouted and turned her back towards him.
"You're acting like one," Nero pointed out as he tossed his hat on the bench, "--or are you playing hard to get like you always do?"
He caught on quickly. He playfully put his arms around her small waist and rested his head in the nape of her neck. He caught a whiff of her sweet scented perfume and everything felt perfect.
Mae couldn't help it she moved one of her hands onto Nero's cheek and turned her head so her lips could meet with his. Their lips pierced together several times before Mae pulled away and grinned.
"Ah- you still know how I like to toy with you, Nero. Nothing's changed I guess."
She looked down at the envelope and her eyes looked over at Nero who still rested his chin by her neck.
"It's okay Mae, open it. I would like to see what's inside too, if that's okay."
"Sure. Let's sit."
"Okay," Nero whisked Mae off her feet and carried back to the bench that was only a few feet away from them. "You can sit on my lap."
Mae felt like a princess the way Nero treated her. She was so happy and thankful for everything. She opened the envelope and what was inside touched her.
Nero peered over her side to take a peek at what it was.
"Look Nero, it's all of us, as children," her heart was touched at the picture of the three of them as children. Little Nero and Roy held out roses for Mae to choose in the photograph. Her face radiated with happiness while the two boys glared at one another.
Nero smirked, "He always tries to steal you away from me."
"Well, he's definitely a gentleman and a charmer, I'll give him that. You told me he arranged all of this. He's letting go of me
That takes a lot of guts, so he's also brave for facing an unknown future ahead of him."
Nero felt a bit of jealousy and Mae could easily detect it in his face. She played with the earring that dangled from Nero's left ear.
"Oh, your new earring! I always saw you wearing it in the media; I'm glad I can see it in person now."
"Oh quit it, Nero," she kissed his cheek and looked down at her necklace. She held the locket close to her and looked pleased. "You may not have been there physically for me, but I always felt like you were close- and maybe that's why we're so comfortable with seeing each other right away. I mean, it feels like we really haven't been apart
so, quit being jealous of Roy."
"Fine," Nero hugged Mae tightly, "I just- wish I was there for you, to hold you close, to say good night to you and tuck you in and make sure everything was going alright for you. I wish, I had never-,"
Mae interrupted him. "Everything happens for a reason," she said as tried to poke his nose. To her surprise Nero was hiding his face in her shoulder.
"I just- I'm so sorry, Mae. You have no idea how much I've regretted how I treated you. You've always been there for me
"Nero- this is a repeat of a conversation we had when we last saw each other."
"I know, I just
" His arms held her even closer and tighter than before.
"Nero, are-are you okay?" Mae rarely saw Nero cry. He never liked to show this kind of emotion around her. He always had to be the tough guy.
"I just- don't ever want to lose you like that again, not even for a moment," he sobbed on her trim vest and she could feel his tears seeping through onto her dress. She turned her side a bit and moved her legs so they laid across the bench as she sat on him. She held him closely and kissed his face as he cried. "I really-hate-that you're seeing me like this
Mae knew Nero hated to cry around her, not to mention right on her. She playfully ran her hands through his hair.
"This is kind of nice though, for once, I'm comforting you as you cry," she whispered, "Oh hey-I got you something, it's in the purse beside you, see the small box?"
Nero looked beside him and pulled the box out of the purse. He sniffled and appreciated the engraving on the outside.For my dearest Nero Heartly.
Your goals have been accomplished.
He opened the box and it revealed a badge similar yet quite different from the badge his gym offered.
"I heard on TV and from all of town that you took over this gym, which meant you also just carried over the old gym badge so with Roy's help we decided to make a design for a new badge for you. It's his way of congratulating you too
what do you think of it? It was inspired by your earring. I saw you on TV wearing it often and it reminded me our adventures of seeking Lugia so I thought it was the perfect inspiration for this badge! OH! And I got you a backpack too, it's under my huge purse" Mae flashed her pearly whites and stretched as she let out a yawn. Nero noticed she was trying hard to keep up with the excitement of seeing him again.
"I love it, I'll start using it right away," Nero burrowed his face into Mae's neck area and kissed it. "You're amazing and perfect, you know that?"
"Nah, no one's perfect, not even you Mr. Big cry baby," Mae teased Nero smiled. Her face was illuminated by the lamp post and Nero easily envisioned their future together.
"I want two," Nero stated out of the blue.
"Well, you know
Mae lightly pushed a fist into Nero's jaw line. "Two what, Nero?"
"Whoa, whoa- what?!" Mae burst out laughing, "kids?!"
"Yeah, I mean why not?"
"Because we're still young and we just saw each other again after a year!"
"Oh, shush, you've been planning our future since we were like twelve years old Mae! You told me every day for about a year once that we're going to get married once we're of legal age! You've even asked me about this stuff and now I have an answer!"
The newly reunited couple cracked up together and cherished the moment. Mae laid her head against Nero's neck and closed her eyes for a second. It seemed as though she was growing tired and a bit cold.
"You've got goose bumps, are you cold?"
"Don't worry about me
" she cooed.
"And don't tell me that," Nero said. He bumped her off his lap and pulled her smooth legs over and placed it next to him. "Now I can keep you warmer."
Mae leaned into Nero and it brought back memories of when they would sit and watch sunsets together when they were younger after training. She felt warmer with just the memory itself and could feel Nero rubbing her arms so she stayed warm. What felt like hours of conversing with one another was in reality only a little more than an hour of exchanging words and embracing one another. The temperature dropped a couple of degrees from when they started talking.
"Here, wear this," Nero took off his thicker top shirt and threw it over Mae to keep her warm.
She beamed, "Yes, much better, thank you." She yawned and tried to keep her eyes open. Her long black eye lashes fluttered as she tried to stay awake.
"Getting tired already?" Nero asked.
yeah, it's a different time zone here and I flew in today so I have some major jet lag
I just read a
" Mae felt incredibly comfortable with how she laid against Nero's chest and started to grow drowsy in seconds, "I love you
"I love you too Mae Reed and I will never hurt you like before ever again," he replied honestly. He loved the fact that his childhood friend and lover would always dose off instantly after reading a good book no matter what the time. He thought it was one of the cutest things about her.
She tried to smile as her muscles relaxed. "I think
I'm starting to fall
let's go inside to sleep now
"You can just rest on me here, I'll make sure you'll stay warm for now and when I'm ready I'll carry you in. I just- want to really appreciate this right now."
I guess, nighty night, Nero," she whispered as she drifted off to sleep.
As Mae rested, Nero played with her messy bun and looked at her as she slept. She looked innocent and pretty as always. He reached into one of his pants pocket and without disturbing Mae's sleep he pulled out his wallet. I knew this would be the perfect spot to keep it.
Nero pulled out a ring he had picked out for Mae during their long break. She always reminded him of her ring size and he knew one day it would come in handy.
Nero slipped the ring on her left hand as she slept.
"Mae, this is a promise ring to remind you of my promise to you
" He kissed her forehead and tangled his fingers with hers. "I promise to always be there for you, like you've been for me all these years always." He kissed Mae's ring that fit perfectly on her and looked into the night sky.
"Tonight's a beautiful night, just like you, Mae. Tomorrow will be a wonderful day just like tonight. It will be a perfect birthday for you won't it? Usbecoming reunited, I couldn't imagine anything that would make you- us- more happy," Nero whispered softly into Mae's ears and he could see her smile and wake up a bit.
"Thank you, for being mine always and forever Mae Reed-," Nero said.
"No," Mae whispered softly, "thank you
." She was still incredibly drowsy.
Nero held her head as it lay in his chest. He smiled as he watched her drift off into a slumber once more.What a perfect beginning to a brand new adventure.