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Chapter Seventy-One: The Journey Begins


Dragging a Chenoa-sized pillow into the chick’s crib, Angel pushed it into the center and draped a blanket over it.  He prayed that the pegasus would fall for this trick until he could find the baby griffon.  With it being so muddy, he assumed he would find tracks, but since she had been hopping from puddle to puddle, any tracks she had left were obscured by muddy water.

As Fluttershy entered her home, she got right to work--her first order of business being to check on Angel and Chenoa.

“Angel? Chenoa?” she called softly, trotting upstairs.  Slipping into her room, she spotted the rabbit apparently putting what she presumed to be Chenoa to bed.  Smiling warmly, she let out a sigh. “There you are…

“I’m going to be heading out with my friends. We’re going to get Smokey back. We hopefully won’t be gone for long. Do you think you can watch Chenoa until the Cakes come over?”

Beads of perspiration dotted the rabbit’s fur as he whirled around to face the pegasus.  Stomach twisting and tiny heart hammering in his ribcage, he nodded and forced a nervous grin.

“I hope we’ll be back soon. Hopefully we can catch up to them in the next town,” she said, lowering her muzzle to nuzzle Angel. “You’re such a good boy, looking after Chenoa.”

Pulling away, she leaned over the crib’s railing to kiss her baby…

Eyes inflating in size, Angel intercepted.  Shaking his head and pushing the mare’s face away, he erected his index finger and pressed it to his lips to signify her not to disturb the baby, then made hand signals that she was sleeping.

Pausing, Fluttershy gave a small smile and nodded.

“Ohh. All right. I’ll leave her alone,” she whispered. “Thank you, Angel. You’re such a good bunny.”

Turning away, she grabbed her saddlebags and gathered a few things from her room before heading downstairs to assemble more supplies.

Exhaling deeply as the starch tension in his muscles melted away, the rabbit allowed himself to flop back into the crib.  He had anticipated Fluttershy to see past his scheme and give him the scolding of a lifetime for losing her baby.

Fluttershy hadn’t even stopped to consider anything might be unusual about the situation at all.  She was far too concerned about Smokey, and Angel was usually so good about being on top of things and she trusted him implicitly.

Once she thought she had gathered up enough supplies for the trip, she scribbled down a quick note meant for the Cakes.  Leaving and quickly stopping at Sugarcube Corner, she saw--like she had predicted--that the couple was out.  Stamping the note to the door, she headed back to the cottage to await her friends.  However, the Cakes would not be seeing that letter.  Wind picking up, the current peeled the parchment off the door and carried it away.

The speedy Rainbow Dash had been the first to arrive, double saddlebags stuffed with food and other supplies.  Landing lightly by her fellow pegasus, she couldn’t help but exhibit the guilt upon her face.

“Sorry again, Fluttershy. I really thought Smokey bit Pendulum…”

“I understand. If I hadn’t known him as well as I do, I would’ve thought the same… but… when you spend as much time as you do with somepony you really love, you… you just tend to gain a deeper understanding of them.”

“How long have you loved him? I thought you two were just friends,” the prism-maned pony queried, folding her wings to her sides.

“I only realized I love him the night of… the night right before he left,” she answered, chest constricting. “After everything that happened, everything we been through… the shock of it all made me realize I didn’t want to lose him--even though I thought for sure we were. I was going to tell him that very morning, but then…”

The mare clenched her eyes shut with a sniffle, then opened them.  Rarity and Applejack could be spotted a short distance away, the latter hauling a sizable trunk clearly belonging to the former on wheels.

“Ah really don’t see WHY you want to bring ALL this,” Applejack grunted in disdain. “It’s not like we’re going to be on the road fer days at a time!”

It was then Twilight Sparkle came flying in, her own saddlebags packed, followed by Pinkie Pie, who was inexplicably parachuting down from the sky.

“What in tarnation…?” Applejack began as Twilight Sparkle landed, Pinkie Pie touching down beside the princess, the parachute fluttering down behind her.

“Right! Sorry, couldn’t decide what to bring.” Twilight Sparkle emitted a chuckle, tilting her head at one of her bags. “Wasn’t sure what would be more practical, so, I just decided to bring all of it!”

“Same here!” The pink-pelted pony grinned. “Never know when you’ll need a parachute!”

“Uh… you got us,” Rainbow Dash pointed out, unfolding her wings and gesturing at Fluttershy’s wings for emphasis.

“Yeah, but what if you’re unconscious??” Pinkie Pie pressed, stuffing her parachute into one of her bags. “Or your wings are broken? Or if we’re falling? The two of you can’t save us all!”

“Um, hello?” Twilight Sparkle piped up, flapping her own feathery extremities once.

“… Oh. Oh, yeah! I keep forgetting you have wings, too.”

Rolling her eyes, Rainbow Dash pumped her wings and lifted herself into the air.

“Are we done here?”

“Yes, let’s go,” Fluttershy urgently said. “I want Smokey back as soon as possible.”

“Sounds good,” Rarity affirmed. “But, where should we go? We don’t know where they could’ve gone.”

“I’d say these tracks give us a fairly decent clue,” Twilight Sparkle stated, her eyes scanning the path below them, as Smokey’s footprints left a trail away from the cottage.

***

A ways into the Everfree Forest, the chick continued to jump from print to print until she was discovered by a cream-colored pegasus who just happened to be employed by Pendulum.  The stallion had been ordered to remain behind for a few days to scour the forest for any rare creatures.  To his delight at his patience being rewarded, the pony came up to her.

“Aren’t you a cute little darling! I’m sure Mr. Pendulum will love you!”

Picking up the stunned child, the equine took to the air and sped off into the direction where the train-carriage had gone.

***

The six mares started out at a decent pace, though progress quickly slowed mainly due to Rarity’s cart being difficult to haul through the mud, which was getting gradually thicker.  It had taken Pinkie Pie hitching herself up to it with Applejack and a push from behind from Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash to free it on more than one occasion.

Rainbow Dash gritted her teeth in vexation, flapping behind the wagon to push it out of the mud yet again.

“Dang it, Rarity! Why’d ya have to bring all this!?”

“You honestly can’t expect me to leave home without my beauty supplies!” Rarity questioned incredulously.

“For Heaven’s sakes, girl, you never nearly packed as much stuff with you when we went up to the mountains to face that dragon!” Applejack reasoned.

“Or when we go to Canterlot,” Twilight Sparkle added.

“But--”

“Or when we went to look for Applejack,” Fluttershy contributed.

“Well, yes, but most of the time we knew how long we were going to be gone. At least we know Smokey is with Pendulum.”

“Yes, but we don’t know where Pendulum’s at,” the alicorn said.

“Exactly! We could be out here for days!”

“And your stuff will only slow us down! You gotta get rid of this cart!” Rainbow Dash huffed.

Rarity appeared put off by this suggestion.

“Sugarcube, we just need the essentials,” Applejack blatantly said.

“But my--”

“Rarity?” Fluttershy cut in gently.

The addressed mare shifted her attention.

“Hmm?”

“I will buy replacements for everything, if I must,” the pegasus urgently offered. “But we really need to get going.”

The alabaster unicorn stared for a moment, a small frown pulling at the corners of her lips.

“… Yes, of course. Dreadfully sorry, dear. I’m being selfish.” The mare nodded to Pinkie Pie and Applejack as a non-verbal signal to unhitch themselves. “It’ll be fine where it is. We’re not far from town. I can pick it up later.”

“Finally!” Flying away from the cart, the cyan pony returned to her primary place hovering above her friends. “So, what are we gonna do about this Pendulum guy?”

“I’m not sure,” Twilight Sparkle answered with a look of contemplation.

“Oooh! Maybe we can arrest him! Bring him to justice,” Pinkie Pie excitedly recommended.

“I don’t really care what we do to Pendulum,” Fluttershy sighed. “I just want my Smokey back…”

“We’ll get him back, won’t we, girls?” Rainbow Dash knowingly asked, her vision jumping from pony to pony.

“We will,” Twilight Sparkle reassured with a nod at Fluttershy, who smiled back. “Don’t worry.”
The Lion and the Lamb, Chapter 71
After following a baby griffon into a dangerous situation, Fluttershy finds herself rescued by a kind-hearted dragon and ends up befriending him. Ultimately, they both decide to raise the child together in a platonic relationship. As Fluttershy and her friends spend time with the lonely dragon, the more he learns about friendship and the more he reveals about his tragic past.

Co-authored by: :iconekardshadowreaver:

Chapter One: fav.me/d3j6xzq

FIMfiction.net: www.fimfiction.net/story/84383…
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Chapter Seven: Love War


Jackson tore his eyes from Valerie upon feeling Dratini’s smooth scales slide across his legs.  Smiling up at the woman next to his trainer, the snakelike Pokemon coiled up in her lap.  She took another bite of her fruit and placed the fork down on her plate before lowering her hand to stroke the Dratini’s head once, then offered him a plumb strawberry.  Eyes lighting up with a wide grin pulling at his maw, Dratini accepted the fruit.  Closing his eyes, he chewed slowly, savoring it.

The man ripped a bite from his sandwich as he watched the interaction between Valerie and his Pokemon, feeling his affection for her increase.

“… You’re… really good with Pokemon.”

Valerie turned a smile to him.

“I’ve always loved Pokemon, more than even being a fashion model. I love them so much, that… well… I actually wish I were a Pokemon.”

“Heh. I remember you saying something like that on our first date…” He was about to add something else, when his attention was averted when he heard a rustling in some nearby bushes.  Seconds later, a Buizel emerged and cautiously approached, his eyes on the fruit salad the humans possessed. “Hey there, little guy.”

The woman smiled warmly at the small orange-pelted weasel.

“Oh, hello, little darling.” With a soft giggle, she picked up a chunk of fruit between her fingers and proffered it to the Pokemon. “Are you hungry?”

Buizel beamed and toddled up to her and proceeded to wolf down the piece of fruit, juice coating his paws and the circumference of his mouth.  Chuckling, Jackson scooped up a little potato salad on his fork and offered the Water-type a bite.  Nose twitching, Buizel leaned in to lick it off.  To his surprise, he found that the glob was quite delicious, and let out a satisfied cry.

Valerie broke out into a wide grin, following it with a giggle.

“You are so adorable! It’s too bad you’re not a Fairy-type, I’d probably capture you.”

As Buizel licked his lips and paws clean, Jackson brought his hand to the Pokemon’s head to scratch him gently.

“It never hurts to have variety, but I can understand wanting to stick to one type.”

“I’m still surprised you caught Aron,” she said, resuming petting Dratini. “I would’ve thought you would’ve stayed with Dragon-types. Did you really only catch the Aron just to battle me?”

The man blushed and nodded.  While she did ask this question before, he figured she just wanted to be certain.

“I wanted… to beat you in a battle…” And while he had asked this before, he still wanted confirmation. “Would… you even date someone who… can’t defeat you?”

Valerie laughed.

“Of course I would! Haven’t I told you that all you needed was to ASK? Worst I could have said was no!”

“Well, yeah, but… I have met women who won’t date guys who can’t beat them,” Jackson stated.

She nodded in acknowledgement.

“Ah, yes, I understand. The so-called ‘Red Sonja’ types…” She sighed. “It’s all well and good to be independent, but I don’t see why anyone should need to be BEATEN in order to be dated…”

“I’m glad you’re not like that…” He slid his hand down Buizel’s head and positioned his fingers at the back of his neck to scratch him there. “Or the type who… might frown upon the… roleplay gaming… the comic books… and the fact that I dress up as a giant Spinda for a living. That… really means a lot to me.”

“Now why would I frown upon something like that?” The woman chuckled, scratching the back of one of Dratini’s ear frills. “People should be allowed to do what they like, so long as it’s not illegal.”

Eating the rest of his food and setting his empty plate down and letting Buizel lick it, Jackson reached over to pet Dratini, the dragon melting in the woman’s lap.

“A lot of people find it… nerdy.”

Valerie shrugged, smoothing her hand down Dratini’s long body.

“There’s nothing wrong with nerdy. In fact, I find it appealing, to a degree.”

Jackson blushed softly, astounded by this new information.

“Y-you do, huh?”

Valerie nodded in confirmation.

“Hmmm. You’re cute, you know. Dressing up. Playing tabletop games.”

The man’s blush deepened, and it darkened into a shade of scarlet as his hand unintentionally brushed over hers as he pat Dratini.

“I… I find… the way you… love Pokemon very a-attractive. And… how great of a battler you are.”

Valerie was silent for a couple of seconds.  Taking note of his blushing, she gave him an encouraging smile.

“Thank you, Jackson.”

Jackson bashfully removed his hand from hers and slid it off of Dratini.

“It… wasn’t your pretty face that… drew me to you.”

This drew a mild pink blush out of Valerie.

“You’re sweet, Jackson. Really.”

The young man’s face flushed heavily, stammering incoherently for a moment, before closing his mouth.  Balling up his hands at his sides to support some of his weight on them and glancing off as he was hit with a bout of shyness, he watched Buizel run off to sniff Shelgon and Sylveon.

“S-so are… y-you.”

Valerie followed his line of vision, focusing on Buizel.

“… Do you think that’s a wild Buizel, or do you think it might belong to somebody?”

He observed the Pokemon’s mannerisms, noticing that he was not fully trusting, and acting a little skittish.  Both of his tails were stiff and he supported himself mostly on his toes, as if ready to run off in case the Pokemon in front of him weren’t friendly.

“I… I would… guess wild.”

“I would suppose so as well. It doesn’t look like it’s used to being around humans, or human-trained Pokemon. I’ve never seen wild Buizel around here! Wild Floatzel, yes, but never the unevolved form.” The woman sighed as she pulled out one of her memories. “I think the last Buizel I seen was owned by this young man. He and his girlfriend were traveling Kalos together. I don’t remember the man much, but his girlfriend was very bubbly. Very sweet girl… and she had a shiny Totodile that was the Buizel’s mate. They were such a cute couple.”

“Maybe… it’s… just wild offspring… that hadn’t evolved yet.”

Jackson chuckled as Aron, still running from Mawile, bounded right up to Buizel from behind and came to a halt and nudged his back to gain his attention.  Whirling around, Buizel’s alerted attention dying down at the sight the Steel-type and smiles.  The Water Pokemon then joined in the game of tag.

“I suppose.”

Valerie’s eyes shimmered, scanning Buizel up and down the sleek Pokemon’s coat.  It was quite beautiful, and she idly wondered if she could create another costume based off of it.  Her mind reflected on Jackson’s words, and she fingered an empty Poke’ Ball in her dress.

Buizel spent several more minutes before a series of splashes originating from the river caught his attention--as well as the curiosity of the other Pokemon.  Even Jackson and Valerie invested a glance.

Several yards up the river was a horde of Floatzel, four males surrounding a single female.  Hearts spawning in Buizel’s eyes at the sight of the elegant female, he made a mad dash to the water and dove in to join the males… only to soon find himself sent flying to shore by one of the males.

Watching this unfold, the humans scrambled to their feet and precipitated themselves to Buizel’s sides.  Before either of them could question him if he was all right, the Pokemon pulled himself to his feet.  With a determined scowl, he dove back into the water.  This second attempt at catching the female’s attention resulted in the same outcome as before.

The young man bit his lower lip in concern as Valerie turned to him with the same expression.

“This is foolish. That poor Buizel is going to get himself hurt at this rate!”

Jackson gritted his teeth, his mind racing for a solution.  Removing his shoes, socks, vest, and wife beater, he raced into the water.  He knew this was stupid, but the need to help that Buizel compelled him to swim towards the little Pokemon.  Alarmed, the Pokemon gathered at the shore, Shelgon rolling back onto her feet and causing Sylveon to fall off again--though, this time she didn’t do it out of irritation.  Sylveon, previously sleeping, was startled awake as he fell off.  He lifted his head in confusion, but soon came to the realization of what was going on.  Tromping up to the shoreline, Valerie watched with wide eyes, wondering what Jackson was doing.  Mawile, at Aron’s side, glanced over at her trainer with an expression of befuddlement and concern.

As Buizel was sent hurtling back by a Double Hit from a male, Jackson inhaled deeply and held his breath as he dove underwater.  Pumping his arms and legs, he made his way to the bruised weasel and scooped him up in one arm.  Surfacing, he stole a glance over his shoulder to check on the horde, only to find that the enraged males had decided to follow.  Eyes snapping open wide, he held Buizel closer to protect him.

Searing with rage, Shelgon stepped closer to the river.  Filling her lungs to the brim, she exhaled a Dragonbreath at the Floatzel closest to his trainer.  At the same time, Dratini dove into the water, summoning his inner power to aim an Aqua Jet at another Floatzel.  Valerie didn’t even need to command Sylveon to jump into the water.  He did that on his own merit, charging up a Moonblast.

“Sylveon, aim for the left one! It’s closer!”

Struck by the attacks, the trio of Floatzel were thrown back, the one hit by Sylveon’s Moonblast sustaining the most damage.  Another one leaped out of the water, and Dratini narrowed his eyes and focused a Thunder Wave.  The Floatzel clenched his eyes shut, falling on top of Jackson, paralyzed.  Fortunately, the young man was only stunned from the impact momentarily and resurfaced, continuing his way towards shore.

While Fraxure charged into the water with Goomy stuck fast to his head, both Pokemon unleashed a double Dragon Pulse at two of the quickly recovering Floatzel, taking them out.

Aron, not knowing what to do, stood at Mawile’s side with a whimper.  Mawile, too, wanted to help, but knowing she would sink like a rock if she had, stroked Aron’s head to try and becalm him.  Sylveon paddled over to Jackson to assist him and Buizel ashore, allowing his Pokemon to provide them cover.  Staggering into shallow water, he stroked his free hand over the Fairy-type’s head, breathing out a “thank you”.  Though they were at a safe distance, he still held Buizel close in his arm, out of fear that he might get beat up even more if he dared to let him go.

Panting lightly, he turned around, seeing that his Pokemon had everything taken care of.  Dratini had the paralyzed Floatzel constricted in a Wrap and the other Floatzel--the one Sylveon had attacked earlier--hurled himself out of the water with intentions on finishing off Buizel.

Fraxure, spinning around in the water until his back was facing that particular Pokemon, swung his head back to catapult Goomy towards him.  Antennae crackling with electrical currents, zapped Floatzel with a Thunderbolt.  Fur singed in a few areas and eyes rolling, Floatzel dropped back into the water, finished.

Valerie sighed in relief as the Floatzel dropped.  Knowing Buizel was safe now, she stepped into the shallow water to meet Jackson, placing a hand on his back to help him out of the water.

“Are you all right?”

Sighing and nodding, he allowed himself to be assisted to shore.

“I’m… fine… Thanks,” he answered, to Valerie’s relief.

The Floatzel in Dratini’s coils grunted as he struggled.  Cloaking his body with water, he performed an Aqua Jet, rocketing out of the dragon’s hold.  Soaring through the air, he landed back into the water with a tremendous splash that gained the humans’ attention.  Observing now that he was unchallenged, smirked and directed himself to the concerned female.

Face scrunching up with a jealous anger, Buizel squirmed and slipped out of Jackson’s arm, landing on his feet.

“B-Buizel…!”

Valerie gasped lightly.  Mawile stepped forward to challenge Floatzel, only to stop as her trainer touched her large set of jaws.  Blinking, the Pokemon stared up at her, who shook her head.

Buizel unleashed a challenging cry to the male Floatzel.  Annoyed, the larger Water-type stopped and turned.  The female rested a paw on his shoulder, but he brushed it off.  His nerves still felt the lingering numbness left by the Thunder Wave and he was low on health, but he wasn’t going to ignore the challenge.  With an accepting growl, he rushed forward with intentions on finishing Buizel off with a Double Hit.

Gnashing his teeth, Buizel left the shore to meet his opponent, his body a blur of orange as he struck first with a Quick Attack.

“You can do it, Buizel!” Valerie cheered, clapping her hands together.  Mawile let out a cry of encouragement while Sylveon and Mr. Mime watched with interest on the sidelines.

“Keep it up!” Jackson followed. “You can beat him!”

Ears twitching, a smirk pulled at Buizel’s maw from the support.  As his raging opponent snarled, the small weasel took the Double Hit and went crashing into the water, only to resurface.  Both Pokemon pierced each other with determined glares, barely hanging onto consciousness.

This was it.  Whoever hit their foe first would be the winner.

Both Pokemon covering themselves with water as they prepared an Aqua Jet, launched themselves at each other, crashing with a burst of water.

The two of them went flying back underwater, but it was only Buizel who came back up as the victor.  The effects of paralysis had slowed Floatzel down enough to ensure him to strike first.

Entire face aglow, Jackson pumped his fist into the air with a cheer, his Pokemon following suit.  Even Valerie’s Pokemon joined in, the woman herself jumping, popping a foot as she did so.

The female Floatzel swam over to her little champion with a pleased smile.  Drawing her tongue over his head, Buizel blushed softly and leaned in to nuzzle her.
Chapter Six: The Second Date


Jackson had waiting with heightened anticipation for the rest of the week.  Every morning after waking up, he never failed to cast his eyes to the circled day on his calendar whenever he passed it.  He was feeling especially energetic when Friday arrived.  It had been a sunny day throughout--it was as if nature was setting up the perfect weather for him, and he greatly appreciated it.

The young man rode up by the Gym, nervous and excited.  He could hardly wait to see her reaction to what he had set up for her.

“H... hey, Valerie! Ready to go?”

Valerie had chosen to wear a secondary costume this time.  Aside from her usual outfit that was redolent of an Audino, and her others, she managed to find her old Dedenne costume.  It, however, was small on her, reminding her of how long it had been since she had last worn it, and spent her spare time during the week making an entirely new one from scratch.

She was donning a cream bodice with a yellowish-tan dress and black leggings that went up to her thighs.  The dress was split down the middle on both sides to show off her stockings, and her sleeves flowed past her hands.  Her hair had been styled in two circular loops similar to Dedenne ears, and the bun in the back was held in place by sticks that suggested whiskers.  On her cheeks were patches of red blush that appeared similar to the Pokemon’s cheek pouches.

“Hmm.”

The woman nodded as she approached him.  As she did, the young man’s eyes traveled up and down her form, taking in her appearance in detail.

“Awesome outfit! You… did a great job!” With a wide grin, he extended one of the helmets to her. “We got… a bit of a ride ahead of us. I… um… have something set up.”

Valerie bit her lower lip.  She still didn’t like the motorcycle, and the helmet she knew would completely mess up her hairdo.  Sighing a bit, and placing the helmet on, she slid on behind him, slipping her arms around Jackson’s waist.  As the engine was revved up, they were off.

Jackson took them all the way out of the city, out into the eastern route where the landscape was populated by grass, trees, flowers, and a nearby river.  Coming to a stop, he gestured to a picnic he had set up, his Pokemon guarding it.  There was a large basket and cooler set in the middle of a blanket with bowls of food for Pokemon surrounding it, the actual blanket sprinkled with rose petals.

“H… here we are.”

A soft gasp emanated from Valerie as she absorbed the scenery of the natural environment--the green grasses, the vibrant flowers, the sparkling blue waters…  Of course, she had seen things like this before, but the beauty of nature never failed to take her breath away.

“Oh… wow. Jackson, this… this is amazing.”

Jackson grinned, waiting for her to dismount before he did so, and pulled off his helmet.

“I… thought you would like something like this.”

Valerie removed her helmet--indeed, her hairstyle was ruined by it, needing to take out the pins holding the bun in place, and the loops that were squashed needed to be let down as well.

“This place is beautiful.”

“I, um… even brought… food for… your Pokemon, too. If… you want them to join us,” he said, nodding to the extra three bowls.

Reaching into her dress, Valerie released her Pokemon.  Sylveon smiled, purring as he plod towards Shelgon while Mawile and Mr. Mime positioned themselves at the food bowls.  Shelgon glared at the Fairy Eeveelution and took a step back.  Sylveon retained his grin, raising a paw as if greeting an old friend, before hopping up onto the dragon’s back and curling up on his belly to rest.

As the woman took her seat, Jackson knelt by the basket to fish out fruit salad, potato salad, and grilled cheese sandwiches filled with three different kinds of cheeses and tomatoes.  Finally, he reached into the cooler to pull out two cold bottles of lemonade.  Offering her one of them with a bashful smile, a tinge of pink dusted over his face.  He wondered if the rose petals were too much, but he decided not to focus on that now.

Valerie smiled as she accepted the bottle.  It WAS a bit much, especially the rose petals, but she didn’t want to say anything to embarrass him right at the moment.

“You… certainly went all out for this, hmm?”

Jackson’s blush deepened a little bit and he popped the metal cap off where it was promptly fed to Aron.

“I-I… wanted to… make sure… you… um…” He trailed off, averting his gaze to Shelgon and Sylveon. “… It… looked good.”

She nodded, twisting off the cap to take a delicate sip.

“Ah. Well, it DOES look good… The… rose petals are a little much. But I love it!”

Jackson shifted his gaze to her, a slightly wider smile pulling at the corners of his lips.

“… I-I… I’m glad to… hear that.”

Lifting his free hand, he brought it to the back of his neck to rub it.  He went silent, uncertain of what to say, before his attention was stolen by Aron as the small Pokemon ran up to Mawile and nudged her, the Igglybuff plush in his mouth.  Mawile smiled, sitting herself down beside him.  The man let out a huff of a chuckle as Aron squeaked the toy and rubbed up against the female’s side.  In response, she extended her hand to pet the Steel-and-Ground Pokemon’s head.  Aron let out a muffled coo and stood up on his hind legs to playfully bat at Mawile’s hand.  As he shifted on his hind feet, the weight of his large round head caused him to lose his balance and topple over onto his side.  He immediately rolled onto his stomach and pushed himself onto his feet with a happy expression.

Jackson had to admire that Aron didn’t appear embarrassed after performing such a blunder, silently wishing he possessed such a quality.

“Pokemon are incredible… Whenever I mess up… I always feel embarrassed, but… Aron just acted like nothing happened… I don’t think I ever met a person like that.”

He smirked as Aron sprinted over and positioned himself between the two humans, pressing his head against Valerie’s arm.  The young woman smiled, stroking his head.

“We all make mistakes. The best thing to do is not to dwell on those mistakes, but, like Aron just did, to simply roll over and shrug it off. There is nothing you can do about it.”

“Yeah… but, it’s hard sometimes. Especially when… I end up looking like an idiot.”

Aron held still as Valerie pet his head, squeaking the plush between his jaws.  After a few moments, he unexpectedly whirled around and dashed back to Mawile, playfully hopping around her in order to encourage her to get up and chase him.  Giggling, Mawile pushed herself off the ground to do just that, despite the heavy set of jaws atop her head.

“Heh… He sure has a lot of energy,” Jackson amusedly remarked.

“I almost wonder what he’ll be like as a Lairon.”

Jackson’s smile faltered a bit.  He knew a Pokemon’s personality had the possibility of changing after it evolved.  While part of him was eager for Aron to evolve into a larger, stronger Pokemon, he had grown attached to his character.

“… Did… Sylveon change after he evolved?”

Valerie shook her head.

“Not really. He’s still the same sweetheart he’s always been.” As she turned her attention to the mentioned Pokemon, she caught him utilizing his ribbon-like appendages to tickle Shelgon’s back. “Well, he did become a bit of a prankster.”

Eyes snapping wide open at the sudden touches, Shelgon rolled her eyes up to Sylveon.  The fairy may not have gotten the reaction he wanted considering the shortage of nerves in the Dragon-type’s shell, feeling about as much as a human would if something touched their fingernail.

Valerie nodded.

“I understand. I wouldn’t want my Pokemon to evolve against their will.  Sylveon was quite happy to, though.”

The man nodded, the bowl of potato salad reminding him that he still had yet to dish out the food.  Pulling off the lids of the containers and retrieving plates and plastic silverware, he dished out a helping of the salads first.

“It… really bothers me when… trainers evolve their Pokemon without… even thinking about whether they want to or not.”

“Hmmm, I know. It’s quite distressing, really.” She sighed. “I dislike trainers who think of their Pokemon as merely… tools. Or machines incapable of thought or emotion.”

“I’ve seen it happen too many times.”

He unwrapped one of the sandwiches and added it to her plate.  Valerie nodded again and accepted the plate and a fork.

“It’s disappointing, isn’t it?”

She shook her head.

“Yeah… it is,” he said as he proceeded to serve himself, his eyes sliding over to Shelgon as she rolled over onto her side to allow Sylveon to fall right off. “Shelgon, that wasn’t nice.”

Valerie turned her head to the Pokemon.  Sylveon didn’t seem to mind, and simply nuzzled against the Dragon-type and rested against her again.

“Sylveon has no hard feelings.”

The man frowned gently, shooting his disapproval at Shelgon as their gazes met.  The dragon sighed and allowed Sylveon to nuzzle and rest on her side.

“Yeah, but… that still wasn’t nice. Even if she’s still holding a grudge.”

The woman smiled lightly.

“She’ll get over it. Besides, I think Sylveon likes her!”

Sylveon shifted his head to lick Shelgon’s side once and purred softly as he laid his head back down.  Observing his behavior, Jackson couldn’t help but chuckle, his smile coming back.

“It looks like it.” He laughed again as Shelgon scrunched up the muscles in her face and wiggled her legs a couple of times. “Shelgon will get used to him.”
Chapter Five: Costume Play


Meal paid for and Pokemon withdrawn--making sure to leave a generous tip for his friend--, Jackson escorted Valerie back to his motorcycle.  His boxed and bagged steak hanging from the handlebar, he and his date made their way to their next destination.

The exterior of Jackson’s home matched the others in the neighborhood, with the only differences being the garden hose coiled up by the house and the stone birdbath standing in the middle of the lawn, a decorative Dratini coiled around the stand holding up the actual bath.

Unlike the almost vacant exterior and front yard, the interior of the home was lavishly bedecked by paintings of dragons--both Pokemon and non-Pokemon-- and swords and even a set of chain mail armor that were possibly hundreds of years old restored to their former glory.  Along the walls were also shelves holding detailed dragon statues, a lot of them quite majestic and fierce with a couple bearing a glittery finish on the scales.  There were bookshelves sitting side-by-side on the wall in the back of the living room behind the couch full of roleplay games, fantasy and adventure novels, along with comic books and mangas.  Some of these items were vintage and kept in excellent condition thanks to gentle handling and care.  By the television set was another bookshelf stuffed with movies and anime.

Upon entering the house, Valerie was quite taken aback at the quaint charm of the vintage décor.  Her jaw partially dropped at the paintings, old swords, and the chain mail.  Reaching up, she very carefully drew her fingers along them.

“This reminds me of the Battle Chateau.”

Coming to a stop, the young man let out his Pokemon and turned to her with a wide grin.

“I… actually never been there,” he confessed, gesturing with a tilt of his head for her to follow him. “So! Costumes! I keep them in my room.”

“I’m a Marchioness, myself,” she informed with a light chuckle, moving to follow him down a hall where more wall art was displayed.

She was led into a room that was just as decorated as the living room, the walls home to paintings, a CostumeCon poster depicting people in various Pokemon costumes clustered together in one crowd and a DragonCon poster with every single discovered Dragon-type Pokemon amassed.  The bed was draped with a large and thick comforter with the image of a Dragonite rising out of the ocean and an old Dratini plush with a prominent stitch located on the side.  Right next to it was a nightstand with a lamp sitting on top of it and one of his comic books with a bookmark jutting out from between two pages.  On one side of the bedroom, next to a dresser, was a bench press and a set of dumbbells.

“A Marchioness? That’s awesome!”

Pulling open the closet doors, he pulled out the Charizard costume first.  It, like the others were bodysuits, bulk added and sculpted into the creature’s actual figure with a detachable head.

“Oooh…” Valerie stepped forward, reaching out to touch the scales sewn into the costume, appearing very much impressed. “Oh, yes, there are ranks at the Chateau. A trainer starts as a Baron or Baroness, move up to a Viscount or Viscountess, then to an Earl or Countess. From there, they join the ranks of nobility by becoming a Marquis or Marchioness, then a Duke or Dutchess. The topmost trainers are Grand Dukes and Dutchesses.”

“Nice… Maybe… I should go there sometime…” He looked down at the costume, then brought his eyes back up to her. “Want… to see what it looks like on me?”

The young woman’s smile extended.

“Yes, of course.”

Beaming, Jackson made an excited dash to the restroom to change.  Re-entering the room sideways as to not to disturb the wings, he stood before the doorway and uttered a dead-on impression of a Charizard.  Like his other costumes--and the Spinda he wore at work--it was restricting due to the bulk, but he was used to it.

Arching her brows with a light gasp of feigned horror, she brought a hand to her mouth, a grin gracing her lips.

“Oh, my! How frightening!”

Smirking from underneath the costume, Jackson slowly stomped closer with his clawed hands extended in front of him, releasing a deep, playful growl from deep within his throat.

Giggling, the woman moved to meet him halfway.

“Oooh? What are you going to do with those big claws, hmmm?”

Pausing to contemplate for a moment, he brings his hands to her abdomen to tickle her with another playful growl.

In response, Valerie squeaked and began laughing, partially shielding herself with her arms and long sleeves.

“That tickles! Hahahaha!”

Chuckling in his Charizard voice, he ceased tickling her and gently and bashfully took her hands in his.  Valerie wasn’t the only one surprised by this.  For some reason he didn’t even know, he felt more confident in costume.  Quickly releasing her hands, he removed the head of his costume to gaze down into her eyes with a blush.

Lowering her gaze, she chuckled softly.

“You look dashing in that costume,” she said, eyeing it over. “It doesn’t really look very heavy, either.”

The man’s blush deepened.

“I-I do, huh? It… it isn’t… I guess ‘cause I work out.” He flexed his arm once, though nothing would be noticeable thanks to the costume, then dropped it at his side. “… Is… your outfit heavy?”

She nodded once.

“Hmm. Thirty-three pounds.”

Jackson blinked, a look of unexpected surprise stamping itself upon his face.

“And you wear that ALL day? Dang! You must be strong.”

Valerie giggled again, a wider smile pulling at the corners of her mouth.

“I’m stronger than I look., believe me.”

“Heh… I believe it. You work out often, too, I’m guessing?”

“I do quite a bit of squats, curl-ups, and weight training,” she replied. “I often do it with my Pokemon--after all, training the body is important along with training one’s Pokemon.”

Looking quite impressed, the man nodded in agreement.

“Yeah, that’s true. Uh… so…” He trailed of as Dratini slithered into the room, slipping between his feet and nuzzling his head against Valerie’s leg. “Hehe… Dratini really likes you…”

Valerie smiled gently down at the small dragon.

“He certainly does.” She let out another giggle. “He’s very adorable. It seems like Fraxure is the one that doesn’t care for me.”

“Nah.” Jackson dismissively waved his hand. “It was just that meat discussion that put him off. I know my Pokemon.”

“Really?” she questioned, still retaining her smile. “Because I wouldn’t be surprised if your Pokemon didn’t like me because of my… preferences.”

“Fraxure isn’t like that,” Jackson assured. “Shelgon probably won’t like you at first. She, uh… tends to hold grudges against those who beat her.”

“The same Shelgon that Sylveon handily beat?” she ventured, figuring she already knew the answer but wanted to be sure.

“The very same.” His ears catching footsteps, he turns around to spot Shelgon entering the room. “Hey, baby.”

Shelgon regarded her trainer with affection, then glared up at Valerie.  The woman just gave him a warm smile, bending over to extend her hand to her, but not touch her.

“Such a sweetie.”

Continuing to glower, Shelgon averted her gaze.  Smile fading into disproval, Jackson shook his head.

“Come on, Shelgon. Be polite. She’s a guest.”

Sighing, Shelgon turned back to Valerie and reluctantly sniffed her hand.  Chuckling softly, stroking her body a couple of times before kneeling down and leaning in to plant o kiss on the top of her back.  The Dragon-type scrunched up her eyes at the physical contact, not really liking it, but allowed it.

“She’s adorable. All of your Pokemon are.”

Leaning away from Shelgon, she scooped up Dratini in her arms and pushed herself back up into a standing position.  Dratini sank in the woman’s arms and nuzzled into her neck with a soft coo.

Smile returning, Jackson reached back to rub the back of his neck.

“… Thanks. So are… your Pokemon.”

Valerie smiled with a nod in acknowledgement.

“You said you had other costumes besides this one?”

“Yeah.”

Slipping the head back on, he walked over to his closet to pull out the Dragonite and Pikachu costumes, placing them and them down on the bed for her to view.  The women looked them over, but her eyes were predominately on the Pikachu.

“This Pikachu one here looks pretty cute…”

“You wanna see me in that, don’t you?”

She turned her attention to him with a smirk, and even sending him a wink.

“I wouldn’t mind. I believe I have a Dedenne costume at home.”

Blushing harder underneath his costume, Jackson picked up the Pikachu costume and went back to the restroom.  Upon returning, carrying the Charizard in his short arms, he did his best impression of the Pokemon he was dressed as.

Eyes lighting up and smile broadening in delight, Valerie emitted a squeal.

“Awww! You’re so cute! How precious!”

His cheeks growing hotter, Jackson quickly waddled over to the closet to hang the Charizard back up and toddled up to her.  Shifting Dratini into one arm, Valerie brought her hand to the large head of the Pikachu costume to pet it.

“I prefer beautiful things, but you are just too cute!”

The young man’s face was practically burning, and was thankful she couldn’t see how flustered he was, but by the tone of his voice, it was distinguishable.

“Th-thanks. Eheh…”

Taking notice of the flustered note in his voice, she leaned in slightly.

“Hmm. You like that, don’t you?” she asked with a shred of teasing, caressing his cheek and chin.

Though he couldn’t feel her hand, he could see her arm, and he knew exactly what she was doing.  Stunned, and too flustered to form a complete sentence, stammers incoherence, growing more embarrassed the more nonsense he utters.

Retracting her hand, Valerie took a step back.

“You’re adorable, stammering like that. I take it you’re not used to women complimenting you?”

“N-not… that… often,” he managed to say.

She nodded in comprehension.

“I understand. You don’t often go out on dates, do you?”

“No. I don’t,” the young man confessed. “I… really appreciate you… going out with me.”

“Well, I noticed you were quite interested in me,” she stated, smoothing her hand over Dratini’s head. “I suspected you were, but until you challenged me and said the stakes were one date…”

She giggled, not bothering to finish.  He knew what happened.

“Heh… I guess… that was a bit… much.”

“Again, you didn’t need to put that as the stake. You could’ve just asked me,” she reminded him.

“I’ll… um, keep that in mind… Would… you like… to… go out again sometime?”

Taking her hand away from Dratini’s head, she tapped her chin, as if in contemplation, but she already had her answer.

“Perhaps.”

Jackson placed his costumed hands on his cheeks, filling with excited anticipation.

“Y… you might? You’d consider it?”

Beaming with eyes alight, Dratini gave Valerie an encouraging squeal.  She, however, didn’t need it, and reacted with a teasing smile.

“I didn’t say no, did I?”

Jackson couldn’t help but leap once, unable contain himself.

“Awesome! When would… you like… to go?”

The young woman found his enthusiasm amusing, her smile stretching a bit wider.

“… How does Friday sound? Before game night?”

“Yeah, sure!”

Jackson could hardly believe it.  The date didn’t turn out to be a disaster after all!  She must have had a good time with him if she was willing to go out with him again.  As he calmed a small dosage, ideas already formed inside his head.
Valerie's Admirer, Chapter 5
Jackson is an average citizen of Laverre City with a deep love for Pokemon. Developing a crush on the local Gym Leader, he awkwardly attempts to win her affections.

Fanfiction.net: www.fanfiction.net/s/10748649/…
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After the season finale, I went to work on typing the first chapter of this fanfiction that :iconekardshadowreaver: and I have been working on since... he first season. Das right, mang! This does not mean I'm going to stop working on 'The Lion and the Lamb'. Nope! I started on chapter forty!

www.fimfiction.net/story/18888…

Premise: Three centuries after Nightmare Moon's banishment, the tyrannical king from the dragon lands of Draconia arrives with his general to form an alliance with Equestria. During their stay, Princess Celestia connects with the young general, teaching him about friendship and everything that had been withheld from him during his life of deprivation.

Seven hundred years later, the Draconian king and general return, only for Princess Celestia to learn that she and everything she had taught her friend had been erased from his memory. Foraging an alliance, the general is left in Equestria to temporarily serve under the Equestrian Crown while the king puts his plans to invade in motion, creating secret ties with the Changelings. Princess Celestia attempts to rekindle her bond with the general, and with the help of Twilight Sparkle and her friends, teach him the magic of friendship.

  • Mood: Joy

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CrazyRabidPony
Jessica
United States
Current Residence: Rocking back and forth in a corner...
Favourite genre of music: Country/Western
Favourite photographer: Bob Langrish
Favourite style of art: Hmmmm... that's a tough one
Operating System: What does this button do?
MP3 player of choice: Mine is called Pearl
Shell of choice: Tortoise Shell!
Wallpaper of choice: Bunnies!
Skin of choice: My own skin! O_O;
Favourite cartoon character: I have many
Personal Quote: "Someday... us short people shall rule the world!"
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:iconfiretronthehedgehog:
FiretrontheHedgehog Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
:turbopoke:
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:iconfiretronthehedgehog:
FiretrontheHedgehog Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
:poke: =(
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:iconcrazyrabidpony:
CrazyRabidPony Featured By Owner Sep 20, 2014
Hi thar!
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:iconfiretronthehedgehog:
FiretrontheHedgehog Featured By Owner Sep 20, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
:tighthug: WHERE'VEYOUBEEN?!  SPACESHIP!!!
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:iconcrazyrabidpony:
CrazyRabidPony Featured By Owner Sep 20, 2014
HAI!!! :glomp:

WRITING!!! :D
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:iconmmdfantage:
MMDFantage Featured By Owner Sep 2, 2014  Hobbyist Artist
Okay?...Ready?
Yeah, yeah, just go ahead.
Alright, alright..


Akaraaaaaai~nnnHeart 
Hai! YuruYuri hajimari yo~!Akari Akazaki (Wink) [V2] 
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:iconcrazyrabidpony:
CrazyRabidPony Featured By Owner Sep 2, 2014
HALLO!!! 8D
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:iconmmdfantage:
MMDFantage Featured By Owner Sep 2, 2014  Hobbyist Artist
YUS HI!
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:iconcrazyrabidpony:
CrazyRabidPony Featured By Owner Sep 6, 2014
*HUGGLE*
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:iconhandsomeharry:
HandsomeHarry Featured By Owner Aug 8, 2014
I still remembered that you had Rorik and Fyora together when we did our chats.
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