Thank you, summer~ Okay, now that I'm not half asleep, let's do this again. And I have to add, thank you to all who reviewed. I wouldn't be writing this without you.
Chapter Twenty-Six: Restricted Reunion
Geez... I don't believe I'm actually doing this... Neal blinked off the sleepyness he had been carrying for the whole trip. While it only took him about a half a day to reach the small town of Vanderturf, Umbreon and he didn't stop the entire way. Not for sleep. It was the least important thing on his mind at the moment.
He didn't know why, but meeting Melanie's parents felt weird for him. Maybe it was because she actually had a normal family, a life outside the mission. A life the mission had taken away.
Neal blinked and shook the thoughts away. She was alive. That's why he was standing here. Taking in a deep breath, he silently counted to three- then knocked.
After a brief moment of nothing, when he was beginning to wonder if they had heard him, there was a small click and a tall woman answered the door. Her hair was the same light brown as Melanie's before her hair was dyed, but longer. "Hello...?"
"Oh I um... need to speak with Doctor Rose. Is he in?"
"Yes." She opened the door wider. "Come in, I'll get him."
He hesitated before accepting the offer, but complied. The living room was very elegant and clean, and, at Mrs. Roses request, he sat in a chair facing a glass table. She disappeared upstairs for a few minutes, and Neal couldn't help but look around at the place. So, then. This was her every day life? A small voice at the back of his mind said, The life she was forced to give away? And he leaned back in the chair, tired.
"Is there a problem?"
A new voice made him look up in surprise. "No, not on your behalf, at least." Or, at least, not that you know of. The man standing on the bottom stair was Mr. Rose. Melanie's father. The only one who may know how to dispell the Elixer from her body before she died. Stop it, Neal. Seriously, what's wrong with you?
"Then why are you here?" The man took a seat accross from him.
"Do you happen to remember a teacher you once had, Mrs..." he had to think a moment on Lynn's last name, "Elenor?"
"Why, yes." Neal was almost surprised that he answered so quickly, without having to think on it. "Of course, she was the one always yelling at us. One of the hardest teachers I've ever had."
"Really?" Neal mentally sweat dropped. That's how he remembers her?
"But she always had a liking to me, probably because I was the only one of the class who payed attention. Despite the hard work, it was a good year. I suppose you could say I was teachers pet then."
"She says that you're the best student she's ever had. And she needs your help. Well... we both do."
"My help? On what?"
"You are a Pokemon Researcher, right? We need your help curing-"
"I'm sorry," the professor suddenly cut him off, "but I'm not currently discussing any job offers. I'm done with my work for now."
The old man sighed suddenly. "A few months ago my daughter randomly disappeared on her way to Slateport City. Since then I've given up my research work to help look for her and to rebuild the Day Care Center."
Neal couldn't help but blink. "Oh, I'm uh... sorry about that. But if you would hear me out, I believe you would agree with me. It's worth it."
"I've given you my answer." He stood.
"No!" Neal jumped half way out of his seat and grabed the mans arm. He paused for a moment, his show of sudden desperation surprising him. But he had Melanie's fathers attention, and he wasn't giving it up again. "Please, just listen. It's not some stupid research paper or anything, a girl's life depends on it. There's no one else that we trust enough for this, no one that understands the meaning of a pokemons aura regarding thier actions. And she's my friend so you can't just..." just now realizing that he was talking almost faster than the professor could understand, he slowed his senseless outburst to a finish with, "... you can't just say no."
Mr. Rose paused. "You need my help with medical practice...?"
"Yes... we can't contact anyone else, because the situation is... unusual. But her life is on the line, and if we can't get your help, then she could lose her life. So, please. Please say you'll help us." Neal didn't remember begging anyone for anything like this before in his life. "Please." he repeated.
"... If it weren't a life about to be lost, then I would've said no. But I can't turn away from something like this."
"Thank you. Really." All of Neal's scrambled emotions seemed to snap back into place, and, for the moment, he was calm again with the relief of Mr. Roses answer.
"Let me go upstairs to get a few things. I'll come back down and we'll leave."
Eh, dust. For a minor professor like himself, dust was an every day enemy. But once you quit your job for a few months, things seem to accumulate. Just a few files... hm, he never told me what kind of condition she was in. I need to go ask...
Once he had returned downstairs, he noticed the boy asleep in the wooden chair. He sighed. He's about Melanie's age, now that I think about it...
"Why's he asleep, Darren?"
He turned to see his wife behind him, and answered, "I don't know. Rough few days, maybe? He said his friend is sick."
"I meant, he is he asleep in the hard chair? At least put him on the couch if he's staying."
With a chuckle, he put his arms around Haylee. "He isn't, I'm actually going with him to help the girl that's ill."
"Back on the job, then? Good luck..."
Releasing his wife, Darren turned to nudge the boy awake. For a teen, he woke pretty easily. "Hey, we need to go soon. And you never told me your name."
"... It's Neal."
"Ah, Darren. It's good to see you again, dear."
"And you as well. It has been a while. Wow," he muttered, with a look at Neal, "it was a long way over here. And to be so young, he didn't get the least bit tired."
"I've had practice." Neal murmured.
"... Yes, well, why not have a look at Molli then?"
"Is that her name?"
"Yes... a group of illegal scientists who perform experiments that are normally banded, tried to inject her with pokemon DNA. And, as we know, you have always had talent with wild pokemon."
"Wow, they injected her with pokemon DNA? Is that even possible?"
Neal rolled his eyes at Lynns lies. At least she had an excuse, though. He wasn't sure he would be able to come up with a reasonable story.
"Yes... and it was a failue. Her body is trying to throw it out of her system, but it isn't strong enough." The entire time Lynn explained, she led them through the Pokemon Centers halls, toward Melanie's room. Neal kept a constant look out for his ex-group, reminding himself that they could still be in danger. Lilycove was extremely close to Fortree, and he wasn't taking any chances. Even though they kinda burned the base down, Chrome could be near.
Lynn must have noticed his unease, because she casually mentioned, "You know, Neal, you can always keep an eye on things outside if you want."
"I think I will take a short walk." And with that, he turned and walked the other way.
Outside the Pokemon Center, he was able to actually breath. He started walking, but stopped at the side of the Center. All of a sudden, without his permission, his surpressed anger seemed to fold out all at once. He slammed his fist on the side of the building. "Why can't we do anything right? If we're so special- then should be able to do something! We keep making things worse. And I... I'm not helping..." He couldn't stop thinking of Melanies condition, of how easy and quick it was for her to being facing death.
"Self denial, Chrome?"
"Wha-" Neal turned to the voice just in time to catch a glittered handbag aimed at his face.
"What are doing here? Looking for trouble?"
"... Oh, great." A blonde woman stood there, clutching the handle of a very expensive looking purse. She yanked it back from him, reaching down to unlatch a pokeball. Lacy Waters... I can't get away from everything for a moment, can I?
He held his hands out. "Look, I'm not bothering anyone, and I'm not with Chrome. Alright?"
"Oh, yeah right. What did you do with Melanie?"
He sighed. "Nothing. I'm actually..." she's not going to believe this from me. "Okay, you'll just have to take this from me. Believe me, I'm not employed with Chrome anymore. Melanie's..." he was about to say fine, but switched gears, "not with Chrome."
"You just expect me to trust you?"
"Well... yeah. It's not as if I have a choice right now."
She threw out the pokeball, unleashing a Butterfree. "I'm not stupid, Chrome."
"Great Arceus... I don't have the time for this. Umbreon, call Espeon will you? Lacy will trust her before me." Espeon was still back with Melanie, watching over her. The two Eevee evolutions could communicate if this close, after the time they spent together. "Lacy... if Espeon tells you will you believe me?"
"Espeon is with you?"
"Yes. She can show you with Memory Manage." So, hold off from trying to kill me until she gets here... he thought silently.
"Fine." She crossed her arms. Once Espeon exited the Pokemon Center, Neal asked her to show Lacy that Melanie was okay. He muttered for her not to show thier current predicament, to keep the contester away for the time being. Espeon complied, then began to mrrow at the Butterfree in recongnition. The two chattered in thier language with each other for while, as Lacy grudgingly apologized to Neal. "So, where's Melanie now?"
"We split up, she's in a different town looking for Chrome." he lied.
"Well, good luck, I guess." As she called back Butterfree, turning away, she called, "Oh, and tell Melanie that once the world is saved and all, she should seriously compete. Rumor going around is that Molli Rivers is my apprentice, and there're several people wanting a talk with her." She winked as she walked off.
Watching her leave, Neal murmured, "Thanks, Espeon. More unnecessary trouble adverted." The purple physic meerly flicked her tail and mewed.
"Neal, dear." At Lynn's voice, Neal couldn't help but sigh in irritation. A moment alone, anyone? No? "Darren thinks he has an idea."
Allowing himself to feel a bit of relief at that, he replied, "Will it work?"
"He thinks so."
Neal returned his gaze straight ahead of him. "And if it doesn't?"
"Must you ask such things, dear?"
"I am Neal Chrome, aren't I?"
"If this does in fact work, it's going to take a few days in the least. Maybe a week."
He sure figured that out fast. Neal didn't realize how good this guy really was- even after Lynn had told him. I mean, it took him, what? Twenty minutes to have an idea? Maybe... maybe Melanie can be saved by this guy.
"Although, I see what you mean by an unusual situation. This girl has like... actual pokemon energy surrounding her." And what do you know, he can even tell that she's a Gaurdian. Maybe it has to do with him being her father...?
"So, then. We'll just hang around until she either gets better or doesn't?"
"That's... pretty much it."
"If we have no other choice, then."
)*( Four Days Later... )*(
She was dreaming. So, then, why did she feel so sick to her stomache? In dreams, you weren't suppose to be feverish, sick. You were suppose to see a different story through a hazey memory.
This wasn't hazey. The darkness, being darkness as it was, was sharp. Clear. And looking at nothing that still could be real made her head pound. It made no sense, yet she understood. And, at the same time she was confused. What was this place? The darkness didn't exist. But she was here, where it some how could. What... what happened? Why am I... standing in nothing? A dull, hot sickness throbbed through her. Distant, but persistant. She closed her eyes, the feeling intensified. I can't... can't even think...
And Melanie opened her eyes.
She kept them open, just staring at a soft orange ceiling for a long time. She didn't seem to have the energy to move them anywhere else. So she just stared up as minutes ticked by, before she realized, I'm awake. This is reality.
I'm awake... I'm... alive?
She turned her head to stare at the door. 'The Pokemon Center Hopes You Enjoy Your Stay!' was pinned to the back of it, like all Centers. I'm in a Pokemon Center then... but where?
The door opened, and Neal walked in. Neal took off his backpack and slung it to the ground, then took off his jacket and fell into his chair with it. He sat there a few seconds before actually realizing Melanie was staring at him. "... Melanie...?"
"Where are we?"
"... Lilycove. You're actually awake..."
"One second. Let me go get Lynn."
She frowned. "Is it that bad to give me a solid answer without making Lynn do it?"
He turned his back to her. "I'll be right back."
When he returned, Lynn wasn't the only one with him. Melanie was shocked to see her dad walk through the door with them, walk straight to a chair and sit down without a word to her. How...?
If that was surprising, then the next second when Neal reached down and hugged her left her completely speechless. She felt hot blush on her cheeks, until he said, "I'm so glad that you're okay, Molli." He stood up, and gave her a look.
"Oh... uh, yeah." I'm Molli Rivers. He doesn't want me to blow the cover. Right... "Will someone just tell me what's going on?" Please?
Uh, ending not as great as planned, and the Lacy part was thrown in there on a whim. Actually, most of this wasn't planned. BUT. Another chapter is done. I think we're really close to the ending of this...
But that must be planned out.
So until the next chapter, review~