I was so thoroughly burned out by school and work and some unexpected other stuff that even after getting out for winter break I haven't been able to get anything written until literally today-and the semester is already over! AUUUGGGHH. Also also, shoutout to Anime-GuardianAngel who wrote a super cute and sweet oneshot called Water or Dragon?, please go check it out!

To the following:

Birdlover123: Aw, that's sweet of you to say! Thanks, yo! I don't want to try to spoil it too much for ya, but there may yet be one still on the island, yes.

Blackbird0: No worries, yo! I've had a lot on my plate, and it's kind still ongoing, but I promise I haven't given up on this fic, not by a longshot! Just please continue to be patient with me, and thank so much for the support thus far!

Zuttii: Heyya, welcome back! I'm glad you still enjoy the fic! I haven't been able to update much, but I promise I'm still kicking!

"Those aren't statues." was the first thing out of Misty's mouth after a very long moment of awed silence between the two trainers. Growlithe had taken one look at the stone forms and immediately scampered out of the crater of debris, shaking and frightened. She may not have had the memories to back up her certainty, but something about flesh being turned to stone fixated in her head as she and Lance stood captivated before the figures. For whatever reason, Misty was absolutely certain that the figures before them were not, in fact, monumental statues.

He looked tempted to ask why and how, but immediately quelled the rising questions. He had never heard of anything in the world that could turn the living into stone, and yet something about the figures made them appear very much alive. He wasn't sure what. Perhaps it was the dead-eyed despair carved into the human's face as it laid defeated at the Lugia's feet. Or, maybe it was the desperation and pure rage in the stone eyes and jaw of the Diving pokemon, or the thousands of minute details of feathers, scales, teeth, clothes, skin, hair...

He tentatively placed a hand on the top of the Lugia's maw, and waited to feel something or nothing and found... emptiness. Not nothing, per se, but a hollow emptiness swallowing up from the inside. There was no evidence, but Lance found himself agreeing with Misty, that the stone Lugia and human before them weren't mere relics of an old civilization, but perhaps the petrified remnants of a people and pokemon that had lost to time and something else entirely.

But that raised the question, what on earth could possibly be capable of petrifying a pokemon and a human? And what had happened to the other inhabitants of the ruins? Why weren't there more stone figures?

The unanswered questions and the stone masses created a thick tension that refused to bleed out well until dark, where the darkness of the night finally obscured the view. Lance had picked back up the medical log book of the former inhabitants out a nervous curiosity to try to find out any sort of inkling as to the history of the ruined buildings. He thumbed through it, slower than before and scrutinized what he could under the dim light of the fire Growlithe had sparked out of the pile of flamable debri they had easily scrounged up and planted center stage of the former bunkroom.

"Anything new?" Misty's yawning voice filtered next to him. They hadn't yet retreated to the two new set up hammocks for sleep, but instead laid out on the floor by the fire. He himself had his back to one of the bunk posts where they sat, and Misty sat beside him. She had been nodding off the last ten minutes, and had at least twice actually leaned on him and let her head fall to the front of his shoulder. He didn't have the heart to move her either of those times, and he wasn't quite sure why being used as a pillow made his heart beat that much harder when for the past few weeks they had been sleeping side by side.

Finding a yawn bubbling up his throat, he released it, and shook his head, closing the logbook as he did, "Names, that's all." He was at the twentieth page, and as before had gleaned little more than a few names, ages, and how many times injuries were obtained from trying to hammer-and-nail things.

A lot, with several people, according to the medical record.

Growlithe's ears pricked as a distant howl escalated from deep within the forest. The puppy picked itself up to its paws with a brief stretch and gently woofed what he assumed was a farewell to them before it turned away and padded out the room. Devoid now of their sleeping buddy, Azurill fell over on herself and hopped to Misty, who at a glance was nodding off again. Lance brought up his arm from behind Misty and tapped her gently on her shoulder. In response, she yawned, but pulled up off him. He found he missed the warmth, even as close as he was to the fire.

They both got to their feet, stretching out much like their now-absent puppy companion had, and turned to the same direction. Then it hit them both at the same time, eliciting a quick meeting of their eyes.

Two hammocks. They could sleep apart now, without fear of the outside or for need of warmth.

Lance hadn't felt inexplicably relieved to be off the ground and utterly disappointed at the same time by such a prospect before. It was befuddling to feel to say the least, leaving a strange tangled mess in his stomach. When they shared a glance to see the other's reactions, he almost wanted to ask if they could still sleep side by side. But, with a tangled mess of feelings in him and the tension from their discoveries that same day convinced him to not say anything and glance away. Sleeping together for necessity was an entirely different thing from sleeping together for comfort. He couldn't dare assume he had that freedom, that he had that privilege to ask her to give up her personal space anymore for no reason.

If he noticed the way she too looked at him with relief and disappointment, he ignored it and instead mentally prepared himself for what he was sure was going to be a battle of wills against the hammock.

He spread out the cloth wide as it would go, and let his left knee, the closest one, come down in the center of the cloth to center some weight there. Then he slowly moved the rest of his weight from one foot to the knee in the fabric. The fabric shifted tension with his movements, and instead of staying still, the world suddenly turned upside down as he was flipped over to the other side onto his back.

Wind knocked out of him for a moment, he coughed "Ow."

Misty jolted up out of her hammock space and was immediately upon him. He didn't miss the bare signs of refrained laughter in her face though.

"Told you so." she said, snickering while offering a helping hand.

"Hardy-har." he half grumbled, half groaned, getting back up with her assistance.

"Are you going to try again, or...?" she asked, still smiling. For pride's sake, he figured one more go would suffice before he asked for her advice. However, the ache in his back was not something he wanted to repeat. Pride and Pain wrestled against each other in his mind until pride was pulled into submission. He really didn't want to get flipped over again.

"No, no, help yourself helping me." he sighed.

They straightened the then-coiled hammock fabric and once done Misty began instructing him. There were apparently a few different tricks to the feat, but most had the same notion- straddle and sit down slowly, then bring the legs up and lean back.

"However you feel is easiest, really. Just... don't do whatever you tried the first time." she said, not at all hiding the smirk in her tone.

"Because that clearly gave us positive results." he scoffed lightly. He went slowly, settling down on fabric as his hands kept it outstretched. Once seated he lifted his legs to let him straddle it at first as he laid back into it, weight shifting with fabric until everything settled. The warm tickle of satisfaction at his success made him smile to himself. Then, the weight of the fabric shifted in front of him, and when Lance looked up, Misty was seated in front of him. She looked stuck, thoroughly conflicted by something that looked like it was trying to bubble out of her throat to speak at the same time as it was strangled down.

He leaned up in the hammock only a bit to let her realize he was paying her his attention, and she looked at him with such conflict that he found himself worried.

"I uh... can..." she began, breaking up into stutterings, trying to form words that bubbled up only to be strangled. "I...uhm..." she leaned forward to sit up, shaking her head and changing her mind when he sat full up and she stopped.

"What is it?" he asked, hoping to come off as open and understanding without sounding...hopeful? From the beginning they had helped each other, saved each other, held the other together and worked together to keep the other alive but he had quickly found that he genuinely wanted to help her, wanted her safe and sound and happy. In a short amount of time he had gained a unique, genuine need to make her smile and laugh for him, to make that pretty blush flare in her cheeks. She had this tendency to jokingly put herself lower than him, and there had been progress at undoing that habit but it broke him a little every time to realize she had grown up doing it to herself.

"It's kind of stupid..." she said meekly, frowning.

"How about I be the judge of that?" he offered, "You didn't laugh when I flipped over onto my butt. I think I can return the favor."

She did laugh at that, a smile full of teeth breaking apart the frown before it disappeared into another frown, this time a thoughtful one.

"But it is stupid." she insisted, "I uhm... I mean, we both have perfectly good hammock beds here, I know we've set them up next to each other but...it's... it's not... it won't be the same and I uhm..."

Lance couldn't have held back the sigh of relief even if he had tried, which pulled her gaze back to him in which he smiled to her, a kind and understanding smile, and slowly placed his hand over hers, "I know. Me too... do you... want to share tonight?"

"Really?" she asked with a surprised chirp in her voice.

He nodded, "I wouldn't ask if I didn't want it too." he admitted a bit shyly.

Her weight fully settled back into the hammock, "Just tonight?" she asked cautiously.

Lance decided therefor to throw caution to the wind, "And tomorrow, and the next, if you want. Come on." he insisted, patting the space still between their parallel bodies. Misty smiled brightly, he thanked every star in the sky right then, and she leaned forward to him and swung her legs up at the same time as his own came up to settle into the hammock. They both leaned back into the hammock, fully lying down now. Her weight was heavy on top of him, but not uncomfortably so. Her head was laid on his chest, where he was sure she could hear his heart beat, the front of her body curling over his own and their legs quickly entangling.

She was a warm and soothing weight over him. His hand lifted up from the hammock to grab his discarded cape from the ground and draped it over them. Between the fire still crackling with life a few feet from them, and the cape enveloped gym leader over his front, he found the arrangement quite warm and snug. Soon enough Azurill had hopped into the pile of bodies, chirping as she looked for a spot to settle in too. Misty unfolded her arms from her chest to enable a space for the water mouse, who took the offer eagerly and settled in the half curled fold of Misty's arms.

The next morning was a slow start. The fire had burned out into smolders several hours before either trainer got up. The morning sunlight managed to filter through the gaps of the ruined infrastructure just enough to illuminate the room with a soft light. It didn't help matters that both trainers were quite snug in their arrangement, all cozy around each other in the hammock. If either were in fact awake at any point, it was a fact left horrendously ignored in lieu for more peace.

Until somebody's stomach began demanding attention, naturally. He felt a chuckle rise from his throat, and he heard a sigh escape Misty, who rose up from the hammock and got to her feet with the sort of natural grace that could be expected from a Psyduck. He dared not laugh, but there might have been a suspicious series of sounds being choked behind gritted teeth and tight lips. Not that he was much more graceful. He nearly flipped himself over onto the floor.

While he started digging for their breakfast out of their haphazardly made satchels, Misty meanwhile had gone to a cabinet with its inside shelves askew, having noticed something metallic shining through from the filtering sunlight. Inside the wide but squat cabinet, she peered in to find mounds of dust and cobweb and multiple metallic circle-shaped cans.

"Huh?" she said to herself, and pulled out one of them, then laughed, catching Lance's attention. The one in her hand was about one outstretched hand tall and a little bit wider than, had a dent on the bottom siding, and the paint was long tarnished or scratched away, but there was no doubting the lipped top on one of its sides. She had found water tins. And by the looks of it as she peered back into the askew cabinet, she had found a good plenty. At least five.

"That's lucky." Lance smiled. She dug out the other cannisters, and then she took the fruit he offered to her. The two trainers went to work immediately on quieting their stomachs.

Outside the building, he could hear the shuffle of grass and panting. Soon enough, Growlithe came into view, his pink tongue flopped to the side of his open snout. The puppy woofed a greeting to them, which they and Azurill returned easily. As they ate, Gowlithe seated himself by the campfire, content watching them. They still had a small ensemble of fruit from the day before to eat for breakfast, but they would need to quickly restore their water supply.

"We passed a smaller stream getting here," Lance remembered, wiping the sleeve of his old shirt across his face where fruit juices stuck around his mouth, "after crossing the river. shouldn't take too long getting there and back." At his feet, Azurill was bouncing on top of her tail.

"I don't suppose you'd mind showing us where we could find more food too, could you Growlithe?" Misty asked. The puppy nodded his head once, tail brushing briefly against the floor as he panted.

"So that's a yes." Lance confirmed, chuckling as he stretched his body up and about to undo the lazy lethargy still in his muscles.

"It could cut us some time if we separate. What do you think?" Misty suggested, watching him. No, she was not watching the easy movements, or the accentuation of muscle, or that the scandal-making tank top he was wearing was riding up along his navel and showing off skin. No, definitely not.

"Sounds good. Sooner we get water and food, the better." he confirmed. "How about you go with Growlithe?"

"Are you sure? she asked, just a touch of concern in her tone.

He nodded, "I'll be fine." He felt the nudging of his pant leg, and looked down to find Azurill focusing her attention on him with a merry smile. She chirped, and took a stance beside him, insistent and brave like.

Surprised, Lance asked Misty, "Is she...?"

Equally surprised, but pleasantly so, Misty nodded, "Yep. Looks like she wants to go with you." Azurill chirped positively at his feet, confirming the decision.

"Well, I'd be happy to have your company, Azurill." he told the baby mouse, who bounced up and down with joy, then he grabbed one of the spare hammock canvases from the broken closet and enclosed the five dusty water tins inside it, stuck the arbok dagger through a loop in his pants, and gave Misty a parting look, "See you in a bit."

-o00o- -o00o- -o00o- -o00o- -o00o- -o00o-

Friendly reminder to anyone interested, I've whipped up a community for Kingdrashipping so that it might be easier for you guys to find more LancexMisty fics! It's titled S.S. Kingdra, and, you guessed it, is going to be open to any fic submissions as long as it has LancexMisty in it. PM me for questions, comments, submissions, or if you want to help me staff it! This way it'll be a little easier for everyone to find a fic they want to read, and maybe keep up with them when there's an update.

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