Here it is, a sequel to Perfect Strangers. If you liked Perfect Strangers, you'll like this. If you didn't like Perfect Strangers, I don't know why you're still reading this now. If you haven't read Perfect Strangers, you can read it here.
So here's the list of contained Shippings:
So let's just get right into it then with chapter one. Once again, all chapters will be named after songs.
EDIT: Here's the quicklinks list
I: Oh No, Not You Again
III: On the Road Again
IV: Train Kept A Rollin'
V: Listen Like Thieves
VI: The Reed and the Growl
VII: Fall Together
I: Kiss the Dirt
II: Buried Alive
III: The Killing Moon
IV: Search and Destroy
V: Used to Bad News
I: Attitude Adjustment
II: Devil's Got a New Disguise
III: Never Tear Us Apart
IV: Ordinary World
Oh No, Not You Again
November 10, 4.00pm
‘How did you find me?’
I sipped my iced tea and swirled the liquid around my mouth for a moment before answering.
I hoped that this meeting wouldn’t take too long. I wanted to catch the five fifteen train back to Saffron City so that I could be back at the Gym by opening time tomorrow.
‘Luck?’ May repeated. ‘Of all the cafes in all the towns in all the world you walk into mine?’
‘You’re starting to talk like him, you know.’
‘Like him. Like Dante.’
Dante had, until recently, been leader of the Gym in Point Noir, a city in the far north of the Stralis region. Along with all of the other Gym Leaders in the world, last year he had been required to travel down to the Indigo Plateau in Kanto for the Gym Heroes Exhibition, a week-long event that showcased the skills of the varying Gym Leaders. It was during this exhibition that he had met May, daughter of Norman, the Petalburg City Gym Leader, and her friends. And that was where all of the trouble started. But you know all this already. I’m not going to tell you the same story again.
‘Listen May, I know he’s here with you. It doesn’t bother me. Sure, the guy jammed a gun to my head, but that’s really none of my business.’
May furrowed her brow. She couldn’t tell if I was being sarcastic or not, and that’s the way I like to keep it in these sorts of situations.
‘I don’t expect you to understand,’ she began, setting down her own empty glass on the table that sat between them. She watched a bead of condensation run down the glass onto the stained wood, where it sat in its own private puddle.
‘I’m not here to understand, May, and I’m not here to talk about Dante.’
What a relief. She was so transparent I could almost see her thoughts.
‘Then what are you here for?’ May asked. ‘I don’t really buy that you just came to visit me.’
‘Come on, May. I don’t hate you. I never did.’
‘Mmm-hmm.’ It was obvious that May didn’t believe me. But that’s her problem, not mine.
I gulped down the last few mouthfuls of her horrible tasting tea and put the glass down heavily on the table, breaking the bead of condensation that May had been watching.
‘How did you find me?’ May asked again.
‘I told you, it was luck that I found you.’
‘You must have had some clue of where I was. The world’s too big for this kind of coincidence.’
‘The only thing I knew was that you weren’t in Kanto, Johto, Hoenn or Stralis. The rest was just luck, like I keep telling you.’
‘How’d you know that I wasn’t in those places?’
‘You weren’t in Kanto because that’s where Ash is. You weren’t in Johto because that’s where Giovanni is. You weren’t in Hoenn because that’s where your family is, and you weren’t in Stralis because that’s where Point Noir is.’
‘And why would Giovanni and Point Noir bother me?’
‘Because you’re with Dante!’ I cried. This Petalburg ***** was really starting to grate on me. May was playing dumb, but she was playing it so badly that it was more infuriating than misleading. And she wonders why I don’t like her?
‘I don’t know what you think-’
‘You idiot, I don’t have to think, I know. You dropped Dante’s Pokemon and yours off in the same bag, for crying out loud! It was pretty obvious. Everybody knows that you’re with him. Including Ash,’ I added for effect.
‘I’m not coming back.’
‘I never asked you to!’ I got to my feet, ready to storm out at any second. Then there was a loud bark and I was suddenly sitting down again, and a large Houndoom was trying very unsuccessfully to clamber into my lap. I pushed him into a sitting position on the ground and patted him on the head, all the while watching May in case she tried to run for it. She wasn’t listening. She still thought I was here to try and convince her to go home.
‘Alright then,’ May said, sitting back and crossing her arms. ‘What are you here for?’
‘I’m here to talk about Ash.’
‘I remember Ash. Funny little guy, afraid of the dark.’
‘I’m serious, May. And when was he ever afraid of the dark?’
‘Never mind,’ she refilled their glasses from a jug that sat half-full on the table. ‘Start talking.’
I didn’t like her giving orders. It seemed to bizarre, to out of character for her to be so assertive. That’s Dante’s influence for you.
‘Well, I suppose the biggest question is, are you done with him?’
May paused, more for effect than anything else. She already had the answer. I already knew her answer. But I needed to hear it from her before I could accept it.
‘Yes. I’m finished with Ash. If you can say anything ever really started.’
‘Are you sure?’
‘Misty, I’m almost married, for god’s sakes.’
I noticed for the first time the engagement ring wrapped around her finger and spilt tea all over myself. Ignoring the spreading heat, I stood up again.
‘You’re marrying him?’ she spluttered.
‘That’s what I said, yeah.’
‘How?’ I demanded. ‘You’re under age! And I doubt your father would give you permission to marry the man who shot him in the leg in his own home.’
‘You let me worry about the logistics,’ she replied coolly. ‘I’ve got everything sorted out. We’ll be married before the end of the month.’
‘How much before?’ I asked.
‘About a week,’ she replied immediately, then slapped her head. ‘I didn’t need to tell you that! Let me guess, now you’ll bring the whole crew down and have some sort of intervention and try and bring me back, right?’
‘No!’ I bellowed. ‘I don’t know how many times I have to tell you this, but I’m not here for you!’
Houndoom growled and I stopped yelling immediately. His protectiveness seemed to have extended to May since they had been living together. I’d seen what this Houndoom was capable of – I didn’t want to get on the wrong side of him.
I sat down and resumed patting Houndoom’s head, and I could feel him relaxing next to me. Good. Keep the fire-breathing dog calm. Take it easy, take it slow.
‘Look May,’ I said, trying to be at once calm and threatening without arousing the anger of Houndoom. ‘I’ll leave right now if you promise to stay here. If you keep living as you’ve been living, and don’t try to make contact with us. Especially if you marry Dante. You may have been able to see some sort of redemption in him, but don’t expect the rest of us to.’
‘We’ll be fine staying here,’ she replied evenly. ‘We have no need to go back. But I want you to sweeten the deal. Not only do you leave now, you don’t tell anyone that you even spoke to me. Especially not my family.’
We shook hands and I got up to leave.
‘See you round,’ I said out of habit.
‘Don’t count on it, babe,’ May replied.
I headed back to the train station. Looks like I would make the five fifteen to Saffron after all.
November 10, 6.00PM
I knew that Misty would blow my cover as soon as she got home. When she made the promise she believed it, but she was never the type to just leave well enough alone. When she thought she was acting in somebody’s best interests, who knew what she was capable of.
‘Did you invite her to the wedding?’ came a deep voice from behind me as an arm encircled my waist. My fiancé had entered the room, and evidently had been listening to our conversation. Or at the very least he had noticed Misty at some point while she was here.
‘No,’ I replied. ‘In fact we made a deal to stay out of each other’s lives forever.’
‘Well that’s a bit no good,’ Dante replied, brushing his face where a fly had attempted to land. ‘You can’t live a life without any friends. What kind of life is that?’
I turned around and clasped my hands around his neck.
‘Well, my friends wouldn’t really be very happy to know that I’m still with you.’
‘Why ever not?’ he asked, feigning surprise.
‘Well, maybe torturing them was a bad idea,’ I said.
‘Maybe,’ he conceded. ‘But everything worked out okay in the end, didn’t it?’
‘Not really. You lost one of your favourite Pokémon, and my family lost their greenhouse.’
‘I sent the money to fix that,’ he protested.
‘And I’m very proud of you.’
We headed inside for a drink. It was surprisingly hot here, even though we were very far south. Still, if it gets hot in Australia, why not here?
Dante put together a Long Island Iced Tea for me and as I sat drinking it I found myself actually wondering whether or not I should invite my former friends to the wedding. I was actually considering it.
‘Don’t be ridiculous,’ I thought to myself. ‘They’ll make a scene and get in the way. Everyone will be better off it you just keep them out of it like we agreed.’
It probably sounds to you like I had “voices in my head” but that was just the way I thought things through these days. Dante had taught me a lot. He’d taught me not to be ruled by my emotions. Using himself as a case study, he showed me the destructive power of emotion. These days I was far more logical. I’d even go so far as to say I was smarter.
I found myself sucking air and staring at the bottom of an empty glass.
‘That went down quick,’ Dante said, getting up. I noticed his drink, a neat scotch, seemed untouched. ‘I’ll fix you something stronger.’
November 10, 11:30pm
What the hell was banging on my window at this ungodly hour? Okay, so maybe it wasn’t ungodly, but I was tired. The only reason I even stopped off at home was to get a few nights of decent rest before heading out again. But no, somebody has to go and throw rocks at my window.
I got out of bed and flicked on the light. It took a few moments before my eyes adjusted to the brightness and I staggered over to the window still half-dazed and opened it far enough to lean out of and see who the hell was interrupting me.
And I got hit in the face by a small stone for my troubles.
‘Watch where you’re aiming,’ I croaked, leaning cautiously out of the window and looking down at Misty.
‘Sorry, Ash,’ she apologised.
‘What the – what are you doing here?’
‘I’ve got something important to tell you.’
Two minutes later we both sat on my bed.
‘I would have told Brock, and was planning to since he lives so much closer than you, but he wasn’t in and I have to tell somebody tonight.’
‘What about Tracey?’ I offered, still clinging desperately to the prospect of reasonable sleep.
‘Tracey lives even further away. By the time I got there it might be too late.’
‘Too late for what?’ I wasn’t sure if she’d told me or not. I was too tired to follow this conversation.
‘Too late to stop the wedding,’ she pressed on, starting to become agitated.
‘Whose wedding? What are you talking about, you dizzy broad?’
She punched me in the arm, but even that wasn’t enough to wake me up.
‘Ash, listen to me carefully. This morning I got on a train that took me from Saffron City into Sinnoh. It took me hours of asking around, but I found May.’
Now I was completely awake.
‘May’s in Sinnoh?’ I repeated.
‘Yes,’ she said urgently. ‘And she’s-’
‘Getting married,’ I said slowly, piecing it all together.
‘Getting married to Dante,’ Misty concluded gently.
‘I see,’ I said sagely, not really knowing why I was saying it. ‘You’re saying we have to go there and stop them?’
‘No,’ Misty said simply. ‘It was just too much information for me to keep to myself.’
She lay down and pulled the blanket over herself.
‘What are you doing?’ I demanded, getting up as she kicked me in the lower back.
‘Cerulean’s a couple of days walk from here,’ she said. ‘You surely can’t expect me to set out tonight.’
‘How did you get here?’
‘So I’m sleeping on the floor of my own bedroom on one of the three nights a year that I actually inhabit it?’ I said incredulously.
‘You can sleep in the bed if you like, Ash, but there’ll be nothing more than sleeping in here.’
‘Fine,’ I growled. ‘I’m not sleeping on the floor.’
She moved over and made just enough room for me to clamber in next to her.
‘Why don’t you just sleep on the floor?’ I grumbled.
‘Because I’m the guest. And a real gentleman wouldn’t make a lady sleep on the floor when there’s a perfectly good bed wanting.’
‘I don’t see any ladies around,’ I said, ducking a wayward punch as I switched off the light. ‘And besides, the bed wasn’t-’
‘Ash, just shut up and go to sleep.’
It sure is true what they say about red heads and tempers. If anything, Misty had become more aggressive since May left. She even rode a-
‘Where’s your bike?’ I demanded suddenly.
‘In the garage at the Gym. Why?’
‘Why didn’t you ride it here? Was all this just an elaborate scheme to get into my bed?’
‘Tickets,’ she sang, then rolled over and didn’t say anything more till morning.
To be continued... some time soon.