Connor, Gaspard, Eleanor, Peeves, Jessica, Sewaddle, Blueberry, Waffle, Gadget:
Jessica was startled out of her trance by a voice calling her name, and she twisted to see a familiar boy holding an Aipom in his arms, as well as his Petilil, who was bowing politely. Despite her preoccupations and qualms, the girl made sure to mind her Ps and Qs, stretching a thin smile.
"Ah... Connor, was it? And Eleanor? Sure, feel free to join us. Have a seat. Who's this little guy?"
She asked as she handed another plate to Aipom after his two comrades. She paused when Connor questioned as to Keith's whereabouts, glancing nervously at Peeves and... Wait, where was Meowth? He had disappeared too without notice – perhaps to go stop her Pokémon from peeking. She shrugged, deciding to leave the bodyguard duty up to him, since she didn't want to accidentally stumble upon the secret meeting and interrupt whatever was going on between Keith and Minerva herself. While she still wasn't sure how to feel about the whole affair, she consented to take Peeves's cue to keep quiet and not fill Connor in on the details. Yet the young man appeared to have an astonishingly apt sixth sense about these things, as he explained the strange dream he just had. Jessica shivered, shifting uncomfortably. For such a beautiful day befitting the park’s grand opening, the surrounding atmosphere had soured so soon. No, that wasn’t right. The sense she was experiencing wasn’t exactly harsh or unpleasant. Bitter, more like. And perhaps, still a little bit sweet.
Peeves could perceive what she was thinking, and was quick to try and reassure her. She softened in understanding, admiring his loyal efforts to defend his trainer. In truth, she personally wasn’t much bothered by the fact he fancied a Banette, who, as Peeves explained to her half-surprise, had once been in a human in life. (Marion had never made mention of that detail to her. But the fact Minerva already acted and could appear as a human, Jessica reasoned, was more than enough evidence to justify the possibility of either of them developing feelings for the other.) Nor did this change her view of Keith as a whole. Rather, she was worried for him. From what she had heard, Minerva abhorred Keith. At least enough so to try and kill him – or so she thought. (She couldn’t have known the attack was meant to fail, that Minerva was simply “teasing”, so to speak.) What possible outcome could he hope for from confessing his love for someone who tried to stab him once with a needle? Jessica held her head, shaking it slowly. She would never understand love.
And she was worried – for both of them – of the ramifications such a successful relationship could have. Even if the two were able to accept and support each other in whatever strange way they could, what would the rest of the world think? Even if they were happy and not hurting anyone… Others would surely want to hurt them. She wasn’t sure she could stand to see people – her friends – persecuted for their decision to pursue their desires (no, maybe it wasn’t a choice), though in effect that meant she was the one being selfish and weak. Did she think she’d be able to help them by denying hope? Or was she only saving herself from despair? She struggled with this internal conflict, hating how she had once again somehow managed to make this all about herself. This was their situation, their sorrow to deal with. Why should she share in it? She wasn’t even closely related to Keith or Minerva, having known the former from only a few battles and merely met the latter due to the extenuating circumstances of her “sister’s” hospitalization. Still, the chill of Miss Coselle’s shake that time in the Cable Club, and her too-wide smile, stitched tight to hide and hold in so much strength and sadness it seemed like she would burst at the seams someday, lingered in Jessica’s memory...
Speak of the devil. Abruptly, the Rotom Jess had traded to Miss Coselle came racing up again, zooming in energized circles around the group before finally coming to a stop before his brother. Upon seeing the lawnmower’s return approach, Blueberry had quickly expanded herself to cover the food again, and now glared vigilantly between Gadget and Waffle. Waffle waved his hands nervously as he tried to explain how angry she was about Gadget’s reckless behavior earlier, which nearly ruined her beautiful masterpieces. Besides that, he was doing well. Jessica was going to help him and Blueberry start up a bakery, but they needed to make some more money first. These were their first test samples, which they were considering bringing to the Fizzytopian’s farmers’ market and/or host a small bake sale in order to secure funds. Waffle wanted to invite Gadget to try some, but he needed to apologize before Blueberry would let him…
Meanwhile, Jessica chuckled, glad for the interruption as she put aside her self-contempt for the moment. Though she couldn’t understand the Rotom’s revs and other loud engine noises, she grinned cheerfully at his greeting and looked to Waffle for translation. He quickly spelled out “G A D G E T” in static letters, and she nodded. “Hi there. I hear your name is Gadget now? How’s life with Miss Coselle? I’m sure you must miss not being able to see Marion, but I can assure you she’s a very nice lady. You’ll love traveling with her when she gets better.”
Just then, Sewaddle showed up carrying new clothes for all the arrivals. It was clear her sewing speed and style were steadily improving. To Gaspard, she gave a golden scarf, and Eleanor earned a matching shawl. For Connor, a crown. Finally, she garbed Gadget in a garland similar to Jessica’s, sidling straight up his sides to slip it over his handle without fear of his fangs. Jessica watched nervously, wondering how the Cut Rotom would react to a leafy caterpillar crawling so close to his mouth (which he would probably see as a more tasty course than even the salads laid out), ready to reach out and pluck her away for protection if necessary.
Meowth, Minchi, Kanna, Kief:
“Whoa, hold up, guys! I mean, halt!”
Minchi stretched out her arm to stop Kanna and Kief from moving forward as the bushes before them began to rustle. Kanna panicked and hid behind her, whimpering it must be a hedge monster, while Kief tried to poke his head curiously over Minchi’s paw to see what was happening. They waited with bated breath, as Minchi readied her TAIL to WHIP whatever burst out…
Minchi lifted her tail to see Meowth rubbing his bruised forehead. “Aiieee! It’s a cat demon!” she screamed, smacking him again even harder.
"Now wait just a minute!" he exclaimed, but she only continued to slap him silly.
“M-Minchi, I think that’s enough… Look, it’s that Meowth from earlier. Please stop hurting him,” Kanna whispered fretfully, wincing each time Minchi’s tail contacted Meowth’s bones.
“Oh. So it is. Sorry about that.” Minchi ceased her strikes and straightened primly, her saccharine smile not looking very sincere at all.
After many groans and moans, the Meowth managed to wobble to his feet and glowered at the group. "Dat's my trainer's privacy youse is tinkin' of intrudin' on! Now why don't youse..." He shook his head, eyes slowly regaining their gleam. "...Just turn around, go back over to da picnic, and forget ya heard anyting about dis?"
“Hm… How about no?”
“Come on, Minchi, you heard him. It’s not right to intrude on others’ privacy, we should head back…”
Minchi put on her best pouty face with FAKE TEARS, and when she saw that wouldn’t work, was about to switch on the charm when she noticed the cat’s eyes were almost glowing. “Oh no you do~on’t!” she cried as she suddenly swung around and leaped on Kanna’s back. The Furret freaked out, afraid she was being used as a shield. She couldn’t believe her best friend would betray her like this.
“Wah- wah! What are you doing?”
“Relax, just listen to my instructions!” Minchi closed her eyes while leaning down to cover Kanna’s own, which only caused the poor creature more alarm. “Don’t look! He’s trying to use HYPNOSIS! Come on, Kief, get up here too! Hurry! Whatever you do, don’t make eye contact with Meowth!”
Kief was confused, but a piggyback ride sure sounded like fun. He hopped up after Minchi, his weight making Kanna blush and bristle. Minchi giggled. Had her eyes been open, they would have rolled.
“All right, Kanna, we’re getting out of here! Activate your Ability to Run Away!”
“What? No, I can’t do that!”
“You can! Come on, just charge forward! Let’s lose this silly kitty!”
Kanna took a deep breath, and barreled ahead, bumping straight into Meowth and knocking him over due to her blindness. “E-excuse me! I’m sorry!” she squeaked as she rushed by, which she repeated every time she crashed into the roses. Once Minchi was sure Meowth was far behind them, she removed her paws from Kanna’s lids.
“There, that wasn’t so bad was it? I knew you had it in you!”
Kanna sniffled as Minchi and Kief slid off her back. Minchi patted her panting pal, congratulating her earnestly.
“That was seriously so cool! You go, girlfriend! No cat in the world can catch you.”
Kanna smiled weakly, knowing Minchi meant well, and that this had also been an attempt to help bolster her confidence. Kief licked her face in thanks as well, and she flushed deeply.
Just then, the three heard voices – human – coming from nearby.
"It's not illegal. Not for us. See, several months ago, after I got an official government warning for helping aspiring trainers with their registration tests- never knew that wasn't allowed- I kinda got freaked out and started reading up on Fizzytopian law, just to be on the safe side. And the laws against human/Pokémon relationships... They allow for an exception, but under very specific circumstances. The Pokémon involved has to have formerly been an adult human, and must retain their human memories... Obviously, that applies to you. And... And the human involved... At least a portion of their DNA... Must be Pokémon DNA."
The trio froze, falling silent, and tiptoed over to the wall. On Minchi’s motion, Kief parted the vines with his nose, and rather than taking turns they all crowded together to peer through the hole. Even Kanna couldn’t resist her curiosity after hearing all that. Through the opening, they found a young man and woman facing each other. The male had his eyes shut and seemed to be concentrating hard. All of a sudden, smoke began to rise from his limbs. Kanna gasped and clasped her paws over her mouth, while Minchi’s eyes widened with amazement and glee. O. M. G. What a scoop! She hurriedly reached for the camera she had stolen from a sleeping boy’s bag earlier and focused the frame, making sure to get all of the gas within the shot. Click. Ka-ching.