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Pokémon Forgiveness is a Shifting Wind: PokeSpe Lance/Yellow One Shots

The Greatest Gift

Nubushi

しぶい
Pronouns
she/her
Partners
  1. custom/slowpoke-hgss
Forgiveness is the shifting wind
That moves me back home.
-"Lucrece" by Ballydowse

In this thread, I will be posting my completed mangaverse Yellow/Lance one shots (two at the moment), as well as any others I may write in the future. The Greatest Gift explores how Yellow and Lance might begin to have a friendship with each other. A Hue Defiant and Brave explores the tension when one person is ready to forgive, and the other can't. Both are relationship-oriented and center around themes of forgiveness.

Information for The Greatest Gift below:

Summary: Yellow goes to see Lance on Christmas Eve. Little does she realize that she has already given him the greatest gift he could ask for. Friendshipping.

Author's Notes: This story was written in December 2019 for a Christmas story event on the forum The Artist's Zone; the prompt was that the story must be related to Christmas somehow. Originally, I was hoping to post this story here before Christmas--but although this is late for Christmas 2020, at least I made it in within the 12 days of Christmas (barely). Yellow as I envision her in this story would still have Christmas decorations up in her house during this time, and so would I.

The story happens about a year after the incident with Petrel impersonating Yellow in the HGSS arc. I am going off of the assumption that Yellow is 11 at the time of the Yellow story arc and Lance is about 6 years older, making her 18 and him about 24 in this story.

Genre: Friendship, holidays

Rating: G

Content warnings: none

Status: complete one shot

Anything, as long as it is kind, not harsh! I appreciate constructive criticism, but I'd also appreciate if you can point out at least one or two positive things. For The Greatest Gift, I was a little worried that the thematic associations with Christmas might be a little too preachy (or just plain wonky in the Pokemon world), so I'd like to know how that comes across. I tried to make it as vague and generic as possible, without effacing the reference entirely.


The Greatest Gift

It was no wonder she had never found the place before, Yellow thought as she walked through the forest, carefully reciting the way there in her mind.

"An early Christmas present," Blue had said with a wink when she told her the directions.

Overhead, the bare branches of the trees lining the paths stretched like hands reaching to each other, but not quite touching. The moon, almost full, shone between them, their shadows making filigree patterns in the thin layer of snow. It was rare for Viridian to see snow in December. Yellow liked the way that it seemed to deepen the peaceful quiet of the forest, creating a world in which everything was silent except the faint crunch of her boots in the snow. Even the thoughts of the wild pokemon who made the forest their home were quieter than usual, as many of them were curled up in their dens and burrows against the cold.

How long had it been, she wondered, since the battle at Cerise, when she had sent Lance plunging down from the sky with Pika's Megavolt? Seven years?

Musing on those thoughts, she came to a halt in front of a small cabin near the outskirts of the forest, the side farthest away from any town or route. Evergreens grew thick around it, partially screening it from view, but yellow light shined from the windows, and half-buried footprints in the snow showed it was after the snow started falling that its occupant had last returned.

Her breath made clouds in the air as she stood still, looking at the cabin, not sure which made her more nervous, the thought what if of what if it weren't really him, or the thought of what if it were. The quiet of the forest made her pulse seem loud in her ears.

Gathering her resolve, she took the last few steps forward to knock on the door.

A pause. The sound of footsteps.

The door opened, and she was looking up into Lance's eyes, which were yellow like molten gold, staring at her with unbroken intensity. Once they had been lit with rage. Now their intensity was something different, which she could not name.

For only the slightest fraction of a moment, when he first opened the door, those blazing eyes had widened ever so slightly, then narrowed again. He neither smiled nor spoke.

"Um, hi," she said awkwardly. She could not count how many times she had recited in her mind the thing that she had come to talk about. In all those times, it had never occurred to her to think of what she would say to greet him. "Merry Christmas Eve?"

He glanced skeptically at the sky behind her, as if the remaining gray tatters of snow clouds, the stars and moon shining through them, would tell him what date it was.

"What does that have to do with anything?" He asked, folding his arms.

His reaction at seeing her in his doorway was so deadpan that she wondered if he even recognized her. It had been seven years, after all, since Cerise, where only Blaine had seen her hat swept off to reveal her long, yellow hair. She had only been a child back then, and she wasn't even sure if Lance had ever even found out she was a girl.

"Um ... do you remember me?"

He looked back down at her and raised a single sculpted eyebrow in incredulity—and that, at least, was an expression she recognized. "It's a little hard to forget being hit with a million volts of electricity."

"Right," she said, looking down.

"Yellow, why are you here?" His tone wasn't friendly, but it wasn't overtly hostile, either.

She dug a little hole in the snow with the toe of her boot. "I ..." At least he hadn't turned her away yet, did not interrupt her while she tried to gather her thoughts. "I came because I wanted to apologize to you."

She ventured a glance at his face. Both his eyebrows had skyrocketed upwards in an expression of complete disbelief. "Why after all this time ... no, never mind. I think you'd better start with what you think you have to apologize for."

"Well, you see, like I said back then, I really don't like battling ... so whenever I battle other trainers, I always try to do whatever I can to make sure the pokemon don't get hurt. But I didn't ..." her eyes started to mist as she thought back to it, "I was so determined to do whatever it took to stop you that I didn't think about how to win without hurting you," she ended, her mind filled with images of the thick bolt of lightning falling from the sky, the silhouette of a man tumbling down through the air until his aerodactyl dove and caught him in its claws. Her voice lowered "And, I didn't go back to find out if you were okay. I thought about it, I wanted to, but I ..." Her body tensed up with the shame and the guilt of it, and she found herself blinking back tears, which even the slightest movement of December air brought brimming to her eyes.

It hadn't occurred to her right away. When she had first come to, tucked behind the horns of Red's gyarados, she had been so overcome with joy at being able to meet Red again that there was no room for anything else in her mind. But when that initial wave of joy had subsided a bit, as they neared the mainland, the memory returned unbidden. Lance, whose empathetic pain at the suffering of pokemon had made him lash out in rage like a tauros kicking at the goads. She hadn't wanted to hurt him, only to change his mind, but in the end, there had been no other way.

She had thought of going back, but she didn't know how. She didn't have pokemon that could surf, and she was doubtful of whether newly-evolved Kitty could carry her that far. And besides that, she had been swept up in the momentum of things—they had all stayed up late into the night together excitedly catching up—and then it had been late, and there had been no good opportunity to slip away, and even if she had, it would likely have been too dark to find him, or so she told herself. The lingering guilt which had kept her up that night, wondering, thinking she really should have gone, had never gone away.

The breeze picked up, and she shivered.

"Yellow, I think you'd better come in and sit down."

She looked up in surprise, her eyes growing round.

"I have something I want to tell you as well."

"I-is it r-really okay?" she asked, teeth chattering.

"I said so, didn't I?"

Without waiting for a reply, he turned, and she followed him inside.

He didn't serve her anything—not that she expected him to—but gestured to the table. When they were both seated, he took up the thread of the conversation where they had left off. "It's fine that you didn't come back that time. If you had, I would not have been grateful. But ..." his eyes went distant, recalling scenes from the past. "Bringing life back to the industrial zone ... that was you, wasn't it, channeling Lugia's powers that way?"

She nodded.

"It's ... well, I can't say I felt this way back then." He paused, and his eyes shifted away, looking into the distance, perhaps recalling his past self. "It's probably for the best you waited before coming." The corner of his mouth turned up in a smirk—and that expression, too, bore echoes of who he used to be. Then it had been cocky, full of confidence, but now it was a more subtle expression, as if he were sharing a joke with himself that he didn't expect an outsider to understand. "It took me a long time to come to think this way, but ... that was the best thing you could have done for me."

He brought his gaze back to her. His tone of voice was offhand, as if he hadn't just said something deeply personal, but she felt she could almost sense the hidden emotion somewhere in the back of his eyes, behind his reserve, half wariness and half challenge. And how will you react to this?

She wanted him to know that she would never, ever judge him or ridicule him, that to her he was no more her enemy now than any other person, but it was hard to know what to say. "It, um, just seemed the right thing to do," she said modestly. "And I wanted that, too, you know, for the pokemon's habitats to be restored. I also want this to be a world where pokemon can live at peace."

But even if you restore one habitat, humans will go on polluting and destroying others. They both knew this was true, but Lance did not say it, perhaps not wanting to shatter this rapprochement, which felt as tentative and fragile as the green sprout of a plant that had just broken through the soil after a long process of pushing itself up through the darkness.

Instead, she was the one who spoke again. "And I thought it would be nice if we could, too," she added quietly, looking up anxiously to see his reaction. "After all, it's Christmas Eve . . ."

"What does Christmas Eve has to do with it?" he asked abruptly. "You still haven't said."

"Oh. Well, I don't understand it very well myself," she said, scratching the back of her head, "but I met a trainer from Unova once who was explaining to me about the origin of Christmas, and it seems like it was based on some sort of legend that had something to do with everyone being able to be forgiven. So I thought it was a good opportunity." The story had been unfamiliar; her understanding was vague. But that it had something to do with wholeness, and healing, that much she remembered.

"Everyone?" he raised his eyebrow again. "Doesn't that seem a little naïve?"

"Everyone," she repeated firmly. She reached out across the table—but not to touch him, only to brush her fingers against the outermost edge of his sleeve. "Lance, you know, I ... well, it wouldn't be right to say 'forgave,' because from the beginning, I never held anything against you." She had felt, during their battle, how much of an agony it had been to Lance to live in this world where humans destroy the lives and homes of innocent pokemon. The moment she touched his dragonite to read its thoughts, she had understood all the rage and the resentment of pokemon that Lance had taken upon himself, to act upon those feelings in their place. That was the real reason why he had tried to eradicate humanity. She had lost count of how many times she had called out his name in that battle—all out of a desperate wish to make him understand how wrong his conclusion was.

"I know," he said.

She sat back again, a peaceful smile on her face.

In her mind, everything seemed to connect together, like an infinity loop that turns on itself but is still connected in an unbroken whole. Christmas. Forgiveness. And one other thing. She didn't say it because she didn't want to preach, especially since Lance had already come to understand himself, but her Unova friend also told her about that someone-or-something coming to be in this world even at its most painful—not to erase everything and start over with a clean slate, but to transform it from within, like Lugia had filling the industrial zone that had once been a barren, polluted wasteland with growing things.

Her thoughts shifted abruptly as she suddenly noticed how blank the walls were where she had been directing her gaze without really seeing them. "By the way," she said, sitting up and looking around the room, "Why is your house so dreary? You're supposed to decorate it and make it festive!"

He folded his arms again in indifference.

"What's there to be festive about?"

"All sorts of things!" she said. "For example, humans and pokemon are living together in peace and harmony. Thanks to your efforts, Team Rocket's plans to get a hold of mythical pokemon have repeatedly been stopped. And," she added, her voice softening, "You and I could finally meet and talk like this." She paused for a moment, then "I could bring some decorations tomorrow and decorate for you," she offered, her eyes gleaming enthusiasm.

"Christmas is over tomorrow. You'd just have to take them down again right away."

"It used to be, the celebration of Christmas started on the 25th, so people would put up their Christmas decorations on Christmas Eve and leave them up for a few weeks after that. It's only recently that people started to do the opposite." Her friend had told her a lot of things about Christmas, lamenting about how people in Kanto and Johto didn't understand anything about it, and somehow, it had been these silly details that stuck in Yellow's mind. "You haven't had any decorations up yet, so you could look at them for a few days longer, right? So, what if I came back on New Year's or sometime to take them down? A week's not too long, is it?"

Lance considered the idea. Despite the intervening years, being around Yellow still stirred up painful memories and emotions. It touched upon a raw spot within him, like something rubbing against newly-healed skin. The sensation was not quite painful, but too sensitive for comfort. On the other hand, he respected her greatly as a trainer and still more for her bond with her pokemon, which was on a level that no one else could even understand.

He closed his eyes briefly, weighing whether it was worth it.

Physically, the distance Yellow had come to visit him tonight was not far—but in reality, her taking that first step was like crossing over an immeasurable abyss. It didn't seem right to refuse to take one small step himself.

"New Year's sounds reasonable," he said experimentally.

He could have sworn that Yellow's eyes were sparkling more than the sparkliest Christmas tree star, ornament, or tinsel. "So I can come?" she asked eagerly.

"All right ... but you have to come back to take them down again, got it?"

Early the next morning, she came as she promised. In a white wool coat, with her golden hair shining in the sunlight, she looked like an angel of peace on a mission to fill his barren house with greenery. Her eyes were full of joy and her arms full of evergreen boughs and flowers, red and white, whose names he did not know.

Like a birth, that day was only the beginning.
 
Last edited:
A Hue Defiant and Brave

Nubushi

しぶい
Pronouns
she/her
Partners
  1. custom/slowpoke-hgss
Summary: The man who tried to wipe out humanity. The woman who almost killed him trying to stop him. They circled around each other like gossamer-winged butterfrees, forever circling, unable to touch. Mangaverse. One-sided Yellow/Lance.

Please note this one-shot is completely unrelated to the previous one (except in that it is a different exploration of the same two characters, and how they might relate to each other later in life, after the events of the manga).

Author's Notes: Written for the WA (Writers Anonymous forum on FFN) Flower Challenge. The challenge was that each entrant was randomly assigned a flower, and had to write a story centered around that flower's meaning. My prompt was narcissus (daffodil), meaning egotism and unrequited love. The variety that Yellow plants in her garden is wild daffodil / Lent lily (in Japanese, "trumpet daffodil"), which according to the Japanese hananokotoba website is the one specifically associated with unrequited love.

Title is an oblique reference to a line from the George Herbert poem "Virtue": "Sweet rose, whose hue angry and brave / Bids the rash gazer wipe his eye; / Thy root is ever in its grave, / And thou must die." I modified it a bit to suit the flower and the story.

Genre: friendship/romance, angst/drama

Status: complete

Rating: PG

character death

Anything, as long as it is kind, not harsh! I appreciate constructive criticism, but I'd also appreciate if you can point out at least one or two positive things.

A Hue Defiant and Brave

It was the sort of blustery March day that dragons liked to sport in, the kind with overcast skies that made even the bricks of Celadon look dull. Yellow pulled her jacket collar up against the wind, casting a doubtful eyes at the pewter clouds—unable to keep herself from looking. Windy days meant dragons. And thoughts of the dragon master, whom she had sent plummeting down from the skies and left for dead, followed on that thought with the inevitability of spring following winter. News of him was something she caught in little glimmers from Silver and Gold, but in the ten years since then, she had never seen him.

She couldn't stop wondering. What was he doing now? Had he really changed his mind about pokemon and humans, or was it just the resignation of defeat? Now that they were no longer fighting on opposite sides, could they talk to each other, not as enemies, but just as two human beings?

She pushed these thoughts aside with a shake of her head, lengthening her stride to hurry to her lecture class—and it was then that she saw it. A small figure on a dragon in the distance, riding an air current down in an expert curve. Her heart thumped rapidly in her chest. Startled, she wondered if she was mistaken, but broke into a trot in the direction of the place the dragon had looked like it was headed.

She didn't have to go all the way to the outskirts where the dragon had landed to find him; by the time she had reached that side of town, he had already reached the bustling streets of Celadon.

But she almost didn't recognize him.

His outfit was so nondescript, like what any other young professional would wear, his hairstyle—cut shorter and dyed black—that she almost lost him in the crowd of other working men and women filling the gray city street.

That it seemed like he didn't want to be recognized might have been more than just Yellow overthinking things.

"Lance?"

She called out half in disbelief, heart beating rapidly with the unexpectedness of it. After the battle at Cerise, she had never, really, been able to stop wondering about him.

What did a man do with himself who had tried to wipe out the human race and failed?

At the sound of her voice, he turned to look at her over his shoulder, and then there was no doubt anymore. No one else had eyes like that. Eyes like a dragon's, molten gold.

He didn't reply but stopped to wait. Yellow hurried to close the distance, weaving around office workers returning from lunch break, panting when she reached him.

"I never expected I'd see you here," she said, flushed. "How have you been doing? . . . What have you been doing?"

Wordlessly he reached inside his jacket pocket, opening a slim case and showing her its contents.

Yellow gaped in amazement, unable to manage more than a surprised "Oh!"

"I thought it would be a good way to do something to prevent some of the worse abuses that humans are committing," he said, breaking his silence at last. He looked at her a little askance, not welcoming, but not hostile, either, waiting for her reaction. Slipping his badge back into his jacket, he asked, "So what are you doing?"

"I haven't quite finished my schooling yet," she said, "but I'm studying to be a teacher. I, uh . . .thought it would be a good way to raise young people to treat pokemon with love and respect," she added, conscious of the way her words mirrored his.

He nodded, expression unchanged. "That doesn't surprise me." An expression slipped across his face that was less a smile than the shadow of something that died before it was born, and she noticed the darkness under his eyes that hadn't been there before.

"I'm really glad we could finally meet again," she said. "I mean, not as enemies." He grimaced a little, but her eyes saw it without its significance entering her mind. "I heard a little bit about you from my friends, but I always thought it would be nice if we could just talk together normally sometime . . . actually," she added sheepishly, "I have a class I have to go to now, but it would be nice if we could get together sometime. You know, catch up?"

There had not been any answering enthusiasm in his face as she talked; by the end, she had started to feel a little bit desperate, sensing she was flinging herself forward in a hopeless endeavor.

He cocked an eyebrow skeptically, an expression that looked like he thought her a little strange. Hesitated a little longer than was comfortable, his eyes boring into hers. But to her surprise, "If you want to," he said.

Sliding into her seat in class, she couldn't keep herself from pulling out her pokegear one more time, looking at the new number registered there.

After class was over, she sent him a lengthy text. It was a surprise, but it had been really nice to see him. She had heard about the way he helped out her friends, and she hoped they could be friends now. It would be nice if they could meet sometime.

His reply was simple: "When do you want to meet?"

He was busy with work. She was busy with university. But somehow, around the time the cherries were blooming, they found a time that worked—and then again, until before she knew it, it had turned into a rhythm. It never seemed to become more frequently than once per month—but somehow, Lance never missed a month, either, and so spring and summer passed away.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~​

That fall, they met in a newly-opened café that served pokemon as well as their trainers, one of several of the sort cropping up throughout Kanto.

Stroking the satin fur of Chuchu, who had promptly curled up in her lap upon arrival, she watched in curiosity as Lance removed a pokeball from his belt and pushed the release button. Light coalesced into flame, and then into swirls of the orange and black fur of a canine standing a meter high at the shoulder. The arcanine gave a joyous bark and showed signs of wanting to jump, but Lance curbed him with a stern, "No, sit."

The arcanine sat, its plumed tail furiously sweeping the floor, looking at Lance in fawning adoration.

"Good boy." He took the next few moments to bury his hands in his arcanine's ruff, scratching its neck and down its back, then straightened, turning his gaze back to Yellow.

Yellow had propped her chin in her hand as she watched Lance interacting with his arcanine. She liked seeing this side of him. Long ago, she had come to an important realization about him, which this reminded her of. Back when she had still been in love with Red, she had admired him for his care for pokemon, the rapport he had with him, the way he had freed her heart from fear and opened her to the limitless possibilities of what humans and pokemon could achieve together. But one day—she didn't know how—it had occurred to her. As much as Red loved pokemon, as much as he cared about them like his own family, he was still pursuing goals that were, in the end, his own. There was only one person who had devoted his whole life to working, not towards his own goals, but for pokemon and for what was best for them.

Lance.

As misguided as she had believed him to be, he had given his whole life as a sacrifice for what he believed to be the best for the creatures that humans shared this world with. Once she saw that, the difference was like learning that the earth revolved around the sun, not the sun around the earth. It changed everything.

Once she realized that, she could never settle for Red—and that was why, when the other trainer at last worked through his own ignorance (realizing that Yellow was a girl) and denseness (realizing that she was important to him) and awkwardness (asking her out on a date), she couldn't do anything but smile, and shake her head, and say no in as gentle a way as she knew how.

"You got him through your work?" she asked.

He nodded an affirmative. "I always wanted one, though." His smile was slight, controlled—and that was how he always was these days, seeming unable to express things like joy or triumph freely, as if the source of them within him had shattered—but the warmth of it touched his eyes, and that was rare.

They talked about their jobs, mostly. Lance's references to what he did were guarded and careful, but even the things that he was able to disclose gave her glimpses into a world of darkness. Abuse. Abandonment. Pokemon mills churning out creatures that should have been cherished companions en masse like commodities, in conditions barely above, or sometimes actual, neglect. Pokemon's minds being twisted to serve the corruption of their human masters. Pokemon who were tortured in experiments.

She forced herself to put on a smile over the ache that it always gave her, listening to Lance's stories of crime. And when it was her turn to share about her student teaching, she made her tone sunny, chattering about the boy who always pronounced the name of his famous species as "charmamber," the girl who wanted to live on a farm and own one of every species native to Kanto, which she was convinced she would keep out of their balls all the time, never minding what her parents told her about the cost of food.

"She says she'll marry a rich heir and the two of them will live happily ever after together with their hundred and fifty pokemon."

"Well, that's what girls typically want, isn't it? To get married and start a family?" he asked, amused.

"I guess so." She shrugged. "I never . . . well, I can say that I never wanted to get married just for the sake of being married. There has to be someone special enough that I want to marry him, first."

"Don't you have someone like that, though? Red, wasn't it?"

She smiled and shook her head. "Didn't you hear? He and Misty got married last year."

"Oh?"

"They're expecting, too." Her eyes went a little distant, but it was with an easy acceptance that she added, "I'm happy for them."

"Well, I guess I should be grateful—if you start seeing someone, we probably won't be able to meet together like this anymore."

She looked up at him, trying to sense what he meant by it. Was he trying to suggest that he enjoyed being around her? Could it be an opportunity for them to meet together more? But his face was too neutral; she couldn't tell.

"And here I thought that you were just humoring my selfish request, meeting together like this," she said with a laugh.

There was something in his eyes that was almost a softening, but then his mouth compressed, one corner twitching back slightly. He looked down into his coffee dregs."It's . . . very important to me." Only looking back on the conversation later, in hindsight, would Yellow notice the difficulty with which he pronounced the words, the strain in his face. "Being able to hear what you are doing lets me see the brighter side of things, that there are still pure-hearted people out there. It helps balance things out."

Her heart leaped. "Then why don't we meet together more often?" she asked eagerly. "If you want to . . ."

"I don't." She looked up at him wide-eyed, startled at the abruptness of it.

"But you said . . ."

"Yellow," he said with a voice of rigid control, "Just being around you this much is all that I can bear."

"But why?" she asked, tears starting to form in her eyes.

Because I remember what I did to you." His voice was grating, harsh. Lance looked up to meet her eyes, his eyes blazing yellow and full of intensity—but one that was hard and alien, completely closed to her. There was a sudden hush in the restaurant; faces turned, and then were averted again just as swiftly.

The tears were streaming down her face now as she stared at him in shock, unable to reply.

She remembered it, too: the moment in the heart of the volcano of Cerise, when his dragons had attacked her with the intent to kill, when a ring of flames bloomed around her like a long-petaled flower. Even then, in the searing agony of that heat, there had been a space in the very center, where she stood, where there was no flame. At the center of the ring, she was buffeted by heat, but she herself was untouched by the flames.

She had understood as clearly as she knew her own name that even believing that he wanted to kill her, that he was going to end her life there, he simply could not bring himself to do it.

Like a shaft of light piercing through clouds, she had understood the tender and pure-heartedness which were buried there beneath his rage—a rage which was like flames dancing on the surface of water, a lashing out in pain.

Why couldn't he see that himself? Why couldn't he acknowledge his own goodness?

Why couldn't he accept her forgiveness?

That he couldn't was an agony more intense than the blast of fire had been.

"I'm sorry," he said quietly. His face as grim as she had ever seen it, he stood. He turned to go, but not before leaving a payment on the table for both of them—so like him, to show consideration even in a time like this. Yellow bent her head to bury her tear-streaked face in her arms.

She was sure, afterwards, that she had ruined everything. She had pushed him too hard, towards an emotional release he wasn't yet capable of. And after a scene like that, was there any reason to think he would want to see her again? There was only a too-short exchange of texts ("I'm sorry." "You don't need to apologize.") and then an interminable wasteland of anxious waiting. Days, whether studying or gardening or fishing, when she could never wholly focus on the task at hand, nights when she tossed restlessly, full of guilt despite what he said.

But eventually, even these feelings faded, their jaggedness blurred by time like stones in a creek. Or maybe they were not so much smoothed over as covered over, too deep under the flow to be easily perceived. She had student teaching, a career and a future to think of. She started thinking of the day she could buy a place of her own, dreamed of a small house with a garden; wondered what kind of flowers she would plant.

She had almost given up on Lance when his phone call came again.

"Do you still want to meet again?"

The question was abrupt, but the tone uncertain, more deferential than she had ever heard him. Yellow thought of Lance, standing on the knife's edge of pain, staying in the heat of it as long as he could bear, swallowed her own, and accepted.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~​

The planet circled around the sun. Yellow and Lance circled around each other like gossamer-winged butterfrees, forever circling, unable to touch. Sometimes, she felt more like she was pouring her feelings into a bottomless abyss like the ocean waters rushing into a gaping, rocky hole, or like the planet hurtling through space and time towards its eventual destruction.

She got a job, bought a house. Students grew up and left her class, and new students came to replace them. She started wearing her hair up. It was less of a bother this way, and who was there to care, anyways?

In her new garden, she planted wild daffodils. Pushing the dark soil over the bulbs with her hands, Lance's face floated before her mind. She saw him in everything, everything made her think of him, but there was something about these flowers in particular that reminded her of Lance—the way the dark yellow petals of the central trumpet thrust out fiercely, defiantly. Lance had been like that, once. Pushing forward with an energy so enormous it was terrifying, fighting for what he believed justice was even if the entire world disagreed with him. Now, he was fighting on the same side as the establishment, of the same society that had condemned him before. There was something about it that was unlike him, and she wasn't sure whether to be happy for him or sad.

She sighed, brushing the dirt from her pants as she rose.

The next spring, and for all the springs that followed that, she would think of him every time she looked at the daffodils in her garden.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~​

By the time she had started to lose count of how many times they had bloomed, the pain that once seared like a burn had subsided to a dull, continual throb. She wasn't happy, but there was an almost-comfortable familiarity to it, knowing now that this was what her life was.

By the time another decade had passed, she had reached a state of quiet resignation. She had learned not to push for more of Lance than she could have—had come to realize that he was not hers to have, anyways, and he was not capable of doing any more than what he was.

Through it all, they still met.

As Lance's salary rose, the class of the restaurants they met in every month changed, too. One October, pursued by a breeze full of five-fingered little red leaves like dying flames, they met in a place that was dimmer, quieter, talked over scallops and wine, neither of them really caring anymore what people thought their relationship might be.

The gentle lighting was not enough to hide the lines becoming apparent on Lance's face, as they would appear on Yellow's soon enough, she supposed. But although they were mostly lines of care, his eyes were softened by the lines forming in their corners (that faint smile of his that touched his eyes but not his mouth) as he listened to Yellow's stories about her schoolchildren. It was a smile that had both become softer and more transparent over the years. There was a warmth in his eyes that was more than a mere illusion caused by the dim incandescence of the room.

As time passed, she had come to understand what these meetings meant to Lance. Working in secret to arrest criminals who abused pokemon or used them for fraudulent ends, Lance was always looking into the darkness of human nature. Even in Yellow's work, there were children who were troubled, but overall, she was always surrounded by and gazing at hope, promise, the inherent goodness of people. It was like the two of them were standing back to back on the moon at the border between night and day, Lance staring into an abyss of endless night, Yellow gazing out at a never-ending dawn. It was the warmth of Yellow standing at his back, the reminder of brighter things, that allowed him to keep his ceaseless vigil.

She no longer asked Lance why they couldn't spend more time together. She had never said it directly, but Lance knew something of her yearning for him, knew she wished to be together more. But they had reached a stage where it wasn't necessary to say these things. They both knew what the other person wanted to say, and what their answer would be.

She closed her eyes briefly, turning the problem of Lance's pain over in her mind for the thousandth time, searching within for an answer.

"Lance," she said, but it was not her old question that she returned to. "Isn't it time you forgave yourself?"

But his mouth hardened and his eyes grew cold.

She had gained enough skill at swallowing her sorrow that she could hear his reply dry-eyed this time. Sighing quietly, she accepted the pain—after all, it was the same dull ache that was with her always.

By the time she reached home, the breeze had picked up and become a chill wind, trying to tease her hair out of its confinement.

But the tears it brought to her eyes were not entirely the wind's fault. Before unlocking her door, she let her gaze rest on the barren flowerbeds where the daffodils grew.

"Pride," she whispered, bitterness bringing the words to her lips.

But somehow, despite it all, they still kept meeting. The moon circled the earth in eternal chastity. Summer was followed by autumn, and then by winter. The daffodils bloomed and died again a score of springs and more.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~​

The news came just when it was time for them to burst into silent proclamation once again.

Numb with shock, she dressed in black, stood in line with the others. The chanting, the smell of the incense she offered in turn, the photograph on display—larger than life, of Lance at a time when he was young, before he even dyed his hair black, when everything about him was like a flame, fierce, cocky, full of life—were incomprehensible to her, a strange dream from which she must surely awaken.

Feeling it was not enough time to say goodbye, she visited his grave alone, taking time to walk through Viridian, looking around her at the tentative unfurlings of green, letting the smells of the forest seep into her. He had left a will insisting on being buried in his birthplace, it seemed—and there was something about that that reminded her of the old Lance, stubbornly following his own path whatever others thought.

Her feet came to a halt when she reached the gravesite. Yet again, and after everything, she could not understand how a man so full of passion could be reduced to ash, how he could lie within the cold stone. It was in a small clearing, with no trees nearby. The ground was still hard, the grass brown. It seemed too cruel.

Pushing the bitterness down within her, as she had done so many times, she placed the palms of her hands together and closed her eyes.

She didn't know how much time she spent there praying, but her head snapped up when a keen, piercing cry like that of a bird of prey pierced the air. An enormous white bird, shining with light, circled the air above.

For a moment, the whole clearing was filled with a luminous glow, and there was green shooting up from the ground, grass growing like ripples spreading in water, with Lance's gravestone at the center. And then there were stalks and leaves thrusting up like spears—and then they bloomed into yellow trumpets, each surrounded by a ring of outer petals like a halo.

Something in her heart that had been frozen thawed, and she found a smile on her face for the first time since that day.

"Thank you, Lugia," she said.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~​

Ten years later, she still visited him, a figure making its solitary way through Viridian Forest. Though her hair was beginning to silver, her back was straight and her steps, though slower than before, hale and sure. She followed the forest paths with the assurance of long familiarity.

Reaching her destination, Yellow looked over the field of yellow flowers surrounding the solitary grave. Always before, she had thought of the daffodils as being like Lance with their bellicose pride, the defiance with which their leaves sliced up through the cold ground of spring.

But it was also a little, she thought, like surrounding him with herself: with her color, with her life. It was what she had always been yearning for, she realized—to surround him more with herself, as if she could heal his brokenness as simply as holding a broken-winged pidgey in her hands.

The bitterness of regret at not being together more had been with her for so long. It was like a salt ocean inside her, ebbing and flowing but never silent. Now it lay quietly, like a still sea at low tide, little waves brushing against her like the fingers of a child.

But now, despite everything, despite all his protestations, she was with him always, a yellow field of wild daffodils embracing the grave where he lay.

She smiled at the thought, found that she felt Lance would understand, now, that it was all right to be forgiven, that he wouldn't mind the closeness.

An old woman now, she had passed through the phase of not needing to say things because they could be understood without words. Now she could say anything she wanted without fear. She smiled again, brushing a lock of hair, silver mixed with gold, from her face.

"I still love you, Lance. I always will."
 
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