Pokémon: Atonement

Pokémon: Atonement

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[Private] People find meaning and redemption in the most unusual human connections.

2,326 readers have visited Pokémon: Atonement since Nemeseia created it.
Aethyia are listed as curators, giving them final say over any conflict & the ability to clean up mistakes.

Copyright: The creator of this roleplay has attributed some or all of its content to the following sources:

http://www.pokemon.com/us/

Introduction



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Just because someone stumbles and loses their way
....doesn't mean that they are lost forever.

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Beneath every idyll, there is an ugly truth.

For a long time, the world itself seemed to be in a state of harmony. People and pokémon worked together, coexisting peacefully in any number of ways, from simple companionship to sharing natural resources, to forming close partnerships for things like competitive battling or the cooperative artistry of pokémon contests. Children were often sent out into the world with their first pokémon around age eleven, for a journey of friendship and self-discovery, with pokémon centers set up in every town to serve as free lodging and medical care along the way. Occasionally, there were those who sought to disturb the peace, to rupture the careful balance of the system, but in the end, none of them lasted. The original Team Rocket, Team Magma, Team Galactic, and so on were all eventually defeated, and the threat they represented to harmony quelled accordingly.

But for Stefan Gregorovich, once a lowly Team Rocket grunt, there were cracks in the idyll's foundation. Working for the criminal organization in his youth had exposed him to the ugly truth beneath it. It pervaded every corner of the relationship between people and the natural world around them, including the pokémon. Young children were sent out into the world with little monitoring, and many of them fell prey to danger along the way. More still, many of them had never been taught how to properly care for another creature, and as a result, the idyll of friendship and cooperation was often a gloss over cases of abuse, abandonment, and neglect. Competitive battling was like any other sport with enough economic heft and little oversight: one that exploited its largely-voiceless athletes, and often their trainers as well, for the benefit of for-profit organizations that held massive tournaments and other televised events. The contest world was little better.

The demand for more and 'better' pokémon led to a broken breeding system, where pokémon were forced into mill-like conditions, the 'inferior' specimens often disposed of and the others sold for sky-high prices, such that many areas of human-pokémon interaction came to be dominated by the rich, whether or not they were aware of what was being done to make that possible. These deregulated conditions were perfect for those making a killing on such business, and all of it meshed together in the form of a system that was as impossible to fight against as it was to break into from the bottom.

Seizing the name and legacy of one of the oldest anti-system organizations, Gregorovich rebranded Team Rocket as the revolution: an organization dedicated to doing what the justice system would not and could not: breaking apart the net of control imposed upon both people and pokémon by the corruption inherent in the idyll.

It wasn't easy, but it was fast. Somehow, within a decade of its inception, Neo Team Rocket was the most powerful international organization in the world, with connections to every major regional government, nowhere moreso than in Kanto, where they base most of their operations. Under their influence, the legal age for the start of a pokémon journey was recently raised to seventeen, the legal age of majority. So, too, are people required to apply for licenses for any activity that involves pokémon, with varying levels of strict vetting and continued oversight.

The circumstances of this mysterious rise to power were veiled from public view, and there are those who are deeply suspicious that Neo Team Rocket has not shed its criminal origins as completely as they present themselves. These people are, of course, completely right. Gregorovich never intended it any other way. What is in place now is a new idyll, with a new ugly truth. And yet, the average person, even the average team member, has no idea what that ugly truth is.

And he will do everything in his considerable power to protect it indefinitely.

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Private Roleplay between Nemeseia and Aethyia


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The Story So Far... Write a Post » as written by 2 authors

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Eryk Nero Character Portrait: Kasimir Rheinallt Character Portrait: Anastasia Asher Character Portrait: Rocket Files Character Portrait: Aidan Klein Character Portrait: Nevena Solomon

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#, as written by Aethyia


November 10th
Cinnabar Pier - Noon - Light Rain
Anastasia Asher


Unsurprisingly for the time of year, it was raining on Cinnabar Island on this particular day. This was a bit unfortunate, since everyone had come out to the harbor to see Mel off on the next stage of her journey, but aside from the drops of water spitting into their faces, most everyone seemed to be in high spirits as the boat pulled up to the pier and the passengers began to disembark.

Ana pushed her pink fringe back underneath the confines of her black hood, blinking to clear her vision. Like her, Mel was wearing a hood, though hers was of the ran-slicker variety, a mint-green one that reached halfway down to her knees past her hips. Her bag was waterproof as well, so she seemed quite set for what would no doubt be a very damp ferry ride. Kasimir was there, too, of course, checking to make sure she had absolutely everything and shoving a small bag of what seemed to be snacks into her hands, 'for the trip.'

Ana smiled, glancing up at the quiet man next to her. "He's such a brother sometimes, isn't he?"

Eryk hummed a soft reply, nodding his head in unison as he glanced in Kasimir and Mel's direction. “Understandable all things considered," he murmured softly, his eyes narrowing somewhat, but not in irritation. It seemed almost melancholy, and at the same time, there was what seemed to be a hint of fondness behind his expression. He'd been like that, lately, a little more expressive. He was either unaware of it, or just hadn't seemed to bother to hide it.

“It might be some time before he sees her again," he added, glancing down in Ana's direction. “They at least have the option to call each other," he continued before turning his attention back towards the others. He hadn't bothered to wear a rain coat. Instead, he stood with a plain umbrella that he held over the both of them. It seemed easy considering he was at least a foot taller than Ana.

“Don't forget, you have my number so call me once you beat the next gym Leader. Oh, and update me where you are, then, so I can send you a congratulatory gift!" Drake stated. He had the sense to wear an over sized rain coat, one of those bright yellow ones that crossing guards would wear. If he lacked in other varieties, he'd never told Ana about it. He didn't seem to mind, though, since he was smiling in that goofy kind of way towards Mel.

Mel rolled her eyes, and Ana laughed softly. The expression on her face was soft, too, gently exasperated but also, she thought, maybe a little happy. That made sense—it was sort of... nice, to have people worry about you. Be cheering for your success.

"Thanks, mom," she drawled, but her eyes glittered with mirth, and a moment later her voice softened to match her smile. "No gifts necessary, but I promise to keep you updated. And yeah, Mirmir, you too, I know."

"I didn't say anything."

"Yeah, but you were thinking it."

“No gifts? So does that mean I can't send you a congratulatory card?" Nev stated as she appeared, huffing lightly as if she were out of breath. “Sorry I'm a little late?" she didn't seem too sure, “but I couldn't find my umbrella. Fluffy had it in his little tent for some reason." She huffed in an amused manner before she smiled at Mel.

“And Mama Drake is just worried that you'll be too excited to call him," she added, earning a light glare from Drake.

“I am not that bad... am I?" he asked, pouting slightly. Eryk rolled his eyes softly, but made no effort to comment.

Aidan ambled up behind Nev much more calmly, wearing a sleek black trenchcoat that staved off the rain but left his head bare. His hair was damp already, a little less spiky than usual, but if he cared he gave no sign of it.

Mel grinned. "I won't be," she assured Drake. "And I'm glad you want me to call. We can discuss cards when we get there." Her eyes narrowed with the force of her smile before she turned to the group more generally. "Anyway, boat's leaving soon, so. Hugs, handshakes or something else? Better pick because I'm coming down the line!"

She darted over to Ana first, who willingly opened her arms for a hug, squeaking softly when Mel lifted her off the ground before setting her back down. "Thanks for everything, Ana," she said, adjusting the hood that had started to droop before moving to Eryk next.

Eryk looked momentarily confused, as if he were unsure what to do. He seemed to settle on something, though, and hesitantly opened his arms. He looked a tad awkward, his eyes narrowing slightly, but not in discomfort. Just unsure if he was doing something properly. He seemed a little apologetic when he hugged her, though, slightly stiff and didn't linger more than a couple of seconds. He blinked when he pulled back, his expression smoothing out into what looked like a small smile, but it didn't quite get there.

“Good luck," were the only words he stated before taking a step back. Nev was the next to go in for a hug, and it seemed like she wasn't being too gentle about it. She squeezed Mel a bit before letting go.

“You have my number, too, so call me if you need anything. And I mean anything. If, for whatever reason, it's something you can't ask Kas to get you, I'll gladly do it!" she stated happily enough.

Mel hadn't seemed to mind the awkward hug, and ended it with a pat to Eryk's shoulder and a "thanks, Ryk!" before moving onto Nev. The other woman's enthusiasm earned her a chuckle and a nod, though her smile faded into slight disappointment when Aidan stuck out his hand.

She took it anyway, only for him to surprise her by using it to tug her in for a hug, ruffling her hair with one large hand. "Thought I'd leave you hangin', Rheinallt-the-younger?"

She laughed outright, whacking him on his very solid shoulder before coming to a stop in front of Drake and tilting her head.

"What's it gonna be, leaderman?"

Drake snorted softly as he grinned at Mel. “Judging by the current trend, what do you think it's going to be?" he stated in a rhetorical manner. He opened his arms wide, almost smacking Eryk in the process. He'd taken a step back to avoid Drake's arms, of course, and rolled his eyes.

“Gotta give ya a hug to keep up the trend," Drake continued as he took a step forward, wrapping his arms around Mel. It didn't seem too difficult since they were almost they same height.

Mel grinned, willingly stepping into the circle of his arms and wrapping her own around his back. She seemed to give him a squeeze, and backed off reluctantly, if Ana was reading her body language correctly. "There. Now you're definitely in vogue. Leading edge of the trend, even."

"She can only say that to you because I haven't hugged her yet," Kasimir said, engulfing his sister in his embrace and picking her up off her feet to spin her around a few times. Her laughter came out distorted by the motion, and when he set her down, they both staggered a little with dizziness.

"Kick their asses, Melly."

She gave him a lackadaisical salute. "You got it." Stepping back, she faced the whole group of them. "Thanks for everything, you guys. It's been a great couple of months. Don't forget about me, either, because I'll be back to visit!"

With a final wink and a wave, she was gone, boarding the ferry at a jog just as the plant started to raise for its departure.

Once it was so far away that they could no longer see her waving from the deck, Ana lowered her arm. "Do you guys want to get dry somewhere? Maybe have lunch?"

“Yes! I could totally use a burger right now!" Drake stated, perhaps a little too enthusiastically. Eryk gave him a flat look and shook his head, faintly.

“Is that all you ever eat, Drake? Burgers?" Nev asked a little amused. Drake gave her a large grin and nodded his head.

“I eat other things. Sometimes."

“Maybe we should do lunch where it's more than just burgers," Eryk suggested in a deadpan voice. “Not all of us have the appetite of a two year old."

“Hey, now. I'm at least four in spirit."

Aidan rolled his eyes, Kas grinned, and Ana hid her smile behind a hand. "I think I know the place, then. They even have a kids' menu."

Kasimir laughed, nudging Drake in the ribs with his elbow. "Sounds perfect."

Ana led them to a small diner-style restaurant. It served a lot of traditional 'diner' foods, to be sure, many of them with an island twist. The interior was chrome and vinyl, mostly; an old-fashioned jukebox sat at one end, a row of stools neatly tucked in against the counter, where she climbed up onto one. Kas took the one on her left, and Aidan sat next to him.

Yolanda, the owner and manager of the little place, set menus and water out in front of all of them immediately.

Nev had taken the empty seat near Aidan, which left the seat to Ana's right, open. Eryk immediately settled into it as naturally as he did when he was at home. Drake took the seat next to Eryk, though, and immediately began rummaging through the menu. Eryk seemed to take his time, though, scanning each item as if he were judging them.

“Alright, so what do you suggest from the kids menu, Ana? You selected this place, after all," Drake stated, leaning on his elbow and glancing in her direction. Eryk turned towards him with a flat stare before rolling his eyes.

“This is the part where you're supposed to pretend you know what you're doing, Drake. Can't always leave the decisions to someone else, you know," Nev stated with a light chuckle. Eryk snorted softly as Drake huffed in a feigned hurtful manner.

“But I'm four, remember?"

“Even four year olds have enough self-awareness to know what they want, Bellamy."

"Even and especially when what they want is a pain in everyone else's ass," Kas added knowingly.

Ana grinned, surprised with how easily the group's banter brought it to her face. Pushing down her hood, she pulled her twin plaits out and let them fall forward over her shoulders, unzipping the jacket and throwing it over the back of the stool. They were those ones with kind-of chair backs, which was convenient.

"Well as someone who still sometimes orders off the kids' menu, may I recommend the tropical macaroni and cheese?" She lilted the words with clear amusement. That one was in fact just a smaller version of the same thing on the regular menu, which was an island-style barbecue mac and cheese served with a nice heel of bread.

Aidan hummed. "Maybe my palate's immature or whatever, but that actually sounds kind of good," he observed wryly.

Yolanda returned, taking everyone's orders and running them back to her wife Marisol in the kitchen. Ana sat back a little in her stool. "Cyrilla's going to be back soon, right?" she asked, looking to Eryk for the answer. Her friend had been gone for a week now, and while she didn't really have a good reason to be, aside from general concerns about her family, Ana was a little worried. She hadn't heard anything from her in that time; not even a text message.

Eryk's response to her question was a heavy sigh. He took a slow drink from his water before he glanced in Ana's direction. “Truthfully," he began, keeping his gaze steady with hers, “I don't know. She could be back tomorrow, or it could be another week. She doesn't..." He paused. He stared at Ana for a moment as if he were trying to assess something before he shook his head. “There isn't a proper signal in the area she's at. Even if she wanted to call us or text us how she was faring, she couldn't. I won't know until she's away from the compound and in an area that has proper reception."

He took another long drink from his water after the statement. It was easy to see, though, the way his brows were slightly furrowed that he was as concerned as Ana was about it. He was likely just as worried, if not more, since it'd been a week since they'd last talked.

“Well, I hope she comes back soon. It'd be a shame if she missed Thanksgiving with us," Drake stated from the other side of Eryk, causing Eryk to arch a brow.

Gently, without making it obvious, Ana shifted one hand under the counter, laying one small hand on Eryk's knee. It seemed clear to her that he was worried about Cyrilla, and honestly that made her worry more, too. But of course any anxiety she felt must surely be worse for him; it didn't take a genius to notice how close they were. She'd sort of... wondered about that, for a while, actually.

She didn't draw any attention to the gesture, though, instead just letting her hand rest there softly and turning her attention towards Drake. "It would," she says with a little smile. "I'm planning on making enough food for all of you, by the way, so... please consider yourselves invited to ours for the evening."

For some reason, Kasimir grinned wolfishly. "'Ours,' huh?" he said, his voice a teasing lilt. "Well, well."

Oh arceus. Oh dear, sweet arceus. Ana felt her face heating up, the uncomfortable prickle of a hot blush no doubt staining her cheeks about as pink as her hair. "Oh, I didn't mean—um." Her eyes flicked from Kas, to Eryk, to the counter in front of her; she hastily removed her hand and tucked it back in her lap with the other.

"Ow!" She glanced up; Kasimir was rubbing his arm; Aidan was glaring at him with narrowed eyes. "What was that for?"

"No idea what you're talkin' about," the other man said gruffly.

If Eryk had been bothered by any of the events, from Ana's hand on his to Aidan possibly hitting Kas in the arm, he made no show of it. His expression, however, had softened a bit before he shook his head. “You deserved it, if anything," he stated in Kas's direction before turning his attention back towards Ana.

“Oh, that'll be so exciting, though!" Nev stated, taking a drink of her vanilla shake. “If you're doing all of the cooking, I'd be glad to come over and help out with other things like helping Eryk set up. I'm not much of a cook, but you'll be hosting for a total of at least seven people," she continued, leaning over so she could glance in Ana's direction.

“Yeah, Nev's got a point. If you're doing all the cooking, the least we could do is help set up the place and wash the dishes as need be," Drake seemed to volunteer, causing Eryk to roll his eyes a bit. He didn't seem too put off by the offers of help, though, and simply nodded his head.

“Should we at least bring some extra things, like rolls or paper towels and plates?" Nev asked, seemingly excited.

Ana felt herself smile and relax again. "Extra supplies would be welcome," she said with a little nod, "and I'll leave you all in charge of the drinks, how about that?" She didn't know much about those things; it was only about a year ago that she'd reached legal drinking age in Kanto, and she hadn't exactly had much cause to bother about it.

"I have enough dishware, though, so don't worry about plates and things."

"Well," said Kasimir, narrowing his eyes in Aidan's general direction, "that's well and good for Thanksgiving, but what are we doing for boss's birthday?"

"Rheinallt I swear to arceus—"

"Your birthday's this month?" Ana tilted her head at him, and he sighed.

"Yep," Kas said, totally ignoring the warning tone. "November 17th, right there in his personnel file."

"Which is classified." Aidan grumbled the words; Ana thought he might actually be... sulking, a little bit?

"Oh please. I've read everyone's. I'm the guy who classifies things so other people can't read them, remember?"

Nev seemed to inhale her drink wrong, and choked a little bit. “Why didn't you tell me your birthday was coming up, soon?!" she stated, turning to glance in Aidan's direction.

“He probably didn't want anyone to know," Eryk stated off-handedly.

“But who doesn't want their friends to know each other's birthdays?" Drake chimed in, looking almost offended by the statement.

“Klein, for starters."

“Well, still, it's before Thanksgiving so we should probably do something. It could be just the seven of us if Cy's back before then. And we could just make it something small and not too big since... well, since you don't like those kinds of things," Nev stated as she took another drink of her shake.

Aidan sighed. "All right, I'll make you idiots a deal. We'll go to the arcade on my birthday. I'll even let you do cake and shit if you want to. But that's it, and I'm paying to rent the place out so we don't have to deal with crowds. It's that or nothing, so choose carefully."

Ana smiled. It was just like him to disguise courtesy as gruffness. Renting the place out was no doubt to make the idea more comfortable for those like herself and Eryk, who didn't do well in large crowds anyway, and surely having most of it set up that way would prevent Nev from going overboard with preparations, while still letting her do some of the planning things she'd no doubt want to, like cake and such.

"I'm in," she said immediately.

"And I'm bringing the booze. Drunk go-karting sounds like fun."

“If it's going to be just the seven of us, then sure. Why the hell not," Eryk stated, finishing off his water. Nev looked to be on the verge of pouting before she sighed softly and shook her head.

“Alright, fine. But I am getting you something. I promise it'll only be one thing, and it won't be something useless," Nev stated, her brows still furrowed slightly. Drake snickered softly and shook his head.

“I'm just looking forward to kicking the old man's ass at some of the games," he stated, grinning in Aidan's direction.

Aidan gave him a flat look. "Kid, I know I'm old, but I haven't forgotten who beat whose ass at Heavy Octillery last time. Also, I'm a much better driver than any of you and will leave your asses in my dust at drunk go-karting." He picked up his drink, setting it back down a moment later with an emphatic thud.

"He's got you there," Ana said to Drake, having borne witness to the Heavy Octillery massacre of a couple months ago.

"Ryk's got us all at drunk darts, though. You should see it, Ana," Kas put in, arching an eyebrow and smirking over the rim of his glass at Eryk. "We'll have to find him a chance to show off his ninja skills."

"Ninja...?" Ana blinked. She knew, of course, that the Koga had historically been a ninja family, but she was a little surprised to hear it apparently carried over to modern day, unless Kas was just being facetious.

“Yeah, Kas is not wrong. You should have seen him that night," Drake chimed in, agreeing with Kas's statement.

Eryk, however, arched an eyebrow in Aidan's direction. “I think that's a challenge I hear. You think you could beat me in drunk go-karting?" Eryk stated, almost in a serious tone. “You're on... boss."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Eryk Nero Character Portrait: Kasimir Rheinallt Character Portrait: Cyrilla Niav

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November 15th
Cinnabar Pier - Mid-Afternoon - Overcast
Eryk Nero


Noctis had been restless the past couple of days. Eryk didn't blame the zoroark; he missed his trainer, and Eryk missed his friend. He'd never thought he'd actually miss someone like that, but he'd be lying if he said he didn't. As expected, Cyrilla had not called once during the time she was at the compound. Eryk could only speculate what was happening, and it made something in his jaw tighten uncomfortably so. When she had finally called, it was to tell him what time and day she would be arriving back on Cinnabar.

Today.

She was coming back today, and he was waiting patiently for the boat to arrive. He'd invited Kasimir along mostly because Kas had Diva and Siri. From his understanding, both pokémon had done rather well with Kas. More-so than Ryk expected them to, really. It was not in doubt of Kas's abilities as a trainer, but that Diva and Siri could be a little much for most people. Diva lived up to her name, and he knew that being separated from Cyrilla for too long caused the lycanroc anxiety. They were close as far as pokémon and trainer went, and Ryk knew it was because Diva was Cyrilla's first pokémon. He had given her the lycanroc when she'd been just a rockruff, pulled from some illegal fighting ring, before the clan had forced Cyrilla to choose a proper starter.

A short huff pulled Ryk's attention towards said zoroark, and held his gaze. Noctis had, seemingly, found the thought funny. Even the pokémon had found the notion of the clan's thought process, stupid. Shaking his head, Ryk turned his attention towards Kas. “Did everything go well?" he asked, mostly to kill time. The boat wasn't due to arrive for another few minutes, and he couldn't see it on the horizon, yet.

Both Diva and Siri were out of their pokéballs. The noibat was on Kasimir's shoulder, hanging onto his head, whereas the lycanroc was near his feet. He turned his attention slightly towards Eryk at the question, causing the pokémon there to shift with him, then shrugged a little. "We all got along fine," he said with a bit of a smile, rubing behind one of Diva's ears. "But we missed her." He arched an eyebrow, as if expecting some kind of comment on his phrasing.

Eryk couldn't understand why, though. It wasn't as if Eryk found anything wrong with the statement. It simply was, and it was how Kas felt. He was certain almost everyone felt that way. “I did, too," he replied with a light shrug of his shoulders. “But she's returning today, and will not be going back to the compound any time soon." Eryk would make sure of it, this time. He hated that he couldn't go with her, to ensure that her parents didn't do something they would regret. But Katia had made that impossible. He had to make sure she wouldn't ruin anything, and she hadn't.

He'd found it odd, at the time. She was trying to get information from Kas and Aidan, he knew that. Katia hadn't learned anything, though, from what Kas had told him. She had left, thankfully, back to the compound two days ago. He hadn't realized how stressed and tensed he'd been until after Katia had left. Now that she was gone, he could focus back on his life.

His life.

The thought caught him off guard for a second, before he shook his head. “I just..." he paused, pursing his lips together, “hope she's still in one piece." And he meant that in a literal kind of way. He knew what his family was capable of.

"She will be." Kas gave no indication as to where his confidence came from, but he definitely sounded confident. At least as much as he did when someone asked him a technology question, or something else he was especially good at. Something he knew well. "It'll be nice to have her around again. I'm tired of my own cooking." It was obviously a joke, a way of making the mood a little lighter, rather than anything especially serious.

Eryk huffed softly in an amused manner. “You could always just come to Ana's. She would be more than willing to cook for you, too," he stated before the sound of the boat's horn called his attention. He hadn't realized he'd missed its arrival. It was docking, and a few minutes later, people were unloading. He scanned the crowd, looking for the head of familiar white hair, and frowned when he didn't see it. He blinked to clear his vision, and frowned slightly when he finally saw her, only... she looked slightly different.

From the distance, it looked like her hair had been pulled back into a ponytail, however; she was smiling in his direction. It was a smile Eryk hadn't seen in almost a decade, and it made him second guess whether or not it was actually Cyrilla he was looking at.

“Ryk!" she nearly shouted, running up to him as fast as she could through the crowd. She nearly toppled him over when she threw her arms around him, and hugged him as if her life depended on it. Up close, he could see that the length of her hair was gone. It was much shorter, now, a little past her chin, and she was still smiling when she glanced up at him. Her hug was a little awkward, though, and when she pulled back from the hug, he could see why. From her hand down to her wrist, it was wrapped in what looked to be a black hand wrap. Upon closer inspection, he could tell it was a cast of some sort. Was her hand broken?

“I'm back," she stated, pulling Eryk from his thoughts. She glanced in Kas's direction, and that same smile made its way back to her face. She opened her arms to wrap them around both Kas and Diva as best as she could, it seemed. “Oh, I missed my favorite people," she spoke, sounding a little muffled against Kas. Eryk was still at a loss for words. Who was this person who looked like his old friend?

Kas laughed a little, making his best attempt to return the hug while still minding her arm, it seemed. His expression flickered when he realized what the cast was, and the look he shot Eryk over Cyrilla's head was dark in a way Kas never usually was, but it was gone a moment later. "And look at you!" he declared, using one hand to pet the much-abbreviated length of her hair. "This is cute. And you're still acting like my friend and everything. Something good must've happened?"

Stepping back a little, he took Siri carefully from his shoulder and set her back on Cyrilla's. "There we go; that's even better. Everyone back where they belong, hm?"

She laughed.

It wasn't the one that was typical forced, or one that was the result of when she was causing mischief. It was a laugh Eryk hadn't truly heard in years. She removed Siri from her perch, and twirled with the noibat in her arms, causing Siri to chirp happily. Diva, however, huffed a soft whine before sitting next to Kas.

“And I missed my favorite girls, too. That includes you, Noct," Cyrilla stated, shooting the zoroark a bright grin. Noctis huffed and rolled his eyes, sitting next to Eryk. He didn't seem too enthused about sharing in the revelry, it seemed, but Eryk was still a little confused. “And you are correct, Kasimir Rheinallt. Something good did happen," Cy continued, placing Siri back on her shoulder.

“What do you mean he's correct? What good could have come from going to the compound that you'd come back with a broken hand," Eryk interjected, causing her to turn her attention back towards him. She blinked before she raised the hand he'd mentioned, a smile still plastered on her face.

“Oh, this? It's not what you think, Ryk. Cyrilla Niav is no more," she stated it as if a weight had finally been lifted off of her shoulders. “The woman who stands before you, now is Cyrilla. I haven't quite thought of a new surname, yet. I was thinking..." she trailed off, glancing in Kas's direction with a large smile on her face, “Of taking one of my best friends' last names. What do you think, Kas? Do you think I could join the Rheinallt family? Or should I ask Ana to be part of the Ashers?"

She was what? No longer Niav? Eryk furrowed his brows in her direction, his eyes narrowing slightly. “I disowned the family," she seemed to clarify, and all at once, it made sense to Eryk why she'd said what she did. It still didn't explain why her hand was broken.

Kas's reaction was rather different. Dispensing for a moment with the idea of including anyone else in the gesture, he swept Cyrilla up into a hug, this one rather more emphatic than the last, though he was still careful to work around the injury. He seemed to be chuckling, but if so the sound was muffled a bit against her neck and shoulder where he'd lifted her clear off the pier. "You're crazy," he said, just barely loud enough that Eryk could hear, though it wasn't clear he was meant to. "I'm so proud of you."

Eryk allowed a ghost of a smile to cross his face and shook his head. Kas wasn't the only one who was proud of her. It must have taken a lot for her to disown the family; Ryk knew it wasn't going to be an easy process, but she looked so carefree at the moment. Cyrilla laughed at Kasimir's actions, though, and pat his shoulders.

“I know I'm crazy, but thanks, Snorlax. You had a lot to do with it," she stated, chuckling lightly. Once she was set down, she turned to face Eryk with the smile dimming just a bit. “It's not quite official, though. You know they won't make it easy, but..." she trailed off, glancing down towards Diva who had walked up to lean on Cy's legs. She rubbed the large tuff of fur around Diva's head before glancing back towards Eryk. “I'm not going to make it easy for her. Now that I'm leaving the family, Marah's going to try even harder to get our engagement anulled."

Eryk had momentarily forgotten about that. “Cyrilla... in order for you to be completely free of the family, you know we have to," he spoke in a much softer tone than he was used to speaking in. She furrowed her brows at him as her eyes narrowed slightly.

We don't have to do a damn thing, Ryk. Until I can find a way to get you out, too, our engagement still stands. And until I get everything where it needs to be, you're still stuck with me. Once this mission is over, I'm leaving Team Rocket. We're leaving Team Rocket," she stated through narrowed eyes. Eryk sighed heavily, his shoulders slumping slightly.

“It's easier said than done, Cy. You know that better than anyone," he replied simply, shaking his head.

“Yeah, well, you know I've always been stubborn, too," she stated, reaching out towards Eryk's hand and grasping it gently. She squeezed it softly before releasing it, giving him a firm look before reaching up to rub Siri's ear. Anyway, what have I missed since I've been gone?" she asked, glancing back in Kas's direction.

Kas offered no comment on Cyrilla's abrupt reversal of career plans, sliding his hands into his pockets and humming quietly instead. "Well, let's see," he said, acting as if he were giving it great thought. "Katia's gone, thank arceus. Mel's off to Viridian. We're doing boss's birthday at the arcade in two days, there was a really big hurricane that we caught the edge of a week ago or so, and... am I missing anything, Ryk?"

Before Ryk could respond, he didn't think there was anything that was missed, Cyrilla pursed her lips together and spoke, “Wait, I missed Melly's departure? Man... I wanted to be here when she left." Eryk huffed slightly before rolling his eyes. It was a relief that Katia wasn't here any longer; no doubt she'd have some words now that Cyrilla was leaving the family.

“And Aidan's birthday this month? Oh, cool. So we get to celebrate Thanksgiving and a birthday," Cyrilla stated with a large grin. Eryk blinked, being momentarily reminded that there was something else that she had missed.

“Ana has invited everyone to our place for Thanksgiving," he stated, earning a look from Cy. Her brow was arched, and the mischievous smile on her face was hard to miss. Diva rolled her eyes, reaching for her trainer's hand and pulling at it.

“I know, Diva, I know. I won't tease him about it, but that's great. Obviously I'll be there," she stated, turning to smile knowingly at Ryk. What that was about, he wasn't too sure. He simply shook his head and turned so that he could grab her bag from the floor where she'd dropped it to hug him.

“Let's go get lunch, then. I'm starved, and I wanna be full before I go see everyone," she stated, causing Eryk to shake his head.

“I need to get back to the shelter. I told Ana I was picking you up, and that was it," he stated, furrowing his brows together. He wouldn't have minded going to get lunch with her, but he had other things he needed to do, things at the shelter that needed his attention. Cyrilla huffed a short laugh, though, and turned to Kas.

“What do you think, Kas? Should we go get lunch or Ana's, or the two of us can go to Jo's and catch up?" she asked with a grin. Eating lunch at Ana's wouldn't be a bad thing, Eryk supposed. They could all catch up that way. All he would have to do was have Cyrilla text or call Ana and see.

Kas pondered this for all of a second before he shrugged. "Why don't we head to Ana's? I'm sure she's missed you, too."

“To Ana's it is! I wanna ask her about the name thing, too. I've got two best friends, after all," she stated, lifting Siri from her perch on her shoulder and holding her in her hands. Noctis rolled his eyes, but glanced up at Eryk.

“Sure, Cy, let's go get you caught up with Ana." This was nice, somehow, to Eryk. Despite the clouds in the sky threatening rain, Eryk thought it was turning into a pleasant day.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Eryk Nero Character Portrait: Kasimir Rheinallt Character Portrait: Cyrilla Niav Character Portrait: Anastasia Asher Character Portrait: Rocket Files Character Portrait: Aidan Klein Character Portrait: Nevena Solomon

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#, as written by Aethyia


November 17th
Cinnabar Arcade - Evening - Rain
Aidan Klein


Sometimes, life was good.

At just the moment, sitting around a large table laden with pizza, breadsticks and booze, with... pretty much the only friends he'd ever had, Aidan had to say it was pretty good. Even the fact that it was his birthday wasn't getting in the way.

Nia—Cyrilla seemed to be in high spirits, despite the wrist injury that had to have been the doing of some relative or another; in fact he didn't think he'd ever seen her look this happy. Apparently she was in search of a last name to replace her own, since she'd disowned her family. He had a thought about that, but now didn't really seem like the time, and he was content to wait.

"All right, I'm pretty sure I heard something about drunk go-karting when we were planning this, so let's get to work on the 'drunk' part!" Rheinallt grabbed another half-dozen ciders from under the table and stuck them on the surface, clearly in expectation of the others imbibing.

Aidan sure didn't mind, taking one for himself and passing another to Doc next to him.

She took it, but didn't immediately open it, still laughing at Rheinallt's statement. “While that sounds like fun, you can count me out. I don't think it'd be a good idea for me to get drunk in the first place," Doc stated, chuckling lightly. Cyrilla took the one of the cans, though, snickering softly before arching a brow in Doc's direction.

“That's only because you get giddy and really happy," she replied, causing Doc to snort unceremoniously. She didn't seem to deny it, though, and simply took a drink of water from her cup. The tips of her ears were turning slightly pink, though.

“Drunk or not, I'd still kick all of your asses," Nero muttered as he cracked a can open. He took a drink from it, but it looked more like he was chugging it. “But it's him," he pointed towards Aidan, “who thinks he has a chance of winning."

Aidan narrowed his eyes at this, lifting the index finger currently wrapped around his can and using it to point at his friend. "Watch it. If you drive as bad as you trash talk you're screwed. Hell, you're screwed if your driving's great, because mine's better. This isn't darts, ninja kid."

Rheinallt burst out laughing, no doubt recalling exactly that incident, and nudged Drake in the ribs. "You gonna try redeeming yourself for that one, O mighty leader?"

Drake snorted into his drink, spitting some of it out in the process before pursing his lips in Rheinallt's direction. “I will not, thank you. The only thing I'm good at is being a gym leader, I'll have you know. My driving is good, but that's it. The island is too small to actually have proper roads and cars, after all," Drake stated as he chuckled softly.

“So that means you're still going to try, right? I'd join, but... well, I probably won't be able to steer very well, so Kas, you're going to have to redeem my name for me!" Cyrilla said, poking Rheinallt's shoulder with her free hand. Nero, however, kept his gaze on Aidan, his eyes narrowing slightly with a hint of a smirk forming on his face.

“You haven't seen my driving. How do you know it's not better than yours?" Nero stated, reaching over to grab another drink. Doc snickered and shook her head.

“You guys should probably be drinking something heavier if you're trying to get drunk, quick for drunk-karting," she stated, finally opening the cider in her hand. “And what about you, Ana. Are you going to join in on their festivities?" Doc asked, glancing in Ana's direction.

Ana, who'd been quite content to grin and shake her head at the others for the most part thus far, blinked when she was queried. "Um... I guess I could. I'm not really used to driving anything carlike though. I guess we'll see how it goes." She was already faintly red in the face; the two ciders she'd had so far no doubt hit her very differently from what they did to someone like Nero or Aidan himself. She was freaking tiny.

With a sigh, Rheinallt reached under his seat and produced a handle of vodka. The cheap kind. "Okay so this tastes like garbage, but if we split it three ways even the likes of us will get properly soused," he explained.

Shrugging, Aidan pulled one of the red plastic cups from the upside-down stack of them near an empty pizza box and held it towards the other man. "Hit me."

Nero snorted softly before grabbing a couple of red cups and holding them out towards Rheinallt. “Fill them both up," he stated, staring at Rheinallt. Doc chuckled lightly, before shaking her head.

“This will be a disaster," Cyrilla stated with a light grin, nudging her drink in Doc's direction. “If Ana is going to participate, you should, too. I mean, it wouldn't be fair if Ana's the only girl driving," she stated, causing Doc to blink in confusion. She must have figured something out, though, and made a slight 'oh' with her mouth.

“That is true; it would be unfair if Ana was the only one racing against the boys," Doc stated as she smiled in Ana's direction. “I can join too, but I'm not going to be drinking more than this. I'm bad enough at driving," she murmured into her drink. Drake, however, laughed, and pat Doc lightly on the shoulder.

“Me too, Nev. Me too."

'Disaster' might yet prove to be the right word. They all took another twenty minutes or so to get well and truly gone, and then made their way to the go-karts, each a different color and parked neatly in a corral area not far from the starting line. The staff had mostly left the group of them alone, as Aidan had requested—he was effectively paying them not to work, so he doubted any of them had an issue with it.

He chose a bright red vehicle for himself, only struggling a little bit to fit his legs into the space provided.

"I'm... not sure this is gonna work," Rheinallt said, slurring a little. Aidan chanced a glance at him and broke into a fit of what amounted to loud, somewhat gravelly chuckling. Rheinallt's legs were bent at a ridiculous angle, his knees easily higher than the sides of the kart. He was flexible enough for it, but it looked ridiculous.

Nero snorted at Rheinallt, containing what seemed to be his own fit of laughter. There was a very subtle smirk on his face, though, as he arched a brow in Rheinallt's direction. Doc seemed to find it as hilarious as it looked, snorting a few times as she held a hand up to her face. She didn't seem to have much trouble getting into her kart, a pale blue colored one, as Nero took an orange colored kart.

“Oh my arceus, Kas. You look ridiculous, like an octillery who can't quite fit in its bottle," Cyrilla stated once she seemed to get her laughter contained. “If it's easier for you, you can come spectate with me and leave the other dorks to their racing," she offered, snickering softly at Rheinallt.

“Hey, now, I know I'm a dork, but there's no need to call us out on it," Drake stated as he buckled his seat belt. He'd chosen a purple one that looked more blue than anything.

"You know, normally I'd say I should do this anyway," Rheinallt said, wagging his legs as though trying to take flight in the kart. "But while I might be drunk enough that this feels fine now, I think I'd regret it tomorrow." He tried to lever himself out, but fell back; he didn't seem to be stuck so much as drunk, though.

Ana, who was the only person not yet in her own kart, laughed softly, but made her way over to help him all the same. He stuck a hand out with a pout, and she gripped it with both of hers, pulling backwards until he was standing, likely more on his own power than due to her help. She was quite thin. Sometimes Aidan actually worried about that, but there could be loads of reasons for it, and none of them were his business to talk about.

With Rheinallt safely back up to the spectator's area, Ana climbed into the kart he'd been using, and all of them got themselves to the starting line. The lights along the side ticked down, and as soon as the green one flashed, Aidan eased his foot onto the gas, accelerating quickly but steadily, without any lurching.

There was a spurting sound behind Aidan, though. “Are you kidding me!?" Drake shouted. It seemed like his kart wasn't moving. Nero, however, had taken off after Aidan had, his kart swerving slightly.

“Go, boss-man! Kick Ryk's ass!" Cyrilla shouted, earning a loud fit of giggles from Doc who seemed to be going slightly slower than what was called for on the track. Nero, however, furrowed his brows, and seemed to nearly stomp on the gas pedal, causing his kart to swerve dangerously close to Aidan's.

Well if that was how it was going to be, there was a reason these things had bumpers on them. Aidan steered slightly into Nero's kart, so the collision pushed them apart again, and used it to propel himself closer to the inside of the track. He could sense someone behind him, following just slightly to the outside, but he wasn't quite sure who it was, and anyway the important thing was driving as fast and efficiently as he could, at least until he had to worry about lapping people.

He passed the finish line first on the first lap, blowing past Drake, who was still having trouble getting his kart to move. A quick glance revealed the problem. "Kid, that's the brake. Hit the other one!"

Up with the spectators, Rheinallt lost it at this, erupting into a gale of laughter and leaning against Cyrilla's shoulder for support, though mostly in an amusing rather than serious manner. They flashed by, though, and he refocused his attention on the track.

Drake still seemed to be having trouble getting out of the starting line area. Either he still wasn't pushing the gas pedal, or he was pressing on both the gas and the brake. The latter seemed more likely as the kart seemed to rev and sputter, however; Nero came from behind Aidan, and scraped his kart against Aidan's. He swerved slightly, though, and pulled around to Aidan's left.

Nero was between glaring at Aidan, and keeping his eyes on the road. Doc was still a lap behind, driving fast enough that she wasn't impeding their race, but slow enough that she seemed to be watching the spectacle that Nero was making. She found it amusing if the way she was smiling was anything to go by.

Aidan was honestly having difficulty not laughing himself, even when he was jerked slightly to the side by the hit. He corrected quickly, slowed drunk reflexes compensated for by ample muscle memory, and then he was back at it.

He was still in the lead, but Nero was gaining on the outside, and Ana still serenely cruising on his tail. At this point it was essentially a three-way contest, because the other two were way too far behind to catch up.

Drake still seemed stuck at the starting point. He seemed to be confused as to why he couldn't get his kart to move, but it was obvious that he hadn't figured out to release the brake. “Drake, remove your left foot. You're using both feet; you only need to use one for the gas!" Cyrilla shouted between laughs. She seemed to be finding the situation as amusing as Doc and the others were, however; Drake seemed to realize his mistake and did as he was told.

The resulting action was his kart's sudden jerk forward, clipping Nero's just as he rounded the corner which caused Nero to lose control of his kart. Nero swerved, trying to regain control, it seemed, but it didn't end well. He rammed Aidan's kart rather harshly, a loud 'oof' coming from either Doc or one of the other spectators.

There wasn't any quick recovery from that, and the two of them careened into the wall. Ana swerved neatly around them immediately, though, picking up speed and making the remaining half a lap unopposed. By the time Aidan and Nero were able to get back on track, she'd already passed the finish line, the clear winner.

Aidan had to console himself with the fact that he managed second to Nero's third. Doc made fourth, of course, leaving Drake with the dead last he deserved.

Still, he had to admit he was still chuckling as he leveraged his way out of the kart in the parking bay, heading back up to the main level while shaking his head. "I think we're gonna need more supplies to celebrate the trouncing we just got," he said, ruffling Ana's pale pink hair where she sat. She smiled up at him. "I need about one extra hand, so to make sure we're not wasting any, how would you feel about helping, Cyrilla?"

Cyrilla snorted softly, still trying to contain her laughter, it seemed as she nodded her head in Aidan's direction. “Sure, I wouldn't mind helping," she finally stated as she glanced in Nero's direction. He was half glaring at Drake, but there was a subtle smile on his face which seemed to suggest he wasn't actually upset.

“I can't believe I ran into Eryk. Sorry about that," Drake stated as he huffed lightly. Nero rolled his eyes but didn't say anything, instead, turning his attention towards Ana.

“Congratulations on your win, Ana," he stated, perhaps to ignore Drake for the moment. Doc seemed to be chuckling lightly, though, and laid a hand on Ana's shoulder.

“Congrats! It goes to show that out of those two," she pointed towards Aidan and Nero, “you're the ace in the... something. I forgot how that saying goes." Doc shook her head at herself, it seemed, as she continued to chuckle.

The sound of her response was lost; Cyrilla and Aidan had gotten far enough away that Ana's quiet tones were mostly inaudible. "Buncha weirdoes," Aidan groused, not actually upset at all. There were more things stored in the fridge behind the arcade's bar; he grabbed a six-pack and handed it to her, digging through the rest in search of something that seemed good.

"Heard you gave the old 'fuck you' to the family," he said conversationally. "Bet that shocked them."

Cyrilla snorted unceremoniously as she nodded her head. “It did, actually. I don't think they were expecting that. I didn't really expect it either, it's just..." she trailed off, her smile dimming down into something a little more sober. Her eyes went to her wrist before she shook her head and smiled again.

“Well, I wish I had done it sooner. The thing is, even though I might have given them both the literal and metaphorical finger," she began again, shifting the six-pack in her hand, “I know it's not going to be easy. Just because I said it doesn't mean that I'm completely gone or free from them. As an adult, there's not much that can be done about the family if they decide they want to retaliate somehow. And I know they will."

She sighed softly, though before she continued, glancing towards Aidan through slightly narrowed eyes. “It's kind of the reason why I'm in the market for a new surname, really. If I no longer had a connection to them via name, then it would be easier to file something, legally, against them. I..." she paused, glancing back in the direction where the others were, “I'm still, techincally engaged to Ryk, but... I don't want his last name. You... you were privy to some of the things about our family because of Katia, right?" she asked, arching a brow at him.

"Enough to know why you want nothing to do with the fuckers," he said, shaking his head. Grabbing a bottle of liquor and the large tray with the cake on it Doc had picked out, he nudged the fridge door shut with his hip.

"You could have mine, you know. If you wanted it. Gramps would've loved you, so I think he'd be glad I offered." He headed for the door, not really pausing to assess her reaction to the offer. Weirdly, he was a bit... nervous about making it. He didn't want her to feel any pressure, which was why he'd made sure to do it away from everyone else, but he also didn't want her to take it the wrong way.

It could have implications he didn't mean, after all. But he did think it'd keep her a little safer than most names would, considering how close he was to the boss, and how close messing with her would now be to messing with him. And messing with him was a lot like messing with Gregorovich, which was pretty much the one thing even the Koga would hesitate to do. But hell, if she wanted Rheinallt's or Ana's instead, he'd never object. He just figured she'd be worried about making them targets if she did.

“You'd... you'd do that for me?" she called out softly behind him. She hadn't moved from her spot, it seemed, and the way her voice was a bit shaky, indicated that she was taken aback by the offer. “You'd let me have your name?" she continued, a little hesitant. She finally took a step forward and moved so that she was beside him, staring up at him as if to assess what he'd said was genuine.

“I... thanks, Aidan. That... that means..." she paused, a soft hiccup escaping her before she wiped her eyes with the back of her free hand. “So... does that mean I can be little sister Klein?" she asked, arching a brow up at him.

He'd turned back when she spoke; checking to make sure the tone was really what he thought it might be and not offense. The last bit, though, made him snort softly. It was actually more or less the correct interpretation, since he definitely wasn't proposing. "Hmm," he said, pretending to consider it. "Maybe we start you off at little cousin and see what happens." He cracked a smile, though, so she knew he was kidding. It felt kind of weird on his face, but that was okay.

She smiled at him in return, and huffed slightly. “Yeah, well either way, I'm your relative now, so all the details can be hashed out later. Let's go celebrate Big Brother Aidan's birthday," she stated happily enough as she walked in front of him. “You have a lot of gifts to open, after all," she added, nodding her head in the direction of the small table where everyone had dropped off their gifts.

He rolls his eyes at the title, but nods anyway. "Guess I do."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Eryk Nero Character Portrait: Kasimir Rheinallt Character Portrait: Rocket Files Character Portrait: Aidan Klein

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November 20th
Cinnabar Ocean - Morning - Clear
Eryk Nero


Eryk grumbled slightly to himself, rubbing at his eyes as he tried to adjust them to the misty morning. Kas, for some reason, convinced Aidan, himself, and Drake to go fishing at arceus-knows time in the morning. While he wasn't adverse to the thought, he had other things on his mind. Other things that he was trying to understand because they didn't make sense to him. Cyrilla had told him yesterday that Aidan had offered to give her his name, and that she was going to accept it.

So, what was the entire spiel about staying engaged to him so that the family couldn't force Katia on him? He pulled in a deep breath and shook his head. No matter how he looked at it, all evidence pointed to Cyrilla taking Aidan's name through a marriage of some sort. He wasn't entirely sure why that bothered him. He should be happy that she's finally getting out of the family. She would still be connected to Team Rocket, though, which he knew was something she didn't want.

“You know, you're going to scare away all the pokémon with a scowl like that. They can practically hear it with the way it seems to be yelling off your face, Ryk," Drake stated with a light yawn. He had a fishing pole in his hand though, and seemed more awake than Eryk was.

“Shut up, it's too early for this," was the only reply Eryk gave him.

Aidan, on his other side, didn't seem to have one, and had barely adjusted his wardrobe to account for today's plans. He wore black compression pants underneath looser shorts, and a windbreaker over his shirt. There were sunglasses perched on his head, the same kind he'd once used to demonstrate a point about observation to Eryk and Solomon, but they wouldn't be necessary yet, if they were at all. At the moment, he was grumbling to himself as he flicked his lighter, which didn't seem to want to work in the damp air.

Finally, he struck it right, holding the flame up to the end of his cigarette before pocketing it again. "Pretty sure that's Rheinallt's boat," he said, jerking his chin towards one of the three anchored in front of them.

It was in good condition, mostly painted a sleek dark green, with the deck and so on in darker wood. The upholstery was largely black; all of this set it apart from the paler color schemes of most of the other boats in the area. On the side of the prow was painted the word 'Rayquaza,' apparently the vessel's name.

“That's a lot of green," Drake stated off-handedly as he made his way towards the boat. Eryk rolled his eyes, but followed after him, sparing a glance in Aidan's direction. “He said he was going to meet us here, right? We're..." Drake trailed off to look at his watch, “five minutes early but I don't think that would be a problem for Kas, right?" Eryk scoffed slightly.

“He likes his sleep more than anything," which made this fishing trip rather strange to Ryk. He glanced towards the boat, though, and pursed his lips together. “Hopefully he has spare rods. I didn't bring one," even though he knew they would be fishing.

They didn't get much closer before both questions were answered; Rheinallt appearing from belowdeck with several fishing rods and a large tackle box. Despite the season, he wore board shorts and a hoodie, his feet bare. "Hey guys," he said sleepily. "Climb aboard."

Lani, his vaporeon, was already relaxing on the deck, her long tail draped over the size of the boat. It didn't reach the water, but waved back and forth in lazy arcs. She lifted her head as the others approached, flicking a finned ear at them, before resettling her head on her forepaws.

"Always wondered what you spent your salary on," Aidan mused. "Kinda figured it was tech stuff."

Kas laughed. "It is, mostly. I bought the Rayquaza years ago. Pretty much rebuilt her from the inside out. It was my project for a while. There's a fair amount of nav tech aboard, but I actually prefer most of my boating analog."

Eryk supposed it was nice to have something like that to work on. Most of his salary just went into his savings. The only thing he spent his money on were the occasional bills that he had to pay, and to help Ana out where she needed it. Drake, however, chuckled lightly and shook his head.

“That and you have your own professional seafarer with Lani," he stated, tipping his head in the vaporeon's direction. Eryk rolled his eyes slightly.

“You have a gyarados," Eryk said simply, watching as Drake shrugged his shoulders.

“Yeah, but he's an idiot. He wouldn't know his left from his right," he replied, glancing in Kas's direction. “Why'd you name it Rayquaza, though? That's one of Hoenn's weather deities, isn't it?"

Kas nodded. "Yeah, but the Islands are really close to Hoenn. There's a lot of stories about them where I'm from, especially rayquaza." He worked as he spoke, pulling the boarding plank up and setting it aside, then untying the boat from the dock. "When I was a kid, I spent a lot of time out on the ocean, you know? And I really liked it when it stormed. There's nothing like it. It's dangerous, but if you know what you're doing, it's also exhilarating. And that's what the old stories say rayquaza does: brings the storms to the sea."

He lifted one of his sleeves, exposing the bottom half of his winding, full-arm tattoo. "Kind of a running theme, with yours truly."

"It's nice ink," Aidan remarked. "You have a lot of them?"

"A few." Kas shrugged and started the boat, the engine roaring to life beneath the, then settling into a smooth hum as he backed them out of the docking area. "I can't stand the look of just a bunch of random shit though, so I like to make sure they're cohesive."

Drake visibly shuddered when Kas mentioned he had a few tattoos. “I don't know how you could stand to sit and be prodded for so long. They must have taken a few hours and sessions just to complete, especially with how intricate some of them seem," he stated, causing Eryk to raise a brow.

“Have you tried getting a tattoo?" he asked, watching as Drake paled somewhat.

“Yes," Drake stated, holding out his hand in the process. He pointed to a small dot on the junction of where his thumb and forefinger were connected. “That was my first and last attempt at getting a tattoo," he explained, causing Ryk to scoff lightly.

“What were you trying to get that was so small?" Ryk asked, arching a brow at Drake who pursed his lips together.

“I just wanted a pokéball. I was fifteen at the time, alright. Young and stupid."

“Still stupid, just not as young," Eryk retorted.

Kas laughed; even Aidan cracked a smile.

"Okay, I gotta know though, boss. Why don't you have any? They'd totally fit that biker aesthetic you have going on most of the time."

Aidan snorted. "I was, actually, in a biker gang," he said. "Long time ago. And I did have the tattoos. I got them removed though, when I left that all behind. They can do a lot of impressive shit with lasers these days." He shrugged. "Mine weren't art like yours. Not really. No point keeping them."

Eryk supposed he could understand that. Wanting to remove something from his past that was no longer wanted. Drake huffed lightly and nodded as if he were agreeing with Aidan. “What about you, Ryk? Why don't you have tattoos?" he asked, causing Ryk to arch a brow.

He simply shrugged. “No room to put one even if I did," he replied non-chalantly, pointing to the scars on his face. He was wearing a long-sleeved button up shirt, and rolled up his sleeves to clarify. His entire body was scarred, and even if he did want to get a tattoo, they would only draw attention to the scars. It'd be pointless to get one.

“Huh, well, I'm sure there are ways to get one if you really wanted one," Drake stated as he glance din Kas's direction. “How far are we heading out?" he asked. There was a hint of nervousness in his voice, though, that Eryk narrowed his eyes slightly.

“Afraid you'll get sea-sick?" he asked, as Drake furrowed his brows.

“No... not necessarily. There are just... lapras way out and I'd rather not encounter them if it can be helped," was Drake's response.

"Wait, you're afraid of lapras?" Kas looked incredulous. "They're like the gentlest pokémon ever! I've met jigglypuffs more dangerous than a lapras." He did draw the boat to a stop though, but it seemed to be in response to a reading from one of his navigational devices rather than because of Drake's unease.

Removing the key from the boat, he draped the lanyard it was on around his neck, picking up the rods and distributing one each to Aidan and Eryk. The seemed to be some kind of super rod, just from the look of them. His own looked slightly better still.

"You can go for a swim if you want, but watch the hooks," he advised Lani. She made a soft trilling noise and slipped off the boat into the ocean.

“You don't understand, Kas. They are terrifying," Drake replied, frowning in Kas's direction. He turned towards Aidan, though, lips still pursed as he seemed to muse something over. “If he stays far... far away, I'm not going to be the reason Skiff can't enjoy a swim, either." Eryk rolled his eyes, but felt something in his chest, rumble lightly. He was chuckling at the scene.

“They're not that bad, Drake," he stated, earning a flat look.

“Yeah, well when one is chasing you when you were five years old, you'd be singing a different tune."

“I wouldn't be singing at all." Drake narrowed his eyes at Eryk who merely shrugged. “Why do we have to be fishing, though? Wasn't there something else we could have done?" he asked, glancing in Kas's direction. They could have gone to Marna's, if anything.

With a nod to Drake, Aidan gave his net ball a toss into the water. Skiff appeared a moment later. He was pretty large for a lapras, which probably wasn't helping Drake's anxiety any, but at a word from Aidan he meandered away from the boat, drifting lazily along in the water and making no attempt to remain especially close to them.

"Ryk, fishing is a classic male bonding activity," Kas said, grinning broadly enough that even Eryk could tell he was joking. "We're supposed to sit around, complain about things, especially the women in our lives, and drink shitty beer. And you super white people are also supposed to get sunburn, while I will tan to a toastier brown."

"That's bullshit," Aidan replied. "Of all that you're interested in sitting around. And the beer you brought is good." He probably wasn't wrong—Kas was a lot of things, but sexist wasn't one of them. "Also fuck you, I wore sunscreen."

"Like a responsible thirtysomething, and not the young punk you used to be?"

Aidan threw another pokeball, this time for Kas. It smacked him right in the chest, and out popped Frost, who harrumped and immediately moved from the deck into the navigation room, flicking her tails with obvious irritation.

By this point, Kas was doubled over laughing, but he managed to recover enough to speak. "To answer your question, Ryk, we're here because I'm looking for a specific pokémon, and I thought you guys wouldn't mind the chance to relax a little."

Drake snorted softly, and tossed a pokeball out towards the water. His gyarados appeared, roaring rather loudly as Drake tried to hush it. “Go be bothersome elsewhere, but you need the stretch," he stated, earning a light huff from the gyarados. Eryk contemplated whether or not he should release the pokemon he had. Moira was with Ana, though, and likely wouldn't like being out in the ocean. Imp would try and scare the fish away accidentally, Red would likely try and fight with Eryk, and Icarus would likely scare the water-types away on purpose. Orion was his only choice, and the pidgeot would appreciate the chance to spread his wings.

And so he released the pokemon and turned his attention back towards Kas. “I'd tan, for your information. I'm not as pale as Drake and Aidan," he stated, pursing his lips lightly together. Drake, however, rubbed his neck sheepishly and glanced at Aidan.

“Do you still have that sunscreen? I don't want to burn," he asked, almost in a pleading tone.

“You should let him burn," Eryk stated simply as he checked his fishing rod. He knew he wasn't going to catch anything; of the many talents he had, fishing was not one of those. They were going to be out here for a while if Kas was looking for a particular pokemon, though.

Aidan passed a tube of sunscreen over to Drake, baiting and casting his line. "Never really got any good at this," he muttered, settling into one of the deck chairs.

"It's fine," Kas replied, casting his own line with the air of an expert. "Mostly a way to pass the time."

"I guess." He let out a sigh; the sun had come through the clouds and effectively cleared the mist, so he dropped his sunglasses onto his face. "While we're here though, you might as well ask me, Nero. About what's been eating you the last couple days."

Eryk furrowed his brows slightly as he glanced at Aidan. “I wouldn't exactly say it's eating at me," he stated before turning his attention back towards the ocean. “Cyrilla told me what you're doing for her," he began after a moment of silence. “She said you offered her your name to replace her own. What exactly are your intentions with that?" he asked. While he wasn't entirely against it, Cyrilla was his friend. His sister more than anything, and he wanted to make sure that Aidan wasn't going to do anything untoward.

“I don't disapprove, of it," he continued, clearing that part up. “I want to make sure that what you're offering her doesn't have some ulterior motive. Friend or not, she is family." His only family that he'd ever put first.

Kas seemed to be interested in the answer, too, from the way he tilted his head as if to hear better.

Aidan sighed, propping his pole against the boat's railing and lighting up another cigarette. "I'm not trying to marry the kid, if that's what you're worried about." He shuddered a little. "She's a good person, but I couldn't see her that kind of way even if I wanted to, which... I don't."

"Figured," Kas murmured, though he didn't interrupt further.

"But I thought, well, her family's pretty pissed at her right now, what with what she did and all. She was in the market for a new name, and as far as it goes, mine's more useful than most. The Koga know who I am, and more importantly they know the boss and I get along. So if they figure Cyrilla and I get along well enough for me to think of her as family, then they're more likely to leave her alone, you follow?"

Eryk blinked a little at the explanation. Put in that perspective, he could see why Cyrilla was considering Aidan's offer. She would be safer that way, and keep her family from trying to retaliate. Even the Koga knew better than to try and go against Gregorovich. If they did, there would be serious repercussions for them. Drake seemed a little confused, though.

“I feel a little left out. Did I miss something?" he asked as he glanced between the three of them. Eryk glanced in his direction, and pushed a soft sigh through his nose.

“I've complicated family, and Cyrilla is part of that," Eryk replied simply, slowly reeling his line in. He glanced back in Aidan's direction, and allowed his expression to ease a bit. “That might be a good idea, regardless, if she does take your name," he added, sighing softly. “Not afraid of the complications that might cause with Katia?" he asked, arching a brow in Aidan's direction. He only meant it mildly, but it was also a light concern.

Eryk wasn't an idiot when it came to the woman, and he knew Aidan wasn't, either.

Kas chuckled; Aidan made what sounded like a very juvenile gagging sound. "So to clarify, while this is a complaint about a woman, it does not qualify as complaining about women. But for fuckssake, that particular woman cannot take a hint."

“Katia... that was the relative of yours that was staying on the island for a few, right?" Drake asked as he glanced in Eryk's direction. “She didn't seem all too bad," he added, causing Eryk to give him a flat look.

“You haven't met her. You wouldn't say that if you knew her," Eryk retorted with a light huff. “And why did you ever think she would take a hint?" he asked, turning back towards Aidan. “When she's set her mind on something, in this case someone, she's not the type to give up so easily. You're lucky she hasn't targeted your neighbor-friend, yet," he stated. Eryk knew that Katia was aware of Aidan and Solomon's friendship.

Which meant that Katia would likely twist it into something it wasn't, and target Solomon for that reason alone. Before he could say anything else, though, there was a sudden tug on line, and he began to reel it in. It took him a couple of tries before he managed to see what his catch was, and gave the object a flat look.

“How in the world did you catch a branch? We're almost in the middle of the ocean!" Drake stated, trying not to laugh, it seemed.

Kas made a sound that sounded like an exaggerated pfft before returning to his line, which was pulling aggressively.

Aidan shrugged, bringing up an empty line with missing bait. "At least you caught something."

Kas's catch proved to be a large seaking; he let it go immediately after bringing it up.

Eryk was tempted to throw the branch at Drake, but refrained from doing so. “Maybe you should call Skiff back," Ryk stated as he narrowed his eyes at Drake. He placed the bait back onto his line and cast it back out, though he had no intentions of actually catching anything. He'd admit that it was relaxing, with the soft waves and the occasional cry of a wingull.

They stayed for a couple of hours, the sun climbing high into the sky. Judging from the position, it was noon. So far, Eryk had caught several random branches, a cluster of seaweed, and an empty can. Drake had caught a couple of magikarp and had almost fallen overboard when he hooked a tentacool. Eryk supposed it would have been entertaining if he had fallen overboard, but he'd helped untangle the pokémon and set it back out.

“Any luck?" he asked, glancing towards Aidan and Kas.

"Jack shit," Aidan replied, though he didn't sound particularly upset by the fact. They'd broken out the beer a couple ours ago, and he'd propped his feet on the railing, holding a bottle in one hand and the rod in the other. Eryk had caught him dozing off a couple of times.

Kas, meanwhile, had been reeling in pokémon like it was a competition. Several magikarp, some corsola, a couple tentacool, three goldeen, and once an octillery that had narrowly missed leaving ink all over the deck.

Just as he'd opened his mouth to answer, his line snagged again. "I've got a good feeling about this one!" he said, evidently confident.

“You've caught just about everything here, what could you possibly be looking for?" Drake stated as he slowly reeled his own line in. Eryk was faintly curious as well, and had placed his fishing rod down for the time being. He wasn't going to cast it out again with the little luck he was having catching something.

“If you wait a moment longer, maybe you'll find out," Eryk stated, reaching to grab another beer.

It took a few more minutes of dragging, but eventually Kas brought up quite a rare catch indeed: a rather shabby-looking, dull brown fish pokémon. "Gotcha, you sneaky so-and-so!" he declared, grabbing the net ball from his belt and tossing deftly for the feebas.

It disappeared in a red flash, and the ball dropped to the deck, shaking as it tried to fight its way out. Once, twice, thrice... and then the ball settled.

Kas stooped to pick it up, flashing a grin at them. "And that's the reason for the fancy nav tech," he said. "Finicky jerks only like water of a certain temperature and pressure. There's a tidal current around the island that matches it, but it moves a bit with the seasons, so you have to know what you're looking for."

“All that for a feebas?" Drake stated almost incredulosly. “Couldn't you have adopted the one Ana has?" he continued, arching a brow in Kas's direction.

“Bubbles isn't for adoption," Eryk interjected. “And he's the only feebas at the shelter," he explained. “I doubt Kas would want to add a feebas that isn't going to be able to battle to his team."

“Still, there are other ways than spending a few hours out on the ocean, right? I mean, feebas are kind of hard to raise, aren't they?" Drake stated as he glanced towards Aidan, for some reason.

"They are, sure. But way better to catch one wild than rely on a hatchery. Half of those places are rampant with disease." There was something slightly off about Aidan's tone, but it was hard to say what it was.

"True," Kas agreed. "And she's not for my team, anyhow. I'll make sure the next couple months are good for her, though."

Eryk was slightly confused as to what Kas meant by that, but he wasn't going to press. “If you say so," he said simply, shrugging his shoulders a bit. “You can take her by Ana's to have her check the feebas over if you'd like," Eryk offered. He was almost certain that Ana wouldn't mind. That, and he didn't particularly like the people at the Center. A relative of Ana's, if he remembered correctly, always seemed to put him in a sour mood. He avoided the place like the plague unless he had to go pick supplies up for or with Ana.

“Oh, it's about noon, right? Let's go get lunch, too! I'm starving," Drake added, causing Eryk to roll his eyes lightly. “We can invite the girls, too, if you want. I just want to go to Jo's!"

"Of course you do, kid."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Eryk Nero Character Portrait: Kasimir Rheinallt Character Portrait: Cyrilla Niav Character Portrait: Anastasia Asher Character Portrait: Rocket Files Character Portrait: Aidan Klein Character Portrait: Nevena Solomon

0.00 INK

#, as written by Aethyia


November 27th
Ana's House - Evening - Light Rain
Kasimir Rheinallt


"Oof." Kas exaggerated the sound as he plopped to the ground in Ana's living room, stretching his legs out in front of him. They wound up well under the coffee table, but he was used to that kind of thing. He propped his back against the front left of the armchair Cyrilla occupied, passing up the second glass of wine he'd retrieved for her.

Dinner had been excellent, in his semi-professional opinion, and now they were all sort of lazing around and letting themselves digest. Ana, being Ana, had made sure to have plenty of the good stuff on hand for the pokémon as well; Meep was already dozing next to his hip; he dropped his free hand gently onto her coat. His new catch was still sitting on his belt; he'd not mentioned her to anyone but the guys just yet. She was going to be a surprise—he'd sworn Eryk and Drake to secrecy, even if they didn't understand why.

Aidan probably had; there'd been a vague knowing glint in his eye when he nodded along with the others. Sometimes the amount that guy saw was downright scary. At least the big secret still seemed to be safe for the moment, but sometimes he wondered.

Not something to think about right now, anyway.

Ana giggled at him from her spot across the coffee table; she was sitting on a squashy cushion she'd stolen off the couch. Aidan was occupying half of that, a respectable distance between himself and Nev that seemed a little too deliberate. Like he had to think about it. Kas's deductive skills weren't quite as crazy-sharp as Aidan's, but he wasn't dull, either.

For the moment though, he grinned back at Ana; the charmer's smile he knew she was still a little taken aback by but in no genuine danger of falling for. "Thanks for dinner, Ana. I haven't eaten that well in a while."

"Oh please," she said, rolling her eyes at the compliment even as it turned her a little pink. "You eat your own cooking or Cyrilla's every day."

“While that may be, there's just something about eating a meal that someone else made who isn't Kas or myself," Cyrilla replied, grinning at Ana as she took a sip of the wine Kas had brought her. Ryk rolled his eyes slightly, taking a seat on the floor next to Ana. It seemed almost natural the way he sat there, not at all bothered by how close he was sitting. Perhaps he just didn't notice?

“Next year we'll have to change that up. Since you were so gracious to cook for us this year, Kas and I can cook next year and the rest of you get to bring whatever else you want," she continued, huffing lightly into her glass as if she were trying not to laugh at herself.

“Maybe we can alternate! Although... maybe skip me? I can't cook very well," Nev stated as she pursed her lips together. It almost looked like she was pouting.

“You'd have to skip me, too, otherwise it'd just be burgers," Drake added in a nonchalant fashion. Eryk huffed lightly, almost in a scoff-like fashion, but didn't comment.

"You can help when it's my turn, Doc," Aidan said, leaning back a bit into the couch. He'd opted for a warm whiskey rather than wine, and rested it on his knee, his ankle crossed over the other. It was about as relaxed as Kas had ever seen him. "Not that I'm all that fantastic either. It's been a while since I've done a holiday meal with anyone."

"No big family gatherings for you?" Kasimir asked, genuinely curious. He knew plenty about the Koga, a few things about Nev's parents, but both Ana and Aidan had... never really mentioned much about their families. He'd looked into Ana's of course, and so knew a lot more than he should, but it wasn't his business to share, so he'd never said anything. Aidan on the other hand was a complete mystery. Practically his entire personnel file was redacted, to the point where the full version didn't even exist digitally. He knew more about Gregorovich's personal life.

Aidan, though, just shrugged like it wasn't a big deal. "No big family," he pointed out. "Gramps and my grandmother are dead. Haven't talked to my mom in years. Not sure who my dad is. No siblings or cousins." He clearly wasn't broken up by it at all, just matter-of-fact.

“Well, there's..." Cyrilla began, pausing only a moment to count how many people were in the room, “seven of us here, now. This can be our own little family. Here. Now. Just the seven of us, and even Melly when she becomes the next champion of Kanto. It can just be between us, and no one else has to know."

“That's not how families work, Cy," Drake replied, chuckling lightly into his glass of water. He didn't seem too interested in drinking more beer. Eryk, however, rolled his eyes.

“We don't have to be a traditional one," Eryk stated with a light shrug of his shoulders.

Ana looked vaguely uncomfortable for just a split second; Kas almost missed it, and he sure as hell couldn't explain it. Either way, it seemed prudent to switch the topic of conversation. While he was rarely ever a prudent man, he was willing to make an exception in this case. "Okay," he said. "We're full and have all at least had something to drink. This means it's the perfect time for a game!"

"Why do I feel like this is going somewhere I'm twenty years too old for?" Aidan drawled.

Kas leaned into it, grinning broadly. "Who wants to play truth or dare?"

"Called it."

“I'd rather not," Ryk replied, giving Kas a flat look.

“But why not!? It sounds like fun. Haven't played that in a long time," Drake chimed in as he set his cup down. Nev chuckled lightly, but nodded her head in agreement.

“You don't have to play, Ryk, if you don't want to. No one here is going to force you to," she stated in a light tone as she placed her own cup down to the side.

“But there have to be rules to this! Otherwise it's a boring game," Cyrilla suggested as she leaned a bit in her chair.

“Like what?"

Cyrilla grinned. “Like if you chicken out of your dare, you're going to have to do something ten-times more embarrassing. Of course, that doesn't mean we'll be completely rutheless about it, or rather, I won't. If it's really something you're uncomfortable with, it can pass."

“Seems fair."

“Hush, Ryk, you said you weren't playing."

"Also you can't lie on a truth question, but you can pass those too, if you're a coward." Kas hadn't really expected anyone to go for it, but now that they had, he was going to make sure they did it right.

"How would we even know?" Ana asked, tilting her head to the side. She'd moved back to water also.

"Because we have the Human Polygraph in our midst," Kas proclaimed solemnly, gesturing with his wineglass to Aidan.

The other man rolled his eyes. "Any other extra rules, or does someone want to start?"

“I think we are pretty good. With Ryk sitting out, that still gives us enough players," Cy stated as she wrinkled her nose in Ryk's direction. He responded with the same flat look he'd given to Kas.

“I'll go first!" Drake volunteered, reaching over to place his cup down on the coffee table. He glanced over in Aidan's direction, and grinned. “Truth or dare, old man!"

"This oughta be good," Aidan said, apparently completely unconcerned. "Dare. Better pick a good one, kid."

Drake's eyes widened for a second, presumably because he wasn't expecting Aidan to pick dare. “Uh, uh," Drake stuttered for a moment. He pursed his lips together before he seemed to think of something.

“Fine, I dare you to scare someone in this room within the next five minutes." He didn't seem at all satisfied with the dare, but it seemed to be enough for Drake.

Aidan snorted. "Sure," he said. "Rheinallt."

"Does it count if I'm already a little scared?" Kas joked. "But... truth."

Shrugging, Aidan lobbed him a question with a deceptively casual tone. "What's something most people think is true about you, but isn't?"

That I'm a loyal member of Team Rocket, his brain supplied helpfully. Fortunately, he'd grow very used to lying about this one particular fact, and picked something else to talk about. "Most people think I've been to college," he stated instead.

"You haven't?" Ana did indeed seem genuinely surprised.

"I'm pretty sure you and Sis are the only people in this room with degrees, Ana. I learned what I know from books and trying things out, mostly. Speaking of Sis though: truth or dare?"

“Oh, um, um, hold on," Nev seemed a little caught off guard and seemed to try and settle on an answer. “I've never played before, so..." she trailed off, smiling a little too broadly, perhaps.

“I choose dare!"

Kas snickered, deciding to go easy on her for now. She probably hadn't played this game before, after all. "I want you to—"

Wham! Before he could finish, Aidan abruptly slammed his hand flat on the coffee table. Ana jumped, letting out a startled squeak.

"There. I scared someone." Aidan leaned back against the couch again. "Sorry, Ana."

She smiled, then shook her head. "That's okay."

"Simple, but effective," Kas remarked. "Anyway, Sis. I want you to cuss up a storm. Actual swear words, as many as you can fit in ten seconds. Go."

Nev's eyes widened slightly, and seemed almost nervous about it. She took in a sharp breath, though, and narrowed her eyes slightly at Kas. “Fine, ten seconds. Also, um, sorry in advance?" she stated.

“Arceusdamn, mother fucking shit, son of a bitch, prick headed ass-kisser—" she began listing off some of the words and continued for the remaining few seconds. During the ten seconds Nev was listing off her swear words, Cyrilla was slightly trembling from holding back a few laughs. Drake, however, was almost doubled over from laughing. Even Eryk seemed to find it amusing if the subtle smirk on his face was anything to go by.

“Oh my Arceus, Nev. Holding back much?" Cyrilla stated once she seemed to have her laughter under control. Nev's face was slightly red, as she chuckled nervously.

“The office can be a little stressful?" Nev stated as more of a question than a statement.

“I didn't think you had that in you, though. That was great," Drake said once he was able to breathe.

Kas was laughing so hard by the end of it that he almost had tears in his eyes. "Tell us how you really feel," he quipped. Ana's eyes were wide, but she was smiling too.

Aidan, also smiling a little, reached over to pat her on the shoulder. "There were guys in the gang that knew fewer good ones," he said, eyes narrow with mirth. If anything, he was teasing her.

“Thanks?" Nev didn't seem entirely sure how to take that, but she was smiling regardless. “Alright, Cyrilla, truth or dare," she spoke as she turned in Cyrilla's direction. Cy rolled her eyes softly but grinned.

“Fine, I'll choose..." she paused, almost to give it a dramatic effect, “dare." Nev grinned as if she were anticipating Cy to say that, and wrinkled her nose a bit.

“I dare you to massage Kas's head like a furfrou," she stated. Cy snickered softly and glanced in Kas's direction.

“Do I have to tell him he's a good boy, too?" Cyrilla asked, clearly in a teasing manner. Drake snorted softly at the statement while Eryk rolled his eyes. “Alright, Kas, c'mere. Ana," she stated, motioning for Kas to move his head a little closer and turning her attention towards Ana.

“Truth or dare?"

"Try to actually make it difficult next time, Sis," Kas advised, leaning slightly to give Cyrilla easier access to his head. He took the tie out, too, ruffling his hair a bit. It'd kind of suck to try to do with all the strands pulled into a tight formation, after all.

"Umm." Ana looked unsure, but apparently decided she was feeling brave. "Dare."

Cyrilla snickered, running her fingers through Kas's hair to detangle it, it seemed. “Alright, I dare you to..." she paused as if to give it some thought, “assign everyone a color and call them by that color until it's your turn, again." It seemed Cy was going easy on Ana, and grinned in her direction.

Ana frowned a little, clearly sensing it, but hummed anyway, naming them in a circle, starting with Sis. "Okay, uhhh... Blue for Nev. Red for Aidan, green for Kas, pink for you, Cyrilla, purple for Drake, and... grey for Eryk. And, uh... truth or dare to... red!"

Kas chuckled softly, rather enjoying Cy's fingers in his hair and making no attempt to conceal the fact. He wondered how many people had called Aidan 'Red' before. Probably loads, with hair like that.

"Truth." He looked amused; probably wondering what she'd ask him.

"Ummm. Would you rather be forced to dance every time you heard music, or forced to sing along to every song you heard?"

Aidan snorted, the sound turning into a short bark of laughter. "Those both sound awful, but I'll go with singing, since you never said it had to be audible. Cyrilla, choose your fate."

Drake chuckled lightly as he arched a brow in Aidan's direction. He didn't say anything, though, and seemed to merely wait for Cy to reply.

“Hm, tough one," Cy started as she removed one of her hands from Kas's head to tap her chin in a thoughtful manner. “I guess... I'll go with truth, 'cause why not?" she shrugged her shoulders before returning her hand to where it had been.

"In your expert bisexual opinion, who in this room has the nicest ass?" Aidan's delivery was so dry and deadpan it could have been a question about the weather.

Kas, of course cracked up.

Cyrilla snorted a little harshly before she laughed, leaning forward so that her head was on the back of Kas's. She didn't seem to laugh loudly in his ears though, seemingly more amused by the way Aidan delivered the question. “Oh, that's a tough one," she started once she'd gained control of her laughter.

“I'd have to say, as far as nicest ass goes, it would definitely have to be Kas's. You should have been there during the Camilla festival when we were keeping a ball between us. He's got cheeks of steel!" Drake nearly choked on his drink at the statement as he coughed into his hands. Nev seemed to be finding it amusing as well since she was chuckling lightly. Kas lost it again at the ridiculous phrase, which was probably her intention in using it.

“But if I had to rank them..." Cy continued, glancing at everyone in the room, “I'd say Kas's was first, Nev's would have to be second because my arceus, woman, you have one. Despite how small you are, Ana, you'd be third with Drake right behind you. Ryk... you and Aidan would be tied for last."

Aidan nodded sagely, as if this were the result he'd expected all along. Ana was the approximate color of a cherry, and made an awkward squeaking sound into her hands. Poor thing.

“Alright, Drake, truth or dare," Cyrilla stated as arched a brow at him. Drake seemed to contemplate it for a moment.

“I choose the truth!" he declared, seemingly not at all afraid of what she would have him say. Cyrilla's grin only broadened.

“If you had to choose between being naked or having everyone know your thoughts, which one would you choose?" she asked, causing Drake to give her a flat look. His face was turning a light pink, though, as he seemed to contemplate it.

“I'm not ashamed; I'd go naked," he declared, finally.

“Ashamed or not, not everyone would like to see you in all your nakedness. I'd rather be blind," Ryk deadpanned, as he shook his head.

“Hey, now, that's just mean."

“Never said I was nice."

Nev and Cy snickered at the same time at the banter before Drake pouted and turned his attention towards Kas.

“Truth or dare, Kas."

"Dare," he replied immediately.

“I dare you to make eye contact with anyone of your choosing and don't break it until it's your turn again," Drake stated, seemingly happy with his choice.

Kas rolled his eyes. As Cy was still petting his hair, he elected to lock eyes with Ryk instead. It was easy, because Ryk could passively stare without feeling the least bit awkward about it. Still doing so, he shrugged. "Boss."

"Not my name. And dare."

"I'm sad I'm going to miss this because of Drake's stupid dare, but do a cartwheel."

Aidan sighed, but there was a sound, presumably him standing, and then another, his glass hitting one of the coasters on the coffee table. A series of soft thuds.

"Oh, nice form, Ai—Red!" Ana exclaimed, genuinely delighted.

"Thank you. Doc, it's your turn."

“I chose dare last time," Nev replied.

“You don't have to alternate if you don't want to, Nev. That's not how it works."

“Oh, then I'll choose dare, again!" she sounded happy about it, for some reason.

Aidan huffed. "Tell everyone in the room the first impression you had of them. Except me. I already know you thought I was a taxi service."

Ana giggled. "Really?"

“I still feel bad for it, really. I thought he was the driver when I first arrived to Cinnabar, even though he'd introduced himself as not the driver. Not in those words, mind you," Nev replied a little grumpily. She smiled, though, and sighed.

“Well, that's a little easy, though, for everyone else. Kas, I thought you weren't really part of the tech team when we first met in Johto. You just didn't have that air of someone who'd spent most of their time behind computers," she began with Kas first, grinning at him a little stupidly. She was likely still drunk.

“Ana was the cutest thing I'd ever seen. I think it was because of how out of place you seemed at the shelter. Mostly because of the contrast the clothes were, but you're still the sweetest person I know. Second to none."

She pointed at Ryk. “You were a little hard to read, but like Ana, you were probably one of the nicest people, albeit a little lonely? You just... something always seems sad in your eyes," she pursed her lips a bit in his direction, though Ryk didn't respond.

“And you!" she nearly shouted, giggling as she turned towards Drake. “You didn't live up to my expectations of meeting Kanto's number... what was it now, two? most eligible bachelor." Cyrilla huffed lightly at the way Drake's eyes widened and his cheeks pinked.

“Last," Nev began again, turning her attention towards Cy, “I thought you had the most beautiful shade of hair I'd ever seen. Is it as soft as it looks? Because it looks like it'd still kind of just melt in your hands like snow."

“You can come touch it if you want, Nev. I'm not gonna bite you unless you want me to," Cyrilla replied almost casually, moving one hand so that it was on the right side of Kas's head as she continued to massage it.

“Maybe next time," Nev chuckled. “alright, Kas, your turn!"

That was about as funny as he'd thought it would be. Kas shook his head, lightly enough so as not to mess with that Cy was doing; the absurd desire was there to lean into her touch like a delcatty, but he refrained. Barely. Beside him, Meep sighed in her sleep and rolled over.

"All right, dare. What've you got, Sis?"

Nev chuckled lightly as she smiled. “Fine, I dare you to..." she paused, glancing around the room as she pursed her lips together, “cuddle with anyone of your choosing for the rest of the game. And that includes you, too, Ryk!" Eryk narrowed his eyes at her, though.

“No."

“Aw, why not? At least you should be an option."

“Because I'm not playing." He took a sip of his drink, keeping his gaze locked with Nev's as if her were almost daring her to keep insisting.

“Fine, cuddle with anyone but Ryk," Nev murmured, almost as if she were upset.

Kas sighed, as though his first choice had indeed just become unavailable to him. Of course, then an even funnier idea occurred to him—Ryk was going to kill him for this and it was going to be completely worth it.

Shifting a bit so that his legs were gathered up and crossed, he patted his knee. "I pick Ana."

Ana herself looked predictably astonished by this development, her eyes widening so much he had to stifle a chuckle. She raised a hand to point at herself. "Me?"

He grinned. "You. If you don't mind."

She considered this for a moment. "Um... I suppose not." Shrugging, she moved over towards where he and Cy were, then paused. "Do I just...?"

It was too adorable, really. Shooting a conspiratorial grin at Cy, he held his arms out. "Just over here in my lap. Sit facing out—it'll be more comfortable that way."

She cleared her throat, but gamely did as he asked, and he gave her a bit of a hug from behind. "Let me know if anything's uncomfortable, okay? Don't do this just because a dare said so. I want you to tell me if you want to stop." He kept the words low, murmuring them next to her ear. In part because they weren't for anyone but her, but also partly because it would look suggestive in a way Ana didn't understand but their audience did.

Ana nodded, and he felt her relax back a little. It was very tame cuddling, and very platonic, but it was cuddling all the same.

When he was sure she wouldn't spontaneously combust, he made a show of sighing contentedly. "Nothing like being the middle of a pretty girl sandwich," he said, tipping his head back to meet Cy's eyes and wink.

Nev snickered softly, unaware of what Kas was intentionally trying to do, however; the look Eryk gave him basically said eat shit and die. Cyrilla's hands were shaking as if she were trying to contain her laughter, while Drake just smiled in a confused manner.

“She did say anyone, but you, Ryk. We all know you're jealous," Cy stated through a soft snort, though the way she phrased it seemed to imply that Ryk was jealous of Ana cuddling with Kas instead of himself. She was teasing him.

“She's got a point there, Ryk," Drake added as he turned towards Kas. “Your turn, Green!"

"The color rule wasn't for you, Purple," Kas fired back, grinning wickedly back at Ryk and propping his chin on the crown of Ana's head. Her hair was very soft, a detail he looked forward to mocking his friend with at a later time.

"Let's see. Drake, truth or dare?"

It was a very good day to be Kasimir Rheinallt.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Eryk Nero Character Portrait: Kasimir Rheinallt Character Portrait: Cyrilla Niav Character Portrait: Aidan Klein

0.00 INK



Image


December 3rd
Field Office 9 - Morning - Cool
Eryk Nero


Eryk stifled a yawn, blinking slowly to clear his eyes. He had stayed up almost all night with Stella, making sure that her breathing had returned back to normal. He'd known, of course, that the stunky was going to have breathing problems for the rest of her life, however; last night had been an especially bad episode. It might have been that the weather was getting colder, or perhaps something else. He sighed heavily before pushing the door open to the conference room. Aidan and Cyrilla were inside, though from the way her head rested against the table, she might have been sleeping on it.

Her head turned, though, and she smiled at him. “Morning, Ryk," she greeted as he took a seat. He simply nodded his head in greeting before glancing towards Aidan.

“Where's Kas?" he asked. He wasn't in the room, yet.

“Ah, he's bringing breakfast croissants. He lost a bet last night and now he has to bring breakfast for us for the entirety of this week," Cyrilla replied, smiling a little smugly. Eryk wasn't too sure what that was about, but he shook his head softly and rolled his eyes.

He did, in fact, appear a few minutes later, a large box in one hand and a tall cup of coffee in the other. He dropped the box onto the table without spilling the contents, then dropped into his chair, yawning. "Don't play Rochambeau with a ninja, boss. They cheat."

Aidan snorted. "Don't have to tell me that." He opened the box and fished out a pastry, passing a few napkins around the table so they wouldn't have to set their food down directly on it. "All right, I don't think I have to remind you that the Saffron Stakes is next month."

“Next month?" Eryk questioned, giving Aidan a flat look. He'd forgotten about that. Maybe because the three of them hadn't been training as rigorously as they had been, or maybe it was because he had other things on his mind? Like the shelter.

“Did you forget?" Cy asked, arching a brow at him as she took a bite out of one of her pastries.

“I had other things to do," Ryk replied smoothly. “And training had stopped for a week, or so," he added, causing Cy to sigh softly.

"Yeah, well. It's going to be picking back up again, don't you worry," Aidan replied, waving a hand. "The rest was necessary recover time. It gets about twice as hard starting tomorrow at 7am."

That statement was punctuated by a loud, agonized groan from Kas, who folded his arms on the table and dropped his forehead onto them. "Just kill me now," he whined.

Aidan made eye contact with Eryk and Cyrilla, a wicked smile flashing across his face for a moment before yielding to his usual deadpan expression. "What's that, Rheinallt? You'd prefer 5? You know, you're probably right; an extra two hours a day is much closer to what it was actually like training for the league."

Kas's head snapped up, his expression one of unadulterated horror. "You're a monster."

"No," Aidan replied flatly, "I am, as you constantly remind me, your boss. 5am, and look alive."

Eryk shrugged his shoulders, though. He was used to being up around that time to help with the morning preparations at Ana's shelter. He would just have to let Ana know that training was going to pick up again. Cyrilla, however, seemed to find the situation amusing, as she chuckled in Kas's direction.

“Oh, it's not that bad, Kas. It'll only be for a couple of weeks," she stated, taking another bite of her pastry. Eryk shook his head, though.

“You only say that because you're not doing any of the training," Eryk replied, causing Cyrilla to snort softly.

“Not the same kind of training you two will be doing, but I've got other things to take care of, too, you know," she grinned in Eryk's direction. “And besides, it's not like you will be training on empty stomachs. I can coordinate with Ana and have breakfast and lunch made the night before so all you have to do is wake up, go train. We'll even throw in lunch and breakfast for big brother Aidan."

"I knew I was gonna regret that," Aidan said with a sigh. "Speaking of: I still need that paperwork from you, little ninja." Without a last name to call her by, Aidan had used 'Cyrilla' for a while, but lately it seemed to switch between that and 'little ninja,' which had slipped out late at night on Thanksgiving, when most of the group had been pretty drunk. It seemed to have stuck.

“I'm working on it," she replied, huffing slightly. “It's a lot of paperwork, mind you," she added. Eryk felt the corner of his lip twitch upwards a bit before glancing in Aidan's direction.

“It's not going to create any other problems, here, will it?" he asked. Even though they were friends, in that strange sort of way that Eryk found himself enjoying, that didn't mean it would be well-received within the facility. NTR was as cutthroat as it could possibly be, and though things had died down for the moment, any of the grunts could take this the wrong way and blow it out of proportion.

Aidan shrugged. "I have a reputation for doing things that I don't explain to anyone," he said. "They'll complain, and speculate, but they won't do anything, because all of them know I'm Gregorovich's interrogator and that terrifies the shit out of them."

Kas chuckled, a bit darkly. "Afraid you'll track them down and crack some skulls?"

Aidan's lips twitched. "I'm sure most of them aren't worried for their skulls. Their fingers, though..."

“Why is it always the fingers?" Cyrilla murmured, taking a drink of her cup. Eryk snorted softly, understanding what she'd meant by that. It was the first thing they started with when they were teaching torture techniques in the clan.

“Be glad he wasn't speaking of the eyes," Eryk chimed in, watching as Cyrilla visibly shuddered. “I'll ask Ana to switch Nova with Moira so that he gets some training in as well," he stated. He was certain that Nova would appreciate it. They had, after all, agreed to work together since Moira would be helping Ana out, and the absol abhorred battling. Eryk had always respected that; it was her choice, whether or not she wanted to battle. He'd never say otherwise.

Aidan nodded. "Please do." Expelling a breath, he visibly shifted gears. "All right, now that the official shit's over, I figured we should start talking about Marna's roof. Storm season's over, according to Rheinallt, so I looked into new materials. Tiling's probably the best option, and feasible if we want to install it ourselves. You guys still interested?"

"Obviously," Kas replied immediately.

“Of course," Eryk answered. “I've the funds to cover it as well," he added, causing Cyrilla to purse her lips at him.

“No, Ryk. We have the funds to cover it," she stated, pulling out an envelope. “I asked everyone to chip in for donations so you wouldn't be the only one paying out of pocket. We have enough for the materials, but after that, everything is going to be manual labor. From all of us who are capable of it," she explained, pushing the small envelope towards the middle of the table.

“Fine. If we order what we need now, we should be able to receive everything necessary in a couple of weeks," Eryk suggested. Cinnabar had resources, but what they were going to need would have to be shipped to them.

Aidan nodded. "I'll put in the order this afternoon. I've got a pretty good guess what color and style she'll like best. If boat shipping works on the right timeline, it should be two weeks exactly." He considered a moment. "We'll probably want to set aside a weekend for it, so mark off the one right before the 25th."

"Speaking of Christmas, did anyone else get an adorable glittery invitation in the mail from Ana?" Kas asked, lifting an eyebrow. "Apparently we're all invited to a Christmas party. I propose we dress up for it."

“Kas... we live together. The invitation was for the both of us, and Ryk lives with her," Cyrilla snickered softly as she glanced in Eryk's direction with a grin.

“Do we have to?" he stated, pursing his lips together. He didn't want to dress up for an event like that, mostly because he didn't really have anything that would be proper. Besides, it was only going to be the seven of them; why did he need to dress up for them?

“Because you're not just dressing up for us, Ryk. You're doing it to impress Ana and to show her you can clean up when you want to. There's nothing wrong with fluffing your feathers a bit," Cyrilla replied as if reading his mind. “If you want, we can go out after this meeting and I can help you find something for it. You don't have to buy it right away, you can have a couple of options first. Same goes for you, too, Aidan."

"Don't lump me in with him. I own a suit."

"Is any part of it any color besides black?"

"Can it, Rheinallt. Black is a perfectly fine color for a suit."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Eryk Nero Character Portrait: Kasimir Rheinallt Character Portrait: Aidan Klein

0.00 INK

#, as written by Aethyia


December 7th
Backisland Beach - Too Damn Early - Clear
Kasimir Rheinallt


"Fuck," Kas gasped, falling over the finish line in the sand just slightly ahead of Eryk. Both of them were well behind Aidan, who didn't look even slightly winded as he reversed direction to face them. There was a sheen of sweat on his brow at least; it wasn't at all hot on the island at this time of the morning this time of year, but running a lap around the whole damn thing, most of them over sand, would do that.

Rolling over to sprawl on his back, Kas let himself catch his breath. The last mile had been pretty much all-out, and even in good shape as he was, this wasn't the kind of thing he did to such an extreme on his own time. It'd been a while since his most intense training period as a kid, and admittedly in the last year or so he'd slacked a bit on training. His dad'd be yelling at him right now for letting himself go, even if a ten-mile run was still well beyond what most anyone would bother with.

Beside him, Sigrún was breathing heavily as well, the lucario's endurance tested right along with his. He reached over and patted her head; she nosed against his palm, apparently too tired to do much more than send him the telepathic equivalent of a nudge.

Lani, who'd swum most of the laps, emerged from the ocean, her tail dragging a bit in the wet sand behind her, and flopped over next to the rest of them. Aidan's pokémon were about as used to all of this as he was, and of Kas's, Princess Cinders and Widget seemed to have handled it the best, though even they landed a bit heavily, Cinders with a grudging grunt. Meep had lost the ability to keep up about five miles in, and was resting in her ball. Boss was a hard teacher, not a complete asshole of one.

"Take five, guys," he said. "And don't forget to stretch."

"How?" Kas complained. "How are you in such good shape? You're a smoker, for fuck's sake!"

Aidan snorted. "I also don't skip the gym, Rheinallt."

Eryk grunted a short response to Aidan's reply, flopping down on the other side of Kas. He didn't seem to bother turning over like Kas did, and laid face first in the sand. His pidgeot, Orion, landed on the other side of him, stretching out its wings before falling suit. It made a soft humming noise as Eryk turned his face in Aidan's direction. Icarus and Red had returned to their own balls about a mile after Meep had, and Imp seemed content to fall on Eryk's back. Ryk didn't seem to have the need to tell him to move, but pursed his lips.

“Gym or not, this is still torture for those of us not in a former champion's good shape," he stated taking in a deep breath. He let out another oof when Runt fell on his back as well.

Aidan chuckled softly. "I did warn you it was going to get more intense," he said, already starting to stretch himself out.

This part wasn't actually so bad—apparently yoga of all things was also part of their new regimen. Kas was completely in favor of this: it was proven that flexibility and regular stretching were great ways to reduce injury. Something he definitely wanted for his pokémon and something he could certainly use for himself. And if anyone had a problem with three dudes doing beach yoga in the morning, he'd be happy to demonstrate the benefits it had for his martial arts form, too.

That said... he was still exhausted. With a groan, he rolled back over and pushed himself up into down growlithe, his pokémon faithfully stretching, too. He even gave Meep's ball a toss so she could join back in.

"There's intense and then there's insane," he quipped.

"If you can still run your mouth, maybe your legs didn't do enough of it," Aidan replied, transitioning into a flawlessly-straight handstand.

Asshole.

Ryk snorted somewhat, pushing himself up and causing the two pokemon on his back to fall off. He stood, dusting off the sand from his body. “This is intense, not insane, Kas," Ryk retorted before taking a warrior one pose. “If you want insane, I can get you into the compound for an hour," he added, glancing in Kas's direction.

"And yet you're as tired as I am," Kas observed, folding himself in half and wrapping his arms around his legs to stretch out his hamstrings. They were, of course, very warm already, which helped, but he could feel a pull in them anyway, and left himself there long enough to relax into it.

"Besides, I didn't say I wanted to die, so don't talk about siccing your insane family on me. At least I can believe boss isn't doing it on purpose." He feigns a shudder, though he doesn't have to try hard to do it.

In a way, the joke is nearing a boundary, and he doesn't know how comfortable Ryk will be with that. But he'd mentioned them first, so Kas figured he might as well use the opportunity to find out. If he went too far, he can always apologize.

Ryk just shrugged his shoulders, though. “You'd likely lose an appendage of sorts. Which one would be up to whatever training they wanted you to go through. Almost lost a few fingers learning how to properly utilize throwing knives," he replied with a strange ease, as if it were just something natural to say. Almost as if he remembered something, he brought his arms down and held out his arm a bit.

“That scar," he began, pointing to the one over his forearm near his elbow, “was from where I almost lost my arm. I was... thirteen?" He shrugged as if he didn't recall, exactly, before he straightened out his posture.

“This one," he pointed to one on his leg, below his knee, “I almost lost to a feral feraligatr that had been in a trap door."

"Fuck's sake," Aidan said, dropping back onto his feet and focusing on a different sequence of leg stretches. "I've had people try to shoot me and it seems less ridiculous."

Kas nodded, shifting into a lunge. "It's so fucking pointless," he said, shaking his head. "Not that this is even close to the main thing wrong with that, but the science shows that shit like that isn't even effective, as a way of teaching people. Yeah, sometimes you have to work hard and be tired, but just like torture never actually works, training like that's..." He expels a hard breath. It was hard to even get his head around it. It came down to cruelty for the sake of cruelty, really, and while he'd had a couple run-ins with stuff like that, it'd never been from his family. From the people who were responsible for his safety. Who were supposed to love him.

Because they did love him. Even if sometimes things went wrong, none of them had ever really made him doubt that. It wasn't that he was lucky, though he was. It was just that Ryk had apparently never even been treated with basic human decency. It made him sick.

“I suppose they never got the memo about it," Ryk stated, his lip twitching just slightly into a light smirk. He rolled out his shoulder a bit, stretching them out before pulling his arm in front of him. “Training like that was effective for a time, but by now I'm sure they've implemented other things. I'd have to ask those that are still in training to find out for sure," he stated.

“Have you been shot, though?" Eryk asked, turning his attention towards Aidan. He seemed intrigued about the statement.

Aidan nodded. "Yeah, once. Drive-by." He lifted the hem of his black shirt a little so they could see the finger-width scar that tracked his side for a about three inches. "It lodged, but not too deep. Maybe an inch to the left and it'd have missed."

Kas felt his eyebrows ascend. "Did you need surgery?"

He shrugged. "Probably. But I drank half a bottle of whiskey and pulled it out with tweezers. I uh... couldn't really afford the hospital." He dropped the shirt, then pointed to a long, thin, jagged slash on the outside of one forearm. "Broken bottle. Got a few cigarette burns on my back. But most stuff didn't cut or whatever. Not too many scars."

Arceus, him too? Sometimes Kas really didn't know what was wrong with the world. "Don't tell me you were 'training' too."

"Only if not pissing off my relatives was a sport and I didn't know it." He straightened, patting down his pockets before frowning.

Eryk didn't say anything to that. He simply sighed and shook his head before picking up Icarus, who had waddled up towards him. He placed the espurr on his shoulders before placing a hand on Runt's head, giving it a rub as the tyrunt huffed lightly.

“It's been more than five minutes for stretches. What else is on the agenda for today?" he asked, turning his attention towards Aidan.

"Move work," Aidan said immediately, giving up on whatever searching he seemed to be doing. Possibly cigarettes. "We're gonna practice blasts to build up force and duration, and then transition to evasive maneuvers. Rex and Frost are going to shoot projectiles at yours so they can practice dodging."

Kas nodded; that was all reasonable. Having a real pro's pokémon to practice against made almost as much difference as access to his regiment did. "Righto, boss!"

"Don't call me boss."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Eryk Nero Character Portrait: Kasimir Rheinallt Character Portrait: Rocket Files Character Portrait: Aidan Klein

0.00 INK

#, as written by Nemeseia


December 14th
Cinnabar Island - Afternoon - Cool
Drake Bellamy


Drake dragged a hand through his hair, feeling a smile on his face as he sent his latest text to Mel. It wasn't much, just an update to let her know that he was hanging out with her brother, Ryk, and Aidan today. He found it strange how he was looking forward to her texts almost constantly. The phone calls were great, too, but sometimes she was in an area where the reception was a little off. That, or it was his phone, he couldn't be too sure. Sometimes they talked for a few minutes, other times it felt like hours. It was... nice to be able to do that.

His last relationship, if he could even call it that, was a text every ten seconds or a phone call every time a text wasn't answered immediately. What he had seen in Kevin still remained a mystery to Drake. Sure, Kevin had a certain kind of attractiveness, but his personality had remained atrocious. He shook the thought out of his head, though, and glanced towards the other three.

“How is training going so far? A few of the gym challengers were giggling about three gorgeous dudes running around the backisland and doing yoga," he stated, grinning slightly when Eryk rolled his eyes.

Kas laughed. "Well there were three dudes, but I must have missed the gorgeous part. Too much sweat in my eyes, or something." He grinned himself, clearly well aware nevertheless who the rumors were about and not at all annoyed.

Drake's phone pinged; it was a selfie of Mel biting off a stick of jerky, exaggerated to imply she was gnawing at it. She never seemed to be all that concerned with looking a certain way, and her photos were more often humorous or of things around her than anything. The text below it read:

Please eat something good while you're out. And take a picture of it. I'm dying on camp rations over here and don't remember what real food looks like.

Aidan raised an eyebrow, perhaps having caught a look at the screen. Either that or he was just being freak-perceptive like he was sometimes. "Someone's having a good couple of weeks," he observed.

“Yep, best couple of weeks I've had so far," Drake replied, frowning a bit. He hoped that Mel was getting the proper nutrition, at least. “Mel wants me to take a picture of the food we get when we go eat. She's, and I quote, dying on camp rations," he added, sending a quick text to her.

Let me know the next PokéCenter you stop at and I'll send you something for food!!

“Why does everyone like taking pictures of their food?" Ryk finally spoke, glancing in Drake's direction. “Every time we go to Jo's, there's a few people taking pictures of their food before they eat it. By the time they do, their food is already cold," he continued, causing Drake to chuckle lightly.

“It's for their Snapgram account. It's the latest thing, you know. You don't get out much, do you, Ryk?" Drake asked as Ryk gave him a flat look.

“I get out enough."

"I can only assume Mel's mostly joking in making the request," Kas added. "She tends to think being obsessed with that stuff is pointless, which she's not wrong about."

Aidan nodded. "It's really not that different than most shit tourists do," he noted. "It's just keeping the photo albums online instead of in your house."

"You know about Snapgram, boss?" Kas looked genuinely surprised.

Aidan sighed, though. "I'm not seventy, Rheinallt. I do at least try to keep track of the world around me."

Another message popped up. That's so sweet; you really don't have to. I'll be making a pit stop in Pallet in a week, though. If it's not too much trouble, I'd really like a Ragecandybar—the human kind, obviously. I'll take you to dinner next time we see each other to pay you back?

Drake felt his smile inch a little wider as he typed his reply. You don't have to pay me back, but dinner the next time you're here sounds good! Should I make a reservation at Jo's? He was only half kidding about that. Jo's didn't get enough foot traffic to warrant a reservation, after all.

“What's with the stupid grin, Bellamy?" Eryk asked, causing Drake to glance in his direction.

“You're just jealous I have a date, Ryk, and you don't." Ryk gave him a flat look and rolled his eyes.

“I don't need a date; I'm not going anywhere."

"Ryk that doesn't even make sense," Kas replied, before shifting his attention to Drake and grinning broadly. "Second date, huh? Look at you!" He didn't seem to feel the need to be weird about the fact that the date in question was obviously with his sister. Then again, he'd been present for the first one, and while he and Cyrilla had teased a fair amount, it had clearly all been in good humor.

"I dunno what she sees in you, kid," Aidan added, shaking his head as though it really were some great mystery. Of course, the tick to the corner of his mouth gave him away.

“Yeah, I'm with you there, old man. I dunno what she sees in me, either, but hey, it's all good!" Drake replied, not at all bothered by the fact that Aidan was pulling his leg. He turned back towards Kas, though, and grinned. “Well, second in-person date, but it's technically our..." he paused to give the effect that he was counting, “sixth one. We've done a few video chats."

"Cute," Kas said, exaggerating the word a little and rolling his eyes. He was still smiling, though. "She's been really happy in our calls lately, too. Just so you know."

Drake was about to respond to Kas's statement, however; he heard someone calling his name. From a distance, it sounded almost angry. Drake wasn't exactly the type of person who made people angry, simply because he tried to avoid it. Of course, he also knew that he couldn't please everyone and that someone, somewhere, was bound to dislike him. He could live with that, really. He didn't need people liking him for superfluous reasons. That wasn't what caused a sense of dread, though.

It was the voice.

He knew that voice. He avoided it like it was a plague. He stopped walking, causing Ryk to pause in his steps as well, as a familiar face came into view. Mauve colored hair was slicked back, and large aviator sunglasses rested on a small, angry nose. Why was the nose angry?

“Who is she!?" Kevin stated, not even glancing in the other three's direction. That caught Drake by surprise, though.

“Who is who?" Drake replied, furrowing his brows slightly.

“The hussy you've been seeing behind my back!" Kevin replied. Eryk seemed confused, his brows furrowing slightly in Kevin's direction. It almost looked as if Eryk was glaring at Kevin, however; if Kevin noticed, he didn't make show of it.

“Who the fuck are you?" Eryk asked, causing Kevin to snap his attention towards Ryk.

“None of your damn business."

Drake inwardly groaned. He really didn't want to go through this today.

"Ex-boyfriend," Aidan muttered, just loud enough for Ryk to hear.

"I think you mean 'fucking crazy stalker,'" Kas amended, not bothering to lower his tone and folding his arms over his chest. "How do you like the new security tech, stalker?"

Kevin didn't even appear to be alarmed by Kas's statement. In fact, Drake was quite certain Kevin didn't even hear a word Kas had said. He was glaring in Aidan's direction, though the reason wasn't quite clear. Perhaps he'd heard the ex-boyfriend part?

“And here I thought you had good taste," Ryk muttered, though Drake wasn't sure if he was joking or not. Sometimes it was hard to tell with Ryk.

“You haven't answered the question, Drake. Who. Is. She?" Kevin was glaring, now. Or it seemed he was attempting to. He was never good at doing that.

“Do we have to stay here and listen to the rattata squeak? I'd rather listen to steelix polishing their coats," Eryk stated, folding his arms across his chest. That, honestly, did sound more appealing to Drake.

“You mind your own business," Kevin spat, literally, near Eryk's feet. Ryk's eyes narrowed dangerously, his arms unfolding from their spot.

“Ryk's right, we don't have to stay here. And to answer your question," Drake stated quickly. He didn't want Eryk to do anything rash to Kevin, even if it was warranted. “I don't need to answer it. We're not together. I don't know how else to put it to you." Drake wasn't too sure how to make it any more clearer than he had already.

"Right, let's go," Kas said, shaking his head. "You just can't talk to some people."

Nodding slightly, Aidan put a gentle hand on Drake's shoulder. "If he hasn't listened yet, he won't," he said plainly. "Probably better to get outta here."

“Drake Kingsley Bellamy. Don't you dare ignore me," Kevin stated, causing Drake to flinch slightly. He'd forgotten that Kevin knew his middle name. Drake wasn't too fond of it, really. Taking a deep breath, though, he turned towards Kevin.

“I really don't know how else to spell it out for you, Kevin. We. Are. Done. We've been done for months, now. I don't know why that's so hard for you to understand. Go, move on. Go stalk some other poor fool, or better yet, don't. I don't care. You have your own life, now, and I have mine. This is the last, peaceful warning I am giving you. Stop interfering with my life; you're not part of it, and you will never be part of it, again."

Drake felt a little winded by that, but he needed Kevin to understand. It didn't seem to register, though, because Kevin merely glared at Drake.

“No. I refuse to give up, Drake. You don't give up on the people you love," he spoke, taking a step forward. Eryk, however, stood in between Drake and Kevin, glaring down at the purple-haired male with a strange look in his eyes.

“We're leaving. If you know what's best for you, you won't follow. If you do..." Ryk trailed off, letting the implication hang in the air for a second before turning towards Drake, and placing a hand on his shoulder, turning him so that he was facing away from Kevin. He gave a surprisingly gentle push, as if urging Drake to take the first step forward. He took it gladly, refusing to turn around to look at Kevin.

“This isn't over, yet, Drake!" he shouted, causing Eryk to roll his eyes.

“For his sake, it better be."

Aidan mumbled something under his breath that sounded like an agreement.

Kas, being Kas, waited until they were a reasonable distance away, then cleared his throat.

"...Kingsley, though? I'm sorry, man."

Eryk found it amusing, apparently, if the snort was anything to go by. Drake, however, sighed heavily. Perhaps even a little dramatically.

“Yeah... I know. Me too."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Aidan Klein Character Portrait: Nevena Solomon

0.00 INK

#, as written by Aethyia


December 17th
Cinnabar Shopping Center - Afternoon - Cool
Aidan Klein


Aidan lifted the cup in his hand, taking a sip of the Oran Julius smoothie he'd acquired about half an hour ago. The shopping center was quite crowded, which wasn't really surprising considering how close it was to the biggest gift-giving holiday of the year.

He'd never really done Yule celebrations of any kind. His family had been too poor, and then he'd pretty much been on his own. He had a couple ex-girlfriends that had liked to do things, but he'd always sort of... found it to be a waste of time. So it was kind of strange that he seemed to be looking forward to it a bit this year.

He knew, of course, why this was, and it had everything to do with the people he'd be spending it with. He supposed there were worse people to be getting attached to than his coworkers, even if there was a bit of discomfort there in the fact that one of the group was technically a mark. He found it increasingly difficult to think in those terms. Hopefully the boss's plan would work fine, and Ana would either turn out not to be a psychic or she'd have no problem volunteering for the project. He could let himself hope for that much.

"All right Doc, where to?" He was mostly along for the ride for this part. He had her present already, and was planning to kind of just let inspiration strike him when it came to stuff for the others, but he had a feeling she was a little more concerned than him. She liked to plan things. It was an amusingly type-a part of her.

“Oh, uh, hold on," she replied, glancing at a piece of paper in her hands. “We're getting things for just about everyone, so..." she began, muttering more to herself, it seemed. “Why don't we start with Ana's gift? I got her something for her shelter and it should be ready for pick-up today. I don't know what to get Kasimir or Eryk, though. They're a little tough to shop for," she stated, glancing back in Aidan's direction with a smile.

“I figured if we did it that way, we might find something for those two. They don't strike me as the type to refuse a gift, but they also seem like the type to enjoy practical things. Things they can use. Like you," she stated in a somewhat chipper tone.

“Oh, but... not to imply that you wouldn't... er, like something. I'm just gonna stop right there," she took a drink of sitrus juice to stop her ramble, it seemed.

Aidan smiled; it was something he found remarkably easy to do, when she was around. "I know what you meant, Doc," he assured her, shaking his head to make it clear he'd taken no offense. "And if Ana's gift is ready for pickup we might as well head that way first. Pokémon supply store, or...?"

He could probably figure it out without asking if he wanted to, but she got so excited about this stuff. He wanted her to tell him.

She shook her head, disturbing the ponytail that was resting over her left shoulder. “Nope, we're going to that Recollection store, the one that makes personalized gifts. I had a plaque made with her name on it and of the shelter. I figured she could use something like that on the front of her shelter to give it a subtle advertising. You know, so that she could adopt out more of her pokemon that were ready for things like that," she stated, grinning as she started to walk in the direction they needed to go.

“The one she has now is nice, but... well, I thought it could use a little update and, again, I wanted to get her something practical that she could use."

"That's really thoughtful, Doc," Aidan said, genuinely impressed. It was something usable, sure, but not anything Ana would ever spend money on herself. Expensive enough to be a luxury, but not so much so that she'd feel bad accepting it. Well, theoretically. Ana felt bad about the strangest things sometimes. Aidan was still puzzling that out, himself.

He started in the direction of the store, only to draw up short when he paused in front of a print shop. "Her business cards are pretty plain, right?" He asked, assuming Doc would have seen and noticed something like that. He hadn't seen them, but he could guess.

“Sort of. They just have her name, a phone number and an e-mail on it," she replied, pulling out her purse and rummaging through it. She seemed to find what she was looking for, and pulled out a card, presumably Ana's, and handed it towards Aidan. “It kind of looks like the only detail she has on the card is her name. It almost looks hand-written, but it could be that she just chose a font like that."

“What do you think?" she asked, her head tilting to the side a bit.

"I think I'm getting her a bunch of new ones for the holiday, is what I think," he said. "You mind a small detour to order them?"

Doc smiled brightly at him, and shook her head. “Of course not! I think Ana would love that!" she stated, placing the piece of paper she was holding earlier, into her purse. “Oh... uh, do you want help choosing some of the things out, or do you have something in mind?" she asked.

He led them into the print shop, humming as he glanced around at the designs on display. "I was thinking black cardstock," he said, referring to Ana's penchant for the color, something he shared. "But I dunno about fonts or anything. What do you think? Maybe it can match whatever you did for the placard?"

“Oh, you know, that's not a bad idea. The font I used for hers was a little gothic. I believe it was called, magnemite," she stated, pulling out her phone from her coat pocket. She scrolled through it, and huffed lightly to herself. “Magnificent, is what it was called. I think on a black cardstock, though, it should be a color that kind of stands out, but one that isn't white. And gold would be a little strange, and wouldn't suit her at all," she said before sliding her phone back into her pocket. She pursed her lips together as she seemed to contemplate the color.

“Oh, what about a pale blue? Like a pastel blue?"

Aidan considered this. He liked the idea of a color that wasn't just white, at least partly. It did probably still need to be mostly professional, though. "I like the font for the biggest print," he said, "but the smaller stuff probably needs to be something more easily readable."

"Pardon me," the voice belonged to a middle-aged woman, neatly-cropped black hair falling to her shoulders. Owner, from the quality of her suit. "Is there something I can help you with?"

"Looking to get business cards for a friend," Aidan replied. "Black cardstock, some mix of light blue and white in the design?"

The woman nodded. "We can absolutely do that," she said, holding out a hand. "I'm Sara. Welcome to Cinnabar Printers, Mr. And Mrs...?"

Aidan huffed softly. "She's Doctor," he corrected, aware that this alone would not correct the more obvious error the woman was making.

Doc didn't quite seem to register the error, at least not immediately. She shook the woman's hand and replied, “you can just call me Nevena." It seemed to dawn on her a moment later, though, and Doc's face turned a light pink color before fully going red. “Oh! No, he's not... we're not... Aidan's my friend," she sputtered slightly, clearing her throat and glancing away from the woman. She didn't look in Aidan's direction, either.

“We're here doing some shopping for our friends, and such," she continued, muttering softly before glancing back towards the woman.

Whatever else he was, Aidan wasn't oblivious. Right now, that was as much curse as blessing, because he knew why she was reacting like that. He just wished he didn't. It would make everything so much simpler.

The easier thing by far was to pretend to obliviousness, though, so he did, taking mercy on her at the same time by steering the conversation. Sara apologized, but he shook his head. "Don't worry about it," he said, displaying no embarrassment of his own. And why would he? It was a drastic overestimation of him to think he was the kind of guy someone like Doc would be married to. "Can we take a look at some of those designs?"

He was a pretty decisive person most of the time, so it only took them fifteen minutes to finalize the design, put in the order, and make the advance payment. Fortunately they'd be ready the day before the holiday, so he'd be able to give them to Ana on time.

"All right," he said as they exited, lifting an eyebrow at Doc. "To Recollection now?"

Doc nodded her head, and smiled a bit. “Sure thing. It's just a couple of stores down," she replied, nodding her head in the direction of the store. “And I think the final design is going to look really nice. I'm sure she'll love it," Doc added as she pulled her purse up a bit. She finally managed to glance back up at him, pursing her lips as if she were trying to assess Aidan.

“You, on the other hand, I'll have to get your gift on another day. Don't want you seeing it before it's time," she stated, grinning at him before taking a step in the direction of the store. “It should be ready for pick-up sometime this week," she didn't say anything else to what it could possibly be.

"You know I could probably guess it, right?" he replied, feeling a smile tug at his mouth. It was just so damn easy, with her.

No. Not going there.

"Because I could. I'm the absolute worst person to try and surprise."

She arched a brow in his direction, almost in a challenging way. “Alright, you're on. What did I get you? Because I, for once, am pretty confident that you don't know what it is."

He almost didn't want to ruin it for her. But still, he'd been challenged now, and a guy didn't make it to the top of the pro-battling world without a serious competitive streak, however type b he usually was.

Sighing forlornly, he narrowed his eyes at her. "It's something that'll be 'ready for pickup' so it's custom made. The most likely thing, statistically, is an item of clothing. Normally that'd be less likely, because you have to know sizing for that and I haven't told you mine, but you could have easily obtained this information, either from my apartment, which you're in all the time, or Rheinallt. I'm betting on the latter, because you're close and you'd feel guilty for filching something of mine even if you were going to return it. Plus none of my stuff is missing."

He arched a brow back at her. "You recently made the discovery that I own a bike. You're also aware of my clothing preferences, enough to know that I don't wear things that aren't black. But while I own a lot of protective gear, I currently don't have a jacket for protection when I'm on the bike, which probably worries you a little bit because you worry professionally. So you got me a jacket. I'm going to say leather, black because you know me and custom because you like to do that kind of thing right."

Aidan grinned a little. "Thanks, by the way. I love it."

By the time he'd finished, she was pouting at him. “Well, in that case you are welcome, jerk," she stated, but she was grinning at him which meant she didn't quite mean the jerk part of the statement. She nudged his elbow, though, with hers, and shook her head. “Nothing gets past you, does it?" it seemed more like a rhetorical question from the way she'd stated it.

“You haven't even seen it, yet, and you say you'll love it, but I suppose I lost that little challenge. Mark my words, Aidan Klein, I will surprise you with something one day," she stated, nodding in a satisfied manner.

"I'll look forward to it," he replied with a nodof his own.

"In the meantime... do you want to know what the others got each other?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Eryk Nero Character Portrait: Kasimir Rheinallt Character Portrait: Cyrilla Niav Character Portrait: Anastasia Asher Character Portrait: Aidan Klein Character Portrait: Nevena Solomon

0.00 INK

#, as written by Nemeseia


December 20th
The Cloyster - Afternoon - Cold
Cyrilla


“Thanks, Div," Cyrilla stated as she took the wrapping paper from the lycanroc. Diva huffed lightly before climbing on the bed with Cyrilla, and curled up beside her, resting her snout on Cyrilla's lap. She scratched behind Diva's ear, and smiled to herself. To say that she was excited was a bit of an understatement to Cyrilla. She'd never really done something like this before, something that was genuine with real friends. She reached up to her face and pulled her cheek a bit, wincing when the pain appeared.

“At least I know I'm not dreaming," she muttered to herself. Siri chirped from her spot on Cyrilla's head, reaching forward with her small hand and rummaging through the white strands that fell to Cyrilla's neck. She had to admit that it stung a bit. Cyrilla loved her hair long, but when she'd gone back to the compound, her parents had cut it. She'd only managed to salvage the rest of her hair when she'd left. It was partly the reason she had come back a little later than she'd wanted to, last month. The other reason was because she needed her back to heal a bit. She still wasn't comfortable wearing anything that exposed it.

It had been the breaking point for her, the point where she'd found some strange courage to say no more. Noctis sauntered into the room, though, pulling Cyrilla from her thoughts as he stared at her. “Time to go already?" she asked, feeling a smile tug at her lips when he simply stared at her. “Should have named you Ryk Jr. for how often you look like that," she teased, shifting Diva's snout away and pulling Siri from her head. Once she had the three of them tucked back into their pokeballs, she shifted the wrapping paper under her arm and exited her room. She wasn't entirely sure if they would actually need it, but it was nice to be somewhat prepared.

“Hey, Kas?" she called out, glancing around into the kitchen and half expecting him to be there. She blinked when he wasn't, and pursed her lips together. “Hey, Kas, we're going to be late to the cuteness that is Eryk and Ana if we don't leave soon!" she called out, chuckling lightly as she did. It's not like they were actually going to be late to any of that, really.

"They're going to give us diabetes one of these days," he called through his own door, probably just so she'd know he'd heard her. It took him a few more moments to appear, dressed casually in a pair of jeans and a a v-neck cream-orange sweater in concession to the weather. He'd still rolled the sleeves up to his elbows, though. He was carrying a smallish shopping bag in one hand and combing through his loose hair with the other.

The latter effort, he seemed to abandon, giving his head a few tosses and then raking his hand through once so his hair sat loose and artfully disheveled to his shoulders. "I think I need a haircut," he mused. "I'm not as shaggy as Ryk or boss, but it's definitely longer. What do you think, Cy?"

She huffed a soft laugh and smiled. “It looks good as is, but if you wanted a trim," she began, reaching up slightly to curl a strand of his hair in her finger, “I can help with that. I'm good with scissors, as you can tell." She grinned, pulling her hand back and pointed to her own her hair. It wasn't quite long enough to pull into a ponytail, but it was long enough to put half of it up.

“Although... if your hair was as short as mine, or shorter, I think it would look good, too. You'd look more like a geek, if anything, but it works really well for you, too. It will also show off a few more of your defined facial features that are usually hidden when you leave your hair down," she added. She wasn't going to deny that Kasimir was a handsome man. He had a lot of sharp features in his facial structure, but she supposed the thing she liked about him the most were his eyes. There was just something in them that she liked. She swallowed a little thickly, and cleared her throat, temporarily moving her gaze away from Kas. Cyrilla was a shy person sometimes, and she hated the random moments it came through.

"I don't know if I want to look more like a geek," he complained, apparently all in good fun. "But on the other hand, if I went with it, we'd both have fancy new short hair." He grinned a little, reaching over and brushing the pad of his index finger down the bridge of her nose. "So we can... what was it? Show off our features?" Apparently he'd noticed her sudden shyness; it certainly felt like he was teasing her for it. Even if he wasn't, she wasn't able to stop the light flush on her face. She stuck her tongue out at him in a playful manner, though.

“Yeah, if it's something you want to do, we can do it after we get these preparations out of the way. But you're also not wrong about them giving us diabetes one day. It's likely they'll just send us into a sugar shock with how sweet they are. I don't think they even realize it. Well, Ryk definitely doesn't; he's an oblivious idiot," she stated, nodding her head towards the door so that they could make their way towards Ana's.

"It's too cute, really. It's so obvious she has a thing for him, and he's the only one who doesn't know." He shook his head. "Which... is probably not the worst thing. I don't know exactly what it is, but I feel like those two really do have to get there themselves. Anyway, shall we get going? It's a fun spectator sport in any case."

“Truthfully," she began, heading towards the door and waiting for Kas to step out before locking it behind them. “It is something they'll have to figure out themselves, but at the same time, they might just need a gentle push. With Ryk, you can't push too much, otherwise it'll backfire." Cy knew Ryk enough to know that if someone were to try and force him to acknowledge his feelings, or even notice them, he would try his hardest to quash them. He wasn't allowed to have those kinds of feelings, but Cyrilla wanted Ryk to know that they were okay to have. It was still a lot of work, but it would be worth it in the end.

“In any case, that's plotting for another time," she grinned, instead, pushing the thoughts away for now. “Let's go see if the others are waiting for us," she stated as they made their way towards Ana's. It didn't take them long to reach the shelter by foot; even in the cold, it wasn't too bad. Cyrilla had made sure to dress accordingly with a black long-sleeved turtle neck, and dark blue puffer vest. She spotted Ryk outside as they approached, holding Icarus as he glanced down at something. Cy couldn't stop the smile on her face when she noticed it was Nev's wooloo, baaing at him.

“Oh my arceus, Ryk, what are you doing to that poor wooloo?" she stated, mostly in a jestful manner. Ryk glanced up towards them with pursed lips.

“Not a damn thing. Floof wanted to come outside and I volunteered to take her," he responded. “She doesn't want to go inside, now, though."

"I can fix that," Kas said confidently, apparently amused by Eryk's use of the pokémon's name. Pulling the second-to-last ball from his belt, he gave it a casual toss, and Meep appeared, hopping up and down in place a few times. "All right," Kas continued, clearly to the pokémon, "who wants to go inside and have snacks and then a cuddle pile?"

Meep bleated, the ball at the end of her tail lighting up with enthusiasm. It was well known that the two adorable sheep pokémon were friends, so the strategy, such as it was, wasn't unsound.

“I swear to arceus that if it isn't the other two that'll give me diabetes, it's Floof and Meep," Cyrilla stated, as she watched Floof nearly crash into Meep with enthusiastic charm. Ryk rolled his eyes, though, and merely led the way in towards Ana's as Floof rolled towards the door with Meep.

“Cyrilla, Kasimir!" Nev stated in her usual chipper tone. She waved at the two when they entered Ana's. “You can set the wrapping paper over there if you want, Cy," she added, pointing to the roll tucked under Cyrilla's arm.

“So, what have we missed so far?" she asked, glancing towards the others.

Ana beamed over at the both of them. "Not a lot, yet," she said. There was seasonal music playing from the living room television, but it was orchestral and rather soft, nothing obnoxious. "Snacks are in the oven, and Aidan's upstairs getting the boxes of decorations for me."

"Correction," Aidan said from the top of the stairs, making his way down with two large plastic tubs. "They have been got." He set them down in the hallway, taking the one down off the top of the other, so that both would be accessible. "Where's your tree? I didn't see it up there."

"Oh, it's out in the storage shed with the outdoor lights." She frowned a little, but Aidan shrugged.

"No problem," he said, brushing a bit of loose tinsel from his black turtleneck. "Rheinallt, you can help me get that stuff so it's only one trip."

"Aye, boss," Kas replied, snapping a surprisingly-good salute.

Aidan rolled his eyes, and the two of them headed out the back door.

"I kind of feel bad making you all do so much work," Ana said, still frowning.

Eryk pursed his lips together in Ana's direction and shook his head. “It's not a problem for us to help out, Ana," he stated, his tone a little softer than it usually was. Cyrilla hid the grin on her face behind her hand as she cleared her throat, and nodded her head in agreement.

“He's right," she began, placing the wrapping paper in the proper place, “it's not a problem and we like helping out. We're splitting the work, if you want to see it that way, so that we can all enjoy it."

Ana looked like she wasn't quite sure what to say to that, so she wound up simply nodding, her eyes falling to the ground.

“Oh, while they're getting the tree and lights, should we start sorting through the decorations or are we going to hang them all up?" Nev asked, as she glanced in Ana's direction.

"Um. Honestly I don't even know what's in there," she admitted. "It's all hand-me-downs from Aunt Lydia's house. She brought them by last year, but I never got around to putting any of them up. So maybe we should sort them and see what there is?"

“Sounds good to me!" Nev stated as she made her way towards the tubs Aidan had brought down. Cyrilla grinned to herself, though, as an idea struck her.

“Why don't Nev and I take one and you and Ryk rummage through the other one?" she suggested, glancing towards Eryk. He blinked before turning his attention towards Ana and shrug his shoulders.

“I don't see why not. Aidan and Kas can set up the tree while we go through these," he stated as he gestured towards the other tub that Cyrilla and Nev weren't near.

This is too easy.

The other two arrived back at that point, Kas with the tree and Aidan with another large box and the tree stand. Everyone moved their stuff into the living room and started sorting.

There were a range of traditional decorations inside: tinsel, tree lights, ornaments, candles and candelabras, and so on.

"Oh look! Snowglobes!" Ana seemed a little pleased with this development, pulling out a box that seemed to contain a Saffron City snowglobe. "It looks like there are ones for the whole region... what an odd thing to collect."

“Oh, if there are ones for the whole region, why don't we pick out ones that we're all from?" Cyrilla suggested, glancing towards Ryk. The two of them would get the Fuchsia one, of course. It would be a two-for-one. Nev, however, pursed her lips together.

“But I'm not from this region, originally," she stated as she glanced towards the others. “I'm from Jubilife City out in the Sinnoh Region."

“Are there snowglobes from other regions?" Eryk inquired, glancing towards Ana. “Kas is from the Orange Islands, too," he added, surprising Cy a bit that he'd remembered that. Cyrilla knew Ryk wasn't exactly the type to remember certain details about people if he didn't have to. The fact that he'd even mentioned that, it caused her to smile to herself a bit.

"I'm touched that you want to include me," Kas said, only sounding a little like he was joking.

"Saffron one would be mine then," Aidan said, taking it when Ana passed it to him.

She looked back down into the box, digging around for a bit before handing the Fuchsia one to Eryk. "Hm. It looks like there's a couple ones for Johto, and this one here seems to be from Kalos, but... I don't see either the Orange Islands or anything from Sinnoh."

"That's all right," Kas said. "Sis and I can rep Cinnabar, right?"

“Sure! We can represent Cinnabar," Nev replied as she glanced towards Kas. “It's probably not quite the same, but Cinnabar is still an island," she added.

“Alright, well we have globes for everyone! Where should we set them? Oh, Ana, do you have a fireplace? We can set them on top if you do," Cyrilla asked as she turned her attention towards Ana.

“Oh, do we have stockings for everyone, too? We can hang them up with the snowglobes!" Nev added, seemingly excited about the idea of stockings.

"The fireplace is right behind you, Cyrilla," Ana said with a touch of amusement. It was currently closed, and the TV was over the mantel, but it was in fact there. "And I don't know if there are stockings. I guess we should dig a little more in these boxes?"

She moved a little away from hers, though, adding the globe for Celadon City to the grouping of them without comment.

"Stockings, stockings..." Kas pushed some tinsel aside, rummaging through his and Cyrilla's box.

Cyrilla only surmised that Celadon was where Ana was from. Ana had, of course, never disclosed such details to them, but it didn't take genius to put two and two, together. She glanced towards the box Kas was rummaging through and smiled to herself a bit.

“Hm, it only looks like there are three stockings here," she stated soft enough that Kas could hear it. The others were close by, but with everyone focused on the other things, she had a sudden thought. “Maybe those four should share one of them, hm?" she stated, grinning at Kas as she nodded her head in the others' direction as discretely as she could.

Aidan rolled his eyes, apparently having heard them. "Joke's on you, little ninja. Three means you have to share, too, if you want your plot to work."

"Hm?" Ana glanced over. "What's going on?"

"Nothing too worrisome, Ana," Kas said, waving a hand. "Just a little math."

Cyrilla snorted softly at Aidan. He wasn't wrong, though. She would have to share with Kas, but she could do that. “That's fine by me," she retorted, reaching over Kas to grab the three stockings. “Now the question is, which one does everyone want to share? There is a red one, and a purple one," she stated, putting the obviously green one to the side.

“Purple," Ryk stated first, startling Cy for a second. She wasn't expecting him to answer first, however; she shrugged her shoulders, and tossed it towards him.

“I guess Big Brother Aidan is getting the red one to share with Nev," Cy stated as she tossed the red one in Aidan's direction.

“If you have markers, Ana, we can all write our names on them, too! Oh, if that's okay by you, of course. They're still yours," Nev suggested before turning in Ana's direction with a bright smile.

"I don't mind," Ana said, smiling a little. Her face was only slightly pink. "Oh, but... I have felt. So maybe we could make letters and stitch them on? It might look a little fancier."

“Oh, that'll be nice!" Nev stated as Cyrilla stiffled a laugh.

“What about glitter?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kasimir Rheinallt Character Portrait: Cyrilla Niav

0.00 INK

#, as written by Aethyia


December 21st
The Cloyster - Afternoon - Rainy
Kasimir Rheinallt


Kas narrowed his eyes at himself in the mirror. Despite the impression he gave, he wasn't, he thought, an especially vain person. He sometimes still had difficulty seeing himself as attractive, which was probably partly to do with the fact that it was himself, but also partly to do with, well... he hadn't always been much of anything to look at. Kind of the opposite. Childhood had been awful in some ways, adolescence even worse. Not that he was complaining; it could have been leagues worse. He knew plenty of people who had had it worse, these days.

But it still jarred him a little, every time he saw himself in a mirror and it... wasn't awful.

At the moment, however, his concern was slightly more specific. He was trying, mostly unsuccessfully, to picture himself with short hair. He'd been wearing it in the style of what his dad would call a 'beach bum' for most of the last decade, and he wasn't exactly sure what he'd even look like without it. Some part of him was in fact terrified that by some weird magic he'd suddenly look awful again, much as the vanity of that consideration rankled him.

Since when had he cared so much about shit like that?

Oh right. Since my entire life became a lie it was easier to tell if all the parts matched.

But... maybe if he did it, she'd feel a little less alone.

That made his mind up. Honestly, it had made his mind up yesterday, when he'd floated the idea of a haircut. He hadn't been thinking of anything drastic at the time, but... it wasn't like he hadn't noticed Cyrilla's reaction to her own haircut. Chances were it wasn't voluntary. So if there was even a chance this would help, well... it was only hair to him. It'd grow back even if it looked stupid.

Shrugging at himself, he exited his room and knocked on her door. "Hey Cy, you in?" He knew she was, but he didn't want to wake her if she was taking a nap or something.

There was a soft thudding sound on the floor, and when the door opened, it produced Diva. The lycanroc narrowed her eyes at Kas, however; Cyrilla appeared two seconds later, pulling a wireless headphone from her ear and smiled at him.

“Sorry, didn't hear you knock. I was putting some things away and cleaning," she stated as she opened the door and shooed Diva out of the way. “Oh, is it my turn to cook lunch today?" she asked.

He snorted. "Nah, that's been done for an hour. Was kind of wondering why you didn't go get any. Thought you might be napping." It was certainly one of his favorite pastimes, though he didn't think she was as much enthused as he was.

"I was thinking about our conversation yesterday. Any chance I could take you up on that offer of a haircut? It can wait if you're busy." Or he could just go to a shop like anyone else.

“Oh, shit, has it? I guess the cleaning spray hid the smell. Usually I can smell your food," she stated, huffing a little lightly. “And sure! I can do that for you," she continued, opening the door all the way. “Meet me in the dining room? I need to grab a comb and find the scissors real quick," she stated as she walked out of her room.

“Oh, and maybe put on a shirt you don't use often? Or take it off, either way, so you don't get hair on it. Hair is kind of hard to get off of clothes, like glitter," she snorted at the last part as she disappeared down the hallway, probably towards her bathroom.

Kas resisted the urge to raise an eyebrow. He supposed that was what those cape things at salons were for. He didn't much like the idea of getting hair on any of his shirts, but that was sort of the smaller issue next to a certain kind of ambivalence he was feeling.

On the one hand, it shouldn't really be a big deal to walk around his own apartment without a shirt. On the other, he kind of wanted to fluster her, but admitting that was a possibility was admitting that it was at least kind of a big deal. No—surely not. Cy had to be used to way worse than that. She was the one who suggested it. Surely it would barely even register, and while that might be a little disappointing, he was mostly glad she was that comfortable with him.

Yeah, his feelings were ambivalent all right.

Sighing, he peeled his shirt off, folding it as he took a seat at the dining room table. No need to be an idiot about completely normal shit. He'd grown up on Tangelo for arceussake. Shirts were completely optional. No one was going to care.

It had taken her a few minutes to find the scissors, it seemed, before she finally yelled, “found them!" She appeared a moment later, a comb and spray bottle in one hand, and a pair of scissors in the other. She arched a brow at him, a subtle pink shade crossing her face before she moved behind him. Kas could hear her clear her throat before she spoke again.

“Alright, Kasimir Rheinallt, what are you looking for, a trim?" she asked, running her fingers through his hair to loosen the tangles before running the comb through it. “Or do you want something completely radical?"

A guy could get used to that feeling. He'd always liked hands in his hair, and the faint prickle of nails on his scalp—none of which were appropriate thoughts to be having about his very platonic roommate. Kas cleared his throat, finding that he, too, had to fight down a light flush. Fortunately, his darker complexion masked it well, a fact he knew from experience.

"Well I don't want it right up to my scalp," he said, lifting a brow right back at her. "Probably around my nape? Something that gets it off my shoulders, anyhow. Whatever you want."

“Whatever I want, huh?" she stated in an amused tone. She hummed a soft note, though as she continued combing his hair. “Hm, do you trust me with your hair, Kas?" she asked, a hint of seriousness in her tone.

Despite himself, he leaned into it a bit. "Wouldn't have said that if I didn't," he replied honestly.

Did he sound as idiotic as he felt right now? He sure hoped not; he had an image to maintain. In particular, that of a charming, rakish friend and roommate who was not at all interested in forgetting the haircut and just—

Nope. Down, boy. Platonic. Roommate.

“Alright," she responded in a softer tone. She removed the comb from his hair and sprayed the water on it, probably to moisten it to make it easier to cut evenly. “I promise you're in good hands," she added before she began snipping at his hair. She pulled his hair softly between her fingers, continuing to cut away at it. She didn't say anything until she was finished, apparently concentrating intently on his hair cut.

“Let me go get a mirror, and you can tell me what you think," she stated, running her hand his hair once more before disappearing. When she reappeared, she was holding a small round mirror and held it out to him.

“It might be my biased opinion, but I think it suits you nicely, Kas."

He had to admit, it wasn't what he'd been worried about at all. The person in the mirror was still the one he was getting used to seeing, ink and defined features and all. Maybe someday he'd get out from the shadow of that kid he'd been, but for now he was content to not see him in every reflective surface.

"I like it," he replied honestly, shifting his eyes from the mirror up to Cyrilla. "Thanks, Cy; you do excellent work." He grinned at her, bright and genuine. "And now we match, right?" It was as much indication as he ever planned to give of why he'd decided to do this now of all times.

“Yep, we do, don't we?" she replied, rolling her eyes slightly with a smile on her face. “But what brought on the change, though? It's not quite warm enough to want shorter hair, and the length it was before, should have been more than enough for this winter. If you could even call it that," she asked, tilting her head slightly in an inquisitive manner.

“I mean, I'm not complaining; I was right when I said shorter hair would bring out a lot of your features. You look really handsome right now," she added, adverting her gaze slightly so she wasn't holding his.

"Do I?" He grinned with that bravado he didn't quite believe in, but he'd been fooling people so long he sometimes managed to fool himself, too. Resisting the urge to take her hand and tug her towards him was a gargantuan effort of will, enough so that he barely even realized he was answering the other question until the words were coming out of his mouth, some part of him looking for anything to grasp onto that wasn't his own stupidity.

"You didn't want yours, right?" he said, reaching up to tuck a little strand that had come loose from the top half behind her ear. "It's stupid, but I thought... maybe if I did it too, it might be something you didn't hate anymore?" It sounded absurd even to his own ears, but that had been his train of thought. He'd just... wanted to give her a different way to think about it. Make it into something she and a friend had in common, something they could joke about. Not something that she remembered as someone else choosing for her.

For a moment, she just stared at him. She looked like she wanted to say something, but couldn't seem to find the words. Her mouth parted as if she were going to say something, and still nothing came out. “You..." she finally managed a word, but it was easy to see that her bottom lip was trembling a bit. “You did this for me? Because I...." she couldn't seem to finish, sucking in too sharp of a breath that she swallowed thickly.

It was sudden, but she wrapped her arms around him, settling her head near the crook of his neck. Without his shirt on, he could feel something wet against his skin, and from the shaking of her shoulders, it was easy to tell she was crying. There were soft sniffles that followed, as well.

“You didn't have to do that, Kas. Just because I didn't want mine, doesn't mean you should have to cut yours for that reason. You're.... you're always so thoughtful," she spoke softly.

"Cy..." To be honest, Kas wasn't entirely sure what to do. It wasn't that he felt awkward exactly—if anything the weird part was that he didn't. Because the details that should have made it awkward just... didn't seem to matter. Instead, he wrapped his arms around her back and rested his cheek against the side of her head, carding the fingers of one hand through her hair.

The shit this woman had been put through. It infuriated and awed him at the same time. Infuriated him that those people should ever get away with what they'd done to her—of which cutting her hair was the least—and awed at her ability to still be the person she was in spite of them. "I didn't have to," he said, trying to explain something he didn't quite have the words for. "I wanted to." She was the reason he'd wanted to, to be sure, but it was neither burden nor obligation. How could he say that it was his privilege to be able to help in some small way? That he was trying, always, to find other things he might be able to do, to ease the burden a little?

“Kas," she began, not moving from her spot, “I don't deserve a friend like you. Someone so thoughtful and sweet shouldn't have to do or want to do those kinds of things for me." She pulled in a soft breath, and he could feel it when she released it.

“But.. I'm glad. So very glad that you are because this..." she finally pulled back from her spot, and it was easy to see that her tears hadn't quite stopped. Her eyes were a little red and puffy, but she'd shifted her hands to rest on the sides of his face. “I've never had friends like you, before. I've never had someone care as much as you do. Ryk cares, I know he does, but it's... not quite the same when it comes to you. You're the very reason I left my family because, for the first time in my life, I mattered to someone. Someone who was kind enough to show me that it was okay to be happy, and to want to be selfish enough to enjoy that happiness."

“It's still a lot of work, and I know it's going to be an uphill struggle, but... I'm glad to have that little respect back in my life," she stated, smiling through her tears. “To be honest, the only reason I did what I did was because it felt like that was the only real power and say I had in my life. It was something I chose, and no one else. Now... because of you, I don't have to do those things anymore. I don't have to feel like that's the only choice. Thank you, Kas." She pulled his face forward and placed a soft kiss to his cheek.

He swallowed thickly, feeling his face heat. There'd be no concealing the flush this time; it was much too obvious for that. Kas cleared his throat—he honestly couldn't remember the last time someone he wasn't related to had done something so... pure wasn't exactly the word. But it was sweet, something without an ulterior motive. Hardly the kind of kiss he was used to. In fact... this might be the first time. Maybe that was why he felt his heart kick up in his chest and something in his stomach flip over.

He set one of his hands atop one of hers on his face, using the other to carefully brush away her tear-tracks. "You do deserve it," he said, unsure how to respond to the rest but knowing this much for certain. "You do deserve it, and you do matter, Cy. Scout's honor." He managed half a grin at that, trying not to give himself away any more than he had to. She'd thrown him right off his equilibrium, talking like he'd had much of anything to do with... well to do with how she was now. How she was learning to live differently than she had before.

But that was impossible. He was just her friend. The hard work had been all her.

She huffed softly, sniffling before she smiled again. “Hm, thanks Kas," she stated, pulling her hands from his face and wiping away the rest of her tears. “I suppose since you cooked lunch, dinner's on me tonight? Well, not on me, but on plates and other such necessities," she grinned a little at the statement, even though the flush on her face was a little more prominent.

“Any suggestions as to what you want for dinner? I can make curry again, but... well, you might want something else since we had that like two days ago."

He laughed, the off-color joke effectively resetting the dynamic. Or at least... nudging it back into a workable spot. He suspected it wasn't ever going to quite be the same, and he wasn't yet sure what he made of that.

But it was an issue for later.

"You know, that's actually a trendy thing in some places. Naked sushi or whatever. Eating food off a beautiful woman." He winked, and stood. A little physical distance would probably help.

"Personally I think that sounds a little gross, and would much prefer curry, in a bowl, made by a beautiful woman. Luckily, you've just offered, and so I'm all set."

Cyrilla rolled her eyes good-naturedly and shook her head. “Hm, and we beautiful women just love eating said meals with handsome men. Actually, that's probably false, but I'll take it for now," she replied.

“Curry it is, though. Since I'm going to need the ingredients for that, I'm going to head down to the store, do you want to come with?" she asked, grabbing the scissors and spray bottle, perhaps, to put them away.

Kas reached up to ruffle his own hair, shaking out a few loose pieces. It'd be a little weird, getting used to the feeling of having so much less of it. Not bad, though. "Sure. Let me just put on a shirt and sweep really quick and then we can head out."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Eryk Nero Character Portrait: Kasimir Rheinallt Character Portrait: Cyrilla Niav Character Portrait: Anastasia Asher Character Portrait: Rocket Files Character Portrait: Aidan Klein Character Portrait: Nevena Solomon

0.00 INK

#, as written by Aethyia


December 22nd
Marna's - Evening - Clear
Anastasia Asher


“There we are," Marna said, setting the last of the plates down in front of the group. “On the house, for my new roof."

It'd been a bit of an adventure, trying to convince her to accept that, but once she'd seen that the materials were already bought and delivered, she'd thrown her hands in the air and given up, basically. So they'd spent the afternoon installing the tiles, plus a small solar panel that Kas had bought, since he could hook those to the restaurant's power grid.

Aidan was their expert for the roofing specifically; Ana had just done whatever he told her to, which basically amounted to moving things around and occasionally passing them up a ladder, and keeping everyone else hydrated. Certainly not the most arduous physical task, but that was something she appreciated; she was starting to feel a little sick again. The distraction was nice, though, and so was feeling useful somehow. She couldn't help but think that even after everything, this would be a memory that the others carried with them, and... some selfish part of her wanted to be in those.

"Why don't you have a seat with us today, Auntie?" Kas asked, gesturing to the open spot to his left. He'd cut his hair yesterday, it seemed; Ana thought it looked really good on him.

“Don't mind if I do," Marna replied, sliding onto the bench.

Eryk had already started on the nachos when Marna sat down, giving a soft nod of appreciation in her direction. “Oh, thank you," Cyrilla stated as she took the chip from Ryk before he could eat it. He pursed his lips at her, rolled his eyes, and reached for another one. “And thank you, Marna, for the food," Cy added before taking a bite of the chip.

“Marna's food is second to none!" Drake added in, taking a drink of his glass of water. Eryk snorted as if he didn't quite believe what Drake was saying, perhaps because Drake often ate at Jo's. Everyone knew that about him.

“So, Marna," Cyrilla began, huffing lightly at Drake, “is Cinnabar your home town?"

Ana bit down delicately on a breaded onion ring as Marna hummed, leaning back a bit with a grip on the edge of the table. “I'd have thought that much was obvious, Nunu," she chided in the thick accent of a native Cinnabar denizen. Ana could tell she played it up a little for the joke, though, and huffed a soft laugh.

Marna smiled. “But yes. The island has always been my home. Of course, that doesn't mean I've never left."

"Done some traveling?" Aidan asked, exhaling away from the group. He seemed to be smoking a lot less recently; if Ana had to guess, she's say this was his first one all day.

“All over," Marna confirmed. “Of course, that was a long time ago now."

“Oh, but I bet you got to see amazing things," Cyrilla stated when she'd swallowed her food. “I've never been past Johto, but I've always wanted to travel," she added, smiling a little at the statement. Ryk huffed lightly, but took another bite of his nachos, moving the plate a little closer in Ana's direction as his way of offering her some.

“I'd like to visit other places someday, too, but I think I'll hold off on traveling," Drake stated as he grinned in Marna's direction. “For those of us who aren't so versed in travel, where would you say is the best place to visit?" he asked, taking a bite of the burger in front of him.

Marna hummed softly, tilting her head up towards the sky in consideration. They were eating on the deck at the moment; it was a bit cool out, but the day was sunny enough to keep Ana from feeling much of a chill. “You know, I think I found something interesting everywhere. But I have to say Sootopolis City, in Hoenn. The landscape is stunning, and it has a real sense of mystery about it."

"How'd you end up doing so much traveling, anyway?" Kas asked, eating one of Eryk's nachos.

“Ah, well. I was a photographer back then. And a travel writer. It wasn't really a career that people thought of as a career yet. My parents were worried I'd run out of money and starve somewhere far away." She chuckled, raspy and soft. “But I always managed enough to scrape by."

“Seems you've managed fine thus far," Ryk stated, making a vague gesture to the building.

“What made you want to settle down, though? It sounds like photography and writing were your passions. And with careers like those, I would imagine that it would require a lot of traveling," Nev spoke as she glanced in Marna's direction.

“Why does anyone settle down?" Marna asked rhetorically, lifting bony shoulders in a little shrug. “I found something I loved more. Someone, rather. Keith." She smiled a little. “We traveled together for a while, actually. But we wanted a family, and though neither of us really had roots as such, I felt drawn back to my hometown. So he came with me. I had Joey a few years after we were married, and that pretty much settled it."

"Joey?" Ana had known Marna for a year and a half, but she'd never heard mention of the name before.

The elderly woman nodded, but her mouth turned down. “My son," she said softly.

Eryk and Cyrilla seemed to occupy themselves with the food in front of them. Nev merely nodded her head at Marna's explanation, and took a drink from her cup.

“Does he live elsewhere?" Drake asked, seemingly interested in what else Marna had to say. “I haven't seen him around, or I've missed him if he's visited," he added.

She winced a little, then smiled ruefully. “Yes," she said after a moment, then offered another shrug. It wasn't as casual as she made it look; Ana could tell. “I don't know where anymore. I've tried to keep in touch, but... I've reached the point where I can admit to myself that he's not really interested in staying connected."

"I'm sorry to hear that," Aidan said somberly; Kas and Ana both nodded at the same time.

But Marna shook her head, visibly straightening up and smiling a bit. “Ah, don't worry about it. It's old news by now. Must have been... oh, a good thirty years ago now. Keith passed a decade ago; I knew when Joey didn't come home for the funeral that he was never coming back. I've had... time, to come to terms with it."

“If," Eryk began, seemingly unsure of himself. His lips were slightly pursed, and he kept his gaze on the bowl of nachos in front of him. “If there's ever anything you need, you can rely on us for it from here on out," he stated, turning so that his attention was on Marna. It wasn't as harsh as his gazes usually were, or as intense.

“Hm, what Ryk said. We spend most of our time here, anyway, so it looks like you're kinda stuck with us for the time being, Marna," Drake stated with a large grin, reaching for an onion ring.

“You make it sound as if that wasn't at all what this already was, Drake," Cyrilla chided in a jocular manner.

“Oh, no, what I meant was that... oh, I see what you're doing," Drake replied, narrowing his eyes slightly in Cyrilla's direction. She just grinned in response.

“I could always use more friends, too," Nev added as she took another drink of her water.

Marna huffed a little, shaking her head at the lot of them. “I appreciate it," she said, her smile inching a little wider. “As it is, I seemingly don't even have to ask, as my brand new roof tiles will attest."

"They're a little pushy with how nice they are, aren't they?" Ana said, though the tease in it was light. She did mostly mean it, after all, and it wasn't necessarily a bad thing.

“Not very good at taking no for an answer," Marna agreed.

“No, no, I'm good at taking no for an answer," Cyrilla stated, glancing in Ryk's direction. “It's the ursaring over here that doesn't. He's always so insistent on doing things like that for other people," she continued, teasing Ryk as he rolled his eyes.

“I think we all had a hand in this one, though, Cy. We did all chip in for it, after all," Nev stated as she chuckled softly.

“Hey now, don't lump me in with the rest of you. I was just here for the labor part of it. I didn't even know you were all purchasing a new roof," Drake stated, pursing his lips together.

"That's called 'accessory after the fact,' Drake, and it still means you're guilty."

Ana laughed softly; Marna rolled her eyes.

“In any case," she said, “I'm grateful to all of you. And you're always welcome here, hell or high water. Someone's got to keep you in industrial quantities of liquor, I suppose."

Drake barked a short laugh, covering his mouth as if he were trying to contain his laughter.

“Honestly, I'm surprised they haven't run this place dry, yet. Knowing Ryk and how much he can handle," Cyrilla stated, laughing as well. Ryk merely rolled his eyes, as Nev smiled at the group.

“Whatever, Cy, and you're welcome, Marna."

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Character Portrait: Eryk Nero
Character Portrait: Kasimir Rheinallt
Character Portrait: Cyrilla Niav
Character Portrait: Anastasia Asher
Character Portrait: Rocket Files
Character Portrait: Aidan Klein
Character Portrait: Nevena Solomon

Newest

Character Portrait: Nevena Solomon
Nevena Solomon

"It's not my place to say..."

Character Portrait: Aidan Klein
Aidan Klein

"I guess I'm part of the ugly truth now."

Character Portrait: Rocket Files
Rocket Files

[ Codex of Information ]

Character Portrait: Anastasia Asher
Anastasia Asher

"Every day is a gift. Or that's what I tell myself, anyway."

Character Portrait: Cyrilla Niav
Cyrilla Niav

"They won't be able to stop me... not now. Not ever."

Character Portrait: Kasimir Rheinallt
Kasimir Rheinallt

"Why yes, I *am* the brains of the operation. Thank you for noticing."

Character Portrait: Eryk Nero
Eryk Nero

"I find myself looking for something I cannot have, and yet..."

Trending

Character Portrait: Rocket Files
Rocket Files

[ Codex of Information ]

Character Portrait: Nevena Solomon
Nevena Solomon

"It's not my place to say..."

Character Portrait: Cyrilla Niav
Cyrilla Niav

"They won't be able to stop me... not now. Not ever."

Character Portrait: Anastasia Asher
Anastasia Asher

"Every day is a gift. Or that's what I tell myself, anyway."

Character Portrait: Kasimir Rheinallt
Kasimir Rheinallt

"Why yes, I *am* the brains of the operation. Thank you for noticing."

Character Portrait: Aidan Klein
Aidan Klein

"I guess I'm part of the ugly truth now."

Character Portrait: Eryk Nero
Eryk Nero

"I find myself looking for something I cannot have, and yet..."

Most Followed

Character Portrait: Rocket Files
Rocket Files

[ Codex of Information ]

Character Portrait: Cyrilla Niav
Cyrilla Niav

"They won't be able to stop me... not now. Not ever."

Character Portrait: Anastasia Asher
Anastasia Asher

"Every day is a gift. Or that's what I tell myself, anyway."

Character Portrait: Kasimir Rheinallt
Kasimir Rheinallt

"Why yes, I *am* the brains of the operation. Thank you for noticing."

Character Portrait: Nevena Solomon
Nevena Solomon

"It's not my place to say..."

Character Portrait: Eryk Nero
Eryk Nero

"I find myself looking for something I cannot have, and yet..."

Character Portrait: Aidan Klein
Aidan Klein

"I guess I'm part of the ugly truth now."


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