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TEEN: Beginnings (Mafia style Diamondshipping)

Nafa-tali

Blasting off again!
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The complete version of this story can also be found on my Fanfiction.net account here: http://www.fanfiction.net/u/819295/Nafa_tali

Everything changes for young Delia when the new head of Team Rocket calls in her aging father's outstanding debts. In exchange for her father's freedom, she takes his place.

Mafia style Diamondshipping.
Rated 'Teen' as it contains some mafia violence and implies some sexual content also (nothing too graphic).

Contents:
Chapter 1: Fifteen or so years earlier…
Chapter 2: The Gun Holster
Chapter 3: New Friendships
Chapter 4: Secrets
Chapter 5: The Attack
Chapter 6: Confessions
Chapter 7: The Photo
Chapter 8: Cinnabar Isl.
Chapter 9: Entrapment
Chapter 10: Like a Friend
Chapter 11: The Hit
Chapter 12: One Step Too Far...
Chapter 13: Love and Dependency
Chapter 14: Giovanni
Chapter 15: Complicated
Chapter 16: The Test
 
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Re: Beginnings (Mafia style Diamonshipping)

Fifteen or so years earlier…

I was nineteen with the whole world at my fingertips. I was young, an idealist and faced a future full of amazing prospects. I'd just finished my first two years of school in the Pokémon research field, and while I was yet to chose the area I wanted to get into, doors of possibility were opening up everywhere around me.

But for the moment, it was summer break and I'd just gotten off a two week vacation cruising around the Orange Islands. I was back at home with my family, having just received the news of my life. The top ten students in my class had been chosen to go and be taught at the foot of world famous Professor Oak himself. I was one of those ten.

Naturally, my family was elated, especially my father who himself was a scientist - once renowned in his day, though now considered a batty old fool. We didn't hold that against him. Like me he was a dreamer, and so discovering new concepts was a way of life for him. He taught me to be passionate in whatever I wanted to do. For me, and for the moment, my passion was in my schooling. Though, unlike the remainder of my family, I never really thought too far into the future… or the past at that. I'd always been the sort of person who chose to live in the moment. Decision making had never been a great forte of mine. I guess, in the end, it was that quality that made me better able to handle him. Giovanni that is.

It was on the day of my sister's wedding that everything changed. She and her new husband were doctors. And while I loved my brother-in-law very much, I always thought he lacked character. He was a family man with expectations of the like. But it was alright, my sister was a family person too, and so she was more than happy with the prospect of having a little house with him and settling down and breeding. Hell, she was already several months along in her first pregnancy. I always imagined their house would be perfect, white and tidy with good children who played quietly in the yard with their pet Growlithe.

The wedding itself took place at my parent's farm in the rolling hills just outside Fuchsia City. It was just perfect. I was my sister's only bride's maid, she wanted to have a small wedding but as always, it had turned out much bigger than expected. Not that it mattered, there was plenty of food and joy to go around.

Somewhere during the day, my sister caught up with me and pulled me aside and I'd wrapped her into a tight hug. "I'm going to miss you," I smiled.

"I will too, Delia. But don't you worry, you're next."

I smirked at the thought, I'd always had certain ideals of my 'perfect prince charming' and refused to settle for anything less. Not surprisingly, this always seemed to annoy her, as I'd had my fair share of advances… I just wasn't interested in 'Ken doll' clones.

It was when the evening started to settle in that I noticed the black car pulling up the driveway with its headlights turned off. I squinted in the setting sun, believing this was possibly another one of my brother-in-law's wealthy family members. The car pulled up behind the house, just out of view of the wedding, and I watched from my seat as my father quickly ducked away. I would have thought nothing of it… but it was just the look of utter panic I saw in his eyes that told me something was very wrong. So I decided to follow him.

Sliding along the wall of the house, I chose to remain just out of view of the tall man who stepped from the car. He wore a business suit and I knew right then that he was no in-law.

My father was quivering as he approached the man, giving him as warm a welcome as he could, though they both knew why that man was there. The man was a wealthy business man – a man of the mafia. And he was taking over a corporation in place of its previous owner who had since retired. And as his first act of duty, he was calling in all outstanding debts. Unfortunately, my father happened to be number one on his hit-list. With interest, my father owed in excess of seven million dollars!

I couldn't believe my ears. Had my father's endeavours really ended up costing him this much? And what did he have to show for it? Nothing but a tiny farm in the hills.

I remember clearly hearing my father's cries as he begged on hand and knee for clemency. He was an old man after all. But this man named Giovanni wanted to hear nothing of the sort. Instead he simply clicked his fingers and all at once men in uniform jumped on my father and stuffed him into the car.

"If you can't pay me back then you can spend the remainder of your miserable existence working it off."

I knew right then that if I didn't do something, none of my family would ever see my father again. I didn't think, I just tore from hiding, screaming at the top of my lungs. "Stop! Stop! You can't do this!"

I tackled the first man I saw in attempt to get my father from the car but he hit me in the back and sent me tumbling for the dirt.

"You can't do this! He is an old man!"

"Who happens to owe me a lot of money," the man in the suit argued.

The bodyguard who had thrown me to the dirt went to hit me again but with the rise of a hand, Giovanni stopped him mid swing, "forget her, get in the car."

"Yes sir," the bodyguard obliged.

Giovanni barely got one foot into the car when I erupted in a loud shout. "Wait! Take me instead!"

The man stopped, turning his head in my direction and I took the chance to continue in my plea. "He is useless to you. But I'm still young, I can be of more use to you. I'll work off his debt for you if you let him go free," I begged. "My sister… his daughter is getting married today, don't deny him the chance to celebrate this, or to watch his grandchildren grow up."

Giovanni had turned to face me now, his intense gaze drilling into me and the toggles ticking over in his head. "If you take his place you'll be going under contract. Termination of such a contract is unacceptable. You might as well kiss your schooling goodbye, Delia."

I was shocked at the mention of my name and my schooling, but I had to realize that he was a man of the mafia - it was his business to know these things.

"I understand," I don't know how, but somehow I gathered the strength to get to my feet and face him. "I'll accept those terms."

It was only then that I became aware of the desperate wails of my father, begging me not to go through with this. But it was done. The contract signed and sealed. It took only the click of his fingers to have my father tossed from the car as I took up his seat. The door closed behind us and we drove off… and I partook of the last glimpses of my home…
 
Re: Beginnings (Mafia style Diamonshipping)

The Gun Holster

I found myself perched between Giovanni's two bodyguards, ever afraid to look at him as he sat across from me. Though he paid me no attention anyway, he was too focused on sifting through his paperwork. Seeing him close up, I realised that he didn't possess the usual slender figure of an executive - you know the sort whose only exercise amounted in the form of spending a day riding about in a golf cart.

No, this was a very strong and well built man - broad shoulders, big hands and a square jaw. It was very obvious that he didn't necessarily need to ask people to do his dirty work… he was more than capable of accomplishing that himself.

We drove on in silence for what felt like hours, beautiful scenery passing us by that no one bothered to watch. Eventually, we reached an airstrip where the biggest helicopter I had ever seen waited for us - the sort I'd only ever seen in war movies that were used to transport trucks and other equipment. This one was shiny, black and bore the familiar red R logo on its side door.

The car drew to a halt in front of the helicopter where attendants awaited our arrival. The door came open and no one dared move until the boss had left the car. The two men who sat with me then exited with me closely in tow. Though, by then, they'd figured that I wasn't going anywhere and chose not to hold me by the arms anymore.

"Take her in the back with you," Giovanni ordered, making his way up steps to a private entrance in the front of the chopper.

I followed my two guard friends to a rear door and strapped myself into one of several seats that lined either side of the compartment. Where were heading, I had no idea… I guess I had no choice but to wait and work that out when I got there.

And so we took of into the night.

Exhausted from the day, I actually dozed off for the majority of the flight, only waking to the light thump of our landing.

I blinked and wiped my eyes, heaving a haphazard yawn. What time was it? I recall glimpsing the watch of one of my guards which read something close to midnight.

Disembarking, we waited for the car to be unloaded and I had to wonder at the amount of money this man was capable of throwing around. We all loaded ourselves back into the car and this time I took to absorbing myself in working out the mystery of where I was.

Upon leaving the airport, this very soon came to light as we passed a sign, "Welcome to Viridian! The city of Evergreen."

From what I could see, it didn't look very green to me… but then again, it was the middle of the night. Admittedly, I couldn't recall the last time I'd been to Viridian, it was so long ago. Though, something told me I would be seeing a lot more of it in the coming years.

Years… the thought only really impacted me at that moment. I'd never even been able to keep a job for longer than six months. And yet there I was… signing my entire life over to whatever area this man chose to put me in. Where would I be? What sort of work would he ask me to do for him? Would I be doing anything illegal? The prospect suddenly seemed so overwhelming. How would I manage if he asked me to do things that went against my own set of values? And more importantly, would I even see my family again? What had I done?

The car drew to a halt in front of a large, Roman style building, the words 'Viridian City Pokémon Gym' were engraved a gold plaque on its front. It looked very new – as though it had just been built. And as we stepped in through two large, double doors the strong smell of fresh paint consumed my nostrils. Even though it was in partial darkness, I could clearly make out painter's ladders and pots that were scattered across the tiled gym floor. The floor itself was covered in plastic which crunched noisily as we walked.

It was this point that Giovanni dismissed his men and signalled me to follow him through a doorway and up a set of stairs where we made our way into a reception area with an adjoining office. The smells of paint at this point were replaced with that of freshly laid carpet.

Giovanni flicked on a light switch, revealing a new, hard wood desk and boxes of office supplies that sat atop it. Then beyond the desk was another set of double doors.

"This way," he directed me through the doors into an office so big I was sure it would have easily fit my parent's entire living area in it… with room to spare.

This office - unlike the remainder of the gym - had already been finished and was operational. To one side was a sitting area that contained a couch, a coffee table and a well stocked liquor cabinet. An elaborate fireplace on the opposite wall to the doors indicated the central space and broke the gap between sitting area and work area. The work area in question was nothing more than a huge desk and a couple of leather chairs. A single filling cabinet sat alone on one wall that seemed to drown in the abundance of space around it.

"Sit down," Giovanni slipped from his jacket and carefully hung it on the back of his chair before placing himself down into it.

I took up a seat and watched him from across the desk, tugging nervously at my bride's maid dress that barely covered my knees. My hair, which had been pulled back into an elaborate bun for the wedding had since unfurled and hung loosely over my eyes.

Giovanni unclipped cufflinks from his sleeves and threw them across his desk before sitting back. And that was when I realised the funny straps he wore across his torso actually made up a gun holster.

I had to blink in attempt to hide my own startle. From memory, I'd never seen a real gun before.

The phone ringing on his desk startled me. It only had the chance to ring once before he grabbed it. "What?" pause, "I want you to organize a file for new asset Delia Ketchum. Off the books, no employee record necessary." Pause, "Yes, accommodation will be necessary."

The wet nose that touched my hand brought me from my stare and I found myself looking into the two sleepy eyes of a Persian. As if to inspect me, it gave my hand a sniff before making up its mind that I wasn't a threat and slowly treaded on over to its master. It gave Giovanni's hand a nudge, purring as fingers released their grip on the chair arm and gave it a scratch behind the ears.

Thinking back through my previous Pokémon studies, I guess the Persian was only fairly young and recently evolved. Though, what was of interest to me was the unique colouring on its ears, denoting the fact that this particular Pokémon had been bred and not captured from the wild.

The phone clicked back on the receiver and it was only then that Giovanni chose to acknowledge me. Pulling himself from his seat once again and without so much as a word he directed me back through the double doors to the reception area.

"This is your station," he showed me to the desk and the piles of boxes that sat on top. "I was going to employ someone to be my sectary but the job is yours. Get this area organized. This will be your world for however long I deem it necessary that you be here.

You will work six days a week and will receive a personal allowance of one hundred and fifty dollars every Monday. The remainder of your earnings will go toward your father's debt. You will be provided with accommodation and your living costs will be taken care of as a business expense. Depending on your efficiency and approval rating, I may allow you to go home and visit your family for a week once a year. However, don't consider it a right, it's a privilege." He paused, letting me take in all of this information. "Work hard for me and you will do well. Do anything to displease me however, and you will be terminated, and I will go after your father. Do you understand?"

"Yes sir," I nodded, unable to take my eyes off the gun that sat under his arm within the safe confides of its holster. It was something I could only hope that I would never have to see come out.
 
New Friendships

I spent the better part of a week organising my little office. Just as long as I didn't do anything outrageous with it, I was free to arrange and decorate it how I liked. I guess it was these little freedoms that I was most grateful for.

I'd been provided with everything I needed to live and work under Giovanni's order - from my workspace to a fully furnished apartment and even a wardrobe full of business attire that I was expected to wear on the job. Though interestingly, none of my outfits contained the Team Rocket logo.

Choosing to work at a place called 'Headquarters' for the entire week, Giovanni hadn't even set foot into the Gym, so most of my days were spent on my own.

For some reason, the lunchroom always seemed that much fuller when the Boss was away. A hive of activity and noisy chatter, I very soon became aware of the ranking system that went on. Admin staff on this table, field ops on that, gym staff over there…

While the gym was only a small part of the organisation, people from a vast variety of fields seemed to work from it. I was yet to find out about the massive underground network that stretched out right across Viridian City.

One particular afternoon I'd come down for coffee. I generally went about my business unnoticed, but on this particular occasion I hadn't realised someone had come up behind me to wait his turn for coffee machine. I turned and promptly ran right into him, spilling my coffee all over his uniform.

"Oh my god!" I exclaimed, my hand immediately going to my mouth. "I'm so sorry."

The Rocket looked to be in his mid twenties and had the body of Machoke. He wasn't amused either, especially as his table of friends - who had seen the whole incident – burst into loud laughter.

"It's alright," he spoke through clenched teeth, casting a glare over at his friends which he soon covered up with a sarcastic smile. "But it's going to cost you," he winked.

I thought it best to take my break up stairs at that point, especially as my face went a deep red which only set off his friends even more.

Then sometime on Friday, I received a visitor from the IT department.

"Knock knock!" my head shot up at the face who grinned at me from across the reception area. I hadn't even heard her come up the stairs.

I was under the desk at this stage, attempting to hook up the computer. "Hello?" I pulled out from under the desk, careful so as not to bash my head as I'd already done times before. "Can I help you?"

The technician smiled at me, leaning over the desk. Bright pink hair matched her beaming face and instead of the regular Team Rocket uniforms that I'd gotten accustomed to, she wore overalls containing a small R on her front pocket.

"I'm here to hook you up," she beamed.

I blinked. "Hook me up?"

She nodded, signalling to the computer. "You know, get your computer connected to the network. You're gonna need it if you're going to work in reception."

"Oh!"

In a single motion she hurdled the desk and landed neatly beside me, grabbing my hand into a rough shake. "The name is Zoë. World famous computer hacker at your service," she gave me a playful jab, "Just don't dob me into the cops."

My reaction was less than promising. "oh…" I repeated.

But Zoë only laughed. She appeared the sort who would laugh at anything - a wide smile seemed to be permanently planted on her face.

I stepped back and allowed her access to my computer, taking the time to work on finishing my coffee which had since gone cold. Zoë finished connecting the computer before taking up a seat and booting it up. While she waited for it to start she tapped a finger rhythmically on the desk and hummed a tune to herself before turning to me with an inquiring smile. "You're a virgin hey."

PSSH! I spat my drink.

"You're a newbie. I mean." The woman chuckled. "I can see it written all over you, neatly dressed, hair up in a bun. So what brings you to Team Rocket anyway?"

In order to avoid any more accidents, I gently placed my mug down on the desk. "Finances."

"Ah," Zoë nodded knowingly. "Boss calling in your debt? Yeah we have a few of your kind around abouts. Well since the big changeover and all."

I watched over her shoulder as she produced a pokéball from her belt and then proceeded to connect the front button to a cable and plug it into the computer. A bright red flash enveloped the screen for a second before a Porygon appeared in its place. Though, unlike the ones I'd seen before, this one was all pink and had what looked to be a Mohawk on its head.

"Porygon, perform start up function six two nine. Provide gym sectary clearance to a…" she glimpsed my employee card on the desk. "Delia Ketchum."

The little digital Pokémon nodded and went about its business, pulling files and setting up connections.

"He's cute," I mused.

Zoë grinned, "Yeah, he's my best buddy – my partner in crime. He goes everywhere with me. I'm actually working on developing an upgraded version."

"Sounds interesting. And that's what an upgraded Porygon would look like?"

Zoë sniggered. "Probably not. Ping here just likes to look different, he's got spunk. Ah there, all done." She withdrew Ping back into his pokéball, "you're all set up and ready to get into the real work now, Delia. Giovanni keeps a pretty rigid schedule, which incidentally, you are now in charge of. He keeps it on his personal computer which you can access wirelessly from here. The first thing every morning you'll need to connect to the mainframe and download any updates and then every evening before you leave you'll need to perform a system backup. If you have any other problems, then don't hesitate to give me a call." She handed me her business card then offered me a sympathetic smile. "Good luck. And don't worry, it does get easier."

~*~

Needless to say, Saturday afternoon didn't come soon enough. I was exhausted from a long week of work. I decided to walk home through the park even though the apartment building was only across the road from the gym. After being locked up in a building for six days, it was just refreshing to be able enjoy nature again. Viridian was full of parks. It was a city of gardens and took pride in the fact.

Taking off my shoes, I let my toes wriggle into the soft grass before flopping back on the ground under a tree and watching the sun set over the river. The evening brought on a cool and crisp breeze that seemed to just carry off my worries and thoughts of the day, leaving my mind a blank canvass to take in my surroundings.

The sky was ablaze with reds and pinks as the sun made its steady decent beyond the horizon. Small Pokémon such as Pidgey and Rattata – who had become accustomed to Humans – scurried and flapped about, getting their little nests ready to sleep for the night.

"Bullbbaaa," A light wail caught me unaware and I jumped upright.

I searched for the source of the sickly wail, only to discover a Bulbasaur lying on the ground behind a bush. In his paw was a large thorn which he licked and nipped at in attempt to get it out.

"Oh you poor little thing," I exclaimed with a cry.

The Bulbasaur reared immediately, pulling back at my approach.

"Don't worry, I wont hurt you. I want to help you."

"Bulbaaaa,"

I let it analyse me for a moment before it figured I was telling the truth and held out its paw. Crouching down beside it, I gently worked on getting the thorn out before taking off my jacket and using it to dab away the blood. The wound wasn't serious, it would heal in time.

"There," I cooed softly, "all better."

"Bulba!" The little Pokémon perked up, checking its paw and then head-butted my hand in thanks.

"You're welcome," I smiled, watching it wander off through the bushes.

A part of me envied it. As a wild Bulbasaur, it was free to go about as it pleased. A privilege that I was sure would not befall me for many years to come.

When I got back to my apartment, there was a message on the machine from my parents. I really didn't feel like talking but decided to give them a call anyway. Naturally, they were concerned for my wellbeing. But to be honest, I didn't feel like I was working for a criminal organisation. I was just working as the secretary for a wealthy business owner.

However, my conversation was cut short by a knock at my door. It was the technician from the other day, what was her name? Zoë.

"Hi Delia!" she beamed. Her overalls had since been replaced with a casual pair of track pants and a tank top. "I know its kind of short notice but I'm having some mates from work over for a game and drinks. I was wondering if you wanted to join us? Ya know, get to know some people. I'm just down the hall in apartment thirty six."

I was beyond tired but the offer was too tempting to pass up. If anything, friends were what I most needed right then.

"Alright," I replied with a smile. "Just let me have a shower and get out of these clothes and I'll be down in a bit."
 
Secrets

I knocked on the door of Zoë's apartment, precariously balancing a large plate of guacamole and corn chips in my hands.

"Delia!" Zoë answered it, greeting me with another one of her beaming smiles and grabbed at the plate I held. "Oh you didn't need to do that! Here, let me help you." She relieved me of my burden before signalling me to the kitchen table where four other Rockets I recognised from the gym sat- each one holding a hand full of playing cards.

"We've only just started," Zoë placed the plate in the middle of the table which was immediately attacked by a couple of the men.

Zoë went into introducing each guest by name, some of them were in uniform and others weren't. One who was in uniform was the Rocket I'd spilled my coffee on who Zoë introduced to me as 'Logan'. He watched me now, beady, inquiring eyes staring at me from beneath his hat.

"Take a seat!" Zoë showed me to a chair and poured me a drink from a blender – an interesting homemade concoction that went right to my head.

"This guacamole is amazing! Have you tried this, Zoë?" Zoë's other lady friend, whose name now escapes me, offered. "Did you make this Delia?"

I nodded meekly. "It's an old family recipe. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen."

"I'll bet all of your cooking is this amazing."

It was nice to hear compliments, especially coming from people who were so stooped in the world of crime. And as the evening progressed and the stories of missions and scores came to light, I came to realise that the people of Team Rocket saw the world through an entirely different set of eyes. To them the world was a place of opportunity ripe for the picking. Things like laws were merely guidelines – a way of life that didn't necessarily suit them. For instance, when Zoë had said she was a computer hacker, she wasn't joking. The girl was a genius, having graduated college at only the age of seventeen. She was a whiz at computers and reigned from a family of such-like people in Cerulean. Starting out as a programmer, she soon came to discover her talents in the field of hacking.

Unfortunately, however, her reputation fast caught up with her and after a bungled attempt at breaking into the payroll system of some sort of business, she found herself promptly arrested and carted off to prison. Little had she realised, however, that the business she'd been hacking into was actually owned by none other than the previous head of Team Rocket, Madame Boss. This had grabbed the attention of Madame Boss' then executive – her son, Giovanni - who promptly went about offering to relieve her of her current punishment if she came and worked for him. Prison or a life of hacking for Team Rocket… the offer was difficult to refuse.

"So, I heard Gio bought a new island just off the coast with the purpose of putting some sort of research lab on it?" at the sound of Zoë's utterance, all eyes turned intently on Logan.

"Perhaps," he smiled, leaning back in his chair. "Who wants to know?" he rose an eyebrow.

"Aww come on Logan! Give us the dish!" Zoë exclaimed, throwing popcorn at him.

"You wish! That's top secret!" Logan retorted.

"We won't tell."

Logan scoffed, eyeing us off carefully, though I could tell by the way his lips twitched that he was just as eager to give up the information as we were to hear it.

"Alright," he signed finally, rubbing his eyelids. "If word of this gets out though, I'm dead. From what I know, Giovanni is directing Team Rocket into a more scientific field. He's getting into some sort cloning experimentation. You know, like what the losers on Cinnabar Island are doing with the fossils. Except this is less reviving of so-called extinct species and more genetically enhancing ones that are already around."

"Sounds dangerous," I mentioned.

Logan had to agree. "It's strictly illegal, which is the reason why we had to go offshore. If the government gets wind of this…" he drew his finger across his throat as if to slit it. "Team Rocket is history."

The ethical issues alone were phenomenal. Attempting to improve on nature was never a good thing. I knew this for a fact. Before it became illegal, such experimentation had gone on within the government. I'd spent an entire semester studying it.

The serious look on my face didn't go unnoticed either.

"You have a problem with that, Delia?" Logan snapped me from my thoughts and I straightened, forcing an ignorant smile. "With what, Logan?"

His eyes were narrow as he frowned at me. "You're not gonna to go all martyr on me and let word of this slip to anyone we don't want finding out are you?"

"Who? Delia?" Zoë burst out laughing. "You don't need to worry about her. She's one of us now. Besides, what would any of us know about genetic research?"

I copied her laugh. "Oh yeah, it's all so… very scientific."

Much to my relief, Logan relaxed, backing down into his seat. "Good. Because if I find out word of this got out, you'll all be dead. That's a promise."

Needles to say, I left the games that evening unsettled and anxious. With its new Boss taking over the ranks, Team Rocket was swiftly moving along from being based on Pokémon smuggling and dodgy deals to something a lot more sinister.

Granted, the research was only beginning stages, but how long would it be before they unleashed something unnatural into the world… a Pokémon mutant – an abomination. Giving Pokémon powers beyond what was normal meant they became harder and harder to control. Something like that being brought into the world would only reap disastrous consequences.

I needed to tell someone, but where would I go? I was more than certain Giovanni had corrupt police officers in his employ. Really, who could I trust? An even though Logan's threat had been taken with joking and laughter at the table, I'd seen the look in his eyes.

I didn't have a doubt in my mind that he was more than capable of carrying out his word.

~*~

The gym's grand opening was on Sunday. And much to my dismay, despite it being my assigned day off, I was still expected to work. Everyone associated with gym was expected to work.

I found the clothes I was required to wear lying on my bed when I stepped out of the shower. I hadn't even heard the housekeeper come. Not unlike my regular business attire, my outfit today was a nice, black pencil skirt and a white shirt with matching heels. The price tag was still attached to the outfit which amounted to something that would take me several weeks to pay off. I had to hope that this wouldn't be coming out of my salary if I damaged it.

I turned up at the gym struggling in heels and feeling a little hung over from the night before. I don't know what Zoë had put in the drinks but it was potent!

There was paperwork sitting on my desk requiring Giovanni's signature and judging by the quiet and attentive atmosphere of the gym, I had to assume that he was already here.

Stepping up to the large, double doors of his office, I gave them a quiet tap. "Sir? Are you in?"

I opened the door slightly to see him standing in front of the fireplace, donning his new suit. Much to his aggravation, he found himself caught up in a battle with a bandaged broken thumb and his tie.

"Oh here," I immediately placed the paperwork on the coffee table and intervened. "Let me help you with that."

He gave a grunt, but chose to let me take the tie off his hands.

"How did you do that?" I asked him lightly.

Keeping his eyes trained straight ahead, he chose not to take his sight off the mantle - as though to look down at me while he was in this state would mean weakness. "Boxing match."

"How did you manage that?"

"I wasn't wearing gloves."

I had to struggle to curb the amused smile, focusing my mind solely on his tie. I couldn't stop my fingers that inadvertently traced the hardness of his chest that lay beneath his silk shirt. His face was straight and unmoving, as though it had been chiselled out of stone and left that way. I knew for a fact that he was barely in his thirties, but his frown lines had long etched permanent groves into his forehead, making him look older.

"There," I finished with the tie before fixing his collar and brushing the Persian fur from his shoulders… shoulders that, like his chest felt as hard as rock.

Making my way over to his chair I gently grabbed his suit jacket and slid it onto his shoulders.

Saying nothing, he nodded a silent acknowledgement before pulling a pen from his jacket and singing my paperwork. Fortunately for him, it wasn't his writing hand that was broken.

"Come on," he said, moving me along. "You've got work to do."
 
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The Attack

The grand opening took place on the front steps of the gym which was brightly decorated with balloons and ribbons. The entire street had been sealed off to traffic as the city-folk flocked to the big event. Booths lined the street, turning the big day into not only an opening but a carnival.

The place was bustling with news reporters and photographers who were eager to gain the first glimpses of the new gym and it's Leader –Giovanni.

The Mayor started the day with a speech on something along the lines of putting Viridian City on the map as a must go to place for Pokémon Trainers. Then with the assistance of Giovanni, he cut the tape and declared the Viridian City Pokémon Gym officially open.

Then, as tradition dictated, Giovanni christened the gym with its first Pokémon battle against a lucky, randomly chosen Trainer who he defeated with ease. The main parts of the gym were then opened for the public to tour and especially choreographed Pokémon shows and battles took place on the floor to a cheering audience which Giovanni and his special guests watched from the Gym Leader's balcony.

In all, the day was a big success and as evening drew in and the visitors slowly filed out back to their homes, I knew they carried with them the buzz of the day.

Like the remainder of the staff on duty that day, I was simply assigned to keep watch over things and offer information about the gym to those who asked. It actually didn't feel much like work at all. Then once the last of our visitors left, the large double doors were closed and bolted shut and we got to work on cleaning up the gym floor of the plastic cups and other rubbish that had been left behind as a result of the crowds.

I grabbed a broom and started sweeping while others made use of garbage bags and mops. It wasn't until much later that I felt the figure approach me from behind.

"That was some party."

I straightened at Logan. He held a dustpan and brush which he put to use by clearing up the pile of rubbish I'd since swept into the corner.

"Yeah," I smiled, wiping sweat from my brow with the back of my sleeve. After having so many bodies in the gym all day, the air had become thick with humidity.

There was a lazy grin on Logan's face and I could tell by the smell of alcohol that he'd had a little too much to drink. The hour at this point was getting late and I was tired, so I didn't even notice the fact that he was cornering me until it was too late.

"You know, you're not like the other girls I know."

I backed up against the wall which he used to rest an arm on and it was only then that I realised that we were actually alone in the gym.

"How do you mean?" My eyes darted about for a way out.

"I mean you're so innocent. Sweet."

"Oh…" I trailed, making a point of ducking under his arm and fell into a quick walk across the gym, heading for the reception area.

But he wouldn't take the hint and followed me. "It's almost sickening."

"Not exactly the way to a woman's heart, Logan," I said bluntly, scaling the stairs. I rounded my desk and gathered up my handbag and coat. Then finding my swipe card, I clocked out. "I'm leaving now. You should probably do the same."

The rocket shrugged. "I clocked out half an hour ago. I figured I'd wait for you to finish. I wanted to walk you home. You know, these parts aren't safe for someone like you. You're not even carrying any Pokémon."

I quickly cast a glance under Giovanni's office door and cursed to myself. His light wasn't on, meaning that he wasn't around.

"I only live across the road, Logan. I think I can take care of myself." I went to walk off on him but he quickly grabbed me by the arm and stopped me in my tracks.

"Hey, don't forget you still owe me after that incident in the break room. I'll tell you what, if you let me walk you home tonight then I'll consider that as even."

The idea didn't agree with me at all. For a start, I could tell that he wasn't exactly in his right mind, and I'd seen the look in his eyes. He was more interested in causing trouble than acting the gentleman.

"Another time perhaps," I gave him the rise of an eyebrow before pulling myself free and leaving him alone in the office.

It was about 10pm by the time I left the gym, tired and flustered. Checking over my shoulder to make sure Logan wasn't following me, I hurried across the road to the apartment building and fumbled around my bag for the front door key.

"WAAARK!" The Fearow caught me completely by surprise. All I saw was the flash of its wings before huge talons hooked into my blouse and flew me up high into the sky.

"Ahhhh!" I yelled, dropping everything in my hands as we took off over the building and buzzed through the tree tops of the park behind.

Tree branches swept my by, missing my face by inches before the talons let me go and I fell, tumbling into the soft grass. Pulling myself to my knees, I made a scramble for the nearest bush, keeping my head low and waiting for the Fearow to swoop me again. But all I caught was the flash of red as he found himself sucked back up into a Pokéball.

I straightened at the dark figure that stood by a tree with a hand in his pocket, watching me carefully. "See, I told you it's not safe on your own."

"Logan?" I staggered to my feet, my hair and blouse covered in leaves and twigs, "You're responsible for this?"

The look on his face was furious. "You should have taken me up on my offer. I really hate it when people say no to me."

I immediately swallowed, "I'm sorry, I didn't realise it meant that much to you."

Slowly stepping from the tree, he kept me pinned under his gaze. "I looked up your history and I know that you don't actually work for Team Rocket. You're one of those debt workers. Meaning the things you heard me say the other night about the research, you're not at liberty to hear."

"I know," I replied, "But you don't need to worry. Like you said, I'm only here to work off my debt."

"I would like to take your word at face value, but you see I also know that you studied genetic research for a whole semester before you came here. So you already know all about where things like the law and ethic issues stand on that." He heaved a sigh, as if to fake the fact that what he was going to say next actually pained him. "I'm not an idiot, Delia. I saw the look on your face. You're against the idea. And taking into consideration your spotless record, it means that sooner or later you'll talk."

"I won't talk, I give you my word," I was beginning to sound desperate now. "I don't want to cause any trouble, Logan."

"It's too late for that," his growled; his fist balling and knuckles cracking.

I fell into a backward stagger over the bush, turning it into a run but in the blink of an eye he was behind me, grabbing my ponytail and yanking me backwards into him.

"Arhh!" I struggled but he was built like a Machoke and he quickly overpowered me and sent me tumbling into a tree.

"I'm here to make sure you don't talk. Even if it means giving you a taste of what I'll do to you if you do talk."

The stench of alcohol on his breath made me want to vomit. I fought him, my fingernails clawing at his face but he merely grabbed me by the wrists and pinned me beneath his body. A swift backhand to my face knocked me senseless, the force of the slap snapping my head sideways and causing me to see stars. And suddenly I was being dragged to the ground and he was on top of me, one hand on my throat and the other hungrily tearing at my clothes.

"No!" I let out a helpless wail, lashing out with my knee and jamming it into his crotch.

The rocket wheezed, dropping to his knees and cursing at me. I took the chance to scramble upright in attempt to crawl away but he grabbed me by the ankle.

Whoosh! From nowhere, a storm of razor sharp leaves suddenly erupted upon my attacker. Logan bellowed and covered his face with an arm only to find himself at the wrong end of a vine whip attack.

"Bulba!" a little green Bulbasaur leapt from the bushes, planting itself defensively between me and my attacker.

Before Logan had the chance to get on his feet, the little Pokémon head butted him in the face and knocked him out cold.

I could only sit there on the ground, short of breath and heart racing. "Thank you," I said to my little rescuer.
 
Confessions

I couldn't move. I couldn't think. I couldn't even close my eyes, because every time I did I would see him. I would smell the stench of his breath and feel the impact of his violence.

Night turned to morning and still there I sat on the floor of my shower, fully clothed and shivering as the water had long gone cold. But no matter what I did… how much I scrubbed, I couldn't get the feeling off filth off of me.

Having no concept of the time, I vaguely became aware of the loud bashing at the front door before the jingle of keys as the caretaker broke his way into my apartment. He was accompanied by the familiar cry of Zoë as she searched the apartment and called my name in question.

She eventually found her way into my bathroom where I'd left the door wide open. Her hand went to her mouth, "Oh Delia! What happened?"

I was quivering like a leaf as she turned off the tap, knelt down and pulled me into a tight embrace. But I couldn't say a word. I was mortified.

"Honey, you need to get yourself back to the gym. You're two hours late and Giovanni is furious!" She wiped the mascara from beneath my eye and I allowed her to gently pull me to my feet. "I know you must have experienced something awful, Delia, but in this business you can't afford to keep the Boss waiting."

I was barely aware of the fact that she stripped me of my wet clothes and helped me into fresh ones. She wiped what remained of the makeup from my face and gathered together my bag and utensils.

"Come on."

I don't remember leaving my apartment let alone getting to the gym. Before I knew it, I was standing alone in front of my desk, my mind playing a constant reel of sickening thoughts of 'what ifs' and 'whys'.

The pager on my phone made me jump as the angry growl of Giovanni summoned me to his office. And I realised right then that I couldn't do this anymore… I needed to get away from this place… as far away as possible!

It was the photo of my family sitting on my desk that stopped me from running. I had to remember that if I left, Giovanni wouldn't hesitate at going after my father. I needed to do this for him.

Sucking in a deep breath, I closed my eyes, begging my mind to concentrate on the task at hand and willed for the strength to be able to handle the impending berating of my boss. Taking the door handle in one hand, I heaved it open with what strength I had left in me and gingerly stepped into his office.

Far from what I was expecting, Giovanni didn't say a word upon my entry. He stood at his bar, swirling a drink in his hand. I was aware that I was late for work. He didn't need to state that fact.

A glare able to slice people in half forced its way into me as I approached his desk, holding my head low. "I'm so sorry," I don't know how I managed to find my voice.

"Make sure it doesn't happen again," his tone was unusually serene for his composure.

He finished his drink before carefully placing his glass back down on the tray. It was only then that I allowed myself to lift my head and take in the fact that he wasn't wearing his tie. In fact, it sat on the back of his chair, waiting to be put on.

It was this fact that he now allured me to. "Are you going to assist me with this or stand there all day?"

I was on it in a heart beat, hurrying around his desk and taking the tie from his chair. He inclined his head forward so that I could fling it over his shoulders and gently pulled it around his neck. He watched me with that gaze of his as I pulled the tie into a knot and carefully folded the collar of his shirt down around it. I didn't even see the snap of his hand until his fingers curled around my arm and wrenched it upright.

"Ah!" I jumped, instinctively pulling back but he held it tight, inspecting my wrist with a careful eye.

His eyes narrowed as they followed the scratches that I'd only just noticed were there all the way up my arm and on my neck and face. "Who did this?"

I was mortified. I couldn't move.

"I asked you a question Delia," he hissed.

If I told him… he would find out what I knew.

"N… no one," I squirmed, desperate to get my arm back.

He let it go and I pulled it into my chest, hugging myself in attempt to hide the damage.

"I fell into a bush in the park," I lied.

Giovanni wasn't convinced. His face turned to a scowl. "A bush with Human hands that tried to choke you? I can see the handprint on your neck. What kind of a fool to do you take me for, Delia?"

There was nothing I could say to that. I felt like a trapped Pokémon. I was cornered. I couldn't run, I couldn't hide. Those focused, intense eyes drilled in to me and before I knew it, I'd burst into tears blurting at him nothing but gibberish.

He seemed taken aback by this as suddenly his hands came to my shoulders, his eyes for a moment taking on a look of concern. I let him lead me over to the couch where there he sat me down and stood over me until I managed to gather up my wits to speak.

When I started to talk, I found that I couldn't stop. I told him everything. I told him how I found out about his plans to delve into genetic research. And that based on my history, Logan had come after me in attempt to keep me quiet. I swore on my life I would keep the secret, and that I was there to focus on paying back my dues.

By the time I'd finished, his face had lost its concern and gone back to its angry scowl. He took a moment to process the intake of information before slowly making his way back over to his desk.

"Go home," he finally said. "I'll send someone to escort you back to your apartment and you can take the rest of the day off."
 
The Photo

As time passed, I came to realise that Giovanni had chosen to take my word that I would remain silent. He never broached the issue again. And as the weeks and months went by, the events of that night gradually slipped further and further from my mind… especially as Logan never showed up for work again. It was like he slipped off the edge of the earth. No one saw and heard from him again. This, of course, left me to assume that Giovanni put it into his hands to deal with him. To be honest, I wasn't sure what to think of that, I'd put him in that situation with my blabbering. Did he deserve what he got?

Needles to say, as people connected the dots with regards to those events, I started to receive a new status in the Team Rocket syndicate. In dealing with Logan, Giovanni had in effect proclaimed that I was his property and therefore not to be touched. Was it a blessing or a curse? Back then I really didn't know.

Getting on with my job, I managed to establish myself a routine and in the process proved myself to be a hard worker – one of the few able to keep up with his busy schedule. My work load was quite large, but when I had nothing else to live for, it didn't bother me. And the harder I worked, the more information I was given privy to. Information such as locations of Giovanni's secret bases and laboratories and the miles upon miles of underground tunnels that stretched out right across not only this city but others too. Team Rocket was an organisation so entrenched in society, that to root it out would ultimately mean the collapse of the financial sector as well as some areas of government. Kanto would fall into a recession so deep that it would take years to get back on its feet.

On some occasions, I got to travel with the boss, following him around from location to location as he surveyed his empire or played an active role in some sort of major undertaking. Other times I was required to attend functions and dinners acting as his personal assistant. The perks were incredible. I was provided with gowns and jewellery worth more than everything my parent's owned. I rode in limousines, private jets and helicopters. I become the person apart from his own Persian who spent the most time with him.

We didn't speak much though, as Giovanni was always busy on his phone or working on his laptop. But sometimes on the long flights, we found ourselves caught up in conversation. And as our business relationship grew, so did his trust in me, even to the extent that in private, he didn't seem bothered when I chose to speak my mind. Sometimes, I think he even appreciated it…

Even now; thirteen years later, Giovanni's schedule is always booked up… that is with the exception of one day in the year. This day he chooses to do nothing but turn up to work and sit in his office, leaving me under strict instruction not to allow anyone admittance. This is also the one day in the year that he wears a wedding band…

This day is always quiet and one that I sometimes secretly relish.

Though, it was also on this day when everything changed…

As I sat alone at my desk, absently typing up an email to my family - as had become my custom on Wednesday afternoons - I received a visit from one of Giovanni's executives in the business sector back at Headquarters. He didn't say much apart from the fact that he had paperwork that required Giovanni's signature right away. This he placed on my desk, giving me orders that it was to be handed back to him personally before the end of the day.

"That's not going to be possible," I said bluntly. "Giovanni isn't to be disturbed. I'll have to get it back to you tomorrow."

"Tomorrow is too late. The business deal closes today. If I don't have those signatures, we don't get the deal. If we don't get the deal, Giovanni will not be happy. If Giovanni isn't happy, I'm going to make sure you take the fall for it. This deal is too important to lose," the executive growled. "Now I don't care how you do it, you get me those signatures." And with that he stormed off, leaving me alone with the paperwork.

This wasn't good.

It took several moments of me glancing from the documents to the door to his office before I finally mustered up the courage to approach it. I hesitated just short of knocking, my hand wavering over the door. To be honest, I wasn't sure what to expect. Would he be sitting at his desk like he usually was or would he be doing something else? Something that he didn't want anyone to see? Did he have a woman in there? I frowned at the thought. He was alone, I was sure of that. I would have definitely noticed otherwise. The walls weren't exactly paper thin but when Giovanni raised his voice, everyone was aware of it.

I knocked on the door…

It took several seconds of waiting before I heard his response. "Yes? What is it?"

I swallowed down a knot in my throat. The tone of his voice wasn't irritated but I'd been around him long enough to know it meant that not everything was alright.

"It's the paperwork for the Jefferson deal, Giovanni. It requires your immediate attention. Just your signature is all I need."

There was silence…"Yes alright, come in."

I still didn't know what I would face when I pulled open the door, but I can say now the sight that befell me was not something that I expected.

Giovanni wasn't at his desk at all. In fact, the only part of him that remained at that desk was his jack that sat draped over the back of his chair. Instead, he was sitting on his couch. The sleeves of his shirt were rolled up to his elbows that he rested on his knees. In his hands he clutched a glass of drink and on the coffee table sat the rest of the bottle and a single framed photo of a very beautiful woman with a Meowth.

I found myself utterly taken aback. He chose not to say anything. He merely pulled a pen from his pocket and signed the paperwork that I handed him. His hair was a mess; as though he'd been running his fingers through it, and as he glanced up at me there were large, round bags under his eyes.

He handed me back the paperwork, indicating that I was free to leave but I just stood there, daring to ask, "Is everything alright, Giovanni?"

"That is not your business, Delia," he stated bluntly.

I nodded, "I'm sorry, I'll leave you alone." I turned to leave but his call beat me to the door.

"Delia, wait."

I stopped and carefully spun back to meet him and he heaved a loud sigh, signalling me back over with the wave of a hand. I carefully placed the paperwork on the coffee table and after assessing that it was ok to do so, I took a seat on the couch beside him.

He said nothing at first and I dared not ask again. The expression on his face was clearly pained but serious; as though he'd ago long given up in attempting to hide this perceived weakness. I watched the picture on the table. The woman was slender and had an air of serenity about her. She was truly beautiful.

"Is that your wife?" I don't know what possessed me to ask, and the moment it came out I was sure I would suffer a firm scolding.

But Giovanni simply nodded. "She passed away the day our daughter was born."

I don't know why I was taken aback, "I didn't know you had a daughter."

"She attends a special boarding school." He took in a ragged breath, "I haven't seen her since her birth."

"How old is she?"

"Five."

So Giovanni had been a widower for five years. It was no wonder he consumed himself in his work like this. I was sure he'd never even given himself the chance to properly grieve her. But there he was, sitting in all of his honestly. My heart ached for him. The most powerful person in Kanto… was only a man. And so I did something so risky that in my right mind I would never have thought to do. I grabbed his hand and squeezed it.

As was to be expected, the gesture took Giovanni by surprise and he immediately straightened. Though as his eyes fell on mine, I gave him a smile that only friend could offer and his startle seemed to melt away. A single, small smile broke through his sadness. I was sure no one had touched him like this in a long time.

"Speak of this to no one," he whispered.
 
Cinnabar Isl.

One morning during the next week Giovanni received a phone call. I was attempting to negotiate with the photocopier at the time, so the interruption wasn't much appreciated.

"We'll talk later," I eyed the photocopier before I turned and hurried for my desk to beat the phone to its fourth ring. "Giovanni's office, how can I help you?"

The conversation was voice only and the number belonged to an unknown cell phone.

"This is Dr. Fuji. I wish to speak with Giovanni please," a slow and calculated voice sounded on the other end.

The name wasn't familiar to me. "Can I ask what it's regarding."

"It's regarding his latest project. Need to know only," the voice began to sound irritated. "It's imperative that I speak with him right away."

"One moment," I placed the call on hold and paged Giovanni before sending it through.

My job done, I went back to my negotiations with the photocopier. Unfortunately they weren't going well in my favour. Generally my patience is good, but on this particular morning, it was wearing thin very quickly. "Now listen here! If you won't work for me, you leave me with no choice but to go down stairs and use your cousin in the lab! You don't want to make me do that, I don't like walking down steps in these heels."

It was then that I became aware of a shadow standing over me. Jumping about six feet, I reeled on the spot, staggered in my heels and fell backwards into the copier. I found myself face to face with a somewhat amused Giovanni who patiently stood behind me.

"Do you always talk to the office equipment like that?"

Visibly flustered, I straightened and pulled a string of hair behind my ear, "Only the ones that don't listen."

He nodded slowly and moved along to the point of his intrusion. "There is a situation on Cinnabar Island that requires my immediate attention. Go home and pack for two days. The helicopter leaves in an hour."

~*~

I'd only been to Cinnabar Island once before, and that was on the cruise I'd taken before going to work for Giovanni. My sister, on the other hand, visited it frequently on vacation with her husband.

This time, it was strictly business. Not that it really mattered anyway. It was the middle of winter; somewhat chilly and very wet. So the view from the helicopter was severely hampered by the low cloud cover.

Giovanni and I sat across from each other, our knees almost touching beneath a small table piled high with paperwork and a laptop. Giovanni was on the phone, snarling at whoever was unlucky enough to be on the receiving end while his Persian lay partly draped across the seat beside me and partly across my lap. Persian watched me with loving eyes as I made a point of scratching him in his favourite place behind his ears. Though my concentration was focused on the fact that the vein in Giovanni's neck was beginning to show and the tone of his voice was rising at a rapid rate, until eventually and just moments before exploding point, he pressed the button on his phone and disconnected the conversation. He was furious, his knuckles turning white as he squeezed the phone in his hand.

I quickly extended hand and like a mother does to a child, expectantly signalled for him to give me the phone. His eyebrow twitched and mine rose in response. Finally heaving a sigh, he caved and released the warped phone into my possession and flopped back into his seat.

"What's the situation, Giovanni?" I gently placed the cracked cell phone on the table.

Giovanni's jaw clenched. "An important package of mine was flagged and seized at customs."

I glimpsed the paperwork on the table showing charts of DNA strands and photos of some sort of fossil.

"This doesn't have anything to do with cloning experiments does it?"

Giovanni threw me a look of distaste. "I know of your feelings toward such things, but this is a very important investment, Delia," he growled.

I knew not to push the subject; especially given his foul frame of mind. But for something to be flagged at customs meant it had to contain organic components. And the only reason why something like that would find its way to Cinnabar Island in the first place was if it was en route to the research lab. Only special 'research' permits allowed for the transfer of organic materials onto the island, which I was sure Giovanni wouldn't have overlooked.

"What do you think the issue is?"

"Politics," he spat. "I've got something the Government wants. Once the Cinnabar Lab confirms the finding, the fossil is scheduled to be shipped directly to my lab on New Island. Their insistence on holding up the process is costing me time and money."

I allowed Giovanni to deliberate in silence and focused my efforts on Persian who didn't seem to mind the extra attention. Before long the helicopter panned to the right and the rooftop of a building came into view. We landed on a large helipad only to be greeted by the staff of what I assumed was a luxury hotel. I waited for Giovanni to disembark before clearing the table of its contents and falling into step behind him and his Persian. A host met us at the rooftop door, greeting us with a wide smile and directing us to the elevator which took us down to the presidential suite.

Admittedly, I'd never seen the presidential suite of… well anything really. I was yet to realise the name of the hotel but it was nothing short of amazing. Royal reds and golds lined the walls and the carpet, making me almost feel regal as we walked the halls in silence. The Presidential suite which Giovanni would occupy for the duration of his stay took up the entire top floor of the hotel, and contained among the most magnificent living quarters I'd ever seen, a private office and even its own conference room for meetings.

I followed Giovanni and his little escort into the office which, while being smaller than his office back at the gym or HQ, contained a perfectly crafted hardwood desk, a sitting area, a big TV and a fully stocked liquor cabinet – which Giovanni took full advantage of. While he poured himself a drink, his attendants went to work in unpacking his travel case and I set up his computer and other important documents on his desk.

Giovanni spared no time in grabbing the phone and arranging a board meeting with Dr. Fuji and the top members of his 'so called' research team. And while I set up Persian's basket and filled his food bowl, I couldn't help but overhear the mention of a conspiracy that had rocked some sort of expedition to the Amazon. There was a traitor in their midst - someone who worked undercover for the Government. Naturally, Giovanni was very intent on rooting out this impostor.

"Do you have the paperwork for the customs office?" too absorbed in my duties, I barely noticed that Giovanni was no longer on the phone.

He gave me an expectant glance and I quickly went about searching his desk for said documents. I found a folder and scanned its contents, finding Giovanni's appeal to the custom's office to release his fossil sample to him on the basis that he did have the correct licensing arrangements in place.

"Right here, Giovanni."

"Good." He checked his watch and frowned. "The office is closed now. I need you to take them down first thing tomorrow morning."

"Yes, Sir," I nodded and neatly tucked the folder under my arm. "Is there anything else you needed me to do, Giovanni?"

"No, that's all Delia. The board members should be here shortly. The evening is yours."

"I'll see you tomorrow," I smiled and he briefly returned the favour as I took my leave.

My room was only the next floor down and while it wasn't nearly as huge or luxurious as Giovanni's suite, it was still very classy. I had a beautiful view of the ocean and the sun that started its journey toward the horizon. A big, queen sized bed offered me much needed rest but I resisted its tempting call and went to work on unpacking and hanging my clothes. The last thing I needed was to turn up to work in the morning with creased business attire. It just looked unprofessional. Unfortunately, it was also around about then that I realised I'd once again forgotten to bring a change of underwear!

"Oh, Legendaries!" I cursed out loud. "Not again!"

This was going to complicate things. It left me with no choice. I had to head into town and purchase myself some new underwear. I really didn't feel like going out, especially as I watched the dark rain clouds billowing on the horizon. It was going to be a wet night. Exhaling air through my nostrils, I moaned and grabbed for my coat. If I was quick, perhaps I would avoid the rain.
 
Entrapment

By the time I made it down town, the stores were already closing. I hurried into the closest boutique I could find and, avoiding the frustrated glance of the shopkeeper, quickly picked out what I needed. I really didn't have the time to browse. I just grabbed what I saw and brought it to the counter.

"How was your day?" the woman behind the counter muttered through gritted teeth, visibly eager to close the store and finish her shift.

"Fine," I forged a sweet smiled and swiped my card.

Much to our frustration, the card was declined. $150 a week really didn't go far…

"I'm sorry, I can't sell you these if you don't have the money, perhaps you should call your bank and come back in the morning," the woman said with a hint of indifference.

Heaving a sigh, I searched my purse for spare change but came up empty handed. In the end, I handed her Giovanni's company card. I wasn't going to be caught dead walking around the boss and his personnel in my tiny business skirt and no panties – even if it meant paying him back with interest. Satisfied with that, the woman wrapped up my purchase, handed me the receipt and bid me a good evening.

Once that ordeal was over and another impending crisis had been averted I started out on my trek back to the hotel. It wasn't raining yet and much to my surprise, the evening was almost pleasant, so I decided to go for a walk along the beach.

The ocean was a swell of grey rather than the beautiful blue/green it was better known for. The clouds that sat on the horizon were dark and like someone had gone and ran a finger across a wet painting, looked streaked as a rainstorm savaged the ocean. The clouds were quickly heading my direction, and it wasn't long before I found myself caught up in the downpour.

Covering my head with my shopping bag, I made a run for shelter under the nearest pier and waited out the rainstorm. Wringing out my hair, I frowned as my white shirt had somehow managed to get wet - even in spite of my coat - and gone see through.

A chilly breeze blew through the rafters above my head and I shivered, shifting on the partially wet sand beneath my feet. I had to curse myself for not having just hailed a taxi to get back to the hotel.

A figure that stepped onto the pier above my head snapped me from my thoughts. Through the crack in the rafters, I could make out a well built man wearing a trench coat, sunglasses and a hat. His collar was up high around his neck and one of his gloved hands gripped a cell phone. I couldn't help but wonder why someone would be making a phone call in the rain?

His tone was low and secretive, leading me to initially assume that he was perhaps talking to a mystery lover. But then I heard Team Rocket mentioned in the mix.

My ears immediate perked up at that point, he was talking about a fossil shipment - a sample of a Mew to be precise. I let my mind file back through my previous Pokémon studies, trying to recall what a Mew was. Then it impacted. Mew was a Legendary! Had Giovanni really found one? It was no wonder he was so keen on not losing that package. He wanted to clone it.

"Yes, the sample is still in the hands of the customs office but they'll be releasing it to Giovanni soon. My people are searching his licences for anything we can bring him up on but he has every I dotted and every T crossed. It's not that easy. Once customs clears it, it's as good as Team Rocket's." There was a pause as the man listened to the response. "You're asking me to forge faulty paperwork and make the switch?"

Pause…

"No I of course don't have a problem with that. Don't forget, dealing with ethically questionable issues is the reason you hired me. I'm still on Giovanni's research team. I'll make the switch."

Click! The phone hung up.

I barely had the chance to take in the influx of information before I heard his low toned growl. "I know you're there, Delia."

I jumped, my gaze shooting upwards at the figure who watched me through the cracks in the pier. His sunglasses were gone now and he grinned down at me.

Frozen in place I couldn't breathe… I couldn't move. "Logan," I barely managed to wheeze through a shaky breath.

In a single leap, he hopped down from the pier and landed neatly in front of me, his huge, Machoke build towering over me.

I staggered backwards on my feet, my eyes tracing the lines of a scar on his lip and a broken nose that had since healed crooked.

"When it comes to Giovanni… why can I always cont on you to be snivelling around?" he leered.

"Wh…wh…. How?" I was utterly mortified.

Pulling open his jacket, Logan undid several buttons of his shirt only to reveal a scar in his chest compliments of a gunshot, "Missed my heart by centimetres."

I felt the need to turn and run… the only problem was that his gaze alone held me in my place. "You're the traitor?" I finally found my voice. "You work for the Government?"

He nodded "And once again you're Pokémon-less. Didn't you learn anything from our previous encounter?"

Run! Run! Run! My mind and legs screamed at me in unison. I don't know where it came from but suddenly I had the strength to turn and bolt in the opposite direction. But sand is hard to run in and Logan was fast. I barely made it out from under the pier before I felt his colossal body on my back and he tackled me to the ground.

I forced a scream, struggling under his heavy grip as he turned me over to face him and pinned me to the ground. His heavy body was on top of me, one gloved hand gripped my wrists above my head and the other roughly grabbed my face in attempt to hamper my shouts.

"If you know what's good for you, you're going to keep your mouth shut!" he bellowed. "If you're dead, that's not going to stop your boss from going after your family to pay off your debts. Do you understand me?"

I nodded, vainly attempting to swallow down the pit of fear that now rested in the back of my throat.

"Good," Logan continued. "Because I need you to do something for me. You're going to meet me at the pier tonight at midnight. Come alone."

He took his hand from my mouth and I spat at the vile taste of leather on my tongue.

"You're going to make me switch the customs documents." I don't know how I found the guts to accuse him. "That's illegal! How can you claim to work for the so-called good guys and yet force me to break the law? This is blackmail!"

Logan merely smiled, keeping his cool. "No," he stated bluntly. "It's Entrapment. By holding up the process, it forces your boss to play his hand and take the fossil by force. We'll catch him with his hand in the till. Biting the head off the snake, we'll cause the entire Team Rocket syndicate to crumble."

"You really have no idea of the repercussions this will create, Logan." I fought. "Team Rocket is everywhere."

"And you're getting on my nerves, Delia."

I shut up, my tone lowering to something less accusing. "What stops me from running off and telling Giovanni?"

Logan didn't seem to think this was a problem "Delia, do you know my agent ranking?"

I shook my head.

"No on knows. I don't have one. I don't exist. I am assigned to do the dirty work that no one else is willing to get done, which includes taking the law into my own hands if I feel the need." While still sitting on me he straightened and pulled a gun from his jacket, taking the time to screw a silencer on its tip. "I know where each member of your family lives Delia. And I assure you, unlike your boss, I don't miss my mark."

~*~

I sat silently perched on a chair in the corner of my hotel room, hugging my legs and resting my chin on my knees. My mind was a sickening mess of confusion. Still unable to properly fathom the events of only a matter of hours ago, I was terrified beyond all reasoning. What was I going to do? If I didn't turn up, Logan would certainly hunt me down. And what of my family? Would he really act upon his threats? Was he really as untouchable as he said he was? I wasn't willing to gamble with the lives of those I loved to find that out.

What of Giovanni? If he found out what I was about to do… I was as good as dead. If I told him, would Logan know? I recalled his phone conversation, and him stating the fact that he had people working under him. What stopped him from sending someone to spy on me?

"Just breathe, Delia," I had to stop myself from dwelling on these things. "You're only going to pick up some documents from Logan."

The actual switch wouldn't be made until the morning. That was plenty of time for me to work out what I was going to do. Contrary to Logan's thoughts, Giovanni was smarter than to walk into his trap. Not when he was more than capable of sending people to do his dirty work for him and anonymously at that.

I spotted the clock on my bedside table that blinked something past eleven. It was time for me to move. Outside, the rain had formed into a constant downpour and the darkness of the night seemed to engulf everything in it. Forcing myself from my seat, I pulled on my coat and slowly made my way down stairs.

The foyer was empty at this time of the evening, but still showed enough of a presence that it indicated someone very important was staying here. Trying to remain inconspicuous, I reached for an umbrella on a coat stand and exited swiftly through the revolving door.

~*~

Giovanni swirled a glass of wine in his hand as he watched the fireplace crackle and roll before him. He sat with one leg crossed over the other on a couch fit for a king and gently rested a hand on his Persian's head.

"Giovanni," one of his assistants approached him from behind.

"What is it?"

The assistant swallowed. "Sir, you were right, we have movement. It's Delia… she's just left the hotel."

"This is… disappointing." A frown formed on his face as he spied the clock on the mantle, "Tail her. But don't let her know you're there."
 
Like a Friend

The journey down to the pier seemed so much longer this time around. Rain relentlessly pelted down on my umbrella and an ocean mist billowed up the beach that engulfed everything in it. My only guide was the light from my phone that barely illuminated the wooden boardwalk in front of my feet.

A single, lonely streetlamp stood just before the pier and there on the bench sat a lonely figure dressed in a trench coat. Spotting the light of my phone, he watched my approach with small beady eyes and it took everything I had right then not to turn around and run in the other direction.

He stood on my approach, towering over me and my umbrella. "You're late."

"But I'm here," I shivered.

Logan grunted, reached into his jacket and pulled a yellow envelope. "You know what to do."

Hesitantly, I accepted the documents and tucked them safely into my coat, the look I gave him showing all to well how I felt about this.

Logan only smirked. "I'll be meeting with you tomorrow night. Now be a good little girl and don't disappoint me."

Without so much as a word, I turned and headed back into the mist, ever aware of his horrible grin as he watched me leave.

~*~

The moment I stepped back into the hotel I knew things weren't right. And as I shook off my umbrella and placed it back on the coat stand, I was immediately aware of the eyes that watched me. Hotel staff pretended not to notice my presence but at the same time tracked my every movement.

From the corner of my eye, I caught the flash of a black uniform as one of Giovanni's men strategically situated himself between me and the front door, and made a point of talking quietly to the communicator on his wrist.

Legendaries! Why was it taking so long for this lift door to come open? I pressed the button again, tapping at it incessantly only to feel the shadows that came up behind me. Even though I expected it, the hand that slammed down on my shoulder made me jump. There was nothing I could do to fight them as two of Giovanni's biggest agents grabbed each of my arms, and as the door casually slipped open, directed me into the elevator.

I couldn't run, I couldn't scream… I stood, silently watching the numbers flash by on the display. My floor came and passed and still higher we went only to stop at the top… the presidential suite.

The doors came open and I felt the pit of fear that began to bubble forth into the back of my throat. I wanted to dig my heels in, to beg them to take me back down. But it was useless. I might as well have been made of paper.

Archer - Giovanni's most recently promoted executive – was there to greet me. His uniform freshly pressed and his teal hair neatly combed, he watched me with a sullen gaze.

"Delia," he said quietly, his eyes looking honest and… disappointed. "Please don't tell me it's true…"

I couldn't look at him. I let my eyes focus on my shoes as he carefully unbuttoned my jacket only to pull from its inner pocket Logan's vile, yellow envelope.

"Take her to Giovanni's office."

The march down the hall was long and probably one of the most excruciating exercises I ever had to undertake. The beauty and splendour of the suite now seemed to do nothing more than insight feelings of terror in me, especially as the thought suddenly impacted me… I'd just betrayed the trust of the most powerful man in the underworld.

Giovanni was at his desk as the large, double doors to his office came open. He faced the darkness outside his window and I watched a ring laden hand that carefully stroked the head of his ever obedient cat who sat next to his chair.

The two men that held me directed me to the centre of the room before letting me go and stationing themselves on either side of the only exit. I watched on in silence as Archer approached Giovanni's seat and handed him the envelope. I heard the dreaded sounds of his fingers that curled around it and tore it open, and I waited an agonising eternity as he considered its contents.

The chair spun, and in that moment I felt my heart sink into my knees. His face was solid… emotionless as he threw the paperwork onto his desk. He wasn't wearing his jacket or his vest. Just his shirt… and the gun holster that was tightly wrapped around his torso.

"I just have one question for you," he said slowly.

Giovanni pulled himself to his feet, falling into a slow walk that circled me and kept me pinned in my place. He took up a spot on the end of his desk which he lent on and crossed one leg over the other. And as I watched him reach for his holster, time suddenly seemed to have no bearing in this place. My heart froze and my mind raced to a screaming halt. He pulled the gun from under his arm and took every care to gently screw on its silencer.

"Would you have actually made the switch?"

I swallowed, my throat immediately going tight and my voice coming out as barely a whisper, "My family was being threatened."

The Crime Lord's head fell into a nod and I watched the knuckles that gripped the handle of his gun turn white. His eyes flashed on me that now barely contained his fury before, in a mighty outburst, he bellowed, "do you honestly believe that I am not capable of handling the threats of a snivelling, conniving grub such as Logan?"

With the force of a Taurus behind him, he approached me. In a single motion he grabbed me by the hair and dragged me the length of his office.

I let out a helpless cry, struggling to keep up with brute strength as he threw me into an armchair. His body towering over me, he stepped around the chair and placed one hand gently on my shoulder, watching in silence my heaving chest and my heart that threatened to break its way out of my ribcage.

"I'm very disappointed in you," he said.

"Giovanni… please…" I found myself begging him.

But it was like he didn't even hear me. His hand on my shoulder came up and formed a death grip on the side of my neck and that was when I felt the cold kiss of the gun under my chin. I closed my eyes tight, unable to stop the light wimpier that gurgled forth from the back of my throat.

He bent down so that his face was so close to my ear that I could feel his breath on my cheek, "It's lucky for you that we're friends, Delia."
 
The Hit

The tiny, black dress felt two sizes too small and did little to cover the important parts. Its expensive fabric hugged me right down to my hips and felt so soft that I found myself constantly having to double check to make sure I was still wearing clothes. It was a long dress and once it reached the top of my thighs, the material fell into an elegant skirt that reminded me of something a movie star would wear on the red carpet.

I scowled at my reflection in the mirror and attempted to tug the strapless piece higher up my chest. "It feels like it's falling off."

"Then we'll just have to get you a smaller one."

I cast a glare over at Giovanni who watched me with a smug smile on his face. He leaned on one of the high posts of his bed and finished slipping diamond cufflinks into his sleeves. He was dressed in a brand new tuxedo that I was certain was worth more than the contents of my apartment.

"Are you sure this is necessary?" I questioned him further, ignoring his wandering eyes as they trailed the length of my body in this dress.

"Tonight is important, Delia. You know that. I need you to be looking your best."

It was the evening after the eventful night that I met with Giovanni's other side – the side he only reserved for those who disobeyed him. The very thought of it sent a cold chill down my spine and I had to be thankful that our friendship was enough to keep me alive. Though, somewhere in the back of my mind I had to wonder if our situation had been any different, would he have still hesitated at pulling the trigger?

I unintentionally shook my head, making a deliberate attempt to push such thoughts aside. I was here, and Giovanni was willing to forgive my minor indiscretion so long as this evening, I did exactly as I was told.

Giovanni was holding a formal party on his luxury yacht and very important people were going to be there; including people from his original research party, officials from the customs office and most importantly, investors. A lot was riding on this evening, everything needed to go down without a hitch – which included rooting out Logan.

I hadn't heard from him yet, not even when Giovanni sent me down to the customs office to lodge the real paperwork. Logan told me he would be meeting me tonight and Giovanni wanted to make sure that meeting happened.

His touch on my shoulder made me jump upright. I went to spin but Giovanni gently held me there in front of the mirror and handed me a lovely, velvet box. This I opened only to find myself having to squint at the brilliance of a diamond necklace that lay inside it.

"Oh… my," I gasped, it was as heavy as it was huge. A giant diamond took up its centre and then fount itself surrounded by smaller diamonds that dotted the remainder of the necklace.

Still standing over me, Giovanni plucked the treasure from its box and gently placed it around my neck, taking the time to fasten it and then gently pull away long-hung strands of my hair that had escaped my fancy bun.

I don't know why, but his light touch on my skin suddenly made me want to melt like butter. His hands were not soft as I had expected them to be, they were firm and demonstrated the roughness of a seasoned fighter. But in them I suddenly found comfort that I had never thought I could find in such a person. I felt safe knowing he was there, and knowing that those of his kin were important to him just so long as we all did our jobs.

He was a man of power and ruthlessness, feared by all in the underworld; but yet there was another element about him, a need for a companion or a compliment. And as I allowed my fingers to trace over the priceless piece that now sat wrapped around my neck, I came to realise that this evening I wasn't representing myself as Giovanni's assistant, I was representing him as his other half.

"Are you ready?"

Quickly snapping from my thoughts I nodded and took in a shaky breath before expelling along with it, all of my fears and doubts. "I hope so," I whispered.

I spotted Giovanni's half-smile in the mirror, "These sorts of missions never sit well with you, do they."

"No," I stated bluntly, "Especially when they involve my family."

"I've cared for you up until this point. What makes you think I won't be able to pull through now?"

I shook my head slowly. "About last night… it was a moment of weakness on my part. Logan threatened my family and I panicked." I exhaled, "Truth be told, I would have sooner told you than actually filed the false paperwork."

He nodded. "I know."

~*~

This evening unlike the last, was clear and lovely. It wasn't warm but surprisingly it wasn't cold either. The waters were calm as the huge, luxury yacht drew to a steady stop several miles off the island and dropped anchor. Stars littered the night sky, glistening under a beautiful crescent moon. The Milky Way's arm reached across from horizon to horizon in a wide arc, giving us the assurance that in this universe, we weren't alone.

A sea of tuxedos and black dresses covered the polished deck as customs officials and business men and women alike chatted nosily amongst themselves, each one holding a tall glass of bubbly drink. My eyes scanned the faces of those who called themselves 'upper society' and my ears filled with the gentle sounds of a live band that played classical music in the background. I soon located Giovanni in the mix, talking to a tall and slender woman with silver hair. She looked like an older version of Giovanni's late wife, though rather than the serenity that surrounded his wife in the photos, this woman seemed to speak more of power.

"My lady, would you care for something to eat?" a waiter approached me with a tray of fancy finger food, but I gently shook my head and sent him away. I couldn't eat… not while my stomach insisted on twisting itself into elaborates knots.

Before long I was approached by an older, neatly dressed gentleman. Not unlike other men, he wore a black tuxedo that he had obviously taken the time to purchase for the party. A mess of white hair hung over his eyes and a neatly trimmed beard covered the rest of his features except for a large, almost over-exaggerated round nose that seemed better suited for a Nosepass than a Human.

"Did you make the drop?" he leaned forward and whispered in an undertone.

My hold on my glass became a death grip and I swallowed. The costume made him look ridiculous... but it was still very obviously Logan. My head fell into a brief nod, my eyes making contact with Giovanni who now carefully watched me from a distance. That was my signal.

"And you told no one of this?" Logan hissed and followed my gaze.

"No," breaking contact with the boss, I quickly averted my eyes and concentrated on the glass in my hand.

Unfortunately, Logan wasn't convinced. Looking this way and that, I soon felt his strong fingers curling around my wrist. "Then why do you have a slew of Team Rocket agents watching your every move, Delia?" his tone was now low and angry. In a single movement, he sided up to me and, slipping one arm around my waist, he pulled me into an inconspicuous grab. "Walk with me."

I suddenly felt myself frozen in place… this wasn't a part of the plan! Why wasn't Giovanni reacting yet? Did he not register my signal? He wasn't even looking at me anymore. Team Rocket agents in plain security suits no longer hid the fact that they were watching us, yet chose to do nothing but quietly talk into the communicators on their wrists.

"Move and I may consider letting you live," Logan's leer broke me from my trance and he forced me along through the crowd of party guests.

Slipping into the shadows, Logan forced me around the side of the yacht where there his getaway - a motorised inflatable raft - waited. It was quiet and lonely here, and the noises of the party faded into the light sound of ocean lapping at the side of the boat.

At this time, Logan ditched his disguise and threw the wig, beard and fake nose over the side. Occasionally, partygoers would pass us and he would quickly pull me into a tight 'lovers embrace' and made a point of kissing my neck.

I wanted to scream, but in our closeness I very easily felt the cold nip of his gun that found itself pressing into my gut. In the moonlight, his features were tall and angular even in spite of his hefty build. Unlike the safety I felt with Giovanni's solidness Logan was sharp and sinister.

Undisturbed by those who passed us, we again found ourselves alone, only Logan chose to linger like this a little too long. His kissing on my neck became less superficial and more intense and I felt the slow trail of his hands from my back down to my hips.

I let a gurgled growl erupt from my throat and with my hands that found themselves wedged up against his chest, I pushed against him with all my might in attempt to pry us apart.

"You're still a feisty little one aren't you," Logan only grinned at me, his white teeth glinting in the limited light. "But you're also right, time isn't on our side."

Using his gun as the negotiator, he signalled me to his raft. "Get in."

I buckled. "What?"

"I said get in!"

"What do you want me for? You have no use for me," I attempted to argue.

"What are you talking about? I can think of several uses for you. It's a long ride back to the shore and I need a hostage. Now get in!" he repeated, his patience visibly drawing thin.

Where was Giovanni? Why wasn't he here yet? What was holding him up?

I didn't have any other choice but to obey Logan's orders. Peering over the rail, I could barely make out the dark raft against the blackness of the ocean. It would be a long drop.

"Oh and before you jump, take off the heels. I don't need you to be sticking holes in my boat."

I cast a glare over at Logan and lifting my skirt, kicked off my shoes. Logan tucked his gun away and then in a single hoist, he lifted me and went to throw me overboard before the low toned hiss stopped him.

"I wouldn't do that if I was you, Logan. You of all people should know by now the consequence for people who take certain liberties on my property."

We both heard the cold whisper that sounded just behind us as all at once the smell of Giovanni's cologne filled our senses. I caught the flash of metal that pressed up against the back of Logan's neck and the dark figure that stepped up to us.

Every in muscle in Logan's body tensed at this point and he found himself with no choice but to let me slip from his arms. My feet touched the deck and like a frightened wild Pokémon, I quickly scrambled for safety behind Giovanni.

Still facing the ocean, Logan's hands raised and he obliged to Giovanni's orders for him to turn around. Much to my relief, Giovanni was smart enough to strip Logan of his weapon and threw it out into the darkness beyond the yacht.

Splosh! It hit the water.

"Didn't I already kill you?" Giovanni mused.

"It didn't take," Logan spat. "If you knew anything at all, then you would realise that shooting me in the head would have been more effective."

Giovanni had to admit Logan did have a point, and he nodded accordingly. "I have to confess, aiming for the heart is a preference of mine. It gives them the time to contemplate on the fact that they're in the process of dying. But since you insist…"

"My people will find me. When I don't check in with the bureau, the government will hunt me down"

Giovanni didn't seem so convinced. "That's all very interesting, Government Man but what you fail to realise is the simple fact that this boat has stopped in the heart of Sharpedo feeding grounds. The only part of you your G-Men friends will scrape off the bottom is the bullet that found itself lodged in your head."

BAM!

Even though it had a silencer, the gunshot still made me jump. From my standpoint behind Giovanni, I watched on, mortified as the red spot formed on Logan's head and began to ooze. I watched the flame in his eyes extinguished in an instant and like a sack of potato's his body flopped backwards and fell off the side of the boat.

Giovanni moved on from his spot to gaze over the rail and several more gunshots ensued only to be drowned out by the loud squeal of Logan's life raft deflating and sinking to the bottom of the ocean.

I couldn't speak. I couldn't move. I couldn't believe what I had just witnessed…

Satisfied that his job was done, Giovanni casually spun and handed his gun to one of his agents who had since appeared on the scene.

His eyes focused on me and his face fell. "Delia? Are you hurt?"

I said nothing… I just stood there… facing him. I could feel the colour drain from my face, my head feeling light and my legs turning to jelly. Before I knew it the deck came rushing up to meet me, but somewhere along the way I felt the arms that quickly grabbed a hold of me. Giovanni's concerned frown took up my whole vision and I couldn't help the retch that suddenly forced its way up my throat. Quickly wrenching myself from his grasp, I scrambled for the rail and threw up.

Purging my stomach of its contents, I took the time to hang my torso over the rail, sucking in as much sea air as I could. I felt him behind me and the hand that gently rubbed my back.

"You did well," he mumbled under his breath so that only I could hear him.

But it was just these images… I couldn't get them out of my mind. A Government Agent murdered in cold blood... and the Crime Lord who didn't hesitate at pulling the trigger.

Putting up no resistance, I allowed Giovanni to pull me from rail and in a motion that seemed completely alien to him, he drew me into a hug where there, I dug my head into his chest and cried.
 
One step too far…

The bed was luxurious and comfortable, offering me much needed solace from the sickening wash of my thoughts. I let my eyes wander across the cabin ceiling and allowed the gentle sway of the ocean to sooth me. The room belonged to Giovanni and was the only bedroom on the boat. It was his private yacht after all, so one wouldn't expect him to receive overnight guests.

Browns and reds seemed to be the theme. It was a modern room with beige carpet and expensive wooden panelling on the walls and cupboards. The huge, queen size bed was very obviously the centrepiece which was covered in copper coloured silk bed linin and red pillows to match. Above the bed was a single, rectangular window that looked out onto the top deck and then to my front was a desk and a sliding door that lead out onto Giovanni's private viewing deck and then another door provided access to his ensuite bathroom.

The room had the feel of a hotel as it contained only necessities and no personal items whatsoever, which led me to believe that Giovanni didn't spend much time on his yacht. It was a shame really, it was a nice boat.

After crying into Giovanni's expensive suit, he'd brought me here to recover from the ordeal, telling me to rest while he finished performing business with his guests. It felt like I'd been here all night but in all retrospect, it was probably only a couple of hours. And as a contrast to the mess I was before, I now just lay there in silence, listening to the yacht's engines change pitch and draw to a halt in front of the pier.

From my position, I could make out the lights of the city on Cinnabar Island, indicating to me that the party was now over and the guests were probably being escorted from the yacht to their expensive cars… which also meant that we would also soon be on the move back to the hotel.

I hesitantly pulled myself upright and slipped from the bed, making tracks for his bathroom to freshen up. All I could taste was a horrid mix of alcohol and vomit and my hair now hung all over the place in messy clumps. I searched the cupboards and stumbled upon mouthwash and toothpaste which I put to immediate use. Then making an attempt on my hair there was little more I could do but to pull out the entire bun and just let it hang loosely over my shoulders. It felt so nice on my bare skin. I made a point of fluffing it up a bit but in the sea air it seemed to do nothing more than just hang there. But it was the end of the night. I was sure Giovanni would forgive me for having messy hair.

By the time I stepped from the bathroom, I noticed that Giovanni now stood alone on his private deck. The guests were all gone and we had started to move again. One of his hands gripped the rail and the other a drink as he watched in silence the city that gradually got smaller the further away we went until it was nothing more than twinkling lights on the horizon.

"Where are we going?" Stepping through the sliding door, I inquired and he turned his head and inclined his ear in my direction.

"I need to get away from people for a bit," he answered quietly. "So I want to spend the night on the water."

"I understand," I nodded and turned to leave him alone. "I won't bother you."

But he stopped me, "Delia, I need to talk to you."

He turned around and leaned back on the rail. His tuxedo jacket was open and his bowtie now hung from his neck in an open string. But it was his eyes that watched me, making a journey up and down my dress and then stopping on my hair.

"I've never seen you with your hair down," he admitted.

Suddenly feeling self conscious, I inadvertently brushed it with my fingers, unable to ignore the way he watched me and at the same time unable to fully make eye contact with him.

"It's alright, it's quite… nice," he gave me a gentle smile and I couldn't help the blush that formed on my cheeks.

"Thank you," I said slowly… carefully before quickly changing the subject. "Did your negotiations go well?"

Giovanni's smile turned hungry. "Yes. Exceptionally well. I have a fossil and extra financial backing for the project. And not only this, but with your help I was able to root out our little impostor problem and deal with it."

He watched my composure change at the mention of Logan and I found myself having to look away. Giovanni simply smirked and made his way over to a table that contained an expensive bottle of drink which he poured into two glasses.

"I had my people do some digging on Logan. The books came up empty, which means he was commissioned by the government but didn't officially appear on its payroll." He handed me a glass.

"What does that mean?" I frowned.

"He is what we call a rat: a character who used to work in organised crime but when the authorities caught up with him, struck a deal. He was working for me at the time and they proposed that he work for them to usurp my fossil shipment. Logan was never a 'model' citizen."

I finished my drink in a single gulp and let the buzz instantly go to my head. His words were strangely comforting.

"So he was already a bad guy anyway," I whispered to which Giovanni nodded.

"You can rest easy, Delia. Your family is safe."

The mention of my family allowed for a small smile to escape my lips. "Don't ever make me do that again."

Giovanni chuckled. "You know, your minor indiscretion set aside, you are probably the one person I can truly trust, Delia."

I placed the glass back on the table and glimpsed him in the eyes, there was genuineness in them.

"I can advance you much further in this organisation. I'm willing to put you on a proper payroll and place you by my side as one of my executive staff if you wish. This would include a significant pay increase and benefits."

I almost choked at what he offered me. "Giovanni, I don't think I could accept an offer like that. I don't have that kind of… skill."

"You are more skilled than you may realise. I see people for their potential in what they can offer to this organisation."

"But Team Rocket is still a criminal organisation," I gently fought. "And I am still morally opposed."

"Or perhaps you're just afraid of it," he argued back.

"With good reason," I interjected.

He smirked at my light-hearted jest, completely unfazed by my refusal. It wasn't as if he minded keeping me on as his personal assistant. Hell I was the only person within a thousand mile radius able to keep up with his strenuous work schedule.

"If that is your decision, then I must make an insistence of my own."

"Oh?" I gave him an inquiring glance.

"If you need money, then you need to stop making purchases on the company card and come to me," he raised his eyebrow, his tone going low and serious. "Candy's lacy wonders boutique?"

I would have spat my drink if I had one. Heaving in a gasp, my hand went to my mouth and my face went a deep shade of red. "Y….yes…." I stammered. "I will pay you back. I… well… er… I forgot to pack my… you know what…"

"Again?" Giovanni gave an exasperated sigh. "Everywhere I take you, you forget to pack your underwear. With the amount of lingerie I've bought you over the months, one would think we were dating."

I had to bite my lip, I was so embarrassed. I couldn't look at him, especially as I knew in that moment the thoughts that went through his head involved me and my lingerie.

The silence that ensued screamed awkwardness, but then when I glanced back at him, I noticed the glimmer that appeared in his eyes. I don't know if this was the first time he'd thought on it or not, but I could suddenly see that he wanted something. And when Giovanni wanted something, he got it…

But then again, even as he moved closer and his hand came up to brush the hair from my face, I did nothing to resist him. And before I knew it our lips were mere inches from touching. For a split second, the both of us just seemed to linger like this as we considered the possible consequences of our actions. But soon enough these were drowned out by other thoughts… thoughts that aroused strong feelings of both excitement and danger in us.

Giovanni's fingers trailed through my long hung hair and found their way to the back of my head where there he held me, his lips plunging into mine and sending the sensation of fireworks that exploded right through my body. And as I allowed him to explore me in this way, his free hand soon started on a journey of is own down to my hips.

In a motion that seemed so natural, I pressed myself into him which resulted in an approving grunt from Giovanni. My hands slipped beneath his jacket and traced the lines of his torso. I barely had the time to realise that he was no longer wearing his gun holster before I pushed at his jacket which he easily shrugged from his shoulders and discarded to the floor.

In a slow dance he guided me across the deck, and back through the open sliding door… back into his private room. However innocent I may have been at the time, I was still very well aware of the situation and what was to take place. He was my boss and about ten years my senior but right then none of that seemed to matter to either of us. We both wanted it and gave ourselves freely, making love on the ocean.

And then as the passion began to fade and we both found ourselves lying there, staring up at the ceiling, I came to realise what this really meant. I'd just crossed a line and could never go back. I'd now become the mistress of the most powerful man in the underworld.
 
Love and Dependency

It's amazing how things change when you start having a relationship with your boss. And as time passes, people begin to notice, the whispering starts and then soon enough your friends start avoiding you. My case was of no exception. The executives knew about it, the janitor knew about it… everyone knew about it! Though, I don't know what frustrated me more, the fact that everyone knew or the fact that Giovanni really didn't seem to care.

In fact, at work, it was like there was nothing between us at all. He seemed to be made of stone. He was either emotionless or screaming down the halls at whoever dared bring him bad news about some sort of failed mission. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't as though I expected him to treat me any different on a professional level. I had my agreement to live up to and a debt to pay off. But sometimes on the long afternoons when I had nothing else to do, I found my mind beginning to wander on things of a not so professional nature.

Giovanni spent a lot of time between three places: the gym, Headquarters and his latest project on New Island. Sometimes I accompanied him on these visits and other times I didn't. He was always working but then again so was I… which in a strange way made our relationship work. Because wherever Giovanni went, I was almost always there along with him. Sometimes I had to wonder if he did actually have feelings for me, or was it more for the convenience? I had to admit, in a strange way, I'd allowed myself to become completely dependent on him. Was this what love was? Dependency?

Regardless, Giovanni never failed at treating me well. We dined at expensive restaurants and stayed at luxury hotels. He was a committed man in all endeavours which included ensuring that I remained content in this relationship of ours. And all he expected in return was my loyalty and my silence.

Months passed and at some point we found ourselves staying at a cabin on an Island south of Cinnabar called Chrono Island. Located about half way between New Island and Kanto, the partially deserted tropical sandbar proved to be the unofficial outpost for scientists to stay when they weren't working at the New Island lab.

The entire Island had been a popular holiday resort once, but was eventually abandoned when the Orange Islands started a small Pokémon League of their own. So needless to say, when Giovanni approached the resort's owner with an offer to take it off his hands, he was more than willing to hand over the keys.

The resort was only very small, so its version of a 'luxury suite' was simply somewhere for newlyweds to spend their honeymoon and proved to be less than productive for Giovanni's purposes. In the end he decided to build a cabin further down the coast. The cabin sat atop the highest point of the island and looked down over the resort and to the east a warehouse that proved to be a shipping location for supplies from the mainland.

The cabin was small for Giovanni's standards but it was self contained and secluded - the perfect place to retreat to when he didn't want to be disturbed.

This particular summer evening, as the sun began on its slow decent, Giovanni was frustrated by yet another setback on New Island. His Mew clones had so far failed to make it past the gestation phase and his scientists were quickly running out of available DNA. Creating a pure Mew - an exact replica - would prove to be impossible and so now they faced with the prospect of splicing the DNA with other Pokémon, and therefore creating a type of mutant. The risks were phenomenal and so this compelled the team of scientists to first experiment on other Pokémon, starting with Kanto's three starters. If these proved successful then they would move right back into creating what had now been labelled 'Mewtwo'.

Of course, the idea appalled me. But I knew that given Giovanni's frame of mind right then, attempting to reason with him would prove to be useless. The only thing I had to rely on was the fact that there was a good chance these experiments would also fail.

And so on this particular evening, I'd decided to get someone to deliver ingredients to the cabin so that I could cook dinner while Giovanni finished off his long workday at his desk in the bedroom. I vaguely overheard a heated telephone discussion but zoned it out and concentrated on cooking.

The ingredients were of local origin which included Seaking fillets and several island grown fruits and vegetables. It would be a light meal of simple delicacies only to be topped off with a special zesty sauce that would bring out the flavours of the islands. And while I hadn't cooked with several of these ingredients before, I still had a fair idea of what to expect taste wise. It was a recipe I'd received from a local lady who worked in the kitchen of Giovanni's hotel. We'd eaten there on several occasions and I'd approached her, asking of the interesting properties of the food she'd prepared for us.

She simply smiled knowingly and in her scratchy scrawl she'd written it all down on a napkin, saying that everything taken from the island had special properties. I never realised how 'special' these properties were until much later, though the thought did cross my mind as to why the Slowpoke population thrived here.

"Merrow," smelling my cooking, Persian expectantly pawed at my leg.

"Oh Persian, I'm coming," wiping my hands on my apron I reached for the newspaper-wrapped fish and peeled off an extra fillet. I grabbed a plate before placing it gently on the floor by the cat's feet which he happily consumed.

Once I finished my sauce, I allowed it to simmer and thicken. The aromas that came from the pot were intoxicating and this too seemed to strike Persian's interest. Scooping some up into a bowl, I allowed him a taste which he polished off quickly.

"It's nice to have your seal of approval, I smiled at him."

He thanked me in that little Pokémon language of his and as Giovanni stepped from his office/bedroom, Persian quickly made his departure outside to go and spend the night terrorising the local wildlife.

At the time I'd noticed there was a small Meowth population on the island and therefore figured Persian had perhaps made some friends. Unfortunately, what I hadn't also realised was the potency of the cocktail I'd since fed him. And so while Giovanni and I spent the evening together, his prized, pedigree Persian was off creating little pedigrees of his own.

"This is exquisite," Giovanni commented, which for him was an exceptionally rare compliment. As I'd hoped, his less that desirable disposition had mellowed with the evening and he'd since replaced his suit and tie with a more relaxed Hawaiian shirt and board shorts. It was the eve of Sunday and much to my delight, he'd decided we both needed to take the next day off and spend it relaxing on the Island.

"Thank you," I beamed. While this wasn't the first time I'd cooked for him, it wasn't often that the opportunity came up. "It's a local recipe."

He hummed in contemplation, "So do you get your cooking talents from you mother?"

I found myself taken aback at his sudden interest in my family and blinked, "Yes. She is an amazing cook. It's always been her dream to open up an eatery or something of the sort. She loves to feed people, even looking after the neighbours if someone gets sick."

"Your mother sounds like a lovely woman."

"She is," I had to agree. "I miss her so much."

"That's understandable," Giovanni nodded. "You know you've been working for me for more than a year now. You are entitled to take a week to go and see them if you wish."

My eyes immediately lit up. "Oh I would love that Giovanni."

And he smiled in return, "I'll make arrangements for you to go see them when we get back to the mainland."

By the time we finished dinner, Giovanni was relaxed and content. We retired down to the beach, bringing with us a bottle of wine and watched the moonrise over the ocean. It was a quiet moment alone that we'd seldom gotten these past few weeks, and as I lay back on my elbows and Giovanni on his side, it wasn't long before I felt the light touch of his fingers that toyed with a button on my blouse.

I offered him a lazy smile before sitting up and kissing him gently, allowing myself to linger on his lips. There was something about this evening. I felt so… alive. And I knew he felt it too.

Giovanni responded to the kiss with vigour as he pressed his mouth into mine. His hand briefly rested on my hip before, in a single motion, he rolled me on my back, his forceful kisses making their way down my neck.

I let an excited gasp escape my lips, his every contact on my skin sending tingles through my body. My fingers made rough trails through his hair as I felt the pressure of his arousal through my skirt.

"Delia," his breath was warm on my ear. "I love you."

~*~

I flopped back down onto my pillow beside him, giggling like a little school girl and gasping for air. I turned my head to face him under the sunrise, my eyes tracing the lines of his beautiful body bathed in sunlight.

"Legendaries," Giovanni heaved, utterly exhausted. "What did you put in that sauce last night?"

"I'm not sure, but whatever it was, it was potent," I laughed, enjoying the last traces of euphoria that gradually settled into the sense of peace which always came after lovemaking.

Rolling onto my side, I placed a hand across his chest, feeling it rise and fall with his quick breathing. Giovanni grabbed it, pressing it up against his heart in a gesture that seemed so small and yet said so much. The determined gleam in his eyes had been replaced by a genuine trust; one that spoke of two hearts joined together to form this beautiful, united bond between us.

Freeing my hand from his grasp, I gently drew a finger along the lines of his face, tracing his rigid, square jaw and the intoxicating lips that made me want to lose myself to him again and again. It was these lips that I kissed with firm conviction before finally laying my head down to rest upon his chest.

"Delia," I felt Giovanni's voice vibrate up through his chest. "Are you happy?"

I frowned at his words before pulling myself upright to face him again. "Of course I'm happy Giovanni."

Giovanni nodded and for a moment there was silence between us.

"Why do you ask?"

More silence, more contemplation… until finally he sat up, wrapping the sheets around his waist and rested his elbows on his knees. He had a pained look on his face, as though he'd just felt the impact of the weight of the world resting on his shoulders.

"What is it, Giovanni?" Pulling the same sheet over my chest, I placed a worried hand on his shoulder.

The Crime Lord swallowed. "It's just that… I haven't felt this way since… well..."

"Your wife?"

His head fell into a nod. "Yes."

"And you feel guilty?"

"It's not what you think. It's just that," he hesitated. "I'm a tyrant, Delia. I'm ruthless, domineering and brutal. I know this because they're qualities that I pride myself on." His face was stern now, the genuineness in his eyes of only moments before now long forgotten. "I will not change. Nor will I conform to anyone else's ideals."

"Giovanni, when have I ever asked you to change?" I refuted.

"Never," he frowned. "But I am very well aware of your stance when it comes to certain Team Rocket operations."

"This never seemed to bother you before."

"No, but like you, there were things of a certain nature that greatly distressed my wife also. Things that drove a wedge between us and led to her eventually giving up on life all together."

The impact of his statement hit me harder than he had intended. His wife killed herself?

And suddenly I realised the look in his eyes was not stern deliberation at all, it was guilt.

"You feel she killed herself… because of you?" my voice was a whisper.

Giovanni chose not to reply, though by the way his shoulders sagged, I could tell he felt it. My heart ached at seeing him this way, even in spite of the fact that he no doubt had the blood of many other persons on his hands.

"Giovanni," I now wrapped my arms around him and rested my head on his shoulders. "I'm not your wife. I may be morally opposed to certain things you do, but that isn't going to change how I feel about you." I offered him a warm smile as consolation. My knees were getting sore from leaning on them so I sat back on the bed, kicking up my legs and leaned back on my hands. "And besides, I've always had a weakness for Supervillains."

I heard the amused snort erupt from his nose and he turned his head in my direction. "You may look sweet and innocent on the outside but you and I both know you're just as wicked as I am."

I forged a fake evil cackle, "Ah, you've discovered my secret, evil plot to overthrow the empire!" I jabbed Giovanni in the back with the tip of my toe. "Now, I will have to destroy you. Hahaha!"

The low toned growl erupted from the back of his throat as he spun and promptly threw himself on top of me, his grin hungry and menacing. I squealed with laughter, struggling vainly at his attempts to grab me by the wrists and pin me to the bed.

"You and what army?" He scoffed.

"Ten thousand Squirtles with rocket launchers."

Giovanni had to smirk. "And after you overthrow me, what will be your first call of duty?"

"I'll change the uniforms and make everyone wear rainbow colours and perhaps change the R to a D. Then me and my army of supercharged Squirtles will take on the governments and usher in a new era, bringing peace, happiness and freshly baked cookies to the world." My leer was twisted and evil. "So surrender now or prepare to fight."

Giovanni burst into laughter. "How will you fight me? I've already got you on your back."

"Ah, that's what you think," I bluffed. "But really, you're just a player in my evil master plan."

"And is there room in your 'evil master plan' to stop me from having my way with you here and now?"

"….no," I stopped, suddenly stumped.

"I thought so," he gave me a victorious grin before making a point of kissing me on the throat, a power move that ensured I still knew who of us was really in charge.

Then pulling off me, he tumbled backwards onto his pillow. "It's too bad I'm still exhausted from before."

"Giovanni?"

"Mm?

"Tell me about your family."

He stopped for a moment, taking in a deep breath and then exhaling through his lips.

"My mother and I never saw eye to eye," he said slowly, "She was a foolish, impetuous woman who held no thought or regard for anyone else but herself."

"Surely she can't have been that bad," I scoffed.

Giovanni merely smirked. "Those were her good qualities. But then again, I suppose I was never exactly a model son either…"
 
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Author's Note: This chapter (just for kicks) takes on Giovanni's perspective. It's only for the one chapter, just to get his background story because hell, I think he deserves a moment in the spotlight don't you? ;)!

~*~

Giovanni

Several years ago…


"Brat boy!" as a child, I would often hear her screaming these words down the hallways of our large house.

Generally, she was perfectly justified in her accusations. I was a brat. But it wasn't as though I went looking for trouble… it just had a knack for finding me.

My twin brother Giuseppe and I were naturally inquisitive young boys and highly competitive. We would spend nights fighting back sleep and planning operations or testing theories, then come the morning we would execute them. Like for instance, when we flooded the wine cellar, just so that we could orchestrate a navy assault with our toy sail boats.

Another time while our parents were at a function one evening, we snuck into the garages and 'borrowed' my father's Rolls Royce. Sharing the driver's seat, my brother used books to help him reach the pedals while I steered. Unfortunately, due to Mother becoming sick that evening, our parents decided to come home early. I distinctly remember making eye contact with my father as we passed them on the street, and in that moment knew of the belting we were in for when we got home…

Both of my parents were prominent figures in the business world. My father was a good and honest man, who was always involved in some form of charity or cause. My mother on the other hand, was an ambitious, backbiting woman, who resented my father's generous ways. I recall the fights they would have when they thought my brother and I were sleeping. Mother would go screaming down the halls of our mansion and Father would calmly walk on after her. But these differences set aside, we functioned as a family.

Then one day it all changed.

Giuseppe and I were barely ten when Father decided to take us along on one of his business trips so that we could start to learn about this company of his that we would one day inherit. We piled into his helicopter and took off, keeping low to the ground so that we could watch the green scenery that rushed us by.

Only half an hour into the flight there was a malfunction, gears locked up and the blades suddenly ceased to rotate. I recall the alarms that started to blare and startled cries that came from Father and the pilot. Then all at once there was an explosion.

I still remember every detail the feeling of falling as I found myself thrown from the helicopter. It felt like I was falling for hours, though in reality it was only a matter of seconds. My body seemed to slip into a state of relaxation as I watched the ground that came rushing up to meet me…

I woke in my room several weeks later when the surgeons brought me out of an induced coma. I'd broken almost every bone in my body, but I was alive. It had been a miracle… a second chance I'd been granted that had not been extended to my father or my brother. They both perished in the explosion and I'd even missed their funerals.

The doctors seemed adamant I would not walk again, and for a long time I fell into a heavy state of depression. I would not eat, I would not leave my room. I would allow for the maids to wheel my chair to the window and there I spent days on end just gazing out over the gardens. It didn't help ether that my mother, in her own way of coping, completely absorbed herself in the running of the company, so she was never around. I was truly alone.

One day I received a visitor - my father's sister, Agatha. Concerned for my wellbeing, she took an interest in me and helped me to recover from my loss. Even then she was already a strong Pokémon trainer and also put these methods to use on me, teaching me to teach myself how to walk… and eventually run again. She taught me that to survive in this world I needed to be strong.

And by the time I was fourteen, I was an agile and active boy once again. A fighter and determined to follow in my aunt's footsteps to become a Pokémon trainer… a Master.

Unbothered by my ideals, my mother barely acknowledged my request. So come the beginning of the training season, Agatha took me to a friend of hers - a young Pokémon trainer and researcher who resided in the small town of Pallet, just south of Viridian. That day I was promptly signed into the registry and given my first Pokémon.

The beginning of my journey was not easy, however. Determined and full of ideals, I set out on foot from Pallet and headed north only to find myself chased and attacked by a swarm of aggressive Spearow. They chased me well into a wooded area and I lost my way, tripping on a rock and tumbling several metres down an embankment into a river.

I lost everything I owned to that river excluding my Pokémon, and suffering terribly from a sprained ankle, it took me four days of wandering the wilderness to finally reach Viridian City.

I chose not to let the ordeal dampen my determination however, viewing it as only a minor setback on my journey. From then on I travelled from region to region for four years until one night I was contacted by one of my father's lawyers. He told me it had been in my father's will for me to inherit his company when I turned twenty one, but only once I learnt how it worked.

That night I journeyed home in order to finish my schooling and - at the request of my mother - find work with the company, starting at the bottom.

Naturally, it didn't take me long to advance in the business which, in my father's absence, had now moved into more shady areas of dealing. The company became known as Team Rocket.

Unfortunately, my advancements also brought on hostility from my mother who was adamant that she would keep what she felt was rightfully hers. When my twenty first birthday came, she promptly refused to hand it over, insisting that this was her creation and now only a mere echo of what my father's company had been once.

Needless to say, we became less than civil with each other and for several years I stood by and watched as the woman gradually siphoned the businesses earnings into her own back pocket. Within a year, what was left of my inheritance would become obsolete.

With a wife to care for and a family to plan, she left me with no chose but to act…

Eventually, she came to see things my way…
 
Complicated

Two weeks later


"Now, I have Giovanni's schedule organised and kept here. The items that can't be moved around or changed are written in red. He has a meeting first thing tomorrow morning, the paperwork for that is over here," I signalled to a pile of documents sitting on the printer. "There are enough copies for each board member, which you will have to place on the table in front of each seat before the members arrive. Giovanni likes a hot cup of coffee on his desk when he arrives-"

"Delia, Delia, slow down," the redhead chuckled. "It's not like I haven't done this sort of thing before. Remember, I was his secretary before I got my promotion and you arrived on the scene."

My head fell into a nod. "Right, yes, sorry Ariana." I smiled, "I guess I just want to make sure-"

"Team Rocket isn't going crumble and fall because you're gone, Delia. Now if I recall, you've got a flight to catch." The Jr. Executive made a point of pushing me out from behind my desk.

I felt so flustered. I hated being rushed like this.

"Alright, alright," I stopped to take a breath, wracking my brain to make sure I hadn't forgotten anything. My eyes fell on a note in my planner written in red ink and I cursed. "Oh shoot, I forgot my medical!"

Regular medical checkups were compulsory for everyone who worked for Giovanni, regardless of rank. Ideally, they were supposed to happen every six months or so, but as I was seldom in one place, I was well overdue for my latest one.

"Oh forget it, its not like you're going to get fired over it," Ariana scoffed, sitting back in my chair and adjusting its height to accommodate her long legs.

"You're right," I closed my planner and carefully placed it in my carry-on luggage. "I should get going soon."

Footsteps made their way up the stairs and a head of teal hair appeared in my line of sight. Archer stopped in the doorway to the reception area and placed a gentle hand on his hip. "It's been a while since I've seen you in that seat, Ariana." He smiled.

"And it's been a while since I've seen you," Ariana swiveled in her chair, "where have you been?"

She pulled herself to her feet and met him halfway across the room, placing a gentle kiss on her Husband's lips. He had an official look on his face, and didn't seem to care much for her affections while in my presence.

"Oh you're all work and no play," noticing his hesitation Ariana chuckled. "Now where do you want to go for dinner? I was thinking maybe that Italian place on Main Street." She grabbed her purse and the two made their exit.

It was only when I no longer heard their voices down the corridor that I became aware of his presence behind me. I turned my head in Giovanni's direction and smirked, he always had a knack for silently creeping up on people.

"Did you pack your underwear this time?" Being the end of the workday, his 'boss' front had fallen and made way for his lesser known 'cheeky side'. He had a grin on his face which gave him the look of a 'guilty, little boy'.

"Yes," I replied curtly, responding to his cheek with a playful glare.

Making my way behind my desk, I performed a system backup on the computer as was my regular routine, and stood, chewing my thumbnail, waiting for the silly thing to finish doing its job. I felt the light touch of his hand on the back of my neck as he found my pressure points and massaged them gently.

I breathed a sigh, appreciating the gesture. It had been a busy day for the both of us, and Giovanni knew when I had too much on my mind, I tended to get frazzled.

"Do you have time for dinner?" Giovanni asked.

"Possibly, where did you have in mind?"

Before he could answer however, my phone blared to life. I heaved a groan at the sight of the number on the display. It was coming from the doctor's office.

"Giovanni's office," I answered.

The head doctor's voice sounded less than impressed. "Delia! This is the third appointment you've missed!"

"I'm sorry," I whined in kind. "It's been one of those days,"

"Well I've got a spot open right now. So you get yourself down stairs this instant. It won't take long." He hung up.

I cast an apologetic glance at my lover. I was actually hoping he would exercise his authority and allow me to skip this appointment but he simply made his way back into his office. "I'll see you in a week, Delia."

I begrudgingly paid the medical bay a visit only to find that, as was to be expected, I was still in good shape and fit enough to work.

"And how are you in the contraceptive department? Do you need another batch of pills?" The man perhaps in his mid forties watched me over tiny spectacles sitting on the end of his nose.

"No," I said quickly. "I'm fine in that… department."

Unfazed by my visible discomfort, he merely wrote something on his clipboard and handed me a plastic cup to pee in.

"Just a drug test and then you're free to go."

~*~

In celebration of my homecoming, my parents invited my sister and her husband along to stay for the week too. So needless to say, the reunion was an emotional one. It had been a whole year since I'd seen them and in that time, so much had changed! My father looked older now, and was no longer the bright and bubbly dreamer he had been once. Instead he was now solemn and bitter, still angry at himself for having allowed me to go along with Giovanni in his place. And even in spite of how much I tried to convince him that things were good for me, I knew he would never forgive himself.

My mother hadn't changed fortunately, and the house was still exactly how I'd left it… even my old bedroom was still in tact.

My sister had a beautiful little girl named Daisy, and we were all surprised and delighted with her announcement at the dinner table that she was pregnant again! She and her husband looked so happy with their little family.

The week went by quickly, though by the time it drew to a close, I found myself itching to get back into my old routine that I'd become so accustomed to. I wasn't used to being idle for so long.

On the evening before my departure, my sister and I decided to go lounge on lawn chairs in the paddock and stargaze. We shared a bottle of grape juice and pretended it was wine.

"So, what's it like working for Giovanni?" my sister watched me under the limited light of the stars. There was no moon tonight, making them ever brighter still.

"It's good," I replied. "The perks are great."

"I noticed," she smiled. "Your outfits are all top of the range. Gone are the days of mud covered boots, checked shirts and pigtails."

We both laughed at the thought before it soon faded and my sister's face turned serious. "What is it really like working for a criminal organisation, Delia? Does he ask you to do… things?"

"No!" I said defensively. "It's not like that at all."

She shrugged and focused her gaze back on the sky. "You are different, I can see it. It's not just in your dress but it's even in the way you carry yourself. You're not the crazy dreamer like dad… was. I never actually thought I'd be saying this of you but you're focused… balanced."

I forced a throaty chortle, "What's that supposed to mean."

"It means that I know you're seeing someone."

My mouth snapped shut and I suddenly found myself breathless. "What… makes you say that, May?"

"Well for one, you haven't once made a passing comparison about my husband or men in general with you're ideal 'perfect man'."

I frowned. "Perhaps I've just grown up a bit. You know, moving away from home and into the real world does tend to do that to a girl."

"Why are you arguing the point?" my sister was getting frustrated. "I know you're hiding something. Now if you're not seeing someone then what are you hiding, Delia?"

There was no working my way around matters. When my sister felt she was onto something, she was relentless.

"Alright," I finally said, admitting defeat. "There may be… someone…"

"Really?" her suspicious scowl was quickly replaced with a squeal as she jumped upright, giving me her undivided attention, "Who? What's he like? Spare no details!"

"Well…" I hesitated, "He is… a… good… lover."

My sister burst into laughter. "That's all? Delia, do you honestly not want to tell me - your own sister - about your man?"

I really didn't want to answer that question because the truth was, I didn't want her to know anything at all. Unfortunately, the flat expression on my face wasn't helping me and it didn't take long for her to connect the dots.

May's hand went to her mouth and she gasped. "Oh my… you're not…."

Now it was my turn to jump upright. "Please don't tell Mum and Dad! It would kill Dad if he ever knew."

"Giovanni?"

"Shhh! They'll hear you in the house."

"Delia! Please tell me you two are in a relationship and you're not just sleeping with the bastard."

"May!"

The look she gave me was furious.

I sucked in an uneasy breath and focused my eyes on the grass between my toes. "It's… complicated."

"Complicated? So you are just doing the dirty. Delia, have you no dignity? I'll bet the man is even married and everything."

"No! It's not like that at all," I argued. "One: he is a widower and has been for some time. And two: he told me he loves me."

"Psssh," she scoffed.

"He does," I pushed. "I mean, yes… it did start out… that way but then we got closer and…"

"And do you love him too?"

I had to stop and think on that for a moment, immediately unsure of my own feelings. Did I love him? Could I honestly say that after all this time?

"Yes," I said with more conviction than I felt.

She didn't seem convinced but chose not push the matter. I knew what she was thinking though. She wondered what sort of interest a high society business man would have in a silly little farm girl like me. Because no matter how much Giovanni decked me with expensive clothing and jewellery, or how many extravagant gifts he gave me, I was still utterly and totally out of his league.

I swallowed as the thought impacted me for the first time. For now, things were great, but how long would it be before he found himself another high society wife? That was how business men worked: a wife for the show and then a mistress on the side. Was that really my destiny? To be nothing more than Giovanni's mistress?

"Please tell me you're at least being careful," May's voice broke me from my thoughts.

"Yes." I nodded. "I'm not that stupid." For some reason I found doubt in the statement.

"Good, because the last thing you need is an accident. Business men like Giovanni have a tendency to suddenly lose interest in their lovers when they realise things have gotten complicated."

Her statement, while meriting truth, left me feeling gutted inside. I didn't want to admit it to her, but in the past few days I'd become aware that I was late. And now a thought that had niggled in the back of my mind snowballed to the front. Suddenly, I felt sick to the core.

"I'm sorry May," I pulled myself to my feet. "I need to get to bed. I've got a flight to catch tomorrow and I haven't even started packing."
 
The Test

I went to bed early that evening, but with the wash of thoughts that now raced through my mind, sleep escaped me. I just lay there, staring at the ceiling, on the verge of either screaming or crying but too afraid to do either.

If I was pregnant, what was I going to do? I counted back the days in my mind over and over again, constantly checking to see if I hadn't made a miscalculation. But the results came back the same every time. If I was pregnant, then that meant our stay on Chrono merited more than just amazing sex. Was it possible that whatever ingredient I'd put into that dinner had counteracted the effects of my contraception? But on the other hand, I didn't feel pregnant… did I? Oh hell, what did pregnant even feel like anyway? I was too young to be pregnant! I was barely in my twenties!

It was all getting to be too much. In the end I decided to find my parent's car keys and go for a drive.

The old truck grinded nosily every time I changed the gears and was probably as old as me. One of the windows didn't close but that didn't bother me as I enjoyed the rush of air that blew my hair about my face. The rolling, green hills of the area outside of Fuchsia City were as endless as they were dark.

I drove along the dirt road for an hour until I came across a truck stop which looked ancient and leaned slightly on an angle. Making my way through a sliding door that churned as it opened, I stood there and stared at the small rest stop that also passed as a grocery store.

"Hi there, can I help you, sweetie?" a lady perhaps in her sixties and lacking in the teeth department smiled at me from behind the counter.

I blinked and returned the smile. "Oh, just… browsing…"

The woman didn't say anything after that, she just gave me a look of concern and then went about cleaning her counter.

I allowed myself to wander along the isles of the tiny store, my eyes taking in its limited and overpriced stock consisting of cookies, candy, bread and a fridge stocked with milk. I stopped at the pregnancy tests and for a moment watched them as though they held a weapon at me, before taking in a deep breath closing my eyes and grabbing the nearest box.

I couldn't make eye contact with the woman at the counter who nodded knowingly when she saw what I placed on the counter. She quietly put the sale through and discretely handed me my purchase in a plastic bag.

"Have a lovely evening."

Throwing the shopping bag onto the floor of the truck, I chose not to take it into my line of sight for the drive back to the farm. Then once I'd locked myself safely in the bathroom, I just sat there on the edge of the bathtub... staring at it.

"It's ok... you can do this, Delia." Several minutes passed and I took in a shaky breath, forcing myself to my feet.

I took the test... waiting for seemed like forever for the little blue strip to creep its way across the window. The instructions on the box told me a cross meant positive and a minus meant negative, unfortunately for me... neither showed. The results were inconclusive.

"Oh please don't tell me this." I found myself having to stop short of banging my head against the cabinet above the sink.

The box came with two tests, but I was going to have to wait another several hours before I could take another one. That was several hours of my lying awake and watching the clock.

I took myself back to bed, again fighting the urge to scream or cry. Wrapping my head up in the pillow, I curled my body into a ball and forced my eyes shut. I guess I didn't realise how tired I actually was... because it wasn't long before sleep caught up.

~*~

"Delia? Delia, are you in there?" I woke with a start to the sound of my sister banging a hand on my door. "Delia! Breakfast is ready! Everyone's waiting for you down stairs! It's almost time for you to catch your flight!"

I jolted upright, glimpsing the clock on my bedside table. I'd slept in by an hour!

"Ohhh! Ohhh!" Scrambling from the sheets, I tore about my tiny room, grabbing clothes and other items and throwing them into my suitcase. The place was a mess! "This isn't good!"

"Delia!" The door came open and my sister stood there with her daughter on her hip and a scowl upon her face.

"May, I'm late! I'm late! I'm going to miss my flight!"

"Delia! You still have time for breakfast!" With her free hand she grabbed me by the arm and hurled me downstairs.

My parents were at the table, greeting me with smiles that hid their sadness.

"Oh Delia," said my mother as May found me a seat and promptly threw me into it. "Why do you have to leave so soon?"

I poured myself a glass of fresh milk and drank it almost religiously. Mum set a plate down in front of me piled high with her famous buttermilk pancakes, bacon and eggs.

"Don't worry, it won't be long before I'll be back for my next visit," I forced a smile.

"So I guess it just business as usual then, Delia," May copied my forced smile.

I knew what she was implying, and I resented her for bringing back the thoughts from the night before.

"Business as usual," I replied to her implication with a nod.

May's husband entered and took a seat at the table with a phone to his ear, "May and I will be stopping in Fuchsia for a few days before we head over to see you in Pallet... thanks Dad. I'll let you know when we get there."

He put the phone down and faced the remainder of the table, before acknowledging his wife sitting just next to him and lent over for a kiss.

"How is the Professor?" May was busy with juggling her breakfast and a child who seemed more interested in pulling at her hair. "Oww! Daisy, don't do that, it hurts."

"He's doing well. You'll be happy to know our offer for the house was accepted."

"Ohh! Great!" giving up on her daughter, May handed her into the expectant arms of her grandmother before addressing the rest of the table. "We're moving to Pallet Town."

For the second time during my visit, the table erupted into excited cheering for the happy family. Already I could imagine their perfect little house in the country side where their two little children could grow up and live their lives knowing they had everything they ever wanted. And for the first time I could remember, I had to shake my head and remind myself that that sort of life wasn't something I necessarily wanted for myself.

After breakfast, I hurried back up stairs to finish my packing only to find myself in another face off with the dreaded pregnancy test. It was the last one in the box... and I desperately needed to pee.

Grabbing the test, I forced down the nerves that rattled through my body and snuck into the bathroom. Closing and locking the door behind me, I set my mind solely on the task ahead and took the test...

With agonising slowness, the blue strip made its way across the window, bringing along with it a quick 'minus' sign. I took in a breath – a sigh of relief. It was negative... a false alarm... I was just late... that's all...

The thought had barely crossed my mind before I noticed the faint traces of another line that formed across the middle of the result; barely discernable but definitely there. In that instant, I felt my heart race to a screaming halt and I had to double take. It was a faint positive... but surely that didn't mean anything, right?

I quickly checked the instructions on the box in attempt to verify, only to find that a faint positive still meant it was positive. I was pregnant...

The world around me was suddenly spinning. Falling back into the door, I slid down it to the floor, unable to take my eyes off the stupid test – as if to will it to take it all back and tell me it was lying.

What was I going to do? I couldn't tell anyone. Telling my family would only break their hearts. But worst of all, what was I going to tell Giovanni? This had to be some sort of mistake! I couldn't be pregnant! Not now!

I could see it all already... the single mother living with a child in my tiny, one bedroom apartment. The extravagant gifts and devoted attentions of my lover now replaced with mere child support payments.

Unless I did something about it and fast, my life as I knew it was as good as over...

~*~

I arrived back to a dark and dusky apartment later that afternoon, dumping my bags on the floor the moment I got through the door. Exhausted from a mix of the travels and the emotional strain this news put on my mind, I took a moment to lean back on the door and catch my breath.

Needless to say, the last thing I expected right then was to have a visitor. I'd barely had the time to adjust to the darkness that was my living room when I caught the figure sitting on a lounge chair, one leg crossed over the other.

"Oh shoot!" I let out a yelp and practically jumped six feet in the air.

There was no 'welcome back Delia, I've missed you', there was just silent deliberation. He signalled me to the couch across from him and I took no time in taking a seat.

"Is this your idea of some sort of a joke?" his hiss was low and dangerous.

I genuinely had nothing to say.

"Your way to ensure that you would always have your hand in my pocket?" he threw an open folder down on the coffee table, the results of my pee test plain and clear for everyone to see.

I immediately swallowed down the lump in my throat. He'd found out before I even knew!

"Giovanni," I said quietly... slowly. "This was never my intention, I swear."

"I provided you with the contraception necessary to counteract this sort of thing happening. And you very well knew what was required of you in this relationship."

"I know," I replied. "I... I honestly don't know what happened. I haven't missed a pill, I promise. You have to believe me. This sort of thing was never supposed to happen."

I watched the figurative toggles that ticked over in his mind. This was it... it would all be over. Things were now complicated.

"How long have you known, Delia?" he said more gently this time.

"This morning."

I couldn't look at him... hell I couldn't look anywhere. Suddenly all those feelings I'd forced myself to suppress at home came welling up and there was nothing I could do to stop them now. Dropping my head into my hands, I burst into tears.

I was vaguely aware of the defeated sigh that came from his corner of the room, and the fact that he took a moment to rub his temples before pulling himself from his chair and making his way over to me.

He took a seat on the couch beside me and gently pulled me into a hug where there I grabbed him by the jacket and buried my shameful face into his chest. "I don't know what to do, Giovanni. I'm so scared."

He murmured something under his breath as he wrapped his arms around me and rubbed my back.

"Either way, this is your decision to make, Delia. Whatever you chose to do, I'll..." he hesitated. "I'll make the appropriate arrangements. You've got a week to decide."
 
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