Death. War. Destruction. The world of the future lies in ruins. I got the chance to go back and stop it from ever happening, only to discover that I was the cause. This is how I destroyed the world.


54. Into the Nothing

"Hey beautiful."

She groaned, stirred slightly and didn't even need to open her eyes to know a pair of bright blue ones were staring right back at her. She snorted, reached up with her hand, found his face and shoved him away with sleepy strength.

"Creep. Go away. Sleeping."

She heard him laugh, then felt the warmth of his body cover her own. "Come on. I've got to leave for work in an hour. Please?"

"Creep." She sighed, forced her eyes open and took a long moment to focus. "What are you after this time?" she asked, tucking her arm underneath her pillow subconsciously.

He laughed in her ear. "Do you really have to ask? Come on Chris, I've got a twelve hour shift. You wouldn't want to make me think about you all day and accidentally replace someone's liver with their spleen, would you?"

She laughed, rolled over and pushed him away. "You're a nurse, not a surgeon. You check pulses and look after patients, last time I checked. Who would let you near an open body?"

He smirked. "There's one body I'm allowed near." His head disappeared beneath the covers and all of a sudden she yelped and jumped around the bed.

"N-no!" she cried between laughs. "Jon, s-stop that! Dammit, I need to pee!"

His head poked back out of the covers, duvet wrapped around his head like a scarf. "And is that more important than me? Come on, you know you want to stay right here."

He gave her the wounded puppy look. She laughed, clocked him on the head with a pillow and made her way to the adjoining bathroom. "Peeing now," she told him. Once the door was almost shut, she poked her head round and winked. "Though if you're good, I might let you join me in the shower."

The sound of him falling out of the bed in his haste was something she never got tired of.

It was another late night that she spent working round the clock, making ends meet and just generally making sure her life didn't fall down the proverbial drainpipe anytime soon.

"Okay, so carry the two and… no that's not right."

She sighed at the long list of numbers before her. Sure she'd usually have one of her employees or her interns do it, but she'd usually only end up double checking the figures again later. She hated maths, there was no two ways about it. She felt like calling her mother once more, asking her if she could scan over her figures and let the old woman sort it out again. Of course, she'd never here the end of it, but her accountant wanted to know just how much money she had earned this quarter.

The thought made her laugh. She had an accountant. It was the little things like that which made her realise just how far she'd come in her life. She actually paid a man to go over things and make sure that all her figures were correct. Of course, he was also paid to balance all her books, but she couldn't let him do it all by himself. She didn't know whether it was OCD or a lack of trust, but she could never just let someone else do all her work for her.

She sighed, pushed herself up and staggered into the kitchen like a drunk. She found the coffee, waited for the kettle to boil and stole a glance at the clock. Four a.m., with a meeting with new clients in three hours. She definitely wasn't getting any sleep.

She sighed into her coffee, dipped her fingers into the liquid and rubbed them across her eyes. The little bit of heat woke her up a little, enough to hopefully do the rest of her accounts and grab a powernap before her meeting. It wasn't everyday she had a Champion trainer from another country offer to let her use their pokémon for studs.

She shuffled back into her room and found someone already hunched over her desk, filling out all her forms for her.

With a smile, Jonathon leant back in his seat and winked at her. "Hey babe. You forgot to add in the costs for all those new fixtures you had to install last month. And then you forgot to carry a four somewhere at the start."

She swayed on the spot, convinced she'd fallen asleep sometime on her desk. "Jon? What are you – when did you get here?"

He swivelled round in the chair, stole her precious anti-sleep drink from her and took a long sip. "Maybe about two minutes ago? I used the key you gave me, but I figured you were asleep and didn't go around shouting, just in case I woke you."

She snorted. "Fat chance of that." A yawn crept its way past all her defences and won the fight against her. "So what do my books look like?"

He grinned. "Old. And musty. You really should do this all on a computer, you know?"

She laughed and punched him on the shoulder. "Yeah, like last time, when the computer died and no one knew how to add up without a calculator to hand? And don't forget all the accounts for that year were lost. Easier to do them all at first by hand."

A shameless smile grew on his face. "Well, you didn't have me then. Uh-uh!" He pulled her ledger out of her reach and pointed towards the bed. "You've got a meeting in the morning, don't you? Sleep. I'll do this for you."

She tried to deny it all, only for another yawn to win against her. "It doesn't matter. You've just pulled eighteen straight hours at work. This is my work. Let me worry about it."

She lunged for her book, only for him to hold it far above his head and out of her reach. "Chris, leave this to me, alright? You sleep. I'll have it all done by the time you wake up. Which is in about two hours, by the way."

She was about to argue further when he simply tossed her over his shoulder. She yelped, wondered just when the hell he became strong enough to do such a thing and decided she definitely needed to remember he could do so. He let her drop onto the bed and before she even realised it, she'd been tucked in and was already sleeping when he wanted to ask something important.

It was one of those moments she'd always dreamt of.

She could remember being a little girl, playing with her dolls and talking with her sisters about what it would be like when they grew up. Who would be doing what, who would be wearing what and most importantly – who they'd be married to.

She could still remember her choice back then. Bruno of the Kanto Elites. Now the thought was but a distant memory, forgotten in the haze and experiences of her life.

It really was the perfect night for it. She was sat in the top carriage of the Ferris wheel in Nimbasa, with fireworks glittering blue, red and green in the night sky.

She felt hideously overdressed for the occasion, in her dark purple dress with long sleeves – of course they had to be long. Even now she felt uncomfortable showing off her fake arm around people she didn't know. Of course, none of that mattered, considering that she was only one of two people in the entire carriage.

And the only over person with her had just decided to ask an all important question.

The question.

"I-I," she stuttered, unable to speak. Her hand pressed over her heart, felt it race beneath her breast almost like she'd been running for her life. He was knelt before her, clean shaven, hair cropped and wearing a suit that somehow made him seem just a little bit more rugged than he actually was.

He saw her hesitation and couldn't hide the pain that swept across his face. "Right, stupid idea. I should never have asked."

He was stood up before she realised she wasn't actually dreaming. "Jonathon," she said, resting a hand on his shoulder. He spun around to look at her, hope in his eyes.

And then she burst out laughing.

"I'm so sorry," she said as tears filtered out of her eyes. "I'm not – I'm not laughing at you."

He turned around and stared out of the window. "It seems kinda like you are right now though."

"I'm not!" She hugged him from behind, wrapped her arms around his chest and buried her nose in the back on his neck. "It's just… a bit sudden, is all. We've only been going out four months. Do you really think proposing that quickly is such a great idea?"

He leant back, resting his head atop hers. "Well… yeah."

She laughed again. "Four months… it's a short time to decide whether or not you want to spend your entire life with someone. I'm not sure yet. I love you, but I don't want to rush into things."

He spun out of her grasp to face her. "Who's rushing? I love you. I want to spend the rest of my life with you. I want our hell spawn to be running around, terrorising us and giving their grandparents grief. And besides, what woman doesn't want the biggest rock possible on her finger?"

He slid the box out and showed her it again. This time, she had to sit down to carry on laughing. Inside the box was the largest rock she'd ever seen.

Of course, it being Jonathon, he didn't present her with a diamond.

No, he presented her with a massive granite slab he'd found in the street.

With a ring attached to the bottom of it.

It was sweet, in a sort of 'my girlfriend's going to kill me' sort of way.

He pulled a face and sat down next to her. "You know, most guys don't really get their proposals shot down with continuous laughter."

"Most guys don't present their girlfriends with a slab of granite."

"True that."

She burst out laughing again. He slid his arm around her shoulders and she rested her head against him. "You're one of a kind, you know that? Tell you what; ask me again once we've been going out a year. I might be inclined to say yes then."

He dropped off the seats in shock and pulled her down with him. She screamed, laughed at the stupidity of it all and screamed again as he picked her up and spun her round the room.

"Next time though," she said, catching her breath. "I want a real diamond. Or I'll use this rock to beat your brains in."

It was when she got back to Hoenn that everything started to fall apart.

She was at dinner with her sisters. Her big sister was going on about something unimportant – Chris really did have no idea what she was talking about. Probably to do with how she'd gotten pregnant, again. The woman was more fertile than a genetically altered ditto!

She got an image of her sister hooked up to a load of machines, popping out babies like an abused miltank at an illegal farm. A gross, incredibly wrong thought.

But it made her snort soup out of her nose anyway.

Her little sister burst out laughing and nearly fell off her chair. Of course the eldest sat there and glared, not appreciating the attention going elsewhere one bit.

Chris choked on the soup still in her throat, blew what remained in her nose into a napkin and hurriedly excused herself from the table. In the bathroom she found herself staring at the mirror, torn between laughing and crying.

Her older sister was twenty-six. Just two years older than Chris herself. And everything always seemed to fall in place for her. She fell in love when she was sixteen, got married at eighteen, had twins when she was twenty and then another set of twins at twenty-three.

And now she was expecting triplets.

Her movie was like the stereotypical diabetes-sweet romance flick.

Chris on the other hand, felt like her life was a sappy, pity-me sort of movie in comparison.

She'd fallen in love with her first boyfriend when she was just fifteen. Of course, once she did the deed with him, he decided to move onto the next sweet, innocent young girl. Two years later she had a relationship that completely fell apart when he cheated on her with one of her best friends. Then one boyfriend got mauled to death by an angry luxray and the next committed suicide when his family were killed in a house fire that he accidentally started.

And of course, in between all of that, she lost her arm to her own stupidity and a territorial parasect.

All of that before she'd even hit twenty-one.

There were times when she wished she had her big sister's life; where everything seemed to fall into place so damn neatly. She was proud of what she had accomplished, sure. She wouldn't trade it in for the world. But some days, when she saw the amount of work she would have to do to keep her business running, she couldn't help but want an easy fix to it all.

She scowled at the mirror and blamed it for letting her mascara betray her emotions. She felt so bad that she was jealous of her sister in what should be a happy time.

She was about to put on a happy face and be there like a good sister should be when her phone rang. She fished through her purse, frowned at the unrecognised number and hoped it wasn't some sort of trainer wanting to get some sort of uber-powerful riolu or ralts from her.

She slid the phone open and pressed it to her ear. "Hello?"

"H-hello?" The person on the other end sounded familiar. She couldn't tell where from. All she heard was a Hoenn accent and a nervous waver in his voice. "Is this Chris?"

"It is." She trapped her phone between her head and her shoulder as she tried to reapply her face. "Who's calling?"

"It's Simon. Ayd's boyfriend?"

"Oh hi!" she said, brightening instantly. She forgot all about her makeup and cheerily held the phone to her ear normally. "What's the matter? Are you planning something you don't want Ayd to know about? Or has he gotten stuck in something weird again. Because I told him I don't want to be there if there's anything involving a vacuum cleaner again…"

"It's not that," Simon said quickly. She frowned at his tone, not liking the seriousness of it. When she met him he was all smiles and laughter. She thought it was strange for a lawyer to be so funny, but then again, she didn't really know too many anyway. "It's about Ayd…"

She sighed and pressed a hand to his head. "What's he done this time? Have you guys had a fight or something?"

"Sort of. Well, yeah, but I think you need to know what about."

Confusion coloured her face. "Why? What's the matter?"

"I… I don't want to really say over the phone. Can you come round?"

She sighed and glanced back towards the bathroom door. Another woman walked in, glanced at her fake arm, then hastily smiled at her and disappeared into one of the cubicles. Chris glared in the woman's direction, made an unseen gesture at her and looked back at the main door. "Can it wait? I'm kind of in the middle of something."

There was a long pause.

"Simon? Are you even still there?"

He coughed down the phone at her. "I'm here. Sorry. I thought Ayd was back. Well, I'm not sure if it can wait. It's serious. Deadly serious. I don't know what to do and I really don't know just how serious this might become."

She was about to tell him she'd be there in the morning, but something in his tone worried her. She couldn't claim to be an expert in reading humans, but she was fairly certain that there was a lot more going on that she didn't know about. A horrible feeling settled in her stomach like a lead weight and she swallowed back the horrible taste building in her throat.

"I'll be there in five minutes," she told him. "Are you at Ayd's?"


"Alright then. I'll teleport there as quickly as I can."

She hung up the phone and stared at it, nervous beyond all belief. She tried to figure out just what the hell could be wrong, but nothing seemed to add up in her mind. There wouldn't be anything that really required her presence there, unless one of them had suddenly decided he was in love with her.

She snorted at the thought. She made her way quickly back to the table with her sisters and found them in the middle of a conversation about baby names.

"Whatever you do, don't listen to Dad," she said over them both. "Remember what he wanted to name your first set of twins? Chastity and Prudence."

All three of them made an identical face.

"Anyway, I need to run," said Chris. She fished into her handbag, pulled out her purse and left a few notes in the middle of the table. "That should cover me. Sorry, but I've really got to run. One of my friends might be in trouble. Come visit next weekend, all right?"

She was halfway out the door before they could even reply. Her hands dove into her bag again and found a bright blue great ball staring up at her. A press of a button and a flick of her wrist found her with an arcanine sat before her, staring at her with old, intelligent eyes attempting the cute-puppy look.

"Not now Khan," she said dismissively. "I need you to teleport me to Adryan's. You know the place, don't you boy?"

The pokémon stood up on all fours, towering above her by at least half a foot and barked. She smiled at him, wrapped her arm around his neck and closed her eyes as the familiar feeling of weightlessness surrounded her. Almost instantly she smelt the gentle waft of wood fires and ashes in the air. She opened her eyes, found herself standing in front of Adryan's house and patted her arcanine one the head.

"Thanks boy," she said and quickly recalled him.

Standing in front of the house, she suddenly found her nerves increase tenfold. The entire house was silent. Eerily so.

A million thoughts went round in her head. Maybe they'd had a massive fight and Simon had killed Adryan. Maybe Adryan had mentioned the people he'd helped into the grave while he was a travelling trainer. Maybe that one that he mistakenly thought had killed his rapidash.

She took a deep breath and tried to clear the thoughts away. No matter what, he was still her best friend first. If Simon had found out anything, she'd defend Adryan as much as she could.

The door opened before she could even knock. Simon was stood behind it, a grim smile plastered over his somewhat pale face. His black hair was all over the place and his dark green eyes were all bloodshot and somewhat puffy.

She slipped out of her heels as she got through the door and kicked them onto the rack. Adryan's castform was floating happily through the house, greeted her happily with a squee and a lick, then glided outside to the tropius nesting outside.

She looked back to Simon, who was stood in the kitchen, wringing his hands nervously. "Can I, uh, offer you a drink or something?"

She shook her head. "It's all right. Just tell me what's going on."

He took a deep breath, pulled at his top and nodded behind her. "You… you might want to sit down for this."

The nervousness she felt exploded into full on panic. "What's happened?" she shouted more than said. "Is Adryan okay?"

Simon's gaze was on the floor. Slowly he looked back up, met her eyes and bit his lip. "Honestly? Far from it."

She managed to stop herself from wringing Simon's neck then and there. "Simon… just tell me what's happened. Please."

He leant against the wall, pressed his hand into his face and groaned. "I… I really don't know how to say this. I… well, you see… shit, how the hell do I even begin to say this? Adryan… he well…" He punched the wall behind him. "Fuck! How is this so hard? I can give bad news all day!" He stalked away from the kitchen, slid open a drawer in the living room and found a letter hidden within. With shaking hands he pressed it into Chris' hands and gave her a sad look. "Read it. I… I can't say it myself."

Her hands trembled as she pulled the paper out. If it was bad news; it was going to be even worse if she had to read it from a letter.

And then, there it was.

The thing that Simon couldn't bring himself to tell her. The thing Adryan had been hiding from them for at least a month.

The news that her best friend was dying.

"Wha-" She couldn't figure out what to say. Everything she tried to say died on her tongue. What could she say? "How… when did he start this?"

"I don't know. There's letter dating back for a long time."

He disappeared into the house somewhere, leaving her alone with her thoughts. What the hell was Adryan planning? She could see it all there, written in front of her; psychic-trauma induced tumour.

"Moron!" she screamed into the house. Her hand had balled into a fist. Her artificial arm managed to punch a hole into the nearby wall. She couldn't even begin to think about it while her attention was so enraptured with the paper before her.

She almost missed Simon appearing in front of her. "Here," he said, handing her a large amount of envelopes.

Her eyes widened at the amount of paper before her. She took them all, found the oldest one and tried to sort everything in her mind.

"This…" She couldn't quite believe what she was reading. "This is from just after her was in Sandstream. He, uh, got some memories from a friend of ours so that he could understand a few things. But really? Why-?"

And then it hit her.

Adryan did always want to be a hero, after all. She could remember back when she first met him, all that time ago. If he'd been wearing a cape and a mask, she wouldn't have been surprised in the slightest, given the dreams he told her he had.

She knew his reasons. He always explained it to her; his mother had pretty much cut him out of her life, yet Chris knew that Adryan had always been a bit of a mother's boy. He wanted to earn back her respect; being disowned hurt him more than he ever let on to anyone else.

She wanted to punch him in the face. Maybe before or after she'd kicked his stupid, bigoted mother out of a window.

"Fuck," she said. "I… just… fuck."

"Exactly." Simon took the letters back from her, turned them over in his hands and frowned. "What do we do? It doesn't look like he's got all that long left. Months, maybe at the most. I-we… what do we do? I know I've only been with him a few weeks. But I care for him, I really do. I can't stand around and pretend nothing's happened. And I can't just up and leave him because of this."

"I don't know," Chris said. "I just…"

It was then that the door clicked open. Simon's eyes widened and he made to take the last letter from Chris, almost as if to hide them all from Adryan. She scowled at him, shook her head and instead snatched them all back from him.

"Hey Simon," Adryan's voice drifted from the hallway. "Either we've got guests, or you've got a weird cross-dressing fetish you've yet to tell me about."

He bounced into the room with a wide smile that fell into a confused frown as soon as he saw Chris standing there, crossed between horror and anger. "Chris?" he asked. "How comes you're here?" He grinned again. "Are you planning a surprise party? 'Cos that would be totally awesome right now."

"Don't make jokes," Chris hissed. She shoved the opened letters into his chest and glared at him until he took them from her. "What. The fuck. Are these about?"

He face completely fell. Quickly he tried to look impassive as he opened a letter and glanced at what was inside.

"Oh this?" he said innocently. "I just… after everything with Oth, I thought that I could help out and guide things into a better direction, you know? It's not like there's much wrong. All I did was cut a few years out of my life. I'll still live to about forty."

Chris glared back at him. Even if she hadn't known him long enough to know when he was lying, the fact that his smile didn't reach his eyes gave the game away.

"Read the latest one," she growled. "The one where it says terminal. The one where it mentions that you've got maybe months, at. The. Most."

He backed away, dropped the letters onto the floor and shot Simon an angry look. "Why? What the hell gave you the right to go through my letters?"

"What the hell gave you the right to do this and not tell me?"

"I have every right! It's not like we're married! We're not even living together and yet here you are, going through my stuff!"

Chris groaned and shook her head at the argument around her. "Enough!" she shouted. "While you might be right that Simon shouldn't have gone through your mail, when the hell were you planning on telling us that you're dying!"

He looked away, turning bright red and unable to meet either of their gazes.

"Seriously Adryan," she said, punching his arm. "Why the hell wouldn't you tell me? I'm supposed to be your closest friend! What would make you do this!"

"I couldn't tell you because I knew you'd react like this!" He turned away and paced back and forth before her. "I did this. Someone needed to. Have you not seen the way he's wandering around so cluelessly about? He doesn't know what the hell he needs to do and is too bent up on what might happen if he manages to do what needs to be done!"

She gripped her artificial arm, making sure it didn't punch anything randomly in her anger. "I can't do this," she said, full body shaking. "I cannot deal with you and your stupidity right now! You have friends that love you, a brilliant boyfriend that obviously thinks the world of you and you throw it all away! And for what? Some misguided attempt to be a hero?"

He tried to put a hand on her arm. "Chris, I-"

"Don't touch me!" she shrieked at him, batting his hand away. "I can't… I just can't deal with this right now." She shoved past him, stomped towards the door and put her shoes back on with enough force to break them. "And by the way," she snapped as she opened the door. "Jon proposed. I said that if he does so again in another few months, I'll say yes. I wanted you to be at my wedding. I wanted you to be the godfather to my children." She tore her gaze away from his wounded look, not wanting him to see the way she was crying so freely. "Make things up with your boyfriend, Adryan. Lord knows you should spend what little time you've got left together."

She left the house before he could say anything. She didn't want to face him then. She couldn't. It was selfish, she knew it, but all she could think about was what her life would be without him.

She couldn't face going home that night. There were too many memories there; photos of the journeys and happy times that she'd shared with Adryan – the times that were soon enough only ever going to remain just as memories.

She had her arcanine teleport her home, then hopped in her car and drove the several miles to another place. She knew that he was up early in the morning. She knew that she had to be working in her own place at some ridiculous hour of the morning.

At that moment though, she just didn't care.

She pulled into the parking lot, stared up at the building in front of her and played with the hem of her dress. She wasn't sure when she'd started crying again, or even if she'd ever stopped. The drive to Verdanturf seemed to pass without her even realising it and it felt like she was stood there, knocking on the door before she'd even managed to really think about what she was doing.

She waited for a few minutes before he finally answered. A sleepy, confused face, no shirt and the remains of dinner still on his pants.

"Chris?" Jonathon blinked sleepily, rubbed his eyes and shook his head. "What are you-" Once he noticed her face; her palpable sadness, instantly he changed. All colour drained from his face and he swept his arms around her. "Honey, what's wrong? You're okay, aren't you?"

She found that once she leant on him, she couldn't hold back the floodgates of loud, sobbing wails. "N-no," she managed to say. "No…"

He spun her around, kicked the door shut behind them and cupped her cheeks in his hands. "Chris, honey, tell me what's wrong. Are you in trouble? Did someone hurt you?"

She gripped one of his hands with hers and held onto it like a lifeline. "It's not that. I just… promise me that you'll never throw your life away in some vague attempt of a heroic sacrifice."

"Of course," he said instantly. He pressed his lips to her forehead and held her for a long moment. "What's the matter?"

It was then that she told him everything that was happening. Stood there, in his arms, it all seemed to just come apart. When she was finished, she was fairly certain she'd cried out at least a whole body's worth of tears, yet they still kept coming.

"Can I sleep here tonight?" she asked. Gone was the confident woman and instead, in her place was the frightened, scared upset girl that almost never saw sunlight.

"Of course. The bed's a bit of a mess though."

She laughed through the tears, but she knew how hollow it sounded. "It doesn't matter. I don't care. I just didn't want to be alone. Can you just… I just want you to hold me. I want to pretend that nothing's anywhere near as bad as what it actually is."

His bed was lumpy. There was a really annoying spring digging into her foot and a stain that she was pretty sure was there the last time she'd stayed over. But she didn't care. She just wanted to feel like the whole world wasn't bearing down on her for one night only.

She felt Jonathon lean his chin on her shoulder and felt his breath tickle her cheek. "You remember when we first met?" he asked.

She nodded. "How could I forget? When I said that I didn't want your number, you laid down in front of my car and told me to just run you over, because that would be less painful than never getting to know me."

He laughed. "And as I remember it, you got in the car and started in anyways."

"I figured that if you didn't move out of the way, you were probably suicidal anyhow."

"I just wanted to try anything to get the pretty girl's number. But it worked, didn't it?"

"Yeah, after I started the car and you leapt into the air, screaming that I'd run you over." She grabbed his arm and pinched him. "Which I hadn't, by the way."

"I still got a pity date. Or, rather, one through blackmail, but it worked out nonetheless, didn't it?" He sighed into her ear and started playing with her hair. "Regardless of all of that, I'm just trying to say that even though I'm prone to doing stupid things to impress you, there's no need for you to worry about me ever doing that. I'm going to die of old age, stuck in my rocking chair and waiting for some young twenty-something year old nurse to come and give me a sponge bath."

"Then I'll make sure the prettiest male nurse in the entire home attends to your every need." She bit her lip and slid her fingers into his. "Do you think… can you take tomorrow off work? Tell them you're ill or something?"

He kissed the back of her head. "I'll see what I can do."

"Good." She shut her eyes and tried not to think about everything she'd said to Adryan. Everything she'd never get a chance to say. Her whole world was falling down around her and she'd found the only place she felt even the slightest bit safe. She didn't care if it made her seem needy or too attached. Just for once, she wanted to be the one who wasn't holding everyone together.

It wasn't even a few days later when she felt like life's chew toy.


She snorted, woke herself up and found little bits of paper and plastic stuck to her forehead. Attractive, she thought as she wiped drool from her cheek. She yawned, hoped she wasn't too much of a state and swung around in her chair to find Amanda standing in the doorway, apparently finding the doorframe incredibly interesting.

"I'm awake," Chris said, though another yawn betrayed her. "What's up? Did I miss something important?"

"No. It's just, well, it's three o'clock and you said I could finish early today because well…"

"Oh that's right!" Chris exclaimed, clicking her fingers. "You've got a date, don't you?" She laughed at the way Amanda turned bright red and made a shooing gesture. "Yeah, yeah, go on, go have fun. Don't do anything I wouldn't do!" she shouted to her retreating figure. "Three o'clock already?" she whispered to herself. She'd slept half the day away again, crashing on her desk after too much research and the caffeine had burnt out.

She groaned, rolled her neck and tried to massage the awful crick there out of it. She knew that she'd spent far too much time lately, pouring herself into research. She was relying on all her employees to cover for her as she tried to achieve the impossible and find a cure for a brain tumour that no one else had ever managed to discover.

She ran her tongue along her teeth, wondered when the last time she brushed them was and more importantly; when she last ate. She could feel the prickly hairs growing back out on her legs, driving her crazy and making her want to leap into the shower and rip them all out.

But none of that mattered.

She pulled another sheet of paper from the pile, scanned through it as she booted up her laptop and tried to find something new she hadn't found. A messy pile of papers sat by her hand, covered in her familiar cursive and with all sorts of different concoctions for curing ailments.

One such 'cure' even involved drinking a stew made from alakazam bones and xatu feathers. Coupled with a hefty dose of grumping intestine and the tiniest traces of cyanide, of course. She seriously doubted that she could ever get Adryan to try that out.

At least she was talking to him again. He was going to die soon; he didn't have enough time for her to ignore him because of his stupidity. She'd hate him after he was gone, rather than regretting having not spoken until it was far too late.

There was a knock at her office door again. She spun around in her chair to find Jonathon stood there this time, worry all over his face.

"Hey," she said weakly.

"Hey." He frowned at her, took a look at her ever-growing pile of papers and scowled. "You haven't returned any of my calls."

She spun back around and started reading more nonsensical, medical-babble journals. "My phone died. I've been busy."

He lunged at her chair, spun it around and leaned in until their faces were almost touching. "You're going to make yourself ill if you keep doing this."

She made a face, kicked him in the chin and then returned to her hopes as he hopped away in pain. "I don't care. I need to do something."

"Isn't that exactly the kind of thought that got him in this situation in the first place?"

She leapt to her feet and threw her pen at him. "Don't you dare try and be a smartass about this! My best friend is dying, okay? So excuse me if I'm working myself ragged trying to find out if there's some way of saving him! Because that's what friends do! If they're in trouble, you do your best to help them!"

He stood there, meeting her gaze with equal fury, yet he spoke as calmly as he could. "You won't be able to help him if you end up in hospital from not eating or drinking."

"I don't care," she muttered rebelliously, turning back to her work. She picked up another piece of paper, only for Jonathon to snatch it out of her hands. "What the hell do you think you're doing?" she screamed.

"Helping." He held his hand out. "Give me the rest. You're not helping anyone doing all this."

"I need to do this. I have to do this. I can't sit around and do nothing while he's dying!"

"And I can't sit around and do nothing whilst my girlfriend is killing herself trying to find an impossible cure!"

"Don't tell me it's impossible! I've found things that say they work!"

"Really?" He folded his arms. "Please tell me, just what are these miracle cures? The world of medicine could definitely do with being told just what these are."

"Fuck you!" she spat, throwing papers at him. "Don't stand there and do that! I've found things. Granted there's some bullshit like how I have to smack him upside the head with a bat made of seviper bones, then wait for him to fart the tumour out, but there's actual, real data here." She found a highlighted page, picked it up and thrusted it into his hand. "Read that."

He did. It took him all of a minute to find the fatal flaw. "It says here that all the test subjects died within three weeks after the tests were completed."

"But the drugs reduced the tumour! Don't you see? There's actually something out there that works! I need to figure out just what works with humans!"

"And you're going to do that, when millions of medical professionals have failed?" He snorted and threw the papers on the floor. "Chris, I'm calling a stop to this. You have to stop obsessing."

"What else am I supposed to do?"

He sighed and looked away. "Just… enjoy what time you have left."

She was on him like a madwoman, beating at his chest. "Don't say that! Don't you even think you can come into my house and tell me what to do with my life!"

"If you carry on like this, you'll end up in the ground next to him."

"I don't care!" She spun away from him, collapsed onto her chair and burst into tears again. "He needs my help. I can't just give up on him."

Jonathon stepped towards her, crouched down before her and took her hand in his. "And I can't just give up on you. I can't let you throw your life away like this. You need to stop."

She snatched her hands away. "Don't tell me to stop. Not when there's so much at stake. Now you can either help me help Adryan, or you can just do us both a favour and leave now. At least then you won't have to stand around watching me waste away."

He pulled a face and tried to take her hand again. When she drew away, he threw his own hands up in defeat. "You know what? You're beyond help. When you actually want to try re-joining the real world and salvaging what little remains of our relationship, let me know. If not, then obviously I was an idiot to ever even think of proposing to someone like you."

She sat there in stunned silence for a long moment. Only when the front door slammed shut did she truly seem to realise just what had happened. She sniffed, wiped her nose and turned back to her laptop, intent on carrying on all the same.

Instead rage enraptured her so completely that she threw the machine across the room with a scream and punched the wall until all the rage faded, leaving her only with pain.

She truly didn't think it could get any worse than that.

But she'd always heard that 'bad news comes in threes'. She decided she had to pay more attention to that saying.

The third set of bad news was finding out that another one of her friends had a brain tumour, all from psychic power. She'd screamed at him, ignored his pleas for her to understand it wasn't his fault; that something was strong enough to have done so without his permission. She couldn't process such a thing, so caught up was she in her grief.

She'd essentially thrown him out of her house with a screaming fit and then a general air of forfeit. She hadn't slept much since it had all started. Since finding out Adryan was dying. Since breaking up from what was almost definitely the best relationship she ever had. And now the latest burden.

She'd watched him leave, that soldier from the future, always so sure that he could hide things from others, when everything he was thinking was always etched across his face. She knew the moment he gave her that look that he wasn't going to visit Adryan. She knew that he was too afraid of what might happen, to upset to go and make amends after trying to cut all ties to save him.

What he didn't know though, was that he'd cut those ties far too late.

She realised that she must have fallen asleep there, on the floor, for when she opened her eyes again, it was night and peaceful. She pulled herself off the floor, felt her body protest and flopped down into the nearby sofa. She reached out onto the coffee table, picked up the phone and dialled a number from memory alone.

Two rings was all it took for it to be answered.

"Hey," Adryan said, weakly and tiredly.

She cut straight to the chase. "He's dying."

"Who is?" Adryan asked, suddenly wide awake.

"You know who. Our angry friend from the future." She frowned at her words, still half convinced it was all some sort of weird game to fool her. Except now, she couldn't help but want it all to be a game being played on her. She'd happily take the egg to her face if it meant everything could go back to normal. "He says that something managed to do that to him without him knowing about it."

"What? But how? That's not possible, is it? I mean, I know he's not the smartest person there ever was, but surely you'd realise that?"

"I don't know, Adryan. You tell me. You're the only one out of the two of us who would really know."

There was silence on the other side. "I deserved that. Did he at least say anything to you about what might have caused it?"

She shrugged reflexively. "Something about him being in the Cluster. There was loads of stuff going on there by the sounds of it. He did say something about purple eyes, though."

"Purple eyes…"

She sat upright. "You know something about that?"

"I… I'm not sure. I'll have to check out what I wrote out when I saw… well, when I saw everything. I'll call you tomorrow?"

"Sure. Wait!" She swung around on the sofa and picked at a bit of fluff caught on her jeans. "Are you… how are you doing?"

He sighed. "I'm not going to lie. The headaches are getting worse. The painkillers aren't really working as well as they used to."

She felt like crying then and there, yet again. "Well… I guess we could always try slapping you round the head with a seviper-bone-bat?"

He laughed. "Any excuse with you to hit me, isn't it? I don't think that will work. But Chris… thanks. We both know you won't find a way to help, but… thanks for trying, at least. You know I love you, right?"

"Love you too," she said emotionlessly. Once he hung up, she started to cry one more, whispering to the empty phone, "Please don't die."

It was the day after she'd gotten her third bit of bad news. She found the mess of her research, sighed and sat down on the floor, spread it all around herself and wondered when she'd really started to give up. It all looked grey and hopeless to her now, rather than the vibrant shining hope it seemed to gleam with before.

The doorbell was what startled her from her stupor. She groused to herself, picked herself up from the floor and made her way downstairs to answer it.

She felt her heart stop when she found Jonathon stood on the other side.

Her mind was split for choice. One part of her wanted to throw her arm around him, tell him that she never meant any of it and beg him for them to get back together.

The other part of her wanted to punch him in the face and use him to feed a couple of sharpedo.

"I-" they said as one. They shared an awkward smile and a laugh as they tried to figure out just who was going to speak first.

"I was an idiot," Jonathon said quickly, almost as one word. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have pressured you so hard into giving up on trying to save your friend."

She shook her head. "No… I needed to be told that. I was getting obsessed. I ended up taking your advice anyway. I… I think that it's better to just enjoy what time we've got left. I spent the past few days with him and Simon; they're coming down for a couple more days the day after tomorrow. I won't ever accept it, but I can just make do with what's left."

"I'm glad to hear that." It felt like there was a stranger in her doorway. After sharing her bed and her heart with him, it was so strange to feel the heavy awkwardness there was, when all her heart was doing was screaming at her for stalling. "But… I think I found a way to help."

He reached into a bag he'd brought with him and brought out a little plastic prescription tube. Her eyes widened at the sight of it, then nearly fell out of her head as she read the label and connected the dots.

"This is… this is the same thing they used on those rattata."

"The one that killed them three weeks after reducing the tumours, yeah." He rubbed the back of his neck and stared at her feet. "I just… I wanted to help Chris. That might not make things better. It might just outright kill him. But I wanted to help you."

She felt the frost around her heart melt just a little. "But… how did you even get this?"

He shrugged. "I pulled a few strings, called in a few favours and took out a few new ones. Even if you still hate me Chris, I just… well I wanted you to know that I still love you."

Before he could turn to leave, she reacted. "You… just you," she said as she cupped his cheek and kissed him. "Don't do that again, okay?"

"Bring you the miracle cure you were hoping for?"

She laughed. "Make me think that I've lost one of the other best things in my life."

He smiled and kissed her once more. "So… does this mean that you'll reconsider my proposal?"

She laughed again and jabbed him softly in the side. "Still the same as last time. I want a diamond ring and for it to be at least a year into our relationship."

"Damn." He jerked his head back and pulled out his phone. "I guess I'll have to cancel the parading donphan and the room full of candyfloss."

Her face fell open in surprise. "You didn't-?"

He grinned. "I didn't." She gasped and punched him in the side again, making him laugh. "But seeing your face just then was totally worth it."

She realised that maybe, when her life started getting better again, she should have expected something to go wrong.

When she saw the number ringing her phone half way during the day, when she knew he was meant to be in work, she somehow knew that something bad had happened.

"S-Simon?" she said nervously into the phone.

She heard it then; the tears in his voice. "Chris… you should… Adryan's dead."

She dropped the phone. Her heart felt like it had stopped. Her soul felt like it had been ripped out. She somehow managed to pick the phone back up as calmly as she could and said, "I'll be right there."

She didn't bother making excuses to her employees. They all knew she was going to run out of there at some point during the day, one day.

She grabbed her arcanine's poké ball and had him teleport her down the road from Adryan's house. She returned him and ran down the hill to the house, only to find the coroner's van already outside and a few police cars too.

Then one of the policemen outside the house grabbed her before she could get any closer. "I'm sorry ma'am, but I'll have to ask you to stay outside."

She wrenched herself free. "Don't you think I'll do that! That's my best friend in there! You're not going to be able to keep me from seeing him!"

"Ma'am," the officer tried again. "I don't think-"

"I don't care what you think! My friend's in there and he's dead from a brain tumour, so let me in right now or I'll throw you out of the way, police or not!"

"It's alright." Simon was in the doorway, puffy eyed and with the remains of tears on his face. Chris nodded and ran full pelt into the house, stopped at the eerie cold feeling and glanced around the house.

"They said it was natural causes," Simon was saying behind her. "That he just went in his sleep."

She ignored him. She wouldn't believe it until she saw him.

And then she did.

It was almost like a scene from a film. He was sat there on the sofa, a couple of his pokémon around him, keeping everyone else away. Her vision blurred and her legs moved unsteadily underneath of her. She didn't even make it to her second step when her legs gave way and she fell to the floor.

"N-no…" she sobbed into the floor. "Tell me I'm imagining this. This isn't real." She looked up at Simon and tried to laugh through the tears. "He's joking, isn't he? He's going to leap up, yell surprise and scare us all shitless in a moment, isn't he?"

Simon looked away. She sobbed again, gripped the carpet in her hand and pulled at it with all her might. "This can't be happening. I don't… I don't want this to happen!"

Someone outside the room cleared his throat. "I'm sorry, but we need to collect the body. Can you move the pokémon?"

Instantly Chris was on her feet, in front of the man and glaring him down. "Why the hell should we do anything you want? He's my friend, his boyfriend! Who are you but some creepy guy who collects dead bodies for a living? Do us a favour and just do one before I throw you out of this house myself!"

"Chris," Simon whispered. He gripped her shoulders and tried to pull her away. "Chris, don't take it out on him. He's just doing his job. They need… they need to take Adryan's body away. It's their job."

"I don't care! How the hell can you let them do this? Do you really want them to take him away?"

"Of course I don't!" He looked away, back at Adryan's body and swallowed. "But… but I know they have a job to do. Adryan… Adryan's gone now. You need to convince his pokémon to let them take him. They trust you more than me."

She hiccupped and turned away, unable to see past her tears. It took her a good few minutes to sum up the courage to even look at his body again, yet alone be able to move his pokémon. She stared down at him, saw his face, so peaceful, so calm, almost like he was sleeping and another sob escaped her. She fell on him, wrapped her arms around his neck and wouldn't let go for the world, much less so for his flygon screaming and trying in vain to bring some life back to her trainer.

"I love you," she whispered to his body. "You were my best friend, closer to me than either of my sisters and like a brother I always wished for. I love you… and I want you to know… that I'll never be able to forgive you for letting something so stupid take your life."

She let him go and wiped her eyes as much as she could. She took her time convincing his pokémon to leave him. Unsurprisingly, it was his flygon who took the longest to convince. Once she realised she couldn't bring him back to life, she howled to the sky, tried to claw the coroner to pieces, then finally ran out of the bay windows in the back of the house and took off flying into the sky.

"She'll be back," Chris reassured the rest of his pokémon. "She just needs time to grieve."

She turned away and tried to hug herself. She glanced around and tried to find his gardevoir. She was honestly sure that the pokémon would have been there, not letting anyone or anything get anywhere near to Adryan. She found Ripper floating in a shadowy corner and approached him.

"I bade the weeping widow to return to a place where she cannot cause harm. This death doth pain her greatly."

Chris slashed an arm through the air. "Cut the Shakespeare crap. I know full well that you can talk normally. Now talk. He wasn't meant to die for another few weeks. Why's he dead now?"

The dusknoir's eye floated down and inwards. "He asked of me one final favour. He did not wish to end his days weak, in pain and requiring aid for every task. He was not just my trainer… he was my friend. I carried out his final request; to let him die without pain, in peace."

She didn't know whether to punch the pokémon or hug him. Instead she turned away, pressed her arm over her eyes and cried because she finally understood that there was nothing she could have ever done.

"This isn't right."

She dropped her phone into her purse and scowled. It had been a week since Adryan had died. A week that she'd spent ringing around letting people know. Out of all of them, there was only one that she never managed to get through to.

She told herself that he'd disappeared back to his horrible future and that was why he'd disappeared off the face of the earth.

She knew it wasn't true. She knew she was kidding herself.

But honestly, she felt that sometimes the fantasy was so much better than reality.

She felt an arm slide around her shoulders and hold her protectively. "It'll sort itself out," Jonathon reassured her. "You'll see. He's probably just in a cave somewhere, un-contactable."

"Or he's dead in a ditch somewhere," she snarled. She stopped in front of the building, turned away and clung to him. "I can't do this. I can't sit in there and watch his body go through with that. Can we leave?"

Jonathon nodded and squeezed her shoulder. "We can. But would you ever forgive yourself if you didn't go in there?"

She looked up at his face, to the building and then to the ground. "No. No I couldn't." She sighed, adjusted her top and tried to wipe away her smeared make up. "How do I look?"

"Better than most they get coming through here," he deadpanned. "You look fine, alright? You're entitled to cry, this is a funeral."

"I know… but." She shook her head. "You're right. Let's get this over with then."

She pulled herself up and made her way into the building. She could see all of Adryan's family there, stood before the coffin and openly weeping. There were other people there too, friends she knew and those she didn't, some of his work friends and even Flannery, sat there with a black veiled hat covering her fiery hair. Even his pokémon were there too, sat at the back, somehow perfectly behaved, even his grieving gardevoir.

Chris took a seat nearer to the edge, hoping to stick to the shadows and avoid talking to anyone. She didn't want to, if only because she knew she'd probably end up weeping like a mad woman yet again.

She watched the service start; the priest at the front give a little generic speech about life and death that he most likely gave for everyone else. His family said a few words about him; she was surprised when his mother stood up and gave a heartfelt eulogy that would have shown Adryan that really, she never meant anything she had ever said. But it was all too little, too late.

She watched as everything blurred into one, until they wheeled in a television screen. Her attention suddenly zoned back into the room just in time to catch the priest's final words, "… video speech, from Adryan himself."

She could scarcely believe her ears. When the screen switched on and she saw Adryan's face there, screwed up as he fiddled about with the camera, she heard a cross between a laugh and a sob escape her.

"These things never liked me," Adryan muttered to the camera. "Seriously, will I ever get one of these to work. There! Finally! Awesome. I do have some use after all. Well, uh." He cleared his throat. "Welcome to everybody and thank you for attending." His tone was serious, yet a second later he broke out in a laugh. "Okay, we all know that I'm nowhere near serious enough to carry that on for long. So is it weird seeing me there? I mean, me on the camera here, not me in the coffin there. Or box maybe. Or even stuffed into a vase. Just as long as you haven't left me to rot somewhere in the woods, I guess I should be happy, huh?

"So I guess, well, uh…" He rubbed a hand through his hair and leant back on his chair. "You know, these whole video-wills or whatever the hell this is happen to be really hard to do. I had a whole speech written out and everything, but I decided to scrap it. I mean, would it really be all that meaningful if I came out with lame jokes that sounded over-rehearsed. Although, granted, they would be my normal kind of jokes anyway."

Chris found herself chuckling with everyone else. She stared at his face on the screen so hard that if she let her mind wander, it was almost like he was there too. But however hard she stared, she knew that it would never change the truth.

"So anyhow, I guess there's a bit of explaining to do. I'm sure a lot of you might know I always dreamed of being a hero. What I probably never told any of you was that I used to dress up in my mum's tights and run around the garden, pretending to be 'Super-Awesome Man'!" He laughed into the camera. "I told Mum that one of her slugma had set those tights ablaze. Really, well I'd tried dying them bright blue by using paint. Needless to say it didn't end well. And well, let's face it; me running around in tights at a young age explains a few things, doesn't it?"

Another awkward, poignant laugh.

"Right, well the reason I'm mentioning this is because well… I've got a friend you see, that happened to need help. A lot of help, more than one person could really give him. He was scared, afraid of what would happen if everything went right. And well, I could tell that he wouldn't be able to do what needed to be done. The stakes were… too high, really. I got the idea that I could help and just from there it blossomed until I couldn't think of anything else I could do to help out somehow. You all know how I am; once I get an idea in my head, no one can stop me.

"Well, that's why I did the stupid thing that's landed me in this situation. And I just want you all to know that it's my fault alone, not anyone else's. So if you want to blame anyone, blame me. Hang my body up above the town gate and fill it full of arrows or whatnot. I found out a lot of things by doing what I did. More than I ever thought I'd be able to. I knew I wasn't going to last long afterwards, so I did what I could. You'll understand soon enough."

Chris felt her stomach spike with anxiety at that. She had no idea just what the hell Adryan would have done, though knowing him, she wouldn't have been surprised if there was fighter plane suddenly crash landed outside and left a message burnt into the grass. She smiled at the thought and found herself hanging on his every word as he left messages to the people he knew and a number more to his pokémon.

"So the final three now, huh?" He laughed awkwardly into the camera. "Well, this brings us to the funny part. Well, funny for me, for you guys more a competition of who gets the final, closing statement. Well then, to my friend, the insane little soldier brat who thinks he knows better than anyone else, let me tell you this; you won't get anywhere until you stop thinking about all the what ifs and instead focus on the now. I know that everything you're doing is for the greater good and yadda yadda, but you need to remember that driving yourself insane isn't going to help anyone. And besides, if you keep getting distracted, I'm going to haunt you forever. I have a little stick with bells attached to it – see?"

Sure enough, he had a little brown stick with a number of tiny golden bells hanging from it. He shook it at the camera, filling it with shrieking chimes.

"I'll ring this whenever you're alone somewhere, just to freak you out. We all know how paranoid you are. And more than that… I don't blame you, alright? At least remember that."

Chris sighed to herself. It would have been nice if he were even there to know such a thing. Instead there was still nothing from him. She was still worried about him, despite what Jonathon had tried to reassure her with.

"I'm sorry Chris, but you don't get the honour of having me finish with you. Which sounds wrong, but anyway. If I closed this with everything to you, I'd probably run out of battery on this damn thing. So what can I say to you that will make you not hate me? Because I know you, right now you hate me so much for doing this; for being a stupid idiot and throwing my life away. But… tough. I did what needed to be done. I know you like to protect your friends, hell, I remember back when we'd only been travelling for about a week. Some guy beat me in a pokémon battle and got a little carried away. Then in you came running with this huge tree branch from somewhere and not only did you beat up him with it, but you damn well beat his machop unconscious too!"

He laughed at the camera, taken up by memories. "Anyway, what can I really say that will really do our friendship justice? You're my best friend and my big sister all in one; I love you more than anything and had things been different, maybe we'd be living in a big house somewhere with loads of little kiddies running around? Just, don't ever change, alright? You're awesome as you are; the woman who will beat people up for coming close to hurting her friends, yet will sit there and have aimless conversations about how noodles will one day rule the world. Jonathon's lucky to have you and when you guys do get married, I want you to take the urn with my ashes in and dress me up as one of your bridesmaids. Of course, that might be a little difficult if I get scattered into the sea or blown into the sky, but I'm sure you'll find a way. I might be dead, but I'll be haunting you for a long time to come, alright?"

The tears were out full force. She tried her best to stay silent and not curse him for making her forgive him just from one single, stupid speech alone. Seeing him like that, she knew it wasn't fair that he wasn't there anymore. They'd always promised that they'd grow old together, live in the same nursing home and chase the youngest, fittest men down the street on their rocket-powered rocking chairs.

She tried her best to remain silent throughout his final speech to Simon. Once it was down, even Adryan himself was tearing up on camera and she half expected him to shut it then and there.

"I guess that's everything, isn't it?" he said. "Wow… that's kinda… final, isn't it? So, I'd really like to close with an awesome statement that sums me up, but all I can think of now is how much I really need to pee. I guess I'll just say that you're all awesome people and it's a shame I never got to spend more time with you all. And of course, it's not goodbye, but see you later. Unless, of course, you're going to hell. In that case, I'll be sat there on my cloud, strumming my harp and looking down on you, shaking my head in bemusement.

"So, until then, I guess."

That was it to the tape. She watched as the coffin that carried her friend was slowly taken away, past the little curtain and into the burning flames behind. She sat there for a while longer, waited as everyone else filtered out for the wake and stared at the picture of Adryan that stared back at them all.

She nodded for Jonathon to give her a moment alone. He kissed her forehead and let her know he'd be just outside. She smiled her thanks and made her way up to the picture, almost on autopilot. His pokémon were already there, grouped around what remained of their trainer and offering their own memorial. She didn't intrude. She just stood in front of his picture, kissed her fingertips and pressed them the picture's forehead.

"Don't get too lonely up there. We'll join you eventually. Then we'll have all eternity to chase men and let noodles take over the world."

Author's note.

So, a few things to say here. First, obviously, no quotes this chapter. Partially to highlight the change in setting, partially because they belong to the narrator, rather than the rest of the cast. And plus, they don't fit into the mood here.

This was always going to happen. Right from the get-go, this was the end result for this character. But this was far too big for it to happen off screen. Although in real life, we're obviously not around for such things, I couldn't not include it here. Thus, we have the change of character. Who better to be the focus for this than one of the few people who knows him better than anyone?

And also, I think this is the most depressing thing I've ever written.

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