Professor Willow and Spark were deep in the middle of the Painted Desert of Arizona researching how different climates affect egg development. The two had been watching Helioptiles and their further evolved counterparts, Heliolisks all day in the blistering heat.
The scenery was picturesque, with rolling rocky dunes, and a beautiful multicolored desolate landscape. Waves of heat emitted from the sandy ground.
Willow, despite being very physically fit for his age, was starting to show signs of heat exhaustion. Dusk was upon them, the elder got up from laying on his stomach to peer off a rocky hill and patted Spark on the shoulder, "I'm going to take a break, keep observing for now," he ordered before heading back to his RV in the distance.
Spark merely nodded and continued to look at the desert-dwelling Pokemon sunbathing in the fading light. Willow could tell something was clearly on his mind.
The blonde took a break himself, wiping the sweat from his brow as he repositioned his body from a laying down position to a sitting one. He pulled out his phone and looked at his last sent text which read: "Hey, Arlo could we talk? I'll be in the badlands today." A glum expression fell on his face as he didn't get a reply all day.
His attention quickly darted upward from his phone to the Sandiles and Heliolisks scurrying away. He could hear a rumbling in the distance, a cloud of red dust was coming at him from the horizon.
A motorcycle skidded to a stop about ten feet from him, it was quite the advanced piece of machinery, its color scheme resembled a Flygon: with two glass orbs tinted red overtop the headlights, and wings jetting off the sides of the back reminiscent of those of a Flygon's, but with a solar panel design on them. The rider got off of his fully electric bike. Dressed in a well-fitting Rocket uniform, he took off his jet black helmet resting it on his seat.
"Arlo! you came, after all, I knew you would!" Spark yelled ecstatically, getting to his feet and dusting off his tight black leather pants and yellow jacket. You know, totally appropriate clothes for a desert.
"What did you want Spark?" he announced loudly while closing the distance between them.
"Please come back. Team Go Rocket isn't for you. We miss you. I miss you. I still love you, people can make mistakes Arlo," Spark begged desperately. His instincts had led him to fall in love and now they've led him to pain and suffering.
"You think I want to come back? No. I. Don't. I won't be second fiddle to Blanche or Candela even if she did introduce us," he screamed balling up his fists with anger.
He was the head of his own department, he led the research into shadow pokemon, sure he had to answer to Giovanni, but he was the big fish in a small pond. People answered to him. Not the other way around. That's what he truly wanted. The respect and admiration of others. And Team Go Rocket gave that to him, unlike Willow and his assistants.
"You were always number one to me. You’ve been led astray and you're going down a dark path. Please, Arlo, this isn't good for you, I can feel it in my gut," Spark pleaded as slowly walked towards Arlo, arms open, ready to hug his ex.
His red eyes were ablaze, "I should have been the leader of Team Valor and you know it!" he spat bitterly. He tried to maintain his anger, but Spark was just one of those people you couldn't stay mad at.
Arlo's fury softened at his old boyfriend's caring gesture. But before he could reciprocate, he caught a suspicious glint out of the corner of his eye from a nearby mountain top. Squinting, Arlo activated the technology embedded in his glasses.
He then shoved both of his hands into his pockets and let Spark embrace him. He could not lie to himself he missed this. Arlo took a small device and surreptitiously placed it on the back of Spark's collar while hugging him back.
Spark towered over his ex-boyfriend in their embrace his heart swelled but the pit in his stomach didn't go away.
"I can't go back, I've made my choice," he said solemnly as he turned around and picked up and put on his helmet, "I'm sure we'll meet again."
"Arlo…" Spark whimpered sadly as he sped off into the sunset, the clouds almost mocking him with their pretty shades of pink, orange, and red.
Spark trekked back to the rust bucket, head hanging low. He was defeated, his instincts had been wrong. He opened the door to the RV and slumped down in a seat and threw back a bottle of water.
Willow turned around in the driver's seat and spoke, "You know, son, I know it hurts, but your intuition isn't always right."
"This wouldn't have happened if you didn't make Candela…I'm sorry," Spark’s furious bellow melting into a mutter as he immediately came to regret what he’d said, despite his honesty when saying it.
Willow sighed, fingerless gloves tightening on the steering wheel. "You’re not wrong, son, but I have my reasons. Arlo was too insecure and had too much self-doubt. He only sought the recognition of being a leader and never considered getting that from actual leadership, despite the many times I tried to steer him in the right direction. He just didn't understand that you can get respect from leadership, even while not being a leader."
Arlo, now at the local Rocket hideout, walked in towards the locker room, tired from a long day of rocketeering. Upon noticing that Arlo had returned Cliff softly asked, "We lost your signal for a while today. You ok?" voice travelling from the control room doorway.
"Yeah, just went through a tunnel," Arlo said dryly, making up an excuse and moving on.
But his answer was not satisfactory enough to Sierra, who was leaning up against the wall next to the locker room door, waiting for him with a disgruntled and sour look on her face. "I don't have to worry about you being a turncoat, do I?"
Arlo scoffed, almost insulted by the question, as he tossed a small tablet to her. "I planted a bug on him, we should get some good intel for at least the next few weeks. He never washes that damn jacket," he looked up to see the satisfied expression on her face as he carried on past her, hearing her dismiss him with a, "Very well, good work," and then the sound of the metal door shutting behind him.
He opened up his locker and changed into his civilian clothing, black skinny jeans and a hot pink tank top with red and black checkered converses to match his hair. On the inside of his locker door, he peeled back the blueprint to the Mew cloning machine to reveal a hidden picture of him and Spark on their first date, his hand gently touched the old picture as tears of regret welled in his eyes, fond memories of days long since passed flashed through his mind.