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Angel of the Shadows

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Angel reached above her head, and gasped in satisfaction as her back finally popped. Arms still above her head, she watched a group of Wingull in the sky, fighting over what appeared to be a Goldeen. From this distance, it almost seemed as if they were squawking the word “Mine”. The thought was ludicrous, but still. It made her laugh.

“Angie! Darling!” At the sound of the captain’s voice, Angel removed her hands from the back of her head and directed her gaze to her friend, who quickly crossed the distance between them. The hands that wrapped around hers were warm and held fresh cuts. Maya must have just come from doing some hard work below deck. “I absolutely love having you aboard. Marvelous stories, your adventures are. The Swanna is only here for a few days. I do hope you honor me with your presence again.”

She pulled her hands out of the grip, only to wrap them around Maya’s. Angel didn’t have many friends, so this secret little handshake meant the world to her. Any change in it meant there was a problem that should be discussed. It really made her regret the fact that she sometimes thought Maya would make a wondrous addition to Team Rocket.

Words of honesty about those stories begged to come out. But, as usual, she chose not to speak. People like Maya were a precious gift. The knowledge that her best friend was a member of Team Rocket would devastate her. Perhaps Angel would find the courage to speak if she ever left the organization. Which seemed more and more likely each day. Just so she could see the world on her own terms.

“You know I don’t make promises that I can’t keep,” Angel only meant to say that, but quickly continued at the sight of Maya’s crestfallen face, “But I’ll try and be quick!” She gently squeezed her friend’s hands and began to pull away, only to find herself pulled into an embrace full of warmth and love. An eternity like this wouldn’t have been long enough. When Maya finally pulled away, she skipped off, she was happy as a Ribombee. Once out of sight, Angel headed into Vermilion City.

Out of habit, Angel took off in the direction of the Pokémon Center. Whenever she visited, she stayed with Nurse Joy. Though recently, her paranoid mind had been working overtime, making her feel as if everyone were only friends with her for what she brought to the table. As such, she was uncertain if Joy was ever genuinely glad to see her, or just happy to have an extra set of human hands for a few days. So this time, Angel arranged a stay with her friend, Ally, who lived…she looked down each path a few times…thattaway.

Her mind began to wander once she set on the proper path. As someone who spent most of her time in the peace and solitude of nature, the sounds and smells of a city tended to overwhelm her senses. Lost in thought as she was, Angel paid little attention to her surroundings.

Tomorrow morning, Angel would head up to Saffron City and pay a visit to the Silph Company. Oh, dad would be so jealous! If only she could tell him, that is. Ever the Tinker, dad loved to work with technology. Whether it be to invent more efficient items, or to fix broken ones, he found such joy in his work. The most amazing part of all was that he rarely got so absorbed in what he did that he failed to make time for himself and his family.

The change in the sound of her footsteps was enough to bring her out of her reverie. Now she could hear the sound of a motorcycle. A quick glance around revealed that she was in the less preferred part of town. How did she get here? This was at least a road or two out of the way. Angel exhaled in relief when she realized the oncoming motorcycle belonged to Officer Jenny, who pulled over to the side of the road.

Angel headed in the right direction as soon as she had her bearings. She didn’t get very far before a hand tightly gripped her left wrist. She jumped and spun, ready to punch the person in the face, only to yet again breathe a sigh of relief. Her other hand flew to her heart, as if that would somehow ease the rapid beats. “Jenny! You gave me a fright!”

Officer Jenny didn’t answer, a strangeness in and of itself. The street lamps provided enough light to see the emotions in her eyes, and that was what really chilled Angel to the bones. She tried to pull her hand away, but the grip only tightened. Paranoia kicked in. Had her ties to Team Rocket finally been discovered?

“It pains me to say this, but you’re under arrest for the destruction of The Swanna.”

Moments passed in utter stillness and silence as Angel tried to comprehend the words just spoken. Thoughts of Maya filled her head. Before she returned home, she would have to check in on the Captain and see if she was still alive. For a split second, she thought she felt the grip loosen, and so she tried to pull free again. This time, Officer Jenny brought out a pokéball that was sure to hold a Mightyena.

Overwhelmed by emotions, Angel somehow managed to remain calm. “Look…I don’t know what you’re talking about. I arrived at the Port and left instantly. It took me half an hour to get this far. I guarantee that you have the wrong person.”

“We have an Eye Witness who said they saw someone with your description leaving the Port at a run after the incident.”

“You know my family. You know me. I visit Ally each year for the Winter Festival and New Year’s. And Maya’s a dear friend. Of which, I have so few. There’s no way I could have done this. I know I’m probably the only one in the city with silvery hair, but the witness had to be mistaken. There’s no way. And you know it.”

The grip truly lessened, but Jenny didn’t release her hold. “I—” There was an intake of breath, as if she needed to get ahold of herself. “I’m sorry. I’m just doing my job. That means that I have to take you in for questioning.”

“I’ve already given you my story. I arrived. I instantly left. It took me half an hour to get here. Even you know that you have the wrong person.” Angel’s hand came free with ease. She turned around and began to walk at a brisk pace.

“If you walk away from me, our friendship is over. I won’t protect you any longer,” Jenny continued to speak once Angel paused. “I—I know your secret. Have for a few years now. It still breaks my heart to know that you aligned yourself with the likes of them. So much wasted potential.”

“I can’t let you lose your job, and I don’t want to lose you as a friend.” Angel took a deep breath in. “But I’m sorry. I believe they have good intentions. They’re just seen as evil because of a few Agents who make poor judgment calls.”

“For Arceus’ sake! Come to your senses! Your problem is that you’re too optimistic of the world, and always see and expect good from people. Team Rocket, just like Teams Aqua and Magma, are evil! I don’t understand how you can continue to justify their actions! Please, Feathers.”

Feathers. Now there was a name she hadn’t heard since she was young. All because a Charizard carried her to the Poké Center covered in feathers and scratches from a failed attempt to look inside a Taillow nest. Somehow, the story quickly got around town. To this day, she had no clue who came up with the nickname.

“Shouldn’t you love that about me? After everything I’ve been through, I still try to see the good in people? I allow myself to be hurt time and again because I just can’t accept the fact that there are individuals out there who thrive on the pain they inflict on others.” Angel squeezed her eyes shut, but tears still fell. When her fingers trembled, she forced them to her hips. It took several deep breaths before she trusted herself to speak. “Tell you what. If I ever discover that I was wrong, I will turn myself in and accept responsibility for everything I did while with Team Rocket.”

“That…That’s not going to alter my decision. Ever since that day, every time something happened while you were in town, I covered for you as best as I could. To turn your back on me now, would be a most grievous insult. It would be a mockery of everything I’ve sacrificed for you.”

“You mean to tell me you automatically assumed that I was behind every problem that occurred while I was in town? Isn’t that a grievous insult to me? And a mockery to our friendship?” The silence stretched for what seemed like an eternity. Finally, unable to handle it any longer, Angel ran off.