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Angel of the Shadows

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Angel’s movements were stiff as she headed away from Jenny. Every couple of steps, she felt the urge to look back, like in those movies, where one love interest is watching the other walk away, desperately hoping for them to give them one final look. The chill in her back said Jenny was still watching, possibly holding that same thought in her own mind. But she couldn’t!

Perhaps she should sit at the bench near Ally’s house for a while and pull herself together before stopping by? It wasn’t as if time was of the essence right now. The lack of Jenny or other officers after her made it clear beyond the shadow of a doubt that this was a final “pass”. And right now, she didn’t really care how badly Giovanni wanted this mission completed.

Unfortunately, nothing seemed to want to go her way tonight. “Bell?” Angel turned to look at the newcomer, only to find that she couldn’t see. She reached her hands up to remove whatever blocked her vision, and her fingers came away wet. When had she began to cry?

A pair of hands gently touched her knees, drawing her attention to the Bellossom that stood before her. The flower wristlet he wore marked him as Ally’s Petunia. Now that Angel’s focus was on him, he gave a smile, took a few steps back, and began to dance and sing.

He told a story of the meeting of an Alolan and Galarian Vulpix, who quickly became the best of friends. Over time, the two became more, but sadly, they were separated during a blizzard. He gave a few quick stanzas about the journies of each, as they struggled to find each other yet again.

Suddenly, he stopped, reached out his hands to her, and she held back a sigh. Petunia did this every visit, regaling her with a wondrous story up until the most crucial part, and then never revealed the ending. “Why do you do that?”

Petunia tilted his head, seemingly confused by the question, though the twinkle in his eyes implied he knew exactly what she wanted to know.

“You never finish your story.” Angel booped him gently on the nose. “Why do you keep people hanging?”

Petunia launched into his most likely long-winded explanation, but by the time Angel made the “slow down” gesture with her hands, he was done. Tears filled his eyes, and she reached a hand out to console him, only to pull back when she saw the ear-to-ear smile upon his face.

He’d gone too fast for her to understand. Closing her eyes, she replayed the memory as vividly as possible. It was a method her father had taught to help her improve her photographic memory. Now, she could retain more than just text or pictures. Things like what she’d just done were more short term, but it wasn’t as if she’d ever need to revisit old memories anyway. When she opened her eyes, she stroked the petals of a flower on Petunia’s head. “Life is whatever we choose to make of it.”

Petunia held out his hand, the flowers on his head spinning as he gave a few muttered words of encouragement. After a little while, Angel took his hand and allowed him to lead her. As they walked, he rattled on, mostly about the events of the last few months he cherished most, and what she’d missed out on since the last time she visited. From the bits and pieces she picked up, he had some really interesting stories that she’d have to ask about when he was calmer.

She was still processing the last revelation of a relationship between Ally and Maya when he opened the door. His happy mood was instantaneously gone as he rushed from her side to a woman rocking on the floor beside the couch. She’d lifted her head from the creases of her arms at the sound of the door opening, then unwrapped her arms from around the knees to draw Petunia into a tight embrace. Through the smudged and flushed face, Angel finally recognized the person as Ally.

Angel shut the door behind her, but, instead of going to her friend, she headed towards the kitchen. It only took a few seconds to locate the most recent location of the coffee pot. A touch of her fingers against the glass informed her that it hadn’t been off long, so she poured a cup for Ally.

When she returned, Ally was on the middle cushion of the couch. One of Petunia’s hands stroked her left arm, but she didn’t seem to notice his presence. Or hers. It wasn’t until Angel cleared her throat that Ally realized she was there. Once the steaming hot cup of coffee changed hands, she sat on the other side of her friend.

She was silent for a while, uncertain as to what to say. Angel placed her hand on Ally’s leg, and asked what was wrong. But the only response she received was a sniffle and a drink. But she waited, understanding the need to gather yourself after emotional situations, whether positive or negative.

Several tocks of the clock went by with nothing said. At first, Angel thought maybe she wanted to finish the cup before speaking. But another two tocks went by after Ally placed the now empty cup on the refresher table. In an effort to give her friend some space, Angel walked off to take care of various minor things around the house.

Thirty minutes later, she returned to the living room, and reached for the empty cup, only to pause as she heard a hoarse, barely audible voice telling her to get out. She turned to face her friend, and a shiver ran down her spine. Angel reached into her pocket to pull out a handkerchief, so Ally could wipe her face clean with it.

But when Ally saw it, she gave Angel such a look of disgust—which only increased the disturbing factor of her current features—and leapt to her feet. “I don’t want anything from you. I don’t even want you here. Or Petunia, for that matter.”

Mouth open, Angel simply stared at her friend while she tried to comprehend what she’d just heard. This didn’t make any sense! Her mind went back to the last thing Petunia said before they noticed Ally on the floor. Oh! “Ma-Maya’s really gone?”

“How dare you act innocent?!” Ally exclaimed right before Angel felt a burning sensation on her left cheek. “Officer Jenny was already here. She told me everything. I can’t believe you would do this!”

“Look,” Angel began, completely ignoring the slap. “I’m sorry about your girlfriend, but Maya was one of my closest friends! I don’t know what happened, but I guarantee there’s no way I was involved. And what in Arceus’ name are you mad at Petunia for? He didn’t have anything to do with this!”

“He brought you here, knowing I wouldn’t want to see you. He’s just as much to blame for my current pain as you are.” It seemed impossible, but somehow, her newest set of tears managed to smear her makeup even more.

“I never thought you were the type of person to listen to rumors! You know me! I would never—”

“Repeating something over and over doesn’t make it true! I don’t want to hear your excuses! I want both of you out of my sight. I never want to see you again!”

Something hit Angel in the chest, and fell to the floor. Shock filled her when she saw that it was a pokéball. Ally couldn’t be serious! She picked it up, and turned to her distraught friend. “Don’t do this. You’re not in your right mind. Don’t make decisions you’ll regret later.”

“The only decision I ever made that I regret was befriending the two of you. GET. OUT. Before I call Jenny.”

Certain there was no point arguing at the moment, Angel dropped her handkerchief, grabbed the hysterical Petunia, and ran into the chilly cold of the night.