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A Friendly Gathering of Foes

Chapter Text

 

You have been cordially invited to

 

The Villain Association’s First Ever

 

♔♕Fancy Dinner Social Party Thing ♕♔

 

Hosted by (the beautiful, smart, sensual, gifted, talented, wonderful, cool) Ghetsis Harmonia,

at The Fluorescent Hotel of Unova, located at 42069 Mode Street, Castelia City

 

7:00 PM, 28th of May, 201X

 

Eat dinner (duh), discuss villainry, and get really drunk!!!

 

Wear a suit, guys!


 

 

Giovanni put down the invitation and sighed. This was the worst thing to ever happen to him in a long time. He got mail . He was invited to something. And he absolutely detested Ghetsis Harmonia and really couldn't stand the guy ever since he met him during the PWT a year or two ago.

 

Giovanni nearly gagged as he read the invitation. It was written in an overly fancy script and “Ghetsis Harmonia” took up half the page, sticking out from all the other disgustingly elegant and pretentious words with its rainbow color text and Comic Sans font. The stupid piece of paper came in an envelope sealed with what Giovanni guessed to be the Harmonia family crest. Giovanni understood that Ghetsis was filthy stinkin’ rich and that the money he had was inherited and never seemed to end. Giovanni also understood he could honestly never respect someone with more money than him and Ghetsis was just that someone.

 

He wanted to tear the invitation in half and flush it down the toilet like the load of crap it was but he didn't want to mess up the intricate plumbing of his house and also-

 

He was quite bored.

 

It's not like anyone was living with him. No one would care if he left Kanto for a night or two. All he ever did in his free time was smoke and cry into tubs of ice cream, screaming to his morbidly obese Persian and smelly Meowth about how boring life is, about how they cancelled his favorite TV drama and how “It really didn’t deserve that fate.”

 

This was a wake up call.

 

He hated Ghetsis’ bitch ass but if he could leave Kanto again, get drunk or high or both, and possibly end the night with beating up the annoying fuck, he would be kind of happy. Just kind of.

 

So he packed his bags.

 


 

(MAY 28, DAY OF PARTY)

 

There was a great commotion going on in the penthouse of The Fluorescent Hotel.

 

Ghetsis sat in front of the mirror and blue steeled until the right side of his face began twitching painfully. His lanky, underdeveloped son was circling him, brushing his untamed mass of green curls with great effort.

 

“Col-ress, what are you gonna wear tonight?” Ghetsis practically sang.

 

Colress, who was nearby and tapping away on his phone, looked up and smiled. “You've gotta wait and see, darling, it's a surprise.”

 

“Uhuhuhuh,” Ghetsis chuckled gutturally. “That sounds so h- N!!! I'm not a Bouffalant, damn it! Are you trying to kill me, boy?!”

 

N winced and started gently patting the fluffy hair he held in his hand. “I'm sorry, dad, I'm sorry. I forget your hair is not a Pokemon sometimes and-”

 

“You forget you are an idiot,” Ghetsis said (but it sounded more like “you forget you are an ee-dee-ot”) . He waved his hand at N, dismissing him. “Piss off. Go help the grunts set up or something.”

 

Once his hair-tearing, graceless son was gone, Ghetsis spun around in his chair, smiling as much as he could with his wonky mouth.

 

“I'm so excited,” he said. “I-”

 

“You just can't hide it?” Colress whispered.

 

“I'm gonna meet everyone and I am going to impress them so hard,” he declared, brushing out the puffs and knots N didn't bother touching. He smoothed his hair down with something slick and gross that smelled like flowers, watching with delight as those three infamous horns of hair sprung right back up accordingly. “The thing is, I'm the richest out of all of them. Richer than that new white guy with the beard. Richer than Giovanni.”

 

“No way? There's a new white guy?”

 

“Yes he has a beard and I hate him. How dare he have the audacity to copy me? To copy us?”

 

“What, the beard?”

 

“No, the fact that he’s w- Never mind. Anyway, I don't know any of the other guys so there's that. It'll be a surprise meeting them.”

 

“They're not that evil if you haven't heard of them,” Colress snickered.

 

“True but I have to invite them; I have to intimidate them with everything I have,” Ghetsis rambled on. “They'll see how amazing I look and immediately be charmed. They'll see how I have you and be so jealous they’ll listen to every word I say-”

 

“Aww… Thank you.”

 

“They’ll see all the grunts we have in our dungeon-”

 

“You are so beautiful right now,” Colress sighed.

 

“Yes, I know. I'm perfect,” Ghetsis said, staring into the mirror, the veiny sclera of his only functioning eye growing larger. “Per-fect.”

 


 

 

Lysandre arrived at the airport in Unova wearing a handsome dark red sweater knitted by Augustine Sycamore. “Big Spicy”, it declared in bold yellow letters. He felt it should have said “Big Baby” because he was still blinking back tears at the thought of being alone in a strange region without Augustine. Who would make him perfectly milky coffee with dark syrup portraits of himself floating at the top of the cup? Who would sleep in bed with him? Who would give him the succ? Who would wipe his ass-

 

“LYSANDRE!” a sign shouted in blocky letters.

 

The lion man smiled and rushed to the two fools holding the sign.

 

“I can't believe you guys are here!” he laughed excitedly, feeling a rare happy anxiety pulsating throughout his body.

 

“Us either,” Maxie sighed fondly. “You look taller!”

 

“When was the last time I saw you guys?”

 

“Gaycation 2015, I think,” Archie said.

 

“Oh…” Lysandre mumbled.

 

Nobody brought up Gaycation 2015. It was best left forgotten.

 

After a long silence, the boys started heading to the Fluorescent Hotel. On the drive there, Lysandre found himself looking out the window at the crowded streets of Castelia.

 

“Have you ever met Ghetsis?” Lysandre asked.

 

“No.”

 

“Ne’er in my life.”

 

“Same here,” Lysandre said. “I think I've heard of someone named Cold Dress who is his doctor or something.”

 

“Ranch dressing?” Maxie repeated (or so he thought).

 

“He has a doctor? Just always there by his side?” Archie asked. “I guess he needs it. Giovanni told me he's the record holder for the oldest man in the world. He's 200; Giovanni told me so.”

 

“Wow, I didn't even know people could live that long.”

 

“He's probably going to be a little old grandpa with a mustache and a walker! With the tennis balls and everything.”

 

The three very handsome men made a solemn vow to protect the ancient Ghetsis from threats such as falling, bingo nights and high cholesterol.

 

They reached the hotel (which did not impress Lysandre that much, to be honest) then went into their respective rooms.

 


 

 

Cyrus was sleeping in his hotel room when there was a knock at his door. This was very upsetting as he was currently wrapped up in a soft blanket burrito that took ten minutes to get in. Once he was free, he rubbed his eyes and opened the door.

 

It was some kid that looked like a piece of spinach. Cyrus made a sleepy little “Mmph?” and the kid nearly jumped ten feet in the air.

 

“Hey I’m sorry but Iknowyou’reoneofmydad’sfriendsandIjustcamedowntoremindyouthatthepartyisstartingsoon-”

 

“Come again?”

 

Boy of Spinach blinked then started wringing his hands. “The p-party that my dad- uh, Ghetsis- is having is going to start in about an hour and a half.”

 

“Oh,” Cyrus mumbled. “Well, I’ll be ready by then. Maybe even before that so…”

 

“GOOD!” the leafy green vegetable boy shouted. He ran down the hallway before turning back and giving Cyrus a really frantic look. “My name is N and there’s gonna be cake!” He then sprinted off into the distance.

 

Cyrus stood at the door for a little while, rubbing his arms. Cyrus slammed the door, spun around and flung himself onto his messy bed.

 

He just wanted to nap.

 



(Time Of Party: 7:00 PM)

 

(Time of Ghetsis’ Arrival: Unknown)

 

Giovanni strode down the snazzily-designed carpeted floor, looking tired yet handsome in his black suit. His face was like one of a stubborn teenager who did not want to go on a two week long family road trip. His trembling fingers pulled at his cufflinks; bright red Team Rocket “R”s, shining with lacquer and possibly anxious sweat. He didn’t want to show up looking so annoyed but it’s not like he wanted to prove anything to these losers.

 

What a waste of time.

 

He made it to the end of the hall, past a very busy lobby, and ended up standing in front of a really big wooden door that had glass panels in it. He couldn’t even see inside because the useless, shitty glass was carved with flowers and Pokemon and made everything look warbled. Giovanni, sighing, carefully opened the door and peeked into the ballroom that the party was taking place in.

 

There was a giant round table covered in a white sheet. When Giovanni looked up, he saw that he could see the beautiful night sky through a retracted mechanized ceiling of some sort. It was obviously a ballroom… but it was also a party under stars type of thing. Giovanni decided he didn't like it.

 

There didn’t appear to be anyone in there except-

 

“ANIKI!!!!!!”

 

Archie and Maxie, a pair of familiar faces.

 

Maxie was wearing a snug sweater that had an atrociously large turtleneck paired up with nice corduroy pants. Archie had a grayish blue suit on and looked very sharp- however his tie was already undone and the collar of his messily buttoned shirt was flipped up on one side. This reminded Giovanni of the golden days of Team Rocket. He’d known Maxie and Archie for a long time. Neither of them were too bright and they made a lot of ruckus but Giovanni felt relieved to see them.

 

“Hey, you two, it's been a while.”

 

The two nerds wrapped Giovanni in a hug that nearly broke his spine. After a minute, he was released and began fixing his suit.

 

“You guys know anyone who’s coming here?” he asked, adjusting his (of course) red tie.

 

“Yeah, we do, boss,” Archie said immediately. “Don’t you know anyone?!”

 

“No, I don’t. And don’t call me boss. The nineties are over.”

 

“Boss, I beg to differ: the sweater I'm wearing is nineties vintage-”

 

“Oh, boss, look! Lysandre’s here!”

 

Giovanni turned around and saw a very tall white man who was the tallest and whitest guy he'd seen in a long time. It was ridiculous. He walked over really quickly and gave Maxie and Archie kisses on the cheek like a true Kalosian then shook Giovanni's hand. It was an impressively strong handshake but Giovanni, deciding not to let the man get in over his head, overpowered him with an even stronger handshake. They smiled at each other politely and the tall fiery man began talking.

 

“It's nice to finally meet you, Mr. Sakaki,” he said in a voice that was so deep and resonating it caused Maxie and Archie to squeak like teenage girls. He also had this dainty, fancy sounding Kalosian accent.

 

Giovanni wasn't as easily swayed. He just raised an eyebrow and asked, “You’re Fleur-de-lis?” He certainly didn’t expect the head of Lysandre Labs to be so young (and tall).

 

Lysandre gave a smile reminiscent of a proud Pyroar. “Yes, I am. It’s my pride and genocide- I mean joy. I’m a self built man.”

 

Giovanni thought it was absolutely horrible that Lysandre could look so sharp in a vest. His shoulder to waist ratio was terrifying. There was no reason for a human being to be so toned and V-shaped. Disgusting.

 

The tiny Kanto man nodded, as if he was satisfied (he wasn’t). “How impressive,” he said without meaning it. Then, in a move shimmering with salt, he turned away from Lysandre and began looking at the white tabletop and surrounding plush chairs for a place to sit.

 

Maxie and Archie continued chatting and milling around with Lysandre, who was very smug about being the most handsome man in the room. No music was playing so the banal drone of their voices was amplified; Maxie kept ending his sentences with “Ya know what I mean?” The fact that they were the only guests who had arrived so far made it seem like they were waiting to partake in a Battle Royale-esque fight to the death. Then… Giovanni heard the sound.

 

THOMP, THOMP, THOMP.

 

Had a Tyrantrum been let loose in the building? It was getting closer. Why didn't Maxie, Archie and Lysandre notice it? Giovanni shuddered. The stomps got louder and closer. Pretty soon… Giovanni could hear laughter in the hallway outside the door.

 

The door leading into the ballroom slowly opened. Golden light coming in from the hall penetrated the darkness, somehow defying the rules of physics and landing directly on the Rocket Boss’ terrified face. His widened eyes focused on a thin, shadowy figure perfectly striking a Vogueing pose at the doorway. The posing shadow laughed like a 90s anime villain and declared,

 

“I’m here, bitches!”

 

This was Giovanni’s worst nightmare.

 

Ghetsis had arrived.

Chapter Text

“GOOD MORNING! I SAID GOOD MORNING! GOOD-” BANG!

 

Cyrus opened his eyes and made the kind of noise a sleeping, loafing Skitty makes when rudely awakened.

 

“BREAKFAST IS READY!”  THUNK!

 

Cyrus scowled and promised to Arceus that he would try to destroy the universe and this time- for good. He rolled out of bed, adjusted his SUPER DEOXYS FIGHTER underwear, and opened the door.

 

Nobody was there.

 

Cyrus was about to shut the door when the spinach child from earlier busted into his room. The nutritious intruder was so quick, he was just a blur of green. Startled, Cyrus cried out, attempting to cover his so very long and so very exposed legs.

 

“What are you doing here?!” Cyrus wheezed, his voice cracking.

 

N was wearing a dashing waiter’s outfit. However his sharp getup did not help fix his messy hair and blotchy, tear streaked face. He held his open mouth in horror at the sight of that loose, ill fitting pair of SUPER DEOXYS FIGHTER underwear. “You are not even dressed?! Daddy’s going to kill me!”

 

“Child, I command you to exit my room at once,” Cyrus said in a voice that was maybe three octaves higher than his usual low drone. He stumbled over and reached for a pillow to hide behind. “I’m in a state of indecency.”

 

“Please, sir, you need to get dressed,” N sobbed, sinking to his knees. “The cake… Daddy- er, Dad’s gonna eat the cake just like last time. It was my birthday-”

 

“I’m getting dressed,” Cyrus snapped. “I’m getting dressed.”

 

“Please… (sniffle) Wear a tie…”

 



Ghetsis stood in the middle of the doorway, finger raised to the sky. When it became clear that nobody was applauding or gasping, he acquired a more normal stance and entered the room. Every step he took came with a clinking noise created by all his accessories crashing together. He walked so very awkwardly, as if there was so much of him he didn’t know what to do with it.

 

He was accompanied by a tiny young man who, just like Ghetsis, had hair that physically made zero sense. This tiny young bespectacled man was practically hanging off of Ghetsis’ right arm. To Giovanni, this was tragic. It was very like Ghetsis to bring along his… trophy husband.

 

When Ghetsis noticed Giovanni, he gave him a ghastly smile. Ghetsis wiggled his way over toward the significantly shorter man and smacked him on the arm as if they were good old friends.

 

“Oh, Sakaki!” he cried (or moaned, it seemed) in a voice dripping with faux grandeur. “I haven’t seen you in such a long time!”

 

They had only met once before.

 

Giovanni smiled, the pain apparent in his face. Tucked away in his blazer was an ivory switchblade. If I need to end it all, right here, right now, I will.   “Yes, yes it has,” he said, jaw twitching. “It’s been a while since I returned to Unova.”

 

Ghetsis put his good hand to his cold, dead heart and sniffed. “You know, your accent is getting better!”

 

“Ghetsis, I don't have a-” Giovanni began, but Ghetsis was already looking away.

 

Maxie, Archie, and Lysandre had made their way over to check out the situation. They looked confused and Giovanni knew why.

 

“You’re Ghetsis Harmonia?” Archie said, mouth open and his toned, meaty bara pecs bulging through his shirt.

 

The charade of elegance Ghetsis was playing immediately ended and his typical guttural voice came through with a low, “That I am!”

 

“I didn’t expect you to be…not an old guy,” Maxie hummed. “Well, you are an old guy, but I thought you’d be a super old guy-” He started turning red.

 

“Puh-lease, Mr. Matsubusa, you’re such a flirt. Besides, I’m a married woman,” Ghetsis joked; he then nodded to Colress, who waved at Maxie, who looked in horror at Ghetsis, who once again nodded to Colress, who waved even more at Maxie, who nearly vomited at the thought of his poorly phrased sentences being mistaken as flirting by Ghetsis, who nodded to Col-

 

Lysandre made a deep lion noise. “Hmm… I’ve heard the name Harmonia before…”

 

That was literally all he said. That’s it. He didn’t even say it, he just sort of mumbled it. But apparently, Ghetsis took great offense to his words.

 

“ UGH… IT’S YOU…” Ghetsis snarled. “You’re that guy.”

 

Lysandre, in that short moment, tried to think of all the things in his life he could have done to offend Ghetsis. He’d never even met the dude before. Maybe Ghetsis saw the foreskin worship blog he owned with Augustine? Other than that, Lysandre could not think of a single reason as to why Ghetsis was being such a cold ass bitch to him. His life flashed before his eyes.

 

Giovanni placed an awkward hand on Ghetsis’ shoulder. He quickly drew his hand away when he felt humanlike warmth instead of the initially expected temperature of a corpse during algor mortis.

 

“Yes, Ghetsis, this is Mr. Fleur-de-lis,” Giovanni said as calmly, maturely and rationally as possible. This brought him painful flashbacks to the days Silver threw tantrums and had to be calmed down. “You might have heard of the advancements he's made for communication devices. Do you know what a Holo Caster is? Have you ever even spoken on a cell phone? Know what that is? C-E-L-L phone.”

 

“I don't care about advancements or Homo Casters,” Ghetsis said through a very exaggerated yawn. He glanced at Lysandre and scowled. “That's baby stuff compared to what Colress has done.”

 

Archie, in an act of friendliness and love for conversation, turned to Colress and asked with a beautiful smile, “What have you done, scamp?”

 

“Science stuff,” Colress answered, smugly.

 

“What kind of science?” Archie asked, obviously very interested.

 

“The science of ya motha.”

 

Colress and Ghetsis exchanged terrible guffaws of laughter and right when Ghetsis was about to say something undoubtedly stupid as well, there was a tiny knock at the door to the ballroom.

 

The six of them turned around, shocked and surprised at the sheer audacity of someone to go and knock on their door. The door clicked and, like the pearly gates of heaven, opened to reveal an angel.

 

Cyrus had finally found his way to the party.

 

Everyone looked at him with awe. There was something strange about this man. They all felt they had to protect him somehow.

 

He walked over to them, tense and cautious; as if he was expecting someone to tackle him from the side. Once he joined the circle, Maxie hugged him fiercely.

 

“Oh, Cyrus, it's you! It's really you,” he screeched. He began sobbing into Cyrus’ shirt.

 

“Hello,” Cyrus wheezed.

 

Giovanni noted the softness of his voice. It was the only voice in the room so far that did not make him bleed from the ears.

 

“Do you two know each other?” Lysandre asked.

 

“We've been messaging each other for two years!” Maxie sniffled.

 

“It's true!” Archie added, enthusiastically.

 

“I started video chatting with him in December!”

 

“I was there!” Archie added, even more enthusiastically.

 

Lysandre smiled. “How sweet,” he said in his warmest voice. “It's nice to meet you, Cyrus. My name is-”

 

“AAAAAAH, ENOUGH!” Ghetsis screamed. “Who cares? Shut up! I'm hungry already.” He raised his good hand in the air and snapped. “FEED ME!”

 



The bosses all sat down at a big round table.

 

Ghetsis made Giovanni sit to his left, much to Giovanni’s misfortune. He was the only one who was assigned a seat, apparently. However, Cyrus was sat directly across the table from him and Giovanni really wanted to study this guy from afar. He was so… unusual.

 

A bunch of waiters tended to them, pouring them wine and plunking down very sexy looking plates of spaghetti and meatballs before them.

 

One waiter, who looked like they were scared for their life, was grating cheese straight from the block over Lysandre's plate.

 

“Tell me when to stop,” the tiny waiter squeaked.

 

Lysandre sat back. The cheese was quickly shrinking. Lysandre closed his eyes and sighed happily. The waiter started sweating. The cheese pile was only growing bigger.

 

“Should I stop?” the waiter asked.

 

“Non.”

 

And it went on until the waiter used up the entire cheese. Their trembling arm hovered over Lysandre’s plate.

 

Lysandre opened his eyes, gasping at the giant pile of cheese on his plate. The spaghetti wasn’t even visible anymore. He whipped his head to the side to look at the exhausted waiter.

 

“Why did you stop?!” Lysandre hissed.

 

A truly terrible man.

 

“Is this vegan?” Maxie asked no one in particular.

 

“Uh, yeah,” Ghetsis lied, already unceremoniously eating.

 

Everyone began to feast, silverware clinking and soft happy voices exchanging words.

 

Sitting by Ghetsis while he ate spaghetti was like experiencing hell firsthand. Giovanni just stared into space listening to the terribly wet and chewy noises coming from the beast next to him. At first Giovanni felt kinda bad because he knew Ghetsis suffered from paralysis on the right side of his face. But then Ghetsis started moaning and saying “Aw yeah, I'm gon nut right here- fuck my ass, this is good!” and Giovanni realized that it was perfectly okay to have suicidal thoughts when in social situations such as this one.

 

N, Ghetsis’ timid son, poured Giovanni and Lysandre some wine.

 

“Hello, my name is N Harmonia and I'm your waiter and there's gonna be cake tonight so please be on your best behavior,” he stated softly.

 

“Piss off, you're nobody’s waiter,” Ghetsis interjected. “I put you in charge of cleaning the bathrooms.”

 

N wrung his hands nervously. “I already finished doing that, Daddy- um, Dad, er, Ghetsis.”

 

“You better be telling me the truth. I'll find out when I have my massive post-spaghetti diarrhea dump.”

 

N was dismissed and so was Giovanni’s appetite. He scowled into his plate of saucy pasta, stirring it mindlessly until he stabbed a single meatball with his fork, the silver utensil sticking up straight into the air. Giovanni leaned back in his chair and grunted sulkily. He glanced ahead for a second but then found that Cyrus was looking at him.

 

Cyrus’ eyes bore straight past the erect fork, and right into Giovanni’s soul. Neither of them moved for a while; it seemed like the room around them was spinning. Cyrus blinked slowly. He made this strange little face- his mouth kind of tugged to the side for a bit, but then he was distracted by Maxie’s loud, unnecessary anecdote about his favorite volcano in Hoenn... and turned away.

 

Giovanni came back to earth and blinked.

 

What a strange guy.

 

Ghetsis and Colress were giggling and snickering and pestering N. They successfully got him to retrieve a bottle of whiskey from who knows where and, even more successfully, snatched it from his hands. Everyone had just started eating literally ten minutes ago and Ghetsis decided it was time to get drunk.

 

Ghetsis, like the true gentleman he is, poured Colress a good amount in his empty wine glass.

 

“Thanks, babe,” Colress said.

 

Ghetsis gave him a tiny smile and then threw his head back and began chugging the bottle of whiskey as if his life depended on it. Maxie, sitting across the table and already slightly tipsy from, like, half a glass of wine, was shaking his finger in Ghetsis’ direction.

 

“No, sir, you aren't just gonna drink all of that by yourself!”

 

Ghetsis looked across the table, his lip curling slightly in annoyance. “Ugh,” he burped. “Fine, you pimply nerd.”

 

The drunk Harmonia pushed the bottle and it slid across the table.

 

“They're freckles,” Maxie stated, pouring himself a huge glass and then pouring Archie a significantly smaller, sadder glass.

 

Giovanni gestured for Maxie to pass the bottle over to him but when Maxie pushed it towards him, Lysandre intercepted it.

 

“I hope you don't mind if I have some as well,” he said apologetically to Giovanni.

 

“You’re skating on thin ice, Fleur-de-Lis.”

 

“Just a tiny drop…”

 

Finally, Giovanni got his hands on the glorious bottle of whiskey. As it steadily pissed out its contents into his glass, once again, he found himself distracted by Cyrus, who was stuffing some bread in his pants pocket. Cyrus hadn't spoken much during the whole dinner. Instead, he focused on twirling spaghetti around his fork. He ate like a tiny little Starly, unlike the owner of the void-like mouth sitting beside Giovanni.

 

Giovanni decided he would have rather sat down next to Cyrus.

 

“Aniki, you finished the entire bottle,” Archie whined, the tears in his eyes tragically obvious.

 

“I'm so sorry,” Giovanni lied. “Uh- Cyrus? Did you want some too?”

 

Cyrus was busy placing a single meatball inside a dinner roll. He looked at Giovanni for a short moment then back at his impromptu sandwich. “No. I don't drink.”

 

“Oh,” said Giovanni, quite pathetically.

 

The empty bottle was seized violently from Giovanni’s hand by Ghetsis, who sprung up from his chair and threw the glass container across the room. With a boom, it dented the wall and fell to the ground, shattering into approximately a million pieces.

 

“It’s time to get PIIIIIIISSSSSSSSSED!” he declared, lifting his right leg up into the air and bringing it down so violently upon the table, it broke in half.

 

Meatballs flew up into the sky and rained down around the bosses like a culinary Armageddon. Some splat into mush and others bounced. One hopped into Cyrus’ lap. Giovanni noticed this.

 

And, after guzzling a few more shots and glasses and bottles of alcohol, the bosses got wasted.

 

Except Cyrus, who looked on in a strange mix of disapproval and wonder.



Chapter Text

The bosses were too busy getting drunk that they didn’t seem to notice the wrecked table before them. Or maybe they just didn’t care. Countless tiny waiters were running back and forth, delivering shots and fulfilling other weird requests like bringing cups of salt water and spraying Archie with them.

 

Cyrus was helping N Harmonia sweep up the mess Ghetsis had made. There was a dangerous amount of broken glass and squashed meatballs on the ground. Though they were really fucking busy cleaning, everyone seemed to have something to tell them.

 

“Cy, what's better? Volcanoes or oceans?” Maxie yelled.

 

“It's obvious the Cy-Boy is a man of the sea!” Archie shouted.

 

“He can't be a boy and a man at the same time, Archie!” Maxie insisted, absolutely flabbergasted.

 

“You! Pea soup head!” Lysandre thundered. “Where is the cake you promised?! If I don't get that cake, I'm leaving a one star review for this hotel!”

 

N turned to Cyrus and nodded. “I'm going to get the cake from the kitchen,” he announced. “Please go have fun with the others. If you don't have fun, you'll get no cake and we’ll have to kill you. Ghetsis told me so.”

 

Cyrus was then left alone.

 

Music started playing. Nicki Minaj’s “Starships” blared from the ceiling and it was like a sign from the heavens to start dancing. Maxie screamed with delight, jumped up and then began shaking his nonexistent pancake of a rear end all around the room. Archie did one of the few popular dances he knew, the Cha Cha Slide, but he did it very slowly because he felt a more sensual approach to the dance would make Maxie want to kiss him.

 

Lysandre wasn't much of a dancer. He was too big and buff and redheaded that when he did attempt to dance, he looked like a Golurk having a fit. But now, in order to stave off the hunger pains he was getting from the lack of cake in his stomach, he undulated classily beside Maxie, Archie, and the newly acquired dabbing Colress.

 

All four of them spun together on the floor, laughing and smiling and dancing terribly around the quiet, dustpan wielding Cyrus.

 

Across the room, two handsome and eternally grumpy dads were leaning against the wall together.

 

Ghetsis bent down and whispered to Giovanni, “Somebody’s still mildly sober.”

 

“Well I want to be the designated driver of the car that's going to take us all to hell,” Giovanni muttered, squinting tiredly.

 

Ghetsis looked impressed for a moment then poked at the side of his jacket. It clinked. “I brought you a present.”

 

Giovanni didn’t say anything.

 

“Can you guess what it is? Hmmmmm?”

 

“To be honest, I don't really care-”

 

Ghetsis pushed his jacket aside (doing this simple task flamboyantly, of course) and revealed a shiny bottle of Kantonese sake.

 

Giovanni gasped and slapped his hands on his cheeks. He shouted “Where-?!?” but he realized how loud it came out so he lowered his voice to a whisper. “Where did you get this?”

 

“You're not the only one with connections around here, you know. Anyway, here.”

 

“We’ve drank quite a bit already-”

 

Ghetsis took a swig straight from the bottle and noisily cleared his throat.

 

“You're not supposed to drink it like that. The top doubles as a cup.”

 

Ghetsis then drank the sake in the correct way and passed the shot glass cap to his significantly shorter acquaintance.

 

“A’ight, cool. Hey, have I ever told you about my house?”

 

“No. Don’t-”

 

“I've got a pool. Do you have a pool?”

 

Giovanni made a vague noise that sounded like both a “yeah” and a “nah”. The truth was Giovanni did own a pool however it was currently overrun with Barboach who were introduced to reduce algae rates before the summer started. And it worked: the pool had no more green slime in it- however there were just too many Barboach swimming around in it, Giovanni gave up and left it alone. So now he was a not-so-proud owner of a Barboach pond. But he wasn't about to admit this to anybody.

 

Ghetsis stole the shot glass from him, his already naturally crooked smile getting more and more twisted as he drank. “I got a hundred TVs. Probably a million. All flat screen. I have a theater too, so technically I don't even need TVs in my house. That's how rich I am.”

 

Giovanni only had two flat screen TVs. Instead of revealing this he just said, “That's a lot” in a very strained voice. He was offered more and more cups to drink which, other than embarrassment, probably contributed to his flushed appearance.

 

“Do you like collecting cars, Sakaki? Well, let me tell you about-”

 

Ghetsis went on and on for a long time, as his favorite conversation topic seemed to be himself. Giovanni sort of tuned out. He was half listening, half trying to reassure himself that maybe he didn’t hate Ghetsis too much. So what if he’s richer than me? He brought me a drink. Heck, I don’t even think he slipped something in it. He’s an alright guy, I guess.

 

Pretty soon Giovanni was laughing with Ghetsis. They looked like a couple of old friends.

 

And that was exactly Ghetsis’ plan.

 

Ghetsis had some very important things to discuss with Giovanni.

 

“Sakaki, I’d like to ask you something…”

 


 

 

The music that had been playing on the speakers cut off and instead a voice announced, “Aaaaaand now, the cake!!!”

 

There seemed to be a collective gasp amongst the bosses and they all stopped dancing and ran to the middle of the room. They quieted down and shook with anxiety and dessert-induced lust.

 

N Harmonia came back pushing a cart with the cake on it. This was an extremely tense moment in his life because he was in charge of this moment; he had to protect the cake as it was one of those fancy tiered ones that are always falling over. His father had emphasized the word “careful” earlier during the days prior to the party when he and N had cake delivering rehearsals.

 

N could hear Ghetsis’ voice in his head.

 

“Now, carefully, you’re going to carefully walk in the room, very careful, and carefully reveal it to everyone. Be careful when you do this cuz-”

 

In N’s mind “careful” meant to be as slow as possible and not look at anyone. So that’s exactly how he delivered the cake. Everyone watched as Ghetsis Harmonia’s only son wasted too many precious seconds depriving them of cake when they could have been eating it. It was dead quiet. The wheels of the cart squeaked with every step N made. He seemed to be barely a couple of feet away from the door he entered through.

 

Maxie turned to Cyrus and whispered, “Oh, Arceus, it’s never going to get here.”

 

Archie looked very concerned. Lysandre sighed dramatically. Colress shook his head. Giovanni laughed and swayed to the side a little.

 

N was possibly now five feet away from the door.

 

Lysandre couldn’t take it anymore. He roared, broke away from the other (and more patient) bosses, and tackled N to the floor. Lysandre rose from the ground and started cutting a slice of cake for himself as Archie rushed to check the toppled Harmonia’s vital signs.

 

Everyone got cake and peace was finally restored.

 

Since their previously table had been destroyed in the name of partying, the bosses all sat on the floor to eat their cake.

 

Colress was being slutty and coating his fingers with icing then slurping on them whilst making eye contact with Ghetsis. The abnormally tall and mostly classless leader of Team Plasma laughed excitedly and gave Colress an equally messy icing-coated finger to suck on. Everyone was drunk and happy about getting to eat cake so the naughty couple did this without getting scolded. However... there was another small, bespectacled power bottom who just couldn't handle seeing a younger twink out-sexy him.

 

Maxie smirked to himself. He and Archie were way hotter than Colress and Ghetsis. In order to establish this, Maxie scooped up a chunk of cake with the fork he had in his hand and pushed it at Archie’s lips.

 

Archie coughed and turned to look at Maxie in surprise. “What the heck, Max!” he said.

 

“C’mon, babe, eat this cake so we can be sexy.”

 

“But, Max, I’m already eating!” Archie protested. “You got the boring slice anyway! Mine has all the little candy flowers on it!”

 

Maxie frowned angrily. “Consume, ocean dweller!” he growled nasally, somehow managing to say this weird, foolish insult with a completely straight face. He pushed the fork at Archie again.

 

This time it dug into his beard, covering that specific part of his beautiful brown face with icing.

 

“You messed up my beard!” Archie grumbled. “I brushed it for hours!”

 

Maxie started stammering, trying to get an apology out, but was suddenly booped on the nose with Archie’s thick, fat, cake filled hand.

 

“There! Now we’re even,” he said with a hearty little chuckle. Archie reached over and wrapped an arm around his nerd boyfriend, who was promptly hit in the face with an entire cake slice.

 

“What the fuck!” Maxie honked.

 

Colress stood up. “You poser! You’re trying to steal my vibe!” he yelled. “You’ll never be as hot as me and my Ghetsy-whetsy!”

 

Everyone looked at Colress in horror.

 

“Ghetsy...whetsy?” Giovanni slurred.

 

Maxie, though typically a socially anxious dork, was absolutely drunk and he was not going to take it from anyone. Especially not Colress. So he chucked his plate full of cake at him.

 

...Except he was drunk, of course, so his aim was such absolute crap that the cake slid off and fell on Cyrus’ shirt and the lone plate flew like a frisbee and launched itself right at Colress’ crotch.

 

“Arghhhhhhh! You bastard!” the injured twink screamed. “You’re gonna get it now!”

 

And that’s how it all started. Colress grabbed the entire cake off of N’s cart and smushed it right on Maxie’s body. Archie jumped up and tried to stop Colress but in turn he got his whole dang entire beard full of icing. He gasped, stumbled back and landed on his butt with a gross squash noise. He looked back and he had done it- he had fallen in one of the worst places he could have fallen in that night:

 

Lysandre’s plate of cake.

 

It all happened so fast. It went from Archie laughing and going “Whoops!” to Lysandre giving him a death stare and tackling him. It was both a dream and a nightmare- two cake covered baras wrestling each other for dominance like tongues in a fanfiction, ripping at their clothes and cursing... but they were both so strong and thick that anyone who was close to them was immediately knocked over. Colress fell forward on top of the cake that he had covered Maxie with.

 

While this was happening, Cyrus decided it would be a good time to find refuge in the nearest bathroom and clean the front of his shirt. He left through the ballroom door. Giovanni watched him leave and felt his foot step forward but before he could move, Ghetsis was at his ear again.

 

“So do you still agree to what we talked about earlier?” Ghetsis asked.

 

“Buh… What?” Giovanni burped.

 

“I’ll take this as a yes. Gimme your phone.”

 

“A’ight, he-ere.”

 

Ghetsis took Giovanni’s phone and held his own, more expensive phone next to it. He was getting Giovanni’s phone number and wasn’t being very stealthy about it but Giovanni was so drunk he didn’t notice. Ghetsis returned the phones to their correct places and smiled, obviously very satisfied.

 

“I’ll ring you tomorrow. Don’t forget, okay?”

 

Giovanni nodded, rolling his eyes. “Yeah, whatever, Mom.”

 

“I think you won’t regret it.”

 

“I need to, I need to take a piss. I’ll be rrrrrright back.”

 

Giovanni stumbled away from Ghetsis and out the door of the noisy ballroom. It so peaceful and quiet in the hall that Giovanni felt safe but the weird design of the carpet made his journey to the restroom a lot more difficult. He felt like puking. Eventually he made it, drunkenly crashing into the men’s room with a burp. He leaned forward into the sink closest to him and sighed. For a moment, it seemed like his head was alright and no longer spinning.

 

“...Mr. Sakaki?”

 

Giovanni looked up and found himself staring directly at the pale face of Cyrus. And, yep, there went his head- spinning again.

 

“Oh, it’s you. Flargus, right?”

 

Cyrus blinked. “I am Cyrus.”

 

“I’m sosssorry, Flargus,” Giovanni coughed. “I’m drunk as a grunk. I think Im’onna peep my pants.”

 

Cyrus looked around the empty restroom. “Do… Do you need, uh, help?”

 

Giovanni stood up a little straighter. “Listen, man, lemme tell you! Don’t drink! Don’t do drugs! Stay in school!”

 

“I’m twenty seven years old,” Cyrus said.

 

“You are like a bean. Hold on, wait…” Giovanni started digging in his jacket before pulling out a white oval shaped thing. He handed it to Cyrus.

 

Cyrus looked down at the object he held in his hand and looked back at Giovanni. “I’m sorry, is this a marzipan?”

 

“P-Press the side.”

 

Cyrus did as he was told and out popped a freakin’ knife. He made a little surprised noise and then closed it. Giovanni had given him a switchblade.

 

“Why… did you give me this?”

 

Giovanni laughed and shook his head. “Pshhh, you saw what happened in there. You need to defend yourself.”

 

“I don't think one would need a knife to stop a cake fight,” Cyrus replied thoughtfully, sliding the switchblade in his pants pocket anyway.

 

“You never know,” Giovanni said, swaying to the side.

 

Cyrus was quick to help him stay steady. “Do you need help getting back to your room?” he asked.

 

He was like a little angel or something.

 

“I need help in general,” Giovanni murmured.

 

That was the last thing he said before he blacked out.

 


 

BOOLOOLOOLO! BWALALALALA!

 

Giovanni rolled over, groaning and curling himself into a tiny ball. He was dreaming about Meowths breakdancing when his phone went off.

 

BOOLOOLOOLO! BWALALALALA! Peep!

 

Giovanni opened his eyes and looked straight at the ceiling. He knew that if he sat up, the hangover would come crashing over him, so he continued lying on top of the pile of pillows that had somehow formed on his bed. This was his more sedentary version of running away from his problems.

 

His cell phone rang a couple more times then stopped. Giovanni sighed, braced himself, then sat up to check who had called. He felt like he’d been used as a Hitmonchan’s punching bag. Holding his aching head with one hand, he used the other to grab his phone.

 

Fifty missed calls. Two text messages that said “a”. One that said “answer!!!!” And another that said “idgaf that ur drunk u need to answer! lmao”. The number was unknown.

 

Giovanni made a scrunched up face and grumbled “What the actual hell…”

 

The unknown number was calling again. Giovanni immediately answered.

 

“Bueno,” the mysterious caller shouted. “Who the fuck is this?”

 

“You called me,” Giovanni shouted back.

 

“Oh! Sakaki! You doin’ good?” the person asked in a cheery voice.

 

Ah. So that's who it was.

 

“Ghetsis? How on earth did you get my number?”

 

“Listen, dude, I’m sending someone to pick you all up. They'll be there soon so I hope you're ready. Everyone else is, apparently. I called.”

 

“What are you talking about?” Giovanni sighed. Could this guy get any more confusing?

 

“You're so forgetful!” Ghetsis chuckled. “I'm sending someone to bring you to my house. Remember? We talked about it last night.”

 

Giovanni could not recall a single thing that happened last night.

 

“Well,” Ghetsis continued, “you better get your luggage ready. Don't take too long cuz everyone is gonna be at the front of the hotel in an hour. I called Maxie and he's pretty much ready.”

 

“But- Ghetsis, I-”

 

“Come eat my cupcakes, baby!” a breathy voice shouted on the other end.

 

“Ooh, I’m coming, Col, wait! Sakaki! Go to the front in an hour! Be there or be square! AAH! Colress, you dirty little-”

 

And just like that, the call was over.

 

It was a damn nightmare. Giovanni sat and stared at his phone in disbelief. How could he have agreed to something so terrible, even while drunk? His big plan was to come to Unova, go to the party, sleep, maybe try weird Unovian food, and then go home. He didn’t come to make friends.

 

Giovanni’s hand clenched around his phone. He was going to Ghetsis Harmonia’s house. He was going to sit on Ghetsis Harmonia’s couch. He was most likely going to eat Ghetsis Harmonia’s food. The sad thing was… he let himself get involved in this.  

 

Giovanni got out of bed and began getting ready, sighing and kicking at the air the whole time. Once he had finished showering, putting stuff back into his suitcase, and trying to convince himself that this wasn’t going to be absolute hell, he left his room and returned his key to the lobby.

 

“Have a great day!” the person behind the counter said.

 

Giovanni grumbled in response.

 

He exited the building and found all the other bosses standing around, their suitcases and bags at their sides. Archie and Maxie had a reasonable amount of stuff for a couple. Lysandre had more luggage than the two of them combined. All Cyrus had was a tiny little blue suitcase with a bunch of stickers on it. Giovanni waved tiredly at everyone and stood right next to Cyrus.

 

“Hey,” Cyrus said. He spoke so softly Giovanni almost didn’t hear him.

 

“Hey to you too,” Giovanni replied with a weak smile.

 

Things suddenly felt a lot less worse.

Chapter Text

It was one of the thickest and longest ones they'd ever seen.

 

The size wasn't the only jaw dropping aspect of it; everyone was amazed at its purple-red color. It shimmered, glowing majestically in the sunlight. It looked wet almost, but they all knew that it was because of the slick protective coating that had been rubbed down on it. Obviously, the owner took great care of it.

 

“It's gonna be a tight fit,” Lysandre commented, looking at it struggle to push through.

 

“No, look,” Maxie gasped. “It's gonna make it!”

 

“It's needlessly huge,” Giovanni grunted, severely unimpressed. “If it wasn't so big, there wouldn't be any problems.”

 

By now, it was already in front of them.

 

“It smells weird,” Cyrus said quietly.

 

Archie clapped his hands and shouted, “We’re famous, you guys!”

 

Ghetsis had sent them a dang limousine.

 

The chauffeur of the vehicle popped out from behind the wheel and gave the group of men a low bow. Cyrus was the only one who bowed back, as everyone else was too shocked by the chauffeur’s appearance. He was dressed in all black and wore a mask over his mouth. When the strange driver started stuffing away their luggage, they immediately began talking in hushed voices.

 

“I’m a hundred percent sure that's a ninja,” Maxie whispered.

 

“Ninjas aren’t real, Max,” Archie insisted. “How could you believe that?”

 

“Only Ghetsis would send us this monstrosity,” Giovanni said, mostly to himself. He turned to face the other bosses. “Also, I'm guessing it was last night when he invited you all to his house?”

 

“I don't really remember him doing so,” Lysandre responded. “But he called me this morning and was very persuasive.”

 

“He has a pool,” Archie said.

 

“I know,” Giovanni sighed.

 

“And a million TVs!”

 

“I know,” Giovanni repeated, a little more weakly this time.

 

The ninja driver came up to them again and gestured to the limousine’s open doors. “You all… can get in… now,” he told them.

 

The bosses were really creeped out but they sure as hell weren't going to pass up the opportunity to ride a DANG FREAKIN’ LIMO. They all piled in, with Lysandre, Archie and Maxie sitting together on one big seat and Giovanni and Cyrus sitting on another seat across from them.

 

Giovanni and Lysandre had been in their fair share of limos before but this one stood out with how dark it was. Inside, there were no funky lights changing colors. You could hardly see anything out the windows. Archie waved goodbye to the tinted skyscrapers of Castelia City. Cyrus pretended he was in a space shuttle and when he landed, he’d be on a brand new planet.

 

“Do you know Ghetsis well?” he asked Giovanni.

 

“No, not at all,” Giovanni chuckled. “In fact, I think I’m making a huge mistake going to his house.”

 

“I thought you two were friends,” Cyrus said, his brow furrowing in confusion.

 

Giovanni was slightly insulted and he didn't even know how to respond. He needed to get his image together if people thought he and Ghetsis were friends. Giovanni shrugged. “I’m only familiar with Maxie and Archie,” he stated.

 

“Me too,” murmured Cyrus. “I don't know anyone else.”

 

“Well, I guess I'm acquaintances with you now,” Giovanni said.

 

Cyrus made this expression that was almost unreadable; his eyes looked a little nervous but he was smiling. He crossed his arms and leaned back. “Yes,” he said finally. “We are now acquainted. It only makes sense.”

 

The two of them sat together in a pleasant silence so innocent yet tense that even Maxie felt it- but he didn't say anything. He just smiled as he watched his normally shy friend look cute and happy.

 

When the limousine pulled out of the city and into unfamiliar territory, the bosses got a little frightened. They were being driven down a bumpy path in the middle of a forest. All they could see from the limousine’s windows was a dark ocean of gnarled trees.

 

“Just where does this man live?” Lysandre said in awe.

 

“If he kills us he can dump our bodies out there,” Archie whispered. “No one would find us and we’ll turn into bone dust.”

 

“ARCHIE!” Maxie yelped. “He's not going to do that? Right, Giovanni?”

 

“I don't know anymore,” Giovanni said, not even trying to comfort the trembling nerd. “I just don't know.”

 

The trees seemed to last forever. Nothing could be done to make the time go by faster because everyone was scared or already learning to accept their fate. It didn't help that it was so dark either. Suddenly, the forest started to thin out. Small patches of light fell through the spaces in the trees. Then- the bosses saw magnificence itself.

 

They had arrived at Ghetsis’ “house”.

 

It was a castle in the middle of an acres-wide grassy field that had no twisted looking forests but instead was home to flower patches and Leppa berry trees. The house was guarded by a very spiky iron gate that opened as soon as the bosses pulled up to it. The limousine drove up a stone path and stopped in front of Ghetsis’ front door.

 

The chauffeur put the limo on park and was about to tell the bosses to exit the vehicle when they all pushed their way out the doors. They had their mouths wide open, stumbling back to get a better view of this gargantuan beast of a house. Giovanni noted the three statues of the Hydreigon evolutionary line that stood proudly amongst perfectly rounded gardenia bushes and hydrangea trees. Bright green ivy snuck up the gray stone of Ghetsis’ castle, offering chubby little Sewaddles a place to climb and sleep.

 

Giovanni was so amazed that he didn't even realize that Ghetsis’ place was a thousand times better than his own.

 

The heavy front door opened slowly, revealing the man of the house.

 

Ghetsis did not look like someone who spent the previous night getting drunk and breaking tables. His hair was so thick and floofy he looked like a lush, beautiful green fart cloud; his usual three prongs of unruly hair were down and brushed aside. He was wearing a gauzy red kimono that he hadn't even bothered tying up, revealing to the bosses that he was not wearing a shirt under it and, yes, it was possible to have green chest hair. Thank Arceus he was wearing pants.

 

Ghetsis tucked a loose strand behind his ear, batted his eyelashes and smiled.

 

“Yo,” he said unceremoniously.

 

All the other bosses exchanged tired glances. They also exchanged a very annoyed and even more jealous “Uuuuuuughhhh…”

 

Cyrus, however, bowed and politely said, “Hello.”

 

Ghetsis snickered then raised his arms, his right hand hidden deep in his sleeve. “Welcome to my humble abode,” he laughed. “I've been waiting for you.”

 

He was descending slowly down the steps leading to his home when Giovanni made a low, angry tiny man growl.

 

“All this time we spent driving over here could’ve been spent sleeping, you know,” the Rocket boss huffed and puffed.

 

Ghetsis opened his mouth like he was going to say something but he just sighed dreamily and shook his head. “You are just too much,” was all he said as he pushed past Giovanni and started talking to the chauffeur.

 

Various suitcases and bags were dragged away to an unknown (but hopefully safe) place. Ghetsis cocked his head to the side, gesturing toward the open front door.

 

“Y’all want tea or something?” he offered, leading the crowd of tired bosses into his home.

 

“Do you have coffee?” Maxie asked.

 

“Sure,” Ghetsis said. “Anyone want coffee? You cravin’ a cup?”

 

“I crave death,” Giovanni grunted.

 

The inside of Ghetsis’ house was just as glorious as the exterior. The ceiling was so tall you could stack five Ghetsises (Ghetsi?) upright on each other and you still wouldn't be able to touch it. He had a chandelier in the foyer, a chandelier in the living room, and nobody would be shocked to find out if he even had a chandelier in the bathroom (he did).

 

“You've got a rad house, my guy!” Archie said.

 

“Now that is the understatement of the year,” Maxie responded, spinning around and taking everything in.

 

“The bastard’s got stained glass windows,” Giovanni whimpered. “In his house. This is where he lives. And he's got stained glass windows like it’s nothing.”

 

“This is way beyond bourgeois,” Lysandre wheezed. He was just another person whose wealth couldn't compare to Ghetsis Harmonia’s.

 

Cyrus bent over and adjusted his socks and asked Ghetsis if he had any tea.

 

Beautiful porcelain cups were brought out. They were purple and had gold leaf gilded into their cracks. Tiny flowers were carved into the steel handles; and in the middle of these flowers, a big “H”. Ghetsis himself preferred to drink out of a cracked white mug that said “I ASKED SANTA FOR A BETTER SON BUT ALL I GOT WAS THIS CUP” on it.

 

Once the bowls of sugar and cream were set out, Ghetsis poured everyone a few good steaming ounces of coffee (except Cyrus, who got a very fancy teabag dropped in his cup of hot water). Everyone sat on these nice squishy bar stools and inhaled the steam from their bean juice.

 

One thing that stood out, more than the decor and display of sickening wealth around them, was the number of Deinos crawling all over the place. There was a Deino in the sink. There were two rolling about on the floor, growling noisily. A Deino was tugging on a chewed up lace curtain. Giovanni wanted to say something but he realized he had a similar situation with Meowths back home.

 

Ghetsis Harmonia leaned against the kitchen counter, stirring sugar into his own mug of coffee and smiling proudly to himself.

 

“You really are good with interior design,” Maxie complimented. “Also is this coffee fair trade? Organic?”

 

“Yeah, whatever,” Ghetsis said. “I'm really quite pleased to see you all again. I spent my night tossing and turning with excitement (amongst other things), wondering when I was going to see my lovely group of men again and I spent all morning preparing a brunch for lunch.”

 

“Ghetsis, how could you have brunch for lunch?” Giovanni asked, disgustedly. “Brunch is brunch.”

 

Ghetsis shook his head and took a sip of coffee. “Sakaki, my dearest friend, you eat a brunch. I know the culture is different where you're from, so it might be hard for you to grasp this. Let me kindly explain-”

 

“You don’t have to. I know what brunch is. Brunch is a meal between breakfast and lunch,” Giovanni sighed, rubbing his eyes. “That's why it's called brunch.”

 

Ghetsis paused for a minute, deep in thought, then said, “You are misinformed. You can have brunch for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. You can even do a snack brunch.”

 

“It's a little past twelve now, Ghetsis, I think brunch was over an hour or two ago,” Lysandre offered.

 

Ghetsis scowled. “We’ll have brunch when I say so!” He slammed his mug down and glared at the offending giant gay lion man.

 

Lysandre decided he didn't want to get into it and raised his hands in defense. “Okay, okay. Sorry...”

 

It was quiet for a moment before Ghetsis crossed his arms and sighed, “Actually, I’m pretty hungry so let's go eat.”

 


 

Ghetsis leads his group of outcasts into this dining “room” (which could probably house a family of four comfortably within it) and sat them down at a long ass fancy table. Atop of it were tall stacks of tiny little sandwiches and a pitcher of some weird pink juice with Sitrus berry slices floating in it. Ghetsis, being the Ghetriarch, sat at one end and made Giovanni sit at the other. This was worse than the setup the night before, where Giovanni had to sit next to Ghetsis. Sitting across from someone is terrifying because:

 

It's really difficult not to look at them. Even if you do manage somehow to find a way to avoid looking at them, they still have the ability to look RIGHT AT YOU. Extra awkward eye contact.

 

Everybody sat down in appropriate order- Archie by Maxie on one side and Lysandre by Cyrus by Giovanni on the other. The two seats on Ghetsis’ left and right were empty, one for Colress and the other for..?

 

“Dy-a-a-ad!”

 

Without even turning around, Ghetsis immediately groaned. “Why must you show yourself before I call for you?”

 

N has come from the kitchen with a tray holding little bowls of soup. Colress followed behind him, slightly rugged looking in a bathrobe. N set the lil soups down and clapped his hands together, sighing, “Oh what a beautiful day, Dad, what a beau-ti-ful day.”

 

Ghetsis turned to Colress and hissed, “Why is he out? I thought I locked him up in his room last night!”

 

Colress shrugged. “You were so drunk last night you couldn’t lock any door, sweetheart, let alone his. He offered to help set the table so I let him.”

 

Ghetsis clenched his fist and thumped it on the table. “Damn it. I didn’t want him to get comfortable around my friends-”

 

The bosses shared this short tense moment of clenching their throats and butts. Friends? How could Ghetsis already consider them to be his “friends”? They didn’t even know his birthday!

 

Giovanni awkwardly coughed/gagged, “HHHHEY, WHAT’S THIS? I’LL HAVE SOME!” and gesticulated wildly toward the pitcher full of juice before grabbing it and pouring some for himself for Maxie and Cyrus. This was the cue for everyone to start eating like a normal happy family.

 

Archie tried speaking over the two mini sandwiches stuffed in his mouth. “Man, ah riri laig your houff,” he said to Ghetsis.

 

Surprisingly, Ghetsis understood this statement. “Thank you,” he responded. “You know, I could give you a tour of it, if you'd like.”

 

“Of what?” Maxie asked suspiciously, only catching the last bit of Ghetsis’ unusually kind (and weird sounding) offer.

 

“OF HIFF HOUFF, DUH!” Archie nearly shouted, absolutely surprised that Maxie wasn’t already in on their conversation.

 

Raising his voice a little to address everyone at the table, the eldest Harmonia declared, “After brunch! I'll show you guys my house!”

 

“Even me?” N gasped in delight.

 

“Absolutely positively not!” Ghetsis said, throwing a sandwich with all his strength at his own son.

 

Brunch ended too soon and everyone found themselves waddling behind Ghetsis, looking around as he led them down a long corridor lined with snoozing Deinos and clerestory windows. Cyrus looked out of one, staring at the garden outside; trying to figure out what one would have to accomplish to live in an actual castle . Maxie planted an encouraging hand on his shoulder and said telepathically, “C’mon, hon, let's hurry and follow along because my bowels are humming. I feel like a shook up soda can and I need to find out where the nearest loo is.”

 

The group of men stopped and looked up. At the end of the hall, above an archway leading to who knows where, was a gigantic painting of Ghetsis.

 

Lysandre let out a low whistle and said something gay and Kalosian like Quelle merveille.”

 

Isn’t my Ghetsy-poo haaaandsome?” Colress sighed, giving the man of the hour a hug.

 

Archie laughs. “You really are a fancy guy, Ghetsis. Like a king or something!”

 

Giovanni flinched.

 

Like a king or something!

 

Giovanni felt like puking. How could Archie say such a thing?

 

A king or something!

 

Everyone was falling under Ghetsis’ spell! The world was falling apart, crumbling around Giovanni as he witnessed the others ooh and ah, and maybe even woah, over that stupid painting.

 

A kiiiiiiiiiiing or soooooomethiiiiiiiii-

 

Giovanni stood as tall as he could and clenched his fists, posting the fuck up. “Enough milling about in this hallway!” he grumbled. “Show us something interesting for once!”

 

Ghetsis turned to face his accuser, hitting Lysandre in the face with his hair, and said, “Hmph! Fine. I think I’ve got something that will really... interest you, Sakaki.”

 

They followed him past the painting and found themselves at a sort of fork in the road. Ghetsis looked to his left then his right then shrugged and headed for the right, Colress dutifully at his side. Another hallway. Giovanni glanced at Cyrus who was already looking at him. Before they could make any sort of attempt at conversation, Maxie came between them and tugged at Giovanni’s sleeve.

 

“We’re going to die,” he said straightforwardly. “He’s leading us to his dark, slimy rape dungeon and we’re going to die in it.”

 

“Don’t say that,” Giovanni hissed. “You’re just letting the nervousness get to your head.” He shoved his hands down his pockets and harrumphed tiredly. “Besides, he wouldn’t be kind enough to kill us today. He’ll most likely keep us locked in there for months.”

 

“No,” Maxie whimpered. “I can’t even tell if you’re being sarcastic anymore. You’d know a lot about this sort of thing, wouldn’t you?” Maxie looked down at his reddening palms, chuckling defeatedly. “I can’t believe we’re going to die and-”

 

“You’re lagging behind, Max!” Archie shouted over his shoulder. “Hurry! We gotta see the interesting thing!”

 

Maxie, sobbing, stomped ahead.

 

Cyrus made this little amusing “hm” sound and Giovanni kinda/sorta/not really forgot he was even there. They looked at each other.

 

“I don’t think we’ll be killed,” Cyrus said. “I think… Ghetsis is trying to atone for something.”

 

Giovanni felt his breath hitch in his throat and it stayed that way as Cyrus walked on ahead of him.

 

The group stopped in front of a set of giant decorated doors. Everyone paused and looked at Ghetsis standing before them. He made finger guns at the door.

 

“S’been a while since I’ve been inside but Colress is always in here,” Ghetsis stated. “He kinda uses it as an impromptu study room since it’s soundproof.”

 

Maxie turned around and mouthed “SOUNDPROOF” at Giovanni.

 

“It is where we first fell in love,” Colress dreamily exhaled.

 

Ghetsis snapped his fingers before wrapping them around the doors’ handles and shouting abruptly, “Well! Let’s go in!”

He opened the door and the bosses were enveloped in light.

Chapter Text

The bosses stood at the front of a huge room with a hardwood floor so shiny and polished they could see themselves in it. At the back of the room, there was a stage with purple curtains. To their right- a few chairs sat lined up against the accented walls. To their left was a projector on a wheeled cart by a plain white door. Above them hung a silver chandelier (turned off as daylight was still pouring in from the windows) shaped like a Hydreigon.

 

The ceiling had a breathtaking fresco depicting a cloudy blue sky filled with fat Pokémon and even fatter angels tooting trumpets. They flew around a bursting sun that had Arceus (surrounded by a dozen Deinos, of course) in the center.

 

“This is so rad!” Archie yelled as he spun around, taking in the room.

 

“Thanks, dude,” said Ghetsis.

 

“This is just too cool!” Archie shouted, falling to his knees.

 

“Thanks, man,” said Ghetsis.

 

“Um… What is it?” Archie asked quietly.

 

“Well, I ‘spose it’s some sort of… dance hall,” Ghetsis explained. “I don't know, I've never really used it for that purpose. I just call it the ‘movie room’ because every now and then we set the projector up and-”

 

“It's like the Lumiose City Opera Ballet School,” Lysandre commented, “without the little ballerinas.”

 

There was a long pause.

 

“Not that I know anything about ballet,” he added with a cough.

 

Giovanni crossed his arms and looked at everyone as if he couldn't believe how stupid they were. “It’s a ballroom. Y’know, like the one at the hotel. The hotel with the rooms we had to pay for. You could've just thrown the party here instead of making us go to that noisy, overpriced shithole.”

 

Ghetsis looked incredibly offended. “Believe me, Sakaki, I wanted to!” he began to explain. “It's just that we were going through some major technical difficulties all week. It was N’s fault.”

 

“Nice, go ahead and blame your son,” Giovanni scoffed.

 

“I use this room as a backup lab every so often,” Colress piped up. “N was the one who brought me a Joltik instead of a Galvantula. You really can't clone those suckers.”

 

Giovanni just rolled his eyes and mumbled, “Tough luck.”

 

“Anyway! I’d like to show you all my study,” said Ghetsis. “There's something special in there…”

 

Maxie looked over at Giovanni and blinked out “Dungeon?” in Morse code. Giovanni blinked back “Probably.”

 

The inconspicuous white door to their left was opened; Ghetsis snuck his way in and everyone followed suit.

 

It was like being in an old prestigious museum. The brightness and pastel colors of the previous room contrasted sharply with the dark, earthy tones of the study. Bookcases filled to the brim with fat hardcover books reached the ceiling, touching the corners of a colorful glass dome that gave everything and everybody a rosy hue. The room was centered around a bronze statue of Atlas holding up the Earth. There were gross things floating around in jars sitting on shelves.

 

Lysandre was particularly fascinated by an ancient looking coffin encrusted with strips of gold and clusters of sparkling gemstones. Being a big, bulky and careless Westerner, he poked at it a little because fuck it.

 

The coffin trembled.

 

“What's inside this?” he asked Ghetsis, who had been watching his every move.

 

“I’d rather not say,” Ghetsis said.

 

Cyrus felt creeped out all of a sudden so he moved away from the coffin and accidentally bumped into Giovanni. It was terrible: Giovanni’s hand brushed against Cyrus’ butt. Did he even notice? Cyrus didn't know how to cope with the situation so he just crouched down onto the floor and held his head in his hands, hoping that doing that would make him disappear. It didn't.

 

“Something wrong, kid?” Giovanni asked.

 

“I-It is kind of warm in here,” Cyrus stuttered with a sniffle.

 

“That’s strange, I think it's kind of drafty,” Maxie said, trying to figure out what the heck his socially awkward friend was going on about.

 

“No, the boy is right,” Ghetsis declared, unaware that he was coming to Cyrus’ rescue. “She is awake.”

 

Before anyone could ask who the heck Ghetsis was talking about, there was a piercing screech and a heavy “thump”. The bosses were engulfed in a wide shadow. Maxie dove underneath the nearest desk and covered his eyes. Archie leapt into Lysandre’s arms. Both Cyrus and Giovanni gladly accepted their fate.

 

“BABY!” cried out Ghetsis, sounding like a giddy teenage girl rather than a grown man.

 

Maxie got up. Lysandre dropped Archie onto the floor. Giovanni sighed with disappointment, Cyrus with relief.

 

Ghetsis was making cutesy baby sounds at an extremely plump Zweilous and pinching at each of its nubby snouts.

 

“The HELL is that?!” Maxie shouted.

 

“Her name is Meredith and she's my sweet baby angel,” Ghetsis cooed, still talking to the thing like it was a child. “She's supposed to be sleeping, though. Don't know who woke her up. Now she's just gonna ask for food.”

 

“Have you ever even seen a Zweilous before?” Colress asked, his glasses glaring in the light as he adjusted them.

 

Maxie felt the question to be very condescending. He made an annoyed face and blew a few strands of his tousled red hair away from his eyes. “I dunno, it just looks like an obese Zubat to me.”

 

Archie took Maxie in a very tight embrace and whispered, “Body positivity, Maxie. Body positivity.”

 

Meredith the Zweilous puffed a breath of hot air directly at Giovanni, who rubbed his temples and grunted with frustration. “And just like that- my hangover is back!”

 

“She likes you,” Ghetsis claimed. “She wants you to rub her chin.”

 

“I’d rather not,” Giovanni refused. He then got a faceful of scaly snout. “She smells.”

 

“She wants to give you a lil dragon kiss,” Ghetsis laughed, as if it was the most adorable thing in the world. “See? Look at that.”

 

“Please, get her away from me-”

 

“Just a tiny little one…”

 

“SERIOUSLY, I DON’T WANT-”

 

“Only a smooch-”

 

“AAAGGGGGHHH!”

 

And just like that, Giovanni was doubled over and wishing he had an Old Fashioned laced with arsenic in his hand and down his throat.

 

“Boss, are you okay?” Maxie gasped.

 

“He's dead,” Archie screamed. “My aniki is dead!”

 

“The fucking thing bit me,”  Giovanni yelled.

 

Ghetsis dismissed this statement with a wave of his hand. “T’was but a nip. I've been through way worse; trust me, that was nothing.”

 

“My leg hurts like shit,” Giovanni shouted from his place on the ground. “I need lidocaine. And a knife. Amputate it for me or let me do seppuku, at least.”

 

“I'm not letting you commit sudoku, Sakaki,” said Ghetsis. He turned around and snapped his fingers. “Colress, we need ice! Her teeth didn't break the skin, anyway. Also, bring the you-know-what.”

 

“Right away, hun!” Colress exclaimed before dashing off.

 

“Kill me,” Giovanni begged.

 

After a few minutes of Giovanni pleading to be put to death and Ghetsis defending his “poor innocent baby” Zweilous, Colress returned with an ice pack in the shape of a Vanillite and a bottle with contents mysterious and unknown.

 

Ghetsis bent over to check Giovanni’s leg and chuckled. “No wonder she bit you,” he laughed. “She was hungry. Check out these babies. Honk honk. You run or something?”

 

“Leave me alone,” Giovanni groaned, trying to shoo him away.

 

“Here, it's the least I can do,” Ghetsis said, in a more sincere voice. “Open your mouth a little, Sakaki. Just calm down and eat it.”

 

“Wait, no- Maxie, they're chloroforming me! Don’t let them! Oh, wow, the world is like… rainbows. Rainbows and stuff, dude. Wooooah. Cyrus… Spaghetti…. Ghetsis?”

 

For the second time in less than twenty four hours, Giovanni Sakaki blacked out.

 


 

“Maka, say ‘Hello’.”

 

“Beep.”

 

“No. He-llo. Say ‘Hello, Mr. Mustache’.”

 

Giovanni’s eyes blinked open. He was sitting in the most colorful, childish hellhole of a room he had ever seen. He turned his head, causing a paper handlebar mustache to fall onto his lap.

 

This was the strangest torture chamber he'd ever woken up in.

 

Some malnourished looking kid with a Darumaka in his arms was sitting right in front of him. It took Giovanni a moment to realize that he was still at Ghetsis’ place and that that was the idiot’s creepy lettuce leaf of a son. His name’s M, right? Or N? Eminem? Skittles? The kid stared at him with giant, buggy eyes; they looked like little green marbles floating around in the middle of porcelain plates. Giovanni cleared his throat.

 

“Hey, could you tell me wh-”

 

N immediately shook his head and laughed. “I don't like this game anymore. Let's play Floor is Lava. One, two, three, GO!”

 

“Look, kid, I just need to find your dad and tell him I'm leaving.”

 

“You're burning,” N stated simply, before jumping on a giant jigsaw puzzle piece. The Darumaka hopped after him.

 

Giovanni shrugged, sprung up and settled himself on a flat pillow. His leg felt all gross and staticky and numb.

 

“Could you please tell me where your dad is?” he asked a little more sternly this time.

 

His balance was terrible- he toppled over and rolled right onto the ground.

 

“Game over!” N cried with delight. “You touched the lava.”

 

“I'm sorry,” Giovanni coughed out, trying to breathe.

 

“It's okay,” N said reassuringly. “It was just a game.”

 

Just then, Cyrus walked into the room holding a tray with cookies. He paused to look at Giovanni then handed the tray to N, who placed it atop a stack of books and puzzles and started eating.

 

“What time is it?” Giovanni asked.

 

“It's about to be nine,” Cyrus replied. “We ate dinner and watched a movie.”

 

Giovanni sighed a sigh that lasted probably a whole minute and rubbed his aching forehead. Cyrus joined him on the floor.

 

“How do you feel?” he asked.

 

“Just sore. I really ought to get home,” Giovanni said. “I've definitely overstayed my welcome.”

 

“Ghetsis doesn't seem to mind. He, uh, actually wants to have a word with you,” Cyrus said in his usual monotonous voice.

 

“I guess I'll see to it,” Giovanni grumbled, getting up slowly.

 

Cyrus stood up first, however, and thrust out his hands. Giovanni looked down at the pearlescent object that Cyrus had cradled in his palms. Giovanni inhaled sharply. It was his switchblade.

 

“Where'd you find that?” Giovanni asked, genuinely confused. He raised an eyebrow and tried to read the expression on Cyrus’ quickly reddening face. He added jokingly, “You mug me in my sleep or something?”

 

Cyrus’ eyes grew wide. “N-No,” he blurted out frantically. “You gave it to me last night in the hotel restroom.”

 

“Gave you what?! ” Giovanni wheezed as he recoiled in shock, looking around to see if N was listening (he wasn't).

 

“The knife,” Cyrus whispered, also looking at N.

 

“Oh. OH,” Giovanni laughed nervously. “Oh, man. I don't remember doing that.” He ran a shaky hand through his hair and tried not to make eye contact with Cyrus.

 

“I'm here to give it back,” Cyrus said. “I'm very grateful and it's a lovely item, but it was given to me under unusual circumstances therefore I cannot accept it.”

 

“Keep it, kid,” Giovanni replied, trying to seem apathetic about it when, truthfully, he was dying of embarrassment inside. “Besides, you need it more than I do. I gotta go.”

 

Giovanni sidestepped the very confused younger man and sprinted out the door. He rushed down the pitch-black corridor into what seemed to be the abyss.

 

Ha ha. What did I even think he was talking about? Oh, Gio, you idiot. You're fucked, buddy. This is what happens when you go years without a good, healthy sex life- er, SOCIAL LIFE. SOCIAL. I'm going insane, there's like mustard gas or something in this house and I'm going to die.

 

“So,” a low voice said from somewhere in the dark. “You do run.”

 

Giovanni skidded to a halt and stood staring straight ahead of him. He looked around. He was in that hallway from earlier- the one with the windows and that stupid painting. It was raining outside. Lightning flashed and Giovanni found himself face to face with Ghetsis.

 

Giovanni was 80% sure he peed his pants a little.

 

“Ghetsis!” he spat. “What the hell happened to me?”

 

Ghetsis smiled and put his hands on his hips. “That's what I’d like to know. We watched Pink Flamingos, ate pizza and cookies, and had a marvelous time,” he said with a snicker. “I didn't know the big bad leader of Team Rocket was such a lightweight.”

 

Giovanni grew furious. He grabbed Ghetsis by the front of his robe and yanked him forward. The height difference between them didn't do a good job of making Ghetsis feel threatened.

 

“You must’ve roofied me or something, you prick,” Giovanni snarled. “Now my mind’s all fucked up. You owe me a plane ticket home.”

 

“Hands off the tits, Sakaki,” Ghetsis said, completely unperturbed.

 

Giovanni realized that he actually was making contact with the other man’s bare chest and immediately let go of him. He took a few steps back and tried not to shiver with disgust.

 

“Anyway, man, look, you were hurt and I felt bad,” Ghetsis continued. “I wasn't gonna let you suffer. I'm a good person, after all.”

 

“Yeah right. Well, I want to go home. Where’s my suitcase? Show me the way out of here.”

 

Ghetsis clicked his tongue and shook his head. “The weather is looking bad. Why don't you come have a cookie or two with the rest of us?” he offered.  “Until it stops raining?”

 

Giovanni crossed his arms like a moody teenager. “I’d rather not.”

 

“At least join me for a Leppa berry cider.”

 

“No. Stop tempting me.”

 

“Airport’s probably closed, anyway. It's pissing buckets outside, comprendes?”

 

“Fine, fine,” Giovanni sighed, giving up. “I'll join you.”

 


 

Everyone was sitting around a coffee table and laughing, discussing the famous Unovian supermodel Elesa’s recent raunchy photoshoot and debating whether the world would end due to floods or volcanoes.

 

“This is my first time in Unova,” Lysandre confided to the others.

 

“Same,” Maxie agreed as he took a sip from his cup of cider. “It's pretty exciting. Archie and I hardly take vacations.”

 

Archie shrugged. “That's because you don't know how to swim, Maxie.”

 

Maxie nearly choked on his drink. “Not all vacations need to involve swimming!”

 

“You guys can swim in our pool all you want,” Colress offered.

 

Just then, Ghetsis and Giovanni joined them with Cyrus arriving shortly after.

 

Giovanni sat on the edge of the settee sofa Lysandre was lying on. “Are you guys really gonna go swimming right now?” he asked, raising an eyebrow and reaching over to grab a cup of cider. “It's pouring like hell outside.”

 

Ghetsis joined Colress on a very soft looking loveseat. “Oh… I guess I forgot to tell you,” he said.

 

“What?” Giovanni mumbled, suddenly nervous.

 

“Ghetsis and Colress have invited us to spend the night here,” Maxie explained.

 

Giovanni set his drink back down and gave Maxie a look that screamed tragically disappointed father. “Huh? They what?” he scoffed in disbelief.

 

“It really is an offer we can't refuse,” Maxie continued, looking a little apologetic. “We can stay for free and besides- the architecture is great.”

 

So much for being scared of secret dungeons, Giovanni thought to himself. “What a sudden change of mind,” he spat bitterly.

 

“Colress said we could have pancakes in the morning,” Archie said. He wiggled in his seat with excitement. “I hardly ever get to eat those things.”

 

“Et tu, Archie?” Giovanni asked sarcastically, holding a hand to his heart in mock agony.

 

“You ought to join us,” Maxie suggested. He waited a moment before adding, “You won't have to stay at a hotel waiting to go home in the morning.”

 

“We have an extra room,” Colress chimed in. “There's definitely space for you.”

 

“Please, aniki!” Archie begged. “You should join us! Even Lysandre and Cyrus are staying! It's gonna be so cool.”

 

“What?” Giovanni perked up, suddenly interested. “He- um, they are?”

 

“Yes,” Ghetsis cut in. “There's only one room left and it has your name written all over it, Sakaki.”

 

Giovanni felt put on the spot. The sleepy cogs in his brain started turning. He could, in a way, understand why Maxie and Archie were staying: they were a couple of “youngsters” who probably wanted to be more adventurous in life. But what about Cyrus and Lysandre? Was Lysandre just a trust fund techie who had connections to make? Cyrus was unreadable. Maybe they were just trying to be polite. Giovanni couldn't imagine why anyone would be willing to sleep under the same roof as Ghetsis. Everyone must've been sharing a lapse in judgment.

 

They were all bored, but not bored and unwilling to fraternize like Giovanni was.

“I am going to go organize my belongings,” Cyrus said, rising from his spot slouching against the wall.

 

“I'll help you,” Colress responded, leading him back toward the dark hallway that Giovanni had bumped into Ghetsis in. There was a flicker and then the hall was lit up in a soft golden glow.

 

“I guess we should too,” Maxie said, trying to stifle a yawn. He looked over at Giovanni with a hopeful smile. “You should really consider staying, boss.”

 

“I wouldn't count on it,” Giovanni replied, “and don’t call me that.”

 

As everyone got up to check out their rooms, Ghetsis snuck his way over to Giovanni and loomed over him like a smug Arbok. “Why don't you come with me to check out the room?” he asked.

 

“Just give me my stuff,” said Giovanni, defeatedly.

 

“It happens to be in the room… y’know, the only empty one left. Let's go get it- then you can leave.”

 

They walked over to the hallway and, after taking a good amount of steps, stood together in the middle of the anteroom at the end of it. There were six regular sized doors and at the back: an unnecessarily wide and tall door, perfect to accommodate a certain tall, green nuisance. Ghetsis opened the (normal) door that was closest to it. A Deino scrambled out and slid down the hall.

 

“That was Rudder,” Ghetsis explained. “He likes sleeping in beds, on his back an’ everything, like a human. Anyway- come look. I think you'll like it.”

 

Giovanni took a deep breath, remembered everything he knew about booby traps, and then peeked inside.

 

His suitcase was on the floor by a cushioned seat. Giovanni was impressed by the decor of the room; it was pretty simple, save for a painting of a berry orchard hung up on the wall and a vase of flowers sitting atop a dresser. In the center of the room was a plush looking bed with trees carved into its mahogany frame. Ghetsis sat down on it.

 

“Whatcha think?” he asked. He pointed at a door on the left side of the room. “All the bedrooms have bathrooms in ‘em, but this one has the biggest after mine.”

 

“I think I'm on my way out,” Giovanni answered sharply as he picked his suitcase up. “I'm going home.”

 

“Airport’s closed, remember? Where will you stay in the meantime?”

 

“Maybe a hotel-”

 

“I thought those were needlessly expensive?” Ghetsis was being smart again. He tilted his head to the side, pretending to be oh-so-confused.

Giovanni looked away. “You all don't have capsule hotels here in Unova?”

 

“Free room versus overpriced sleeping pod. Think about it. Not good at spending, huh, Sakaki?”

 

Giovanni began to review his choices. He'd participated in his fair share of organ harvesting for the black market to know which direction staying here could take. Buuuuut, Ghetsis had a point (ugh). One night wasn't a big deal. It's just that Giovanni did not trust him at all.

 

If he were to kill me- or something- he couldn't do it without waking up everyone else. Ah, but what if he kills them first and saves me for last? Though, he's not as ripped as me, so I could overpower him, right? Right? Maybe I should kill him first and then- no, that's fucked, he has a kid and Colress. Unless, I take out them first and then him next and- BUT WHAT IF THE ZWEILOUS GETS ME AGAIN? This is ridiculous. I've made a mistake. My life consists of mistake after mistake but this right here is the BIGGEST, TALLEST, GREENEST mistake I'm ever going to make. I sure do wish I was at home.

 

It's better to be predictably bored at home than to have to interact with unpredictable people, isn't it?

 

Giovanni suddenly thought about what Cyrus said earlier that day, after lunch. “Ghetsis is trying to atone for something.”

 

“You alright there?” Ghetsis asked. “You're sweating.”

 

“I’LL DO IT,” Giovanni shouted. “I mean- I'll stay.”

 

Ghetsis perked up. His eye went wide. “You will?!” he exclaimed.

 

“YES,” Giovanni continued yelling. “I’VE GOT NOTHING TO LOSE!” Giovanni collected himself and cleared his throat. “I'm… only staying for the night though.”

 

Ghetsis started bouncing up and down on the bed, causing its springs to creak in pain. “This is fantastic,” he said.

 

Archie appeared at the door. “What’s the big commotion?”

 

“I'm staying the night,” Giovanni explained in a surprised voice, as if he couldn't believe it himself.

 

“Woah… How?” Archie’s jaw dropped. He stood still for a second then catapulted himself across the hall, back into the room he and Maxie were staying in. “HE’S DOING IT, MAX, HE’S STAYING!” he hollered.

 

“HE’S WHAT?” a nasal screech pierced the air.

 

Five seconds later, Maxie and Archie tumbled back into the room.

 

“I can't believe it,” Maxie said. He turned to Ghetsis. “How'd you do it? He's impossible to persuade.”

 

“I'm not,” Giovanni grumbled.

 

“Come to bed, Ghet,” Colress called from somewhere in the corridor.

 

“In a bit, darling. We've just got ourselves another guest.”

 

Colress quickly appeared at the door and looked very impressed. “You convinced him?”

 

“Why do you all keep asking that?” sighed Giovanni. “I'm not that stubborn.”

 

Maxie peered at Giovanni over his glasses as if to ask “Really?”

 

Giovanni crossed his arms and turned away.

 

That's all that needed to be said.

 

A small cough came from the door. Cyrus was standing behind Colress, looking inside at everyone. They all stared back.

 

“I'm sorry to interrupt,” he said, “but I'm going to sleep now.”

 

“Did we wake you up?” Giovanni asked. He felt guilty.

 

“Oh. No, but I-”

 

“WOULD YOU ALL PLEASE SHUT UP?” came the roar of an angry Kalosian lion man from the hall. “I’M TRYING TO FUCKING SLEEP!”

 

It got uncomfortably quiet. Everyone then parted to their designated rooms. Lysandre went and ruined the fun (one of his many talents). Ghetsis hung around by the door.

 

“Thanks for staying,” he murmured.

 

“Whatever,” Giovanni said, beginning to unpack. “I'm leaving at six o'clock sharp. As soon as the sun comes up.”

 

Ghetsis smirked and nodded. “Yeah, yeah, I know. I can get one of the Deinos to come wake you up,” he offered.

 

“Nooooo thanks,” Giovanni replied. He gave Ghetsis a very dismissive and very Kantonese nod of the head. “I'll be catching my Z’s now.”

 

“Sure thing, man. Good night.”

 

Once Ghetsis left, Giovanni fell back on the bed with a deep sigh.

 

He felt his eyelids get heavy. The world was quiet for the first time in a while, except for the soft music that was coming from the room next to his. It couldn't have been Lysandre, because even though Giovanni didn't know his exact location, he did know his shouting came from somewhere across the hall. It was most likely Cyrus.

 

Giovanni couldn't tell what he was listening to. He felt his breathing slow down and wondered if Drowzees wandered freely in Unova like they did in Kanto. The more he thought about it, the more he realized that there weren't Drowzees in Unova. They have those little pink Pokémon- the fat ones called Moomoos or whatever.

 

As the song coming from next door ended, Giovanni fell into a well-deserved deep sleep.

Chapter Text

“Ooooh.”

 

Cyrus blurted out, “Hm?” in his sleep. He rolled over. He was still stuck in a very peaceful dream in which he was a farmer tugging tiny little Maxies out of the dirt.

 

Ooooooh….”

 

Cyrus was now wide awake. He blinked a few times then looked around the room. It was still nighttime. Could it have been the wind?

 

“Ooh, yesssss.”

 

Cyrus immediately sat up. Nope. That was definitely not the wind. It was too humanlike, too close to sounding like it was forming words. Cyrus gulped. Could it be... a ghost?

 

“This house is perfect grounds for a haunting,” Cyrus whispered to himself, sliding out of bed and falling onto the rug underneath it. He crawled his way to the door and pressed his ear against it.

 

“OOOOH, ARCEUS, FUCK YES-!”

 

Meanwhile in the next room, Giovanni was angrily tossing and turning in his bed; he'd been woken up by the same noises Cyrus heard, but as he was closer to the source of it, he heard it extra loud. It was coming from somewhere in the back of the hallway. Giovanni felt nauseous.

 

Of course. Of course it was coming from Ghetsis’ room.

 

He checked his watch: four in the morning. So much for getting up well rested and ready to leave at six. He held a pillow to his face.

 

Why must these people be this way? Is this some sort of Unovian thing? They have no manners- no decency. Why must they fuck so loudly at four in the morning? Nobody does this. Are they even human?

 

Giovanni felt like he was going to have an aneurysm.

 

“C’mon, Col, can't you go in a little further than that?”

 

“That's as much as I can fit in there.”

 

“Try harder- THERE!”

 

Then came the squelching-

 

That was enough. Giovanni sprung up out of bed and began to search frantically through his suitcase. His hands were shaking so much he could hardly open the damn thing.

 

“I'm going to get my tie,” he hissed, blind with rage, “and hang myself with it.”

 

“OH- AAAAAAAAAHHH, FUCK ME, COLRESS, DADDY-”

 

Giovanni thrust his tie into the air and begged his mother, his Meowths, and Silver for forgiveness. He was heading toward the bathroom when he heard a door close in the hallway. Figuring it was Maxie getting up to complain, Giovanni stuffed his tie into his pocket and went to join him.

 

Much to his surprise it wasn't the speckled-and-bespectacled nerd at all. It was Cyrus. He was crouched over, looking at the screen of a tiny black box he had in his hands. Giovanni felt embarrassed now.

 

“Hey there,” he said, wincing at how awkward he sounded.

 

Cyrus just nodded, too focused on whatever he was doing.

 

“It's hard to sleep with them making all those noises, huh?” Giovanni asked, trying to be as casual as possible.

 

“Yes,” Cyrus said, eyes widening as the contraption he was holding started beeping.

 

Giovanni was thankful they were in the dark, because he felt himself go red. “It's really unacceptable for it to be happening at this time of night,” he went on. “There goes my precious two hours of sleep.”  

 

“According to the reading on my tracker,” Cyrus said, “they're angry. The electromagnetic field meter’s gone red.”

 

“Uh, what?”

 

“The ghosts,” Cyrus answered without missing a beat. “They're not Pokémon. Human. The thermometer is picking up a lot of heat…”

 

Giovanni wanted to mention how sex was literally going on in the room ten feet away from them but he realized that Cyrus was being serious and he genuinely thought ghosts were flying around and messing with him. All Giovanni could say was: “Yeah, well, I definitely feel creeped out.”

 

“I’M GONNA NUT!”

 

“They must be really upset,” Cyrus gasped softly.

 

Does he really not know what's going on in there?   Giovanni wondered. He didn’t feel like crushing anyone's dreams that night. He just laughed awkwardly and started sneaking back into his room.

 

“I guess I'll catch up on my sleep,” he said. “Tell me how the, uh, ghost hunting goes.”

 

“I will,” Cyrus responded, standing up straight. Giovanni hadn’t realized how tall he was.

 

They continued to stare at each other. Giovanni was already a few steps in his room and he didn't even close the door. He kept looking at Cyrus, trying to think of a word that described him best.

 

Naive? Innocent? Or just… very friendly?

 

Giovanni forgot he was actually in the middle of interacting with another human being and went “Hm. Mmm…”

 

Cyrus gave him a very small smile. “Good night,” he said.

 

Giovanni, being the smooth operator he was, unintentionally slammed the door shut. He was going to open it and apologize but instead he just stumbled back into bed, uttering curses at himself.

 

He could hardly sleep.

 


 

It was a beautiful morning. The sun was shining through the wispy linen curtains. The Pidoves were cooing. Colress was knocked out cold. How lovely. Everything was coming up Ghetsis.

 

Ghetsis got up out of bed and sauntered around his room, searching for a pair of pants to wear as he just remembered he had guests over for the first time in a very long time. Once (half) dressed, he (unwillingly) slipped on his robe (because he wanted his guests to think he had at least one ounce of modesty). He slipped out the door and into the hall. It seemed like everyone was still asleep, despite it being eight in the morning. Shameful!

 

In the kitchen, he made himself a cup of tea then set up a plate of honey and those shitty, hard, and phallic almond cookies. Oh, the sophistication- it was killing him. Why wasn't anyone awake to be sophisticated with him? Their loss.

 

Ghetsis could tell this was going to be a good day. He was dipping his stupid almond cookies in his tea, trying to think of plans, of ways to entertain his guests, when one of them joined him in the kitchen. It was Giovanni, looking rather disheveled and stressed out.

 

“Good morning,” Ghetsis said.

 

“Hey,” Giovanni replied tiredly, “I was just going to-”

 

“Does taking everyone to Nimbasa City sound like a good idea?” Ghetsis asked, cutting Giovanni off. “There’s a park there with a Ferris wheel. I haven’t been on it in forever.”

 

“What?” Giovanni scoffed. He shook his head. “No, listen, I’m-”

 

“But it’s soooo nearby.” Ghetsis pouted. “Don’t you want to go on a Ferris wheel?  Do they even have those where you’re from?”

 

“Please, just listen to me.” Giovanni set his hands down on the kitchen counter, trying to resist the urge to smack Ghetsis upright the head. He took a few deep breaths before saying, “I’ve got to leave, alright? I hope they’ve still got tickets home. I have no idea how things work here.”

 

Ghetsis nodded and sipped at his cup of tea. It was quiet for a moment.

 

“I think you’d like the Ferris wheel,” he said at last.

 

Giovanni sighed angrily. He felt like he was dealing with a child. Even Silver wasn’t like this when he was younger.

 

“I really don’t like Ferris wheels,” Giovanni said.

 

“That’s preposterous. Everyone likes Ferris wheels. It’s a giant wheel. People like oversized things, trust me I’d know.”

 

Giovanni took a deep breath. “No, you don’t know,” he argued, “and you don’t get it- Ferris wheels are stupid and pointless. You’re stuck on them for twenty minutes and during those entire twenty freakin’ minutes, you stare out the window just thinking about how you could’ve been doing literally anything else. You couldn’t been shooting targets, you could’ve been eating those fried dough things that look like little piles of shit covered in powdered sugar-”

 

“Funnel cake,” Ghetsis cut in.

 

“Yes, that. You could have been eating funnel cake. But no, you can’t do that because you’re on a Ferris wheel. How dare you assume that I’d like such a thing! How dare you even invite me to go on a Ferris wheel!”

 

Ghetsis looked at Giovanni up and down and took a very noisy sip from his now lukewarm cup of tea. The sip seemed like it lasted for an hour. Finally, Ghetsis put his empty cup back on the countertop and giggled to himself.

 

“What?” asked Giovanni.

 

“Your zipper’s down, man.”

 

Giovanni, having had enough, fled back down the hall.

 


 

 

Cyrus and Maxie were looming over Archie, who was still in sleeping peacefully in bed.

 

“You know… he still counts Mareep in his sleep,” Maxie whispered.

 

“That wasn't you?” Cyrus whispered back.

 

“No, that’s immature,” Maxie replied, fixing his glasses. “I count Ampharos.”

 

Just then, Giovanni barged into the room, obviously upset. He started pacing around.

 

“Huh, I thought you left,” Maxie said.

 

“The man’s insane,” Giovanni fumed. “He’s completely insane.”

 

Maxie sat on the bed and began channeling his inner therapist. “Who?” he asked.

 

“Ghetsis, of course. I didn’t get any sleep last night because of him and now he has the nerve to invite me to go on a Ferris wheel-”

 

“Oooh, I love those things,” Maxie interrupted.

 

“No, you don’t get it. I was trying to ask him how I’m supposed to get home and it was like he didn’t even hear me. He just kept asking me to go with him to some park with some stupid wheel.”

 

“He asked only you to go with him?” Maxie investigated. “Nobody else? Uh… Sounds like a date to me, boss.”

 

Giovanni shook his head in disgust. “Damn it, Maxie! No, he said he was taking everyone.”  

 

“Well, he didn’t ask me!”

 

“He asked me,” Cyrus spoke up all of a sudden.

 

Giovanni hadn’t noticed he was there. “H-He did?”

 

“He did?” repeated Maxie. “You never said anything about that!”

 

“I guess I wasn't exactly asked. He and  Colress only mentioned something about a Ferris wheel,” Cyrus mumbled, his face turning pink. “It was before dinner, when they offered me to stay… They hadn’t told you guys yet.”

 

Maxie was freaking out. “Wait- so you got asked to stay first? Like he asked you before he asked us?”

 

“Yes..?” Cyrus looked confused.

 

“Boss, come with me,” Maxie squeaked as he jumped up and dragged Giovanni out into the hall. He shut the door behind them.

 

“You look sick,” Giovanni stated bluntly. “Need your inhaler?”

 

Maxie was trying to steady himself against the wall. “I was right, boss, I was right the whole time,” he wheezed. “I knew it.”

 

“What the hell are you going on about?”

 

Maxie stood up straight. “Don’t you think that it’s odd that those two ask Cyrus first out of all of us?”

 

“I don’t see what you’re getting at.”

 

Maxie looked around frantically before whispering, “He’s single.”

 

“Really? Uh- I mean, wait, I still don’t understand.”

 

“He’s single, he’s here alone,” Maxie said, counting on his fingers, “he’s also the youngest, and the door to his room is the only one with a lock that doesn’t even work. Boom. They’re perverts, Gio.”

 

“But what about Lysandre? He’s here alone as well.”

 

“Don’t deny the truth, boss. He wasn’t the first they asked to stay. His door locks fine. And look at him, he’s buff as hell. They couldn’t get him even if they both tried.”

 

“Shit.” Giovanni held his hand to his face. “You’re right. You are so right.”

 

Maxie clutched his chest. “I can’t believe it. I have to go to that Ferris wheel.”

 

“You’re kidding.”

 

“They probably foiled their plan last night and today is the perfect day to strike again,” Maxie rambled on. “The ‘Ferris wheel’ is probably code for something else. They’re gonna drive off and murder Cyrus right out there in that forest around the house. How could Ghetsis even ask if you wanted to go on a Ferris wheel if you’re leaving today? That was his plan. Ask you, you say no, and they don’t seem shady to the rest of us when Cyrus mentions something about going.”

 

“I hate Ferris wheels even more now,” Giovanni mumbled, staring into space.

 

“Boss, you have to stay.”

 

“What?” Giovanni snorted. “Why?”

 

“At least til it’s all over. Archie and Lys don’t know about this,” Maxie said, looking rather shy, “and I don’t think I could save Cyrus from being killed on my own.”

 

Giovanni leaned against the wall. He hardly even knew Cyrus but could he truly live with himself if the kid got murked out in the middle of nowhere?

 

“I’ll do it,” Giovanni agreed.

 

“Really?!” Maxie shouted. “Thank you. I can’t believe this! You're not so cold after all, huh?”

 

Giovanni wanted to argue against that last statement but was interrupted by a door slamming from somewhere behind him.

 

“Pancakes,” a sleepy voice said.

 

Maxie and Giovanni looked over and saw Colress shuffling down the hall. His normally perky strands of blue hair were flaccid and brushed aside. He was wearing what seemed to be the world’s most fluffy pair of slippers... ever.

 

“Hey, guys,” he said with a small yawn. “Mornin’.”

 

“HEEEY, DUDE,” Maxie said back. Giovanni remembered that acting casual wasn't Maxie's forte.

 

“I'm gonna make pancakes,” Colress sniffled. “Be right back…”

 

Giovanni didn't say anything. Maxie couldn't say anything- he looked like he was going to faint. Colress was gone. The conversation about Cyrus’ potential murder that day could not be continued, as the poor man himself finally appeared in the hall with Archie at his side.

 

“I heard ‘pancake’,” Archie declared, looking extremely alert, “I know I did.”

 

“I might have one,” Cyrus said with a shrug.

 

Maxie patted Giovanni on the back then led Archie to the kitchen.

 

It was just Cyrus and Giovanni.

 

“Did you find another flight?” Cyrus asked.

 

“I think I'll leave later,” Giovanni replied. “After the Ferris wheel.”

 

Cyrus’ face lit up. “You're going after all?”

 

“Yes,” Giovanni answered, weakly. “Uh, Maxie is too.”

 

“I’ve never been on one,” said Cyrus.

 

“They’re not that great,” Giovanni admitted. He felt like a downer saying that so he cleared his throat and added, “Well, uh, at least the ones I’ve been on.”

 

A great buttery smell flooded the hall.

 

“Oh,” Cyrus hummed. “I forgot about that.” He smiled at Giovanni. “Want to go?”

 

Holy fuck, why is he smiling at me? I don't deserve it.

 

Giovanni was following Cyrus into the kitchen and he didn't even realize it.

 

To everyone's surprise, Lysandre was already seated at the kitchen counter. He looked terrible; his frizzy red hair stuck out even more than it usually did so he ended up looking like a big angry sunflower.

 

“Lys, what happened to you?” Archie asked.

 

“No sleep,” the maned man grunted hoarsely. “Could not get any.”

 

“I thought you prided yourself on getting those perfect nine hours,” Maxie remarked as he hopped up onto an unreasonably tall bar stool.

 

“I do but how could I? You all decided to congregate outside my room and speak loudly of fairy wheels,” Lysandre complained.

 

“What? Hairy wheels?” Archie asked. Colress set a very fat pancake down in front of him, to which he said, “Oh man! I mean, thank you.”

 

“Fairy wheels,” Lysandre corrected him (or so he thought).

 

“Ferris wheel? Do you mean Ferris wheel?” Maxie snorted.

 

“I guess,” Lysandre said with a shrug. “I don’t know what that is.”

 

“We’re thinking of going on one today,” Colress told him. “You all can come with, if you’re down.”

 

“Hhhwat?!” Archie yelped. He grabbed Maxie’s arm. “WE GOTTA GO, MAX, WE GOTTA.”

 

Maxie pretended to be very surprised. “Wow, yes, we suuuuure do.”

 

“I still don’t know what a fairy wheel is,” Lysandre sighed.

 

Cyrus brought out his phone and started typing something. A robotic voice sang out, Grande roue.”

 

“Ah, yes,” Lysandre chuckled. “I love those things.”

 

“Am I the only one who can’t stand them?” Giovanni asked, becoming increasingly agitated. “Also, where’s Ghetsis?”

 

It was as if Ghetsis had been waiting for somebody to notice his absence; he entered the room, all dressed up and ready to go. He took one look at Lysandre and squeaked with disgust.

 

“I forgot that people from Kalos don't take showers,” he said. “Absolutely tragic. Anyway, gentlemen, in one hour, we shall depart and head for Nimbasa. Is that enough time to fix… that?”

 

He pointed at Lysandre.

 

Ghetsis didn't even let the man defend himself. “I doubt it,” he grunted. “Anyway, get ready. I have to go feed the Deinos now.”

 

Colress, having served everyone their food, grabbed himself a cup of coffee and said, “I guess I'll go too. I need to do my hair. Be right back.”

 

The five guests were on their own.

 

Maxie and Giovanni kept looking at each other like they were going to explode. Archie continued eating pancakes and pretending the fork he was using was an airplane. Lysandre was nodding off. Cyrus had finished his (possibly last) breakfast.

 

Maxie cleared his throat and said, “So, fellas, how about them-”

 

“I've got to get ready,” Lysandre announced. “I've got to condition my chest hair. It feels like I've fallen into a pile of poison ivy.”

 

The imagery in that statement was enough to make everyone jump up and rush to take a shower.

 


 

Ghetsis opened the door to his garage.

 

“Just tell me which one you'd like to go in,” he said. “I’m too lazy to choose for myself.”

 

So there were choices.

 

Giovanni gasped. It was like some sort of car museum. He didn't even know half of them. Now that Giovanni thought about it, he wasn't really a car person but there were just so many, he felt like he'd entered a new and magical universe.

 

“Hey, I know this guy!” Archie shouted as he pointed at a sleek black car. “This one was on a TV show, right?”

 

“They all probably were,” Ghetsis said with a shrug.

 

“Why do you have this?” Cyrus asked, gesturing towards another.

 

It was a low rider. A purple one.

 

Ghetsis laughed. “That's my pride and joy!” he replied. “Her name is Buñuelo. Isn't that beautiful?”

 

“But why do you own it?” Cyrus asked again, a little weaker this time.

 

“I actually got it quite recently. I hadn't seen one in years and then there were some kids driving it in Accumula Town. I couldn't bear to leave her behind so-”

 

“You stole it?!” Maxie screeched.

 

“No, I gave them nearly a million for it!” Ghetsis said. He turned to face Giovanni. “You drive, Sakaki?”

 

“...Yes.” This was a conversation Giovanni didn't want to have. “Sort of.”

 

“You don't know how?!” Ghetsis asked, staggering back in surprise.

 

Giovanni felt smaller than he already was. “I know how.”

 

“You wanna take any of ‘em for a spin?”

 

“I can't,” Giovanni said.

 

“Can't what?”

 

“I legally, uh, can't,” Giovanni said very quietly. “My license-”

 

Ghetsis looked absolutely incredulous. “Surely that type of thing doesn't follow you all the way to another region, does it? What’re they gonna do? Arrest you?”

 

“I don't know, they probably can.”

 

“Fuck ‘em, Sakaki. You know what? I've been arrested like a billion times and nothing ever comes of it because they're so easy to bribe.”

 

“It's true,” Colress agreed.

 

It was a beautiful heart to heart moment.

 

Ghetsis looked impatient all of a sudden. He crossed his arms and huffed, “No one ever chose anything so I guess we’re gonna have to go in the Baked Potato. Sakaki, you get to ride shotgun.”

 

The bosses found themselves packed into a silver SUV.

 

An interesting thing they all noticed was a handicap parking permit hanging from the rear-view mirror. Everyone got tense as they realized HOLY FUCK we forgot Ghetsis is blind in one eye (or something) and he's only got one good arm (or something) and we're all going to die (or something!!!!).

 

Maxie spoke up. “Um, Ghetsis, I can get Archie to drive for us if you're not feeling up to it,” he offered politely. “We just need directions-”

 

“What? No,” Ghetsis scoffed, as if that was the stupidest thing he'd ever heard. He turned around and glared at Maxie. “I'm an excellent driver. I'm probably the best one here.”

 

“He was just asking,” Giovanni said. “Now, hurry up and get going.”

 

It wasn't bad. Ghetsis took the car out of the garage, drove carefully past the gate, and then he proceeded to floor the gas pedal and cause everyone to scream for their lives.

 

“WHAT THE HELL?"  Giovanni yelled. "SLOW DOWN!"

 

“Trust me, man,” Ghetsis said. “I know what I'm doing.”

 

“OBVIOUSLY, YOU DON’T!”

 

Maxie and Archie held each other.

 

“Are we going to die?” Archie sobbed.

 

“Probably,” Maxie wept.

 

“I had just finished combing my beard!” Lysandre cried.

 

Colress laughed. “Don't worry, guys, it's fine. We-”

 

“SHUT UP!” Archie, Maxie, and Lysandre screamed.

 

Cyrus was quiet. He looked out the window and into the dark at the blurry trees rushing by. As Ghetsis made sharp turns that caused everyone else to whip around in their seats, he sat completely still, using this moment to find within himself the answers to questions he really needed solving. Such as-

 

When does this forest end?

 

Are ghosts real?

 

What material is Giovanni’s shirt made of? Where did he get his watch from?

 

Is the hype behind Ferris wheels warranted?

 

The trees thinned out and sunlight fell upon everyone; Ghetsis skidded the car out into the road, steadied it, and started driving normally and safely. Giovanni stared blankly at the dashboard. Maxie and Archie let go of each other. Lysandre’s hands weren't trembling anymore, allowing him to fix up his beard.

 

They had made it out alive.

 

Ghetsis reached into a small compartment above him and took out a giant pair of aviator sunglasses. He put them on.

 

“How ‘bout some music?” he asked.

 

Not even the sweet, peaceful sounds of N.W.A could calm their rapidly beating hearts.

Chapter Text

Nimbasa City was a lively place with wide streets full of happy families and screaming kids.

 

“Oh man,” Ghetsis sighed. “I'm always amazed at how much it changes each time I come back here.”

 

“Focus on the road,” Giovanni instructed.

 

“Red light!” Archie shouted.

 

The car skidded to a halt and let some pedestrians cross the street. The sight of a group of clowns walking by made Ghetsis let out a snarl full of loathing and revulsion. The light turned green.

 

“I hate gentrification,” Ghetsis ranted, driving on. “Why is there a store dedicated to bran muffins? That's all they sell. Nobody's even there.”

 

“You're right,” Colress agreed. “They're probably expensive, too.”

 

“Why are you complaining about it when you live in a mansion out in the fucking wilderness?” Giovanni asked.

 

“I used to live here back in the day,” Ghetsis replied, surprising his guests. “It's terrible what they've done to the place; they've chased out all the prostitutes and crackheads and replaced them with soccer moms. Now I'm depressed.”

 

Giovanni wanted to ask Ghetsis more about the time he lived in Nimbasa when the car zoomed over a speed bump. Everybody groaned as their stomachs flipped all over the place. When they drove past a tall building, they noticed something looming over them on the horizon.

 

“I see the Ferris wheel, guys!” Archie exclaimed. “It's gigantic- just look at that thing, Max! It's probably the biggest one ever made!”

 

“The biggest one ever made was actually in Lumiose City in the 1900s,” Lysandre said, pretentiously. “It was one hundred meters tall. It was made for the World Fair held in Kalos and was-”

 

Ghetsis turned around and just stared at Lysandre, who immediately stopped talking. Neither of them said anything. They just stared at each other until Ghetsis turned back around and continued driving. Lysandre had been overpowered.

 

That was that.

 

“It's so pretty,” Maxie said dreamily.

 

“They only have little baby ones back at home,” Archie huffed.

 

They went down the road and made a turn, swerving into the busy lot by the park. There were lots of kids running around and teenaged couples holding hands. Everyone was so tall and young and blonde. Giovanni felt more out of place than he ever had before.

 

Ghetsis flipped down the sun visor above him and started fixing his hair.

 

“You guys ready?” he asked.  

 

“How much does it cost to get in?” Giovanni sighed, digging around in his back pocket for his wallet.

 

“It doesn't cost anything,” Ghetsis said.

 

“What?” Giovanni asked. “What keeps it running then?”

 

“Freedom,” Ghetsis replied simply.

 

Everyone piled out of the car and into the park. They took a moment to look around. Archie was in love.

 

“Look at those clowns on stilts, Maxie. They don't even have regular clowns back at home!”

 

“I'm kind of… glad about that,” Maxie gulped.

 

“What is ‘hot dog’?” Cyrus asked.

 

“I think it's food,” said Maxie.

 

“A hot dog?” Colress laughed. “You can eat it but… I wouldn't recommend it. I've taken ‘em home and tested them out in the lab. Eat at your own risk.”

 

“I want one so bad,” Archie sobbed.

 

Ghetsis reached into his pocket and handed Archie a ten thousand Pokédollar bill. Maxie’s jaw dropped open.

 

“Yaaaay,” said Archie. “Thanks.”

 

“WHAT THE HELL?” screeched Maxie.

 

“It's my duty to feed the starving children of Hoenn. Knock yourself out,” said Ghetsis with a shrug. “But come back in time for the wheel.”

 

Archie ran off giggling and Maxie stared after him.

 

“Bribery,” Maxie whispered to Giovanni.

 

“Archie’s going to lose his physique,” Giovanni replied. “He’ll turn into an orb and won't be able to run away.”

 

“He's by the crepes,” Lysandre noted as he peered over at the food trucks. “Do you think they're good here?”

 

“Would you like to find out?” Ghetsis asked, his voice a sultry purr. He waved another ten thousand Pokédollar bill in Lysandre's face.

 

Lysandre looked anguished. “N-Non,” he breathed, watching the money wiggle around before him. “I'm on a diet, you see? I'm supposed to keep it low carb…”

 

Wiggle wiggle.

 

“Merci beaucoup!” Lysandre shouted as he snatched the Pokédollar bill out of Ghetsis’ hand. He ran off crying.

 

“How could the most buff guys out of all of us be so weak?” Giovanni muttered.

 

“Looks like you're the only manly man with big ol’ beefy biceps left, Sakaki,” Ghetsis teased. “Admit your weaknesses now, lest you embarrass yourself in the future.”

 

“S… Stop looking at my arms,” Giovanni whispered in distress.

 

“Whatever. Wait a second… OH MY FUCK!”

 

Ghetsis stared off into the distance. It took the bosses a while to trace his line of sight before they realized he was looking at a woman who was painting faces at a table. She was painting a Butterfree on the cheeks of some kid who was sitting patiently in a plastic chair.

 

“Who is she?” Cyrus asked.

 

“LENORAAAAAAAA!! ” Ghetsis screamed as he ran over to the lady, knocked the small child off the chair, and plopped himself down.

 

The bosses crowded around, slightly afraid.

 

“Oh no,” the woman said flatly. “Oh, Arceus, help me.” She was not amused.

 

“It's been such a long time since I've seen you, Lenora,” Ghetsis went on, planting a great big kiss on her hand. “Have you been getting my letters?”

 

Lenora frowned and pulled her hand away. “Ghetsis, there's an elementary school on a field trip here. Could you fu… Could you bug off? I've got things to do.”

 

Ghetsis held his hand to his heart and moaned loudly. Giovanni looked around and smiled apologetically at all the terrified gradeschoolers waiting in line.

 

“Could you paint my face?” asked Ghetsis. “Just write ‘I Belong to Lenora’ on my forehead? Maybe even ‘Whore-a for Lenora’?”

 

“No. I have another idea of what I'll do to it!”

 

Ghetsis smirked. “Sit on it?”

 

“No, you idiot, I'm going to slap you in the face, that's what I'm gonna do!” Lenora threatened.

 

“I don't care, baby, do whatever you want.”

 

Maxie looked at Colress. “So you allow this? This doesn't bother you at all?” he asked.

 

“I know Lenora very well,” Colress replied. “Well enough to know that she's… on another level compared to all the men in Unova, myself and Ghetsis included. She’d never degrade herself. You get me?”

 

“I getcha,” Maxie said (he didn't).

 

“Who are you?” Cyrus asked.

 

Lenora perked up. “I'm Lenora, honey, Nacrene City’s Gym Leader,” she stated proudly. Then she sulked a little. “I’m also a kind, compassionate person who doesn't deserve this.”

 

She glared at Ghetsis, who blew a kiss at her.

 

Suddenly, a man wearing a terrible cowboy hat and an atrocious suede vest made his way to the table and dropped off a bunch of little tubs of face paint. He noticed Ghetsis was there and gave him a nasty look.

 

“I thought I told you to cut that damn hair off, boy!” the cowboy man said.

 

“You're just tired of getting turned on when you see me from the back and disappointed when you see me from the front,” Ghetsis shot back. “Piss off!”

 

“Who is that?” Cyrus asked.

 

“Clay, the gym leader from Driftveil,” Lenora said, rolling her eyes and focusing back on painting kids’ faces. “They hate each other. Ever since- actually, I don't want to talk about it. Not in front of the kids.”

 

“What is he, a sheriff or something?” Maxie asked with a scoff. “What's his deal with your hair?”

 

Ghetsis laughed. “He's just a massive pervert!”

 

“Don't talk to me about perversion, you degenerate!” Clay yelled. “I know what goes on in that old house of yours. Devil worship! I call the police every day and they don't do nothin’ about you!”

 

“What do you know about what happens in my house?” Ghetsis snickered. “You spy on me when I get dressed? Psh, Clay? More like Gay.”

 

“It’s Clay with a ‘C’ and an ‘L’ in it, you darned hummusexual.”

 

“That ‘C’ stands for cocksucker! The ‘L’ is for loser!”

 

“You’re an idiot!”

 

“COOOOOOOOOOCKSSSSSUUUUUUUCCCCKKEEEEEER~!!”

 

Lenora slapped her hands on the table. Everyone shut up.

 

“There are kids here,” Lenora said. “Y’know, the future of the world? Please, don't let them grow up to be messed up like you two. Now leave.”

 

As the bosses shuffled past Clay, he reached out and grabbed Ghetsis by the shoulder.

 

“Who’re these… folks you’re with?”

 

“Don't touch me,” Ghetsis snapped. “And they're staying with me so don't you dare touch them!”

 

Clay lowered his voice. “These foreigners won’t be overstaying their welcomes, will they?” he asked. “Cuz I won't just call the cops next time!”

 

Ghetsis made an extremely shocked face. Colress’ glasses fell off his ears. Giovanni crossed his arms. Maxie’s eyes widened.

 

“I'd like to see the Ducklett race,” Cyrus piped up, reading a pamphlet he picked up from the table.

 

Ghetsis turned so red that the bosses thought he was going to explode. He took a deep breath then screamed in a girly (and disturbingly convincing) voice, “HELP, THERE’S A GROPER ON THE LOOSE! HE’S GROPING ME AND MY FRIENDS! WE’RE JUST A GROUP OF HIGH SCHOOL GIRLS! OH NO! IT’S THE GYM LEADER OF DRIFTVEIL CITY, TOO! IS NOTHING SACRED?!”

 

The bosses all ran off deeper into the park, escaping further persecution.

 


 

Archie and Lysandre were lost. They had hot dogs stuffed in their pockets and bags of cotton candy down their shirts. Archie had a hamburger balanced on his head.

 

“Do you see them anywhere?” Archie asked.

 

“I am afraid not,” Lysandre responded sadly.

 

A pair of pale, lanky twins were holding hands and spinning around.

 

“Ferris wheel, Ferris wheel,” they chanted. “The Ferris wheel will be starting again. Get on the wheel, everybody.”

 

“They've gotta be here soon!” Archie said. “Let's wait by the line.”

 

Archie and Lysandre stood together, waiting for their friends like a pair of scared kids. Archie looked extremely frightened; he didn't like those twins spinning around over there. They spoke in unison. They had cold grey eyes like dead fish. Maybe they were robots. Twin robots. Archie realized how scared he was of twins in general. He looked away to the right and scanned over the crowd for Maxie.

 

He turned back to the left and-

 

“NEWCOMER?”

 

Archie screamed, startling Lysandre. They had been approached by one of the twins.

 

“I said: are you a NEWCOMER? Have you been on THIS RIDE before?” the twin asked.

 

“No, no, I never have,” Archie whimpered, shaking his head. “Please, no!”

 

“Then you get a FREE keychain. It's FREE. Here.”

 

The twin had a tiny replica of the Ferris wheel dangling from his gloved hand. He shoved it at Archie who unwillingly took it.

 

The other twin joined them. “Do you guys like trains?”

 

“I don't know anymore,” Archie wept.

 

“They’re okay, I suppose,” Lysandre said with a shrug.

 

“We are the Subway Bosses, the Bosses of the Subway,” the twins sang together.

 

“I'm INGO,” one said.

 

“I'm Emmet,” said the other.

 

Archie didn't know what to say. He sniffled.

 

“Just kidding. I'm EMMET,” the first one laughed. “That's Ingo. Ha ha. We FOOLED you. That's called a PRANK.”

 

“Are you waiting for someone?” Ingo asked.

 

“Well, our friends were supposed to be here,” Lysandre said.

 

“How do they LOOK LIKE?” Emmet asked.

 

“There's five of them in a group! Um… one of them is really tall,” Archie spoke up. “He's taller than you two, even. His name is Ghetsis. Also one is really short. That's Maxie.”

 

“I know Ghetsis,” Ingo said. “Great person.”

 

“Me too,” Emmet said, “Oh! I see him RIGHT THERE.”

 

The bosses were finally reunited. Archie ran up to Maxie and started crying into his sweater.

 

“I'll never run off again,” the big tough pirate sobbed. “Never! Not even if they've got free deep fried ice cream!”

 

“Don't put your boogers on me,” Maxie groaned.

 

Emmet walked over to Ghetsis and shook his hand.

 

“Hello, MR. HARMONIA,” the smiling twin said. “Ah, I almost FORGOT! A certain SOMEONE asked me about YOU the other day. He was COMING HOME on a train from THE JOHTO REGION! He's quite the TRAVELER!”

 

“Do you want us to tell him anything?” Ingo asked.

 

Ghetsis frowned. “Ugh,” he sighed. “I didn’t know he was back. I have nothing to say to him. Don't even let him know you saw me. Tell him I’m dead and he missed the funeral.”

 

“You can't avoid him forever,” Ingo said. “He seemed very-”

 

“I'm here to get on that dang wheel,” Ghetsis interrupted crossly, “not talk about him!”

 

The twins felt bad so they hushed up and let the bosses get on the Ferris wheel. Colress lingered behind to talk to the twins. Giovanni listened a little but he couldn't catch much.

 

“Don't…. him. Ghetsis and… bad terms. Maybe when… but not now!”

 

“Sorry,” the twins apologized, hanging their heads and taking off their hats.

 

That totally was not eavesdropping! Giovanni thought as he scooted in next to Cyrus. But it definitely was intriguing!

 

Once Colress was in the passenger car, the Ferris wheel began to spin and the bosses went up, up, up.

 


 

 

“Look how small everyone is!” Archie gasped. “Do you think they see us?”

 

“If you keep sticking your face against the glass, they will!” Maxie scolded. “Yep, they're already pointing at you!”

 

Cyrus looked out the window. Beyond the city, past all the buildings and people, was an ocean of trees. They were such a deep, minty shade of green, they almost looked blue. The sky was mostly clear except for a lone cloud in the distance. Unova was very beautiful; Cyrus hadn't felt this inspired in a long time. Once he was back at Ghetsis’ place, maybe he'd plink away on the small synth he had brought along with him in his suitcase.

 

He was glad he was allowed to stay for as long as he wanted. A week? Two weeks?

 

Of course, the others didn't know that but…

 

Giovanni took a quick look at Cyrus. Everyone else was talking noisily to each other and then there was Cyrus- so quiet and aloof. Just what was he thinking about?

 

The passenger cart was at the highest point on the Ferris wheel now.

 

“I think I just saw a UFO,” said Ghetsis.

 

“I hadn't noticed how far the forest goes on for,” Maxie commented.

 

“Our house is somewhere there,” Colress said. “But you can't see it cuz it's where the trees get taller.”

 

“Well, I can see it, shorty,” Ghetsis bragged, snickering as Colress pinched his arm.

 

“I looked down,” Lysandre mumbled, “and now I feel sick.”

 

Once the ride was over, the bosses all got off and agreed it was time to go. They journeyed back to the parking lot and made it to the car. As they all got in, Ghetsis snuck around and tapped Giovanni on the shoulder.

 

“What?”

 

“Want me to dump you off at the airport?” Ghetsis asked, tilting his head.

 

“Um,” Giovanni mumbled. “I… I called earlier and the, uh, airport didn’t have any flights left. For today, at least.”

 

Ghetsis nodded. “You can always come stay with me,” he offered.

 

Giovanni swallowed painfully. “That's very kind of you.”

 

Ghetsis then drove them all back to his house.

Chapter Text

It was another wonderful day floating around in space. Earth looked like a fat, gleaming dewdrop hanging from the end of a leaf. It looked so close; it looked like you could almost grab it and cup it in your palms but it was actually thousands of miles away. Giovanni felt a little homesick. The glorious region of Kanto had just launched a crew of reprobates-turned-astronauts into outer space to check on a suspicious disturbance on the moon. The team consisted of three men:

 

Maxie, the brains of the operation.

 

Archie, the strength and charisma.

 

And Giovanni, the guy without talent but TO BE FAAAIR he's the only one here who knows how to whistle a bit, so there's that. Enjoy a shrill, tone-deaf rendition of “Fly Me to the Moon” as you Major Tom your way through space.

 

“We've got a problem with engine four,” Maxie said.

 

“What's the, uh, diagnosis?” asked Giovanni. “Is that grammatically correct? Can you ‘diagnose’ nonliving things?”

 

Maxie glared at him with an extremely baffled and critical pinched-up nerd face. “Well,” he continued after a while, “according to the results from the scan the computers did, we’ve got a foreign object stuck in it.”

 

“I'll go yank it out!” Archie offered bravely, rolling up his sleeves and heading toward the exit. “Cuz I’m the strong one! Yeah!”

 

“DON’T GO ALONE!” Maxie warned. “Take Giovanni with you cuz I’m not going out there LOL bye!”

 

So the two of them went to go check on the engine and— yep, whattaya know, there was a dang person inside of it.

 

“Hey, asshole, can you get the hell out of our engine?!” Giovanni yelled. “We’re on our way to save the moon here!”

 

The person stood up straight and Giovanni gasped; it was the most beautiful person he had ever seen ever before in his life, ever. Except they weren't even a person… they were an alien. A sexy alien.

 

“I need your help,” the alien said. “I'm the ruler of the moon and I've been kicked off my own planet by an evil space slime known as Ghetsis.”

 

“Yep, sounds like Ghetsis all right,” Archie said.

 

“My name is Cyrus,” the alien announced. “And I'm extremely sick and weak… There's only one thing that can bring my energy levels back high enough to defeat Ghetsis.”

 

“Moon crystals?” Archie guessed.

 

“No,” Cyrus said.

 

“Moon pie?” suggested Giovanni.

 

“No,” Cyrus said again. He got closer to the two astronauts before placing his hands on Giovanni's shoulders. “It's something only you have.”

 

“Severe depression?”  Giovanni asked. “AA coins?”

 

Cyrus shook his head. “It's your cum, Giovanni. Your semen. Your jizz. The only way I can survive is if you let me suck your dick and swallow up your nut.”

 

“WHAT?!?” Giovanni shouted. “Seriously?! This is stupid. I feel like an idiot. This is weirder than those nightmares where I strangle and dismember Silver in front of my mom.”

 

“Please, Giovanni,” Cyrus begged. “I've got to go back to the moon and fight Ghetsis. Your cum is the only kind that will work!”

 

“C’mon, aniki!” Archie cheered. “Do it for the moon!”

 

“Fine,” Giovanni sighed as he unzipped his pants, “but I can already tell I'm going to embarrass myself and start crying afterwards.”

 

“FOR THE MOON! FOR THE MOON!” chanted Archie.

 

Cyrus got down on his knees. “I need to hurry,” he whispered frantically. “Here I go… Aaahhh...”

 

Cyrus sucked like a vacuum fueled by crystal meth: totally clumsy and erratic but, hey, he was getting the job DONE! Giovanni saw bursts of rainbow colored stars twirl about as singing Clefairys danced around his head. It was incredible; it was magical. Giovanni couldn't even remember the last time he’d gotten head and now he was getting the best succ he'd ever gotten in his life. IN SPACE. BY SOMEONE HOT.

 

“I’m unstoppable, man!” he roared into the sparkly gay void. “MY DICK IS COMING BACK TO LIFE!”

 

“Wake up,” Maxie said, popping up out of fucking nowhere.

 

“No,” Giovanni protested. “Ugh… Maxie. Go away. You’re ruining this.”

 

“Please, wake up!” Maxie insisted.

 

“Are you serious?! I can't even have an orgasm in my dreams,” Giovanni sobbed.

 

“Ooh gahhuh hib gig,” gurgled Cyrus through a mouth full of softening, angsty penis.

 

“Huh?”

 

“WAKE UP, BOSS!” Maxie screeched.

 

“No!” Giovanni shouted.

 

“WAKE THE HECK UP!”

 

The dream was over.

 


 

 

Giovanni woke up to the sound of knocking at the door. After getting dressed and cursing his depressed erection into submission, he went to go check who could have possibly interrupted his fantastic space porno dream. It was regular plain ol’ Maxie.

 

“Yikes,” he said. “You look sick. Was it all the ‘exotic’ germs from the amusement park?”

 

“Something like that,” Giovanni grumbled.

 

“You should take better care of yourself,” Maxie scolded. “You look paler than Lysandre. You missed breakfast! I tried waking you up but you were knocked the fuck out. By the way, haha, Cyrus has gone missing.”

 

Giovanni rubbed his eyes. “What? What do you mean?”

 

“I can’t find him,” Maxie said, looking more and more panicked by the second. “I can’t find Ghetsis, either. I was waiting for you to wake up because I felt I needed, um, assistance in case of anything.”

 

“HUH?!” Giovanni gasped. “Damn it, Max, why didn’t you just take Archie with you?”

 

“This is OUR little secret, boss,” Maxie hissed loudly. “Besides, Archie’s turned into a pacifist and cries whenever he stubs his toe. We don’t have all day. Cyrus could be dead already.”

 

The Save Cyrus Brigade bounded down the hall, calling out for the missing spaceman as they went. They checked the dining room. Empty! They stumbled into the kitchen, only to find a bunch of Deinos greedily lapping up the contents of a teacup. Disgusting! The living room was dark, cold, and empty, save for N sitting alone on the couch. He was playing with one of those beaded rollercoaster toys that are usually at doctors’ offices.

 

“Yo, kid,” Giovanni said. “Where’s your dad?”

 

N looked up from his very important business and nodded his head. “He’s making music with the blue angel man in the music room.”

 

“HWHWHWHAT?!” Maxie shrieked.

 

“You know, music,” N explained. “Like na na na, doot doot doot.”

 

“I think he means drugs,” Giovanni guessed. “You know how things are here.”

 

“It’s probably code for you-know-what,” Maxie choked out, looking mighty close to having an asthma attack. He pointed a very angry little finger at N. “SPINACH HEAD! WHERE’S THIS ROOM YOU’RE SPEAKING OF?!”

 

“There’s a stage in the big, big room,” N told them. “And in the—”

 

“Max, let’s go!” Giovanni declared, tripping over his own feet as he ran off back into the hallway.

 

The two nervous wrecks made it into the ballroom and onto the stage. Maxie paused to catch his breath and Giovanni looked around for whatever the heck N was talking about.

 

“Ughughugh,” Maxie wheezed, resting his hands on his knees for support. “What the hell even is this room? Who the hell has a stage in their fuh-reakin’ house?”

 

“Don’t ask me,” Giovanni replied. “I’ve never seen— AAAHA!”

 

Much to Maxie’s disappointment, Giovanni found some sort of hidden door then went and busted in without him. “WAIT, WAIT, WAIT,” he shouted. “CYRUS, I’M GOOOOOING.”

 

And there he was.

 

Cyrus was alone, sitting in the middle of this secret room. It was filled with all sorts of musical instruments. Cyrus happened to have an electric guitar in his lap. Much to Maxie and Giovanni’s surprise and relief, he didn’t look dead or anything.

 

“Hello,” he said calmly.

 

“Where’s Ghetsis?” Maxie demanded to know.

 

“Over here!”

 

They looked up and saw that the room had a small staircase leading to a second level where Ghetsis was sifting through shelves filled with records. Maxie snarled and grabbed Cyrus by the ear.

 

“What has he done to you?” Maxie interrogated, giving Cyrus a good shake. “Giovanni, go find me a doll and make sure it’s anatomically correct!”

 

“Ghetsis gave me permission to use this guitar,” Cyrus responded.

 

“Is that all?”

 

“I overheard him playing on this tiny piano he has,” Ghetsis spoke up, joining the others. “The beeping kind from the 80’s. I thought he was good so I’m letting him use this room. Not like anyone else is.”

 

“Why do you have this stuff?” Giovanni asked, looking around at the violins hanging on the walls. “You don’t strike me as the type.”

 

Ghetsis made a disgusted face. “Of course I don’t play the violin, man. Only squares do. And, for your information, I used to play the cello.”

 

Maxie snorted. “Oh Arceus, that’s even worse. What a dork!”

 

“Used to, pizza face, used to,” Ghetsis shot back. He snatched a violin off the wall and presented it to Maxie and Giovanni. “It was a long time ago, before my arm got busted. Not like I wanted to, anyway. I was expected to. Look inside of it.”

 

The three of them looked down at the violin Ghetsis was holding. It was a dark mahogany color with black tuning pegs carved to look like shells. Ghetsis tilted it and let the two other men peek through the sound holes. Inside the body of the instrument was a round label with gold text that read “Harmonia est. 1779”.

 

Maxie pulled away in shock. “Woah,” he exhaled. “I can’t believe it!”

 

Giovanni wasn’t as impressed. “So it has your name on it. Big freakin’ whoop!”

 

“Oh, Sakaki,” chuckled Ghetsis. “That’s why I like you. You’ve got a simple mind.”

 

“Boss,” Maxie groaned, “you really don’t know anything about music, do you? This means Ghetsis comes from the family that made all of these instruments.”

 

“Well,” interrupted Ghetsis, “not all of them. Just the boring ones. The guitar’s stolen.”

 

Giovanni looked even LESS impressed. “How can you be the leader of Team Plasma then? Coming from an oh-so-prestigious family, you’d have nowhere to hide.”

 

“Boss, I’m not taking sides, but wouldn’t that apply to you as well?” asked Maxie, obviously taking sides. “When I first met you, you were wearing one of those jackets with a big ol’ mondokoro on the back.”

 

“L-Let’s not talk about that,” Giovanni mumbled embarrassedly.

 

“You certainly know your stuff,” Ghetsis said to Maxie. “Cyrus told me you two are in a band together, along with your beefcake boyfriend.”

 

Giovanni couldn't help but laugh out loud. “Is that true?!” he cackled. “Max, if you really had nothing to do all this time, you should've asked to work for me again. Bahaha! Hoo, boy!” Giovanni then leaned over and took a deep breath.

 

Maxie frowned. “Very funny,” he spat. “At least I actually have hobbies. What do you do in your free time? Teach Meowths how to play pachinko?”

 

“Okay, first of all,” Giovanni said, raising an accusatory finger at his friend, “you say that like that’s something to be ashamed of. Second of all, why have you never told me about this, this band? I’m so hurt, Maxie.”

 

“Ha ha, hee-larious. It wasn’t my idea. Cyrus is really the genius behind it all.”

 

Giovanni looked over at the aforementioned man. Giovanni hadn’t exactly made eye contact with Cyrus since he woke up from that dang dream. Cyrus stared right back at him and hwelp— there went Giovanni’s day. Act normal, act normal. It’s not like he can read minds or anything weird like that. Uh-oh. What if he can? He’s so quiet all the time… probably because he knows what we’re all thinking about! UFOs. Penis. Alien battles. Alien penis? Shit!

 

Giovanni acted like he was interested and totally not thinking about space weenies. “Really?” he asked. “That’s, uh, cool.”

 

“Two-faced bitch,” Maxie grumbled.

 

“It’s not really anything organized,” said Cyrus. “Just covers of whatever Maxie likes.”

 

“Yeah, that’s something he’d do,” Giovanni commented, starting to look at Cyrus with a blank, dreamy expression.

 

“Rude,” Maxie seethed.

 

“I play things like guitar and synth because they’re all about coordination,” explained Cyrus. “I like keeping my mind busy.”

 

“Yeah, definitely,” Giovanni mumbled, his mind wandering off.

 

“They’re like puzzles. I was told to look into it by—” Blah blah blah. Blah blah, blah blah blaahhh.

 

Giovanni couldn’t stop staring at Cyrus’ hands; they were so delicate and thin. Sort of like that little bit of collarbone peeking out from beneath his shirt. It’s not that weird to have a dirty dream about an attractive person, is it? I mean if it was anyone else, then, yeah, maybe, but… Cyrus is actually good-looking. So, I’m not WRONG for having that dream. Yeah, I bet everyone goes through this and besides, I wouldn’t say no if he asked me to- NOPE, NOPE. STOP. THIS IS BAD.

 

“This is terrible,” Giovanni said out loud.

 

“What is?” asked Ghetsis, who, despite being six-foot-whatever, Giovanni forgot was even in the room.

 

“Uhhhh...” Giovanni panicked before answering, “The uh… Well, the fact that I haven’t eaten anything yet! Yeah! Duh! I missed breakfast, remember?”

 

Ghetsis snapped his fingers together as if he’d been reminded by Giovanni’s words. “That’s right,” he said, “it’s time for lunch. Yes. I think today I’ll finally get around to making those stuffed Grepa leaves Colress likes so much. He reaaaally likes them. I think they turn him on or something. Well, Sakaki, don’t worry any longer. I’ll go right now. Toodles.”

 

With that, he left the other three alone to stare at each other in confusion.

 

“He said ‘toodles’,” Maxie muttered in disbelief.

 

“I was hoping I misheard that,” Giovanni replied.

 


 

 

Lunch was okay, except for the fact that Colress really did seem to be aroused by eating stuffed Grepa berry leaves and that everyone drank so much Pomeg juice, they had to keep leaving the table to pee. Other than that it was GREAT.

 

At dinner, however…

 

Giovanni kept glancing at Cyrus, who was sitting next to him and unaware of pretty much everything that was going on around him. Maxie noticed this and was not very pleased by it so he started kicking Giovanni under the table.

 

“Stop staring at him,” Maxie whispered.

 

“I'm not staring,” Giovanni defended himself unconvincingly.

 

“He's gonna get suspicious of us.”

 

“Aren't you the suspicious one here? Kicking me and whispering as if we’re in on something.”

 

“We are in on something,” Maxie argued. “I just don't want Cyrus to feel weird around us. Have you ever read those psychology books about— Yep. You're doing it again. Seriously. Stop staring!”

 

Maxie was about to give Giovanni a bop on the head when Cyrus turned and looked at them.  They quickly leaned back in their chairs and pretended that they had been talking about things like minivans and daytime television.

 

“Giovanni,” said Cyrus.

 

“UH, YEAH?” Giovanni’s hands started shaking.

 

“Do you know what poffins are?”

 

“Er, well, no.”

 

“They’re a type of bread from Sinnoh,” Cyrus elaborated. “I brought some in my suitcase and I wanted to know if you wanted to have one after dinner.”

 

“Me?” Giovanni blurted out stupidly. Is this what I think it is? Was my dream really a premonition?! I don’t think I can do this. I’m not prepared physically, emotionally, and definitely not mentally. This is going too fast. Should I turn him down? I don’t think I can...

 

“Archie and Lysandre will be there, too. It would be nice to have you and Maxie join us.”

 

“Oh,” Giovanni exhaled, feeling relieved.

 

This caught Archie’s attention. “Are you guys talking about the poffins?” he asked. “Man, I love those things! The bitter ones are the best. Lys, have you ever had poffins?”

 

“Non, and I’m having second thoughts about it,” Lysandre sighed. “Yesterday was my cheat day and if I succumb to such mindless gluttony again, I’ll gain a million pounds. How will I face Augustine then?”

 

“I’m guessing they’re pretty good,” Giovanni said to Cyrus.

 

Before the poffin talk could continue, Ghetsis cleared his throat and started clumsily tapping a fork against a glass. The bosses, being the polite guests they are, all gave each other an exasperated look before paying attention to their host.

 

“Colress and I were discussing something,” he announced. “It’s rather important.”

 

“I already don’t like the sound of this,” Maxie groaned.

 

“I’d like to make a request,” Ghetsis continued, “about a business opportunity I think we’d all benefit from.”

 

Giovanni crossed his arms. “Yeah?” he huffed. “What kinda business?”

 

“Do you like money, Sakaki?”

 

“It’s… It’s, uh, alright, I guess. That’s kind of why I’m asking you cuz, you know, business typically means money and that, uh, that’s a stupid question, so… Just tell us what the hell you’re talking about.”

 

Ghetsis gave everyone a sly look. “I don’t get the opportunity to be in the company of such powerful, accomplished and handsome gentlemen that often,” he admitted coyly, “so I was thinking-”

 

“Aw, shucks!” Archie chuckled. “Thanks!”

 

“-about how it would be a good idea, now that you all are used to me-”

 

“I’m not,” Maxie interrupted.

 

“Well, I’m asking if you all would like to stay a bit longer,” Ghetsis finished up. “I know you guys have been thinking of leaving already but I just had to ask. Summer in Unova is the perfect time to get rich with all the tourists wandering around and the schools closing up.”

 

Giovanni leaned forward and rested his hands on the table. “Aren’t you tired of having all these people in your house?” he demanded to know.

 

“Not really,” Ghetsis replied. “View it as an act of kindness. You guys can stay here as long as you need to and be able to earn some money while creating connections here in Unova.”

 

“Sounds nice!” Archie cheered. “Like a getaway resort!”

 

“I don’t know,” said Maxie. “It sounds shady to me.”

 

Ghetsis shook his head and tsk-tsked. “Your friend there has already made reservations here,” he said, pointing at Cyrus.

 

Cyrus looked up from his cup of tea to find that everyone was staring at him in shock. Giovanni noticed that his ears turned pink.

 

“YOU NEVER TOLD ME ANYTHING ABOUT THAT,” Maxie cried out, feeling absolutely betrayed.

 

“This is the first I’ve heard of the business part of it,” Cyrus clarified. In a quieter voice he mumbled, “But, yes, it is true that I’ve decided to stay for a while.”

 

Maxie held his head in his hands. “I can’t believe this,” he sobbed. “Sneaking around, making major vacation decisions behind my back! Oh, this is terrible!”

 

“Lighten up on the kid a little,” Giovanni said, despite internally freaking out at the thought of Cyrus staying alone in Unova. He couldn’t help but wonder if this “opportunity” was a sign or something. Dreaming about Cyrus and then getting the chance to stay under the same roof as him? Maybe it really was a premonition.

 

“Yes,” Ghetsis agreed. “Sakaki is right. Besides, I’m offering all of you the chance to stay.”

 

Lysandre looked conflicted. “I personally like the sound of it,” he admitted, “however, I can’t bear to spend so much time away from Augustine.”

 

“You’re dating THE Augustine Sycamore?” Colress nearly yelled, finally taking a break from gulping down glass after glass of wine. “I love that guy’s work on Mega Evolution. Why don’t you invite him over?”

 

“C’mon, Max, I think we should stay more,” Archie chuckled, setting a heavy hand down on Maxie’s scrawny back. “It’ll be fun hanging out with Cy! Think of all the Unovian food we still need to try! Like tater tots!”

 

“Ghetsis,” Giovanni spoke up, “how ‘bout I sleep on it? Maybe it’ll come to me then.” Hopefully literally this time hahaha boom HEY-OOOOOOOOOO.

 

“Everyone is betraying me,” Maxie whimpered. “I have no friends.”

 

Ghetsis smirked. “That’s a better idea,” he purred, obviously very pleased. “Why don’t you all sleep on it?”

 

Colress got up and pressed his hands together. “I hope you guys know that we really don’t mind,” he said. “Don’t feel forced or anything.”

 

“HHRRMPPH,” Maxie grumbled.

 

Ghetsis stood up. “Sleep well, gentlemen,” he said as he linked his arm with Colress’ as they left the room. “Good night, Cyrus.”

 

Nobody could tell if he was being sarcastic.

Chapter Text

The next morning, Giovanni woke up from a normal, dreamless and sane sleep.

 

He got out of bed and was getting dressed when he noticed a piece of paper on the ground; it seemed to have been slipped under the door while he'd been sleeping. Giovanni picked it up, removed the purple sparkly pen that was attached to it, and started to read.

 

 

Our first errand is grocery shopping!!! Ask everyone what they need and write it down in the boxes below please please please please

 LIST

Cirus:

Liesander:

Archy:

Maxsy:

Sakaky:

Once you have finished, report to me! Cheers love xoxo, 

-Ghetsis

 

 P.S. see what I did there? CLAMS teehee ;)

 

Giovanni, full of animosity and armed with a glitter pen, headed out to get this task over with. His first targets were his wonderful old friends Archie and Maxie. Giovanni knocked on their door and waited for a few seconds before it finally opened.

 

“What the heck are you doing?” asked a very groggy Maxie. “Taking a survey?”

 

“Close,” Giovanni replied, equally tired. “Ghetsis is making me write a stupid grocery list. What do you need?”

 

“That’s his idea of ‘business’?” Maxie laughed. He then looked up at the ceiling, trying to think of things to put on the list. After a moment, he said, “Soy sauce and rice.”

 

“You read my mind, I was going to put that, too.” Giovanni wrote it down. “Is that all?”

 

“Hold on a sec. ARCHIE!” Maxie shouted. “WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM THE STORE?!”

 

Archie poked his head out from the restroom, face covered in a generous amount of shaving cream. “The store?!” he yelled back. “How ‘bout some rice?!”

 

“I already wrote that,” Giovanni said, speaking up over the sound of the sink starting to run.

 

“Can you write it again?!” Archie asked. “Oh, and some peanut butter! Please! I’ve never tried that stuff!”

 

Giovanni wrote “peanut butter” and then “rice” down for the second time, with a frowny face beside it. “Sure thing. If that’s really all you two need, I’ll be going. Is Lysandre awake?”

 

“Not sure,” Maxie answered with a shrug. “Cyrus is, though. Go ask! I worry about him, y’know. I don’t think he eats enough.”

 

“Yeah, okay, I’ll go do that. Ask him, that is. I’m going to go ask him what he wants. Like as in food, I mean. Food. Yep, I’m gonna go.”

 

Cyrus’ door was open just a smidge so Giovanni peeked in.

 

Cyrus’ room already looked well-lived in. There were tiny little figurines of legendary Pokémon scattered throughout it, occupying each flat surface as their own. There was a makeshift shrine consisting of old heavy books and tiny tea candles surrounding a jade Arceus statue. On the nightstand near the bed was the cutest Daruma doll Giovanni had ever seen. The room had a TV on the wall like all the other rooms but this one had a blanket draped over it, covering the screen. It must be broken.

 

Cyrus was sitting on the floor, one hand on a small synth and the other typing something on a laptop. Nothing out of the ordinary… except for the fact that he was wearing these tiny black athletic shorts and all that went through Giovanni’s mind was FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK then eventually Welp, I guess I’ve finally found out what turns me on.

 

Giovanni exhaled loudly.

 

Cyrus looked up. “Good morning,” he said, his voice still hoarse with sleep.

 

“H-Hey,” Giovanni replied. “Ghetsis told me to put together a shopping list so… if you want anything from the store, tell me. Just no rice. It's already on here enough.”

 

“Please sit,” Cyrus offered, gesturing toward his bed.

 

“Hhhhnnn okay.”

 

Giovanni sat on the bed, watching as Cyrus and his fantastic legs settled down beside him.

 

“Put ‘four quart container’,” Cyrus instructed. “Then ‘cabbage.’”

 

“Sure,” Giovanni said, quickly scribbling the words down on the piece of paper.

 

“Then ‘sea salt’, ‘green onion’, and ‘garlic.’”

 

“Okay…”

 

“‘Ginger’, too,” Cyrus said. “That's all.”

 

“Are you making something with all this?”

 

“Kimchi. I already have the pepper flakes somewhere in my suitcase.”

 

“You travel around with that?” Giovanni asked, failing to stop himself from grinning. “Is that a Sinnoh thing? Like poffins?”

 

Cyrus shrugged, the trace of a smile on his lips. “No, not really,” he murmured. “That reminds me. Would you like to try a poffin? I know we didn't get to last night.”

 

“No, we didn't,” Giovanni repeated absentmindedly.

 

Cyrus got off the bed and bent over to dig around in his suitcase. Giovanni looked at him for a second before turning away. His butt is cute, he thought happily to himself. I just woke up but it has definitely made my day.

 

Cyrus, carrying a wicker box in his arms, hopped back up on the bed. He set it down between him and Giovanni then opened it, revealing an assortment of wrapped up, labeled poffins. They came in all sorts of flavors, from the ambiguous “dry” to sour and everything in between.

 

“Sweet ones are the safest choice since everyone likes them,” Cyrus explained. “But… I prefer spicy.”

 

“I think I'll have one of those then,” Giovanni said. “I have to see why you like them so much.”

 

Giovanni bit into the poffin. The texture was bready, just like he expected, and it tasted familiar: like a plate of homemade curry. Not mild, because heck that’s for babies, but not too hot. A perfect balance between both.

 

“Wow,” he said. “No offense, but this is way better than I expected. It’s delicious.”

 

“I think so, too,” Cyrus agreed. “Dawn and Cynthia gave them to me right before I left Sinnoh.”

 

“Are they your parents or something?”

 

“No, they are old friends of mine. Back home, we’d meet up twice a month to make poffins. I guess they were worried about me getting homesick.”

 

“Well, are you?” Giovanni asked. “It's pretty weird here. I’m not used to it. It's just wrong to wear shoes inside the house.”

 

Cyrus laughed; it was so soft and quiet, Giovanni wondered if he really heard it.

 

“I’m fine,” Cyrus continued, “because Maxie and Archie are here. Plus, you're here, too.

 

“Me?!?” Giovanni was flattered.

 

“It's been very interesting. The fancy dinners, the amusement park, things like that. I don't do much at home. It's nice to get away sometimes.”

 

“Yeah, you're right,” Giovanni agreed in a faraway voice. “It is nice.”

 

Just then, there was a knock and the freakin' door opened. Giovanni looked to see who could’ve gone and ruined the moment he was totally having. What kind of idiot would do this?

 

“Maxie texted me about a list,” Lysandre the-idiot-who-would-do-that said. His hair was done up in a stupid little knot that only angered Giovanni further. “I need rye bread, some soft cheese, a small saucisson, and mineral water. Maybe get a baguette instead of rye. No, never mind, it's not as good for you. Or maybe a—”

 

“Wait, wait, wait, Maxie texted you?” Giovanni groaned. “I could've just done that instead of knocking on doors and waking everybody up like an idiot!”

 

“It's okay,” Cyrus assured him. “I don't mind. Also… I don't think I have your phone number.”

 

Giovanni’s face flushed as Cyrus took the list away from him and scribbled something down. Once he finished, he returned the paper and pointed at it.

 

“That's my number,” he explained. “When you have the time, text me.”

 

“HHhhhuuummmmmm wwwuh wow o-okay,” Giovanni replied.

 

Did I just get… a PHONE NUMBER? HIS PHONE NUMBER?!!??

 

“Can you get me a baguette after all?” Lysandre asked. “I think if I just jog extra hard after I eat it, that will cancel it out and then I won't feel as—”

 

“Y-Yeah, sure thing,” Giovanni said, his jaw clenching nervously.

 

Suddenly there was a loud “WHOMP WHOMP” that caused them all to jump. It was Ghetsis, knocking (punching..? Karate chopping?) on the door.

 

“He-llo, Sakaki!” he said impatiently. “You took too long! It's time to head out!”

 

“I was just about to go and show you the list,” Giovanni lied. “It's finished. Here.”

 

“There's no time! I’ll get the car started.”

 

Archie, Maxie, and Colress came out to see what was going on.

 

“I heard a loud noise,” Archie claimed. “Did someone die?”

 

“Why is everyone congregating in Cyrus’ room?” asked Maxie.

 

“I’m wondering the same thing,” said a very annoyed Giovanni.

 

“Ghet, are you already leaving?” Colress mumbled.

 

“Mm-hmm,” Ghetsis hummed, starting to walk down the hall. Everyone followed after him.

 

“Could you bring home a box of… you-know-whats?” requested Colress, his voice all hushed and embarrassed. “We just ran out of them.”

 

“Sure thing.”

 

“Get me a nice sourdough bread instead of a baguette!” Lysandre yelled over everyone else's heads.

 

“You're getting a baguette and that's final,” Giovanni replied.

 

“We’ll be taking off!” Ghetsis announced, pulling a keychain out of his pocket.

 

All the bosses were gathered at the front door, having been led there by the magical green man himself. They were all talking about the joys of supermarkets when Giovanni noticed Cyrus peeking out at him from the back of the crowd. Cyrus waved.

 

Giovanni was about to wave back when Ghetsis yanked him outside.

 

The door slammed shut.

 

Now that the noisiest member of the group was gone, it seemed too quiet. Colress turned around and looked at everyone.

 

“Does anybody want to help me make some cookies?”

 


 

 

“I think this’ll be pretty simple. The guys didn't ask for much, so that's good. We’ll just go in there and get what we have to and leave. What we can do when it comes to paying for it is— GHETSIS, WHAT THE HELL?! TURN IT DOWN!!”

 

Ghetsis lowered the volume of the radio and sighed dramatically. “I can't believe you don't like Destiny’s Child,” he complained. “I'm really offended, Sakaki.”

 

“It’s too early to listen to Destiny’s Child,” Giovanni said. “Especially when you had the volume that loud.”

 

“I'm Beyoncé,” Ghetsis claimed, putting on a never-before-seen pair of oversized sunglasses. He blinked at Giovanni through the clear pink lenses. “Who are you? Kelly or Michelle?”

 

“None, because I'm a guy. Duh. And you're not Beyoncé. Everyone says they're Beyoncé.”

 

“Would you say you're Beyoncé, Sakaki?”

 

“Can you focus on driving down this stupid road? Arceus, why do you live so far away from civilization? I guess that explains everything.”

 

Ghetsis snatched the list out of Giovanni's hands and began to read it. “You wrote ‘rice’ down two times. You misspelled ‘baguette’. It's B-A-G-G-O-T, not ‘bag-wet.’”

 

“Give it back. You don't even know how to read.”

 

“What's this number here in the corner?” Ghetsis asked, peering down at the list. The car swerved.  “It's got a sixty-nine in it. Is this one of those dirty hotlines , Sakaki? Do those still exist? Ehehehe-”

 

“GHETSIS! Put your hands back on the wheel or else I'll drive for us!"

 


 

 

“Flour, vanilla, cocoa powder… what else does the recipe say? It’s open on my phone.”

 

“A cup of sugar,” Maxie recited, taking the unfamiliar smartphone in his hands. “Eeeugh, this case is weird. The texture’s squicking me out. What kind of grown man puts all these little keychains on his phone?”

 

“They’re called charms,” Colress argued, “and they’re cute. The blue Vanillite is me and the green one is Ghetsis. Crap, I need to bring out the measuring cups.”

 

Archie leaned over to read the recipe. “These look really tough to make,” he said. “What are they called again?”

 

“Checkerboard cookies,” Colress yelled, voice muffled as his entire torso was stuffed deep within the cabinet searching for those sweet, sweet ingredients.

 

“The recipe is like science or something,” Archie commented.

 

“Baking is a science, mon ami,” Lysandre chuckled at his noob of a friend. “Have you ever made puff pastry? It’s easier to make a car out of a cardboard box.”

 

 “I’ve never baked before,” Archie admitted sadly. “I ate bread for the first time on a field trip when I was ten.”

 

“In your defense, you did grow up on an island hundreds of miles off the coast of Hoenn,” Maxie pointed out.

 

“Milk, eggs, butter, there!” Colress said as he sorted out the ingredients on the counter. “I’ve got everything we need. This bowl will hold the vanilla dough and this bowl will hold the chocolate one.”

 

“Which one are we gonna do first?” Archie asked.

 

“We’re gonna separate into teams. Two to a bowl. Archie and Lysandre, then Maxie and Cyrus.”

 

“Competitive baking,” Lysandre said. “Sounds pretty good.”

 

“That’s four people,” Maxie grumbled. “What are you going to do?”

 

“I’m, uh, gonna preheat the oven,” Colress answered.

 

“Tsk, tsk, tsk. Lazy."

 


 

 

Ghetsis and Giovanni had finally reached Nimbasa city limits. It was such a hot day, kids were cooking eggs on the pavement. There weren't too many cars on the streets but there were crowds of pedestrians going up and down the sidewalks, crossing together as if they got intense pleasure from making everyone in a vehicle wait for them. Ghetsis honked and flipped off a group of schoolchildren.

 

“C’mon, you little bitches, we got places to be!” he yelled. “Kids these days, man.”

 

“I swear that one old lady over there has already crossed the road like three times,” Giovanni said. “Do you think she's lost?”

 

“Wanna go help her out?” Ghetsis joked. He looked at the street and sighed. “I hate this. Driving around here just makes me nostalgic.”

 

Giovanni thought about that for a moment. Just how old was Ghetsis? It was difficult to tell. At the Rocket HQ, there’d been (admittedly exaggerated) rumors about how Ghetsis was the oldest of all the team leaders but, Arceus, what if that wasn't true? Could Ghetsis be younger than Giovanni? He certainly acted like it. Hell, he even looked like it, which just made Giovanni even more depressed.

 

Giovanni opened his mouth. “Hey, Ghetsis, how old—”

 

Ghetsis made a noise as if he’d realized something and suddenly hit the brakes at a red light. Giovanni stuck his hands out to avoid bumping his face against the dashboard and possibly dying.

 

“Ohohoh, I forgot it was here,” Ghetsis said, chuckling at his mistake. “S’been a while. I usually send someone to get my stuff for me.”

 

“You mean that’s the supermarket?” Giovanni asked as he peeked out the window. “Arceus, that thing’s bigger than the entire region of Kanto.”

 

“Well, it is a super market.”

 

“Shut up.”

 

The creatively named Unomart was a giant building with a sprawling parking lot. People pushing filled up shopping carts zoomed past cars, seemingly with a complete disregard for all human life. Parking spots were taken as soon as they became available. Angry drivers honked at each other, speaking in a language only road ragers could understand. Luckily for our two handsome dads, they had a secret weapon: Ghetsis’ handicap parking permit.

 

“Imagine if I didn't have this?” he asked, parking in the spot closest to the store’s entrance. “That woulda been a lot of walking.”

 

Giovanni flicked the tag hanging from the rear view mirror. “Isn’t this considered misuse? It feels… immoral.”

 

Ghetsis undid his seat belt and took off his sunglasses. “Morals? Sakaki, you know I have none. C’mon, dude, let’s go get some motherfucking groceries.”

 


 

 

Archie plopped the dough onto the counter and started to gently knead it. This was so fun, just bakin’ with the boys and creating something from scratch together. These doughs were their children. They had to take care of them, treat them well--

 

“You need to punch it,” Lysandre asserted, snatching the dough away from Archie.

 

“He-ey,” Archie whined. “That’s too mean!”

 

“Lys is right,” Maxie said as he kneaded aggressively. “Put some strength into it, Arch.”

 

Pa-ping! Pa-ping!

 

“Someone’s messaging you,” Cyrus told Colress, who immediately dashed to grab his phone.

 

As soon as he looked down at its screen, he giggled to himself and began tapping away.

 

“Who was it?” Lysandre asked, being exceptionally nosy.

 

“Ghetsis just texted to let me know he’s at the store,” Colress replied. “Ooooh, we really gotta finish the cookies before he gets back! I want them to be perfect.”

 

“I’m probably gonna regret this,” said Maxie as he squinted curiously at Colress, “but I’m gonna ask anyway. Um… what do you see in Ghetsis? Other than his money, of course. Here, Cyrus, honey, it’s your turn to knead.”

 

Colress appeared mildly offended for a moment but shrugged it off. “Well, material things never mattered to me,” he said, rubbing his chin in thought. “He’s so sweet and courteous, I couldn’t help but fall for him. It doesn’t hurt that he’s really handsome.”

 

“Are we thinking of the same person?” Maxie asked. “Wanna borrow my glasses? Obviously, yours aren’t working.”

 

“He’s just my type,” Colress sighed amorously. “Tall and mysterious with long, long hair.” He paused and bit his lip, forgetting for a second that he was in a room with other people. “And extremely good in bed--”

 

“LA LA LA LA LA LA LA,” Maxie screamed as he covered his ears. “I’M NOT LISTENIIIIING!”

 

Lysandre raised his eyebrows. “I see,” he said. “We all have types. For example, my sweet Augustine est absolument magnifique.”

 

“Uh-huh!” Archie agreed. “I have a type, too! Short nerds like Maxie!”

 

“Hmph,” the mud man snorted. “You guys are chumps.”

 

Colress sat up and stretched his fingers. “Cyrus? Do you get where I'm coming from?”

 

Cyrus, who was busy rolling the dough into loaves, slowly shook his head.

 

“Bwahahaha!” Maxie cackled. “Too bad, Colress! Unlike you, Cy’s actually got good taste. Um… I think.”

 

“Well, let the man speak for himself!” Lysandre chuckled heartily. “What kind of person do you consider to be attractive, mon ami?”

 

Cyrus stopped kneading. He felt his face get hot. Everyone was looking at him, all of them eager to know the opinion of the typically stoic Sinnohite. He stared down at his hands, resisting the urge to bite his nails.

 

“I don't know,” he answered after a while. “I've never thought of that.”

 

“What about a particular trait?” Archie asked. “Like ‘good at ocean trivia’ or ‘loves rocks and dirt’?”

 

“Um… someone nice..?” Cyrus mumbled, his voice unsure.

 

“Okay,” Colress said, “so far so good. How do they look? Would you say yes to them if they asked you out?”

 

Cyrus thought about it. A physically attractive person who was nice? He could almost picture this ideal someone, but he felt himself get embarrassed for even thinking about that and pushed it out of his mind. He shrugged weakly.

 

“I've never dated before,” he admitted. “I've never really liked anyone in that way. Well…”

 

Everyone leaned forward. “Well…?” they practically sang.

 

"Well..." Cyrus blushed then tugged at the collar of his shirt. “Well, we need to finish the cookies. We still have to let them sit--”

 

Colress checked the time on his phone. “You're right! Let's get back on track, people!”

 

Cyrus sighed softly and mentally thanked the cookies for bailing him out of that one.

 


 

 

A cold breeze hit the two smart shoppers as they entered the building. The first section was the produce aisle. Piles of colorful fruits in baskets glistened underneath fluorescent lights and tempted those who walked by with a very enticing message: Summer Sale! 25% off! Vegetables were set on shelves that misted them with water every few minutes. Everything was meticulously sorted out by color and price, proving that, wow, artichokes and rutabagas can look a little sexy sometimes.

 

Giovanni was in charge of pushing the cart (“Because you’re the buff one, duh!”) while Ghetsis held the list and the glittery gel pen.

 

“I’m gon’ pick up some nanabs and magost berries for N,” he announced. He stuck the pen in his mouth and leaned lazily against the shopping cart. “Maybe a tomato or two. Did the guyth need anythin’ from thith thection?”

 

“A cabbage,” Giovanni blurted out. “We have to get a cabbage.”

 

Ghetsis made a disgusted face then took the spitty pen out of his mouth and poked Giovanni with it. “Gross. Why do you want a dang stupid cabbage? They give you gas. You ever hear about people dying from the toots? It happens.”

 

“Stop that. It's on the list so we have to get it. I think there was more vegetables on there, like some type of onion..?”

 

“Gee, Sakaki, I hate to break it to you, but… Ginger? Garlic? Green onion? These are roots, not vegetables. These fellas grow underground.”

 

“Whatever they are, we have to buy them.”

 

Ghetsis and Giovanni did their thing and filled a few bags up with fruits/vegetables/roots before meeting back at the cart and checking things off the list.

 

“What's next?” Giovanni asked as he pushed the cart forward.

 

“According to this list: wherever the seasoning is at. Is peanut butter a seasoning? Hold up, Sakaki. What is a ‘saucy son’?”

 

Giovanni stopped in his tracks. “I don't know,” he said. “Lysandre asked me to write it down.”

 

“You think he means ketchup? I'm gonna get him ketchup.”

 

The seasoning aisle, home of the Worcestershireashurshashirewashoosha sauce, was quite a distance away. Before they could get to it, our brave explorers had to step through the most important section in the history of all grocery stores ever. They smelled it before they saw it.

 

It was the bakery.

 

“I don't know how but it looks like we made it to heaven,” Giovanni sighed.

 

“Pretzel bun?” Ghetsis offered, holding up a bag of glossy rolls. “Maybe palmiers? What about these? Ever tried a donut hole? Talk about innuendo!”

 

“No, we gotta focus!” Giovanni instructed. “Lysandre asked for a baguette but I don’t see any.”

 

“Just get him a croissant,” said Ghetsis with a shrug. He opened a box of baklava and started eating from it.

 

“I guess… What else does the list say?”

 

“‘Soft cheese.’ He probably meant strawberry cheesecake; he’s Kalosian, he doesn’t know what he’s saying. Language barriers and all that. Mmmmm, take this one, it looks good.”

 

Giovanni put the cheesecake into the cart. “You're right… Hey, stop eating those. That’s stealing.”

 

“Whatever, Sakaki. Lead the way.”

 

In Unova, there were only two brands of soy sauce yet somehow peanut butter came in all forms. Crunchy, smooth, organic, honey roasted; some even had jelly mixed in. Giovanni had chosen which soy sauce he wanted but what was the peanut butter that suited Archie’s personality? It had to be one of the smaller jars because Giovanni was not going to eat it if Archie ended up hating it. Low-fat seemed disappointing and the Sriracha-bacon-macadamia nut blend crossed way too many lines.

 

Ghetsis prodded Giovanni with the shopping cart. “I got your salt,” he said, tossing a bottle full of coarse grains into the cart. “And ketchup for stupid Lysandre. Whatcha lookin’ at?”

 

“Huh? Sorry, I’m just wondering what kind of peanut butter Archie would like.”

 

Instantly, Ghetsis reached out and selected a jar with a blue label that read Mega Chunk. He handed it to Giovanni. “This one. Fits him to a T.”

 

Giovanni laughed. “The ‘mega’ part or the ‘chunk’ part?”

 

“Turn your attention to the stainless steel yonder, my dear compadre,” Ghetsis said, pointing at another aisle. “Cooking supplies. Your four quart container has gotta be there.”

 

Oh yeah. Giovanni thought. I should text Cyrus.

 

“Hand over the list,” demanded Giovanni, as he pulled his phone out of his pocket.

 

Ghetsis shook his head. “You gotta catch me first,” he taunted before hopping onto the shopping cart and dashing off.

 

“Son of a bitch,” Giovanni muttered tiredly. Now I gotta go get him.

 

As he stormed off after Ghetsis, Giovanni started writing a text. He didn’t exactly remember what Cyrus’ number was, but it didn’t hurt to plan what he was going to send.

 

Hey there Cyrus it's me Giovanni. I’m at the store with Ghetsis and we’re at where the cooking stuff is and...

 

He shook his head. No, he couldn't send that. It made him sound like a loser. He deleted it and started over.

 

Hey Cyrus, it’s Giovanni. I’m looking at containers. Which one looks the best?

 

Ghetsis was in the cooking supplies aisle, still standing on the cart, examining a complicated looking spatula. Giovanni caught up with him then gave him the most unamused angry dad look in the world.

 

“Did you see that?” Ghetsis asked, trying to hold back from laughing.

 

“Yeah, very cool ,” Giovanni grunted in response. “Now quit being an idiot and give me the list.”

 

After entering the number on the list into his phone, Giovanni stepped back to snap a picture of the shelf in front of him. Ghetsis chose that moment to stand right in front of the camera. Giovanni was going to have to send Cyrus this dumb picture of a shelf with a green blur in the corner.

 

Bloop. Message sent.

 

“Whatcha doin’?” Ghetsis asked. “Say… Are you taking pictures of yourself? At the store? Who are you sending them to? Let me join, my hair looks good today.”

 

“No, wait, stop,” Giovanni yelped, squirming away as Ghetsis tried to grab his phone.

 

The sound of someone roughly clearing their throat came from behind them. The two dads looked at each other then turned around. A tall blonde woman was standing there with an annoyed glare on her face. She put her hands on her nonexistent hips.

 

“Aren't you going to say hi to me, Ghetsis?” she asked.

 

Ghetsis didn't seem too interested. “Um… Hey, Elesa?”

 

Elesa walked over, high heels clicking on the tile beneath her as she pushed her practically empty cart. She stopped and looked Ghetsis straight in the eye. She wasn't as tall as him but she was definitely trying to be.

 

“I'm a little pissed at you,” she said.

 

“Thanks for thinking about me,” Ghetsis responded sarcastically. “What’d I do this time? Steal another one of your men?”

 

Elesa made a squeaky “hmph” and turned away, her tiny nose pointing up in the air. “No, this one was never mine. He's yours . And he won’t stop calling me cuz apparently he can't reach you. I keep thinking he's calling me about something important but it's just ‘Ghetsis this’ and ‘Ghetsis that.’”

 

“Fun fact: you can just block his number.”

 

“You know I can't,” Elesa groaned. “The subway twins told me he just got back from Johto and he's been freaking out about seeing you ever since. I didn't even know he left Unova in the first place. He's weird like that. Anyway, the twins told him you were dead but he didn't fall for it. So now he's bugging ME!"

 

Ghetsis looked intrigued for a split second then shook his head and laughed. “Yes, I know he's back. Tell him I'm very busy, would you? I’m doing fine.”

 

Elesa pursed her lips. She was about to say something else but she noticed Giovanni standing there.

 

“Oh. Hey. You're Ghetsis’ boyfriend, right?”

 

“What?!” Giovanni blurted out, nearly choking on air. “No-- no, I’m not!”

 

“This is my good ol’ friend, Sakaki,” Ghetsis said with a small laugh. “He's from Kanto.”

 

"Nice to meet you." Elesa waved halfheartedly at him. “Well, I gotta split. Anyway, Ghetsis… I'll tell him how you're doing. You owe me. Ciao.”

 

Once she'd left, Giovanni faced Ghetsis and said, “She doesn't seem to like you much.”

 

“Nope, she hates me. She's bitter. It all started two years ago, at the Miss Unova Pageant. She was on the runway when I--”

 

“Never mind."

 

Giovanni was more interested in who this mystery man was and what he wanted with Ghetsis. Those twins at the Ferris wheel brought it up and now this Elesa chick… Did everyone in Unova know about this? Giovanni pushed it out of his mind and checked his phone. One text from Cyrus.

 

“The blue one on the top left looks good.”

 

Giovanni rushed and selected the sturdy blue cube. After carefully inspecting to see if it was up to snuff, he gave it a small pat. The chosen one, he thought.

 

Ghetsis and Giovanni hurried to finish up. Two ten-pound bags of rice were chucked into the cart by Giovanni (“Because you’re the buff one, remember? Duh!”). At the checkout counter, he helped Ghetsis put each item from the cart onto the conveyor belt. He noticed a nearby cooler and opened it. There it was, the last item they needed: a bottle of mineral water. Giovanni dropped it on the conveyor belt.

 

“I notice you didn't get anything for yourself,” said Ghetsis. “How come?”

 

Giovanni shrugged. “Eh, I'll just steal some of Maxie’s stuff. Besides, I was gonna buy the same things as him.”

 

“That's no fun. You ought to treat yourself. Look over there. Unovian junk food, man, you gotta try it at least once.”

 

Giovanni turned around; there was a display of all kinds of snacks. Small bags of chips were huddled together on the top shelf above an impressive array of bubblegum and sour candy. Giovanni wasn't exactly interested in eating any of that but one thing happened to catch his attention.

 

He leaned forward to pick up a slim rectangular box. The lid was transparent and inside were three pieces of chocolate shaped like UFOs. A sticker on the front boasted:  Milk chocolate, strawberry cream, and white chocolate with marzipan centers. That's all Giovanni needed to know. He immediately slammed it down on the conveyor belt, causing the teenaged cashier to flinch.

 

“I didn't know you were into such cutesy things,” Ghetsis said.

 

“I-It's not for me,” Giovanni wheezed as he started getting nervous.

 

“Who's it for then?”

 

“I… I don't know.”

 

They both paid their fair share and thanked the skittish cashier for bagging their stuff. Just as they were exiting the store, Ghetsis snapped his fingers loudly.

 

“Shit,” he cursed.

 

“What?”

 

Ghetsis turned around, his majestic hair flowing in the wind. “I forgot to get the thing Colress asked me for,” he said. “Be a dear for me, Sakaki, and take the stuff to the car. Here's the keys. I won't take long, I swear.”

 

He patted Giovanni on the shoulder and hurried back inside. All Giovanni could do was sigh as he did what Ghetsis told him. Thankfully, the car was parked a little less than twenty feet from the entrance to the store, so it wasn't that bad. The car’s trunk popped open at the press of a soft, red button. Giovanni emptied everything out of the cart except for the box of chocolate and hid it in his pocket.

 

As soon as he got in the car, he took out his phone and messaged Cyrus.

 

Just got done shopping. We’ll be on our way in a bit.

 

Cyrus replied a minute later. “Good. Thank you, again.”

 

Reading that made Giovanni want to say fuck it and just drive back by himself but before he could even text back, Ghetsis returned. He got in the car and kicked a small bag under his seat.

 

 “Time to go home!” he sighed happily as he took his keys back and started the car.

 

“What’d you get?” Giovanni asked, raising his eyebrows.

 

“Do you really want to know?”

 

Giovanni thought about that for a moment. 

 

"Y-You're right. Let's head back."

 


 

 

In the living room, Maxie was trying to finish the pyramid that the bosses had made out of the cookies they baked. It was beautifully assembled; standing tall and noble on a wide porcelain dish that Colress dug out of a cabinet. Maxie felt himself start to sweat. Just one more piece…

 

“You’re shaking,” Cyrus pointed out.

 

“LOOK, PAL,” Maxie squeaked, “I’M GONNA DO IT! JUST YOU SEE.”

 

He plunked the cookie down. The pyramid was now complete. Cyrus clapped.

 

Maxie punched the air, feeling a billion years younger. “YES!”

 

The soft drone of a car engine came from outside, followed by the sound of gravel crunching under tires. Everyone went quiet.  Colress instantly vaulted over the table, narrowly missing the cookie pyramid.

 

“Ghet’s back!” he shouted, scrambling to open the door. “Make sure everything looks all pretty and stuff!”

 

The other bosses, unsure of what to do, surrounded the cookie pyramid. The door clicked open, followed by the sound of Colress leading Ghetsis and Giovanni down the foyer then...

 

“WELCOME BACK!” Archie shouted at the top of his lungs.

 

Giovanni looked frightened for a second before setting the excruciatingly heavy bags of rice he was carrying down on the floor. He took a deep breath. “Not cool, Arch,” he grumbled.

 

“Yoooo, we got all the stuff you guys wanted,” said Ghetsis. He started handing out all the small shopping bags. “Here’s your soy sauce, Maxie. And Archie, here's your… uh…”

 

Archie took the bag and reached in. “Nice! Huh-hah! If you told me three months ago that I'd be holding an actual jar of peanut butter, I woulda called you a liar! Thanks, guys. This is the best gift ever.”

 

He engulfed Giovanni and Ghetsis in an extremely tight hug. The two of them felt their spines crack a little. Once freed from Archie’s embrace of death, they weakly continued handing things out.

 

Lysandre took the bag that was given to him and peered inside. “What's this?” he asked. “Other than the mineral water, you didn't get me anything I asked for.”

 

“It wasn't my fault,” Giovanni replied immediately as he gave Ghetsis an annoyed glance.

 

“That's why you should be more clear about what you want, firecrotch,” Ghetsis scolded. “Let this be a lesson to you.”

 

Lysandre sighed. “Oh well,” he said in a gloomy voice. “I guess this is my life now."

 

“Ah, Col! I got you the you-know-whats…”

 

“GIVE IT!” Colress yelled as he swiped the bag away from Ghetsis. Nobody had seen what was in it but obviously it was very scandalous.

 

Maxie scowled. “Really?” he whined. “Did we just get caught up in the middle of a condom run?”

 

Ghetsis snickered; he was about to say something but Colress pinched him.

 

“Y-Yes,” Colress stammered. “That's definitely it. Yep. Yeppers. Uh, sorry about that. You can never have enough, right? Haha…”

 

 While everyone else was distracted, Giovanni gave the last remaining bag to Cyrus. They bumped hands and it was totally platonic and heterosexual.

 

“Thank you for getting everything,” Cyrus said softly. His voice was a tad warmer than usual.

 

“No problem,” replied Giovanni. “I'm glad to help.”

 

“Have you ever had kimchi?”

 

“Uh-uh… You're really set on introducing me to new foods, aren't you?”

 

Cyrus smiled. Giovanni could already feel his cold, dead heart melting and coming back to life.

 

“Hm,” Cyrus hummed. “You caught me. Sorry.”

 

A little sarcasm, that’s good.

 

“It's okay,” Giovanni said. “Oh! I forgot. I have something for you.”

 

He reached into his pocket and pulled out the box of UFO chocolates. He tried not to appear too shy (even though he was dying inside) as he handed it over.

 

“I, uh, saw it at the store and thought you’d like it,” Giovanni explained. “Because Team Galactic and… stuff.”

 

Cyrus’ eyes widened as he inspected the box and the sweets inside it. “Thank you,” he said in a quiet, serious voice.

 

"You're welcome, Cyrus."

 

Cyrus tensed up. Giovanni saw that his ears went pink just like they had the other day at the table. Great. I probably went and broke some Sinnoh taboo or something. I bet I just unknowingly threatened to kill him and his family. Does chocolate mean ‘I hate you’ over there?

 

“I... I…”

 

Cyrus tried to say something but Maxie butted in and gave the two of them a suspicious look.

 

“We’re about to eat the cookies,” he informed them. “Um… what are you guys talking about? Hey, Cy, what’s that you’re holding?”

 

Cyrus held the box to his chest and stared uneasily at the ground. “I have to go,” he murmured. “Th-Thanks for the stuff...”

 

He gave Giovanni a weak bow then rushed out of the room. Maxie called after him but failed to bring his good space friend back. Archie turned and watched Cyrus leave.

 

“He’s gonna miss the cookies!” Archie gasped.

 

“I don’t know what’s up with him,” said Maxie. “Arch, you better not eat everything. Try and save some for him.”

 

Giovanni pressed his hand to his face and sighed. “I must be cursed.”

 

Ghetsis finally spotted the cookie pyramid. “Hell-ooooooooo nurse,” he belted out as he pirouetted towards it. “What a sexy geometric shape. Is this why the house smells so good?”

 

“Yes!” Colress cried out melodramatically. “We spent all day making these things for you, baby!”

 

Lysandre cleared his throat. “Well, we made them for all of us, technically, because there’s so many of them and I don’t think just one person could finish them all--”

 

Ghetsis and Colress stared Lysandre down to silence. Once that was settled, the cookies were passed out and everyone started talking about whatever happened that day. Archie boasted about his newfound baking abilities. Ghetsis talked about running into Elesa at the store; however, he failed to mention the odd conversation he had with her.

 

As everyone laughed and joked among themselves, Giovanni stared at his dumb little checker-square-thing cookie as if it owed him money. He couldn’t stop thinking about Cyrus. It was a terrible feeling, the feeling of not knowing if you just offended someone. I better start thinking up an apology.

 

Maxie squinted at Giovanni. “Boss,” he said in a low voice so no one could hear, “you alright?”

 

“Yeah,” huffed the grumplord.

 

That didn’t sound too reassuring.

 

He continued. “Cyrus left his stuff to make kimchi behind and I don't know where to put it. Where the hell does a ginger root go? I don’t want it to go bad or anything like that. You get me?”

 

“Well, I didn’t know you were such a caring person, Giovanni,” Maxie joked with a smirk.

 

Giovanni crossed his arms. “No, it’s not like that, I mean, it’ll stink up the place and I'll have to sleep outside and--"

 

“Yeah, I know, I know,” said Maxie as he gave his friend a cheeky thumbs-up. “Don’t worry, I’ll sort it out in the fridge in a bit.

 

“Thanks, Max.”

 

“Anyways, boss… Do you know what was in that cute little box Cyrus was holding?”

Chapter Text

The bosses were eating a quick brunch-for-lunch at the kitchen counter. A small tub of something extra smelly was the center of their attention.

 

“I can't believe you made it without me!” Maxie sobbed before stuffing a croissant in his mouth.

 

“I had to,” Cyrus replied simply.

 

“So, what is it?” asked Ghetsis, more amused than upset that such a stinky object was in his home. Perhaps there'd been stinkier. “Salsa or something?”

 

"It's kimchi,” Archie said. “Cy’s is the best! I've only ever tried his, though. He ships it from Sinnoh all the way to Hoenn! The first time, it was sent on a plane and halfway through the flight-- it exploded. Cyrus had a lot of explaining to do.”

 

“That's mildly terrifying,” Giovanni chuckled. “But I'm excited to try it.”

 

Maxie caught Cyrus looking at Giovanni in a certain way that made the Magma leader go Hmmm… He couldn't dwell on it, however, because Colress started talking about the man of the hour: the kimchi.

 

“There’s a place in my lab that’ll help it ferment perfectly.”

 

Lysandre was interested. “Lab?”

 

“Yeah, I've got a lab in the other part of the house,” Colress explained. “I’ll give you guys a tour of it.”

 

“‘Other part’? ” repeated Giovanni. “Arceus, this place is like a maze.”

 

Ghetsis looked betrayed. “Huh?” he coughed. “Col, you can't show them your lab today. We were supposed to go to the pool.”

 

“POOL!” Archie shouted.

 

Colress rested his face against the kitchen counter. “Aaah, I dunno,” the small scientist complained. “Besides… my stomach hurts.”

 

Everyone was shocked to hear this terrible news.

 

“You need to eat a half cup of yogurt followed by a baked potato,” Lysandre suggested.

 

Maxie waved his hand dismissively. “No, no. You need to eat a bowl of congee. Very slowly, though, like three sips a minute.”

 

“Give him amazake,” Giovanni prescribed, slamming his fist down on the table.

 

“Y’know, I've always found that a hot volcanic rock covered in a towel did the trick,” said Archie.

 

Cyrus blinked. “Why don't you just take an antacid?”

 

Everyone was shocked to hear this reasonable answer.

 

“I g-guess I'll do that,” Colress mumbled. “Then we could go to the pool.”

 

Archie's eyes got all watery. “This is the most excited I've ever felt in my life,” he sighed.

 

Once finished with their brunch-lunch hybrid, all the bosses got off their chairs and huddled up in a circle.

 

“There's another hall to the left of the house,” Ghetsis said.

 

“Just how big is this freakin’ place?” Giovanni asked, somewhat scared to know the truth.

 

“Meet us there in an hour!”

 


 

 

Giovanni opened the door to Maxie and Archie’s room.

 

“Hey, Arch,” he yelled. “I need to borrow your basketball shorts.”

 

Maxie darted underneath the bed. “What the fuck, man, I had my ass out!”

 

Giovanni snorted. “It's not like you've got anything there.”

 

Maxie grumbled something about “absolutely disrespectful” old bosses.

 

Archie handed Giovanni a pair of basketball shorts. “This is what extra manly-men wear to the pool, aniki. I can't swim fast enough in them, though. Heh! Maxie still wears high schooler trunks. Not short enough for swimming but not long enough to be a manly-man.”

 

“I can hear you,” a freckled lump shouted from under the bed.

 

“See you guys in a bit,” said Giovanni as he rushed off back to his room to put on the pair of basketball shorts.

 

Oh man oh man oh man oh man, he thought as he locked the door. Why am I so excited? I don't really like swimming that much. It's gross and it makes your eyes sting. I won't even get in. Okay, maybe just like 20%. No… 50% and that's it. Ah… whatever. I'm keeping my shirt on. Ha. Teehee, this is gonna be so much fun-- wait, what the fuck? I really need to get a hold of myself.

 

“Boss, you Torkoal, hurry up!” Maxie shouted through the door.

 

Giovanni, all dressed up and ready to go, joined the others in the hall. Archie and Maxie were standing around with Lysandre. All three of them were shirtless. They all looked at each other and then turned away.

 

“I feel self-conscious,” Giovanni said flatly.

 

“You're wearing a shirt,” Maxie huffed and crossed his arms. “Imagine how I feel.”

 

“Does chest hair impair your swimming much?” Lysandre asked as he stared up at the ceiling.

 

“I dunno but you can use your beard to catch seaweed,” Archie said.

 

“Oui, but we are going to a pool, not a beach…”

 

A door behind them closed. Cyrus walked over and joined them. Giovanni only glanced at first but then, hold on, aaaaaaAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!

 

Cyrus had on a snug-fitting grey tank top and the same little black shorts from yesterday. He was pretty covered up compared to the three shirtless dorks standing over there, but he looked great. Giovanni decided Cyrus was definitely the most attractive person he'd ever seen.

 

Maxie noticed Giovanni was looking at Cyrus in a certain way that made the Magma leader go HHHHHMMMMM???!!! HHHHMMMM??? Giovanni was blatantly checking out Cyrus! Maxie never turned down the opportunity to poke fun at his former boss but this time it was a little different. He stayed quiet. Detective Maxie Matsubusa was on the case.

 

“Let's go!” Archie begged. “Gah, I wanna swim so bad! My legs are shaking.”

 

“C’mon,” said Giovanni, “we better hurry before you pass out or something.”

 

The group of studly swimmers scurried over to the magical “other hall” that Ghetsis had told them about. The giant Harmonia was nowhere to be seen; instead, standing in the middle of the hall was the smaller Harmonia. Around his waist was an inflatable pool float with a little palm tree sticking out of it. He had a bundle of towels under his arm.

 

“I can't bring my Darumaka with me,” N stated. “He's a Fire type.”

 

Nobody had asked for this information but he felt that it was important for his guests to know.

 

“Come with me,” said N as he began to walk down the hall. He was wearing these bright yellow swimming flippers that went pat pat pat with every step he took.

 

“Hey, kid,” Giovanni spoke up over the ridiculous sound. “Where’s your dad?”

 

“He and Colress are already there. It's right this way.”

 

The group went through a door and into a great big orb of a building. There it was: the pool. It was a large octagon full of sparkly water. It was warm but not humid-- the sound of wind whooshing in and out of the building through small round windows helped clear the air and added a nice ambient sound. Just like pretty much the rest of the house, the building was naturally lit by the sun shining down on the glass dome ceiling.

 

It was an incredibly beautiful natatorium and Archie wanted to make out with it.

 

“It's so perfect and-- and so blue,” he sobbed. “Look at the floor! The tiles are nice and rough so you can't slip, huh? I feel so in touch with nature.”

 

Ghetsis looked up from his place on a beach chair. “It's an indoor pool,” he said. “I don't think that's very natural. In fact, it's very unnatural and it kinda freaks me out . This is what happens when humans decide to play god.”

 

Giovanni covered his eyes. “Ghetsis… What are you doing? What are you wearing?”

 

Ghetsis was leaning forward, painting his toenails a glittery shade of iridescent green. His poolside attire consisted of a tight pair of black swimming trunks that had the word SLUT printed across it in giant gold letters. He also had on another brand new pair of giant sunglasses and a thinner, pinker version of his typical robe that he wore around the house and never bothered to tie up.

 

Ghetsis took one look at Giovanni and snorted. “Right back at you. You look like you've got a business-casual meeting with your coworkers at ten and a game of basketball with the bros at twelve.”

 

“That's so specific,” Giovanni spat. “You're so stupid.”

 

“It's kind of true, boss,” Maxie admitted.

 

“Why d’you still got your shirt on, Sakaki?” Ghetsis asked suspiciously. “You're the stupid one.”

 

Giovanni took a deep breath. “FFFIRST OF ALL, it’s linen and you can swim in linen. Second of all, Cyrus and Colress are wearing shirts, too, so maybe fuck off.”

 

Colress grunted sadly and tugged at his oversized T-shirt. He was sitting on the edge of the pool, leaning against the handrails with his feet on the steps below the water’s surface. He didn't look so happy which was really freaking weird.

 

“This is the worst game of shirts versus skins ever,” he mumbled.

 

Everyone stepped into the water except for Ghetsis, who was too busy fumbling around with his bottle of nail polish.

 

“Aren't you going to get in?” Lysandre called out to him.

 

“This was your idea, Ghetsis,” Maxie shouted.

 

“Yes but it was never my intention to swim,” said Ghetsis.

 

“What do you mean?” asked Cyrus.

 

Ghetsis set the nail polish aside and pushed up his sunglasses. “I just wanted to sit by the pool and look pretty.”

 

He then snapped his fingers and N rushed to his side. “Today's your lucky day. You're the lifeguard, squirt.”

 

N whooped and jumped around. “Yes! Lifeguard!” he cheered before coming to a halt and looking down at the float ring around his waist. “But I don't know how to swim too good.”

 

“I changed my mind. You-- uh, Archie! You're the lifeguard.”

 

Archie clapped his hands together and bowed. “Sounds good to me! Hear that, Maxie? I'm the lifeguard. I'm going to have to watch over you the most cuz you're real bad at swimming!”

 

Maxie grumbled something about “absolutely disrespectful” buff boyfriends.

 

Colress waded into the pool. “Do you at least know how to float?”

 

“This isn't about to be some sort of intervention is it?” Maxie complained.

 

“Hey, now that's not a bad idea!” said Archie. “I can teach you how to swim through a tried and true method! We’ll play a game of kibasen, AKA shoulder wars!”

 

“What's that?” asked Lysandre.

 

Colress looked a little uneasy. “Is that where you have to knock people off someone else's shoulders?”

 

“It's stupid and I'm gonna drown if we play it,” Maxie huffed and puffed.

 

“I think it’ll be a lot of fun,” Archie insisted. “It’s the perfect game for summertime. No more excuses! Let's group up!”

 

Everyone (except for Ghetsis, who was too busy sitting on his chair and kicking water at his own son) gathered around Archie.

 

Giovanni panicked. Not because kibasen was a school game infamous for putting people in comas if they landed wrong. No, he was panicking because playing this game meant he'd have to sit on someone… or someone would have to sit on him. This wasn't good.

 

He looked at his potential teammates.

 

The thought of Cyrus being that close to him was like a dream come true, but for that to happen right now in front of everyone? It seemed more like a nightmare. Cyrus was completely out of the question. I'm not about to pop a boner over a pool game.

 

Giovanni glanced at Maxie and Archie. They were talking to each other, engaged in what looked like a very heated conversation. Maybe they were discussing strategy together. It was obvious they were going to pair up so Giovanni moved on.

 

As soon as his eyes landed on Lysandre, Giovanni’s mind went NOPE.

 

The thought of two buff men sitting on each other is the most unappealing thing in the world.

 

So he went on to the next. Colress? Giovanni didn't know him very well or have a giant crush on him so the awkwardness wouldn't be there. Even better, Colress looked like he weighed as much as a Meowth. Teaming up with him would be easy on Giovanni.

 

At that moment, Maxie made a loud “HMPH!” and pointed a tiny little nerd finger at Lysandre.

 

“Just for that, Archie, I'm going with Lys!” Maxie announced. “C’mon, Lysandre, get over here.”

 

Archie’s jaw dropped. “Wh-What, cuz I said you were a bad swimmer?!”

 

Maxie nodded smugly. “I'm gonna take you down.”

 

Welp, that really caught Giovanni off guard. Looks like Lysandre wasn't an option anymore and that left Archie…

 

How is that any different?! Giovanni screamed in his mind. My fate is sealed; I’m gonna have a big, burly dude on my shoulders! NOOOOOOOOO--

 

Archie waved his hand over at Cyrus.

 

“Cy-bro!” he chuckled. “Please help me beat Maxie and Lysa!”

 

Cyrus blinked in surprise. After a quiet moment he hummed and joined Archie.

 

Immediately, Giovanni and Colress locked eyes. Colress looked incredibly nervous, which made Giovanni wonder about his own likability. The two of them floated over to each other.

 

“I think we’ll do good,” Giovanni said, trying to be encouraging. “We won't drown, that's for sure.”

 

Colress tugged at his oversized T-shirt. SUN OVAH UNOVA, SUMMER OF 1987 was emblazoned on the front in big fat neon letters.

 

“So do I just get on you or..?” Colress asked in a shaky mumble of a voice.

 

Giovanni sighed. I was wrong. This is still awkward. Not as awkward as the possibility of Cyrus’ dick being on my neck but it's pretty up there.

 

Colress unsteadily got on Giovanni’s shoulders with very little assistance. Giovanni was still thinking about Cyrus ( DDDDDICK ON MY NNEEEEECK) when something snapped him out of his thoughts. Something damp and not very prominent.

 

Colress had a reeeaaally tiny penis.

 

The poor guy had a dang shimeji mushroom in between his legs. Giovanni felt himself go red. He expected to feel a non-threatening limp lump at least! But this was just too much (...or too little) to handle. There were some things you just didn't have to know about certain people. This was one of them.

 

For some reason unknown to himself, Giovanni asked, “The water is really cold, huh?”

 

Colress grunted. “It's colder in my lab,” he claimed.

 

“Shimeji mushroom,” Giovanni whispered to himself. “Possibly enoki.”

 

“Did you say something? Hey, the game’s starting,” Colress said, patting Giovanni on the head. “I hope you're good at this.”

 

The three pairs of moist men all huddled up and glared at each other. Colress on Giovanni, Maxie on Lysandre, Cyrus on Archie. Everyone looked determined. Dorky as fuck but definitely determined.

 

“HHHHRRRNGH,” rumbled Archie. “Growl at them, Cy.”

 

Giovanni didn't think he was gonna do it, but surprisingly Cyrus let out a very soft, quiet “Ghhrrr.”

 

Archie started the countdown. “One… two…”

 

The water was still, then--

 

“THREE!!!”

 

The bosses charged at each other and smack! Everyone had their hands stuck out to prevent being shoved over. Cyrus was pretty good. It was a physically demanding game but he didn't even look fazed by it. Maxie closed in on him and Archie.

 

“Sharpedo-butt,” Maxie teased.

 

“Sharpedoes don’t even have butts!” Archie grunted as he leaned forward to let Cyrus push Maxie back.

 

From the sidelines, Ghetsis sat up in his chair and cheered, “Go, Colress! They’re distracted by their own pettiness, now’s your chance!”

 

Colress focused his attention on Maxie and gave him a good shove. He nearly fell off. Lysandre laughed. Once he regained his balance, Maxie angrily tugged at Lysandre’s beard.

 

“How about instead of laughing, you make sure I don’t fall?!” Maxie whined.

 

“My beard is not a steering wheel!” cried Lysandre, blinking back tears.

 

Again, Colress went for Maxie. Giovanni was a little disappointed in his former henchman. They weren’t on the same team but, wow, c’mon, Max, strategy and concentration is key in this stupid kid’s game.

 

“Oh no, you don’t!” Maxie yelped as he shoved back.

 

“Volcanoes aren’t that cool,” sneered Colress, “and your glasses are dumb!”

 

“NERD FIGHT!” Archie shouted with glee.

 

Maxie, utterly offended, thrust his hands forward and dug his hands into Colress’ chest. The two of them looked at each other in shock.

 

It was silent for a moment.

 

Maxie blinked. “Ummm…”

 

Giovanni tried turning his head to see. “Hey, uh, guys, what’s going on, y’know, on my shoulders?”

 

Colress snapped out of it and gave Maxie a mighty push that caused the Magma leader to tumble into the pool. Maxie came back up and gasped for air. He didn’t look as freaked out as Archie and Giovanni thought he’d be. He looked a little more confused than anything.

 

Embracing his inner cheerleader, Ghetsis let out a celebratory whoop. “Alright, Col. You did it, baby!”

 

Colress turned around. “Damn right I did!”

 

Giovanni clicked his tongue. “Hey, hey. Pay attention. We still got Cyrus and Archie to worry about.”

 

The focus was back on their opponents. Archie looked pretty confident and Cyrus was absolutely ready to strike. From his place down in the water, Giovanni looked up at the stoic younger man and sighed. Cyrus had such long, pretty legs. It’s official, Giovanni thought, Archie is waaay stronger than me. How does he keep his composure around those things?

 

Cyrus noticed Giovanni staring at him...

 

Uh-oh.

 

...and gave him a tiny smile.

 

Giovanni felt himself go red and still until Colress dug an impatient heel right into his side. Giovanni let out a manly squeak.

 

“Hold on a little tighter,” instructed Colress as he gave his teammate another kick. “Go!”

 

“I’m not a Rapidash,” Giovanni said weakly.

 

Colress fended off a rather sudden attack from Cyrus. They locked their hands and fingers together and shoved forward. The moment of truth was now upon them.

 

“You're pretty good at this game, aniki,” Archie chuckled. “I'm proud of you. Never give up! That's what I always tell Maxie but he somehow still managed to be the first one who fell…”

 

“It’s the pool’s fault!” Maxie piped up.

 

Cyrus was tiring out. Could Colress overtake him? It looked like that was about to be the case when a hoarse whimper came from the sidelines.

 

“Colress,” Ghetsis moaned. “Are you almost done with that stupid game? I'm lonely.”

 

“I just gotta finish kicking butts over here, babe!”

 

Ghetsis made another whiny noise. “It's kind of hot watching you with Sakaki’s head between your legs,” he said in a low, sultry voice. “So hot, I'm a little jealous. Will you come do that with me or will I have to find someone else?”

 

Instantly, the two of them turned around; Colress in incredible arousal and Giovanni in extreme disgust.

 

“I’M ALMOST DONE, BABY!” Colress shouted, drooling down on his teammate’s head. “JUST WAIT A LIL LONGER FOR ME!”

 

“DON’T TALK ABOUT ME LIKE THAT!” yelled Giovanni. “IF YOU THINK THIS IS ANYTHING BUT A STUPID KIDS’ GAME, I-- Oh?!”

 

SPAH-LOOSH!!!!!

 

Cyrus had gotten them.

 

Colress wrapped his ankles around Giovanni’s neck and fell backwards. It was no use. The two of them went underwater. Colress wiggled his way back up and Giovanni deadman-floated to the surface.

 

“Ah, Ghetsis, you made me lose!” Colress complained. “You stabbed me in the back!”

 

Ghetsis crossed his arms and stuck his pointy little nose in the air. “You were your own downfall, Col. One must not get easily distracted in battle!”

 

Giovanni stood up. “You two are a couple of perverts,” he huffed.

 

Archie raised a hand in the air. “Alright! I knew we’d do it! Good job, Cy! Put ‘er here!”

 

Cyrus gave him a gentle high five.

 

Everyone swam around the pool, drifting about lazily. N was spinning like crazy in his floatie.

 

“Archie, mon ami,” Lysandre spoke up.

 

“Yes?”

 

“What was that supposed to teach us about swimming?”

 

“Um… Well…”

 

Maxie shook his head. “You just wanted to play kibasen didn't you,” he sighed.

 

“Well, you didn't drown, Max!” Archie pointed out. “You swam back up! Without my assistance, too. You all did very good. Think of this as more of a lesson on the power of teamwork!”

 

“Teamwork..?” everyone groaned.

 

“I have never won at a sport before,” Cyrus said in his own bored but saw something funny on his phone sounding way of happiness. He hopped off Archie’s shoulders and landed gracefully in the water. His hair was still dry and fluffy even after all this time in the pool.

 

Giovanni wondered how Cyrus’ hair looked like when it wasn’t spiked up. That’s going on my ‘Things I Gotta Do’ ...Er, ‘Things I Gotta See Before I Die’ list.

 

Colress got out of the pool and plodded over to Ghetsis. “Soooo, you still up for what you were saying earlier?”

 

Maxie punched the surface of the water and screeched, “DON’T DISCUSS THAT IN FRONT OF US!”

 

Ghetsis cocked his head to the side and took Colress’ words into consideration. “Hmmm. Well, to be honest, I kinda feel like doing something else right now...”

 

Colress gasped. “Psychological warfare,” he sobbed. “That’s what you’re doing to me!”

 

Ghetsis held his left index finger up. “Karaoke.”

 

The bosses in the pool splashed about; their reactions mixed. Some were rarin’ to go and others were a little less eager.

 

“Yesssssssss!” Maxie hissed. “Finally, something I actually enjoy!”

 

Archie slouched. “Karaoke? Aw, man, boo! That’s the only summer game I’m bad at! I'll play but I’m telling ya-- I sound like a deflated Wailmer.”

 

Cyrus climbed out of the pool. “Playing karaoke... in the summer?”

 

“It’s so hot in Hoenn,” Maxie explained, “and karaoke boxes are the only air-conditioned places you can stay in for hours without getting kicked out by grumpy old grandmas.”

 

“It’s a winter game in Sinnoh… The buildings are warm.”

 

“Are y’all down?” asked Ghetsis. “I’ll send N to set it up in the ballroom.”

 

N leapt straight for his father. “CAN I PLAY?”

 

“Get away from me and we’ll see about that!!!”

 

N stood up and saluted. “Right! I'll get the big screen ready!”

 

Maxie tried dragging Archie out of the water. “Hurry up! Unless you're scared of losing to me at karaoke..?”

 

Archie rolled onto the warm tile. He rested his hands on his chest and sighed deeply. “I just love this pool too much to leave it.”

 

After toweling off and wiping their stinging eyes, the bosses departed from the natatorium and went back into the ice cold hallway. They paused, all wet footsteps and chattering teeth, then stared at each other.

 

“C-Can we change into dry clothes first?” Lysandre asked.

 

“M-M-My nipples are gonna get frostbite,” chattered Maxie. “And they're gonna fall off and I'll have to use pencil erasers as replacements.”

 

Ghetsis snorted at his guests. “Of course you can change. I've had enough of your wet squeaking. Just meet me in the big ol’ room once you're done, okay?”

 

Eager to feel pleasantly dry and fresh again, the bosses split up.

 

It was time to sing.



 

Chapter Text

Cyrus was the first one in the ballroom turned karaoke club. All the lights were off; a projector connected to a laptop was casting a blue glow on the room as it hummed quietly and pooped out an image onto a giant screen. Big white marshmallow chairs were lined up before it with a trendy glass table in the middle of it all. It felt like a real, genuine karaoke box.

 

Colress was on a screen that said “HOW MANY PLAYERS?” with everyone's names on it, struggling whether or not to add an eighth player. “ Only three singers per song!”

 

“Is N going to play?” asked Cyrus.

 

Colress bit his lip nervously. “Ghetsis doesn't want him to but I feel bad leaving him out,” he replied. “N deserves to play, too, but…”

 

Cyrus leaned forward as if to say “But..?”

 

“He's a terrible singer,” Colress breathed out. “He doesn't follow the rhythm even though it shows it on screen. He just reads the lyrics out loud.”

 

Cyrus furrowed his brow as if to say “Sounds rough.”

 

“I guess I should, huh? Maybe if I sing with him, I could cover up how horrible he sounds.”

 

The door swung open and the two of them were bathed in bright light for a second. Speak of the abnormally tall and green devil! It was N carrying a giant bowl and Ghetsis carrying a pack of cans. Colress nearly dropped his laptop. Soon, Giovanni, Archie and Maxie, then Lysandre joined them.

 

Lysandre tried to sneak a peek at what was in the bowl. “What is that you have there, mon ami?”

 

“Popcorn!” N celebrated. “And we also brought cream soda!”

 

“It's not freakin’ cream soda!” snapped Ghetsis. “It's beer and you can't have any. Ever. Or you'll die.”

 

“NO ALCOHOL,” Giovanni immediately said.

 

“You don't have to drink any,” rebuffed Ghetsis. “You're a grown man, you can make your own decisions.”

 

Giovanni frowned a mighty dad frown. “My liver’s so messed up because of you. I don't think I can even stand the smell of beer.”

 

“Yeast soda,” Cyrus interjected.

 

Giovanni stared at him.

 

I don't know what that was but I appreciate it.

 

Lysandre was shoveling popcorn down his throat and waving a buttery hand at Colress. “What kind of songs does it have?”

 

“Well, it's whatever they have online,” Colress explained as he started scrolling through various titles. “There's different genres and languages.”

 

“Anime theme songs!” Archie hollered, pointing at the screen. “Max, let's do those! They get me so pumped!”

 

Maxie adjusted his glasses and looked at their options. “Hey, Cy, look, SNSD! Your favorite band.”

 

Cyrus gave Maxie a cold yet hurt stare. “They are not a band and they are not my favorite.”

 

“You know all of their moves…”

 

Cyrus reached over and gave Maxie a good pinch on his dang ponch.

 

“We should sing whatever's on this year's charts,” Lysandre suggested.

 

“We should sing old stuff everyone knows,” Archie countered before turning around and asking Giovanni, “What sounds good, aniki?”

 

The famous aniki did not look very happy.

 

“I dunno,” he said. “I don't sing.”

 

Everyone practically fell forward in shock. “YOU WHAAAAT?!?”

 

“I don't sing,” Giovanni repeated. “I think it's kinda awkward.”

 

Ghetsis set a hand on his non-singing friend’s shoulder. “You wore clothes into a pool today, Sakaki.”

 

“THAT IS IRRELEVANT--”

 

Colress stood up. “Yessss… If anyone knows this song, please join me.”

 

“I Want It That Way” by The Backstreet Boys was highlighted on the screen.

 

Maxie stood up ten times more straight and erect than Colress did. “You're a chump if you think you know that song more than me. Let's do it. This'll be my revenge for what you did to me earlier.”

 

“You're on,” taunted Colress as he selected the song and which two of the eight players were gonna play.

 

COLRESS vs MAXIE , read the funky title card.

 

The duel started. The two of them sang “You are… (long pause) my faaaai-yaaah” with incredible skill. They followed the rhythm perfectly and scored a couple hundred points. Colress was better than Maxie expected but he wasn't about to let his guard down.

 

“Where the fuck was I when this song came out?” Ghetsis mumbled over a can of beer. “What year was this?”

 

“Fuck if I know,” grunted Giovanni.

 

“Nineteen ninety-nine,” Cyrus informed them.

 

“What, was I even alive at that time?” Ghetsis wondered. "What was I doing?"

 

Colress and Maxie were belting out “TELL ME HHWHHHY~! AIN’T NOTHIN' BUT A HEARTBREAK~!!!” with such passion that they both started crying. They got on their knees and started twirling around on the hardwood floor. This was true Backstreet Boys-induced madness. But it had to end eventually. Once the song was over, the two of them stood up and waited as the system got their scores all sorted out. They were sweating as if they’d just finished up a real, live concert instead of a game.

 

Bloo-loo-loo-loop!

 

“IT’S A TIE!”

 

(Small trumpet fanfare: Dah-Daaaaah!)

 

“WHAT!” Maxie shrieked.

 

“Seriously?!” Colress wheezed.

 

Giovanni leaned over and poked Cyrus on the arm. The younger man nearly snapped his neck turning to look at Giovanni.

 

Cyrus scooted closer. “Yes..?”

 

“You’re in a band, right?” Giovanni asked.

 

“I guess you could call it that…”

 

“Who sings again? I forgot...”

 

There went Cyrus’ ears, again, turning all pink and cute. “M-Most of the time, it’s Maxie.”

 

“Really?” Giovanni chuckled with a smirk. “What about those other times?”

 

“Sometimes, I'll join in. My voice… doesn't suit a lot of songs, though.”

 

Giovanni didn't buy it. “Well, I’m looking forward to hearing you.”

 

Cyrus felt the room’s temperature go up a few degrees. He sighed through his nose. Giovanni certainly was a nice person. He was very warm, too. Was that why the room was getting hotter?

 

Giovanni reminded Cyrus of his favorite rock back home in Sinnoh. The rock sat in the middle of a snowy field hidden away on some uncharted route. It was shaped like a table and was perfect for resting on since it absorbed the heat of the sun while being positioned in the path of the icy spring wind. Cyrus had fallen asleep on that rock more times than he could count.

 

Maxie grabbed Cyrus by his fantastic ears. “Let’s sing some angsty 2000’s music.”

 

“Panic! or Fall Out Boy?” asked Colress.

 

“MCR,” Cyrus immediately said, grabbing the lone microphone by the laptop.

 

“YOU READ MY MIND, BUDDY!”

 

The three of them joined forces to perform the iconic moody teen classic, “Helena”. Cyrus wasn't even bad at it. His singing voice was as soft and monotonous as his regular voice, just an octave deeper. He definitely wasn't as melodramatic as Colress and Maxie with their screeching and dancing.

 

Blopa-loopa-wooooop!

 

"WINNER: MAXIE!!!”

 

(BIG trumpet fanfare: DAAH-DAH-DAAAAAAH!)

 

Maxie punched the air. “Yisssss! Bow down, bitches! That's the power of Team Magma right there! Let's do another song.”

 

The three dorkaloids hollered their way through late nineties and early 2000’s alt-rock (“HER BOYFRIEND… HE DON’T KNOW... ANYYY-THING ABOUT HERRR!! HE’S... TOO STONED..!  NINTENDOOO!!!”) before falling down in a satisfied and spent circle. Lysandre decided to be brave and step up to the plate.

 

“Archie, would you like to join me in a song or two?” he asked boldly as he scrolled through the track selection.

 

“It depends which one!” Archie hesitated to say. “I’ll sing anything but enka and country. I hate enka.”

 

“E-Enya?” Lysandre repeated incorrectly. "What do you have against Enya?"

 

“ON-LY TIME, ON-LY TIME,” chanted Ghetsis.

 

Lysandre clenched his fists. “We’ll do either ‘TiK ToK’ or ‘Hey Ya!’”

 

Archie got on his feet and took the microphone from Cyrus. “Sure thing. Let's do both of them.”

 

“TiK ToK” is a song that doesn't require a lot of skill. Kids sing it, old ladies sing it; everyone loves it. The only thing you need to do to conquer “TiK ToK” is act fierce just like Kesha. But it seemed Archie and Lysandre could not master even that. With their tone-deaf vocals and penchant for randomly commenting on little things they found strange about the lyrics or the music video playing on the screen, they successfully butchered Kesha’s debut single. “DOUBLE LOSERS! NO WIN. TRY AGAIN?”

 

Nobody wanted to see them ruin “Hey Ya!” but they soldiered on after making a few terrible puns.

 

“Ha! I am Lysandre3000.”

 

“Well, I'm Archie3000.”

 

The song was a little fast for them. At one point Lysandre inhaled so violently, his beard got sucked into his mouth and he had to sing while coughing. Alright alright alright alright alright alright alright alright alright alright alright alright alright alright--

 

“WINNER: ARCHIE!!!”

 

Archie dropped his mic. “I… I won?!” he gasped.

 

“You have a very tame beard, mon ami,” sighed Lysandre. “You did good. Bon travail.”

 

Ghetsis sprung up out of his seat and snatched the fallen microphone off the floor. “I wanted to go solo,” he announced, “but the spirit of competition has me hyped. Sakaki! Sing with me.”

 

Giovanni felt like a gross little Shuckle wanting to go back in its shell. “Ah, I’d rather not.”

 

“What? You scared?” Ghetsis taunted.

 

“No way! I'm not scared. I just don't sing , that's all.”

 

“You're scared of losing to me, eh?”

 

“Fine,” snapped Giovanni as he took a microphone in his hand. “You wanna be like that? I'll do it. But it better not be anything girly.”

 

Ghetsis pouted. “Aw, don't be such a hetero,” he teased. “Let's do a duet, then.”

 

Giovanni watched in stunned silence as Ghetsis looked for a song to sing.  Did he just call me a... h-h etero?!?

 

“Wow, babe, you're really bringing out the big guns!” Colress gasped.

 

“I won't take it easy on you!” Ghetsis said. “Stand up and join me.”

 

“Nah, I'm good with sitting down,” Giovanni replied. He was completely unenthusiastic.

 

“You're red and I'm blue, okay? Get ready.”

 

Ghetsis had chosen “Total Eclipse of the Heart.”

 

Giovanni smirked. This'll be a piece of cake. All I gotta do is follow the squiggly rhythm lines and I'll get more points. Ghetsis thinks he's invincible. I bet he's gonna suck.

 

Everyone was anxious waiting for the song to start. Archie was whispering “aniki, aniki, aniki” to himself, practically praying for Giovanni’s success. As soon as those first few piano notes came on, the bosses were biting their nails and trembling. Then, a hush fell over them.

 

“Turn arooound,” Giovanni sang, barely nailing it.

 

“Every now and then I get a little bit lonely,” Ghetsis responded in probably the most beautiful voice ever heard in the world ever, “and you're never coming round.”

 

Giovanni nearly choked on the microphone. HE’S SO GOOD????!!!!!?

 

Panic mode. Giovanni continued to sing as he read the lyrics on the screen in a daze. He really hadn't expected Ghetsis to have such a great singing voice. It was like a bunch of green-haired angels were massaging his shoulders. It was like eating as much of your favorite dish as you could at a restaurant and still having some left to take home. It was like being able to touch Cyrus’ butt.

 

Well, maybe not that last one.

 

But Ghetsis was good. And that was BAD.

 

Ghetsis gave Giovanni a smug, knowing look as the two of them sang together. He beckoned for Giovanni to come stand next to him. Giovanni shook his head.

 

I'm fine , he tried to communicate telepathically.

 

Ghetsis shrugged. Suit yourself, he totally said back.

 

Maxie and Archie held on to each other in anticipation and awe. They couldn't believe how incredible a voice Ghetsis had! He did the chorus justice, no mumbling or flubbing lines. Could their dear old Giovanni win? It seemed impossible.

 

“He's magnificent,” whispered Lysandre.

 

“Isn't he?” Colress sighed with nothing but great love for Ghetsis. “He’s such a great singer.”

 

“Indeed,” agreed Cyrus.

 

Shit! No!

 

Giovanni overheard that. Was Ghetsis winning Cyrus over? Giovanni wasn't going to sit down and take this. He stood up and got right in Ghetsis’ face (as much as he could because, woooweeee, the man was literally a tree). Giovanni grinned. Two can play at this game! ...Well, yes, because it's karaoke but aghuuhRrrrrrFUCK I WON’T LET YOU IMPRESS CYRUS LIKE THIS!

 

Ghetsis smiled. At first it was one of delight; delight that he was being challenged in such a way then it transformed into something a little more... dirty.

 

He violently yanked Giovanni even closer. The shorter man found himself right against Ghetsis’ chest. His bare chest. Giovanni cursed Ghetsis’ inability to cover himself up properly while a long, long leg pulled back and pushed itself up against Giovanni’s mildly confused groin. They were wrapped up together in some sort of Kama Sutra pose from hell.

 

I'm such an idiot, Giovanni thought. I'm singing along to a power ballad about heartbreak with a huge pervert. Literally. What did I expect to happen?

 

Still, he didn't back down. He hooked an arm around Ghetsis’ waist as he bellowed out the stupid “TUUURN AROOOUND, BRIGHT EYEEEEES”  line for the millionth time.

 

“YES,” Colress roared, clapping his hands together as he went red in the face. “YES!”

 

Giovanni’s shining moment was cut short when Ghetsis’ was getting ready to delve into the chorus.

 

“EVERY NOW AND THEN I FALL APAAART!!!”

 

BOOSH!

 

Ghetsis had shoved Giovanni back onto the marshmallow chair and straddled his waist, perfectly timed to “AND I NEED YOU NOW TONIIIIIIGHT!!!!” Giovanni was so shocked, he swore he lost consciousness for a second but not to worry! He was brought back by Ghetsis grinding down on him. Oh.

 

“Sweet Arceus,” Maxie breathed.

 

Colress smacked his hand down on the floor repeatedly. “AAAAAAAAH,” he screamed. “HOOOOLY SHIT!! YEEEES! YES, BITCH, YES!”

 

Lysandre dropped his beer on himself. Archie coughed out a few soggy pieces of popcorn. N clapped. Cyrus looked on, eyes wide and mouth as straight as a ruler. He was either angry or astounded. Definitely confused.

 

I came into this to win, thought Giovanni , but instead I'm getting a lapdance from Ghetsis. What did I do in my past life to deserve this?

 

Ghetsis held onto Giovanni’s shoulders as he pretty much dry-humped him in front of everyone. It'd been years since Giovanni had gotten any action and this game of karaoke is what broke the spell. Ghetsis was certainly having fun. Colress was a twitching and drooling mess at this point. As Ghetsis sang the last line of the song, he gave Giovanni a great big kiss on the mouth and hopped off of him.

 

Giovanni slid off the marshmallow chair and crumbled up in a heap on the floor. Th... The bastard kissed me.

 

BLOLOLOLLLOOOOP!

 

“WINNER: GHEEEEETSIS!!!!!!!”

 

(Incredible fanfare: DAHDAHDAHDAHDAAAAAAAAAH TORORORORORO-NAH-NAAAAAAAH!!!)

 

Ghetsis set the microphone down and fixed his pants. “Try a little harder next time,” he chuckled. “Okay, Sakaki?”

 

“Ffuuff awf, ya fiff,” Giovanni replied in a language only Arceus could understand. “Yuu feeffed.”

 

“ANIKIIIIII!” Archie cried as he ran towards his incapacitated friend. 

 

“Gh-Ghetsis!” Colress stammered. “W-We ran out of popcorn. Let's go get some more.”

 

Colress and Ghetsis looked at each other in silence. Giovanni’s weak coughing was the only noise in the room for a while.

 

“Okay,” Ghetsis agreed. “Yes. Let's get more popcorn.”

 

The two of them eagerly skedaddled out of the room.

 

“Geez, what's up with them?” Maxie asked as he slurped on a half empty can of beer. “And what the hell just happened?! Boss, did you... did you cum?!”

 

"NO, MAXIE, I DID NOT. PLEASE SHUT UP."

 

Archie held Giovanni’s head in his arms. “I should've been there to protect you!” he sniffled.

 

“I’m not dead , Arch,” Giovanni stated as he got up. “I mean, I feel like it but... I'm alive.”

 

“I'll be right back,” said Lysandre. “I'm going to the restroom. All this beer went right through me.”

 

“You drank like one can,” Maxie pointed out.

 

“NEVERTHELESS… Does anyone know where the nearest toilet is?”

 

“Right before you get to the kitchen,” N told him. The young Harmonia was sliding around on the floor and listening to the cool grown ups around him talk about whatever they were talking about. Cool grown up things, stuff like that.

 

Giovanni stretched a little, popping his sore wreck of a back. He pushed his hair out of his face and caught Cyrus looking at him. The kid had the same dazed expression a Venomoth did when exposed to light. He blinked.

 

Giovanni smiled at him. “Hey, Cyrus.”

 

Cyrus’ eyes widened again and his ears went pink. “...Yes.”

 

“You're pretty good at singing.”

 

Cyrus held his hand to his chest and mumbled something that sounded a lot like “thank you”.

 

Maxie looked at his two friends. There was something about the way they’d been acting around each other lately. It wasn't weird but… Okay, maybe just a little. What on earth was it? It's like every time Giovanni so much as spoke to Cyrus, the fantastic Galactic man went all blushy and…

 

Maxie gasped.

 

C-COULD IT BE… COULD CYRUS… COULD GIOVANNI… COULD CYRUS AND GIOVANNI BE..?

 

Just then a great big shriek came from the hallway outside. Everyone jumped.

 

“Oh, man, what was that?” Archie asked as he hid behind Maxie.

 

Cyrus immediately jumped up on his feet. “Ghosts,” he said mysteriously. “They're here!”

 

He bolted out of the room.

 

“Cy, wait!” Maxie shouted. “Damn it! I'm gonna go see what's up.”

 

“Don’t leave me!” Archie begged as he chased after his boyfriend.

 

N didn't look too fazed by it. “Maybe Meredith is having dinner time.”

 

Giovanni remembered the terrible Zweilous who gave him a big chomp on his first day at Ghetsis’ house. He hoped Cyrus was right and that it was just ghosts. He got up and dusted off his pants.

 

“Let's go see,” Giovanni told N. “Do you like ghosts?”

 

“Not all of them. Only one or two.”

 

“O-Okay, kid, come on.”

 

A small crowd had gathered in the hallway. Lysandre was even paler than usual. He was almost transparent. He stared at Ghetsis in fear. Ghetsis wasn't very concerned. He was too busy wiping his mouth on his sleeve.

 

“Tell me… what you saw,” Cyrus instructed gently, pulling a pad and pencil out of nowhere.

 

“Blood,” groaned Lysandre. He looked like he was about to faint.

 

Cyrus jotted something down on his notepad. “Okay. What else?”

 

“VAMPIRES.”

 

Cyrus looked up at this. “V… Vampires?”

 

Lysandre nodded aggressively. “Yes, yes, mon ami, I swear! Ghetsis is a vampire!”

 

Ghetsis burped. “Huh? Me? Stop projecting. You're whiter than I am. Plus, you're obsessed with food. You're trying to hold off your appetite for blood, oooh-hoo-hoo! How spooooky .”

 

Lysandre pointed a finger right at Ghetsis’ mouth. “I know what I saw!” the lion man shouted. “You killed Colress by sucking all the blood out of him! He's dead in the bathroom right there!”

 

Ghetsis took a moment to process this accusation before snickering darkly and reaching back to knock on the bathroom door behind him.

 

“Yo, babe.”

 

“Y-Yeah?!” came the hesitant reply.

 

“Are you dead?”

 

“Only of embarrassment,” Colress huffed.

 

Lysandre stepped back. “But… how?” he gasped. “I saw blood. There was so much of it. It was all over your mouth, Ghetsis.”

 

“Yeah, tastes like pennies,” Ghetsis informed them as he licked somewhere behind his teeth. “I’m not saying anything, though. It's not my place to.”

 

Colress opened the door and peeked out at everyone. His hair was all fussed up.

 

“Pssst, Cyrus… Maxie,” he hissed. “Come in here.”

 

Cyrus immediately went in. Maxie was a little less obedient. Colress reached out and pulled him into the bathroom then slammed the door behind them.

 

“There is no blood on you,” Cyrus noticed.

 

“You look perfectly fine to me,” Maxie claimed. “Is Lysandre’s beard going to his brain or what?”

 

“Well…” said a very bashful Colress. “I-I have a bit of a secret.”

 

Cyrus and Maxie gasped. Like nosy teenage girls, they leaned forward, ready to listen.

 

“A secret?!” Maxie giggled. “How… big of a secret are we talking about here?”

 

“Uh, only a major one. I'll tell you but you can't tell anyone, alright?”

 

Cyrus and Maxie got even closer as Colress whispered something in their ears. He spoke so softly, Maxie wondered if he even heard it correctly.

 

"I'm trans."

 

Well, now… that was unexpected. But, somehow, it was the least shocking, least unbelievable thing to happen that day.

 

Colress pulled back. “Now, REMEMBER, don't tell anyone. If you do, I'll get Ghetsis to kill you!”

 

Maxie nodded, a little more shocked at Colress' threat of murder than of his secret. “Ah… Er, yes. I mean don't worry about it. You won't hear a peep from me.”

 

“What does... you being trans have to do with Ghetsis having blood on his mouth?” Cyrus asked once he'd finished processing the secret in his mind.

 

Colress waved his hands around. "Eeeh, let's discuss that later."

 

"Why are you telling us this?" asked Maxie. "You didn't have to come out if you didn't want to. I hope you didn't feel pressured or anything."

 

“Because I trust you,” explained Colress, “Besides, it's better I tell you two nerds. I’d be able to take you on. Giovanni, Archie, and Lysandre on the other hand…”

 

“Hey, Archie’s not like that!”

 

“I'm just being careful, alright?! I can't trust everyone.”

 

Cyrus cleared his throat. “What will we tell them?”

 

“Follow my lead,” Colress said with a nervous smile. “I’ve got an idea.”

 

The three secretive gentlemen finally exited the bathroom. Archie took one long look at Colress then gave Lysandre a small punch on the shoulder.

 

“No blood!” Archie exclaimed. “Lysa, you lied to us!”

 

“Archie,” Colress spoke up. “Lysandre wasn't lying...”

 

Lysandre burst into obnoxious laughter. “Ha, ha! You see? I would never lie about something so serious!”

 

“...But you were wrong about the circumstances around it.”

 

Lysandre looked at Colress. “Oh… WHAT?!? What does that even mean, mon ami?”

 

Colress adjusted his glasses, radiating an aura of cool confidence and said, “You see... Ghetsis has a blood fetish.”

 

Giovanni held his head in his hands. “Oh, Arceus,” he groaned. “First karaoke, now this. I'm really being tested, aren't I?”

 

Ghetsis seemed confused at first but eventually gave Colress a knowing look. “Yes,” he agreed. “It's true. Absolutely. The boners I get from the stuff are indescribable.”

 

“Can we not talk about this in front of your kid?” Giovanni asked, gesturing towards N. “Or maybe we should just stop talking about this completely.”

 

“Lysandre, you just caught Ghetsis eating Colress’ blood. That is all,” Cyrus explained. Well, he wasn't lying. 

 

“Colress pokes himself on a regular basis,” Maxie elaborated. Technically , this was true.

 

Archie didn't really understand any of this but he hummed in amusement as if he did. “I see! It was all a great misunderstanding!”

 

“Are we going to act as if this is a normal thing to stumble upon?!” Giovanni complained.

 

Lysandre slouched tiredly. “There was so much of it, though. I've met all sorts of people into weird things but never something like this. I am sorry for jumping to conclusions.”

 

Giovanni smacked himself right in the face. “Seriously..?! You weren’t even that far off. Why are you so accepting of it?!”

 

Ghetsis tugged at the front of his robe. “Don’t worry ‘bout it, firecrotch,” he laughed. “So… anybody else get hella hungry or what? I’ll get more snacks.”

 

“Ugh,” Giovanni said with a shudder. “Well... Fine! Just a few. Oh, and…”

 

“Yes?”

 

“Nothing red!”

 

Chapter Text

Cyrus tied the curtains up and opened the window in his room.

 

It was really nice outside. The world was quiet, save for the sounds of freakin' nature, of the sound of wind going through the leaves of all the plants. A light breeze carried the smell of the nearby rose garden inside the house. Some bug Pokémon clicked and snapped their wings as they paraded around in the grass. Roosting on ledges were flying Pokémon that cooed gently to each other.

 

Cyrus sat on his bed and reached under his pillow, pulling out the small pink box of UFO shaped chocolates Giovanni had gifted him two days ago. It was empty now. Cyrus had finished the candies in one sitting. He kept the empty box and put the switchblade he'd gotten from his new friend on the day they first met inside of it. Cyrus' originality became apparent when he named the box The Giovanni Box.

 

Cyrus was a collector of good luck charms and various amulets he believed would bring him peace in life. He'd brought some from home on his trip to this new and foreign region of opportunity. The Giovanni Box had become one of these greatly revered talismans; a symbol of friendship. Lately, Cyrus had been spending a lot of time just sitting around and gazing at the box’s shiny surface.

 

Giovanni is a very kind person, thought Cyrus. He said the chocolates reminded him of me.

 

Cyrus held the box to his face and sighed.

 

I am pleased by that.

 

The box was tucked away back under his pillow.

 

I should go see him, Cyrus thought.

 

He got up and headed out the door. As soon as he was in the hall, he narrowly missed bumping right into a familiar red mop of hair.

 

“Hey,” said Maxie the mop. “I was just looking for you. Wanna go put your kimchi in the lab? Colress is already waiting for us.”

 

Cyrus froze as if he'd been caught misbehaving. Though he'd intended to go see Giovanni, fate seemed to have other plans for Cyrus. He couldn't just turn his old friend down. 

 

He got the kimchi from the kitchen and followed Maxie down a small set of stairs that led under the house.

 

Colress’ lab was a cold room full of all sorts of whirring machines and flickering contraptions. There were three different microscopes, two white and one black, sitting on a single table together. Blueprints with indiscernible yet unsettling designs scratched onto them had been neatly tacked up on the walls. A rack full of vials caught Cyrus’ attention; the tubes were holding a viscous fluid that had an unearthly blue glow to it.

 

Maxie shivered. “It's freezing in here! Does it really have to be this cold? Look, I can see my breath.”

 

“I've gotten used to it,” Colress responded simply. “The specimens like it this way. Cyrus, you can put that over there by my desk. Thank you very much.”

 

Cyrus set the kimchi down on a shelf.

 

“I think once it's fermented enough, I'll take a teaspoon of it and put it under the microscope,” Colress declared.

 

“That'll have to be after I get my scoop of it,” said Maxie. “Since Cyrus went and made it without me, I get the first serving.”

 

Cyrus gave Maxie a deep bow. “Please find it within yourself to forgive me. I hope the taste of the kimchi itself will make up for my act of insolence.”

 

After that, it went quiet for a moment. This lull in conversation was so tense and heavy, it was like there was a Snorlax in the room.

 

Somebody’s phone vibrated.

 

Maxie sniffled loudly.

 

Something beeped.

 

Finally, Colress broke under the pressure.

 

“Oh, man, am I dumb,” he blurted out.

 

“It’s no big deal,” Maxie said instantly. “The others don't even know what happened, honestly!”

 

Colress held his head in his hands and fussed up his well-constructed quaff in the process. “I still feel like crap over it. I didn't even know the door was unlocked.”

 

“Y-Yeah, you might want to make sure of that in the future.”

 

Colress raised a fist in the air. “I-It's not my fault! It was kinda hot watching Ghetsis and Giovanni fight it out in karaoke. It was intense--”

 

“You didn't find that terrifying?” Maxie asked.

 

“I got a little turned on, okay?! So once he was done singing, I couldn't help myself! I’M ONLY HUMAN, AREN’T I?!?!”

 

“I honestly can't relate,” Maxie sighed. “But I sympathize.”

 

Colress stroked his limp blue tendril of hair absentmindedly. “I knew ‘it’ was coming soon, but I just didn't think ‘it’ was going to start then and there of all times…”

 

“D-Did Ghetsis even realize that ‘it’ started..?”

 

Colress shrugged. “Eh, I dunno, he probably did. He doesn't care.”

 

“I swear me and Cyrus here won't say anything to the others. That's completely up to you. Right, Cy?”

 

Cyrus was too busy looking at a shelf full of books, office toys, and framed pictures. There was a frame, made of popsicle sticks painted different colors and glued together, that held a picture of N. There was a cluster of photographs of the many Deinos that roamed the house. Near that was a shrine dedicated to Ghetsis. But it wasn't the Harmonia memorabilia that caught Cyrus’ attention; it was a small yearbook sample picture of a bored-looking teenager tucked away at the corner of the shelf.

 

“Is this you?” Cyrus asked as he grabbed the picture.

 

Colress peered over. “Yeah,” he chuckled. “I was so grumpy back then. Also that hair. Look at my roots. I'll never dye it black again.”

 

Maxie squeezed in to get a better look. “So you really were a 2000’s emo kid! No wonder you knew your stuff yesterday.”

 

A breathy little laugh came out of Cyrus’ nose. “We probably would've been friends in high school,” he said.

 

“It's strange,” Colress mused. “I wish I could go back in time and tell my younger self how everything would start working out a year after that picture was taken.”

 

“Did you already… ‘know’ by then?” asked Cyrus.

 

“Mm-hmm. This was my ‘attempt at femininity’ phase but it totally didn't work. If anything, it made me feel even more manly because I felt like a drag queen. And not even a good one.”

 

Maxie snorted. “Well, at least you were emo. Both the girls and the boys were wearing eyeliner.”

 

“I’m a little excited for a 2000’s fashion comeback,” Colress admitted.

 

Cyrus put the picture back on the shelf, this time closer to the front by the Ghetsis shrine. “I still have those weird pants somewhere in my closet,” he said. “The strappy ones… that always slid down.”

 

“Tripp pants?” Maxie recalled. “Didn't you tell me you borrowed those from Cynthia?”

 

Cyrus blushed and said in a very serious voice, “I never did give them back.”

 

The three of them laughed then sighed nostalgically, even a little sadly. Though they were all young, (Maxie being the oldest at thirty-four) they felt very dusty. Dustier than fossil Pokémon. This was the curse of the 2010’s: intrusive technology and quarter life crises.

 

Colress took his glasses off his head then started folding and unfolding them. “I hope it isn't mushy of me to thank you guys,” he said. “For not freaking out on me. For being so... cool with it, I guess.”

 

“You don't have to thank us for engaging in basic human kindness,” Maxie insisted. “Really.”

 

“I'm used to Ghetsis and N being accepting but I get nervous around other people cuz I don't know how they'll react. I'm lucky you two are so nice.”

 

Cyrus thought about this statement before asking, “When did you tell Ghetsis?”

 

Colress lit up, eager to talk about his favorite subject. Then he smiled bashfully. “Ha… Probably when I was in too deep.”

 

Maxie squinted. “Like literally or..?”

 

“No, no,” snickered Colress. “Well, almost. At the time I knew that sex was inevitable so I freaked out because I felt the only outcomes to me telling him would be: I tell him and he leaves me or I wait and he sees then he leaves me. None of that even happened so I got all worried for nothing. I just liked him so much.”

 

“How does one know if they like someone?” asked Cyrus.

 

Maxie and Colress shared a look.

 

This sweet space boy! He seemed like he genuinely didn't know. It was such a difficult thing to explain, too.

 

“It's kind of like,” Colress began, “hmmm. It's like…”

 

Maxie looked at the floor, then at the ceiling, then he just closed his eyes in frustration. “Your face gets hot and your chest feels tight. Your stomach gets bubbly.”

 

“So it's bad?” Cyrus asked, furrowing his brow.

 

“N-No, uh, well,” Maxie stammered. “Actually, sometimes you get so nervous you have to go to the bathroom.”

 

Colress nodded. “Ugh, I hated it when that would happen.”

 

“They make you happy but it's a different kind of happy,” said Maxie. “A happiness you only feel around that one person. It's weird-- you just know it when it happens.”

 

“That sums it up pretty well,” said Colress.

 

Cyrus reflected on these bits of information. It all sounded somewhat familiar.

 

“Hmm,” he hummed. “Well, then…”

 

Colress and Maxie leaned in to hear the soft man’s quiet words.

 

“If that is the case, I think I like Giovanni very much.”

 


 

Giovanni had spent most of the day in his room. Still embarrassed from the karaoke incident, he felt that it was best to forget about what happened the night before and keep to himself. He'd ignored Ghetsis’ annoying texts and mumbled halfheartedly when Archie came looking for him. It was one of those days.

 

He was already zoning out and getting ready for bed when he got startled by a knock at the door. Giovanni held his breath as he got up to answer it. He was ready to tell off the mystery visitor when he opened the door and saw that it was Cyrus who was standing there. Of all people! And when I look like an idiot, too!

 

Giovanni, all messy haired and clad in his sleeping clothes, briefly considered closing the door and hiding back in bed.

 

“Hey,” he greeted, powering through. “Cyrus.”

 

Cyrus bowed his head slightly and replied, “Good evening. I just wanted to know if you were busy.”

 

“No, I'm not. Uh… why? What's up?”

 

“Can I come in?”

 

Giovanni couldn't refuse. He opened the door a little wider and tried not to stare at Cyrus too wildly as the younger man shuffled into his room. Arceus. Why didn't Cyrus answer when Giovanni asked him what was up? It was already nine at night.

 

“May I sit?”

 

“Sure.”

 

The two of them sat down on the bed.

 

“This room doesn't look lived in,” Cyrus commented.

 

“I didn't bring anything to decorate with,” Giovanni explained with an embarrassed chuckle. “I didn't think I'd be staying so long.”

 

“It smells nice in here though,” Cyrus sighed as he shuddered contentedly.

 

Giovanni pretended not to notice this. “Did you need anything?” he asked.

 

Cyrus reached back into his pocket. “I have something for you.”

 

His fingers made contact with something crinkly-sounding. Giovanni’s eyes went wide and his back (and, thankfully, only his back) went stiff. Wait… what? OH SHIT. NOW?

 

Something plopped onto Giovanni’s hand. Then another. Then Giovanni found himself with a bunch of little fat things scattered across the bed. He looked down at them.

 

Poffins.

 

They were poffins. Lots of ‘em.

 

“I never... thanked you for the box of sweets you gave me,” Cyrus said, his sharp cheekbones turning soft and pink. “I th-thought this would make up for that.”

 

Giovanni didn’t point out that Cyrus actually did thank him that day and how he ran off right after. Instead, he just smiled.

 

“You didn’t have to,” he asserted gently, “but this is very nice of you. Thanks.”

 

He gave Cyrus a pat on the shoulder.

 

“I-I’m very happy to have you as a friend,” Cyrus claimed, looking somewhat shocked at the words that came out of his mouth. “I hope I’m a good friend, too.”

 

Giovanni nodded. “Don’t worry,” he said. “You’re perfect.”

 

The two of them looked at each other for a long, quiet moment before Giovanni realized that his hand was still on Cyrus’ shoulder and WHAT THE HELL DID HE JUST SAY OUT LOUD?!

 

“Friend,” Giovanni blurted out as he pulled away from Cyrus. “You’re a perfect friend.”

 

Cyrus looked just as frazzled. “Yes,” he mumbled. “Yes, thank you.”

 

Giovanni shut his eyes and held his head, as if in severe pain. “I'm sorry. I think I should sleep.”

 

“I will go to bed as well,” declared Cyrus, getting up to leave.

 

“But can we talk tomorrow?”

 

They could talk anytime and anywhere, of course, but Cyrus sensed that Giovanni meant he wanted them to be alone. That was always nice.

 

Cyrus let himself feel excited for once.

 

“Mm,” he replied with a nod as he opened the door to leave. “Tomorrow. I’ll... be going now.”

 

“Good night, Cyrus.”

 

Cyrus had already left and closed the door behind himself when he realized he forgot to say “good night” back. So, rather awkwardly, he shouted (in his quiet, hardly-shouts-ever voice) through the shut door, “Good night.”

 

He scuttled off to his room where he sighed loudly and crumpled into a blushing heap on the floor.

 


 

Down the hall, inside the bathroom of the master of all master bedrooms, Ghetsis sat up in a giant tub. A rubber Ducklett fell off his head and disappeared into a dense mound of bubbles with a sploosh.

 

“Did you feel that?” he asked Colress, who was standing at the sink shaving his face.

 

“Feel what?” Colress replied before grunting in displeasure. “Hey, have you seen that face mask for my pimples? I always look like a pizza around this time of the month.”

 

“I felt something,” Ghetsis rambled on. "Something very gay just happened somewhere in this house. I know it."

 

Colress was digging around in a giant cabinet filled with all sorts of nice looking bottles and tubes. “You're naked,” he said. “I'm ten feet away from you and I'm not bothered by your nakedness. We’re both men. That's already 10% gay. The level of gayness will go up to 50% when we go to bed together. It'll be 80% gay when we wake up and bang it out.”

 

“Only eighty percent?” Ghetsis asked in an amused voice.

 

“It's 100% if someone says ‘I love you,’” Colress explained.

 

Ghetsis let out a short laugh. “Something's goin’ on, Col, and surprisingly it's not us. I'm telling you.”

 

“It's probably one of the guys, hon.”

 

Ghetsis thought about it. He hadn't realized that about his guests. That, behind closed doors, they could be doing something secret. Whether it be embarrassing, nerdy, boring or (best of all) dirty. Under his roof, too! Ghetsis felt honored.

 

“You're right,” he said, sinking back into the water. “It probably is.”

 

Chapter Text

When Giovanni woke up the next day, he felt something.

 

He couldn’t quite pinpoint what it was, why he felt so chill and zen when he got out of bed. The sun was shining through the window and touched every single corner of the room, considerately avoiding his face. Giovanni checked the time and date on his phone. It was nine thirty. It was the fourth of June, 201X.

 

This feeling followed him into the shower. For the first time in his life, he didn’t see brushing his teeth while peeing in the shower as lazy, but as innovative, practical. He dried off, got dressed then looked in the mirror. There was this one side of his hair that just refused to stay flat. He pressed down on it once but decided that it wasn’t worth his time. Ready to face the world, he adjusted his shirt and went out the door.

 

In the bright and glossy hallway outside his room, it was silent except for the soothing coo-cooing from the Pidoves outside and the hoarse barks of the Rufflets who nested with them. Giovanni looked out the nearest window. A weird-ass cotton ball with eyes floated past his face. The Pokemon in Unova were ugly and overfed but that was alright with Giovanni. At least they’re happy, he thought as he walked down the hall…

 

...and bumped right into Cyrus.

 

The two of them stood there for a while, Giovanni being too in shock to move and Cyrus being even more unreadable than ever. Though Giovanni was only a few inches shorter than Cyrus, he felt really small. Especially when Cyrus was staring at him so intensely.

 

I mean this in the kindest way possible, Giovanni thought, but he’s the only person who can make such dead-looking eyes look good.

 

“Good morning,” Cyrus said in a flat, flat voice.

 

“Uh, hi,” Giovanni responded as he took an awkward step back. “Sorry about that.”

 

Cyrus still didn’t budge. “I... was looking for you,” he said.

 

Giovanni felt his miserable little heart skip a beat. “Really?”

 

“Ghetsis sent me to come get you,” Cyrus explained.

 

“Did he, now?” sighed Giovanni. “What does he want?”

 

“We’re having breakfast in the dining room.” Cyrus raised his nonexistent eyebrows, his eyebrowless patch of beautiful, smooth (and, to tell you the truth, somewhat arousing) forehead. “Want to come?”

 

Giovanni wanted to screech WELL, SINCE YOU ASKED   at the top of his lungs but instead, he was polite and decent just for Cyrus and said, “Sure, I’ll go.”

 

Cyrus gestured for Giovanni to follow, which he did reluctantly. They walked with a reasonable distance between them, with Cyrus in front. Giovanni was a few steps behind, staring at the back of Cyrus’ head.

 

The longer Giovanni stared, the more amazed he felt. His hair is so spiky… but it looks so soft. How. What. WHY.

 

Cyrus’ hair was cut short and fuzzy at the nape of his neck. It reminded Giovanni of that cute tuft of fur right above a Meowth’s nose. He found himself wanting to reach out and pat Cyrus’ hair just to see if it felt the same.

 

His hand twitched.

 

Cyrus turned around. “Everyone else is there,” he said. “Sorry we didn’t wake you up. Maxie was going to but he decided not to.”

 

“Well, I’m glad it was you who I saw first and not him,” Giovanni joked with a relieved sigh.

 

Cyrus stopped walking. “You don’t like Maxie?”

 

“N-No, er, yes, I do. I do. He may be a nerd but he’s my friend. It’s just…”

 

...that you’re extremely good-looking and Maxie looks like an actual human Snubbull?

 

“It’s just that neither of us are morning people,” Giovanni finally said. “We’d get on each other’s nerves really fast! You ever been around Maxie when he hasn’t combed his hair yet? It’s not fun.”

 

With a hint of a smirk, Cyrus faced forward and continued walking. “I know that Maxie and Archie have known you for a long time. It’s interesting to think that I was somehow connected to you before I even met you.”

 

Giovanni felt his chest go warm and fuzzy. “Yeah… Interesting.”

 

They had made it to the dining room, where everyone was busy eating and yammering away about who knows what. The first to notice their arrival was Archie, whose face lit up at the sight of them.

 

“Aniki, you’re awaaaaake!” he cried as if he hadn’t seen Giovanni in years.

 

“Finally!” scoffed Ghetsis. “You’ve been making us all wait. I have some great news! So, if you'd join us, that'd be great.”

 

Giovanni and Cyrus sat down next to each other. They waited for Ghetsis to tell them about this news but Ghetsis was leaning back in his chair, looking back at something and snapping his fingers.

 

“N, you failure, bring out their breakfast!”

 

After a quiet minute, N came out balancing two covered plates on the palms of his hands. He came to where Giovanni and Cyrus were sitting and set the plates down in front of them. Giovanni uncovered his and found a little pie-like thing with a fat R emblazoned across the surface. He looked at Cyrus’ plate and saw that he, too, got a little pie thing… except his had a G on it.

 

“Cute,” said Cyrus in his usual flat, unimpressed voice. It was unclear whether he legitimately found them cute or not.

 

“Aren't they?” asked Ghetsis, basking in the glory of Cyrus’ compliment. “I made them aaall by myself. I dunno if they have them where you come from, but just in case you don’t know, they’re called kwee-chees.”

 

Lysandre, who had been eating his own Team Flare themed pie thing, looked up. “Ah, hm, non, mon ami, that’s not how you pronounce it. It’s quiche.”

 

Ghetsis stared at Lysandre in disgust. “Honestly, I have never been a target of such negativity in my life. It’s like you live for the sole purpose of bringing me down and—"

 

“Wait!” Giovanni nearly shouted. “You haven’t told us about the great news.”

 

“Oh, right, right.” Ghetsis pointed a finger in the air. “Today is a very important day. Does anyone care to guess why?”

 

“Not really,” Maxie mumbled as he took a loud slurp of soy-milky coffee (with only one teaspoon of sugar).

 

“It’s your birthday!” Archie guessed with a smile.

 

Ghetsis looked taken aback. “Arceus, no. I’d rather kill myself than be a Gemini. No, it is not my birthday. It’s nobody’s birthday today.”

 

“When’s your birthday then?” asked Archie. “What kind of present would you like? How old are y— ow .”

 

Maxie pulled his elbow away from Archie’s ribs then innocently fixed his glasses.

 

“Is it you and Colress’ anniversary or something?” he guessed.

 

“No, because if it was, you’d definitely know,” Ghetsis said, exchanging a look with Colress. “I suppose it is an anniversary of sorts, though, but if nobody knows, I’ll just tell you. It’s about all of us.”

 

They all stared at him, completely unsure of where this was going.

 

Ghetsis took a dramatic sip of pitch black coffee (with fifteen tablespoons of turbinado sugar and a splash of whiskey) and quietly said, “It’s our weekiversary.”

 

“Our week-a- what?” Giovanni repeated as best as he could.

 

“Yes, it’s true,” Ghetsis said. “It's our weekiversary, folks. I know it’s felt like only a day but you guys have been staying here for a week already now.”

 

“It’s felt like two long, unproductive years,” Maxie groaned, unsure just how much of the fourth wall he was breaking.

 

Giovanni sank into his seat. Arceus. Ghetsis was right. It really had been a week. That was like four, five days longer than Giovanni had originally planned to stay in this terrible region. Why? Why was he doing this to himself?

 

A pale hand came into his line of vision.

 

“May I use your spoon?” asked Cyrus. “It feels weird eating this with a fork.”

 

Giovanni nearly died.

 

Was this why? Yes, this was why. This soft, beautiful man was why he was out here in fucking Unova of all places, staying at some weird guy’s house, and dealing with all this crap. Could it be, after years and years of focusing on only himself and his Meowths, that Giovanni was actually in love with someone?

 

Giovanni wanted to grab Cyrus’ by the hand and bring him into a hug but instead he said, “Oh. Uh, yeah, sure.” Use anything you want, you magnificent creature.

 

“To commemorate our weekiversary,” Ghetsis continued, “I thought it’d be nice to have dinner outside tonight, under the stars. It’s going to be perfect, I can see it now. Us drinking wine out on the veranda. It’ll be so nice and pretty, I’m gonna pee my pants just thinking about it.”

 

“Please don’t,” said Lysandre, sticking out his tongue in disgust. "The mere sight of wet pants is enough to make me call for genocide once more."

 

“Are you gonna use the iron table?” asked Colress. “It’s by the garden, remember? You might need help bringing it closer.”

 

Ghetsis considered this then waved toward his guests. “We’ll go move the table in a bit. And by we , I mean you, you, and… you.”

 

He pointed at Archie, Giovanni and Lysandre.

 

“Nope, no way,” Giovanni refused. “I’m not about to do your stupid chores for you again.”

 

“But Sakaki, you have to. I can’t move that table on my own.” Ghetsis pointed at his right arm. “Look at how fucked up I am. You’ll be helping out someone with disabilities. That’ll get you karma points or whatever. Isn’t that what people believe in where you’re from? Reincarnation and stuff? You wanna come back to this world an ugly little Trubbish or a beautiful baby Deino?”

 

“I don’t care,” huffed Giovanni. “And I hope death is final."

 

“Fine. Don’t help. But you’ll miss out on a chance to show us just how strong and ripped you really are.”

 

Giovanni paused for a moment to consider this. The only other human being he’d even think about showing off to was Cyrus… however Cyrus didn’t seem like the type of person to be impressed by something so vain.

 

...But what if he was?

 

Giovanni decided not to risk it. “Okay, I’ll help. But it’s because it’s, uh, good karma.”

 

Ghetsis hopped up out of his seat. “Per- fect!” he sang. “I have to get ready. I’ll be outside in an hour. Does that sound good? Good. I’ll see you then.”

 

Once he was gone, everyone stared at each other.

 

“I wonder why he has to take so long to get ready when we are only moving a table,” Lysandre commented, looking very lost.

 

“I’m more concerned as to why four people have to help move one table,” said Maxie.

 

“There’s a reason he only asked the buffest guys here to help out,” Colress replied. “I’m pretty sure the rest of us lowly nerds can find something to do, though.”

 

“I’m so excited for our weekiversary party I’m gonna cry,” Archie admitted, tears welling in his eyes. “I’ve waited for this moment my entire life, I think.”

 

Lysandre closed his eyes and sighed. “Wine under the stars sounds nice, doesn’t it, mes amis ? If only Augustine were here…”

 

“Are we gonna have to dress up for this too?” asked Giovanni.

 

“Ghetsis will be dressed up anyway whether you guys decide to or not,” answered Colress with a shrug. “Wear whatever you want.”

 


 

 

 Exactly one hour later, Giovanni was outside.

 

He was standing a few steps away from a giant old tree, shielding his eyes from the sun as he squinted at the scene. By a hedge maze, Lysandre and Archie were slowly pushing a round table. Yes, there was an actual maze made out of plants here. In the backyard. Because why the fuck not.

 

Ghetsis was watching them from a lawn chair in the tree’s shade.

 

“Arceus, just how heavy is that table,” Giovanni muttered under his breath.

 

“Why don’t you go find out?” asked Ghetsis. He held out a cup of beige liquid with lots of ice. “Want some iced chai?”

 

“N-No,” Giovanni snapped. “And I’m gonna go find out. I just… want to see how they’re doing without me. Hey… Did you seriously change your clothes just to sit outside?”

 

Ghetsis crossed his legs and pulled a magazine out of his back pocket. “Of course. But the reason I needed an hour was because of my skincare routine. I have my indoor and outdoor routine and they’re both very different. I’ll let you in on my top secret outdoor daytime routine. I wash my face then use a mildly astringent toner which must be applied with a pad made of Larvesta silk. I let it dry before using a serum of Lilligant drool and a Venipede venom infused moisturizer then let those sit for at least a minute. Once those are absorbed, I spritz my face with a Maractus flower extract and green tea mist and wait for that to dry as well. Finally, I put my separate face and body sunscreens on and wait for fifteen minutes before coming outside. I also use a lip balm with an SPF of 1,000.”

 

“Is it really necessary to do all that?” asked Giovanni.

 

“The sun is the most damaging thing to one’s face, you know.”

 

“But you’re wearing a sun hat and sunglasses while sitting in the shade…”

 

“There’s a reason I look this good at my age and why you look like that at yours,” said Ghetsis, opening up his magazine.

 

Giovanni tried to process whether or not that was an insult to him but found that his brain could not compute so all he responded was: “How old are you, anyway?”

 

Ghetsis took a noisy sip of his iced chai and replied, “Aren’t you supposed to be helping your friends over there? Go put those sexy arms of yours to good use.”

 

With a sigh, Giovanni sauntered off into the apparently evil, terrible skin-melting sun and joined Archie and Lysandre at the table.

 

“Thank Arceus, you’re here!” they both sobbed.

 

“Is it really that difficult?” Giovanni rolled up his sleeves. “Maybe instead of pushing it, we should pick it up.”

 

“I never was that good at physics,” sniffed Archie. “You’re so smart, aniki.”

 

Lysandre’s flushed face got even more pink. “I… I actually do not know why I didn’t think of that. I guess I had, what they call here in Unova, a fart of the brain.”

 

The three of them combined their muscle magic to lift the table off the ground and sloooowly carry it along. It was still terribly heavy but they were moving a lot faster than before. Just how long it would take for them to get the table onto the veranda, nobody knew.

 

Ghetsis wasn’t the only one watching them. None of them had seen Cyrus standing at a window, quietly observing the scene. He stood still with his hands behind his back, every now and then leaning forward to get a better look. At the kitchen counter a few feet behind him, were Colress and Maxie, sipping on iced chai and watching him.

 

“What are they doing?” asked Colress.

 

“He’s helping them move the table,” Cyrus replied.

 

“And are they having trouble?” Maxie wanted to know.

 

“He’s convinced them to pick it up instead of push it,” Cyrus replied.

 

Colress and Maxie looked at each other and rolled their eyes.

 

Cyrus turned around. “It’s very hot… outside,” he remarked, his pause lasting noticeably longer than usual. “Do you think it’ll be like this in the evening? I wanted to… wear my best long sleeve shirt.”

 

“It’s gonna be a lot cooler,” said Colress. “If your shirt isn’t too heavy, I’d say go for it.”

 

Maxie rested his chin in his hand and smirked. “Wear something Giovanni will find hot.”

 

“YES!” Colress agreed enthusiastically. “I mean, yeah, that’s a great idea.”

 

Cyrus’ brow furrowed so hard it went into hyperspace. “Something… hot?”

 

“You should wear something hot to catch his attention.”

 

Cyrus clasped his hands together and thought about this for a moment. “Will he bring me a glass of water? Or give me a fan? If I wear something hot on a summer night, I will get… sweaty.”

 

Maxie and Colress nearly fell to the floor.

 

“No, Cyrus, sweetheart,” Maxie laughed awkwardly, “by hot we meant physically attractive.”

 

“Y’know, something sexy,” Colress elaborated further.

 

Cyrus looked like he was stuck on the most difficult question of a test. His eyes got really small and his missing eyebrows were so furrowed they could've crushed something between them. Finally, he brought his clenched fist down on his open palm and pointed his index finger at his two friends.

 

“Oh. Are you guys… talking about the sex?”

 

The sex.

 

Colress and Maxie were not about to laugh at this poor man’s suffering. No matter how much they wanted to. No, they were going to stare him straight in the eye and--

 

Colress started to squeak like a tea kettle.

 

Maxie rushed to Cyrus’ defense. “W-Well, no, we were just suggesting you wear something that looks good. You don’t have to think about that right now.”

 

“I see,” said Cyrus. He turned back around and continued to stare out the window.

 

Colress leaned super close to Maxie and whispered, “Is he just joking with us or is he really this clueless?”

 

“He’s never dated anyone before,” Maxie whispered back. “As far as I know, this is the first time he’s ever even had a crush on someone.”

 

Colress’ jaw dropped open a bit. “So you’re saying he’s a…?”

 

“Yes, he’s a…”

 

Cyrus turned around. “I think I’ll wear my long sleeve shirt tonight,” he announced. “It’s thin so I don’t think I’ll… sweat a lot.”

 

“That sounds like a good idea,” Maxie agreed.

 

When Cyrus went back to looking out the window, Colress and Maxie slumped forward on the counter and sighed in disbelief.

 

Back outside, the table was already two thirds of the way to the veranda. The sun had moved directly above the bosses and was beating down on them like they owed it money.

 

Ghetsis had moved even deeper into the shade beneath the tree and was sipping on his third iced chai (but fifth caffeinated drink) of the day. He was still reading his magazine.

 

“Knowing Unova Weekly says this,” he declared, “‘Nipple piercings are in. From preschoolers to grandmas on the deathbed, Unovians can’t get enough of these secretive studs.’”

 

“You know what I personally can’t get enough of?” Giovanni shouted back. “You shutting up.”

 

“People don’t really get those done, do they?” Lysandre asked. “Nipple piercings? How would you wear a shirt? Oh, merde, what if you got it caught on something like— like your chest hair?”

 

“I still have this piece of pencil lead from elementary school stuck in my hand,” said Archie. “I dunno if that counts as a piercing, ahahaha.”

 

Ghetsis loudly turned the page. “You know that little stringy thing underneath the tip of your dick? Well, I knew this guy once who pierced it and it got infected and—"

 

“NOPE!” Giovanni screamed. “NOPE, NOPE, NOOOPE!”

 

“I didn’t even know the human body could look like that,” Ghetsis concluded. “At least the colors were pretty. Say, should I get my nip-nops pierced?”

 

“Well, would they suit the shape of your chest?” Archie called back.

 

Giovanni stopped walking and looked at his two table-lifting partners.

 

“If you keep encouraging him,” he growled, “I’ll drop this stupid table on your toes.”

 

The table-lifting team moved along quietly for a while.

 

“Is it just me or is it ridiculously hot out here,” Lysandre wheezed. “Why don’t we take a break? Please? For the love of Arceus?”

 

“It’s not that hot!” Archie beamed. “At least there’s no humidity!”

 

“Lysandre’s right,” Giovanni grunted. “Let’s just set it down for a sec before we pop something and bleed to death.”

 

As soon as they set down the table, Ghetsis made a long whistle and ended it with a fart noise.

 

“Wooooow,” he shouted. “Wow, guys, I never would’ve taken you for a bunch of quitters!”

 

Giovanni rolled his eyes and set his hand on his hip. “We’re not quitting, moron, we’re just taking a break.”

 

Ghetsis cackled. “That’s what I get for trusting a bunch of buff hunks to do the job for me. You’re all looks and ZERO strength. I bet if I hired a bunch of little girls they’d have the table moved already!”

 

“I didn’t drink my pre-workout today,” Lysandre claimed.

 

“What if he’s right,” Archie hissed under his breath. “What if we really ARE weaker than little girls?”

 

“The only little girl here is Ghetsis,” said Giovanni reassuringly. He raised his voice. “Ghetsis over there won’t even step out from underneath the shade.”

 

Ghetsis wasn’t paying any attention. “Would y’all take supplements to make your jizz taste like blue raspberry?! Cotton candy? What about pizza?”


Giovanni set the table down (causing Archie and Lysandre to gasp for air) and turned to look at Ghetsis. “Ghetsis is such a little girl that he spends all day doing his makeup and reading chick magazines instead of coming straight outside and facing the sun like a man!!”

 

“I would never wear makeup out in this heat,” was Ghetsis’ simple reply. “I’m not about to lose my left eye to melted matte concealer.”

 

Giovanni took a great deep breath of air. “GHETSIS is not only a little girl but he is also a massive, scrawny wimp and I could beat him up in less than five seconds.”

 

Ghetsis looked up. “Did you just challenge me to a duel? In my own home?”

 

“Yes, yes I did!” Giovanni boasted. “I just challenged stupid you to a stupid duel in your own stupid fucking home!”

 

Ghetsis was out from underneath the tree in less than two seconds. He was face to face with Giovanni and they were staring daggers at each other.

 

“You just made the biggest mistake of your life,” Ghetsis huffed.

 

Giovanni smirked. “Whatever. You think you’re so cool, don’t you? Well, I’ll embarrass you in front of everyone.”

 

“Public humiliation is my favorite kink,” snarled Ghetsis. “Go ahead and do it.”

 

“Well, that’s what I’m gonna do to you tonight,” taunted Giovanni.

 

“Tonight? Let’s do it before dinner. Let’s do it for everyone to see.”

 

Giovanni narrowed his eyes. “I’m gonna pound your sissy ass so hard you’re gonna cry.”

 

“Pull my hair,” Ghetsis demanded, “and don’t stop until I cum—“

 

“Wait,” Lysandre interrupted, raising his hands. “We’re talking about a fight, correct? This is going to be a fight? Did I miss something?”

 

Archie sniffled. “Pleaaase, aniki,” he whimpered. “Please don’t do this! Violence isn’t the answer. Why can’t we settle this over a game of mahjong like we used to?”

 

“Violence has always been the answer,” Giovanni said. “This is my only chance to defend the dignity of myself, of you guys, of Team Rocket. Tonight before dinner! Ghetsis! You and me are going to fight to the death!”

 

Ghetsis rolled his magazine up and tucked it under his arm. “Yeah, I’m pretty excited. I haven’t done anything this testosterone-fueled since getting double fisted by Colress. You ever take two fists in your ass, Sakaki? Huh? You ever do that?”

 

Giovanni made a face and shrunk back. “What? Arceus, no. Is that… Is that real?”

 

Ghetsis looked into the distance, the wind blowing through his long, wavy hair. “Didn’t think so. It’s not what a man looks like that makes him a man, Sakaki. I thought you’d know that but I guess not. I’m going inside. I’m gonna drink some beer, eat some cookies, take a shit and then take a nap before we dance tonight.”

 

He took a few steps before pausing in front of the heavy table. “I’ll be taking this,” he said quietly as he grabbed it with his pale, sickly looking left arm…

 

...and smoothly dragged it all the way onto the veranda in the blink of an eye.

 

Ghetsis opened the back door and waved daintily. “Toodles.”

 

Then he was gone.

 

Giovanni, Archie and Lysandre stood there in silence, sweat dripping off their faces.

 

Lysandre turned around and started kicking at the grass. “Putain imbécile, merde—”

 

Giovanni squatted down into a little ball and held his head in his hands.

 

“Boss..?” Archie said.

 

“Hmmph,” replied Giovanni.

 

“Do you think Ghetsis is going to kill you tonight?”

 

Giovanni ran his hands down his face and started biting his nails. “I hope he does, Archie. I hope he does.”

 


 

 Later on, early in the evening, Cyrus was standing in front of the mirror in his room and looking at himself. He was wearing a thin, almost sheer black long sleeve shirt over an even blacker tank top. His jeans, distressed but not to the point of looking like rags, were also black. Bauhaus, Depeche Mode, and Joy Division were blasting out simultaneously from his phone. Cyrus was so goth. In a perfect world, a lot of preps would be staring at him. In a perfect world, he would put up his middle finger at them.

 

In the actual, real world, Cyrus left his room and after walking down the hall and through the back door, went out on the veranda where he was pleasantly surprised. Little round lamps were hung up from the rafters, giving the space around the table a sweet warm glow. Candles and a small assortment of flowers sat at the center of the table where Ghetsis, Colress, and N were sitting.

 

The others were standing together on the grass, surrounding Giovanni. Maxie noticed Cyrus and gestured for him to join the group.

 

“What is happening?” he asked once he was with them.

 

Maxie rolled his eyes. “These two idiots,“ he said, pointing at Giovanni then at Ghetsis, “decided that they wanna put on a puppet show and have a fight.”

 

“A… fight?” Cyrus repeated. Had he misheard?

 

“Hey there, Cyrus,” mumbled Giovanni. “Why don’t you go back inside?”

 

Archie clenched his fist and held it to his chest. “Yes, a fight!” he exclaimed proudly. “Aniki here is going to show us just how tough he is. He’s the strongest trainer in the world!”

 

Giovanni looked uneasy. “Yeah, about that…”

 

From his place at the table, Ghetsis laughed bitterly. “This isn’t a Pokémon battle, you know. This is between me and him and nobody else. And your so-called strongest trainer ain’t lookin’ so good right now.”

 

“You’ll be sorry!” Archie snapped back. “Aniki’s the strongest of all time, no matter what! Look at his muscles. He’s got way more than you do! If you don’t believe me, come here and feel them! Come touch his muscles!”

 

“Please don’t,” Giovanni whimpered.

 

“I’m pretty sure we all have an equal amount of muscles here,” Colress pointed out.

 

Ghetsis took a great swig from a nearby wine bottle before standing up and pointing at Giovanni. “I’ve had enough! You! You promised me to a duel and a duel we shall have!”

 

He rushed over and stood right in front of Giovanni, their noses almost touching. It would’ve been a pretty sexy scene if they both didn’t look so menacing.


“Back off, you idiot,” Giovanni growled. “If you keep breathing on me like that, you’ll make me an idiot too, idiot.”

 

“It’s like you’re begging for me to kick your ass,” hissed Ghetsis. He stepped back and put a good distance between him and Giovanni. “Fine. If you want it so bad, we’ll do it right now. It’s what everyone’s waiting for, anyway.”

 

“Not in the slightest,” Maxie said flatly.

 

Cyrus shrugged and wiggled his hand as if to say Eeeh, kinda, sorta.

 

“There isn’t going to be blood, is there?” Lysandre asked, wincing.

 

“Just don’t get too close to the porch,” called out Colress. “And don’t tear up the grass!”

 

Giovanni blinked and sighed, “I can’t believe this is happening. How old am I?”

 

“Mwahahaha, yes, yeeeeesssss,” Ghetsis cackled darkly.  “I can already hear the fear in your voice! By the way, which one of us is shirts and which one of us is skins?”

 

Maxie crossed his arms. “How about you both keep your clothes on and make this less humiliating for everyone involved?”

 

Giovanni looked at Ghetsis who was ten feet away from him (looking extremely disappointed in not being allowed to get naked) then at the small crowd that was surrounding them. “Arceus, this really is happening,” he muttered, starting to panic.

 

“Aniki!”

 

Giovanni turned around.

 

Archie had his thumbs up. “You can do it!” he shouted, sounding waaay too positive. “We believe in you! Show us the power of Team Rocket!”

 

Right next to Archie was Cyrus, who had his eyes dead set on Giovanni. They looked at each other for a second before Cyrus raised his thumbs up as well and smiled a very tiny, intimate smile that nobody else saw but Giovanni.

 

This was all Giovanni needed. He had been blessed.

 

He turned his head back at Ghetsis. N was standing between them with his hand raised in a karate chop.

 

“One…

 

...two…

 

...um…

 

...uummmm..?”

 

“THREE!” everyone shouted impatiently.

 

N sheepishly backed off and the two fighters started circling each other like a couple of Sharpedo sizing up their prey. Giovanni was slightly unsettled at how Ghetsis looked like he genuinely wanted to kill him.

 

“So, uh,” Giovanni chuckled awkwardly. “What kind of fighting are we doing again? Slow dancing? Get it? Because you're a sissy?”

 

Ghetsis raised a single tightly clenched hand before him, letting his right arm dangle weakly at his side, as if he were about to engage in single-handed fisticuffs. “Are you inching away from me?” he accused. “Tsk, tsk. Sakaki, I’m disappointed.”

 

Giovanni looked bewildered. “Well, I’m not about to get closer to you. I’m not a dumbass. Besides, I don’t know what you’re gonna do to me with that creepy little hand of yours.”

 

“C’mon, aniki!” Archie shouted. “I’ve seen what you can do! He’s only got one arm up, so you’ve got the upper hand! Er, no pun intended…”

 

“Isn’t that a little fucked?” asked Maxie. “Wouldn’t it be fair if we tied one of Gio’s hands behind his back?”

 

“I-It’s too late for that,” Giovanni shouted. “We already started! And besides, I actually like having an advantage-- HEY, WOAH, WHAT THE HELL?!?”

 

Ghetsis had charged right at Giovanni, who barely jumped out of the way at the last moment. Now they had switched places, standing where the other had been just seconds before.

 

“CHEATING!” Giovanni screeched at the top of his lungs. “HOW IS THAT NOT CHEATING?! HE DIDN’T EVEN WARN ME!”

 

“This is a fight, you wimp,” pointed out Ghetsis. “And that’s not how fights work.”

 

“Not trying to be a dick but I’ve seen schoolyard fights more hardcore than this,” Colress commented.

 

Archie fell to his knees and slammed a fist onto the ground. “Aniki, you need to do something. You need to trip him at the last moment!”

 

Giovanni sighed. “Is now really the time to test out whether or not I've got luck on my side?”

 

Once again, Ghetsis and Giovanni were back to circling each other and fighting with their eyes. Ghetsis started throwing insults again, Archie kept on screaming advice, Colress continued negging. After a while, this just started to bore Giovanni so he stared blankly into space and absentmindedly focused on what was going on over Ghetsis’ shoulder.

 

Cyrus was standing there. Watching him.

 

Giovanni remembered that he'd moved the table earlier to get Cyrus’ attention and show just how much of a super strong tough guy he was. This fight was no different. Cyrus would get soooo impressed that they’d get married or have sex or whatever. Maybe I should trip Ghetsis, thought Giovanni. When he falls down, I’ll just step on him or something and he’ll start crying and let me win. Is that ‘tough’? I guess I could hit him but do I really want to beat up a guy with one arm? Does he really only have one arm, though? What is up with his right arm? I’ve never seen it. If he tries to tackle me again, maybe I can pull on his shirt and reveal to everyone that he actually has a bunch of noodles under there or something. Then he’ll start to cry and I’ll win and Cyrus will make out with me.

 

Cyrus noticed Giovanni staring directly at him so he waved.

 

Giovanni waved back. Ah… Cyrus… He’s so pretty. I think he’s the prettiest thing I’ve ever seen. I want to burn down this stupid house and carry him all the way back to Kanto.

 

“Now you’re just asking for it!” yelled Ghetsis.

 

“ANIKI, WATCH OUT!” Archie hollered.

 

“Hhhhhuh wuh,” Giovanni replied. “Huh- oh shit.”

 

These were Giovanni’s last words before being slapped so hard by Ghetsis that he flew into the sky and twinkled like a star. Giovanni died that day.

 

Giovanni Sakaki, August 1, 19XX -- June 4, 201X

 

Rest in Peace.

 

 

Okay, so that’s not what actually happened.

 

Giovanni did not fly up into the sky, but instead happened to fly horizontally into the nearby hedge maze. He went crashing through the leaves, past shrub after shrub until a loud THUMP was heard followed by “Ow.”

 

Everyone’s mouths dropped open. The bosses looked at Ghetsis in horror.

 

Ghetsis seemed a little shocked at what he’d done before realizing that he had won. He stood up straight and flexed his left arm.

 

“That’s right!” he shouted. “I did that! Sakaki lost to a great, big ol' sissy!”

 

Colress ran out of his seat to give Ghetsis a great big hug and shower him in victory kisses. Cyrus ran off into the hedge maze. Lysandre covered his mouth, Maxie hung his head, and Archie began to wail.

 

“I guess I’m the new leader of Team Rocket,” said Ghetsis. “Kanto is mine!”

 

“Wh-Why don’t we actually succeed in taking over Unova before we branch out to other regions?” Colress suggested.

 

“I don’t want Ghetsis to be the leader of Team Rocket!!” Archie sobbed.

 

Maxie patted his boyfriend on his well-defined back. “He’s not, don’t worry. That wasn’t what was at stake. In fact, nothing was at stake. That was the most pointless fight in the history of pointless fights. Anyway, when's dinner?”

 

“I think I lost my appetite,” Lysandre groaned.

 

Colress let go of Ghetsis. “Hey-- did anyone see where Cyrus went?”

 


 

 

Giovanni was sitting against a stone fountain in the center of the hedge maze, looking up at the stars in the sky and listening to the sound of tinkling water behind him. The moon was so big and bright that everything was lit up quite beautifully. It was a nice night, despite all that happened.

 

Something rustled in the bushes.

 

“If you’re a wild Pokemon, I give you permission to eat me,” Giovanni called out to it.

 

A pale, concerned face poked out from behind the leaves. It was Cyrus; he’d walked through the giant holes in the bushes that had been left behind by Giovanni.

 

“Oh, Cyrus,” said Giovanni, visibly perking up. “Hey. Sooooo, what brings you here? I’d make you a cup of tea but I just ran out. Sorry.”

 

Cyrus smiled. He made his way to the fountain and sat by Giovanni’s side. “Are… you okay?” he asked.

 

Giovanni blinked. “Me? Oh, yeah. I’m fine. What about you? You got some leaves in your hair.”

 

Cyrus sat still as Giovanni ran his fingers through his hair and pulled out a leaf with a round bite mark on it. He held it between them and the two of them observed it in silence for a while.

 

“I wanna know what Pokémon chewed on this,” Giovanni wondered out loud. “And if it tastes good. He didn’t eat the whole thing so maybe it doesn’t.”

 

Cyrus moved closer and tilted his head to get a better view of Giovanni’s face. “Are you sure you’re okay?”

 

“Yeah, I’m fine. Don’t worry— woah.”

 

Cyrus took Giovanni’s face in his hands and started turning it from side to side.

 

“You don’t have any bruises or scratches,” Cyrus said.

 

Giovanni felt like he was going to melt into a tiny stupid puddle. Cyrus had such soft and gentle hands, Giovanni couldn’t help but lean into his touch.

 

“So you’re not hurt?” Cyrus asked.

 

“Not physically, no,” answered Giovanni.

 

“That’s good. I was concerned. You, um, traveled quite a distance.”

 

“It was kinda fun, now that I think about it.”

 

“I’m just… glad you feel fine,” Cyrus said, starting to absentmindedly run his fingers through Giovanni’s hair. “If, if you don’t mind… might I ask why you did what you did?”

 

“What, get my ass kicked by Ghetsis?”

 

“Well, um… yeah.”

 

"Out of boredom," Giovanni lied. "We got into an argument earlier and I guess I was just really, really bored."

 

"Next time you get bored... why don't you come talk with me instead?"

 

Giovanni slumped forward and rested his head on Cyrus’ shoulder. The two of them sat there in silence for what seemed like an eternity. It was perfect— Cyrus’ warmth, the way he smelled, the way his deep, steady breathing sounded.

 

 

“Don’t fall asleep,” instructed Cyrus after a while. “I’m still not sure if you bumped your head or not.”

 

“I’m not falling asleep,” whispered Giovanni as he closed his eyes. “Don’t worry.”

 

Cyrus smiled to himself. “You sound sleepy.”

 

“I’m not… I guess I’m just tired.”

 

“So am I.”

 

“We should just stay here like this for the rest of the night.”

 

“That would be nice.”

 

Off in the distance, they heard their names being called.

 

Cyrus tensed up. Giovanni, startled at the sudden movement, opened his eyes and realized where he was resting his head. He jumped back and pressed his hands together.  

 

“Shit, shit, shit, I’m so sorry—"

 

“The others,” Cyrus said as he stood up. “That’s right. I almost forgot… we still have to have dinner.”

 

“Y-Yeah. Uh… I guess we better get going,” Giovanni agreed, getting up off the ground. In an instant, Cyrus was at his side. A hand settled on his back and that made him feel like a damn child, all wide-eyed and blushing. Fortunately, it was a bit too dark out for Cyrus to tell.

 

“Let’s go back,” urged Cyrus.

 

The two of them quietly made their way through torn-up bushes.

 


 

 

Back at the entrance of the path Giovanni’s flying body made in the hedges, everyone was standing around, calling out for their missing friends. Their food had just been served back on the table on the veranda but nobody wanted to eat yet. Not when there were two of their own lost out there in the dark.

 

“Do you think something... happened in there?” Lysandre asked, getting morbidly curious.

 

“Maybe the little skinny one went to go finish the job,” said Ghetsis with a dry burp of a laugh. “What’s his name again?”

 

“Cyrus?” answered Colress. “Oh, and Cyrus’ll finish the job, all right. Just not the kind you’re thinking of.”

 

Maxie smacked Colress’ arm and went, “Sssht. Why don’t you guys go look for them? This is your house. I’m not stepping into that thing.”

 

“You’re not supposed to go into the maze at night!” N said in a cheerful voice. “Ask our last gardener.”

 

Colress sucked in air through his teeth. “Oh, man, I forgot about that.”

 

The guests silently thought about just what the hell that could possibly mean.

 

Archie took a deep breath and rolled up his sleeves. “I don’t care what happens to me!” he declared. “Aniki and Cy are out there. I have to find them!”

 

Just then, some footsteps came crunching on the grass. Cyrus came forth with a very sheepish-looking Giovanni in tow. Archie raised his clenched fists in the air.

 

“I FOUND THEM!” he hollered triumphantly.

 

Giovanni looked at everyone looking at him then looked at how both he and Cyrus were holding each other’s backs. He stepped to the side and cleared his throat.

 

“Why do you all look so scared?” he asked. “You didn’t think we really got lost in that stupid maze did you?”

 

Ghetsis tossed his hair over his shoulder and stuck his nose in the air. “Hmph! I guess you’ve proven yourself not to be a total loser after all. For successfully navigating the legendary Harmonia family labyrinth, you won’t be referred to from here on out as ‘the guy who got his ass kicked by someone he called a sissy hours prior to getting his ass kicked.’”

 

“Did he really ‘navigate’ the maze, though?” asked Colress.

 

“You guys sure took a while,” said Maxie, trying not to sound too suspicious or suggestive even though something felt a little off (or... on ) to him.

 

“It was dark and there was thorns and shit, Max, if you don’t believe me, go in there yourself,” argued Giovanni, noticeably avoiding making eye contact.

 

Cyrus simply nodded in agreement, also avoiding eye contact.

 

Lysandre raised his hand. “Not to be a nuisance but—“

 

“You already failed,” grumbled Ghetsis.

 

“— can we eat already? The food just stopped steaming and it’s making me anxious.”

 

Everyone murmured in agreement and pretty soon they had all took their places around the table.

 

Giovanni and Cyrus sat together without even thinking twice about it. They stared at each other as if they knew something everyone else didn’t. Maxie and Colress noticed this immediately and raised their eyebrows up and down which, translated from fanboy language, meant WHAT IS HAPPENING WHAT IS HAPPENING WHAAAT???


Ghetsis, once settled into his appropriate place at the head of the table, tapped a fork onto a glass and cleared his throat. “Despite our many differences, and despite the fact that I handed Sakaki’s ass to him in front of everyone, I think each and every one of you all are pretty decent people. The last seven days with you all have been some of the best days I’ve ever had in my life—well, uh, make that in recent memory, at least, because there have been some weeks that were so damn turnt that I suddenly woke up, naked and covered in a suspicious white dust, with no recollection of them and could only guess that they were probably pretty awesome. Maybe they weren’t. Arceus, I should really ask around about that.”

 

Ghetsis noticed everyone had gone from politely listening to staring in horror so he raised his glass. “Let’s toast to our weekiversary.”

 

They all raised their glasses. “To our weekiversisersary,” they all said together. “To our week adversary. To our weeky versy rary.”

 

Ghetsis waved his hand dismissively. “That went worse than I expected. How about something easier? Uh, how about a toast to friendship?”

 

“I’m a grown man,” Giovanni said flatly, “I’m not about to raise my glass and have a sissy baby toast to friendship.”

 

“What about a toast to camaraderie?” suggested Lysandre.

 

Colress, nodding and stroking his chin, considered it but then shook his head. “It sounds like it says ‘cum’.”

 

Archie did a little fist pump. “That’s why we should put the emphasis on rad and say com rad ery instead!”

 

“Is... that even a word?” asked Ghetsis. “That can’t be a word.”

 

“Yes, it is,” said Maxie. “If you were a gross little adult with nothing better to do than write terrible fanfiction and abuse a thesaurus, you’d know that.”

 

“A toast to breaking the fourth wall,” Cyrus murmured.

 

“A toast to toast!” cried N, raising a children’s cup of juice.

 

Ghetsis scowled. “Gah, no, what are you even doing here?”

 

Once N was pelted with a basket of dinner rolls and chased off, Ghetsis thrust his glass up into the air and said, “A toast… to being terrible!”

 

Everyone shrugged and raised their glasses. “To being terrible.”

 

They began to eat.

 

Lysandre gagged.

 

“The food went cold.”