I do not know what started it. I remember the day we met, as clearly as if it was yesterday. Perhaps if it had been yesterday, I would not feel as I do now.
I was in negotiations for a mated pair of Eevee, but the trader would only accept one single Pokemon in return, one I did not have. Through one of my many sources, I obtained the name of the Viridian City Gym Leader, and arranged a meeting.
Earlier that day, I had arrived in Viridian and was greeted with the rumor that the Gym Leader was the leader of the infamous Team Rocket. I dismissed it as pure heresy, and proudly arrived at the meeting place. His secretary, whom I noticed wore red earrings shaped like the letter R, told me to wait in the office. It was simply decorated, but spoke of great wealth, with a giant desk of pure mahogany, a chair of Tauros leather, and a single portrait of a grand Persian.
"Jiriudan, I presume?" I turned around to face the man who spoke. He was of average height, with intense eyes and a haughty expression. As we shook hands, I noticed the confidence in his manner.
"Yes, and you must be Giovanni." I hope he did not notice that I was staring at him. Although he was not a handsome man by any means, the unabashed power he seemed to exude was impossible to ignore.
"Yes, I am. Please, be seated." He took his seat as he gestured to another chair in the corner. Obviously, he was unaccustomed to having visitors.
I drew up the chair and cleared my throat. "Sir, I have come to offer a trade. I understand that you specialize in the trading of rare and exotic Pokemon, as do I. But my collection is not complete." Oh, I could not take my eyes from him! He was absolutely...oh, there was no way to describe him other than captivating.
He glowered at me. "Get to the point. I am a busy man. What is your offer?"
I blushed--something I have not done since I was a child!--and continued. "I am in need of a Togepi. I am willing to trade well for one."
In a single motion, he swiveled his chair away from me. I closed my eyes and found myself picturing his intense gaze as he considered my offer. What was the matter with me? I realized a long time ago that I prefered the company of men, but I had never been involved with anyone, regardless of gender. The nomadic lifestyle of a professional collector made relationships impossible. And why was I so bound by him? Giovanni was at least twice my age, but there was that undenyable quality about him...
Deep laughter broke my thoughts, and for a moment, I feared that I had voiced them aloud, but then he turned back to me.
Giovanni was smiling, something I could tell he did about as often as I blushed. "My dear Collector," Oh, how I loved to hear him say that! "Through my own folly, I have no Togepi." He laughed again, bringing a smile to my face. "Three of my employees presented me with one, but I declined, seeing no use for it. I hate to say it, but I was simply stunned that they had managed to do something right."
"Oh, I can identify with that," I smirked. "In my early days as a collector, I declined an offer for a Meowth descended from the one owned by the Black Arachnid. It wound up being traded for the infamous Unearthly Urn of Pokemopolis."
We broke into gales of laughter. I had no idea why we had found such mirth in our own mistakes, nor why we were willing to discuss them with each other, but I didn't mind at all.
After several hours of further discussion, he asked how long I would be in Viridian. "Oh, only until tomorrow. I must pursue this Togepi for a further trade."
He glanced at his watch. "It's nearly five o'clock."
I gasped. "Oh, I had no idea! I'm deeply sorry for keeping you away from your business all this time."
He shrugged. "That is why God created assistants, my dear Collector. Tell me, are you free in about two hours? Since we both enjoy the finer things in life, and me being who I am, I wish to show you the VIP treatment at the Bella Bellossom."
Oh! The finest restaurant in Viridian! Even my notoriety as a collector was insufficient to get me past the elegant gates surrounding it. "I would be honored!!! Thank you, from the bottom of my heart! But...are you certain?"
He chuckled. "I'm certain. In my line of work, it is a rarity to meet anyone of quality. It would be my pleasure."
Two hours later, he met me at the Bella Bellossom, and we were immediately guided to a private table. I couldn't help but notice the barely-disguised fear on the faces of some of the waitstaff when they saw him. I smiled. Such presence! I had suspected the rumors were true the moment I saw his secretary's earrings, but now, I knew it must be the truth.
I couldn't help but entertain a thought about adding him to my collection, keeping him on display for my own amusement...but I quickly dismissed it. Giovanni was like no other man I had ever met. Cunning, intelligent, cultured, distinguished...and feared. He was addictive, almost as much so as collecting, and he made for excellent company. I usually avoid knowing more about a person that is necessary for a trade, but I could not help myself. With Giovanni, I was a different person, even able to share my experiences on Shamuti Island. I have never told anybody about that. How I was brought to my knees by my own obsession. But I managed to build myself up from the loss in only the six months since then. He was quite impressed by this, as I assume most people would be.
Then, halfway through the meal, something extraordinary happened. He told me that he wanted to see me again. I was stunned. This man wished to spend more time with me? I had hoped for it, but I never imagined that he would return the wish!
He smirked. "Speechless, my dear Collector? I assure you, I am not a dangerous man unless I am angered. But you are far too intelligent to anger me."
I gulped. "So...you know that I figured it out?"
"Of course. How else would I obtain such obedience and admiration? Half the employees of the Bella Bellossom work for me as well. Being the most feared and respected man in Viridian has its perks. And being the leader of a certain organization assures my wealth, so I may entertain whomever I please. Look at me, Jiriudan."
I came back to the sight at hand, having been completely lost in his words. He was looking deep into my eyes, a strange, unreadable expression on his face. I suddenly found that I could not breathe, my mind completely occupied with Giovanni. I turned my head away and took a deep breath, and downed the remainder of my wine.
His hand met mine, closing over my fingers as I set the glass back on the table. "Jiriudan," he whispered. "I have a confession to make. I must have you."
I was shaking with fright. Never had I been propositioned like this, or at all, but to be made such an offer by such a powerful man...this must be a dream. I was convinced of that.
Until he kissed me.
In the moments of mute numbness that followed, he stood over me, savoring my temporary paralysis. "Jiri-kun. I see you're speechless. Should I take your silence as refusal or acceptance?" He smiled. "You're not the only observant one, my dear Collector. Don't think I do not notice you shiver when I call you that. As the heir to, and later the leader of, Team Rocket, I am long accustomed to getting what I want. And I want you."
I could not answer. My mind was completely lost in his words and his eyes. The irony of it all! The great Collector, captured by the one human he ever wished to possess. And through it all, I knew my answer.
To this day, I wonder if he was playing a game with me on that night. But, as time passed and we grew closer, I knew that I had found the one I wanted to spend my life with.
I left Viridian frequently, the call of collecting too much for me to bear, but I always made my way back. Back to the one who had captured my heart. He was always mysterious and enigmatic, but I never needed to know more than he was willing to tell me
Finally, one night, on a hill overlooking Viridian Lake, he confessed that he, in fact, returned my feelings. I could tell it was very difficult for him to say, accustomed as he was to being the emotionless Boss Rocket. I rewarded him with a most passionate kiss, and an even more passionite night. In the morning, I left for Blackthorn. Our parting was no different than the other times I had left, with a gentle kiss, and my vow to return.
Had I known, I never would have left his side.
It had been three days since I last saw him. The trade in Blackthorn had been successful, and I was on my way to Crimson City, hot on the trail of a rare painting. Since the life of a Collector requires one to be constantly aware of new opportunities, I casually switched on my multi-way radio.
The airwaves were full of nothing but the usual, beginners in over their heads with trades they could not possibly fulfil, updates on Legendary sightings (I must admit, I cringed when someone said that Lugia had been sighted). And, as it was shortly past midnight, there were the occasional off-color comments about Mary, the starlet of Goldenrod Radio. I smiled, and put my craft on autopilot. It was nothing compared to the one that now lay under the ocean at Shamuti, but it was home.
Or was it? Over the past few weeks, I had come to think of Viridian as my home. That would be an interesting life, one I had not thought of yet. Being the leader of Team Rocket as well as the Viridian Gym Leader, Giovanni could not be expected to leave the city very often. But I could always return there. Return to him.
Through my reverie, I could hear the dispatcher mention Viridian, and I shifted my attention back. What I heard chilled me to the bone.
"This is Tabitha at Viridian Radio!! I repeat, Viridian Gym is under siege!!!"
"I don't have all the details at this time, but from what we do know, the Viridian Police have found conclusive evidence proving that Viridian Gym Leader Giovanni is indeed the leader of Team Rocket, as has long been speculated. More details as we get them."
I fell to my knees. My dear Giovanni!! Would I next see him behind prison bars? Would I ever see him again? No, he had to have escaped. He simply had to.
The radio's patrons were silent, for the most part. One trainer simply said "Damn," and left the channel. The few who did speak did so haltingly, not wanting to risk missing the next update. Finally, the stifiling stillness was broken by a brief announcement.
"A short update on the siege in Viridian--we have just recieved word that Giovanni is indeed inside the building, and Officer Jenny has instructed the police to use any means necessary when dealing with him. Repeat, Giovanni, the leader of Team Rocket, is in the Gym, and Officer Jenny is willing to take extreme measures to bring him to justice. That's all the information we have at this time, we will keep you updated as new details arise."
*Giovanni...please be all right.* I pleaded to the sky. Tears ran down my face as I considered what could happen.
At precicely one o'clock, the most terrible feeling crept over me. It started in my chest, and spread to my mind. I had long heard that one can sense the death of a loved one, and I prayed this was not what I was feeling.
Over an hour I waited, the most agonizing hour of my life, before Tabitha returned with more information.
"The siege on Viridian Gym is over. Repeat, the siege on Viridian Gym is over."
I tensed up, waiting for it. I knew what she was going to say, but nothing in the world could prepare me for when she said it.
"Giovanni is dead. Repeat, Giovanni, the Viridian Gym Leader, is dead."
In that moment, I felt everything fall apart.
My entire life, I never imagined how badly it would hurt. But what shocked me the most was the fact that, at first, it DIDN'T hurt. I was stunned, and could feel nothing. Then it hit me like a tidal wave. Giovanni, the one man I ever loved, was gone, and never coming back. I would never see him again, never look in his eyes again, never feel his kisses again...
Oh, I felt like the entire world was coming apart around me, leaving me alone in an endless void...even now, I feel that way. My whole life, I have been alone, then I find the one person who can fill that void, that total emptiness, and he is taken from me in one hellish night.
If only I had never left him! I would have taken him from there, comforted him in his time of loss.
But who shall comfort me? No one. I am all alone, as I have always been.
In the still of the moment, I fell to my knees, totally overcome with the total agony. I remember being there, slumped over on the floor, the radio continuing indistinctly in the background, with only one word in my mind.
I do not recall how long I remained there, but the stagnant grief was puncuated by Tabitha's return with a full report of the invasion. The quiet murmurs on the channel came to an immediate halt at the sound of her voice.
Only a few details reached my broken mind. He had fled down a hidden corridor, pursued by Officer Jenny. She had overtaken him, and he went for the .44 he kept in the inner pocket of his jacket...
But she was quicker.
The official report said that he had died instantly, but I knew better. I knew that he had lain there, stunned from the force of the shot, unable to fight against the fast-approaching darkness, and finally, feeling the end nearby, he whispered my name. And then, after a life of power, all power left him.
I could see the whole thing in my mind, even down to the Viridian symbol on the officer's uniform. I wanted to go to him, or even to stop the bullet, but I knew it would be futile. The report finished, I turned off the radio.
It was all over. I knew that very well.
Services were held a few days later at a small chapel within sight of the Viridian Gym. Few Rockets attented, too shaken to appear in public, I presume. The far and few between who did attend all seemed very shaken, not only for Giovanni, but for themselves as well. With his death, the Rockets were dead as well, leaving behind only a few forlorn and lost individuals, on their own for perhaps the first time in their lives.
I was the first one in attendence, and the only one at the viewing. I had to see him one last time, but I can understand the reluctance of the other mourners. In their minds, they had failed him, and did not wish to face him ever again.
He lay in splendor, surrounded by items of personal significance. As per his will, he had been outfitted in his formal Rocket uniform, with the tell-tale R insignia on the left side, and the Earth Badge pinned to his right lapel. His hands were folded across his chest, the Rocket signet ring on his left hand glinting in the dimmed lights. His face bore his usual expression, but I had never found it more beautiful.
I remained with him for the entirety of the viewing hour, kneeled over him, admiring him, and remembering him. When the chime sounded the end of the time, I cupped his face in my hands and gently kissed him for the last time, then closed the casket lid, sealing him away from the world forever.
Within a few minutes, mourners began to file in. I recognized the two Rockets that had been present at Shamuti, but they did not seem to notice me. They kept to themselves, overcome with emotions unfamiliar to their usually unconcerned manners. Giovanni had told me a great deal about the two of them, and the silly Meowth that lead them.
Although most of the mourners were in the pairs that marked them as Rocket members, there were two people, besides myself, there alone. One was a young woman with brown hair and a simple nature about her, seated in the back row of the chapel. The other was none other than Officer Jenny herself, in her dress uniform. Despite my initial thoughts, I found I held no ill will against her. She had been simply doing her job, as he had. I could not fault someone for that, for if I could, I would have to fault my dear Giovanni as well. I knew full well that he would have taken her life just as quickly as she took his.
In the few days since the raid, I found myself thinking many thoughts along those lines. So many people trying to characterize my departed love as evil, heartless, cruel...I had to defend his memory, for I alone knew the truth. I alone knew the real man. These liars knew nothing, nothing about him, about me, about anything. He was simply doing his job, as I was at Shamuti. Those children who thought they saved the world from me will never know that. I have no doubt that they think of me in the same way that the common people think of Giovanni. They think of me as a greedy, thoughtless man with no regard for anyone but myself, but they do not know one iota about me. They do not know anything about my life, my pains, my dreams, nothing.
I knew what I was going to do. I had been planning it from the moment I knew that it was all over. Let them think what they will, I cannot defend myself against it.
The service was short, with a few Rockets giving brief eulogies. The two from Shamuti tried to deliver a prepared speech, but were crying too hard for the words to be coherent. I could not help but be stung at the bitter injustice. These two were very much in love, that much was obvious, and they were allowed to be together. Perhaps a more poetic man than I would have torn them apart, but I could not bear to do so. I had enough pain in my own life these past few days for the entire world to feel, I did not wish to be the cause of more. Let them have each other, and perhaps someday, they will know the heartache that true love brings. But until then, I wish them the best.
Finally, one of the Rocket executives, on leave from prison, read the details of Giovanni's will. The majority of his posessions were left to the lonely woman that I did not know, 'for reasons known only to her and myself,' as the will read. I tuned out of the proceedings, drawing inward, to my thoughts of Giovanni and what I would do for him. Given the opportunity, I would have gladly taken his place. He was the world to so many, and no one would miss a lowly collector. I would be soon forgotten to all but him, a sweet memory in the back of his mind, and that was all I aspired for. I did not delude myself. He would have recovered from the loss, turning to his position of power as solace from the pain. Gradually, I would be nothing more than a fond episode of his life. But that was all I wanted. Collectors are never remembered for very long, I knew that my entire life, and I never wanted to be anything more.
But my sad daydream was broken by the mention of my name. My dear sweet Giovanni had left a large amount of his estate to me as well. But I could not concentrate. I would have no use for any of the grand things he left behind, not in this lifetime.
Before I knew it, the service was over. The man who had read the will silently handed me a Pokeball with a note attached. "Jiriudan--Giovanni also left you this. It is the crowning glory of his collection." I turned to the man, but he had already been lead off. With a note like that, I knew it had to be the prize Persian that Giovanni kept with him always. I smiled, despite myself.
On my way out the door, I chanced to bump into the aforementioned Meowth. At first, he simply whispered "'Scuse me," and started to walk away, but I stopped him. At least someone would be happy in this world. I removed the note, and held the Pokeball out for him to take. "For you. It will be yours, and may it bring you luck." Wide-eyed, he accepted it. >From the stories Giovanni told me about this cat, he would be more than overjoyed to discover that he was once again the 'top cat'.
With nothing further for me to do, I left. After this, he would be cremated, with his ashes to be recieved by the mysterious woman. There was nothing else for me, here or anywhere.
It was evening when I left the chapel, the sun just beginning to set over the top of the gym. I sighed, looking at it one more time, and reliving all the memories of better days.
I had retrieved everything I needed from my ship earlier in the day. There was no reason for me to return there ever again. The two items I had with me seemed to burn as I walked, their importance overwhelming. In my breast pocket lay the Ancient Mew card that started my entire quest; and at my waist hung but one of the relics I had collected during that time, the famous blade known to the world as Scizor Claw. It had once been owned by a legendary fighter whose name has been lost in the annals of history, as mine shall be.
The entire event was mapped out in my mind. It had to take place on the spot where he declared his love for me. I made my way to the crest of the hill overlooking Viridian Lake and gazed in awe at the breathtaking view. The sun was almost gone from the sky now, the brilliant light reflected in the lake. It was like I was seeing the portal to another world, one where I wished I could find my lover again.
I knelt on the apex of the hill, facing the lake as we had on that night. It had to be perfect, so I glanced around for any irregularities--and came face to face with a young boy.
"Are you all right, sir?" he asked me, face full of innocence and concern.
I nodded. "I will be soon. Thank you for asking."
He pointed at my face. "Because you've been crying. Sure you're all right?"
My hand flew to my cheek. I did not realize it until then, but I had been crying ever since I left the chapel. "Yes, I'll be all right. Thank you very much, but I'll be fine."
He smiled. "That's good," he said, and turned to go.
"Wait." I stopped him with a hand on his shoulder. I had to reward him for his kindness, and knew the perfect thing to give him. "Please, take this." I knew there was a chance I was condemning him to the same life I had lead, but I knew that he could repair the mistakes I had made.
He stared, disbelieving, at what I offered him. "An Ancient Mew card? That...that's the rarest card of all! They say it's got magic powers!! Are you sure about this?"
I nodded. "It's yours now. Treasure it as I have, and may it lead the way to a marvelous collection."
He smiled, too overcome to say anything further, and took the card into his small hands. I waved him on. "Go on. And may your life be whatever you make of it."
As he ran off, I smiled sadly. He would remember me, but not for who I was. That would be forgotten for all time.
Something else had fallen from my pocket when I retreived the Ancient Mew for the boy, and I picked it up. It was the note that the man at the services had given me, crumpled and folded. On the side facing me, a haunting message greeted me.
Jiriudan--Giovanni crowning glory
That was it. I could not be without him for one moment longer. In a single motion, I brought the blade to my abdomen and thrust inwards.
As the light fades, I know that I will soon be with him once more.
My Crowning Glory...
(*sniff* Wasn't that sad? I warned you!!! Anyway, I vowed to finish this before 2001, and it's 10:34 pm, Sunday, December 31st, 2000. So I guess I did it. Anyway, I want to say it's been fun, and go read some of my other stuff!! By the way, I was going through my CDs to find something to listen to as I wrote this last section, and I found that "This Used to Be My Playground" by Madonna is perfect for the funeral scene. Thanks for reading, and as always, contact me at email@example.com for any reason whatsoever. Thank you, and remember, I have MAD COLLECTING SKILLZ!!! That was inappropiate, sorry. But I do. *g*)