In a small apartment in Goldenrod City, a man hung up the phone and rubbed at the dark circles under his eyes. “Hey, sis,” he said, turning around in his desk chair to face the other occupant of the room. “Wake up. We’ve got a job.”
The woman lying on the futon across the room turned over and half-opened one tired eye in his direction. “Nngh. God, they always call so late at night.” She leaned over to flick on the cheap plastic table lamp that sat next to her on the bare floor. “Who was it this time?”
“Dr. Orange—Cady Orange, remember her?” The man took a swig from the coffee cup he held in one hand. “Calling in a favor. Something about an experiment gone missing.”
“I heard you mention something about that when you were on the phone with her,” said the woman, frowning slightly and propping herself up against the wall, brushing her long hair back behind her shoulders to avoid sitting on it. “What is it, then?” She pulled a face. “If it’s Cady… do I even want to know? Fifty-fifty chance.”
The man shook his head. “It’s… well…” He paused, looking for words, rubbing his fingers over the faded scar on the bridge of his slightly crooked nose. “I’m not exactly sure how to even…”
The woman raised an eyebrow. “Oh, God, what did you get us into this time?”
He sighed. “Well…”
Lemon had, as per her usual routine, gotten up early for breakfast and a nice walk around town. When she returned, she found Sienna who, as per her usual routine, was still fast asleep, curled up under the thin Pokémon Center standard-issue blankets, with only the top of her head poking out from under the covers.
Stifling a laugh, Lemon leaned over and gave her friend a poke in the shoulder. “Hey, Sie. I think it’s about time you got up, isn’t it?”
Sienna muttered something incoherent and rolled over. Lemon rolled her eyes. “Come on, Sienna. It’s either the easy way or the hard way. You remember the hard way, right?”
No response. Typical. Lemon shrugged, sighed, and then yanked the covers off with a flick of her hand.
“Hey!” Sienna yelled, grabbing at the sheets, but Lemon was prepared and quickly stepped out of her reach.
“Nuh-uh,” she said, wagging a finger. “It’s high time that you got up. You can’t sleep all day, you know. Things to do, people to see… and I thought you were planning to be out and about first thing to sign up on the battle list for the Gym?”
Sienna sighed. “That was before I stayed up past two getting that girl we found in the woods squared away,” she said. “Augh. I’m surprised my brain is even functioning—what time is it, anyway—eleven-thirty? Already?!”
She jumped out of bed with surprising energy, nearly knocking Lemon over in the process. “How can it be eleven-thirty already?” she ranted as she dug through her backpack for a fresh change of clothes. “The slots will all be full by now, how did I let myself—why the hell didn’t you wake me up, Lemon?”
“I tried,” Lemon said, leaning back against the wall. Sienna needed to calm down sometimes, she thought. While she appreciated the energy, it occasionally—well, often—ended up misplaced. “You kept muttering incoherently and covering your head with your pillow. I took that as a sign you didn’t want to be disturbed.” She took a deep breath. “Look, I’m sorry you ended up sleeping in too late. We can go look at the list for the Gym as soon as you like.”
“As soon as I’d like was five hours ago,” muttered Sienna, testily, tugging on her second sock. “Almost ready.” Pause. “Er, hey—how’s the girl from last night? Dolly, right?”
Lemon shrugged. “I checked in on her briefly early this morning, but she was still asleep,” she said. “The nurses said she was doing all right, though. I guess we were right in thinking that it was mainly exhaustion. I was thinking I might stop in later today to say hello, at the very least. You can come, too, although I didn’t know if you’d want to.”
Sienna sighed. “Well, maybe after we check to see if there are any slots still left at the Gym,” she said, grudgingly, twirling a lock of her hair around one finger. “I still have my priorities, you know.”
Lemon snickered. “Really. Well, let’s get a move-on, and get out and about. Time’s a-wasting, after all.”
“You don’t have to tell me twice,” muttered Sienna, and Lemon trailed her out the door.
The list, as it turned out, was full up for the whole day. Sienna was outraged; Lemon privately thought that it served her right. Sienna was far too impatient most of the time, and it would probably do her some good to take it a little easier, if she would let herself.
It took no small amount of coaxing, however, to convince Sienna to visit Dolly with her now-dampened spirits. Impossible would be a good word to describe her, Lemon thought. Utterly impossible. While the two of them had been friends and training buddies for years, it was days like these that made Lemon question why she regularly put up with all this.
“Come on, Sienna, stop being so obstinate,” she scolded. “Really, I can’t believe you! The girl could really use some company, and you just want to sit in the room and sulk. We got you on for tomorrow, didn’t we?”
“Yeah, but it’s tomorrow,” Sienna moaned. “I wanted it to be today.”
“Stop being stubborn and just come with me. It might cheer you up, in any case, and it’s still relatively early yet—it won’t take very long, and then you can do anything you want. Sulk, prepare, sleep some more, whatever.”
Sienna scowled. “I guess I could.”
“That’s the spirit,” said Lemon, and grabbed her friend’s wrist. “Come along now, let’s get going!” she added, and proceeded to cheerfully drag Sienna down the road back to the Pokémon Center.
Sienna did, thankfully, cheer up a little bit on the way back, though Lemon had to grab her a bagel and some coffee from the dregs of the continental breakfast bar before asking the nurse on duty if they could pay Dolly a visit. She’d known Sienna long enough to know that she didn’t do well on an empty stomach, and also that if she wasn’t fed she’d be whining incessantly before long.
The nurse smiled at the two of them as they traipsed down the hall after her. “She woke up a little after you left,” she said to Lemon, while Sienna munched happily on the bagel. “Seems like a real sweetheart, too, although you may be right that she has a little memory loss—a little mixed up. She’s been nothing but polite, though—a patient like her could spoil me!” she laughed.
“That’s great to hear,” said Lemon, smiling. “Any word about her family, or where she might have come from?”
“Not yet,” said the nurse, as she spotted Dolly’s room at the end of the hall and produced a set of keys from her pocket. “We’ve put out word to the police in all the nearby cities and towns and asked a couple of television stations to mention her case, though, so if they’re nearby it’s really only a matter of time. Ah, here we go,” she said, after rifling through the extensive set of keys for the right one, and unlocked the door. “You can go right in. I have to go do my rounds, but if you need anything, there’s a button by the door to call me.”
“Thanks,” said Lemon, and the two of them entered.
Dolly, who occupied the room’s sole bed, sat up a little straighter as they came in and gave them an earnest, if awkward smile. “Hello,” she said, folding the sheets down around her waist. “It’s good to see you.”
“Oh, it’s a pleasure,” said Lemon, with her most reassuring smile as she took a place in the chair beside Dolly’s bed. “We just wanted to check in on you, see how you were doing. It’s always nice to have a friendly face when you’re in an unfamiliar place. Right, Sienna?” she added, elbowing her friend in the side.
“Er, yeah, right,” said Sienna. “How are you feeling? Better?”
“Much better,” said Dolly. “Thank you very much for bringing me here.”
“No prob,” said Sienna, shrugging. “Er… do you remember any more about what happened? Like, where you came from, and stuff? I know the staff here are trying to find out where your family is…”
A pause. “I still don’t remember very much,” she said, slowly. “I think… I think I may be a little confused.” She looked mildly worried; a little nervous. “Or something.”
Out of the corner of her eye, Lemon saw Sienna perk up slightly, imagination no doubt running wild with theories that Dolly was part of something out of a spy movie or from another dimension or something. Time to change the subject before Sienna could say something silly. “When are they saying you’ll be up and about again?”
“Very soon,” said Dolly. “The nurse said that I was probably all right, but that they were waiting for a doctor from the big hospital to come over and give me a check-up before they discharged me.”
Lemon smiled. “Well, if things go all right, we ought to take you out to dinner. What do you think, Sienna?”
“Fine with me,” said Sienna. “As long as we make sure we get some practice time in this afternoon. My training will pay off for sure this time, I know it. Clair will be begging me for forgiveness this time tomorrow—”
“Um…” Both Lemon and Sienna turned to look at Dolly. “You said you were pokémon trainers, right?” she said.
“Oh—yes,” said Lemon, blinking. “Er, why do you ask?”
Dolly looked a little nervous, glancing furtively around the room as if worried that someone might be listening. “I… I wanted to ask you something. It’s kind of important, I guess, and I… was hoping that maybe you could help me with it.”
Sienna frowned. “What is it?”
But before she could finish her sentence, the door opened. “Sorry,” said the newcomer, a harried-looking man in a doctor’s coat, carrying a clipboard and a steaming cup of black coffee, and—curiously—sporting a collection of what Lemon recognized to be faded scars on his face. “Don’t want to interrupt—they called me over to do a check-up on her—have to ask you to leave for a while.” He rubbed at his eyes, stifling a yawn with his other hand. “Shouldn’t take too long.”
“Oh—all right,” said Lemon, blinking. Dolly did say a doctor would be coming by. He was a bit young, but he definitely looked tired enough to be a new resident. “What was it you were going to say, Dolly?”
Dolly looked quite startled. “I—not right now. I’ll tell you later,” she said.
Lemon shrugged, and patted her gently on the arm as she stood to leave. “All right, then. We had probably better get going anyway. We’ll see you later. I hope your check-up goes well.”
“Er, yeah. Bye, I guess,” added Sienna, sounding a little thrown off and with a slight frown on her face, but she followed Lemon as they left the room and headed back down the hallway that they had entered from.
Sienna was still frowning when they reached the lobby. “What is it?” asked Lemon.
“Nothing,” said Sienna. “I think. She had a funny look on her face when we left, though. I wonder what it was she wanted to say…”
“We’ll have a chance to see her later,” Lemon said, hiking her satchel further up on her shoulders as they exited the sliding doors. “She’ll have a chance to tell us then. In any case… why don’t we grab a quick lunch, and then head out to Route 45 for a while? If you can’t challenge the gym today, you might as well get some more practice in.”
“Mm. I guess so.” Sienna nodded, still looking a little distant. “Yeah, why not.” She gave Lemon a sideways glance, one eyebrow raised. “But if we’re eating out, you’re paying for it.”
Lemon grinned, and took her friend by the shoulders as they headed down the street. “Now that’s more like it. Come along, now. Today’s going to be a great day, I can tell already.”
And then the Pokémon Center blew up.