Crowning Glory (Airshipping, PG, 2 of 3, updated 3rd Jan)
Chapter 1--Fated Meeting
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.
"Jirarudan, 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, Jirarudan."
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. "Jirarudan," 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.
(pt 2 below)