Bright moonlight bathed the silent nighttime Hoenn region, allowing almost adequate vision. It sparkled off the sea of cool sand pooled in the canyon of Route 111 as if it really were water, with waves driven by the daytime sandstorms…
Of course, this was all irrelevant to and unnecessary for Ferroco.
If anything the moonlight only made his task that much harder; a cover of darkness would help keep him from being noticed by any possible defenses his adversaries might have set up on My. Chimney, if this was in fact where they'd set up base. It seemed likely enough; an inactive volcano would be more than fitting enough for an organization by the name of Team Magma.
The Cacturne inched nearer to a corner of the rugged stone, taking great care to keep absolutely silent in case anyone happened to be around it. A mild breeze would've been nice to cover any sound he might've made... Why did they have to pick this night of all nights to send him on an undercover mission?
Just around the corner, albeit on a short ledge, a Roserade sighed softly, running his red-and-blue-flowered hand through the scrubby, dry grass on the ground. His ruby eyes watched as the green blades brushed under, then popped back up on the other side. Nothing was happening, and although he was keeping an ear and an eye alert, nothing seemed like it wouldbe happening. Guard duty was so boring...
Suddenly a crack sounded to the far left of him and he leapt down to the ground immediately, raising both arms in an offensive stance. It appeared to have been the snapping of a twig, like someone had stepped on it. He took a few light steps toward where the sound had come from, noticing it was in the direction of the stream and hoping it wasn't someone from that Arceus-forsaken Team Aqua.
Ferroco had to stop himself from muttering a curse under his breath. If anyone was there, they'd surely have heard that twig snap. He glanced around quickly but found no shadows to hide in.
Small, but still footsteps…
Well, so much for secrecy. With a little luck he'd hopefully be able to play this off. He stepped back, away from the corner, and took a moment to get into character. He was nothing more than a normal, non-Team Aqua Cacturne who wandered out of the nearby desert by accident.
That was all.
With that, he stepped away from the rock wall, made sure his hat was on straight and tight enough so that it would stay in place with his bandana and scarf stashed safely inside, and turned the corner with a casual gait. His head tilted back a bit, allowing his uninjured eye to gaze up toward the peak of the mountain as if he'd never seen a volcano before in his life, but still keeping his expression indifferent.
The smaller plant just tiptoed closer, staring wide-eyed so as to not miss anything in front of him. A semi-white petal fell in his face and he had to squint for a second before he stopped and fixed it. He closed his eyes for a second, listening. A very slight breeze blew his cape around his thighs, making him shiver and wish to have his arm warmers and top back on. But he had to look normal. It would be incredibly obvious if he wore his Team Magma outfit; a dead give-away at the least.
He detected footsteps behind him, and they seemed to be closing in. They didn't seem to be anything but casual, as if someone was going for a late night stroll on the side of the volcano. He opened his eyes and spun on his heel, cape whirling around him, and took a few steps back as a Cacturne stepped out from behind a tree.
A hand flew to his chest as a gasp overtook him. He'd never actually seen a Cacturne before. They weren't called the Scarecrow Pokémon for nothing!
He was dark, ominous, and more than a foot taller than the young Roserade. Thick thorns jutted out from his limbs and frontal torso, and his mouth seemed to be comprised of nothing by holes in his face. He had a patch over one eye that tied in the back, and his hat tilted, covering his other eye halfway. He seemed carefree enough; looking up into the sky towards the top of the volcano, arms crossed in front of his chest, and still seeming as though he hadn't noticed the other Grass-type. The Cacturne took a few steps past him and the Roserade tilted his head to the side, deciding to finally speak up.
"What are you doing?" He asked in an obvious French accent, putting forth a cheerful expression and folding his hands behind back.
"Es nada," Ferroco made it sound and appear as if he paid little mind to the other Grass-type, still walking right past him, and falling into his habit of mindlessly mixing Pokémon language with Spanish. "The desert was boring me; no prey worth hunting tonight… The moon's bright enough; I thought I'd leave for a little while and look around, I guess… ¿Y tu?" He turned back from the torso up, stopping in place to face the Roserade.
"I know there are Roselia in nearby routes, but you don't normally see too many Roserade aquí, or any other Sinnoh Pokémon para el caso…"
Round, crimson eyes blinked as his voice ran through the Roserade. That thick Spanish accent was so... alluring. When he seemed to have trailed off the smaller took a step or two forward."Something wrong?" He asked innocently enough, straightening himself to look up at the other.
"No." Ferroco gave the smaller plant a grin that was known to scare off even grown human men who saw it and send any nearby Murkrow with so much as half a brain in its head squawking all the way back to Johto, making sure not to blink the entire time he made eye contact.
"Why do you ask~?"
That'd get him to leave.
The Roserade chewed his lip for a second before speaking up again. "You had stopped in the middle of your sentence. I thought you might've seen something behind me." He looked over his shoulder, craning his neck to give emphasis; a decent cover for looking around to make sure nothing was going on around them. He looked back to the looming male and smiled sweetly. "I didn't see anything."
The Cacturne's mask faltered just slightly. He hadn't left his sentence unfinished. Maybe this Roserade just hadn't ever heard Spanish before. Few in the Sinnoh region had. "I didn't see anything either, pero I probably wouldn't anymore," he referred to the patch covering his injured eye. "Yo no se," he shrugged.
"Oh, cher! What happened?" he feigned interest, gazing at the patch inquisitively, and mixing his languages much in the same manner as Ferroco.
"Ay, that. I got into a muy… violent battle, if that's what you want to call it." That one actually wasn't a lie.
"Desole, mon cher. I certainly hope it heals soon enough." His left hand, which bore no flowers and therefore no poison, came out from behind his back and extended toward the other plant. "I just realized that I haven't introduced myself. Je m'appelle--" he caught himself. "I'm Xanthe. You?"
"Ferroco," the Cacturne blinked, having to lean in a bit to take the other's hand in his own and shake it. "My name is Ferroco."
He couldn't help but notice this Roserade was entirely out-of-place. Not only was he a normally Sinnoh-exclusive subspecies, but he was also able to speak fluent French, a little of which Ferroco had been taught before, but had never used. Nothing to be suspicious of, but it did genuinely peak the taller Grass-type's interest…
Xanthe glanced at his hand before lowering it when the other male stopped shaking it. He needed to make sure this Pokémon got away from the volcano soon; otherwise when it was time to change shifts he'd know something was up. The Roserade looked up at the sky to try and figure out what time it was. There was little time he had left before he had to meet up at the lookout spot.
"Something wrong?" Ferroco inquired. Hopefully Xanthe would have some reason to leave, making the Cacturne's job a lot easier.
"Non, cher." He looked back at the Cacturne's face and tilted his head to the side. "J'ai tres solitaire. Would you mind accompanying me tonight? Marchons ensemble." While Ferroco could only make out about half of the French, the basic message was clear.
"Weeeell…" he thought it over briefly. He'd pretty much already done his job, and he wouldn't be able to finish it with the Roserade around anyway. Besides, his French was cute, and when would he ever get the chance to see a Sinnoh Pokémon ever again?
"Bien. I don't see why not."
Xanthe clapped his hands together in front of his chin, grinning. "C'est merveilleux!" He mostly kept his eyes on the ground as they walked, glancing up at the other's face every now and then. He wasn't going to lie to himself and think of the other as not intimidating; Ferroco was definitely daunting... yet alluring all the same. That heavy Spanish accent... it gave him shivers almost at every sentence.
Ferroco kept a somewhat slow pace so Xanthe's smaller strides would match easier. "¿De donde eres? Are you from around here, or do you have roots elsewhere? No pun intended," he smirked down at the Roserade, pun fully intended.
Come on. It was unavoidable.
A giggle left Xanthe at the joke. "It's hard to explain, actually. I was raised somewhere near or in the Eterna Forest. Je ne me souviens pas beucoup," He shrugged, shaking his head slowly.
"Mais, I remember that I didn't like it there at all. I managed to evolve to what I am now by myself and wandered throughout my life until I was somewhere near Johto. A man came up to me and convinced me to stay with him and we ended up in Hoenn. That was about a year ago. How about you?"
"Tienes quite the tale there… I'm jealous," Ferroco gave a small chuckle.
"Para mi, life has been simple. Mis parents belonged to a trainer en madre Spain, un muy long time ago. I don't know exactly what happened, but for some reason he left them en Route 111. I was born there and raised speaking two languages. I was a scrawny little Cacnea until I evolved not all that long ago… Y that's about it." He decided to leave out the part where he was captured by a Team Aqua member, but the rest was actually true.
"Tu es lucky. I didn't know ma mere et mon pere..." How surprising it was to be honest about these things. Xanthe had never really talked about himself like this before. He looked back up at Ferroco when the other turned to him and smiled awkwardly. "That slow turn of yours is really... how do I put this...? C'est effrayant. I see why you're called the Scarecrow Pokémon."
"Kekeke," Ferroco gave a chuckle reminiscent of a Haunter. "Bien. I like my space, and looking and moving this way ensures me that. Ademas…" he smirked back down at Xanthe again, head angled so his good eye was entirely in view, and lowered his tone just only enough to notice.
"…Slow movement makes for good hunting."
A shiver ran through Xanthe at the tone and he spun around so that he stood in directly front of Ferroco, displaying a teasing smile. Barely any distance was between them so he had to angle his head pretty far. "So, are you hunting me?" He asked, winking.
That shudder he got almost made Ferroco glad he was neglecting his job. The wink was a nice little bonus, too."Actualmente, no." He leaned in a little closer.
"I imagine I would have gotten you by now if I was."
'Oh you've got me, alright...' The Roserade smirked mentally. He was about to step closer when his trainer yelled out for him from afar. He cursed under his breath, having forgotten the time limit he had. "I'll be right back."
"I won't move a vein," Ferroco assured him, leaning back up against the mass of volcanic rock, arms folded.
Xanthe made quick work of getting back to his post, snuggling up to his trainer as if to say he was sorry that he left. The Combusken standing next to them just rolled his eyes. After a minute or two of scolding, the Roserade was allowed to wander off again. He returned as quickly as possible, walking slowly once he could see the other and sneaking up on him. The Spanish Cacturne's hat had slipped down to cover his eye and he was as still and silent as the boulder he was leaning on.
"You can't sneak up on me that easy," Ferroco spoke up once Xanthe was about a yard away and tipped his hat back a bit. His glance shifted over to the other, though he was otherwise motionless. He didn't even turn his head to face toward him. "Tu olor es muy reconocible. Exotica."
The smaller giggled softly, moving to stand in front of the Cacturne. "Desole, mon cher. I don't know much Spanish..."
"Unfortunate." He then turned his head to face Xanthe, but was, again, otherwise entirely still. "I mix my languages all the time without a second thought."
"Non, non! C'est bien, mon cher." He waved his hands in front of him to show it was fine. "I do the same thing. We'll just have to translate for the other if we do it and they completely don't understand...?" He hoped that Ferroco would do so with whatever he had said a few moments before.
"Es un trato," the Dark-type nodded. "It's a deal."
"Il s'agit d'un accord," Xanthe smiled sweetly. "It's a deal." After Ferroco pushed himself from the wall he decided to ask directly. "What was it that you said before?"
"I said your scent is very recognizable," the taller Pokémon stepped closer. "Exotic, but recognizable. I rather like it."
"Oh..." His cheeks began to match his blinking, ruby eyes. A small giggle left him and he looked back at the Cacturne, the blush more prominent as he realized that the other was now only a few inches from him.
"I'm sure it's much sweeter in mating season, though," Ferroco murmured, passing by the smaller plant, going in the same direction they'd been headed before. An indistinguishable noise left Xanthe at that, the comment thoroughly embarrassing him. He decided to change the subject.
"Do you have a trainer?" he asked, catching up to the other's strides.
"No," Ferroco lied easily. "Most humans are completely terrified of me as I am now, and no trainer would've wanted to catch such a skinny little Cacnea when there was such an abundance of bulkier ones available en el desierto… Er, in the desert," he corrected himself. "¿Y tu? Do you have a trainer?"
"Oui, the voice calling for me from a few minutes ago was my trainer. Remember me mentioning the man in Hoenn? That's him." He studied Ferroco for a second, looking him up and down slowly. "I can see why humans would be scared of you but you're actually wonderful company." He smiled, grabbing the other's arm so that he could walk evenly with him.
"Hmhm. I never thought anyone would say that." Ferroco pulled him a little closer.
"I'm sorry to hear that." Xanthe snuggled into the larger Grass-type's side and hugged onto his arm with both of his own, being cautious of the spikes protruding from it. "But to me you are."
Ferroco probably would've said something, were it not for Xanthe's closeness. He wasn't expecting it at all, and he'd certainly never been hugged like that… But it wasn't unpleasant.
But then something struck him.
Don't regular trainers travel a lot?
"So… From the sound of it, I'm guessing you and your trainer travel mucho, hmm? You'll be gone soon?" His tone was genuinely disheartened. The Roserade had to think of something quick. He certainly couldn't tell Ferroco that he lived in the volcano...
"We do travel, but not too often. We usually stay in one place for a while. I think we'll be here for a month or two longer before we leave."
"Oh. Odd." He'd never heard of any trainer moving across the region so slowly, but hey, it worked out for him.
"Et tu? Do you travel?" Xanthe looked up into Ferroco's eye, surprised at himself for really wanting the other to be here longer.
"No. I don't think I could live happily outside the desert…" This was also a lie. That place was boring as Hell… Except that one time something happened with two Flygon and a weird, uniformed trainer. It had been apparent that there was a violent battle and one dragon was captured, but the details were fuzzy. Oddly enough, it happened not long after he got the wound on his eye… Either way, the desert sucked.
Simple as that.
"Menteur," he giggled. "You liar. If you were perfectly happy in the desert you wouldn't have wandered over here, now would you?"Xanthe nuzzled the other's arm, thankful that his face wasn't near a thorn, and smiled contently. "But I'm glad that you'll be staying near. I'd like to meet with you again..."
"Yo también…" He glanced away. "So would I…"
At some point they had stopped walking altogether. A cool breeze blew by them, making the slighter one's cape brush over his own thighs. The Roserade looked up at his face, bringing his red-and-blue-flowered hand up to cup his jaw and make the taller look at him. A soft smile overtook his features.
"Shall we make it a habit, meeting on the side of the volcano?"
"Whenever I can, I'll be here." Ferroco returned the gesture, placing one "hand" on Xanthe's cheek. "Count on it."
The smaller closed his eyes, leaning into the touch and relaxing. How can he be so comfortable with this Pokémon he'd just met?
Xanthe seemed to be a little too comfortable, Ferroco thought. Best to fix that. He stayed in place for just a tad longer to draw out the timing.
"… So do we kiss now or what?"
A blush spread over Xanthe's cheeks and his eyes opened to stare at the Cacturne. The idea wasn't bad at all, in fact he was just thinking of that with how they were. But to ask it like that!
His lids narrowed and he got on the tips of his feet, pressing his lips to Ferroco's cheek for a second or two before backing away. The blush he sported had become darker and his eyes lingered at the thorns on the other's neck. He was about to say something along the lines of, 'you should know better than to joke about kissing with the French,' but thought against it.
Ferroco felt his cheeks heat up a bit. That was… unexpected.
"Hm." He stood up straight again. "I think I forgot you're French for a second there…" He fiddled with his hat a bit, feeling profoundly awkward. He wasn't inexperienced with these types of things, but he was much more used to females, in which case it was customary not to start getting physical within a single hour of knowing one another. For other males, however, this was seldom the case.
Xanthe laughed awkwardly, burying his face in the Cacturne's shoulder. It was against his nature to admit that he was embarrassed.
Ferroco put his unoccupied arm around Xanthe's back, pulling him in a tad closer. "Es bien. I don't mind."
The Roserade's arm let go of the taller's, letting him be pulled into a frontal hug. The hand that was on Ferroco's cheek moved to the back of the other's neck.
"Handsy tonight, tu eres~?" Ferroco returned it, crouching down a bit further. "Most would advise against cuddling a succulent plant, you know…" He chose his words carefully on that line.
"You too. Your hands..." Xanthe muttered, a shiver running through him as thick hands stroked his back, moving just a little bit lower each time, as if wanting the action to be noticed.
"You started it," Ferroco pointed out, but still jokingly. He felt the Roserade shaking slightly in his embrace, his hand tracing his spine through his cape. "I can stop if you want."
"...Continuez..." He wrapped his other arm around the taller Pokémon's neck, relaxing more into his hold. "Tu es a l'aise..."
"¿Traducción, por favor?" Ferroco's head tilted up just slightly, allowing a tad more ease of access to his neck. "I didn't quite catch that last word…"
"Xanthe? Where are you?" A human's voice echoed through rocks and trees, startling the Roserade. He backed up an inch or two, looking up at Ferroco.
"I-I have to go..."
"… I see."
The Cacturne let go of him and stood up straight again. "Es bien. I'll see you again tomorrow night."
He gave the Cacturne a short kiss on either cheek. "Tomorrow night then... Au revoir." With that, he turned around and sprinted back to the base.
Xanthe walked behind his trainer down the many hallways to their room. Once inside, an article of red clothing hit his face dead on.
Red eyes narrowed at the laughing Trapinch on the other side of the room. He picked the clothes off of the floor, receiving a wolf whistle from the Combusken behind him.
"Put those on already! You look way too normal without them. Too leafy." The Trapinch sounded, still chuckling.
"Shut up, Searcium..." Xanthe grumbled, clipping the red cloth with the Team Magma symbol on the front to his collar. He wrapped the two belts around him, clicking the buckles, before pulling his arm warmers and leg warmers on.
"Quiet down. He just got back," the human ordered, staring at the Trapinch and motioning for Xanthe to join him on the bed. He did so, smiling as the man patted his head.
"Good work tonight, Xanthe."