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a face on a lover with a fire in his heart

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A Silver that's dressed down is an unusual sight, rendered even moreso by the contrast of Lyra in formal kimono.

She pauses, her hand on the doorframe of Silver's bedroom. His hair is free of its normal slicked-back style and set in a soft rumple that frames his face. He's wearing his slacks like always, but on top he's wearing the soft purple t-shirt that was a present from Ethan, before he knew Silver well enough to understand what he wanted for his birthday (nothing). There's a psyduck's morose face on the front, and a psyduck's backside with a little tail on the back. She's never seen him wear it before.

"Silver?" she murmurs. "Do you not want to go?"

Silver jerks and then turns to look at her. "It's not," he starts before he closes his mouth, his jaw and tongue working as if he's not sure about the taste of something. His eyes rake over the dangling accessory in her hair, the way the folds of heavy fabric drape across her slight frame. "I know you have to go," he says, "and I'm not going to make you go by yourself."

"No one will mind if I miss one new year's party," she says.

"It's your first party," Silver insists. "It's important for you to make an appearance. You already have a reputation..." as if realizing what he's saying too late, he trails off, but Lyra's eyebrows are already raised.

"A reputation?" she prompts, smiling. Silver frowns at her.

"Just like every other champion," he says with a brusque gesture of his hand. "Flighty and prone to forgetting real world appointments in favor of chasing the next legendary, or whatever."

"So if I already have that kind of 'reputation,'" she says, unfolding her arms to make little air quotes with her fingers, "Why would it matter if I failed to show up to one party?"

"Because you're the champion now," Silver says. His eyes are darting around the room as if he's looking for someone who's listening; even when it's just the two of them, he never relaxes. "You're in a position of power. If you're a leader, you're responsible—" and then he cuts himself off again, his jaw working again, eyes narrowing.

There's a lot Lyra doesn't know about Silver, when it comes down to it. She knows that he's the son of an evil team's leader, but doesn't know what that means. She knows that he kind of hates formal attire, but then can't figure out why he keeps wearing it.

"You're trying to look out for me, aren't you?" she says.

As she expected, Silver bristles as if she's made an accusation. "You don't know what you're doing," he says. "I don't want to have to watch you make stupid mistakes."

"I could go by myself?"

Impossibly, he bristles even more, but doesn't say anything.

"I can take care of myself, you know," Lyra says, humor still in her voice. "I'm the champion, right?"

Silver turns into three-quarter profile, away from her. He bites out, "So you know how to train your pokemon. You think that's all there is to know?" Lyra cocks her head but doesn't respond right away. The silence goads him, as she expected: "You're going to a party full of the most important people on the continent. Governors, mayors, elite four members, everyone. You have a place at the table now, and everyone will want to know where you stand. They'll want to know how to con you or win your favor or destroy you, if it comes down to it." He turns to him, his eyes furious and frightened over his ridiculous t-shirt, his hands balled into fists. "Are you ready for that?"

Lyra matches him, gaze for gaze. Then she inclines her head. "No," she says. "I'm not."

Silver blinks, and seems to deflate at her admission back into the kid she knows. "Well, okay," he grumbles. "So yeah."

"I just thought of something," Lyra says. "Do you own any kinds of pants besides slacks?"

Silver shoots her a disbelieving look, but doesn't say anything.

"So then do you sleep without any pants on?"

It only takes a second for Silver to turn bright red. Lyra's grin widens.

"Lyra!" he splutters, storming towards her. She catches his hands in a light grip, palms pressed together, and laughs. Bumping their noses together—he blinks and recoils at the light touch—she says,

"When I'm on the battlefield, I have good instincts, right? That's what you always said. I'm a genius when it comes to that. So relax," she says. "I know enough to keep my mouth shut if I don't know what to say, and I'm friends with a lot of the gym leaders after battling them. And I have you." Her grin is bright. "I've never fought alone, not since Professor Elm gave me my first pokemon! So even if you don't come, I'll be okay. You don't have to come if you don't want to."

Silver is silent for a while, long enough for his blush to fade, long enough for the tension in the tendons of his wrists to ease. They stand there in the doorway, their hands before them and pressed together as if they're on opposite sides of a wall, Lyra gazing into Silver's face while he works up the courage to meet her frank stare.

"I don't want to go," he says. "But I want to stay here even less."

Lyra blinks. "You're telling the truth," she says. "Good job."

His mouth presses into a hard line.

"Do you want to get dressed?"

"No," he snaps, "I don't want to dress up more than—but I don't want anyone to look down on you either, so—but if I go with you, they'll already look down on you." His voice trails off into a mumble. "Everyone must know who I am by now."

"You're my rival," Lyra says, and there's a new fierceness in her tone. She grips his hands with fervor. "You're my rival and that's all that matters, and if I want you to be there then no one will say anything. I want to go," she says, "but I want to go with you even more."

"I want to go with you," he says, and his eyes flick across the sweep of her kimono as if he can't help himself. He looks down at the floor.

"Just wear what you normally wear," she says. "You already overdress most of the time anyway. You'll fit right in."

"Your outfit," he says haltingly. "It's."

"Oh," she says, leaning back a little to look at herself. "Do you think I overdid it?"

"No, it's not." He's turning red again as Lyra watches, fascinated. "You're very. I mean."

"Silver," she says, "do you think I'm pretty?"

He frowns at her but doesn't respond, his blush deepening.

"I was kind of excited to wear this," she says, and now she's blushing too. "I wanted to show it to you."

Silver's expression is baffled when he looks up at her again, but eventually smooths out to his baseline furrowed brow.

He leans in towards her until some of his weight is supported by the hands suspended between them. "I'll never fit in," he says, less a protest and more a warning.

Lyra pulls her hands back until he steps towards her, until she can wrap his arms around him. "That's why you're my rival," she says. "I need someone like that, because you can see the things that I can't."