you don't sound like yourself
i hope it's just lost in translation
- "speaking a dead language"
While Green likes to think of himself as a nice person, he's also the vindictive type and isn't particularly inclined to be nice towards any trainers who've beaten him. So when Ethan - that brat who claimed an Earth badge last week - shows up at his gym half-conscious and looking ready to collapse at any moment, Green still nearly turns him away at the door.
That is, until Ethan mumbles something about Mt. Silver and a trainer that's impossible to beat before proceeding to pass out in Green's arms.
Normally, Green would just dump trainers like him at the city Pokémon Center, but this time, he lets his curiosity gets the better of him.
He drags Ethan inside.
It takes a four hour nap, two cups of coffee, and a reheated dinner before Ethan gives up any sort of information at all. Green's not convinced it was worth the effort either.
"Your grandfather," Ethan says in between stuffing a dinner roll into his mouth, "- Professor Oak, told me about Mt. Silver and how there were lots of really powerful Pokémon there. So I wanted to check it out for myself. That's all."
Ethan's not a very good liar. Green stares at him disbelievingly.
There's a long, awkward silence as Ethan licks his lips and fidgets, avoiding Green's eyes. Green quirks an eyebrow, but waits for him to continue.
"I'm not really supposed to tell you this," Ethan says to him eventually, his voice soft and low. "He told me to keep quiet about it. But I found out from him and some other people - well, mostly from him first and then I asked around after that - but there's a rumor of an unbeatable trainer up there."
Green's eyes narrow into a glare.
"S-sorry," Ethan stutters.
"It's not your fault," Green says, and it's the truth.
But the taste of bitterness still lingers in his mouth afterwards. Of course he wouldn't want Green finding out about it. After all, his grandfather had always disapproved.
People stared. People pointed and whispered in hushed tones, then pretended to look away when his eyes glanced past them.
It only made Green grip Red's hand harder.
"Green, Green," Red would mumble quietly into his shoulder, but wouldn't let go, wouldn't pull his hand away and instead squeezed back just as tightly.
"It'll be okay," Green would whisper back to him, again and again, shielding him from the prying, judgmental eyes.
If he says it enough times, it might become the truth.
Pictures. Less than a handful of them, but more than enough to be incriminating. Green and Red eating together at a restaurant, happy and content; Green holding Red's hand as they walked down the street together; Green kissing Red - on the cheek - simple and innocent, nothing passionate or scandalous in any way.
But scandalous enough to warrant no less than twenty reporters beating down their apartment door the next day.
"Red! Red! Green!" they scream through the door, their pounding arrhythmic and relentless. "Do you have any comments on the pictures? How long have you two been dating?"
Inside, Eevee and Pikachu huddle in a corner, and Green drapes an arm across Red's waist, pulling him close on their narrow bed. He whispers soothingly into Red's ear, "It'll be okay. It'll be okay," over and over again.
He's said it one thousand, eight hundred and twenty-seven times before he begins to believe it himself.
That night, they get a phone call from Red's mother.
At first there's only screaming, shrieks and accusations tinged with grief. Eventually, it dissolves into choked sobs and muffled pleas to stop, to go back to the way it was before, to just let her have her baby back.
Green watches worriedly from the side as Red listens to all of this with a numbed expression, his eyes glazing over. Red doesn't say anything. But he also doesn't hang up.
After the sobs die down into a prolonged period of silence, Red hands him the phone. Green looks at it warily but picks it up anyway.
"Green," his grandfather says over the phone, voice full of suppressed rage and disappointment. There is no trace of the gentle and kind veneer he puts on for everyone but Green, or even the distant coldness that Green is used to. Instead he uses the tone that he saves for when he is truly angry. Green swallows loudly.
"Green," his grandfather says again when Green doesn't reply. "Why are you doing this?"
"I love him," Green says as evenly as he can. His grandfather isn't the person that he should be telling this to, especially since he's never admitted this before, not even to himself. Red shifts on the bed behind him, and Green feels Red's eyes burning a hole into the back of his head.
"I raised you to be a better man than this." A surge of anger rushes through him, and Green has to bite back the you barely raised me at all.
"I love Red," he says, more firmly this time because he doesn't have to explain himself to anyone. He's not going to back down. What's between him and Red is between them and no one else.
"Don't come back until you've changed."
Green can't tell who hangs up first: him or his grandfather.
Right as he's falling asleep that night, the temperature in his apartment suddenly drops a few degrees.
Out of the corner of his eye, he sees the silhouette of a white figure in front of his window. The curtains are fluttering slightly behind it, as if there were a breeze in the room, and a pair of red eyes glowing in the dark gazes in his direction.
Green jolts up from his bed. His curtains are still. The room temperature is normal. There's no one standing by his window.
He bites his lip. Green doesn't feel tired anymore, and he can't seem to fall asleep again for the rest of the night. The single event replays in his mind, over and over again.
Green thinks his imagination has been getting too good lately.
Green can remember the day Red leaves almost as clearly as if it were yesterday.
If he's not careful, sometimes he deludes himself into thinking that it was.
There isn't anything particularly special about this day in Green's mind, nothing different or especially out of the ordinary about it.
Red drags him out of bed in the morning, fighting him tooth and nail because Green's not much of a morning person. But Green needs to get to work, protesters be damned, and he could always count on Red to make sure he'd get there on time.
Breakfast is its usual sorry affair, some burnt toast and soggy cereal that could only be caused by distracting kisses and inappropriately wandering hands.
"Don't forget to pick up milk," Red reminds him on his way out, since they're running low. He fixes Green's jacket and looks him straight in the eye.
"I know, I know," Green says and leans down for a kiss.
If the kiss lingers a bit longer than it really should, it's because it was full of promises of better things to come.
The first sign that Green should've known something was out of the ordinary is when he walks through the front door with an arm full of groceries and Red's not there.
Green used to be Champion too; he knows all about their schedules, how much harder and easier it as at the same time. The late-nights are few and far between compared to those of a gym leader, but he's had them. It's probably just one of those nights, he thinks.
He goes about making dinner, and Eevee distractingly twists around his feet, paws padding gently on the linoleum kitchen floor. Red still hasn't returned by the time he finishes, and he sets them the dishes on the dining table and watches them cool.
By nine o'clock, Eevee's hungry and pawing at his leg, and Green thinks that if he waits any longer to feed it, he'll probably be accused of abuse by the Pokémon Humane Society.
Green wanders around the apartment for half an hour looking for the Pokémon Chow. Then he realizes that it's Red who usually feeds Eevee and Pikachu.
At exactly 11:38pm, Green gets a call from Leaf. Her voice is frantic and hysterical, and he can barely understand her between her stuttering and sobs.
It must be important, he thinks when he finally gets off the phone with her. Too bad he couldn't hear a word she'd said over the noise in his own head of his worry for Red.
The next time Ethan shows up at his gym, a red-haired boy and a brown-haired girl with pigtails are tagging along behind him, and Green assumes they're his friends. Putting up with one brat was enough, but now he has three? Green rolls his eyes.
"Help me train," Ethan says - he doesn't ask or request, but flat-out demands.
"Who the fuck do you think I am?" Green snaps. "Go hire a personal trainer. I'm busy."
"But you're the best," Ethan says. "How can I defeat that trainer on Mt. Silver if I don't train with the best?"
Ethan frowns when he realizes that it's not as easy as he thinks it is to get on Green's good side by stroking his ego, so he resorts to whining.
"You take other trainers in your gym though! Please please please. Please please please please please."
Green eventually gives in, if only to make Ethan shut up.
They're not as annoying as Green thought they'd be - certainly not as annoying as Ethan, and they mostly just keep to themselves. They sit in the corner of his gym and watch Ethan train, and, every once in a while, the girl will turn to the redhead, point in Ethan's direction before poking him in the cheek, and the boy will turn an interesting shade of red that clashes with his hair.
Green watches all of this with mild amusement and fascination.
Once, he catches Ethan staring in their direction as the boy tries to pry himself out of the girl's hug.
"Why aren't you doing the exercises?"
Ethan ignores his question. "What do you do... when girls confess to you? How do you turn them down?"
Green pauses and wonders what this has to do with anything, failing to see the connection. Did Ethan really not know anything about him? "I think you're asking the wrong person." It's not completely untrue; most girls had just stopped trying after that incident, though he still turned one or two away every few months.
Still, he answers Ethan anyway. "Well, before ... that happened, I'd politely tell them I was already seeing someone. These days?" He laughs, but it comes out sounding more like a bark. "I just tell them I don't swing that way. It usually gets the point across."
Ethan nods like Green's actually helpful, and Green just rolls his eyes.
Later, when Ethan's friends have left to grab some dinner, Ethan approaches him, looking hesitant and unsure.
"I love Lyra, just not in that way," he tells Green. "But I don't want to hurt her."
Green nods for him to continue.
"How did - how did you tell him?" Ethan asks, and it takes a moment for Green to realize what he's talking about.
"I didn't," Green admits, suddenly feeling very small. "He pulled me down, then he kissed me."
Ethan's eyes widen a fraction of an inch. "Oh," he breathes. "Thank you for telling me." When he looks to the side, Green can almost see him thinking, forming a plan of attack, with a strangely familiar look of determination burning in his eyes.
In all his years of running the gym, Green has never met anyone like Red. Of course, Red would always be Red to him and therefore irreplaceable, but he's never met anyone with the same kind of spirit.
Ethan might have the farthest personality possible from Red - loud, outspoken, and bright while Red is quiet, soft spoken, and reserved - but seeing that unwavering conviction in Ethan's eyes has opened up a wound in Green's heart that he hadn't known had even healed.
"No problem," Green says, voice tight in his throat. "Just... don't forget the people you leave behind."
A few days after that phone call, Leaf comes bursting into his apartment looking nothing short of murderous. Her hair is pulled back cleanly into a bun, and she's dressed from head to toe in black instead of her usual cheerful colors. Green glances up, unfocused, and it takes a moment for him to register the dangerous glint in her eye.
"Where have you been, you - oh my god, what happened!?" she yells, her anger almost immediately dissipating into horror and concern.
Green looks around his apartment, and actually registers the chaos for the first time - papers and journal articles scattered everywhere, his clothes piling up in various corners of the room. He'd probably let it get out of hand while he wasn't paying attention. Cleaning had always been Red's job, and cooking Green's - it was an arrangement that worked well for them. He notes with dull amusement over the buzzing in his head that Red will probably be really angry when he comes back.
"I just brought some paperwork from the gym to do while I wait," he says. "Um, I'll clean it up -"
"I don't care about your apartment! What happened to you?" Leaf looks at him with worried blue eyes.
Green squints down at his shirt. He knows he's changed his clothes and doesn't think they're wrinkled. He's pretty sure he looks at least passable. And he remembers eating something less than six hours ago.
"I'm fine," he says.
"When was the last time you slept?"
Green has to pause and count backwards. "I passed out sometime two days ago," he admits.
Leaf shoves him back onto his bed with some force. "Sleep," she commands.
"But -" Who would keep watch in case Red returned?
"No but's. Sleep. Now."
If there's one thing Green remembers about being friends with Leaf in his childhood, it's that she's quite scary when she wants to be. Green isn't tired at all, but he closes his eyes just to humor her. Strangely, he finds that sleep follows easily afterwards.
When he wakes up, Leaf is cooking in his kitchen. His paperwork and journal magazines are organized in neat piles on his dining room table, laundry folded and shoved back into his closet, and his apartment looks rearranged and normal. Like Red had never left.
Green sits up to look around, his world still slightly fuzzy from sleep but more coherent than before. Leaf notices, comes over, and shoves a bowl of what likes oatmeal in his hands. She plops down in a chair next to his bed.
Green eats his oatmeal in uncomfortable silence for some minutes before Leaf decides to break the tension.
"Why weren't you there?" she says, and Green can hear the slight waver in her voice.
"Where?" he asks. And then, just in case, "Did Red come back while I was asleep?"
Leaf blinks once, and then sadness fills her eyes. "Oh, Green." She looks on the verge of tears, and Green can't seem to remember if he's ever seen Leaf cry. "Weren't you listening? I - I told you."
Panic floods into Green. "Where's Red?"
Leaf looks away.