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Exhale and Inhale

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"He can hear the city around him, a hundred people breathing, weighing down the silence with their dreams. A moth whirs around the porch light, banging into it with a hazy rhythm. He's not sure he'll be able to sleep under bedsheets and night sounds, surrounded by too many people and not enough air." (Skylark, To Breathe)


Red finds him halfway up his climb, and (when Red falls, he) knocks the wind out of him.




It would be a lie to say Green liked routine and consistency, because that’s not quite right.

What Green is likes measured preciseness. He likes knowing that every word or action will elicit an expected response. Like how if he pads into his small kitchen any later than seven in the morning to make breakfast, Eevee will somehow make her way in there, and twist and twine around his ankles, unintentionally trying to trip him, until he feeds her first.

Green hums the chorus of a current pop tune as he plates the toast, glancing back every few seconds to check up on the eggs that are still sizzling in the pan. After setting the plate on the table, he turns to the clock. Thirteen minutes ‘til eight.

Green tries to think of an appropriate wake-up call as he walks towards the bedroom, but his smart comment dies on his lips when he opens the door to find Red’s bright and focused eyes staring back at him.

"You're awake," tumbles out instead, and Red nods. Green has to pause before walking towards him, suddenly feeling too-large and out of place his own room with Red in his bed. "Breakfast is almost ready."

"It can wait," Red mumbles and pulls Green down to meet his lips. It’s a little clumsy, just like how their words to each other always are, but to Green it feels right. As he tumbles onto the bed, Green catches a flash of yellow follow Eevee into the bathroom out of the corner of his eye, and reminds himself to do something about it later.

Later, though, Green merely purses his lips as he and Red eat his less-than-perfect (burnt) eggs. Green can’t tell if that hitch at the bottom of his throat is annoyance or his heart.

Green doesn’t necessarily like predictability – but he likes feeling like he’s in control of the situation. And Green has the sneaking suspicion that what Red likes is to throw that all to hell.




"I didn't know you could cook," Red says, and Green frowns.

"Nothing tastes right after you haul it up a mountain," he settles on, and turns back to weeding his garden.

"No, I just thought –" Red trails off, and Green turns back to look at him. "I thought you bought all that food." Maybe Green’s reading too much into it, but Red almost seems kind of regretful.

Green stands up and brushes the dirt off his hands, wiping the rest on his pants. He takes two steps, lifts his hand to grabs on to the side of Red’s arms – right above his elbows, and presses an open-mouthed kiss onto Red’s lips. It shouldn’t be a surprise, but Green almost finds himself amazed that Red doesn’t taste like ice and snow or even charcoal and burnt like that morning’s eggs.




Green shows Red the apartment. He’s never been too conscious of its size before, but with Red and Pikachu there, it’s become claustrophobic and too crowded to fit all their lofty dreams.

"It’s a nice place," Red comments when they finish their tour, and he tugs on a curtain to let in a little more light. Green lets out a breath he hadn’t known he was holding – as if Red’s judgment on his apartment would somehow determine whether it was livable or not.

He loses it again the next moment, however, when the light that’s filtering through the window catches Red just the right way.




Red has taken to lying on his kitchen floor. Green rolls his eyes and vacuums around him.

"What are you doing, anyway?" Green snipes.

"Practicing," Red answers in his usual infuriatingly detached way.

The lights flicker once before going off completely, and Green doesn’t even blink this time. "Pika, chu chuu," Pikachu apologizes again, but Green just shrugs it off and sets aside his now-unpowered vacuum cleaner. The candles are already out, but instead of going to light them, Green head towards the limp Red-shaped form on the floor.

"Move over," Green says, nudging Red’s leg with his foot.

"Don’t you have work to do?" Red asks, but shifts anyway.

"Nothing important." Green lies down on the (clean) floor next to Red, breathing quietly next to him as he waits for their eyes to adjust to the lack of light.

"I put stars on the ceiling," Green says a few minutes later, pointing in the direction of the soft glow from the plastic glow-in the-dark stars so Red could see it. "In case you missed looking at them."

"Couldn’t see stars through the blizzard," Red replies dully, and Green’s arm goes out to smack him and lands on Red’s chest with a ‘fwop.’

"Well, I missed looking at them," Green says anyway, letting his arm rest on top of Red. He’d put them up when he’d first gotten the apartment. "Besides, why bother practicing if there’s nothing to look towards?"

Red hums before moving his hand to clasp over Green’s palm. He presses it softly against his chest so the back of Green’s hand is just over Red’s beating heart.




At night, Green is careful not to push Red off his bed. At first, he’s tense when he slides under the covers, but then he realizes that, somehow, they both manage to fit perfectly. Green breathes out all his tension in one exhale.

"You don't know how many times I've thought about this," he says, glad that Red can’t see him flush up to his ears in the dark. "Us, like this, like we are right now." Before Red can reply, though, Green moves to cover Red’s body with his own.

It’s so strangely normal and ordinary, trying to figure out how they fit together, how to make room for Red in his life, but it may also be the hardest thing Green has ever done.




Green’s greatest failure has always been his inability to be anything but extraordinary. But lying down next to Red, arm thrown carelessly over his waist as he exhales into Red’s black hair, he dreams that it wouldn’t be so bad to try.