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Birds of a Feather

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Everything started with Diamond. Diamond, who had been plagued by an endless wanderlust after winning the position of Sinnoh Champion, Diamond, who later on got tired of exploring and wanted to settle, before deciding he was too young to actually do it. He was fourteen then, fourteen - not legal, but apparently way too old, old enough to have finished his first Pokemon adventure, old enough to have conquered the league, and then relinquished the position (but not the title, once you’re a Champion, you’ll always be known as one until the day you died, or when your name faded from history). Old enough to have stopped a villainous team from taking over his home region, old enough to confront a legendary Pokemon all on his own - 

Problem was, he was just so tired.

When he’d voiced that out, his best friends had given him conflicting replies.

“Oh, Lucas.” Pearl had sounded genuinely sincere in her sympathy over the phone, but he could tell she didn’t know what to say. How could she, when she was entirely content with Sinnoh, with her then-still-blooming relationship with Ryou?

Platinum’s reply had been a little harsher, but that was to be expected from her. She hadn’t said anything at first, except for look at him incredulously, before pressing her lips together and giving him a frown.

“You’re only fourteen.”

And that was the problem, wasn’t it? He shouldn’t be getting tired at this age, and after spending days moping about in Steven’s - actually, it belonged to him now, although he never felt like it - villa, roaming around the too-wide hallways and the numerous empty rooms, he’d called out Staravia - Rapidash and Empoleon were especially annoyed by his moping, and seems like if he didn’t step out and do something soon, his Pokemons might just do something drastic, like kick him out of his own property - and decided to go out for a ride.

He pondered about a lot of things while in the sky - how Dialga was doing, if Cynthia was all right with taking over the league again, and where he was headed from now on - and was glad that Staravia stayed silent throughout.

What he didn’t expect, however, was for his Pokemon to bring him all the way to Unova.

There, in Striaton City, housed a small, cosy and modest café. 

That was where Lucas, trainer name Diamond, got his long-desired break in his seemingly never-ending ennui.

 


 

 The city of Lumiose was a beautiful place. It never sleeps in the night - for the Prism Tower was always shining brightly, golden rays illuminating the rustic stone pavements - and was always busy in the day. It reminded N a lot of Castelia back in Unova, in an entirely different way. 

Castelia was all tall buildings and busy streets, Lumiose was more laid-back, and less oppressing with its small alleys and shophouses.

“Emolga!” N barely had the time to react before he felt a small pair of paws coming to rest on his hat, and a person crashing into his back.

Good thing he knew Touya and his Pokemon well enough to have expected this, he smiled in amusement as he braced himself to catch his companion’s weight. Touya groaned.

“Good save.” He chuckled, reaching up to scratch at the electric-type Pokemon’s head, before realizing that he was happily munching on a Galette - Touya shot his Pokemon an exasperated look, before reaching into the paperbag in his arms and handing a pastry over to N.

“Here’s your share. Don’t feed him anymore, he’s already had two.” The brunet sighed. There was just no way to wean Emolga off his food-stealing habits, it seemed. 

“Why, I would never.” N replied, smiling, reaching towards his Pokeballs and releasing his team. It wasn’t too convenient letting them out in the City, but N still insisted that they walked along with them when they were out of major settlement areas. Zekrom and Reshiram were, of course, exceptions, but they were perfectly content with staying in Pokeballs when need be, despite protests from both N and Touya - they would let the dragons go for a period of time, when they feel like the Legendaries needed to roam about and stretch for a little, but for most part, the duo was comfortable with them. 

Zoroark was the first to be released, and shot him a chirpy grin before accepting his offered treat happily.

“Where should we go next?” Touya asked - more like mumbled - with a galette in his mouth, head tilting to the side as he examined their copy of the map of Lumiose, his team surrounding him - except Emolga, who has yet to leave his perch on N’s hat - each holding on and enjoying their special Lumiose treat.

N hummed in thought.

“We should save the Prism Tower for the evening, I heard the view of the sunset is brilliant, comparable with the one we saw in Nimbasa,” He smiled at Touya’s slightly flushed face at the mention of the Ferris Wheel, “Maybe we could go to -“

“Excuse me, coming through!” 

He never got to finish his sentence, as a boy on a bicycle - about Touya’s age - passed by a bit too close to them, and landed face first into the lamp post they were standing beside.

N blinked, Touya gasped.

“Hibiki-kun?!”

The boy - Hibiki, it seemed - hissed, slowly bringing himself up from his position on the floor, rubbing at his forehead. He had black hair, peeking through his snap-back cap (that was worn the other way, with the shade facing the back, N never understood people who did that), and was wearing a black jacket, a silver-coloured clover printed on the left chest area, with a pair of dark-washed jeans and sneakers.

He looked up at Touya’s exclamation.

“…. Black? Touya? Hey!” Golden eyes closed in a grin, and he hopped towards them, “What are you doing here in Kalos?”

The brunet looked confused, “I could say the same for you, Hibiki-kun… Don’t you live in Johto...?”

“Not anymore, I’m working here now!” 

“Huh?" 

“Mm! With Silver and Leaf and two others. Oh! And Green sometimes come by too!” He was bouncing on the heel of his feet now, and N had to wonder if the kid was all right. Perhaps the impact to his head was a little too much..? He started when the other directed his gaze towards him.

“Who’s your companion?”

“Ah! Um, this is N… N, this is Hibiki… or Gold, depending on who you know him as…” Touya trailed off towards the end, glancing at him sheepishly. “I met him when I was, you know, still searching for you.”

That makes sense, considering the other wasn’t from Unova.

“Oh! So you’re the N I’ve heard so much about.” Gold grinned at him, giving him a good look from head to toe, “Touya searched high and low for you, you know.” He commented slyly. The brunet flushed and waved his hands about.

“Hibiki-kun!” 

The golden-eyed teenager threw his head back and laughed. Before turning his attention back to Touya again.

“Since you guys are in town, might as well drop by our place! I’m sure the others are excited to see you too!” He looked at N and smirked, “And maybe you can introduce your boyfriend to them.” The green-haired man felt his face heat up, and he reached up intuitively to bring his cap down - Emolga, who had been watching the whole scene curiously up until now, protested at his perch being disturbed - eliciting a laugh from the hyperactive younger male.

Touya, sporting a flush himself, sighed in resignation. 

“Lead the way, Hibiki-kun.” A grin, bright and quick, and the boy was turning around again, groaning as he saw the state of his bicycle, bringing it up from the ground and mumbling something about “Diamond’s gonna kill me…” before walking towards one of the multiple alleys of Lumiose City. Touya and N recalled their Pokemons back into their respective Pokeballs, and followed the other. 

“Is he always this hyper?” N whispered to Touya, who looked back at him and smiled, nodding.

“He’s not a bad person. Just, very enthusiastic.” The kind that both he and N weren’t used to - Gold’s bright personality had honestly threw him off, when he had first landed in Johto - but he got along with the other nicely enough for them to be friends.

But he hadn’t found N in Johto, so he had to move on. Meeting the other here was a pleasant surprise, and it seemed like some of the others were around as well. 

“When I first met him, he was the Kanto-Johto Champion.” He added tentatively, not sure how N would take the news. While the other had gotten a lot better at accepting trainers, he still had his distain at times. 

However, N merely looked thoughtful, and Gold chose that moment to stop grumbling and bemoaning his fate of doom at the hands of Lucas - Touya bet it was going to be interesting, he didn’t know the two knew each other - turning towards them with his trademark smile.

“Is this your first time in Lumiose?” The Unova Champion smiled back at him, expression not as bright, but conveying the same amount of emotion just the same.

“Yeah, in Kalos, actually. We’re travelling about and looking at new things.” Gold nodded, closing his eyes and humming.

“That sounds fun, actually. I would’ve done it if Silver wasn’t such a prick,” the brunet raised an eyebrow at the mention of the redhead, “But life with Diamond and the others isn’t so bad, actually. Feels like we’re a proper team.”

“The others? You’re all working here?” Touya couldn't hold in his curiosity, just what kind of job would bring four Pokemon League Champions together, outside their home regions? Gold shot him a smirk as he slowed down, apparently nearing their destination. 

The black haired boy stopped, and Touya blinked. 

In front of the three of them, a sign that read “Café Clover” was displayed proudly.

No way.

 


 

Lucas had approached Leaf first - the girl was nice enough (although Green would probably say otherwise) and seemed like the type who would agree to things like this.

And she did not disappoint, even managed to rope Green into the whole thing - although Lucas could not possibly make him leave his Gym (and Red).

She also contacted Gold, and with Gold came Silver, his boyfriend.

Lucas had only met Hibiki a few times at Champion conferences by the Association, but he’d liked the boy enough, so he didn’t object.

His boyfriend, however, could use some work in the emotions and not-being-grumpy-twenty-four-seven department, but he was efficient and good enough. Apparently, he wasn’t happy that Gold had agreed on his behalf, but Lucas could see that the other Champion had him whipped because the redhead had caved in the moment Gold turned his puppy-dog pout onto him. 

Pearl and Platinum were next - and both of them were upset that he hadn’t come to them the first thing - and they’d agreed to help, too.

Then, he got around to solving Green’s Red problem. And it was a dire problem indeed, what with the older boy remaining as a hermit up Mt. Shirogane for so long.

It was time for him to come back down and start socializing, Leaf had insisted, as she pushed for Green and Lucas to “go and find him and kick his ass down so hard”.

(If it were that easy, the other wouldn't be a legend, now would he?)

Perhaps that was the reason why she had accepted his proposal that easily.

Lucas still got a headache everytime he thought about that certain encounter with Red. His first loss to the other had been enough - everyone who’s half a decent trainer knew about the kid (at least back then he was a kid, despite being older than Lucas) who had defeated Team Rocket and saved PokeJapan - and Leaf wanted him to do it again?

Sure, battling the other was fun, but Lucas really hadn’t been in the mood to actually get his ego kicked to the curb again.

Luckily, however, he didn’t have to do it alone. Red had, surprisingly, agreed to a two-on-one, and no matter how good he was, Green and Lucas had been better. 

That Pikachu packed a mean punch as usual, however. 

He would sometimes wonder what made the older boy agree to an unfair battle - even with his pride (Lucas doubted it was for that reason, however), he would’ve recognized that Green and he would’ve overpowered him. 

However, Red seemed a lot happier since then, so Lucas had a theory - one that he had to confirm with Red eventually.

But not now.

He narrowed his eyes at the counter-top that refused to shine no matter how he scrubbed at it - damn it! - perhaps he could get Empoleon to…

“I’m back! And look who I found!” Mentally groaning - because everytime Gold made an announcement, it usually meant that there was trouble, and it always gave Lucas a headache - he turned towards the entrance of the café, where their tiny little bell, located at the door, was still ringing from the force of Hibiki pushing the door open, and he felt his mouth fall open in surprise.

The others followed his example.

Touya - Black, as Lucas last knew him as - was standing at the doorstep of the café, an unknown man behind him (he was willing to bet, however, that it was the rumoured N Touya had been searching for), looking around in surprise and an embarrassed flush on his face. 

“Um… hi?”

Chapter Text

After Red, Lucas had decided to hunt Ruby down - because who better to ask about decor and uniforms? That had been more difficult than expected, because the other had seemingly literally dropped off the face of the earth, disappearing after his last contest in the Hoenn Region and mentioning something vague like "expanding his horizons".

So, he took a different approach. He went back to the Sinnoh League, where Cynthia and the others had been overjoyed to see him - "I hope you're not here to ask for the position back, Lucas." A scoff, "Of course not - aahhh Cynthia, stop messing with my hair!" - and more than excited to help him after he'd explained the situation to them.

"You're opening a cafe?" Ryou questioned, eyes widening. "Ah, I mean, Hikari might have mentioned it, but I didn't think you were serious about it."

Lucas sighed, "I've gotta do something with my life, you know." He deadpanned. Cynthia made a noise of agreement, drawing the room's attention to her.

"How can we help, then?"

"I need to find Ruby."

"The famous Coordinator? I didn't know you knew him?" Flint commented, an eyebrow raised. The youngest of the group shrugged.

"He became Champion around the same time I did - but ditched earlier than me." Cynthia looked thoughtful.

"Right, Wallace did mention that he wasn't keen on the position after Steven disappeared from the region," Lucas remembered that clearly, because Ruby had been a panicking mess at that time, searching the globe for the previous Champion. That was how he'd ended up in Sinnoh, and they'd met for the first time.

"I didn't even know he was the Hoenn Champion?" Ryou muttered in confusion, Cynthia chuckled.

"He really didn't wear the Cloak for long, it makes Lucas's year-reign look long." Said trainer pursed his lips at the blonde, who smiled at him.

"Anyway, he announced a while ago that he was leaving Hoenn to expand his horizons, and no one has heard from him since." Steel-blue eyes looked straight at Cynthia, "I need to contact Steven Stone." The elegant blonde sighed, placing her right hand on her hip.

"That's another difficult thing to do - last I heard, he's somewhere, probably digging stones as well."

"Woah, woah, hold up. What has Steven Stone gonna do with anything?" The green-haired bug user asked, Bertha - who has remained amusedly silent - chuckled.

"You silly, they are dating."

"WHAT?!"

"You were too busy wooing Hikari-chan to take notice of anything else," Lucian teased, and Lucas found it amusing that Ryou could turn so many different shades of red.

"But - but don't they have an age gap of -"

"Nine years," Cynthia commented flatly, examining the nails on her left hand.

"I mean, I'm not judging, but isn't that against, like..." He whispered, "the law?"

Lucas shot him a look.

"They aren't public yet, just like you and Pearl." Gone unsaid was the subtle threat to take care of his best friend or else, "Probably have to wait until Ruby is legal." Same issue with Pearl and Ryou too, the Bug-user shouldn't be talking, really.

"Anyway," Cynthia cut in, voice commanding and authoritative, just like how a Champion's should be. "I can contact Wallace for you, but whether he knows where Steven - or Ruby - is tentative at best." Lucas nodded, it wasn't like searching for Ruby blindly was going to save him any time either, it was probably easier this way.

And, god bless, Wallace did know where Steven was. Even luckier, he was in Sinnoh - Stark Mountain to be exact. He was thanking his all his lucky stars above. 

He sighed in annoyance at the blistering heat that engulfed him the moment he entered the cavern, taking off his cap and fanning himself with it. Empoleon looked at him worriedly, and he grinned at his Pokemon companion in what he hoped was a reassuring manner. The water-type's been with him the longest, and knew Lucas didn't do well in the heat. The last time they were here, there was that whole ordeal with Heatran, and he'd almost passed out from dehydration - thank Arceus above Empoleon had been with him, he didn't think he would've survived otherwise. 

"I'm okay, buddy." Empoleon's beady eyes examined him for a moment, before he nodded in satisfaction and gestured for Lucas to continue. The boy smiled in a lopsided manner - seems like he wasn't gonna be giving orders this time. 

"Let's find Steven, and get out of here, yeah?" He wondered how the corporate heir was doing in this heat, though judging from Ruby's comments, it seemed like Steven was pretty sturdy against all different kinds of weather, having travelled across the globe since he was younger to search for different stones. 

A corporate heir who could stand harsh conditions, huh. 

Lucas was willing to bet the other was here to see the Magma Stone, and he was entirely correct, it seems. He could see the tell-tale colour of the ex-Hoenn Champion's hair the moment he entered the chambers. The older male turned upon hearing his footsteps, mint-coloured eyes widening in surprise.

"You are... Diamond, correct?" Caught by surprise by the other's knowledge of his name, he nodded. Steven laughed at his expression.

"I've heard about you from Cynthia and Ruby, plus you are a fellow Champion as well. It's only natural that I know about your existence at the very least." Lucas felt his face heat up - more so than usual, thankfully he was already red enough from the heat he wouldn't be able to tell - in embarrassment, watching Steven turn his attention back to the glowing Magma Stone. 

"It's beautiful, is it not?" The Steel-Master lamented, sighing, "The liquid magma in it gives it such a majestic glow, I've never seen anything quite like this." He went on in amazement, and suddenly the black-haired boy could understand why this man and Ruby were such a perfect match. 

Were all Hoenn Champions this... exaggerated? He mentally went through the ones he knew: Ruby, check; Wallace, CHECK; 

Apparently, Steven Stone - whom he expected to be the most normal out of the three - was a check, as well. 

Huh, interesting. He exchanged glances with Empoleon, who he now knew well enough to tell that he, too, shared Lucas's amusement. 

"But I doubt you came to hear me admire the Magma Stone," Steven seemed to have caught on that he wasn't alone, and that Lucas probably needed something, turning around and coughing into his fist sheepishly, before looking up at him with bright eyes. "Did you need something?" 

The other was definitely good-looking, no doubt about that - he had a sizeable fanbase, for someone who avoided the media like the plague and spent most of his time in some of the harshest places on earth - and had all the regality a Champion should hold. Just like Cynthia. 

Lucas wondered if his - their, really, because Red, Gold and the others were all in the same boat as he was - age really made such a huge difference when it came to reigning as a Champion and actually showing that certain indomitable aura. Does it come with age?!

Ugh. 

Oh, right. He had to reply. 

"Yeah, actually. I'm wondering if you know where Ruby is." No point beating around the bush, then. Steven raised an eyebrow at him in surprise, and Lucas floundered a little on his explanation.

"I, uh, need his help, but I haven't been able to reach him since he announced that he was taking a break from Contests in Hoenn." The older male chuckled in understanding. 

"If you're looking for Ruby, he's in Unova right now, working on costumes for their local Pokemon Musical, I believe." Ah, that was what the red-eyed boy meant by "expanding his horizons", it all made sense now. 

Which also meant he and Steven are spending a lot of time apart, then. He wondered how they could stand it - not before reminding himself that Volkner had hinted at him about his... flighty tendencies - 

Oh, shit. 

Volkner. 

Shit. 

"Ah, um. Thank you then!" He gasped out, feeling the oncoming dread, the choking ashes and the building heat collapsing onto him all at once - Empoleon seemed to recognise that shift in mood as well, turning to him in worry - before turning and dashing out of the cave, feeling the silver-haired male's gaze on him all the while. 

Right, he had to talk to Volkner first, then find Ruby. 

Hopefully, the blond would understand. 

He didn't. 

Lucas didn't understand what the blond was so prissy about, they weren't dating - they weren't Green and Red, Gold and Silver or heck even Steven and Ruby - they were just... close. And he didn't know if he wanted to attach that "D" tag to their... relationship just yet. 

The Electric-type specialist had been pretty okay with letting him roam around aimlessly after he left the League, and now that he had a goal, he was going to get mad at him? Seriously? 

Their meeting had ended with Lucas storming out of Sunyshore Gym, clothes still somewhat soiled from his trip to Stark Moutain, calling out Staravia and heading to Nimbasa directly. 

Perhaps talking to Ruby would make him happier. He'd deal with Volkner later. 

Locating the other ex-Hoenn Champion had required a lot less physical exertion on his part, though it was by no means less difficult, since Nimbasa was huge and filled with people - families, mostly, and couples (ugh) on vacation or just enjoying their day off - and attractions. Not to mention, he had no official access into the Theatre backstage, so he had to get a little... creative. 

"Pssst, Ruby!" The ruby-eyed coordinator looked up in surprise as he shut the door to his room, blinking in shock when Lucas wriggled his way out - he couldn't believe he actually did it, really - of the trunk filled with Pokemon costumes. 

His blood, sweat and tears. 

And Diamond was stepping on them. 

"AHHHHH DON'T STEP ON THEM, DIA!" Lucas winced, and immediately hopped off the pile of fabric on the floor, mumbling frantic apologies. Ruby huffed, clearly unimpressed, before turning to look at him, arms crossed. 

"Why are you here?" He pouted, "I thought I managed to shake off all trails." The hat-wearing boy rolled his eyes. 

"Yeah, all except one, Steven." There was a flash of longing in Ruby's eyes, before he visibly deflated, offering a soft, "oh." He mentally sighed in pity, Ruby was working extremely hard to fulfil his dream, it must be difficult for him to be away from Steven for this long. 

Blue eyes and blond hair came to mind, and Lucas shook it away. 

"I know you're busy right now... But I have an idea for you to ponder on." He started, and seems like the determination in his tone made Ruby straighten up again, sharp-eyes looking straight at him beyond the glass of his framed spectacles. 

Great, he caught his interest. Now, for the bait. 

 


 

"Touya!" They - well, he, Ruby, and Leaf did so, while Red nodded in greeting, and Silver looked plain confused - shouted in various degrees of excitement. Leaf bounced forward to launch herself at the brunet, who stumbled at the sudden onslaught, and would've fallen if not for the green-haired male behind him catching him on time. 

"Come in!" Leaf offered, her energy not wavering the slightest despite Touya's almost-fall, before noticing the taller male standing behind her friend. She gave Touya a look, "Ohhhh, who's this, Touya?" The Unova Champion flushed, looking down at this trainers, and Gold flashed them all a grin. 

"It's the guy he's been searching high and low for, you know, that N dude?" Touya's face was so red, he thought the other was going to turn into a tomato at this rate, and he was standing pretty far away from the entrance. Arceus, time for some intervention then. 

"That's good and all," He started, drawing everyone's attention to him (and away from Touya and his companion, who was now shooting him a grateful look), "Gold," The aforementioned boy visibly stiffened and straightened up. 

"What. Happened. To. Your. Bike?" He eyed the heap that Gold had pushed into the cafe, Leaf and Silver following suit, the former starting to giggle and the redhead sporting a growing smirk on his face.

Gold mentally growned as Diamond directed the group's attention towards him. He'd been hoping to use Touya and his companion as a distraction so as to get his bike away and out of sight, but Diamond was especially sharp (is that why his trainer name is Diamond?), and had (obviously) seen through his plan. 

"Um... I... cycledintoalamppostbyaccident." He glared at Silver when he snorted at that reply - right, his boyfriend was a little shit - and Leaf and Ruby started laughing out loud, and even Red had one end of his lips lifted upwards, his garnet-coloured irises shining in amusement. 

Aw, man. This really sucked. Diamond was going to be at him about this for days. 

Chapter Text

He knew Ruby well enough to know that by the time he was halfway through his proposal - that they were all going to be working together, and all uniforms and décor had to be original… - that the other boy was in.

Now, Lucas fixed his cap and secured himself on Staravia, Volkner.

Right. A part of him groaned in frustration at the thought of talking to the blond again - but he knew that they should talk or he wouldn’t be able to truly concentrate on what he wanted to do.

Landing in front of the Sunyshore Gym entrance, he bit his lips nervously, unsure of what to say once he’s actually confronted the older male.

However it seems that luck wasn’t going to give him time to think about it - for Volkner had exited the Gym and was walking in his direction, looking at his Jolteon in his arms. He has yet to notice Lucas, although the boy knew it’d only be a matter of time.

Taking a deep breath, he lightly dashed forward, footsteps drawing Volkner’s attention as he looked up, frowning when he saw Lucas.

“Hey,” The shorter male offered, smiling hesitantly at him. Volkner closed his eyes, sighing, before setting Jolteon down and back into his PokeBall.

“Hey, Lucas.” Here goes nothing.

“We need to talk.”

“We do,” Volkner closed his eyes, eyebrows pinched in a frown as he reached up to massage the bridge of his nose, “What are you up to, seriously.”

“I thought I told you, I’m going to start a café!”

“Yeah, in Lumiose. Which is in another region, far away.” He felt his frustration build at Volkner’s comments, and the urge to defend himself arose.

“You didn’t have any problem with me running around after I left the League! So why now?” It might sound a little desperate, but he wished Volkner would just understand how much this meant to him - Lucas was entirely done with floating around without a goal, walking around Sinnoh and subjecting himself to the admiring stares and whispers from the crowd wherever he went.

He could go back to school, but he was no longer the Lucas who had started on his journey two years ago, he could no longer fit himself back into that circle, anymore. He really needed to do something.

Volkner didn’t get this - of course he didn’t. He had a Gym here in Sinnoh, he had ties here, but Lucas didn’t.

Not ones as stable as the blond’s, anyway. Lucas thinks about his mother - but he haven’t been spending much time home ever since he left two years back.

The blond was silent for a long time, and the boy had to take deep breaths to calm down, story gray eyes looking up into frustrated blue ones, hands balled into fists.

“This is… different,” Volkner finally spoke, and Lucas was incredulous for a second - how was this any different?! - “I was okay with you travelling because you’ll always come back… to Sinnoh.” To me, was left unsaid, and the ex-Champion felt like a sledgehammer just rammed into him.

Oh, oh.

He might only be fourteen, but he’d always been more mature than others his age, and it didn’t take him long to understand what Volkner was getting at, because Lucas understood - Volkner had something tying him down to Sinnoh, something solid.

Something Lucas wanted to create for himself, and it was nowhere in Sinnoh.

“But… Kalos? That’s far away. And a café takes up a lot of time, effort and dedication - I would know, since I created Sunyshore Gym myself - and I’m just… I just think that,” The blond paused, stubbornly refusing to look at Lucas, “That you won’t come back.”

Lucas understood, they weren’t dating, but he didn’t want to lose whatever they had - whatever this was - just because he was planning to open a mind child all the way in Kalos.

“Volkner,” He called, voice now a lot softer - the other could sulk like a child sometimes, what with him refusing to look at Lucas now - as he reached up to tug at the other’s sleeve.

“Volkner, look at me, hey.” The taller male sighed, and did as he asked. Lucas smiled.

“You silly excuse of a Gym Leader,” His tone was teasing, “I might be opening a café there, but doesn’t mean I’m reading to cut all ties with Sinnoh. I’ll always be back.” Sure, they might not see each other as often - as much as Volkner’s busy schedule as a Gym Leader allowed them to meet, anyway - but Lucas thought this was a good way since he would have something to occupy his time with as well.

“I know,” The blond replied, frustrated, “I know all this really well - funny how I’m supposed to be the adult here, huh?” He smiled at Lucas lopsidedly. The grey-eyed boy beamed up at him.

“It’s okay, I can be mature for the both of us - Flint’s always said that I was the more mature one anyway.” Volkner rolled his eyes.

“Yeah, that was real mature, Lucas.” He stuck out his tongue at the blond, showing just how mature he was, really, before bursting into laughter. Volkner chuckled along with him.

“So… we’re okay?” He fisted his hands around the fabric of the other’s blue jacket, and felt his happiness grow as Volkner looked down at him, nodding.

“Yeah, we’re okay.”

 


 

That had been awfully cheesy, now that he reflected on it. But then, Cynthia's always said something like the two of them being an awfully unbearable pair anyway - especially since they were not dating ("Might as well make it official while you're at it.") - so Lucas supposed that was perfectly fine. 

Especially since they had gone for a stroll along the ports of Sunyshore thereafter, before heading for dinner. (He'd liked that, so stop it with the amused looks already.)

Then he’d gone home, only to find Pearl grinning at him while Platinum lazed around on his couch, expression looking as smug as the cat that got the cream.

“… what?” Arceus, this was not happening, the day had been going so (relatively) well too! He felt a growing headache amongst his growing wariness towards his two best friends - Pearl looked like she was going to jump him and rip him apart.

Ha…hahaha.

“So… Platinum and I were out for a short flight,” Hikari sing-songed, her Piplup dancing around with her, “We saw you and Volkner~" 

Okay, don't agree, but don't disagree either. Distract, Lucas. Throw her off your course. 

"Huh. Could've been anyone else." Platinum raised an eyebrow at him from where she was channel-surfing, before scoffing. 

"Please, Lucas, like anyone could mistake Volkner's bright hair and your tell-tale hat."

"... Okay. So we were out for dinner. I don't see how that's any of your business." He mumbled, refusing to make eye contact with them and hoping they'll give up - 

"It is our business!" Hikari cheered, bringing Piplup into her arms, "Now, Platinum and I want details. Lucas." She stalked towards him and he took an instinctive step back, looking towards Platinum for help.

Mitsumi merely looked at him blankly, before smirking and turning her attention back to the television.

Oh, Arceus. That traitor. 

"So... a cafe, huh?" Touya remarked casually, picking up his cup of white chocolate mocha and looking at him over the rim of his cup. N - Lucas still found it weird that that guy had a letter for a name but he wasn't judging - was off in the Pokemon play area, entertaining Touya's (very demanding, from the looks of it) Emolga. The black-haired boy nodded sheepishly. 

"I was really bored, one day, and just wanted something to do. Funny, because it was the Striaton Gym that inspired me to open this place." The brunet's eyes widened in surprise, before he chuckled. 

"So you've met the triplets." 

"Yeah, Staravia took me there entirely by random - bless her, really, she seems to know what I need all the time - and then it was like a lightbulb just went off." The Flying Pokemon was literally a godsend for Lucas, knowing exactly how to take care of him all the time. He couldn't count the number of times he'd been subjected to her beaks just because he was pushing himself too hard, or neglecting his health. 

"Well, that's good then. Perhaps you can go back and tell them about your cafe one day. It's no longer a Gym, did you know that?" Touya commented between sips of his beverage, "They and Lenora stopped being Gym Leaders, and two other gyms have opened. I bet they have more time for you right now." He closed his eyes and hummed in satisfaction. 

"This is really good! How did you manage to master this in such a short time?" Lucas felt his face heat up in embarrassment at being complimented, before coughing into his fist. 

"I did study under Cress, Cilan and Chili for a while... but I mostly experimented while waiting for the others to complete whatever they were doing." His eyes went towards Ruby, who was taking orders at another table with a grin. "Mostly Ruby, really." 

"Yuuki-kun?" Touya blinked in momentary confusion, "Ah, right. Touko told me he was helping her out with the Pokemon Musical, wasn't he." He eyed the ex-Champion of Unova. 

"You seem awfully updated for someone who hasn't been back home in years." He remarked drily, and Touya broke into a sheepish laugh, setting his cup down and bringing up his X-Transceiver. 

"My sister and Bianca - ah, that's one of my childhood friends - get really noisy when they don't hear from me. I went off-grid for a while, in fact," He tapped his chin in thought, "And everyone was extremely angry when I established contact with them again, so I have to keep in contact with them, I guess." Touya shivered, "Gosh, Elesa is scarily... scary... when she's worried." Lucas shivered along with him in sympathy. 

"Yeah, I totally know that feeling. Cynthia behaves the exact same way." He frowned, before turning his attention back into the kitchen. He'd sent Gold in there for some dishwashing as punishment for ruining his bike - again, and because it was for cafe use, Lucas was going to have to reimburse the cost for fixing it (or getting a new one) using the cafe earnings - and it was awfully quiet...

The older boy noticed his confusion, before nodding, "You can go if you need to, I'm not here to disturb your business." He smiled, and Lucas mumbled his thanks before getting up and making his way towards the kitchen. 

Gold better not have fallen asleep on the job again. 

 


 

Touya blinked in surprise as Red - who'd been standing behind the counter and wiping down cups for the duration of his and Lucas's conversation - made his way and sat down opposite him. He smiled hesitantly at the older trainer - they'd only met once, and that was when Touya had just begun his search in Kanto, and he decided to pay a visit to the legendary trainer (and ex-Champion, just like he was) on Mt. Shirogane. 

Never in his life had he met anyone so intimidating - Green had just been a little annoying, aside from the fact that his eyes were green and had reminded Touya way too much of N back then - Touya didn't really hear the other talk much either, so it was quite surprising that Red was willing to start a conversation with him now (he'd expected Ruby, but seems like the other was still busy). 

"You found him in the end." The scarlet-eyed boy commented, and Touya nodded, looking down at the cup he held in his hands, not knowing what else to really say. Red fell silent thereafter as well, and Touya looked up to see him looking a tad bit troubled, opening and closing his mouth - as if he wanted to say something, but didn't know if it was his place to do so. He then took a deep breath and looked up, nodding at the older male, who widened his eyes in surprise, reaching out to instinctively play with his cap before letting his hand fall after realising it wasn't in its usual position. 

Red bit his lips, before smiling - it was just a small uplift of the corner of his lips, but Touya could tell it was a smile - at the younger male. 

"I'm happy for you." 

And suddenly, Touya felt like the pressure he'd been feeling from his previous encounter with Red just disappeared, and he smiled in reply. 

The other trainer was strong, Touya sighed and returned Bisharp to its Pokeball, the other's Pikachu making joyful noises at its victory. Well, Red is one of the most famous trainers and dex holders out there, there is a reason behind his legendary status after all. He looked up at the older male, who had returned Pikachu to the perch of his shoulders. 

He mumbled something while pulling down the rim of his cap, and Touya almost couldn't catch it in the roaring storm of the mountain - but he knew Red had been here long enough to know how to speak to make sure his voice travelled, so he was wondering if he merely misheard. 

"Don't give up." 

He didn't. 

Chapter Text

“Wait, what?” Ruby thought he’d misheard - blinking once and twice at his PokeNav, frowning.

“I told you, I’m going to travel around Hoenn - and maybe the world, if I need to - to search for the secrets of Mega Evolution.” Against all of his hopes, Steven did not change his words, and the red-eyed boy felt a wave of annoyance well up within him. 

“Huh… Haven’t you been doing that for a while already? Since the whole incident with Mega Rayquaza and the meteorite?” Which, by the way, was only resolved cause of yours truly, Ruby thought drily, knowing that Steven probably did not need a reminder of him entering into battle recklessly - again.

“Yes, but I’m leaving Devon and Ever Grande for a while this time,” His boyfriend remarked, tone light, but Ruby could hear the underlying excitement and slight annoyance (probably at him, but hey, Ruby was annoyed as well) hidden in his words.

“…. And Chairman and the Association are just gonna let you go?” 

“I applied for leave, plus, father’s interested as well.” Oh, great, one less person to help him stop Steven. “The Association wants to know the secrets to Mega Evolution too,” yeah so they can exploit it, Ruby thought angrily, “And they are willing to let me go as long as I find a replacement to battle challengers in my stead when I’m gone.”

Was Steven seriously suggesting…

“Well,” The black-haired boy bit out, scowling and leaning back on his chair, “I’m in Kalos. Ask Wallace.”

He really didn’t want anything to do with the Champion title ever again - holding it brought back way too many bad memories for him. Like how a certain ex-Champion had tied him down to the position before disappearing from the region without telling anyone.

Of course he’s not going to give Steven an excuse to leave. Could you seriously blame him?

The older male sighed, “You do know he and Winona are expecting their first child soon, Yuuki. Please don’t do this.”

“I have responsibilities here too, you know. Diamond and the others are going to kill me if I leave. Can’t you ask one of the others? Or Haruka? Emerald? Wally?”

“…They’ve never actually beaten the league, Yuuki… The Association wants me to find a replacement who’s… suitable, if you catch my drift.” He knew there was a reason why he hated those people so badly - why he quit being Champion or being a trainer in the first place.

“Right. So you need someone who’s actually been Champion. Isn’t Wallace still the better choice, considering he’s not thousands of miles away?”

“I did ask Wallace, he refused and told me to ask you.”

“Well I’m telling you to ask him then.” Ruby snapped and hung up, immediately regretting it - if (and only if) Steven does manage to convince Wallace to be his temporary acting Champion, it would mean he wouldn’t get to see or talk to the other again for a long time.

Steven does have a habit of situating himself in caves for extended periods of time - places where Ruby can’t reach him.

But he really did not want the position.

Groaning, he threw his head back, causing his chair to roll backwards, bumping into the edge of his bed. Staring at the ceiling, he considered his options.

He could switch to working part-time, like Green and the others, temporarily. It wasn’t like Lucas would miss him all that much even if he wasn’t here 24/7. Besides, he was doing Steven a favour, despite all that he hated being associated with the league.

Sighing, he dialed Steven’s number on his PokeNav again.

His boyfriend had better make his trip quick.

 


 

“You’re what?” Diamond blinked up at him in surprise, the rest of the café staff - both full-time and the temporary ones that were on shift for the day - turning to look at him from their position in the debrief circle.

He sighed, playing with the rim of his shirt, “I’m going to have to head back to Hoenn for a while. Steven’s going to be gone for a bit and he needs an Acting Champion. Apparently,” Ruby rolled his eyes, “My Master is too caught up in his upcoming family to want to take up the mantle again. So, sadly, I’m the only candidate left.” Gold snorted when he mentioned Wallace’s situation, and Green raised an eyebrow at him. Silver rolled his eyes.

For a good, long moment, Lucas couldn’t find the words to say - he knew Yuuki hated the Champion’s position as much as he did (perhaps even more than he did), and for him to take up the Cloak again, even if it was in Steven’s state…

“You really do like him a lot, huh.” Leaf’s remark made Ruby’s cheeks flare up in embarrassment, the boy turned from sulky to outright sputtering in the split of a second. Lucas thought it looked kind of hilarious.

“I - I’m just -!” The girl smiled, raising her hands in a placating manner.

“I know, I’m just thinking that you’re willing to do it despite how much you hate the position.” She giggled, “Steven must have a huge influence on you.”

Apparently out of words to reply, he scoffed and looked away, arms crossed. Lucas decided that if he were to intervene, he had to do it now, before Leaf said something even more embarrassing.

“Well, I don’t see a problem with it, if you’re sure you can still drop by every now and then.” He tapped his chin, “We are a little short on full-time staff once you leave though…”

Red cleared his throat, drawing the attention of everyone (and Green, who’s surprised that his boyfriend was speaking out).

“I think… we can ask Touya.” Leaf turned her attention onto the older red-eyed boy at that, eyes shining. Gold looked absolutely ecstatic at the suggestion.

“That’s a great idea!” The chorused in unison, before shooting grins at each other.

“Even if Black doesn’t agree,” Ruby cut in, frowning, “I really do need to go back to Hoenn. I think the Association’s told my dad,” He winced at that, “So if I don’t show up, he’ll show up here and drag me back.” Silver shot him a look that bordered between pity and annoyance, he rolled his eyes at the redhead.

Was that guy ever going to grow up enough to stop projecting his complexes on people with a normal - as normal as his parents were, anyway - home life?

Lucas sighed.

“Just promise you’ll be back to help.” Red eyes stared straight at him, their owner raising his chin at him.

“Of course I will, who’d you take me for?”

Ruby was going to make damn sure that the Elite Four made their stages as difficult as possible, because damn it, he really hated the Champion’s seat.

Ah, the things he does for love.

 


 

Steven’s second reign as Champion had begun three months after he returned to Hoenn, five after Ruby had found him again, and two years after he’d disappeared from the region.

The boy could still remember it as if it just happened yesterday.

“Yuuki, did you know,” The Steel-type master had begun one night, when they were lying on the shores of Mossdeep City, watching the stars in the night sky, “That I was never the actual Champion of Hoenn?”

He’d known. Wallace had told him after Steven disappeared, and it was also how Ruby had been able to shed the cloak easily - arguing with the Association that since Steven was never actually the Champion, Ruby hence didn’t deserve the cloak either and it should be returned to Wallace.

It was such a convincing argument too, but he really had to thank Wallace for wanting to take the cloak - Ruby wouldn’t have been able to shrug it off otherwise, what with the people from the Association being the stubborn idiots they were.

“Yeah, I knew.” He looked over at the other, who was still staring at the sky with a wistful look in his eyes - it was so different from the usual proper Corporate Heir, Steven Stone he knew, and Ruby had to take a moment to remember that sight - “How’d you think I managed to convince the Association to let me go that easily?” Steven chuckled.

“I’ve always wanted it, you know, the Championship, when I was younger. And then I lost to Wallace and I thought it was the end, but he rejected the position.” He paused, “It wasn’t the kind of circumstance I wanted to receive the cloak under, it felt like cheating, like I didn’t deserve it. So I started to run away from it too - just like how I ran from the company.”

Ruby frowned, but Steven’s finger on his lips stopped his reply.

“Shh, listen. I was glad, however, since I got to meet you.” The edges of Steven’s eyes crinkled as he smiled, and the black-haired boy felt his face heating up - thank goodness it was dark - so Steven couldn’t tell, “And when you defeated me, I was actually proud to be the person to hand the position over to you. It was that moment that I really felt happy to be the Champion, although I’ve done nothing to deserve it.”

He glared up at the older male, hands reaching up to move Steven’s finger away from his lips so he could speak.  

“Don’t be stupid, you’re one of the strongest trainers I know, and you deserve the position of Champion, although you didn’t receive it under conventional circumstances, that doesn’t make you any less of a Champion than the ones who won the title out there.” Narrowing his eyes, he snapped at the other, who merely watched him with a slightly melancholic smile, before chuckling as Ruby ended his rant.

“Gosh, Yuuki. I love you so much,” The younger choked at the sudden confession, red eyes widening and face flushing further - Steven could see it, despite the darkness, having honed his eyesight with the dark lights of the caves since young.

“… Thank you. For trusting me.” He took a deep breath and closed his eyes, still feeling Yuuki’s sharp gaze on him.

“I’m going to challenge the League tomorrow.” Laughing at his younger lover’s shell-shocked face as he opened his eyes, he reached up to ruffle the other’s hair, before bringing their foreheads together.

“Will you come and watch me win?”

Arceus, that man was bad for his heart, seriously. Ruby grumbled, face red at the memory as he descended the plane onto the grounds of Hoenn’s airport.

He was glad, however, that his presence around Steven had given him the confidence to retake the league from Wallace.

They watched on in heated anticipation, Drake with his arms crossed, Phoebe leaning so close against the railings that Sidney was worried that she was going to fall over, shooting worried glances at her every few seconds, Glacia with her ever-present elegant smile.

And Ruby, with his arms resting on the railings, fingers crossed together tightly.

The two trainers were both down to their last Pokemon - it was Wallace’s Milotic against Steven’s Metagross. While the Water-type had type resistance, it had taken a huge chunk of damage from Cradily before it had been knocked out - he tightened his fingers together further. Milotic was confused, half of its life gone, and Metagross was at full-strength - it was more than likely that Steven could win this battle.

He wondered what expression the other would have when he enters the Hall of Fame as the new Champion - Ruby’s memories of him in that room, after all, were filled with half-smiles and sad eyes.  

Wallace chuckled, not deterred at all by his highly possible imminent loss.

“You’ve changed, Steven.” The Steel-type Master looked back at him with an eyebrow raised.

“Have I, now?” The Champion looked wistful, turning to scan their audience, before his eyes landed on Ruby, who nodded at him hesitantly in a greeting. His Master smiled at him, before giving Steven a grin.  

“Yeah, I’d say you’re more… determined now. More so than four years ago, at least.” Winking at Ruby, “It seems like being with my disciple has done you good.”

Steven smiled, turning to look up at Ruby, whose breath was now caught in his throat at the gleam that shined in Steven’s eyes - he’s only ever seen Steven as someone who was above him, as the proud Champion, he’d never be able to imagine that Steven Stone, the Steven Stone, could have the eyes of an eager challenger.

Was it possible for him to fall in love with the other any further?

In that moment, Ruby thought it was very definitely.  

When Milotic finally fell, and Drake declared Steven’s win, he couldn’t help crying out and - much to Steven’s dismay and the shock of others - leaping off the railings of the viewing gallery, and into the older’s arms.

Steven merely sighed - this was the same boy who’d dared to challenge both Groudon and Kyogre after placating Rayquaza, after all - wrapping his arms around the younger, grinning into the crook of his neck.

Ruby pulled back, scarlet-coloured irises fixating on Steven’s metallic blue ones.

“Congratulations.” A whisper, and Steven couldn’t help it - the overflowing joy, the happiness that Ruby was here to witness him become Champion for real this time...

He laughed, carefree, for the first time in a long while.

“So he better not take too long or run away this time, that stupid Corporate Heir,” Ruby continued mumbling under his breath as he cleared immigration and customs, exiting the luggage area to see a familiar mop of silver. 

And then he completely forgot what he was so angry about.

Ahh, Leaf is right, I really do love him a lot.

Not that it was a bad thing, of course.

 


 

With Ruby’s temporary departure, came a not-so-enormous, but nonetheless pressing worry for Lucas.

Finding his replacement.

Red was right - they could ask Touya, he and N were going to stay in Lumiose for a long while… Besides, it didn’t have to be permanent, especially since Ruby would be back soon (he hoped), as soon as Steven Stone returns to Ever Grande.

Ugh. Maybe he should ask Volkner. It was much less troublesome and much less intrusive. He didn’t know Touya that well, despite their shared common circumstances, asking him to work for him out of the blue is a little… 

He thought of Volkner actually working in his café, and snorted.

Touya it is.

Chapter Text

“Yuuki!” It took all of Ruby’s self control - he possessed a good amount of it, thankyouverymuch - not to run and throw himself into Steven’s arms. He blushed and clenched his fists, picking up his walking speed.

It has been way too long. The other had been working himself into a frenzy since the whole incident with Zinnia, the meteorite and Mega Rayquaza, and neither of them were truly comfortable with being apart with each other. 

But, alas, Ruby had promised Lucas - and he’d really needed a distraction from his near-death experience - and Steven had been so affected by almost losing him that he’d been off doing… something (Ruby hadn’t asked for fear of setting the other off).

He got the sinking feeling that this whole temporary Champion thing had something to do with that.

Whatever, he thought, finally making his way out of the automated glass doors and throwing himself into the other’s open arms, I’ll ask him later.

“Hey you.” He grinned, tip-toeing and resting his chin on top of the other’s shoulder, enjoying the way Steven’s chuckles send vibrations throughout his body.

“Hey yourself,” the current Hoenn Champion hummed, pressing a light kiss to the side of his face. “It’s been a while.” Ruby pulled back and beamed up at him, poking the tip of the other’s nose, and enjoying the way Steven’s eyes narrowed.

“Did you have fun in Kalos?” The young coordinator scoffed and stuck out his tongue at the older male.

“Of course I did - dressing Lucas and the others up and being surrounded by desserts is a literal dreamland.” 

“Your version of a cave, I assume.” Steven remarked drily and Ruby rolled his eyes at him, proceeding to pull away, linking their hands together and walking out of the lobby area. 

The older male chuckled and allowed himself to be dragged along, out of the airport.

They’d really missed each other.

 


 

“So,” Ruby clarified, pulling his fork out of his mouth and placing it down onto his plate, frowning at the screen of the tablet Steven had handed him. “You’re saying that the Draconids allowed you to have this?” He raised an eyebrow in obvious disbelief at his boyfriend, who gave him that awkward smile Ruby was so familiar with.

“Well, not, exactly allowed me… I don’t think the circumstances gave them any choice at all.” Steven rushed to continue when Ruby’s gaze hardened, “It’s more like, if the whole issue with Rayquaza isn’t resolved soon, you could… you know, be stuck with being Rayquaza’s lorekeeper for life.” The Champion mentally grimaced at Ruby’s darkened expression, “And they want to prevent that… I want to prevent that.”

Ruby sighed, placing the tablet on his lap and reached towards his left wrist, forlorn.

“It’s easy, just give me my Key Stone back and we’ll work this out.” He faltered at Steven’s frown and rolled his eyes.

“It’s really not that bad, I swear. I’ll just stay away from Rayquaza even with my Key Stone on me - you guys really didn’t have to take it away, y’know.” He shrugged, “I know it’s for the best - but I just feel… empty, I guess, not being able to Mega Evolve Zuzu and the others.”

Steven understood that feeling well - as a fellow trainer, and having gone through that period where he’d been unable to Mega Evolve Metagross.

“Yuuki,” He reached across the table to take the other’s hand, prompting the other to look up, “I’ll find the Megalith, I promise you.” He took a deep breath.

“But I need your help in doing it, so please.” 

Ruby sighed, smiling lightly and returning Steven’s grip. “Well, I did just ditch Lucas and the others to come back for you… and I’m agreeing to work with the Association and the League while you’re off searching for an energy source for Rayquaza’s Mega Evolution,” since you don’t want me doing it… “So don’t look so sad and desperate. You know I hate it when you do that.”

Not to mention, Ruby’d always been weak to that particular expression of Steven’s - it made him uncomfortable, but gave him a dizzy feeling whenever Steven did that.

It felt nice, being cherished - although he hated Steven’s willingness to throw his pride away for him.

Steven’s answering smile was one of relief, and Ruby felt his heart skip a beat again. 

Picking up the tablet to distract himself from his upcoming blush, he swiped to see more photos of the stone tablet Steven had gotten from the Draconids.

“You know, I can’t imagine Zinnia being happy about this.” The older male snorted, rolling his eyes at the mention of that woman - he really, really disliked Zinnia, although Ruby had to admit it was justified. 

“She wasn’t, and was pretty vocal about her continued dislike of me, but the Elder shut her down - I think they’re pretty desperate to find the Megalith too, before someone else does… Also, it can’t be nice for them to have someone who’s not a Draconid be the lorekeeper.” Ruby repeated Steven’s previous eye rolling at the mention of that.

“Hey, not my fault Rayquaza is such a moody overgrown lizard and chose me in the end, plus, Zinnia - what?” He snapped when Steven choked and started laughing, pressing his free hand to his mouth in an attempt to stifle the noise. The silver-haired male shook his head, and Ruby pressed his lips into a thin line.

“It’s just… oh good Arceus,” The Corporate Heir and Champion seems to have forgotten that they were in public, clutching his abdomen in a failing attempt to stop his laughter.

“You just called Rayquaza an overgrown, moody lizard. Oh, Yuuki.” The younger chuckled, shrugging - while he did have a healthy amount of respect for the Legendary Pokemon (and the other members of the Weather trio), all three of them are ridiculously moody and prone to violence whenever they were in proximity of each other.

Rayquaza, especially, seems to have anger issues. They could be a lot nicer to each other - like Latios and Latias, or even Reshiram or Zekrom (the Dragons of Truth and Ideals are generally peaceful with each other, unless having chosen a Hero to represent them… or something… They seemed to get along pretty well now that Touya and N have set their issues aside).

But he supposed calling Rayquaza an overgrown lizard is going too far.

“I can imagine that the Draconids won’t be too happy about you saying that,” His boyfriend seemed to have finally calmed down, and Ruby shrugged again. He couldn’t care less about how the Draconids felt. 

Returning his attention to the tablet, his fingers danced across the screen as he read the carvings on the stone tab. 

“…You know you’re working with only half of it, right.” Steven sobered up at that reminder, and nodded, face tense.

“And…there’s a possibility that you might never find it?” Between them, Ruby’s the realist and Steven’s the dreamer - so it was his job to bring Steven back down to earth, just a little.

He didn’t mind being Rayquaza’s lorekeeper - it wasn’t like he battled for a living, anyway (even if he did, he couldn’t use Rayquaza in a normal battle), and it only became important when Groudon and Kyogre create trouble.

Which, hopefully, would not happen ever again in his lifetime - or for the next thirty years, maybe.

However, it seems like everyone around him (including his dad, the person who attempted to control Rayquaza in the first place!) is freaking out at the possibility of him being connected to Rayquaza for as long as he lives.

Ruby understood their concerns, since controlling Rayquaza is straining whether it was voluntary on Rayquaza’s part or not. Worst-case scenario, Ruby could die like his dad did four years ago (he roughly shoved that mental image away) or get himself hospitalized again for extreme exhaustion after the incident six months back. 

Adding Mega Evolution on top of that is basically sending Ruby to his death - all of them had learned it the hard way.

“I know, but I have to try.” Steven closed his eyes, then opened them and looked up at him with a steely gaze. Ruby knew there was no way to talk Steven out of this, despite how risky it was (anything to do with the weather trio is dangerous, they both knew this).

“Just promise me you’ll be careful. Please.” 

Steven’s smile was gentle this time.

“I will.”

 


 

 

Touya blinked in surprise, feeling N mirror his emotions from beside him, as he looked at Lucas, seating in front of him in a booth in his café.

“I’m sorry, could you repeat that, please?” Lucas bit his lips, and sighed.

“I asked if you guys could help here… just for a while anyway!” Diamond felt a headache coming on, “I know it’s kind of sudden and it might be inconvenient but with Ruby gone, we’re down a member and we could really use the help and I don’t know who -”

“Wait, what happened to Yuuki-kun?” Touya blinked in surprise, at both the information Lucas was feeding him and the speed at which Lucas was talking - rambling, more like -and Lucas deflated.

“Steven apparently has to leave the Hoenn league for a while, so Ruby was called in to be his replacement.” Lucas explained, mirroring Touya’s frown, “I don’t know why the league didn’t ask Wallace to do it but Ruby agreed in the end.” The brunet’s eyebrows shot up in surprise, and the black-haired teen chuckled in amusement.

“I know, I didn't think Ruby would agree to it either, but it has to be urgent if Steven has to leave the league for an indefinite amount of time.”

Touya wondered if it had anything to do with Rayquaza, especially since both he and N had heard rumours about an incident happening in Hoenn recently during their travels.

Working in a café, huh… sounds interesting, and it reminded him of the triplets back in Unova. But he didn’t know if N was comfortable with doing it - turning to look at his (travel companion? What were they? He had no idea either) friend, he saw that N was looking thoughtful, before noticing Touya’s stare and grinning at him (like, an actual grin, huh).

“Sounds interesting, doesn’t it?” Touya blinked in surprise, and gave Lucas a side-glance; the other ex-Champion seems as taken aback as he was - although that was a curious reaction, it was almost as if Lucas had asked without expecting an affirmation.

“It does,” Touya grinned back at N, before turning to face Lucas head on.

“We’ll help.”

 


 

 

“I don’t think there’s another choice, is there?” Ruby had a melancholic smile on his face as he held out a palm towards Rayquaza, who had strangely calmed down and was now docile under Ruby’s touch.  

Steven felt his breath catch - they had a workable plan in mind to send Ruby up into space towards the meteorite, but this wasn’t supposed to happened. The Dimensional Shifter was supposed to have circumvented that - he clenched his fists.

If only Zinnia hadn’t interrupted…

But Ruby hadn’t agreed with the way they’d powered the Dimensional Shifter in the first place - he’d admit that the method wasn’t too proper, but they’d been running out of time, and Mega Evolution provided an incredible surge - so maybe he would’ve gone ahead recklessly even if the Shifter had been intact.

“Steven!” He snapped his attention towards his father at his call, “Have the people involved in the research project brought here!”  

The Champion faltered, turning to look at Ruby, who looked back at him with the same smile - the one that told Steven that there's nothing else he could do except trust the boy and let him go.

And then there was so much chaos when the meteorite was revealed to be Deoxys of all Pokemon - and Ruby’s up there all alone with only Rayquaza -

And then... and then…

Running his hand through Ruby’s soft black hair, Steven sighed contently, bringing the other closer - he was a lot closer to Steven’s height than when he’d met him, thanks to puberty - and resting their foreheads together, careful not to disturb the other's sleep.

“I won’t let that happen again, I promise.”

Chapter Text

Working in a café, N thought, was a lot more difficult that he’d expected.

While he had – according to Touko, at least, since Touya would never be this brutally straightforward – graduated from socially awkward and utterly hopeless (in Touko’s words: an extreme denpa) to quiet and looks nice to strangers, and a decent, normal person to those who are close to him.

Which, really, only consisted of his Pokemon, Touya, Touko, Touya’s friends and his mother.

Therefore, he had miscalculated how his still relatively shy nature would affect his new job – it really was a spur-of-the-moment thing, since he found the group of Touya’s fellow champions to be extremely nice people.

Gold – Hibiki – might be a little rowdy and loud, but he was balanced out nicely by Silver – who was quiet, but can be extremely destructive when he got into arguments with Hibiki.

Like now, he mused, watching the two of them bicker – like an old married couple, according to Leaf – from behind the counter.

“I didn’t mean to destroy my bike!”

“Careless as usual, I see.”

“You,” Gold took in a deep breath, “Are incorrigible!”

“So are you.”

“Ugh!”

The cap-wearing party of the two threw his hands up, before turning his attention towards the entrance of the café when the cheery chime of the bell announced the arrival of new customers for the day.

“Hello! Table for two?” Gone was the scowl-pout hybrid that the younger had donned a moment before, replaced with a bright smile that brought blushes to the cheeks of the two young ladies who’d entered.

N noticed that Silver scowled at Gold’s back, before turning to return to the kitchen, pausing slightly in his steps when he noticed N staring, a light frown on his face.

It was rude to stare openly, N knew that (Touya got embarrassed too easily when N did it to him and Touko had easily nagged it into his brain), but he got the feeling that Silver’s pinched expression had nothing to do with N seeing him and Gold bickering.

So, N blinked, and nodded lightly, before shifting enough to make room for Silver to enter the kitchen – where Diamond was, presumably, debating with Leaf on the benefits of creating cuisines for Pokemon as well now that they had someone who could understand them while teaching Touya the basics of the kitchen.

Apparently, losing Ruby (albeit temporarily) was a relatively large blow for the place, since the red-eyed coordinator was good at pleasing Pokemon – he made mean PokeBlocks, from what N could gather from the Pokemons of the other Champions.

While N could understand Pokemon better, he wasn’t as good at actually carrying out their wishes – what Ruby could do flawlessly.

 “Hey, N!” Gold walked up to him, beaming again, handing him a list of orders which N took and stuck on the small corkboard of the wide window connecting the counter to the kitchen.

“Thank you.” The black-haired boy breathed a sigh of relief, proceeding to slouch against the counter with his elbows on the countertop.

“Silver can be a menace sometimes.” N had no comment to reply. He was only entirely comfortable with Touya and the people he knew in Unova, and he hadn’t known Silver and Gold long enough to form an opinion. Gold didn’t seem to be bothered by his silence, however.

“Don’t let him push you around, got it?” N blinked in surprise – he didn’t think Gold had noticed the interaction just now. The younger boy gave him a quick smirk.

“I’ve known him since forever – okay, maybe not forever, but for a very long time. It’s obvious he can be emotionally-constipated and angry sometimes, but believe me when I say that he’s not angry at you. He just has a lot of… issues.” Amber-coloured eyes narrowed slightly, and N was reminded of the stories he’d heard on his journey.

Son of Giovanni. Right. N winced at the similarity himself.

His father was someone whom he had found himself thinking about constantly, even now. While N did not miss him, per say, he had taken the time to reflect on how Ghetsis had shaped almost all the aspects of his life up until he’d met Touya.

Writing over his father’s influences had not been easy, but N was always an idealistic person, so he’d managed, somewhat, to re-create and piece the parts of his life that were destroyed by Ghetsis’ revelation back together.

It hadn’t been too hard, because N’s core beliefs in helping Pokemon had not changed at all.

“I wonder if I make Silver uncomfortable.” He regretted the moment those words left his mouth, as Gold looked up from where he was half-draped on the counter, mouth wide open in surprise.

“…Maybe, but like I said, it’s really not your fault.”

“Not who’s fault about what?” They turned to look at Leaf, who’d just exited the kitchen, Diamond following behind with two plates for the two girls. Leaf placed her hands on her hips and looked at them with a raised eyebrow while Diamond shrugged and went to deliver the orders. Gold looked like he’d just swallowed a lemon whole at Leaf’s intrusion, and N sent a silent apology to the younger.

“Silver’s avoiding N and being moody in general.” Gold reluctantly explained, rolling his eyes, and Leaf sighed.

“In other words, being his usual prissy self.” Shrugging, she turned to look at N.

“Don’t worry too much, really. Silver has a lot of problems on his plate, and he needs time to, ah, get past them.” Grinning, she reached out to pat N on his shoulder.

The ringing of the bell announced the arrival of Green and his Eevee. The older trainer took one look at the congregation at the counter and raised an eyebrow.

N felt a light smile growing when he heard the two girls squeal at Green’s entrance – the brunet gym leader was the visual of their little group, and he had heard Diamond mention that they got customers who visited just to see Green.

“Oh, if only they knew that Green only goes for hermit recluses.” Leaf whispered jokingly, and Gold elbowed her lightly.

“Is Red in the kitchen?” The brunet had, in N’s opinion, smartly decided to not question the weird atmosphere that surrounded the group, choosing to cut to the chase instead.

“I sent him out for supplies.” Diamond replied, walking over to the counter and giving them all a stern look – What have I said about gossiping during work hours? – before giving is full attention to Green.

“He’s at the mart down the Boulevard.”

“I’ll go and help him with the groceries then.” Green shrugged, “Looks like you guys have everything under control here anyway.” N caught him rolling his eyes, making sure that the girls did not see him.

Leaf raised an eyebrow and smirked. She creepily resembled Touko with that expression.

“Fine, leave us alone with your fangirls then, lover boy.” Muttering under her breath, she retreated back to the counter and proceeded to make a cup of coffee for herself. Green glared hard at her back while Diamond and Gold shot the brunet apologetic looks.

Despite the closeness between Green and Red, they were not together, to Touya and N’s surprise. Not that there was a lack of trying on Green’s part (Leaf's claim that he’s been doing it for years, years! entered N's mind), but it seemed to N that the legendary trainer was extremely dense – or maybe because Green became a tsundere when it really mattered - again, Leaf's words.

Lucas seemed to have a different opinion, but he’d remained quiet throughout the whole conversation when Gold and Leaf gave them a proper background introduction to everyone in the café.

Bottom line is, seems like everyone here has issues – or is dealing with someone who has issues.

N’s pretty sure he fit into the category of the former, and Touya the latter.

Regardless, N felt like he and Touya would fit in here pretty well, discomforts and issues or not.

Green finally gave up on glaring at Leaf – another thing the girl shared in common with Touko is that they are both immune to what Touko calls annoyed glares from cowards – and turned to exit the café, Eevee shooting the group a cheerful “Bui!” – See ya later! – and waving her paw as Green pushed the door open.

The bell chimed merrily as the glass door shut with a click.

 


 

Contrary to popular opinion, Red was not, in fact, mute.

He just didn’t like to speak – why would he, when the only ones he wanted to communicate with were not even human?

He does, however, try to make exceptions for his mum, and his fellow rag-tag group of ex-Champions (and their companions, rivals, childhood friends, what-have-yous).

And Green.

Pikachu looked at him questioningly as he pulled his cap lower in the baking section of the mart – self-rising flour, whole-wheat flour… Diamond said he wanted all-purpose… there it is! – thinking about his childhood friend (rival? Red surely didn’t see him as one that was not technically correct).

Also contrary to popular opinion, Red was not, in fact, dense.

He was simply… uncomfortable with Green’s advances. Those trips made up to Mt. Shirogane – which had progressed from I’m here because your mum’s worried that you don’t have enough food and will freeze to death, not because I care, damn it! to Red, would you please come down already. Everyone misses you. – and how he would insist on spending every stretch of free time he can get with Red (considering he’s a gym leader, it’s not a lot).

Red had been thinking about Green’s suggestion. It’s been years since Rocket and Giovanni – not to mention the second defeat of Team Rocket at Gold’s hands, and his subsequent first and only defeat by Gold – most of the world would’ve forgotten how he looked like, if not his existence itself.

Years since Green had glared at him hatefully as Red took the Champion seat that Green had fought so hard to obtain just moments prior.

If Red were more honest with himself, it was mainly the memories of that incident that really stopped him from returning home earlier. Green was, in his opinion, a loose cannon, and he can be extremely vindictive when he wanted to be.

Maybe he’d gotten over his defeat and loss of his Champion status, and maybe he no longer sees Red as his rival as much as he used to. Red didn’t think that that was a good idea for him to become interested in Red – Green could just be confused, he was always someone who was influenced by how others thought (Exhibit A: his wish to be acknowledged by Professor Oak). What’s to say that his… interest in Red wasn’t just due to influence?

Pikachu bobbed his cheek with his paw, and Red gave him a reassuring smile – that no one else would’ve been able to detect – when the electric-type’s ears drooped in worry.

“Pika…” He reached up to pat Pikachu between the ears.

It really is safer to keep their current distance – childhood friends, ex-rivals, now battle-buddies? Maybe? – that way he wouldn’t lose Green, and he wouldn’t be hurt.

Of course he’s not going to mention this to anyone, especially Leaf.

(He can imagine her face pinched in an expression that showed her dilemma between wanting to cry or screaming in frustration.)

“Pika!” He snapped out of his reverie at Pikachu’s notice that he’d felt Green’s Eevee nearby.

Sure enough, Green turned into the aisle he was standing in at the next moment, raising a hand in greeting.

“Yo.” Red tilted his head.

“Diamond told me you were here so I’m here to help you carry groceries.”

Red nodded, pulling his cap down again and turning to search for the next item on his list. Pikachu and Eevee were making sounds at each other.

“Here, give that to me.” He shot Green a flat look as the other tugged on his grocery basket.

“I know you can carry it, but you’ve been doing it for a while and I have nothing to do, so I’ll do it.” Red let out a soft breath and passed the basket over.

“What’s next on the list?” He looked down at the piece of paper he was holding onto, careful not to tense too much when Green leaned over so that he could look at it better.

Red was tempted to shove the paper at him as well so that he could build some space between them, but this felt comfortable enough.

“What the hell does he need olives for?” Green shot the item listed a look of disgust. Red shook his head.

“Ugh, whatever. Let’s just get everything and go back!”

It wasn’t too bad having Green as company.

Chapter Text

“Ruby! It’s great to see you.” Ruby loved his Master, he really did. In fact, his tendency to choose Wallace over Steven sometimes drove his boyfriend mad (not that Steven could talk since he likes to do the same). However, his Master’s refusal to help Steven – and Ruby indirectly – this time made Wallace more of an annoyance to be around at the moment. 

“Hello, Master Wallace…” He replied with a twitch. The whole situation made him very uncomfortable – Steven had better be grateful – and he wished for the thousandth time that Wallace had agreed to be Steven’s replacement instead.

They were currently in the League building in Ever Grande, Wallace having volunteered to be there when Ruby was talking to the association. Just being here made Ruby feel on edge. He’s lived at least half of his childhood hating the League for what happened with Rayquaza and his dad losing his Gym Leader’s licence, and the bad childhood memories were bitter enough for him to abandon the crowning glory that is the Champion of the region without a second doubt at all.

He didn’t even want to challenge the League in the first place all those years ago, only his dad’s not-so-subtle hints and Steven’s comments about wanting to challenge him leading him to do so.

And then he had the nerve to disappear on me.

“How was Kalos? I heard that Lumiose is a beautiful place.” Wallace smiled at him, “It’s too bad Winona and I can’t visit at the moment.” His Master might be a flamboyant person, but never inconsiderate. Ruby’s displeasure was obvious, and Wallace was trying to divert his attention away from the upcoming meeting.

“You could always visit together in the future. It is an amazing place indeed.” Ruby sighed, grateful for the distraction as he thought about the bright lights of Lumiose.

He wondered if he could get Steven to actually take a break (not from work, from stone-getting) and travel the region with him. Kalos is a romantic place and he is a sucker for beautiful things after all.

Although at this rate we’d probably have to meet there to do some save-the-world thing, again. Ruby shook his head at that thought, he shouldn’t be jinxing this incident, no matter how likely the chances are.

Jerking up at the sounds of the doors opening, Ruby narrowed his eyes when he spotted a familiar afro, with the Elite Four following.

“Ruby, Wallace, it’s good to see you two.” The Chairman nodded at both of them, and Ruby had to bite his lips to prevent a snarky reply from slipping.

Steven had once told him that he should start moving on from whatever happened ten years back, and actually start forgiving the Association – and Ruby is trying, honestly.

That doesn’t mean that he’s not allowed to feel that sharp annoyance and heavy grudge every time he saw the Chairman. Moving on and forgiving is one thing, forgetting is another. The Association doesn’t make it easy for him either, what with the way they’d treated their Champion and trainers during the most recent crisis (not to mention past ones, Steven’s self-sacrificial choice notwithstanding). On that side note, his discomfort with Devon is something that is also on-going, but a lot mellower with Steven around despite their almost-altercation during the episode with Deoxys.

Sometimes he wished that he could just abandon everything and stop giving a damn about everything that’s going on in Hoenn – but he’d learned his lessons the hard way five years back.

Don’t think about that now. Chiding himself, he nodded to the Chairman, and shot smiles at each of the Elite Four members.

“Hello to you too, Mr. Chairman.” If there is one thing Ruby excelled at, it was acting and performing.

Steven really should treat him even nicer from now on for doing this.

 


 

He threw himself facedown onto the couch in Steven’s League office the moment he entered, groaning. Wallace and the Elite Four followed behind him, Drake closing the doors to the office. The meeting had been short, but it had tested all of Ruby’s self-control. He was an expressive person by nature, so keeping such strong emotions in control was not his forte (otherwise he would’ve kept his dramatic breakdowns to a minimum) – he’d found himself missing the comfort of Clover halfway through the meeting.

“Good job out there, Ruby.” Wallace commented with a strained smile that had Ruby rolling his eyes. Glacia nodded in agreement.

“You were polite and calm throughout, I’m proud.” Ruby shot her a dry laugh, turning over so that he could sit up. Phoebe beamed at him, throwing herself into the space on the couch beside him.

“Now that that’s over, we’re happy that you’re here!” Her joy was imminent and Ruby felt himself giving her a smile despite how drained he felt at the moment, looking around the Champion’s office. The couch and a low table, a relatively conservative desk – compared to Steven’s office at Devon, of course – with a sleek black leather chair.

The door connecting to the battlefield – and that obnoxious seat – was situated in the wall adjacent to the right of the desk. Behind the seat were the extensive glass doors leading to a balcony looking over Ever Grande. The couch that Ruby has commanded the moment he walked in was located in front of the desk – probably used for entertaining important guests or visitors.

I could think of a few other ways to use it. Ruby felt his face heating up at that thought and sighed in disappointment. He’d imagined that when he returned to Hoenn Steven would be there with him, but his significant other was now somewhere, digging stones. Again. It was for an important matter, but still.

While it had been nice meeting Steven for a short while, they’ve been separated for way too long (again, he shouldn’t complain too much). Gone were the days where the corporate heir would ditch his work just to bother Ruby – of course Ruby was bothered, Steven skipped work as much as his father did, it’s a miracle Devon ever got anything done – and Ruby still had the time to entertain him.

“That was a huge sigh,” Ruby looked up to Wallace’s grinning face, “Missing Steven already?” His lips twitched in annoyance at being read so easily – then again, this is Master Wallace who’s known the both of them since they were young – and he had no choice but to nod.

This is going to be a tough few months.

 


 

Lucas’s arrival in Lumiose was not without fanfare – he is still an ex-Champion of the Pokemon League, the youngest in Sinnoh’s history, whether he liked it or not – and that had admittedly made his quest to search for a good spot in the city difficult. 

He groaned as he felt the curious and admiring stares he got on the street – back straightened and shoulders tight in preparation to run at any given moment should he get mobbed.

This is going to take forever. Lucas reached out to tug his beret down, eyeing the shops along Vernal Avenue. He wondered if he would fit in more with clothes that don’t scream “outsider” like a blaring red sign.

“Oh my gosh! Did you see? That was the Champion!” Upon hearing the word, Lucas tensed up even further instinctually, looking around to locate the source.

About fifty metres in front of him, at the entrance of Boutique Couture – he had done his research before landing, thanks to Pearl shoving dozens of travel guides for all the different regions at him way too long ago, upon hearing about his boredom, claiming that he needed a vacation… from vacation? – stood an enthusiastic crowd.

Wait a moment… The person who’d just walked past mentioned Champion – that meant – His eyes widened as he skidded forward, trying to look over the crowd without blowing his (sad) cover. Colour him curious, he is still fourteen after all.

Sure enough, at the front and centre of the crowd stood Diantha, decked out in a light blue dress vastly different from her signature white costume – seems like she’s doing an event for the Boutique – and he could only stare in amazement (while getting glimpses of her periodically, considering he has to hop up and down to look over the crowd, no shame in that) at how regal she looked, smile and gaze unfaltering under the flashes from the cameras. 

First Cynthia, then Steven, and now this? He really is too young to lead the League.

His obnoxious (that’s how it feels like to him, since this seems like an extremely adult-ish event) jumping movements had caught her eye, however. Lucas had a sinking feeling midjump, as she turned around and met his eyes, surprise colouring her ash-blue coloured irises.

Crap, she saw me. And he got the feeling that she knew who he was too. Lucas took off the moment he landed, thankful for the fact that Diantha would not be able move from the event venue for a while.

There go his hopes of remaining incognito in this region. Hopefully, Diantha wouldn’t look too deeply into the fact that he’s here and is planning to stay here for quite some time.

Ducking back into South Boulevard, Lucas heaved a sigh of relief, before looking up – 

“Oomph!”

“My apologies, young man! Are you okay?” Whoever had walked into him spoke in a slightly flamboyant tone – different from the one that Wallace and Ruby had – that was distinctly… French? Groaning for the Nth time – today is just not his day – he rubbed his back and propelled himself upwards again with the offered hand.

“I’m good, thanks!” The gentleman who had bumped into him had wavy black hair and grey eyes, and Lucas felt like he knows this person – not seen him familiar, but familiar none the less, like something mentioned in passing by someone he knew.

“Hmmm,” Judging by the look the guy was giving him, it seems like the other had the same sentiments. That made Lucas nervous – what if he’s an ex-member of Galactic (unlikely but you’d never know)? What if he – “I feel like I know you somehow. Oh, I’ve yet to introduce myself!” Seeing that he has yet to let go of Lucas’s hand, he shook it.

“I’m Professor Sycamore, a Pokemon researcher in this region.” 

Snap, so much for running away from people associated with the League. While Lucas didn’t hate them – he knows Ruby does with a passion, and he never lets his fellow young Champions forget about it – they are a reminder of all that he has achieved and all that he has thrown away, as well as those periods of boredom.

“I’m Lucas, nice to meet you.” It’s probably better for him to not use his trainer name. With any luck, he wouldn’t be recognised…

“Oh! You’re Cynthia’s predecessor, or successor, really, aren’t you?” The Professor let go of his hand and looked him up and down. Well there goes that… 

“…Er, sort of?” 

“I’ve heard about your contributions during the trouble with Team Galactica, very impressive.” Sycamore nodded, and Lucas felt his face heat up – have Professor Rowan and Cynthia been talking again? – looking away and mumbling a soft “thank you”.

“It was a team effort, really.” He couldn’t have done it without Jun, Hikari, Cynthia and the others. Professor Sycamore laughed good naturedly at his reply, patting him on the shoulder.

“Glad to see you’re humble, Lucas.” He smiled, “What are you doing in Kalos? Sightseeing?”

“Uh…” Seeing as his presence in the region would be made news to everyone soon if he kept on wandering around aimlessly and bumping into people, Lucas decided he should just ask Sycamore for help.

“Actually… If you have some time…”

 


 

Shopping with Green is always interesting – then again, since Red didn’t have any one else to compare with as extensively, he can’t really say it’s a fair comparison. The brunet would look at things and grimace – like the olives – as if their very existence are insulting to his person.

That’s just the way Green is, though.

What makes the trips truly enjoyable, however, is the short period of time that Red gets to spend with Green on their way back to Clover, free from Leaf’s know-it-all smirks and Gold’s awed gazes at them.

Pikachu and Eevee remained on their respective shoulders, for once napping peacefully as they walked against the backdrop of the sunset in Lumiose.  

“Red?” He perked up as Green spoke, tilting his face towards Green to show that he was listening.

“Have you ever thought of… Just us being partners and doing something together?” Well that was vague. Red looked at Green in confusion – by now, the other knew him well enough to read his emotions from his deadpan face – and Green rushed to clarify.

“Well, uh, the League called me in for a meeting recently.” He stuttered uncharacteristically before clearing his throat, “They’re starting a new branch in the Alola Region.” Red has never heard of that name – then again, he’d never heard of Kalos either before Diamond and Green had gone up to Mt. Shirogane and challenged him to a battle with his membership in the Clover crew at stake.

“They’re building a Battle Tree there, you know, like the Battle Maison and Battle Frontier we have in Kalos and Johto. Well actually not really, but you get the idea.” Green seemed to choke on his following words.

“They want me to lead it… But I suggested we could, uh, lead it together instead?” Red’s eyes widened at Green’s words, and his childhood friend grimaced, “It’s okay if you don’t want to!” Silent were the words that Green really wanted him to want to. 

What Red didn’t want is to constantly be in different regions as Green all the time – his time at Clover didn’t count because Green came in for shifts, which meant that he saw the brunet more than he did when he was holed up on Shirogane – and Alola, wherever it was, sounded far. It also sounded like the League was not giving Green any choice in the matter – a promotion? Of sorts. Are there promotions for Gym Leaders, really?

“It’s not immediate, in fact, the place wouldn’t even be ready until a year later or so, and that’s the earliest. I will have to go even if you say no, but I just wanted to give you a chance since y’know, you haven’t been out of Kanto-Johto and Kalos in a while and it would be something new…” Green was talking too much and stuttering even more, and Red decided he didn’t like seeing his usually cocky and confident partner like this. Plus, Green’s rambling was starting to hurt his ears – the brunet’s usually considerate of Red’s tolerance. Seems like he forgot about it in his rush.

“Green.” The brunet’s mouth closed with an audible clicking sound. He looked at Red, trying to maintain his nonchalant attitude and was failing at it – to anyone who didn’t know Green well, however, he just seemed like his usual cocky self.

Well, Green did say they wouldn’t have to leave until the following year at the earliest, and he didn’t want to be away from the other. The answer’s obvious.

“I’ll go.”

Green shot him a boyish smile, and Red had to try really hard to ignore the way his heart raced, hiding his flushed face by pulling down his cap.

It’s definitely more difficult than training Charizard, that’s for sure.