Broken Ties~ A Pokémon Fanfiction
(Note: This is the canon Pokémon game universe (G/S/C/HG/SS), but the characters are older. Gold is fourteen and the Kanto trainers are seventeen or so.)
They still see each other sometimes, of course- periodically, occasionally, just enough times to assure Green that Red had not killed himself yet- but it was almost as if that with each passing day, the gap that was between them grew ever more wider than before.
It had not always been this way of course. Once upon a time, they had dreamt of the whole world- two little kids with a girl called Leaf, the closest of friends, united by a common dream: to be the greatest of the great, to etch their names in history. To be champions, all. The question of who would be stronger never arose- it was a topic that they never really talked about or thought about.
What hadn't been in the planned agenda: the break in their friendship bought by too many issues of the personal kind as they grew older, the split of their vision. Leaf had never been strong enough on her own, always overshadowed by the two imposing trainers that stood beside her and left the region. Green had lost his title within an hour of getting it to Red, and Red had abandoned all of his earthly relations for an isolated, frozen world cut off from the rest of them.
Sometimes Green wonders why they even bothered. He was managing Viridian Gym now, a considerable downfall from the Champion's throne, something that still somewhat irritated him when it was brought up though he's changed, and was not quite the egotistic, arrogant teenager he had been when younger.
But what had been the use of all that show anyway? In the end, like everything else, it meant close to nothing at all. Red had beaten him. Red had always beaten him, and his place in life was evidence of that failure which he had no choice but to accept upon.
On Sundays he would climb Mt. Silver, as the air was too frigid for Pidgeot to fly through.
Red would be waiting at the peak of the damned place as usual. Sometimes Green would laugh sardonically to himself at the irony of it all- what, Indigo Plateau wasn't high enough to satisfy the stuck up? When someone finally comes with enough skill (that is, not Green) to defeat him, would he fling himself off?
It's a question he doesn't ask because he knows it's just bitter speculation on his part. There should have been no shame in losing the first and final battle of his time as Champion to someone like Red, because he was not sure if anyone had ever beaten him no matter how hard they try. Green is not a fatalist, but it becomes his personal philosophy to see each person as with something like a limit- somewhere they climb until they can't climb higher. It's the natural talent he lacks, and he had spent his entire childhood on the road trying to convince himself he had the means to surpass his best friend turned enemy turned rival turned something to see it all go down in shambles.
"Something" is what he uses to describe the relationship between him and Red now when he has to. He wasn't sure what that was anymore, and he can't think of anything that doesn't start with ex- in front, so he sticks with "something". He just hopes one day that Red won't be his ex-something as well.
"Don't you ever get sick of just standing there?"
No response, as usual. After all those years, Green still feels angry when he's just plain ignored like that (not ignored, he knew but
), though it's not quite as bad as before when he wanted to sink his fist into a particular someone's face out of frustration. Red seems to drift off more into distance each time he visits him.
He tries a different sentence: "Why the hell are you even standing there like some stupid bastard who just fell into some sort of semi coma standing up? Don't you miss anyone? At all?"
Green lingers for a few moments, staring at the back of the other man's head- of messy black hair half hidden under that battered old hat that had been there since the beginning of their journey across Kanto. He sighs, drops his load of groceries like he does every week and sets off to leave only to return next Sunday for the cycle to repeat itself. It's become somewhat of a routine of sorts in a sense, something that he doesn't think about much anymore before doing.
He takes two steps back before a quiet voice, hoarse from underuse, surprises him and asks him to stay.
Green is too stunned to refuse.
It is almost comical in a sense because they're sitting around a fire, despite not properly even looking at each other for what- three, four years? Eye contact was still somewhat of an awkward thing between them. Since Red was determined to stare at his feet- or the fire- or really anything but Green's face, he didn't bother trying either.
there before to be said was there at least but still, he was slightly miffed as to why the Champion would ask him to remain if all they were going to do was sit around and waste time. Eventually though, he grows accustomed to the silence and that silence gives him some time to think and to reflect, two things he hardly had time to do lately between the Gym and paperwork. Neither of them attempts to break the fragile equilibrium they made- the golden silence, if only to avoid what they might say if it was shattered.
He doesn't know how much time really passed, because they're sitting in a cave and Red was hardly the type to own something as practical as a clock. It must have been a few hours at least- or maybe it was the coziness of the fire getting to him because he starts feeling sleepy and the world starts to blur under drooping eyelids.
Green stands up then, and murmurs a goodbye. He doesn't know how he manages to get back to Viridian, but he knows that Eevee held most of the credit.
"Where the fuck were you? I know you're lazy but you generally pick up your phone!"
The morning greets him with an obnoxious ring of his Pokégear and a shrill female voice at the other end of the line. He almost hangs up on it, but then he realizes that it's Leaf and not another one of his annoying female stalkers. Green is still half asleep when she yells something else to him, but he rubs his eyes and snaps a snide comeback back with a dose of his usual bite.
"I was with Red." He says after that, "He-"
"Red?" Leaf's voice raises a pitch, "You mean he's actually down from that mountain?"
"No, he's not. I was just making sure he didn't die from malnutrition by dropping off some food like usual, and it dragged on longer than planned."
He almost heard the sigh on the other end, "You've pissed him off?"
"Hardly. He never says anything anyway."
The conversation continues for another twenty minutes or so, mostly about nothing of importance. Talk of this kid from Johto who was steadily rising through the trainer ranks, Leaf's own stories of Hoenn, chidings at Green's new workaholic lifestyle before he says, "Leaf- it's eight and I have to open up the Gym. I don't exactly want to find this huge lineup of snotty bastards to beat up outside my door, complaining."
"Like always, the diligent Green Oak leaves his poor friend Leaf hanging on the other side of the world."
"Sure I do."
" she says softly before he ends the call, "take
take care of him, okay? He's been through a lot too, like we all have."
For some reason, he could not explain the knot in his stomach as he tried to swallow the lump in his throat down when he responded. He pushed it to the back of his mind. Didn't need to dwell on petty matters like that.
The feeling does not dislodge itself. Green's trainers notice how he's in a rather black mood but doesn't question him for it. The challengers go home with nothing as usual, after Eevee wipes the floor with most of them.
At first, the rumors of the new reformation of the Team Rocket organization were dismissed as just rumors from a few people who had nothing better to do with their lives then stir up gossip. Then, an attack on Azalea Town proved them all wrong. Suddenly, the League was as weary as mice again, because even though the thing was naught but a trifle, it was confirmed that it did indeed happen under the R of the Rocket slogan, which meant that a menace- Giovanni- could have returned to its head from his exile.
"They wouldn't dare." Green said to Lance as they walked out of an entirely pointless meeting between the Gym Leaders and Elite Four (without the Champion, but no one bothered to point out the obvious), "Red drove them off three years ago for good. Their stupid organization was disbanded, for god's sake."
The dragon tamer sighed, "But that was three years ago, Green, and three years is a long, long time to be considered for possible recovery. Red vanished off a few months after he became Champion. Why would they fear someone who is no longer there? It's quite obvious that he is considered to be the only threat to their ambition." He paused, frowning, "It's quite possible they consider him dead in all senses."
"He's not dead Lance- a mute misanthrope thriving in a frozen hell of a mountain yes, but not dead."
"They don't know that." The older man replied, "And it has been three years. Things could have changed for the better or for the worse. I'm personally praying that it's not the latter in store."
So then Green contemplates as he flies on Pidgeot back to Viridian City, with Lance's words still echoing in his head. Three years. Had it really gone by so fast? Had it really changed so much?
The crossed out days tell him that it is Sunday again, after a week of endless paperwork, challengers, and now Team Rocket to fill up its hours. He climbs Mount Silver with his pack and supplies, Eevee wrapped around his neck like a scarf- but warmer. Green does not pause to backtrack or look around for directions anymore because he had done this much too often now (enough times to find a few shortcuts), so they manage to scale it in a few hours or so with a brief rest in the middle.
It is not the first time that Green has asked himself how his old adversary could manage to live in such a place wearing only shorts like as if he was standing in the middle of a freaking heat wave. Was he never cold? Or was it because he denied himself warmth?
Red, he didn't think, was the type to take his own self into consideration- maybe not out of deliberate neglect, but rather because of his apathy and indifference to everything around him
maybe that yellow rat of his being an exception. Leaf had said years before that he would be the first to die on a deserted island if no one was there to remind him to sleep or eat. Green looks back on it and smirks at the irony and the semi truthfulness of the statement.
"Hi." He says flatly once he sees the familiar form of Red, looking out at empty space past the mountain like he always did. For once, it wasn't snowing- although really, it was the middle of April. That didn't say much though. Mount Silver defied weather trends and replaced it with a pick of hail, frost, or snow.
Green did not like the endless white of the blizzards, although he knew Red had. It was so easy to lose yourself in the storms and watch, waiting for something that would never come.
He brushes a stray auburn lock out of his face and goes up to the raven haired, gingerly walking, as if the ground could burn. Looking out also, jaded eyes were obscure as he then asks:
"So, what's so interesting about this crappy landscape anyway? I can't see much of value."
Green did not expect an answer (it was a sarcastic, rhetorical question) - or maybe, just a monosyllable because that was how Red talked if he really had to even before his retreat to the roof of the world. What he gets is a pull of the brim of the trademark hat down to shadow crimson eyes and an equally oblique answer.
"To each his own."
He shrugs at the comment, drops off his load and turns to leave- but before that, the same hand grabs his wrist, and once again, Green finds himself in the cave next to a fire made by Charizard. They don't talk still. Green finds his attempts at small talk utterly useless, and just like last time, they sit around, not meeting each other's' eyes.
That night, Green dreams.
It's somewhat odd because he doesn't dream much anymore, and if he does, they're generally forgotten when he wakes up and he does not think much on them anyway. But- this time, he does dream and he does remember- remembers his undertakings in the plane of his unconscious thought- and when he wakes up, it is in a cold sweat and in anxiety he had not felt in such a long time he cannot recall the last.
Green is not a coward, nor one that avoids confrontation of something out of fear or lack of will, but seeing Red there one day when he went up to the summit of the mountain not alive and standing but dead and buried under the snow with his lifeless eyes staring up into his own was something that keeps replaying and replaying in his mind after he broke the surface of the dream, and haunts his conscience for the rest of the night.
Coffee does not help. Eevee raises concerned eyes at her trainer's endless pacing in his small apartment.
It's not that he didn't want to leave Mount Silver ( but he doesn't, not really ), it is the fact that he no longer can leave it that bars Red from seeking the comforts of civilization beyond his isolation from the rest of the world. After spending so much time alone and away from everything else, he had developed a fear of sorts that prevented him from stepping down onto the level ground beneath.
He likes to think of the place as his own kingdom in a way, a place that evaded change and time and intrusion from the unwanted that may shatter the balance of the delicate equilibrium he had built. Here, standing above the rest of the world, he can properly think and drop the mask he had been holding so closely to his face he had almost forgotten how to put it down.
Red is not fond of speaking. He finds language heavy on his tongue and unneeded for personal purposes. He communicates by motions of the hand or simple, florid body language that no one else could read easily, not being used to him. He finds it more preferable, because there is more to be discovered when everything is not too straight forward and undemanding, and silence was always a golden thing that he found endless value in whilst in such an environment. The winds and the flurries of snow fill the void of his unspoken words, and he finds a strange acceptance in the cold air, frigid enough to numb, but warm enough to also not.
When he attained all that he was after, Red had wondered if that was all there was to it. But then, he realizes that he had done in all senses, hardly anything at all.
Because the only reason why he even walked out of Pallet Town and took his first steps in the grassy thrush of Route 1 was the desire for some sort of acknowledgment from the person he had once called his friend, some sort of hope that one day, they would walk together as promised, equals, but together. That hadn't exactly worked out, and would remain something that he knew he would never have. What more was his discovery of how pointless everything had been. The fact that Green ended up blaming the loss of everything he had worked towards on him (Red doesn't blame him for doing that), the fact won't even look at Red properly anymore, let alone speak to him after the loss of his title to one that never even wanted it in the first place after a mere hour upon having it.
The visits were a surprise at first, around a year after he had found solace in the pinnacles of Mount Silver. Green turned up, with food and other things that Red hadn't laid eyes on in what seemed like an eternity that he had almost forgotten the uses of.
But when Green looks at him, he becomes almost scared, because his eyes are empty- and even had there been an iota of resentment, the Champion would have been less so- but there isn't, and there's nothing, and Red doesn't know what to say because he's afraid now that they've come face to face after years of no contact. He did what he did most when faced with such situations. He retreated back in his own world and shut away what he didn't want to directly meet.
But Red is human too, and he does have wants of companionship of some sort apart from his Pokémon, beloved as they were- so he does not relocate to some other abandoned place that someone's overlooked. Now that he had rediscovered what it meant like to be around another, he finds out that he does not hate it too much either, awkward as it may be. And sometimes- sometimes he would wonder just what would have happened had they done things differently before, so now they weren't three almost strangers who still talked (by that, he meant Green and Leaf. Red wasn't a part of it- he never really had been) on occasion. When those times came, it would be too hard to further hypothesize and think, so he doesn't- and Red does berate and loathe himself at times for that, but it was to avoid any more regret and other emotions he didn't want to bear. If anything, Red tried to steer his thought processes away from those two things as much as possible on the account that if he lets himself lose hold onto reality and enter the world of what if's and what could have been's, then he would never be able to pull himself out.
Red is not a sentimental person by any right, but neither is he a masochist, and he prefers to keep it that way.
Leaf phones a few weeks later with news that she had completely beaten the Hoenn league's Gyms, and that people should seriously stop underestimating Jigglypuff and Ditto if they didn't want their asses kicked. Green laughs at this (snickers at the irony, because Ditto and Jigglypuff ordinarily were hardly useful, but like he and Red, Leaf is not an ordinary trainer) and agrees with her thought on the matter.
"How are things going on at your end?" she asks, "Besides of course, your monotonous routine through daily life, being Gym Leader and all."
"Oh, fine here, dandy there. Um
maybe not dandy there, now that I look at it. Some fucker decided to well- can you believe it, re-establish Team Rocket in Johto or some crap like that. I don't think there's much to worry about though," he adds as Leaf gives a startled 'really?' over the speaker, "It reminds me more of a children's mob without the leader. I mean, it's kind of pathetic in all rights without Giovanni there to lead."
There is a pause before Leaf says anything, "How do you know if Giovanni isn't there, Green? Agents? Infiltrates-"
"The tried to take over Goldenrod's radio station some time before to try and bring back their boss. It failed- and I heard that some kid- I think the same one who did the honors in Azalea- chased them off again."
"A kid? How old is he?"
"I don't know, okay? I hardly pay attention to things like that that doesn't directly concern me. I'm doing peachy over here, having to deal with an entire line of weak challengers daily and paperwork when I'm not."
She sighs softly, contemplating, "It seems like Red all over again, hey? Fighting off the Rockets, earning a name he never really wanted." ('That you wanted, not him' is unspoken, but it passes between them clearly.)
"And how the hell do you know that? Frankly- I don't think this kid's even an ounce of Red. Anyone can deal with a stupid mob of idiots who don't even have a clear chain of command. I don't think the world will ever see anyone like the mute bastard again. Pray that we don't either. Mount Silver's going to be over populated if not."
"Yeah, I know but
things don't always turn out as expected, do they?"
No, he agrees- they don't.
Those are the words Green is carrying in his mind as he lands from Pidgeot's back onto the old, dirt path that ended up winding itself into the old houses of Pallet Town, his old home- having barely changed in all the years passing. The place unnerves him in many ways though- because it's simply here where all of it began and the sense of deja-vu that he feels as he walks through the narrow streets and handful of buildings haunts him as it comforts him. The fact that Red's house is beside his doesn't help. Seeing Delia and hearing those awkward, worried questions about her son sometimes opens up pockets of guilt he wasn't aware existed within him. His grandfather, he still feels some resentment towards- and their relationship was hardly a friendly one still. If Green had any reasons at all to visit Pallet, it was because of his sister, and because out of the obligations that politeness (that he doesn't care about, but had to comply) demanded that he must.
Whenever he does visit, he slips around in an alleyway around the town so that he may avoid the main streets and houses and the people that he did not want to see. Hardly anyone knew about that particular path, actually. It was something that he and Red and Leaf had discovered when they were little and used for sneaking out to play when they weren't allowed to.
Daisy ushers him in when he knocks after welcoming him with a hug, despite the fact that Green always insists that he is too old for such things. She pours him jasmine tea (his favourite, as well as hers) and chats enough to cover his share of the conversation too. It's usually about trivial things that both of them don't really care about- whom and whom had a new baby, bizarre recipes that Green doesn't comment on, Professor Oak's research and how it was going. Sometimes she would ask about how things were going at the Gym while looking at him concerned, no matter how hard she tried to hide it. Despite the fact that both of them were in their twenties, he would always be her little kid brother that had to be fussed over. Sometimes it annoys him; sometimes it amuses him- the former more commonly felt, obviously.
Interactions with his grandfather:
"Hello, Green." (Spoken without looking up from his work.)
"Gramps." (He hadn't gotten out of the habit yet of calling Oak something else.)
"How are you doing?" (Detached air, both of them knew that he hardly cared.)
"I'm fine. And you?" (The exchange irritates him, as so pointless it was.)
"My research is going well." (An expected answer; he knows that Green will not ask beyond.)
"I see." (Not much to say otherwise. Both of them don't want extended conversation.)
"I trust that you've talked to Daisy? She misses you." (Dismissal, end of the useless small talk.)
"Yeah, I know. I'll talk to her." (Green understands Oak's intentions with the sentence.)
"Goodbye." (Hardly a minute's worth of chat. Both of them are somewhat relieved.)
And with Delia, he hardly knows what to say to her besides small comments and a shrug or a nod here and there whilst sitting awkwardly in her house (Red's home) listening to her lightheartedly talk, barely veiling the black underneath the veil of words and facades. Green is more uneasy around her then even with his grandfather, and the forced words and smiles he occasionally adds to the conversation makes it even more awkward for him.
"And my son? Do you- have you heard from him?" her gaze would widen then as if in silent plead. Green would notice then how much older she looks with the bags under her eyes and the lines of worry on her face. He, although he hated himself for not being able to drag the miserable shit down from Mount Silver, hated Red more for doing this to his mother out of all people possible.
"He's fine, really. I drop off provisions for him once a week. He'll be back soon
But the same conversation repeats itself too many times to still be of truth, and both of them knew that the only purpose it still has to serve is offering some hope, as false as it may turn out to be. Still- false hope was better of course, then nothing at all.
"Your mother's worried about you," Green says to Red sometime after, "Don't you ever care?"
Red doesn't respond. He pulls his hat lower, something that Green notices he does if he doesn't want to answer a question or something like that in general. It angers Green though, and it takes everything he has to not punch the other across the face- to beat some rationality in him. He had never grown up around a proper family. His mother and father abandoned him and his sister with Oak when he hardly even knew how to talk and flew to Unova, never to be heard from again after.
"You know, sometimes, I really wish you'd just find some sense in that fucking head of yours. She knows you're alive at least."
But Red is more than old enough to make his own decisions, and Green knows that perfectly well- and also that it was no place of his to mind the other's personal life. They are, after all- seventeen and not the children they once were.
The explosion on Cinnabar was not a surprise because the civilians had been evacuated some months before , but the destruction that it wrought was- and left the entire island barren, scorched, and utterly devoid of the previous life it had hosted.
Green visits the place after it had cooled down, and still found it hard to accept the new Cinnabar as the place that he had known before, even if there is something that resembles an eerie solace, a calm that surrounds the island now that there's hardly anything remaining. There's a Pokécenter that had been built to house trainers passing by but nothing beyond that. The waves and quiet are almost relaxing to his overworked mind. Was this perhaps how Red saw Mount Silver as?
He decided to stay awhile- to use some of the vacation days he had saved up and never bothered to use, and the nurses at the center were most eager to offer him some lodging. Green had hardly lost his looks, or charisma with the ladies- and his Gym Leader status to add, enables a lot to be done.
Then, after some days, a person finally stops by when he was looking out at the sea.
"Who are you?" he says, dubious in response to the wide, cocky grin (not unlike his own when he was still travelling) that came with the salutations. The boy was around fourteen, he guessed, wearing one of those baseball caps- yellow with black stripes- backwards on messy black hair and worn clothes that only said that he was either a trainer, or a really dirty individual, "My name's Green. I was once the Kanto Champion, although it was short-lived thanks to Red... Anyway, take a good look around you..."
He ignored the other's stunned face at his discovery and cut off the words that he was going to say with a sweep of the arm at the wasted landscape behind him, "A volcano erupts, and just like that, a whole town disappears. We can go on winning and losing in Pokémon, but if nature so much as twitches, we can be overwhelmed in a second... That's the way it is."
"I'm Gold." The words were smooth, blunt, and carried an air of self-importance with them that Green wasn't sure if he liked or not, "Pleased to meet you, Gym Leader Green. I was wondering if we could have a match or something. They say you're the strongest one in all of the regions in the Pokémon League."
Green smirks and almost laughs, "But, anyway, I'm still a trainer. If you want to battle me for real, show me how many Kanto Badges you've got."
All eight from Johto, seven from Kanto; he was impressed, but that didn't mean he showed it on his face. A nagging feeling pulls at the edge of his mind. Could this be that boy that forced Team Rocket to disband again by himself in Johto? He didn't know, and he didn't ask- although the suspicion lingered.
"Alright," Green says after a moment's thought, "Come to the Viridian Gym. I'll be waiting for you!"
He summons Pidgeot from its pokéball and jumps onto its back, ordering it to fly back to Viridian City. For some reason, he's looking forward to the match he had promised to the kid.
"I hear your challengers are complaining that you aren't there at the Gym."
Green rubs his temples before responding to Leaf's comment, "I was gone not even for a week. Isn't it normal to have a break of some sorts?"
"Yeah, I suppose. Say, what were you doing anyway?"
"At Cinnabar Island looking at the ruins of the place. And guess who I met?"
who, Green? A hot chick or something?"
Green scowled, but understood the jest, "Oh, for god's damned sake, quit screwing around. No, it was a guy. He challenged me
I think he's that person from Johto that everyone's been talking about lately. Has every badge from Kanto as well- except for mine. I don't intend him to take it easily."
"Good luck," Leaf says, "I daresay you might need it."
What Leaf had said was right. In all but ten minutes, Green's entire team of six is knocked out- even Eevee, his trump card in such matches. Gold has two of his Pokémon fainted and his Typlosion barely standing, but he wins so Green gives him the badge and a sarcastic round of applause.
"Good job," he says to the challenger, "that was better than what I had in a long time. I think you're almost as good as Red."
Almost. Not better, almost. Green's still not sure if anyone's as good as Red in that regard.
He defeats the Elite Four too. It comes as a shock to all, and pretty soon- Gold's name makes the headlines of every single trainer's magazine and newspaper.
Sunday comes so Green climbs Mount Silver again with the usual heavy load on his back. It's unnaturally cold that day, and he couldn't help but notice how even Red- despite the years of extreme starvation, isolation, and battling against the freezing weather- shivers a little despite being used to it all. He sits closer to the fire and out of some pity on his part, Green tells Eevee to go and wrap itself around Red's neck this time, substituting a scarf that warms the other up a little. He still fails to understand at times how Red- a former delicate, pretty mama's boy could endure this kind of environment for so long without any catastrophe.
"Green," it's so quiet it's almost a whisper. How long last since he had formed a sentence properly in his mouth? "Why are you even still bothering to come here every week?"
It's ironic that being the quiet one, Red would be the first to break their silence.
"Oh I don't know," Green replies, a faint frown on his face, "maybe because the view's nice? Maybe because I have nothing better to do? Maybe because I don't want to see my ex-rival dead?"
The words "and truthfully speaking, I don't even know if I would care anymore if you decided to kick the bucket now." Pass between them though unspoken.
"What are you doing here anyway? It's been years, Red- years! Haven't you had enough of this?"
There is at least a full minute's worth of silence, filled by the crackling of the flames before them. Then, just as Green thinks that Red is not going to respond, he does, but even more quietly then before and the other has to strain to even make out the words.
"Waiting, Green. I'm waiting."
It was their last meeting on Mount Silver.
It's a few days before someone else comes up to the summit of the mountain that isn't Green. He couldn't be older then fourteen, Red decides, but it hardly matters. The boy looks determined, with a Typlosion loyally following him- and reminds Red slightly of himself when he was not yet Champion. He doesn't say anything before he calls Pikachu out from its battered pokéball. Words aren't necessary anymore in such situations like this one.
Five minutes, he predicts, five minutes until all will be over, and Red goes back to waiting, in his realm of ice and snow.