Hey, if it was up to me, I'd be all with the ropin'n'gropin'. But, it wouldn't have turned up here otherwise. Meh.
Title: Alone, Together
Characters: Buson, Bashou, Sakaki
Notes: for Blackjack, for no other reason than being the deciding vote in a face/off, that in the end made me Happy. With a capital H. Having no actual contact with the characters, and not writing too much to begin with, hopefully I did them justice. Or at least didn't mangle them too badly.
I've always worked alone. Partners tended to bog me down, get in the way, and screw up my center of focus. The very last partner I had was so incompetent, I dislocated his arm after a nearly-botched mission, barely scrapping out with a victory made possible by my own ingenuity. From then on, I was 'considered a better lone agent than a potential partner'. It went on like that for almost a year.
I didn't want things to change. I never expected them to either.
I liked Sakaki. He was a strong man, a competent boss, a commander I'd follow Death for. His might was so powerful, I felt a kinship with him that I felt for my own pokémon's overwhelming strength. The unbreakable father I always wanted, despite him being barely older than I was. So the day I was summoned to his office out of the blue, the feeling of being honored had long dwindled, but it always humbled me to step through that door.
His office was never properly lit, light filtering minutely through the blinds, but finding him in the shadows of his chair was child's play. On the same note, it took a second to realize Sakaki wasn't alone in the room. Someone else was standing by the desk, on the shadier side, and they were too tall for Domino. I ignored them for the time. "Sir."
"You're being transfered to Jouto." Sakaki tapped on the manila envelope in front of him expectantly. "You'll be leaving in two days."
"Sir." The envelope was pushed my way, and I took it, noticing its weight. Heavy. Leaving in two days on a mission that would probably last half a year. No skin off my back about it.
The third party shifted in the corner of my eye, and this time, I had to make a show of gazing up at them and staring. Because some people just felt rude, and this person fit my bill.
Sakaki was not finished speaking though, and seemed to use a tone indicating that something he'd wanted to say had slipped his mind before. "Also, Buson. You're not going alone. Meet your new partner. Bashou."
In the past, every time I heard that phrase, it just made me snarl. I'd been so sure about being a solo agent, the thought of Sakaki trying to once again pair me up rocked me, almost pulling the floor out from under my feet. Not pleasant, not pleasant at all. A more subtle shifting, and I could just make out.... No. "Sir!" Don't not show anger, do not show insult, do not project anything but indignation. "You know I don't work well with others. Why are you trying to partner me now, after so long? With a woman no less!"
Sakaki's eyebrows flew upward; I'd never seen that expression before, and it sent butterflies into my gut. Because then, Bashou snorted, and stepped toward me, getting inches from my face, and not amused like Sakaki appeared to be, and said, "If I had my way," in a voice not feminine at all, "I'd make you eat those words at a formal dinner, meticulously chewing them up and drawing out their rotten flavor for as long as possible."
I didn't answer -- couldn't answer, really. My voice was caught, my guard blown down. No one's gender ever escaped me. I even pegged that fruit Kojirou as a guy, and he's as girly-looking as they come. But that wasn't the issue. Sakaki just gave me an /androgynous partner/, and already, I foresaw loads of misery, starting with a case of mistaken identity. And it was made so much worse when Sakaki mentioned one, final detail.
"Make this work, Buson. Or you'll be back at the grunt status."
There was no room for argument with that particular threat. So with Sakaki unapproachable, and a glaring 'new best friend' making everything more difficult just by existing, I nodded numbly, addressed him, and left.
Bashou was shadow one second, and my conjoined twin the next, right outside the office. He was no one's lesser, as I learned right then. He was born to remind me I was no longer on my own.
That day was years ago. I can't forget it; he won't let me. Bashou will bring it up every so often, how I was blind or dumb enough to think he was a woman, and embarrassing myself in front of the Boss like that. But all I do is promise to break his face if he doesn't shut up. And Bashou smiles coyly and doesn't say another word, despite knowing my threats toward him are all empty.
I like working alone. Always have, always will. And with Bashou, as I learned, I was alone. I didn't need to trust him with anything, because he was capable of handling things himself. I needn't worry, or care at all about his welfare. He was entirely able to take care of himself, my mirror. We didn't touch, we didn't glance, we fought alongside each other in completely different realities. He didn't exist, just a phantom of my imagination that I never gave a second thought, until he was recalling his pokémon and I mine, covered in muck and blood. I'd catch his eye, or he'd tap my shoulder once, and only exchange secret smiles.
We're the worst of all the Silver teams, because of this perfect equilibrium we found that came as natural as breathing. Because we work alone, together.