It's a fuckin' long climb. Damn hard, too. Looking down at my gloved hands, I can feel how fucked up they are, numb and nearly unresponsive and, if I guess right, soon-to-be useless. Are they frostbitten? I don't know.
I don't care.
It doesn't matter, none of it. Not my hands, or my feet, or my legs, or my arms—nothing. Hell, if I die, it won't even be that big of a deal. Just something expected. Nothing matters right now.
Except getting to the peak.
When I finally reach the top of the mountain, my body near broken and beat, my nose feeling like it's inhaling sandpaper, all I can think is how Lance can go suck my dick. All those years of him telling me that I'm irresponsible and stupid—well, fuck it. I finally got up here. At last.
But before I can gloat any more, the second thought is, The old man is gonna die.
Mount Silver is supposed to be empty. A perfect training area: no distractions, powerful opponents to last a lifetime, and that motherfucking redhead not even close by in flying distance. The only living beings for miles around are pokémon—and only high-levelled ones, at that.
No humans are supposed to be here. None.
So when I see you up here, I suddenly feel gypped.
You know, I don't think you realize it, but you're not shivering or anything. You're not moving at all, not showing any signs that this freaking mountain is damn freezing, that standing on the top with barely any air is fucking hard, that here I am, battered, cut, bruised, trying hard to breathe with even the help of my magnezone—I can't even walk right—I don't know how the hell you're doing it. You're completely fine, like it's all nothing.
And it's not—for you, at least—and you know it. You bastard.
I just want to kill you.
"Why're you not talking?" I scream against the wind, hoping that you'll lose that strange, unearthly, creepy composure of yours and attack me. Because that would be normal. That would be expected. Fuck, it would be well-recieved, even.
Of course, you don't bother. You're anything but normal; I can feel it. Instead, you don't reply with any words. Only a shrug.
I breathe in a deep, shuddering breath. The air is ice-cold, hitting the roof of my mouth with the force of a punch, and the inside of my jacket is starting to become as chilled and frayed as my outside. But the second wind revives me.
"Tell me why you're on top of here!" I demand. "How'd you get up?"
You only shrug.
I wonder if I can break your shoulders.
I don't know why I do it. I'd thought I'd grown out of it. But I do it, and I do it in the most embarrassing way possible. I hate myself for it, but I can't take back what I say, or how I say it, or the way I do it. All I can do is grind my teeth and hope you'll accept.
"If you're not gonna talk, then I'll just make you! I challenge you to a battle!"
With an accusing finger. With a stupid overconfident grin.
The wind howls and hits us both straight in our faces, pushing our hair back and away. You scratch your chin. I shiver to the point of bruising.
I don't think I've ever sweated as much as I have right now.
I don't think I've ever held myself so still before.
I don't think I've ever cared so much about someone's approval.
(Except for back then. But I don't want to bother remembering it.)
The moment seems to stretch out long and long and forever, and the sweat gathered in-between my shoulder blades trickles uncomfortably down my spine, and my hair tickles my numb cheeks, and I wonder if looking stupider in front of you is even possible.
But then you nod your head as if in a daze, pull a poké ball out of your pocket, and then throw it high above us both.
I think, at first, that you're pitying me when you send out that pikachu. Its eyes seem more intent on playing contest rather than becoming part of a serious fight, the most important fight. But then the air around it changes, and the soft eyes become stronger than a steelix's body, and then I know you're not taking it easy on me.
No. That pikachu you got from who-knows-where means you won't even think of going easy.
So I send out my weavile, one of my best, and hope that this pikachu of yours is as immature as it looks. And without delay, without even giving you time to think, I tell Weavile to go in, claws out, as though it were the fight of his life. And just from taking a single glance at you, I bet it will be.
The two duke it out as though they're...related. Like a younger brother trying to prove himself to the older one. The claws meeting tail, the waves of electricity that float over and make the hair on the back of my neck stand up uncomfortably....A feud. I think that's the right word.
But after the first few hits, I don't bother watching anymore; I know my weavile's good, good enough to give you and your pokémon something great. So instead of observing them, I observe you.
Your hair's loose and close to the shoulders, shaggy and in need of a cut. That cap you're wearing is facing forward and covering the top of your face, and I wonder what happened to make you retreat into a hat. I can't see your eyes, though I do see something there that's been long gone for a while. It kind of reminds me of...of....
Your shoulders aren't slumped forward; instead, they're pushed back. That way, your chin's high. Against the mountain's worst, you're preening. I don't know whether to laugh or punch you in your fucking face.
I hear a cry and have to tear my eyes away.
Your pikachu's riddled with claw marks and scratches. Weavile is full of bruises and sunken skin. Both of us return them to their poké balls and whisper words of thanks for their hard work. Well, not me; I just tell him he did all right, did pretty good, considering.
I don't do stupid sentimental shit like that. My pokémon know when they do well. They're not stupid.
Although I can't see your face, I just know you're raising your eyebrow at me under that hat.
I glare and mutter against the dying wind, "Send out your next one."
You do, and you send out a freakin' charizard. I don't know how the hell you got something so rare as that. Is that the treatment champions get? First pick of the new breeds from Fiore? How fucking perfect for you.
And then I feel weird for sending out my typhlosion against it.
It's when Typhlosion's out with his fire stirred up along his back that I remember how cold everything is, and how much I enjoy breathing. While I want Magnezone out to help me, I don't want you to think I need help. I can take care of myself.
Just like you, you impervious, unfeeling bastard.
I try to discreetly warm my hands near Typhlosion's back, but by the time I get anything close to a plume of warmth, he's out into the fight and smacking his rolled up body into your charizard's wings, stunning it. From there, a battle full of grabs and throws begins.
Between us instead is a battle full of silence.
"Think you're tough, huh?" I scream desperately as the two fire-types battle, their flames blasting hot air into our faces. It's making me feel dizzy and shit, like I'm on a boat, or like I'm in the sea, drowning, slowly heading to the bottom; everything shifts weirdly around me: the rocks, the air, the rest of the mountainside, the ground I'm standing on. My tongue's heavy and hard to move. "Think you can...you can...get my screws loose without e-even—even talking?"
You don't bother commenting. And I can't blame you.
I sag, fall closer the the floor. You're not talking, still not talking. Why can't you just say something, anything, and make me feel like I'm being taken seriously? Why can't you talk, comment, say something stupid, say something to fill the ringing that's between the blasts and the hits and the tackles, that we're doing something right? What am I in your eyes? Just another challenger?
What am I to you?
But when I'm just about to say this, Typhlosion's thrown into a boulder and completely knocked out.
It's like a million things have shattered, the way the moment keeps replaying in my head: First, a crack, a hit, a wet sound that crackles with the wind; and then, hell, hell, a shooting ball of fire, and then—a giant pop. Another crack. A thousand more. In the bones. In the rock.
And it hurts from just looking at it.
He was the one I started with. He's my strongest. And your charizard knocked him out with no problems, barely any cuts. Nothing.
Everything's much colder now.
You're a bastard. And you fucking know it. You're such a damn bastard. You know how much I'm afraid without Typhlosion. Fess up. I know that you know—you—you smug son of a bitch. Bastard, bastard, bastard!
I let Magnezone out to finish that charizard off, getting a pleasant thrill when I see how charred its wings are after the thunder.
That's what you get for pissing me the fuck off. Bastard.
You shrug. And return it. And sigh.
Like it's nothing.
And then you send out another.
For all the abuse I give your stupid fat lump of a pokémon, you sure seem bored. It's like you don't give a damn that I'm beating your glorified pillow up. When Magnezone finally manages to get in a focus blast, you barely blink.
And then I know why when the damn thing heals itself.
And then hits Magnezone with a huge blast of power.
"Fuckin' fatass," I mutter under my breath. But since the wind has died, the silence is so huge my words are loud and disturbing and reach you easily. All I can think as you smirk is that you're so. Fucking. Dead.
But I also think that's the first time you showed something on your face besides indifference.
"How long have you been up here?" I ask conversationally, loosely, carelessly.
The exact opposite of what's happening with my alakazam and your mattress. Psychic. Healing move. Psychic. Healing move. Psychic. Harsh physical attack. Another crater.
On the other side of the field, you shrug just as carelessly. And then you count off on your fingers: one, two, three. The wind's acting up now, so you mouth the word that comes after.
Three months spent here in this bare, cold place, only the wind around to talk.
I shudder at the thought. I would've gone insane a long time ago in your shoes. I wonder if that's why you're so quiet.
Alakazam flips your pokémon in the air and smacks it hard into the ground. Along the sides of your pokémon's body is the carved trench made when it slammed into the earth. It's unconscious.
You return it with a sigh.
I can't help but thrill in the sound.
You send out a lapras next. The two start fighting immediately.
And that's when I suddenly feel very sorry for you. To be so used to battling that your pokémon start fighting once out of their poké balls....It sounds so wrong. I can remember the exact moment when that prick of a stalker showed what my pokémon really meant to me: that they aren't just fighters, that they aren't only warriors. His determined face looks so familiar, so like yours.
But he's not you. That...look—far away from the battle, so in-tune with things, but gone, lost, foreign—isn't his.
You're a stranger.
Alakazam is hit with a sudden physical attack—a full-on body slam, if that's right—and is knocked out. A crater splits open where the lapras lands, and it brays its satisfaction.
After returning Alakazam, I take a glance around the mountaintop, finally noticing the cuts and holes and cracks and depressed snow that our battle has made. The wind has held its breath; the hail has stopped; the air seems to charge with a sort of spark I hadn't noticed before. The atmosphere's on grips and tenterhooks, waiting on its hands to see what happens next.
I count down on my fingers—one, two, three, four. Both of us have two pokémon left.
You send out another huge blubbery mess of a water type, for some weird reason—don't you already have a lapras?—and I wonder if it would be a good idea to send out Gengar. He can probably hold his own here; he's got levitation, he can handle it. But you have something up your sleeve. Maybe. Those brief flashes of your eyes make me cautious.
You haven't gotten on top with only brute strength.
But my last, last pokémon—I can't use it. He's my last resort. Proof of how far I've come. I can't let you see it, not yet at least. I want to surprise you, catch you off-guard.
I want to give you the greatest last round of your life.
So Gengar it is.
Gengar cackles as the next blast of water misses him by inches and hits a boulder, shattering it into pieces of flying shrapnel. I dive behind another boulder and wince when I hear the crackling pops hit its surface, the familiar sound of bullets that brings up all those fears from back then. When the noise dies down, I lift my head up to catch you ducking as a stone is flung in your direction. Your hat is knocked away by the motion.
I finally get to see your face.
It's a grinning face, one with gleaming eyes and dimples and sweat trickling down the nose to drip onto a dirty shirt, one with a bleeding scratch on the temple, droplets of blood swiveling down the cheeks—you don't notice it, though, do you?—and disheveled hair covered by debree and dust. It's tired and prone and bruised and battered, so hurt and young that I feel guilty for making the cuts that join the other white slashes—where the hell did you get those scars, anyway?—But after all the abuse it's got so far, there's still laughter drifting off of it; I can feel it from so far away. It's that forceful.
So you're human after all.
It's all weird. I don't know what happened. But all I know is that both of our pokémon are asleep and we don't have anything to cure them. So back to their poké balls they go.
And I don't why, but we're both laughing.
Our last pokémon.
It feels like it's been hours, this battle. Like something that was meant to last forever has finally reached the end. But it hasn't been a waste of time.
I got to see you, at least. And even battle you. I got to see your pokémon, too, and I've actually seen your face, seen it after all this.
It wasn't a waste of time. It wasn't even like the hell I imagined it would be. It's been...like an unreality. A dream.
Sleepwalking, with bursts of conscious decisions and moving and running and hate and regret and laughter.
—And then I know now's the right time to let it out.
My last resort.
Crobat's gotten bigger.
I can remember when I first caught him, small and blind and weak on my way through Union Cave. I hadn't wanted him at first. Didn't think such an annoying thing was good enough for my team. But then I caught it anyway, because I knew golbat were good flyers, good attackers, and I saw with my own eyes how much he was worth. And then that bastard redhead and a certain fucking stalker opened my eyes even more, made him really look like a living creature with feelings.
Now he's a crobat.
He's different now. Grown-up, big, powerful. Strong.
And so am I.
Your mouth hangs open as you stare, pointing a single finger at Crobat.
You're freaked out. You're unable to understand. You're incredulous. You're wanting an answer, an explanation, a chance to figure out what the hell is in front of you.
There's an unspoken question between us. From back then. Our past, if you could even call it that.
"I fucked up," I reply quietly. Respectfully. Because I know that you're not the stranger I first met on top of here. You're not distant; you're not cold. You deserve the respect. "I fucked up a lot before."
You can only stare with your mouth wide open.
That's good. I want to say my piece before you break your weird vow of silence and interrupt. I need to say this before anything can mess it up. You've waited long enough. It's now or never for this, and never will make us both wonder of that lost present.
"I..." I mutter, before toughening up and continuing in a bigger voice, "I-I—I went around, beating, treating them like fucking...tools—I didn't...give a fuck about them. But Lance came around and showed me up, and then I saw how people, people with strong ones, really strong trainers, how they treated them, I noticed....I fucked up, okay?"
You look at me as though I'm a new species of pokémon.
I clench my fists and ignore your stare. I'm shaking, but not from the cold. Bile's running up my throat, sticking my tongue, sticking my throat, constricting it, making it hard for me to breathe right; sweat is migrating down from everywhere, heat propelling it forward into my socks, into my boxers, into my gloves; hot air is sitting heavy on my cheeks and chest and is slowly making its way to the rest of me.
"I fucked everything up!" I abruptly scream, head forward in a near bow, my palms bleeding, everything, everything numb. "You were right, you bastard, you were right about everything! I was wrong! I was fucking wrong!"
You drop down onto the snow with an ungraceful plop.
I barely notice.
"My pokémon are still scarred—they still flinch when we lose, and it took me years just to get Crobat half-way happy! I ruined my chances—everyone's chances from the start—I fucked up, I fucked up, I fucked up and everythi—everyone's ruined!"
I don't notice the wetness until I feel it glide like sweat down my cheeks.
You seem embarrassed. I'm the one that's crying, and you're embarrassed. You're fucking strange—always have been, always will be. At least you have enough sense not to walk up to me and pat me on the back.
I'll hurt you if you try it.
I'm not kidding.
I continue in a lower voice: "I'll never be a champion, not like you, or Lance, not Red. Me and my pokémon aren't going....Because of me, we're never gonna get far. I fucked up everything. —And before you say it, damn it—yeah, we've got far, but we're not getting any further with me on the team."
You seem confused. You seem bemused. You seem anxious. You blink at me, and then look like you're about to say something.
But I snap my eyes up and catch yours. And I glare.
No pity. No encouraging words. No nothing about how I didn't do this, or that, or how things will get better eventually, or we'll be good soon enough. I don't need it. I never wanted it. I came up here wanting proof I was good enough to find and challenge you. I wanted to practice what I was going to say with enough wind to whip the words some place they wouldn't echo. I wanted a chance to become better, to become greater, to become stronger—
—But now...I'm not so sure with you around. After all, you're always gold—always Gold—and I'm always silver. The rival. The challenger. Just Silver.
Like how it always is. Like how it's supposed to be.
...But I don't know if I should keep it that way anymore.
"Stand up," I spit with all the hate left in my body. All the shivers have left now. I can feel my muscles squirming, tightening, ready. Tense up.
It's now. That battle I've always wanted—we've always wanted—is finally here.
"Stand up and fight like the fucking champion you are."
You smile. Not a grin. A smile.
"Only if you promise not to kick me when I win."
You send out that meganium. Not a rare pokémon. Not a strange meganium from wherever the fuck you got the rest of them from. That one. The one and only.
The scar stretching along its neck is still there, a pale, pale sickly green, even after all these years.
But besides that, the stupid sprout has grown up. It's a hell of a lot bigger now—bigger than both of us. The flower wrapped around its neck is shimmering despite this dull place—or maybe because of it?—and from my side of the field I can smell the waft of sweet fragrance tingle my frozen nostrils. The scent hurts more than usual, scratching like claws and digging like thorns, and I realize that your meganium's deliberately sending it to me.
As a warning.
It gives me a disgusted look.
It's not like I never had it coming. That one was your starter, the one that was always around. I probably hurt you in front of it—I know I hurt you in front of it. Its rage and fury and hatred are justified. Unlike your other pokémon—I haven't seen any of those before now—that meganium has always been around as witness. It knows what I know, and it saw what I saw. It isn't romantic like you. It doesn't believe I've changed.
It doesn't think I'm worth being nice to.
The feeling's mutual. All of it.
Mutual hatred, then, will determine this, won't it? Of course, you won't notice.
You never do. Or, at least, always pretend not to.
Poison-type, flying-type. Two pairs of wings. Fast. Status-inducers.
Grass-type. Ability to alter pheromones with its scents. Medium speed. Incorpereal attacks.
I don't how long I've been waiting for this moment. I've practiced for long hours with Crobat in the Dragon's Den just for this. I've forced all my team hard to get here, but Crobat's the one who's been pushed the most. Propelled to this position. He's my proof your meganium's wrong. That I've changed. That I'm better.
That I'm not my father.
We're both impatient. We're both ready. We've been anticipating this fight for years, ever since Mount Moon. At least, I have. I don't know about you.
Did you ever give a damn about me? Did you only think me a nuisance? An obstacle to get through, like a boulder that needed to be pushed out of the way, or an annoying bush that needed to be cut? Did I even register above Team Rocket in your eyes?
Did me and Team Rocket—Did we seem...seem the same to you?
"Ready for this?"
"...Yeah." I always have.
You look at me with those eyes, all-knowing, wise, and narrow them. It makes you appear ancient. I don't when, or how, but somehow you've gotten older. A lot older.
What you must've seen.
"Then—Meganium, solar beam!"
We're prepared for this one. I remember a vileplume that used to throw that at me.
Old memories. Creepy.
"Crobat, dodge it!"
Blurs, blurs, blurs, indistinct, rushed, so quick, even your meganium; bright lights, a tumble, a missed beam of light, a crushed rock—I jump, dodge, evade the falling rocks, but one cuts me as I run. Burning, burns, a burn, blood rushing down my shoulder; all of it, pain, an awful stitch in my chest, swimming through my own clothes and sweat.
The drowning feeling's back. Like I'm being pulled down by something heavy—but it's only Crobat, a spike sent in my direction to keep me from falling down the cliffside. I'm dizzy again, but it's probably from the heat each of your meganium's blasts.
I can barely think as we fight; I can only dodge and run from one shield to another. One boulder smashed; another crushed. So many trees burned down. Snow evaporating. Fractured ground that's dangerous to step on. Droplets of blood cutting a path as I run for safety.
All from a crippled meganium.
And then there's you in all the shifting colors, standing remotely in the dust clouds and falling debris. You're withdrawn again, lost in everything, the moment, the battle. You've gone back into that hat, and your eyes are gone.
I want to see them again.
It's all or nothing now.
a rush—wind beneath—air—flying....
a thump, a tear, a groan, a pile of of bodies
That's the first thing I see when I wake up. A tree with orange leaves, some dead and brown, floating down on top of me. I'm half-covered with them, and I start to wonder how long I've been out of it.
I sit up and notice that there isn't any sign of Crobat.
I scramble to my feet, flail a bit, and then slip on some of the leaves. My face hits the dirt, and I finally notice that my body fucking hurts, like it was slammed by a bunch of hammers until everything just went and broke. Without looking I can tell where all the bruises are.
But that doesn't matter now. I push myself up and yell desperately, "Crobat!"
I can't lose him I can't lose him I can't lose him no no no no no—
"Crobat!" I scream again, but much louder this time. "Croba—"
I don't know how I missed it, but there he is, sitting on a decomposing log, his arms and legs crossed and his back against a boulder. He's wearing his usual stupid clothes, and his hair's gelled back the way he normally does it. The only thing that's different are his eyes: They stare straight into mine, hard and piercing like a pair of swords.
"I called it back to its ball, so it's fine," he says, but it comes out sounding like a growl. Like a command from a general to his soldier. "But you aren't. We're getting you to a center."
I let out a long breath. One problem solved.
But then there's this problem.
"How you...How'd 'ou fin' me?" I ask. It hurts just to open my mouth, let alone pronounce all my words right. Everything comes out smushed together.
"You went out to climb Mount Silver two days ago," he replies dryly. "You need a League official's permission to be allowed near the mountain's trail; there are only fifteen members that can give such permission—it's not too hard to gather the details together and come to an appropriate conclusion."
I look him over, notice the mud on his precious fire-proof boots, the dirt and tears in his clothes and stupid cape, and turn myself over onto my back.
So he was searching for me all this time. Huh. That's hard to swallow.
"You look terrible," he says without sounding concerned or worried. He even makes it into a happy sort of insult somehow. "I'm guessing you found him?"
I want to pick myself up and punch him, but I know that I've reached my limit. I can only lift my head to the side and meet his eyes with my own mad stare.
"Why...din't 'ou tell me...he 'as there?"
He shrugs like the question is beneath him. "I thought it would be best for you to do it now."
"I—I wasn't ready...!" I struggle to stand up, but only end up flailing like a shuckle stuck on its back. And end up feeling just as stupid.
"And when were you going to be?" he asks calmly. But his voice goes lower, deeper—all pissed off. "After how many years would you begin to search for him? Hm? Another year? Two more?—Ten?"
I stop moving and sigh, breathe in, breathe out, steady myself. I manage to say, "I only wanted to train, not battle him."
"Yet training begins the minute you've finally reached your limit."
"Shut the fuck up with your stupid preaching," I spit. The threat's ruined, though, when I can't even stand on my own two feet.
"Noted, but ignored," he says, standing up and shaking his cape free of dirt. "I hope you'll remember my true intentions, however." He stretches a bit; I wonder again how long I've been out of it, but this time think on how long he's been watching me sleep. "Now let's find that center and fix you before you die," he adds, noticing, or ignoring, my look.
He walks up to me and—without any fucking warning—swings me over his shoulder onto his back. The rough fabric bites into my hands and neck and rubs my clothes the wrong way. But, despite that, I feel about to fall asleep right here, right now.
"Do...you...wanna know—who won...?" I struggle to keep my eyes open.
"Hm?" He glances back at me. "'Who won?'"
"I saw you training at the Dragon's Den for quite some time. I expect that you won regardless of whose victory it was." He pulls out a poké ball and enlarges it. "That's usually how most battles work, I'm afraid."
Kind of disappointing, actually, knowing that I would've been on top no matter what.
But only a little.
There're some "That's what she said!" jokes somewhere. I dare anyone who can to find them.
Gold's party (in order of appearance): Pikachu (from an egg); Charizard (from Professor Oak, after you defeat both the Elite Four and Red); Miltank (BECAUSE); Lapras (from the Union Cave event on Fridays); Swampert (from Steven Stone, after defeating the Elite Four and Red—do you know Yawn's one of its egg moves?); and Meganium, from you-know-who from you-know-where. If you don't, then I laugh at you.
I kept things deliberately vague, so fill in the blanks for whatever you see fit to color. Who won, you ask? Well, take a guess!
This was so much longer than it was now. I was planning to write the whole Meganium battle before I remembered that would've been overkill. Keep things nice and flow-y, you know?
Oh, and it was originally Gold battling Red in the first draft. The first draft lasted approximately ten minutes before I decided to pull a WHAT A TWEEST with Silver.
As an aside, does anyone notice how, if you play as the male character, Silver gives off a gay stalker vibe? Creepy as all fuck, or sexy as all hell? You decide.