Okaysrslythisfic. This was my first shot at Red/Green/Originalshipping/Palletshipping
I spent like 6+ hours writing it (experimenting with a lot of writing styles), and then the editing...
OBSESSIVE EDITING. Orz Perspectives in this fic are still out of line, which I apologize for...Hopefully not too distracting angjsngdgfmmgskdm. I went over it like 583538548 times, and something about it still didn't seem right to me. I actually almost deleted it at one point, because it really, really bugged me to hell and back. I'm still almost reluctantly to post it places. IDK WHY, it just did. And I don't think I can ever look at it again. Plus, it was only supposed to be about 500 words, and somehow made it to over 4000...
SO THANK YOU SO MUCH, chrysa!
I've never had a beta before on any of my fics, and so I missed so many things and she helped me go through this gigantic mess, and for that, I am grateful. OTL
I abuse my keyboard too much, so to prevent my 'O' key from breaking again, here's the actual fic:
Title: Living Arrangements
Rating: T, because Leaf says what comes to mind.
Characters: Red and Green, Leaf, and their Pokemon making some guest appearances.
Genre: Um. Romance, and a strange attempt at some mix of angst and humor.
Warnings: A ridiculously happy ending. But that's how I always roll. And I feel like there are some innuendos in here. You decide.
Summary: It took over ten years for them to adjust to not only their new surroundings, but their need for each other.
Please just don't go by my summaries or titles anymore. mkzsmfkd. xD
AND REMIND ME TO NEVER WRITE IN PRESENT TENSE AGAIN.
And to just never touch this again.
He likes and is used to winter, to drinking snowmelt, and to the crisp aroma of the cold. He likes to sit by dim campfires with nothing but the company of Pokemon for days at a time. He likes falling asleep to the sight of his Pikachu’s rhythmic breathing, which is a bit like a static-stricken lullaby. He’s used to only the voice of the barely-audible fall of snow, and the only sounds he ever really hears are the ones his shoes make when they crunch hardened soil and fresh frost. Despite the vehement winds that occasionally whirl around his cave, he’s used to everything being in its proper place: the rusted old bike in the corner that he can barely ride now that ten years have made him tall, his threadbare sleeping bag sprawled by the perpetual fire, stretched do to some recent sharing. It’s been the same for years. He’s never known much change since his journey ended.
He wakes up to the same snow-coated scenery every single morning, and finds an unusual, almost inhuman comfort in it.
So the moment his bare feet touch soft carpet, he’s shocked into silence – in Red’s world, this means he doesn’t even dare to blink or breathe. Unconsciously, he reaches up and clutches Green’s sleeve, his one true constant. His only familiar in this new and unfamiliar atmosphere.
He doesn’t feel the snow anymore, or the cold, and because of this he doesn’t feel right here. He feels his heart flutter in both nervousness and anticipation, and moves to stand just slightly behind Green. Red panics slightly even though everything in this house reminds Red of Green, of all that he loves.
He supposes, though, that he’s always been just a little afraid of love.
“Don’t seem so out of place,” his escort mumbles into the tense quiet, chuckling a little at his unsure expression; in the dark of his above-gym home, he looks nearly as fragile as glass. This Champion - this Pokemon God – is uncomfortable in something as simple as a room. “It’s your new home, after all.” Green tosses the keys onto the kitchen counter and steps in, gently placing Red’s single bag in the corner. Seeing how Red is still unable to come up with a coherent response, he says, “Come on, I’ll give you the grand tour,” and gently begins to lead him into the living room.
At the end of the hall – the last of the rooms – is a plain bedroom with nothing especially notable aside from a single, small window with an incredible, large view of all of Viridian City. Red shuffles slowly over to the window; though it’s not a silver-lined mountain range, it’s still beautiful. He adores it even more when Green stands next to him and gazes alongside him; then, he finds it all too perfect.
The yearning for the snow, and the cold, and the winter all dissipate as soon as he feels the warmth radiating from his companion. It’s all very different – it’s change - but he soon realizes it’s exactly where he always wanted to be.
“So this is my…Well, our room now.” Green seems nervous and scratches the back of his neck, hoping the dying sun’s light conceals his blush.
But Red’s observation skills are sharp – especially when it comes to Green – and he can’t help but laugh at his friend’s flustered face; it’s not something he sees all that often, and he finds he really likes it, and would like to see it more often.
He looks away, and sighs, quickly fumbling for a subject change. “There are some pajamas on the bed for you. Uh, let me know if they don’t fit.” He turns around and walks away, slowly shutting the door behind him so he can have his privacy, even though he believes they soon won’t really need any at the back of his mind.
Green reluctantly walks back into the room some time later, and finds that Red has already made himself at home…
…in his sleeping bag on the floor.
He runs a hand through his hair, exasperated. “What the hell are you doing?”
Red just looks back at him like it’s obvious, his scarlet eyes shining brilliantly in the lamplight. Sleeping.
“Why would I bring you all the way down here just for you to sleep on the floor?” He sighs again, amusement taking the place of his frustration. He steps over and grabs one his hands – wondering why Red’s still wearing his trademark gloves at this time of night – and pulls him up roughly, shoving him onto the bed. “Get in there and sleep.”
Red obediently does as he’s told, slipping quietly under the covers, struggling to find a comfortable position. The softness beneath his back is a new change he hasn’t yet adjusted to. He finds he isn’t at all able to sleep until Green gets in beside him, reminding him again of the cold mountain, of the threadbare sleeping bag they used to share on nights he came to visit.
Only then can he sleep.
Sometimes, Red still has nightmares.
One is especially vivid, especially haunting. It’s a memory, one that he relives through his darkest dreams. He’s ten-years-old again, trekking on his own through Mt. Moon, and for some reason, Pikachu isn’t able to use flash. His Pokemon is too tired, too young and new to the world, just like his trainer. So the cavern is dark, and frightening. And then he hears a sharp cry, quickly chorused by at least a hundred more, amplifying his fear.
He steps clumsily on a Zubat nest, so suddenly he’s surrounded by sharp teeth and flitting wings – all he can feel are their vicious attacks against his exposed skin.
He returns Pikachu to his Pokeball to spare him, but as usual, treats himself with reckless abandon. He’s done this since becoming best friends with Green, as his neighbor always used to be able to save him and look after him; he never thought to do anything for himself after that and paid constantly for it.
The future Master reaches out of the darkness, and calls his friend’s name in desperation.
But then he remembers they aren’t friends anymore, that they’re rivals now. He can’t save him, and he certainly can’t be saved.
Tears well up at the thought of his friend's absence, and he tries his best to blink them back. The sting of the salt in the droplets and the throbbing ache in his chest are unfamilar feelings, and sentiments he finds unneeded, unwanted. He pushes them back with all his remaning strength, and hopes to never encounter such a bitter emotion again for as long as he lives.
He wonders why he needs to grow up so fast, so suddenly. He's ten, not nearly strong enough to overcome the shortcomings of his world. He wants to catch up to his friend, wants them to reunite and relive the days where smiles were more abundant than maturity. He wants to be able to reach out and feel Green there, instead of this thin, cold air his outstretching fingers find.
But this time when he dreams it, Green does hear his name called, and does rescue him. He feels his friend’s arms wind around his stomach, and sleeps easier knowing he’s there, knowing that it’s all just a dream and Green is his reality now, the opposite of what it used to be.
Red stirs to the scent of breakfast being made, eggs and bacon. He rolls over in bed and sees Pikachu resting protectively at his side, and wonders how he got there in the middle of the night. Eevee, despite her small size, has completely taken over Green’s spot. The young man chuckles as he watches her dream of running, evident in the way her legs flailed and flopped about and the grin on her face.
He sneaks out of the room as furtively as possible, not wanting to disturb their peaceful slumber.
Green’s face turns to a deep shade of scarlet as soon as Red takes his seat at the kitchen’s marble island, and he immediately has to turn away. “Good morning. Uh, Red, I have a question.”
He takes the small beat of silence as an opportunity to voice his inquiry. “Why are you in only boxers?”
The Champion looks down and finds himself clad only in his boxer briefs, and instead of feeling shame, only feels confusion. He gets up and sneaks back into the bedroom to find the whereabouts of his scattered clothes, wondering what may have happened last night.
Green sighs when he returns - a sigh of relief now that his new roommate’s fully-dressed. “I thought I turned the air conditioner on full blast for you. I guess that’s still not as cold as the mountain, huh? Sorry. We’ll find a way to work around the new temperature thing.”
Red shakes his head, and gratefully accepts the plate full of food and coffee offered to him. However, he forgets how hot drinks can be after having nothing but Mt. Silver’s water for so long, and burns his tongue. He manages to swallow it, but still coughs, quietly confused.
His friend grabs the mug instantly from him, every event of the morning reminding Green how dangerous Red can be – mainly to himself – when experiencing any sort of warmth.
“Uhh, want some cold milk from the fridge instead?”
He laughs and nods.
His smile fades instantly, however, when Green finally stares him square in the face. Dark bags like fresh bruises are under his friend’s eyes, and for the first time in what feels like years, the Champion speaks, though it’s barely above a whisper.
“You didn’t get any sleep last night.” Red’s eyes soften, and he gingerly grabs each side of Green’s head and slowly runs his thumbs under his shadowed eyes, as if that’d be enough to erase the turbid marks. “It’s my fault, isn’t it?”
“No,” Green says after a long, heartbreaking silence. “It’s mine.” He rests his forehead on Red’s, and shuts his eyes. “I should’ve come back and saved you. I’m sorry.”
Their proximity has Red’s heart racing more than any battle, their mingling breath making his blood rush and muscles tense. Breathlessly the Champion replies, “You did come back.”
Green’s at his embarrassment limit when Red steps out of the shower and into the hall covered in nothing but a towel, his hair sopping wet and his eyes roaming toward the laundry basket, where his only good outfit sits on the top.
He feels like he’s living with a child, or some sort of helpless toddler. But since it’s Red –his Red - he finds that he doesn’t really mind looking after him all that much, and grabs another towel to help him out.
“Put that outfit down,” he says, slapping the white-lined vest out of his friend’s hand. “You’ll be wearing my outfits until that thing gets properly washed.” He lightly starts to shove his friend into the bedroom before he can, at the very least, get a hold of those ragged gloves.
As soon as Red sits on his bed, Green throws a towel over his head and helps him get his soaked hair dry, softly gripping and pressing his sore fingers against his skin through the absorbent material. He stops suddenly when he realizes Red is closing their short distance, his movement stilling as soon as their lips are connected and neither of them is able to focus on anything else – not the threadbare sleeping bag stretched from their sharing, nor the small, rusted bike in the corner of the room that neither can ride, because ten years has made them both too tall, too grown up.
Green pulls away when his tongue touches the burn mark on Red’s, both startled and out of breath. For once, there’s no actual communication. For once, Green doesn’t know what Red’s thinking, and it scares him. It scares him senseless. He drops the towel as he rushes out of the room.
“So that’s what happened, huh? That’s kind of funny, and also a little attractive. I wish I had been there to see it.”
He wonders why of all people he called Leaf for advice, but then remembers she’s actually – somehow – one of his best, and only friends. He remembers that her blunt honesty is what makes her both unladylike and interesting.
“But maybe,” Green continues, “it was just his mountain-man way of thanking me or something.”
“No matter the culture, Green, a kiss is a kiss. It’s a sign of affection. Stop denying it. You have the hots for Red, and he does for you. Not a big deal.”
“It could just be a thank you kiss.”
“If there was a tongue-tap, that’s not a thank-”
He interrupts her by putting his hand over her mouth. He doesn’t want to hear anymore, as he definitely doesn’t have the stomach for it right now. He nearly screams when she bites down on one of his fingers to get him to stop.
“What the hell are you?!” he shouts indignantly, gripping his wounded hand tight against his chest, as if she’d even dare to try it again.
“I knew it! Your fingers are all cut up. Why?”
“Couldn’t you have just asked me instead of testing it? What the hell?” He keeps backing away, though she now has him cornered, and is holding his hand up to the gym’s dim lights and admiring all the scrapes like they’re works of art.
“I couldn’t ask with your hand on my face,” she retorts petulantly.
“Why am I even still friends with you? You’re a monster.”
“You called me, so you answer that yourself. Anyway, is Red upstairs? I want to see him!” She claps her hands excitedly together at the prospect of visiting one of her dearest friends, whom she also considered to be a bit like an older brother.
Before he can even answer, she’s flying up toward his room surprisingly gracefully, like a Butterfree breaking free.
Though with the way she acts, he supposes it’s more like a Beedrill straight out of its unsightly cocoon. He nurses the freshly-opened wounds on his hand as he follows her hesitantly up the stairs.
When he finally reaches the living room, he finds Leaf resting - and giggling - in Red’s arms, as if she’d jumped straight into them as soon as she saw him, unable to contain her excitement at their reunion. Green figures that’s exactly how this whole situation started, and feels like it’s his own responsibility to apologize to his perplexed friend.
“Sorry about all this,” Green pleads, though he finds he’s still unable to meet his friend’s intense gaze from across the room. “This woodland creature trailed me all the way here from Viridian forest. I thought I’d escaped from it, but apparently not.”
“Red! You got such muscles up on that mountain, didn’t you?” Leaf squeezes one of his arms and grins, proceeding to pat him heartily on his back. “Whenever I do this to Green he drops me right away! What a pansy, huh? Though he probably does it on purpose.” She pouts at this, as if it’s crime to not treat her like a princess.
“Red doesn’t have more muscles than me, Leaf, he has more tolerance,” Green interjects.
Red only laughs, and is relieved to be with his friend again, even more relieved to have all three of them reunited and acting just the way they used to – bickering and banter, when their contests weren’t about who would come out on top and be the Champion of the whole Kanto region, when their contests didn’t shed blood but tears. When their words were harmless ammo, before they battled and used real, actual attacks. Before their innocence was stolen by some extended test of courage and hearts.
He has missed this, and as he settles on the couch with Leaf comfortably settled in his lap, and they reminiscence and talk for hours, he gets that feeling again like he doesn't want to be anywhere else but here, and smiles.
Red excuses himself after a long while of catching up with Leaf, retreating to the bedroom to rest. He’s still adjusting to these sorts of get-togethers, as small as they may be. He’s been alone for so long he barely knows how to communicate now, aside from gestures, and from looks.
“I can’t believe you got him to talk for that long. He hasn’t really said much since he’s been here with me,” Green observes, and Leaf nearly smirks at his jealousy-laced voice. He’s always been awful at hiding things, especially feelings, so she knows almost immediately why Red doesn’t feel the need to speak – they both talk through movements, through their expressive eyes and small tokens of affection.
Through each other, she realizes with a less-than-mischievous smile. “I can get anyone to talk!” she says proudly.
“Among other things,” he replies curtly.
“You seem grumpier than usual,” she notes, soaking in his face a little too closely for comfort as he focuses on soaping his new pile of dishes. “Why so tired? And all those injuries on your fingers.”
Red stands in the hall nearby, listening with bated breath to Green’s explanation. He wants to know what’s been bothering his friend, but hasn’t been able to ask.
“I’ve been looking after Red. Simple as that. He’s just so needy.”
Red finds he doesn’t need to hear anymore after that, and falls onto their shared bed in thought. A burden is absolutely the last thing he wants to be, especially to someone he treasures so dearly, so deeply. So as much as it tears his heart to leave, he will. He just wants Green to be happy. That's always what he's wanted.
He clings to the sheets beneath him and breathes it in for what he thinks is the last time, taking in the scent of Green, like sandalwood and earth, like comfort. He doesn't want to have to let it all go, but he figures it's for the best.
“But I don’t mind it,” Green continues once his friend is out of earshot. “I’ve never minded looking after him. He’ll adjust after a while, anyway.”
He’ll take his bike that’s ten years too old for him, and ride somewhere even beyond his mountaintop, somewhere Green can’t reach him, like in his nightmare. It seems reality and his dreams have switched places once more, and he wonders if it’s for good this time.
“The only reason Red and I talk so much is because I don’t understand him without him having to speak. You understand him clearly without words, and I don’t. Just proves that you two have a deep connection.” Her smile changes into a nostalgic one. “You speak without any words needed, and to be honest, I think that’s beautiful.”
Green seems deep in thought now, and he thinks of the gloves he’s been clumsily trying to sew back together, knowing full well how much they mean to Red without ever having to ask. He’s trying to fix them now because he knows Red’s been meaning to just by his mumbled words, his mournful looks as he tosses and turns them in his calloused, bare hands. He’s always willing to fix something of Red’s without him ever having to ask, and he knows now that that includes even his heart, his life.
So when Red isn’t beside him when he wakes up in the middle of the night, Green immediately wonders what he’s done wrong. The sheets are wrinkled, but only slightly – Red’s handiwork, he knows. Everyday his folds have become just a little neater, a little better. Why would he leave before mastering something? It’s not in his character. It’s not like him at all.
Even with something so simple, he would undoubtedly work at it until he became the best. It’s the way his mind works, it’s the way he lives.
Green wouldn’t want it any other way.
He looks around the room in a panicked daze, and notices a few things missing, a few unwanted vacancies in his plain room – no more stretched sleeping bag, and no more rusted bicycle. Wherever he went, he took them with him, which meant that he planned to go far, far away, and he thinks of the last time Red did this and feels his heart drop to his feet.
He gets up, grabs a jacket, and runs to his living room to shake Leaf awake. She’s snoring loudly on his couch, but becomes instantly alert when she sees her friend so out of breath and so…afraid.
She never thought Green to be capable of fear - of real, genuine weakness - not until now.
“What’s wrong?” she asks, serious.
“I can’t find Red. His bicycle…his sleeping bag…his outfit! He’s gone and I don’t know where the hell he went! I know he won’t go back to the mountain again, so where else could he even be?”
“Calm down,” she whispers, reaching out and placing a hand on his chest, shocked by his erratic heartbeat, his desperate struggle for air despite not being able to breathe. She's never felt so close to him in this moment, and it nearly is a sentiment strong enough to make her homesick. “It’s not like this hasn’t happened before,” she sternly reminds him. “And you found him before, right? Your heart will know the way.”
He’s sane enough to say, “Now’s not the time for your corny lines, Leaf.”
She glares, her eyes icy daggers in the darkness. Though she knows it’s her own fault after all these years that no one takes her completely seriously, she wants more than ever for him to believe the words that come out of her mouth. She wants to comfort him while she still can. “That’s how you found him last time, so just do it again.”
He lowers his gaze, knowing she’s right. He grabs the gloves, and begins to slowly take his leave. Before he leaves, though, he turns to her and says, “Leaf?”
“Yes?” she replies softly.
He hates confessions, but he can’t help it now. He realizes he needs to start saying what he means now, before things have chances of getting completely, utterly messed up and in pieces. Life shatters things when they all least expect it, and so he decides he needs to start getting ahead of the game. These pieces are all scattering again, just when he thought he'd started to glue them all back together, and it's cracking his heart open. “I want you to know that you’re a really good friend.”
She raises an eyebrow. “It took you ten years to figure that out?”
“It took me ten years to figure out a lot of things.”
She laughs. “Touché. Best of luck. Oh, by the way, can I stay?”
“I thought you were going to, anyway.”
“I mean stay and watch.”
He slams the door shut behind him on the way out, and she just laughs again, relieved that it will all be back to normal between them very soon.
Green runs but he doesn’t exactly know where he’s going, just like the first time he looked for Red. He just runs and runs – he runs so much he can feel each of his bones in his legs individually, though they feel more like giant aches instead. At first, he follows the tracks of the rundown bike, but he quickly changes direction and heads toward Mt. Moon, certain he knows where his friend is planning to hide.
He remembers years ago – it must be ten – when he went through this cave on his own, a ten-year-old boy eager for adventure. He wasn’t helpless then, and he knows he isn’t now by any means. He remembers it was Red who, despite coming out on top in the long run, needed him. He remembers hearing his name being echoed in Red’s voice through this same cavern all those years ago. And though it burns him, he remembers not turning around and coming back, trying to play it off as him hearing things.
Red doesn't need him anymore, he had thought bitterly. He could take care of himself, which he proved by gaining the affection of the rest of his family.
He remembers tears when he'd made this decision, and he remembers vowing to never care again, to never cry again. That was when a ten-year-old boy was forced to become a man before he even had the chance to enjoy childhood.
He figures it felt the same, in that moment, for Red.
Green swipes Zubat aside and rushes forward, following a familiar yellow light ahead of him, a familiar silhouette walking alongside a familiar rusted bicycle. Before he knows it, he’s jumping at Red’s back, but he knows he’s not flimsy like Leaf, and he certainly can’t be caught. They fall to the pebbled ground together, Green pinning Red roughly to the floor, both entirely out of breath.
“I fixed your gloves,” Green says after a long, tense silence, holding them out for his friend to see. He takes each of Red’s hands and puts them on slowly, gently. “You should know by now that my actions always mean way more than more words. Hasn’t it always been the same for you?”
But he can’t think of what else to say, so he leans down instead, and kisses him, right there in the darkness of the cavern, trying desperately to convey all the feelings he’d always wanted to get across but was too afraid to say.
I need you. I’ll look after you. Please stay.
Red understands and replies.
I love you.
Months later the view from that single window is still as breathtaking as before, and it never quite gets old. Neither does the view from the bed of the rusted old bicycle in the corner, the threadbare sleeping bag stretched from sharing, or the look in Green’s eyes that say, Never go away again, every single morning.
He likes and is used to the warmth, to drinking hot coffee, and to the company and rhythmic breathing of the one he loves.