Warnings: human experimentation, harm to minors, poison, implied past murder

Pallet used to be a town.

It used to be a vibrant town full of love and pokemon and joy and soil that was flush with soft green grass that left a scent of berry fruit behind.

Now it just held rickety houses, rough soil, and a rustle of wind.

And children. Lots of empty-eyed children.

Gold was not afraid of them. He was of New Bark, of rougher stuff and tougher fields. He walked with a limp, his skateboard in splinters on his back. The people in Viridian had thrown him out on his rear end the second he had mentioned needing the broken ruin and the spurned kindness of beedrill.

When he returned, they would get a thrashing. He would see to that. Well, if he made it back. If he survived, it wouldn't be necessary.

Gold tugged on his rugged, ragged collar. It matched each rough breath he exhaled. He shivered. It was snowing, thicker than his pants were prepared for, barely quelled by the heavy, furlined hood covering his ears.

This would be fine if I had my hat, he thought.

He laughed to himself, then coughed. The sound made his spine feel like it was shaking. One of his pokeballs rattled against his leg. "Stay, Bakutaro." He couldn't come out here with his typhlosion out and about in the cold weather as he walked to a city of what people would consider illegals and dying things. They would think him here to murder them all but he couldn't do that.

Not yet, whispered a spiteful voice in his gut. Not ever, if you use your head for once.

Gold wanted to laugh. That guy would insist that he never used his brain. For once he agreed.

But then he kept walking, trudging down the once idyllic landmark that had been for many in Kanto: Route One.

It had all started when Giovanni returned.

Again. He had a habit of doing this if Red and Silver were anyone to ask about it. It had all started when, awkwardly enough, he returned without a lick of disease and suffering, without a strop of pain. And all he'd said was "Celebi".

That hadn't been an answer really, but then, Rocket didn't exactly have to give away answers when they were running about, scrounging for money and ruining lives.

Then of course, they'd gone to Alola and stolen a Type: Null.

There were only three apparently, and one was in the hands of an upstart pokedex denier. The third was now… somewhere unknown. Or it had been until Yellow had mysteriously gotten her hands on it.

Not that it mattered in the end. Rocket, like it or not, had gotten their grubby fingers on Silver.

Everything had spiraled from there. Gold had no idea why, of course, but he would figure it out if he survived getting to him in the first place.

Pallet Ruins (Town, that belligerent child in him said, it's still a town it's just not on the map anymore as one.)creaked louder the closer that he got to it but then Gold himself was creaking and he wasn't very old so it wasn't an age thing, just a suffering thing. Something moved in one of the houses and Gold, being smarter than the average Ursaring, did not look at it. That was prime for getting caught with his pants down. He just kept stumbling forward.

Then, a thick vine wrapped around his torso and yanked him into the air. Gold jerked at first, mostly by reflex because no one wanted to fly around on a vine. Then he went limp, lest his pokemon try to break him out and hurt themselves. They weren't exactly in good shape either.

When Gold opened his eyes, he was staring at a ceiling. Outside, the wind and snow raged on. It was actually quite warm, which was what caused him to look around.

"Senpai," he said, voice hoarse.

Red grinned from his Saur's side. "Hey." His clothes were freshly patched, smudges under his eyes. His cap was long gone, likely eaten by venomoth.

Green grunted. "You let the air in," he said by way of greeting. "And you look awful." He didn's look much better, really, but charizard was lounging nearby for him to catch warmth.

"I got hit," Gold admitted. He could actually do that with his seniors (except Yellow, but worrying Yellow felt almost like kicking a lillipup freshly hatched) because if he didn't he would get into more trouble than Aitaro in a cage. "The beedrill nicked me in Indigo 's all. That's why I'm just looking awful and not screaming bloody murder for rockets to find."

Red winced and Green made a face. "You need a healing," Green said with a sigh. "Yellow can't do it now. Some poor sod got frostbite."

Gold nodded and immediately regretted it. It hurt to do it now. He didn't have a lot of time. "Stab me with an antidote or something." He sagged back from the wall he'd been propped against. "Otherwise I'm gonna start puking."

His vision started to blur. "What… what about Silver?"

Green answered, more than likely, but with his eyes closing so quickly and his brain felt as though it was pleasantly turning into mush.

It occurred to Gold all of a sudden that maybe he'd been outside a little too long.

Rainbow Rocket wouldn't have been as terrible as it was if they hadn't gotten to Silver.

It had taken Blue, who was so deep into Sevii most of the time that the internet was often faulty, to find him. It was the last time they had seen Giovanni alive, not to mention Faba of the Aether Foundation.

Giovanni, according to Blue, had gone down into Ultra Space in a rage of Earth and blood. It had been too late for Silver, unfortunately. Whatever Faba had done, he had succeeded. And Rainbow Rocket had proceeded to use it.

The Pokedex Holders had had two options at the time: fight the mass they had sprung up to become, or retreat and be left alone.

Most, such as the adults, had retreated. Red and Green were the most interested in fighting, but they also were the ones with so little to lose. Green's remaining family had already gone into Pallet Town. Red… well, Red didn't talk about anything of the sort.

Gold had the most to lose, as far as he was concerned. Him and Crystal both. But Crystal hadn't hesitated to hide the kids and give up the ghost. At least for now.

(Gold suspected that a rebellion was in the works, but he'd never admit to it.)

But until very recently, New Bark had been his. Pokemon House had been his. He had fully intended to go down protecting it and his mother.

When Gold opened his eyes again, he could easily acknowledge that wasn't going to be what happened anymore.

"You survived the night."

Gold would have sat up ramrod straight at the sound of that voice if it hadn't hurt. "You expect anythin' else?" he rasped. "Huh?"

"Not really."

Silver's voice was remarkably unchanged for what had happened. Even with his skin pale as a silver coin and the slight twitches of remembering what it was like to just need two legs and sometimes biting his own lip.

"Damn." Gold huffed. "Thought I'd get ya. What's the diagnosis?"

"Idiocy is incurable but you got here before the poison could do much more than it has. You're probably gonna have a limp in your right leg, and your left arm's gonna tremble for at least six months. Also, your pokemon are angry with you, but Yellow said that, not me."

The toneless rattle of symptoms and issues was only broken by the low sound running through his throat.

Gold swallowed. "I'm done fighting."

Silver laughed. "You're never gonna stop."

That was probably true. "I'm done for a while," Gold hedged.

"Maybe." Silver leaned close, his once silver eyes now flecked with that same amber that colored Gold's own. "But when are you gonna stop fighting for me?"

To get back at Rocket, to get back at the people still jumped up and dumb enough to use kids and ruin them and destroy futures when in the end they would fall.

"When you hold my hand and we go for broke I guess," Gold said with as much confidence as he could muster.

Silver glared at him, into his eyes, deeper into his soul. Probably.

Then he made an inhuman chuffing sound and pulled away. "Flirt with Crystal, not me. When you wake up."

As if to prove his point, he knocked Gold clear unconscious with a single tap.

Outside, the storm began to howl once more and the snow and wind engulfed Pallet once more.

Inside, the pokedex holders continued to wait. For their time would come again, and they would be ready when it did.

A/N: Definitely doing nothing else with this one.

Challenges: PFC Short Oneshot Competition, Mega Prompts Word Prompt 61.