Disclaimer: Pokemon belongs to Nintendo and Shogakukan Comics. This non-profit, non-copyright infringing fanfiction belongs to me under international copyright laws and taking it is plagiarism. Thank you. Phantomness bows

Notes: for telepathy, for thoughts, italics if a pokemon talks

Chapter 10

"No! He can't be dead!" Red felt tears prickling at the edge of his eyes, and he had no idea why. Surely he hadn't liked Lance…

Liar…. A voice whispered in his mind, but Lance shouldn't die!

Why… why did he have to die?

It wasn't fair!

He died before I could tell him…

Red stopped short. Tell him what? Surely Lance had never wanted anything from him, except to keep his pokémon safe…

But no, that was a lie too, wasn't it?

He'd seen something in Lance's eyes, when Lance had talked to him, something warm, and that had frightened him, because it wasn't supposed to be this way!

Lance… shouldn't like him, and he really shouldn't like Lance!

But did he?

Images danced before his eyes, and he realized that perhaps he did care for Lance, but it was too late now.

"I'm sorry…"

Saying that solved nothing. Ptera had finally stopped trying to wake Lance, and now, the Aerodactyl began to shriek its grief aloud to the skies.

Aeroy did not interfere, and Red wanted to shout too. He wanted to say that it was unfair, that Lance really wasn't so evil, but the words locked tight in his chest and he felt unable to breathe, much less speak.

Why had he waited so long?

There was a shimmer in the air, a flutter, and Red stared as what looked like a pale woman carrying a scythe appeared above Lance's body. Was this the Grim Reaper? Before he knew what he was doing, his legs had carried him over and he had thrown himself over the Dragon Master protectively.

She sighed. It is not his time.

"Huh?"

This was… unexpected. The threads of fate have always been strange around him. But it is not his time to die.

"You mean…"

His soul is not where it should be… and I am afraid you must be his guide. The Reaper nodded, as she turned to Red. I believe you may be able to bring him home.

She moved her hands over Lance's body, and all assembled watched as his injuries faded away to nothing.

"So what must I do?" Red swallowed nervously.

Call him.

… Call?

That made little sense, but Red decided to try. "Lance?" He asked. His voice echoed through the caverns, ghosting off the walls. There was no reply, but he continued on, undeterred.

Surely… it had to work…

There was darkness all around him and it wrapped him gently in its embrace. He was safe here, safe from humanity, and Red had promised to take care of his dragons. He had no more obligations.

Red…

The thought of the child sent a stab through his heart, and he brushed it off.

Red did not… care for him. He really had no more reason to stay… And the public would get their victory….

His time was ended.

Suddenly, he frowned. It was almost as though there was a voice calling his name. Impossible. Clair knew not of his death, so who would it be?

He focused, and to his surprise, he recognized Red's voice.

… Why?

Why would Red wish to see him again? He had already made his feelings clear…

Still, it was intriguing, and with a sigh, he relinquished his grip on the shadows. There was a moment of disorientation, and as he blinked his golden eyes open, he saw Red leaning over him, with tears on his cheeks.

Impossible! Red would never cry for him…

Red could not explain exactly how he felt the moment Lance opened his eyes, but it was something that made his chest ache with pain, and he clutched the Dragon Master to his body tightly, much to his surprise.

"You… called me?" Lance asked in a soft voice.

Red nodded.

"But why?" Lance pressed. "I thought you didn't care… and in any case, it was not your concern."

"I do care, Lance!"

"But when I asked you, you said…"

"I know." Red bit his lip, and looked away, before he stared back into Lance's eyes. Yes, it was still there, almost glowing.

"I-I think… I l-love you."

Lance stared at him. "What?"

"I love you. I don't want you to die." There. He'd said it. It had come out so easily, now that he really didn't think about it.

"Impossible." Lance breathed. He shook his head, trying to pull free of Red's embrace. "I'm not worth it."

"Yes you are!" Red protested, not relinquishing his grip one iota. "I don't hate you, no matter what you think, and I know you've changed!"

"That doesn't excuse what I've done…!"

"No." Red agreed. "But haven't you suffered enough, Lance? You died, and… and I couldn't stop it…"

"But…"

Master. Ptera cut in. Please stop…

He stared into golden eyes, and felt himself relax. Satisfied, his Aerodactyl flew off to a respectable distance, as not to eavesdrop more.

"Do you really mean what you said?" He asked hesitantly.

Red leaned forwards, closing the gap between them, and kissed him. Lance gasped, feeling warmth rise in his cheeks.

"R-Red."

"Does that answer your question?" The Champion teased, before he kissed him again.

"I suppose it does." Lance said wryly, as they broke for air. "I… I think I love you too, Red."

Red beamed. "Then tell me. Why do you love me?"

Lance goggled at him. "Didn't I already tell you?"

"Tell me again." Red gazed into his eyes. "Please?"

"Because I trust you." Lance took a deep breath. "Because you won't judge me. Because you don't hold the past against me… and because you're cute."

A blush spread across the Champion's face. "I see…"

"And you, Champion? Why do you love me, when you could so easily have another?" Lance prodded.

"…" Red blinked at him. He wasn't quite sure how to put the feelings into words, but maybe it was because underneath everything, he truly believed that Lance was a good person that loved pokémon?

That really didn't make much sense. His emotions tangled and snarled, and he just stared into Lance's eyes, trying to find his answer there.

"Because," He hesitated, buying time, feeling oddly shy. "You aren't evil."

"… What?"

"Y-Your pokémon are your friends now, and that's good." He stammered, feeling like an idiot. "A-And I liked that, and…"

"And?" Lance prompted, voice oddly gentle.

"I-I wanted to be your friend too."

"That's all?"

"I like seeing you happy, Lance." Red tightened his grip, as the Dragon Master winced, but the Champion took no notice. "Is that so bad?"

"You're too kind." Lance sighed, but said no more as he held Red close. The trainer looked perfectly happy, ruby eyes bright.

"And now your pokemon will be happy too."

"Mm." Lance agreed. "So you're happy now?"

"Yes!"

When Red returned home – alone – later that night, he found to his astonishment that the police had declared Lance dead. Well, technically it was true, but as not to cause problems, the Dragon Master relocated to the Whirl Islands in Johto, staying out of sight, and hopefully, out of mind.

And that was enough.

End Fic

Completed 12/11/06

Edited 12/21/06

I know its clichéd. Don't bother to flame. YES!!!! It's completed!

Lance: Hugs Red

Red: Blush

Shoyko: You certainly worked the poor angst muse hard!

Kairo: Giggles

Pika-chan: Happy ending! YAY!
Phantomness: Collapses on computer Yes…. it's over…

One really should not write fic in the wee hours of the morning before a chemistry final, but I had insomnia anyways, so Shrug

And it could technically be canon! WOOHOO! I RULE!