Chapter 1

It was always a momentous occasion when a new member of the Elite Four moved into the Sinnoh League headquarters, located in an old, ornate building in the small island town of Foento. The Sinnoh League Association oversaw official pokemon training activities throughout the region, managing the gyms and arranging yearly tournaments. But it also housed the Elite Four and League Champion, who had their own rooms in a separate wing of the castle.

On this warm autumn day, Sinnoh's top training specialists welcomed their newcomer, who had challenged and defeated one of the veterans. All of them were amazed by the boy's young age -- seventeen -- and his pokemon type of choice -- bug. Scoffed at by more experienced trainers as easy to defeat, and widely considered the starting type for nerdy elementary school boys, bug pokemon had never experienced a good battle reputation. This young upstart had to be a genius in handling them to make it all the way to Sinnoh's top ranks.

With this in mind, it was to everyone's surprise that the boy in question was a comely, haughty-looking thing, not at all like the typical bug-catcher. He carried a box up the winding staircase without so much as a grunt to Cynthia when she offered to help (or rather, have Flint help). But the boy's taciturn behavior must have been because of his parents, who trailed behind him with loud commentary. Mother kept bouncing around from subject to subject, between "look at that beautiful tapestry!" to "don't forget to buy some nice clothes for your battles, I see you didn't pack very many." The father, dressed in a suit, fumbled with a heavy suitcase and mumbled to himself.

The staircase gave way to a cozy sitting room, complete with plush furniture and a wide-screen TV mounted on the wall. Here, Lucian sat back in one of the armchairs, reading a novel, as he often did. He glanced up at the procession, but only the boy's father met his eyes. It was the briefest glance, and Lucian didn't get much from his expression other than that he was tired from the long flight of stairs.

Lucian went back to his book, lost in the pages until a loud sigh and flop upon the adjacent couch demanded his attention. Flint stared up at the ceiling, looking exasperated.

"Cynthia put you to work?" Lucian asked, amused at the redhead's exaggerated weariness.

"She told me to take the clown wig off," Flint lamented.

Lucian pushed up his lavender-tinted glasses, raising an eyebrow. "Cynthia?"

"No, Aaron's mom. Those people are somethin' else, I'm tellin' ya." He scratched at his tightly-curled locks. "Then she asked what kind of pokemon I train, so I told her, and she acted like it was no big deal. I mean, hello, fire is a hard element to work with, and I'm the first in generations to make it to the Elite ranks!"

"Mhm." Lucian calmly flipped a page of his novel.

"Infernape and rapidash aside, steelix are fucking brutal." Flint leaned back, resting his bare feet on the coffee table. "I'm just glad I learned some tips from Byron, but still. Lady don't know nothin'."

"That reminds me, I owe him a bronzor/bronzong battle," said Lucian. "And maybe you afterwards, Mr. Steelix?"

The red-haired Elite grinned. "Anyway, it's your turn to introduce yourself. Cynthia said his parents want to meet everyone, to know who their kid will be exposed to." He rolled his eyes. "Me and Bertha had our fun, so that leaves you."

"Did they like her?"

"Oh, yeah. A nice, mature influence, they said."

Lucian smirked. "Let's hope she doesn't influence him to take up smoking." He marked his page and rose, straightening his crimson jacket.

The family's voices became louder as Lucian strolled down the decorated hallway. He could hear them griping that a castle this size would isolate their son, that he would spend too much time alone with his pokemon.

"I have tons of friends!" came the boy's protest. A tune began to play, a distant, hollow sound, as if from a tiny speaker. "See, Bebe's calling me now!"

"Don't answer that when your mother's talking to you!" his father reprimanded.

Lucian winced. He'd never dealt well with loud noises, especially raised voices -- it reminded him of anger, hatred, and other negative emotions. He never raised his own voice, either. Sometimes others complained that he was too soft-spoken, but he would rather be perceived as a calm, deliberate person. Loud was not part of his Elite image.

Softly, he knocked on the open door. "Hello," he said as the two adults faced him. The boy's back was turned as he spoke into his cell phone.

"Are you the last Elite?" the mother -- pretty, slender, green hair in a neat bob -- asked.

"Aaron! Put that phone down!" the father -- hair thinning but still a commanding figure with his tall stature and dark suit -- ordered.

"Y-yes." Lucian flinched at their steady gazes as they looked over every inch of him. The woman nodded approvingly, probably at his pressed jacket and pants. "My name is Lucian."

"Aaron!" The man barked again, causing Lucian to jump. With a loud sigh, the young Elite told his friend he'd call back and flipped his phone shut. He glanced at Lucian, waved halfheartedly in greeting, and turned to unpack a box. He took after his mother, the same build and shade of hair.

"Don't give your senior that attitude, or we won't think twice about pulling you out of here and sending you to boarding school!" his father reprimanded. "You know the only reason you're here is because of our deal, so don't blow it!"

"I know!" Aaron snapped, flinging a heavy book from the box in front of him. It hit the floor with a dull thud to make his point. "I said I'll graduate, stop reminding me every two seconds!"

"We just want to make sure you do," his mother said in a gentler tone. "Of course, it'd be nice if you went to university instead of pursuing this pokemon business..."

The implications of her words struck a nerve with Lucian. "I went to college," he spoke up.

Three pairs of eyes turned to him. He pushed up his glasses, fidgeting with the book in his hands. "But I kept training pokemon, too. It was how I passed the time."

"And what's your specialty?" the lady asked.


Aaron's parents exchanged impressed looks. "Did you graduate? What was your major?"

"I did, and I studied literature and history. Mostly for my own interests... my family thought I might go into teaching, but I decided to become a professional pokemon trainer instead. I think I made the right choice. I certainly earn more by being in the Sinnoh League." He smirked.

Aaron's father bristled, the dark look in his eyes more fearsome than Cynthia's spiritomb. "We know he'll make a substantial income," his mother said quickly. "We just want him to keep his mind sharp. He nearly dropped out of high school to run off with some of these wild friends."

"Mom..." Aaron groaned, clapping a hand to his forehead.

"So we let him try out for this Elite trainer position on the promise he'd graduate," she finished. "Which means hiring a private tutor to come here... he can't attend school with all the scheduled matches he'll have."

"Huh," the father grunted. "Seems to me we've got a perfectly good tutor right here." He pointed at Lucian.

"Oh... I don't know about that..." the older Elite adjusted his glasses.

"Sure, you went to college. And, since you're so happy with your earnings as a trainer, you can do it for free."

"Ah... I--" Lucian started to protest.

"Why not? You won't have to make a special trip here from the mainland, so we won't have to pay your travel expenses." The man nodded, liking his brilliant idea more and more. "Yes, that settles it. You see to it that he passes his exams and earns enough credit to graduate by next spring."

"You can't just make him do that!" Aaron yelled. "He's got better things to do in his spare time than to tutor me for nothing!"

"Well, now he doesn't." He glared at Lucian, a look that sent chills down his spine. "And don't worry, we'll be checking on your progress."

"I..." It became harder to keep his cool around this man; no wonder Aaron gave off such a defiant air. "I'll do my best," Lucian said. He then excused himself so the family could finish unpacking.

He found Flint on the sofa still, talking on his cell phone, most likely to Volkner. Lucian frowned a little. It wasn't that he disliked or was unfamiliar with technology, but he'd never had a reason for a cell. He received emails from the Sinnoh League, and wrote old-fashioned letters to his mother...

"Mkay," Flint said into his phone. "No, I'll let you know. Right. Later." He flipped it shut and looked at Lucian as the latter sat beside him. "How was it?"

Lucian gave him a dumbfounded gaze, still rattled by the experience. "I... may have gotten myself into trouble."

Flint raised an arched red eyebrow.

Half an hour later, Lucian had calmed down by getting lost in his novel. Flint had wandered off, and the common room became Lucian's meditation spot once more. Of course, the presence of footsteps pulled him out of his relaxation. They weren't Flint's flip-flops nor Cynthia's heels -- definitely sneakers, and Bertha didn't wear sneakers...

"There you are." Aaron's youthful voice. Lucian turned around to find the boy with his hands on his hips, a scowl on his pretty face. "You really pissed off my dad, you know."

"What? Why?" Lucian rarely got upset. But to hear that he'd offended his new colleague's father when he'd been nothing but agreeable--

"He's a high school principal, and my mom teaches middle school," Aaron said. "And you go and scoff at teaching jobs like that. Way to go."

"I wasn't serious!" Lucian protested. "How was I to know?"

"Just watch what you say, college boy." Aaron spun around on his heel in a huff. "Geez..."

Lucian slumped in the sofa, book slipping from his fingers. Why did it seem that, on the rare occasion he did manage to speak to someone, all he accomplished was angering them? How could he be expected to tutor Aaron when the boy and his demanding parents were so insulted by him?

It was another day and a half before Lucian saw Aaron again. The newest Elite had spent his first evening alone in his room, the door closed -- left slightly ajar. It was assumed he spent the time unpacking and settling in, adjusting to his new surroundings. He didn't emerge for breakfast the following morning, however. Not until one o'clock was there any noise from his room: a loud blast of bouncy techno music.

"At least he has good taste," Flint approved. The Para Para soundtracks from his own room were common grounds for teasing, but Flint claimed he only played the genre to bother Volkner.

That evening, Lucian decided he would attempt to apologize. He and Aaron would be working together for awhile, as Elites and as tutor and student. He braced himself against the blaring music, rapping on the boy's door.

"Yeah?" came the answer. Lucian pushed it open slowly, wondering what state Aaron would be in for having holed up all day. To his surprise, the room was arranged with his belongings, relatively neat and organized. Aaron lay on his stomach in the made-up bed, fully dressed in yesterday's shorts and a fresh white t-shirt. A laptop was open before him, and his fingers tapped the keys, responding to an instant message window, Lucian saw. Aaron glanced up at him and said "hey" nonchalantly as he typed.

"Hi," Lucian said. "Are you settled in okay?"

"Yeah. What time is it?" He looked at the corner of his screen, then at the alarm clock by his bed. "Oh, wow. I didn't know it was this late already. Did I miss anything?" He sounded much more relaxed, probably from lying in bed all day.

"No, I just came to apologize," Lucian said. "For yesterday," he added, taking Aaron's lack of reply for confusion.

He clacked away, then minimized his window. "My dad? It's okay. Kind of funny, actually." He snickered. "He's such a hardass. Why do you think I tried out for the Elite Four?"

"Heh." Lucian chuckled, relieved. "So... when do you want to start your tutoring?"

Aaron groaned, rolling onto his back. "I don't. My friend Bebe's a computer whiz, so I'm counting on her to find me some answer keys and pre-written essays. We'll just make sure we've got a good cover story whenever my dad asks."

"That's not a very good idea," Lucian said. "I don't mind helping you, really."

"Imind. I've got better things to do." Aaron sat upright, his soft green hair mussed by rolling around. He frowned, looking troubled. "No offense to you. I suck at schoolwork. My future is with pokemon training, so I just have to fake it through high school to make my parents happy."

"Oh..." Surprised as he was by the apology. Lucian felt some pity. But he could tell there was no talking him out of it. "Well, as long as you have everything under control."

"Yeah." Aaron looked down at his monitor, at the blinking minimized window. He brought it up and typed away to its recipient.

"I'm sure you saw the kitchen on your tour," Lucian said. "So if you get hungry, help yourself."

"Okay." Aaron's eyes were glued to the screen, lost. Lucian stepped out, leaving him to his conversation. No wonder the boy was so thin, if slept all day and ate so little. Lucian didn't take him for a computer geek, though; Aaron gave off the impression that he only used it as a means of socialization. This was the age of social networking; when Lucian was in high school, a kid who spent his days and nights glued to a computer was shunned most horribly. Today, the teenager who didn't log into his digital space and check in with his circle was most uncool. Had ten years really made that much difference?

The time passed as usual at the Sinnoh League headquarters. A few hopeful trainers stumbled in from their trial at Victory Road, weary but eager for their final challenge. Aaron sent a couple of them back to the lobby, dashing all their dreams. No one at the castle could say they'd heard of a bug-type specialist in the Elite ranks before. It was all about tactics, Aaron told them -- many of his pokemon had the advantage of speed, and were quick to poison. Bug catcher children usually forgot these facts after so many defeats. Rather than train their bug-types to their fullest potential, they traded them for more obviously powerful pokemon. But Aaron, who loved his bugs for their beauty as well as their stealth, had been training them patiently for seven years. He was immensely proud of them.

Only once did Lucian ask the newcomer if he'd changed his mind about tutoring. Aaron told him that he'd already emailed his first exam, thanks to Bebe's assistance. Though he didn't approve, Lucian kept his thoughts to himself. This was Aaron's business, and if he got in trouble, it would be his responsibility. Besides, he didn't seem to want to spend time with his fellow Elites, as much as he hid in his room talking to his long-distance friends. Having Lucian tutor him was probably the last thing Aaron wanted.

"He's a good trainer, though," Flint said when Lucian approached him in the kitchen one evening, to ask what he thought of Aaron's educational cheating. "He said his future is with pokemon, so what's the harm in doing whatever it takes to get through high school?"

"It's not fair to those who really do try," Lucian said, somewhat stung by the words.

"No, the system itself isn't fair," argued Flint as he dug around in the fridge. "That stuff isn't relevant to real life, y'know? Especially when you're part of the Sinnoh Elite. At seventeen."

Lucian sighed. He knew it was just Flint's outlook, but he couldn't help feeling offended. "Ah, well," he said. "That's what I get for asking someone who never made it past junior high." He was teasing, of course, and Flint's look of mock horror made them both laugh.

He and the fire specialist may not have been exactly friends, and had nothing in common save Elite status, but it comforted Lucian to know that they always got along. That was Flint's vibrant personality, though. An outgoing person, he had no trouble talking to anyone... unlike Lucian.

"If you're so concerned, why not tell Cynthia?" the redhead suggested. "She's an academic type."

"And she takes learning very seriously," Lucian reminded him. "If I told her Aaron's cheating, she'd move to have the Association strip him of his rank."

"Oh yeah..." Flint nudged the refrigerator door shut with his elbow, carrying deli meats and mustard to the counter. "Wait, so you're saying it doesn't bother you as much as it would her?"

Lucian leaned back against the counter, contemplating. "Let's just say that I'm the type who is thrilled to see children enter a library of their own free will... while Cynthia is the type to drag them there, lock the door, and force them to listen to her read ancient Sinnoh mythology."

Flint doubled over the counter in laughter. "Her heart's in the right place?" he suggested.

"That is true..." Lucian adjusted his glasses.

"She needs to be on a poster or something. 'Read a Goddamn Book!'"

The older man chuckled. "You say the same about me, I'm sure."

Flint grinned. "Nah, yours is more like, 'Reading: It's Bringing Sexy Back.'"

He shook his head at the pop-culture reference. "I'm not a poster boy for sexiness, believe me."

"I dunno..." Flint drawled. "I get a lot of female trainers who are excited to defeat me so they can get to you..."

"For the challenge."

"Sure. Keep telling yourself that."

Lucian knew Flint was joking, in his way. Scrawny, anxiety-ridden bookworms were not considered sexy, regardless of intelligence, status, or grooming (the only things about which Lucian felt confident).

The calm around the castle did not last very long. One day, Lucian had been ready to go into town -- he was just putting on his coat in the foyer when the door burst open, the portly figure of Aaron's father striding in hurriedly. "Where is he?" he demanded. Dark eyes fell upon Lucian, narrowing.

"Is-- is something the matter?" Lucian asked, not realizing how stupid a question it was until he'd said it.

"I'll deal with you later," Aaron's father said quietly, menacingly. He marched on by. Lucian, suspecting the worst, tossed his coat back on the hanger and followed him.

"Aaron! Where are you?" the man boomed, as if he expected his son to just appear in front of him. This tirade did not go unnoticed by the nurses, attendants, and other members of the League's staff, most of whom ducked into hiding. Braver ones trailed behind Lucian to see the outcome.

The procession was soon met by Cynthia. The annoyance on her face made Lucian wonder if she'd be paged to confront the situation. "Just what is going on?" she asked coolly.

"I heard from Aaron's school, that's what!" his father snapped. "Everything he's turned in this month has been plagiarized!"

Lucian's heart sank to the pit of his stomach. It was Aaron's responsibility... but he suddenly felt enormous pity on the boy who would face the wrath of this man.

And Cynthia. "I see," she said gravely. "Please bring Aaron here," she said to an attendant by her side. In a matter of seconds, the green-haired boy came to the scene, looking entirely unperturbed.

"Do you have anything to say for yourself?" Cynthia asked him calmly.

The youngest Elite looked from her to the staff members to Lucian to his father. "Am I getting a raise?" he asked with a wry grin. "For my small winning streak already?" It was obvious to Lucian that Aaron suspected his doom; he was just trying to stay cool.

"You're packing up and coming back home, that's what!" his father shouted. "I knew I shouldn't have trusted a virtual classroom! Too easy to cheat!"

"What?" Aaron cried, his voice rising several octaves. "I didn't cheat!"

"Hacking into the teachers' files and turning in answer keys as your own work isn't cheating?"

"I did no such thing! I don't know anything about hacking!"

Lucian cringed as the shouting match grew louder. He could only imagine how previous arguments at Aaron's house went...

"Like I believe a word you say!" his father roared. "As if cheating isn't bad enough, now you've got breaking and entering on your record!"

"I do not, I'm telling you! If you'd listen to me once and awhile--"

"Oh, no! Don't give me that! Deal's off, boy, so get your stuff in about ten minutes, or I'll drag you out of here before you can say--"

"Wait!" Lucian could hardly believe that he'd spoken up, nor that everyone heard his normally quiet voice. But all eyes fell on him. Aaron's father's nostrils flared, and Lucian trembled. He couldn't help it.

"It's my fault," he said, the first thing that came to mind. No, stupid, don't say that! he screamed internally. "I-- I made my own answer keys, to test him from them. He may have gotten the file names mixed up. Actually, I think I did. I'm not good with computers... and he fell asleep after studying more than once, so I sent his work for him..." He looked futilely at Aaron. He was worse at lying than at using computers, actually.

The green-haired boy nodded. "Yeah. I just saw a file that said 'chapter six,' so I sent that one. I didn't realize it was Lucian's key..."

His father looked like he was buying it -- the red on his face faded as he considered it. But Cynthia seemed less convinced. "Did they trace the hack to Aaron's IP address?"

"They what?" the man repeated. "Uh... no, they didn't say that. Just that with the repeated perfect scores, it seemed fishy. And they suspected a hack attempt. It's happened before."

"Because I have a tutor!" Aaron argued. "Why d'ya thinkmy grades are better?"

"You still didn't send your own work!" his father rebutted.

"It was an accident! Besides, I've been busy with my job, you know!"

"Mm..." Cynthia spoke up. "It's true. He's a very skilled trainer."

"Your grades are still more important than playing with those oversized bugs!" Aaron's father declared.

The stark rage on Aaron's face at that moment was not missed by Cynthia, who stepped forward with a decisive click of her heels. "Don't forget what we do here at the Sinnoh League headquarters," she said with icy calmness, taking the man's arm. "As for Aaron's classes, I'll have a look at these files on his computer myself, and I'll verify the difference between Lucian's keys and Aaron's own work." She looked at them both, chin lifted in a superior, businesslike expression.

"See that I get a copy of them," Aaron's father said.

"Of course. I'm sure you've got a schedule to keep, so leave your son's education to me. I take these matters very seriously." She led him away, heels clacking as she walked.

Aaron breathed a sigh of relief, shoulders slumping. Ignoring Lucian and the baffled looks from the staff members, he turned and headed in the opposite direction, up the stairs. Lucian followed him, wanting desperately to leave the scene of that horrendous fabrication.

"Goddammit, Bebe!" Aaron yelled once inside his room. "I thought she'd put a little effort into it!" He paced agitatedly, looking ready to smash a window or break the nearest fragile object (and his laptop was in plain sight).

"I--" Lucian started to say from the doorway, reaching out a hand, as if it would provide some solace.

"And you!" Aaron growled, glaring at him. "Is that the best excuse you could come up with? What do you want, anyway?"

Something snapped inside Lucian, something that was fed up with this selfish brat and his disrespectful attitude. "How about a thank you?" he retorted, more loudly than expected. "I just saved your position!"

Aaron blinked, clearly surprised. "By babbling about some lame excuse? Cynthia's the one who did anything! She's out there right now convincing him I'm innocent!"

"At least I said something!" Lucian yelled back, his voice even louder. "You standing there saying 'no I didn't' to every accusation just made him madder!"

"Don't tell me how to deal with my father! I know what I'm doing!"

"Really? Seems to me like you're just coasting along, letting others do everything for you!"

Aaron gaped, words sticking in his throat as he tried to form a counterattack. "I-- you-- I do not!"

"There you go again!" Lucian flung out an arm, exasperated. "You've got no excuse because it's true!"

Aaron sputtered again. Standing there in the middle of his vast, strangely clean room, he looked somewhat helpless... for a second. "Who asked you to try and help me anyway?" he spat.

"Believe me, it'll be the last time!" Lucian decided.

The abrupt clop of a high-heeled boot silenced them both. Cynthia stood a few feet away from Lucian, a blond eyebrow raised. He moved aside as she approached the doorway to speak with them both. "I've sent your father on his way," she reported. "I don't know if I buy your 'mixed-up answer key' story or not, so I'll let this incident slide. But I will be enforcing some one-on-one tutoring. Say, locked in the study? Without any computers?" Though the question leant itself to suggestion, her message that this was mandatory rang loud and clear.

"Alright," Aaron mumbled.

"I don't thinkyou two are conspirators," Cynthia said to him. "Mainly because I've seen Lucian around the castle on his own, when I know you're either in your room or in a battle. So I'll give you a choice. Someone's going to oversee your studies, whether it's tutoring or just watching you do your homework. You can have him, or you can have me."

Lucian gulped, imagining Cynthia standing over Aaron, holding a whip as she made him read through the old texts in the castle's library.

Aaron didn't seem to like either option. He fixed the Champion with a cold stare before muttering, "I'll take him."

"Very well," said Cynthia. "Tomorrow night you can begin. Because tonight you're both going to produce these answer keys to send to your father. Understand?"

"I'll take care of it," Lucian spoke up. "I'm really sorry for all this..."

"I should hope oneof you is. Don't give the Sinnoh Elite a bad reputation." With a haughty sniff, she turned and clacked away.

"Man," Aaron said in a low voice. "What a bitch."

Though Lucian agreed, he couldn't help bringing up a point. "But she's giving you another chance. She takes schooling just as seriously as your parents. She could have had you disbanded from the League."

"Whose side are you on?" Aaron demanded loudly, hands on his hips.

"I'm just saying, don't be so ungrateful!" Again Lucian's voice rose. "Besides, weren't you just talking about how she was the one who convinced your father that you're innocent?"

"I thought she was being nice! Why is everyone here so freaking uptight?"

"No one's like that! If you'd come out of your room once and awhile--"

"Stop telling me what to do!"

"I will when you stop arguing with me!"

Aaron stared at him, his green eyes narrowed and his slender chest heaving from the strain of so much heated bickering. Lucian stared back as he waited for a response, brushing back a strand of hair that had fallen in front of his face. It took him a moment to realize how hard he was breathing as well. What had just happened? He never lost his temper...

"Fine," Aaron said, folding his arms and turning his head to the side. Then he marched to his bookshelf, pulled out a thick text, and handed it to Lucian. "Here. I'll make up some answers, you do some keys. Chapters six through nine."

"I don't want you to be mad at me," Lucian said, more gently as he thought about it. "We'll have to work together from now--"

"I'll be less mad at you if you take this and go," Aaron interrupted him. "Bad enough I gotta spend all night doing a month's worth of homework, at least leave me alone before I have to spend every night with you."

Rage clouded Lucian's mind again. The nerve of him! "Fine," he said tersely, backing out of the room and into the hallway. "Just don't forget to do it all."

"Yes, sensei," Aaron replied with heavy sarcasm, slamming the door shut.

Lucian gaped at the door in his face, now sputtering as much as the boy had been earlier. "You-- don't-- you're so immature!" he finally shouted.

"Know-it-all prick!" Aaron yelled back from inside.

With a disgusted snort, Lucian stomped down the hallway. Still blind with fury, he was only slightly aware of Flint sticking his head out of his room, mouth open in utter shock. "What is going on?" he asked.

"Ugh!" was all Lucian managed to answer, marching back to his bedroom and slamming his own door. He tossed the book on his desk, but it took several minutes for him to catch his breath and clear his mind before he was able to look at it. Some easy high-school-level problems would calm his nerves, surely...

The text covered trigonometry, a subject with which Lucian was familiar, though he didn't particularly enjoy it. It would be simple once he refreshed his memory, just monotonous. The answers to odd-numbered questions were already listed in the back of the book, so it would be easy to produce an answer key for each chapter. He didn't know how Aaron was going to make his own answers, however, but that was hisproblem. If only he'd let Lucian stay so they could share the text...

Lucian hadn't worked out two problems before his mind started wandering, musing about Aaron's behavior. He was probably just frustrated – he'd escaped his parents' rule by moving to Foento, only to have his father storm in and Cynthia jump down his throat. And now he'd have twice as much work, with school and battles, and less time to spend socializing online.

His moods were so unpredictable, though. He'd gone from annoyed on his first day, to pleasantly agreeable, to quietly self-absorbed, to downright explosive. Were these a teenager's mood swings? Lucian had never been so unpredictable in his youth, and he kind of thought that any intelligent person knew how to control himself, even during those tumultuous adolescent years...

Then again, Lucian had always brushed aside or bottled up his own negative feelings. Not that he ever had much to feel bad about; he came from a good family, he graduated from one of Sinnoh's top schools, he had powerful psychic pokemon and was ranked highest of the Elites, just under Cynthia...

If anything, he could be upset at his lack of close relationships. But he'd sacrificed those chances to obtain his status, and he stood by his decision.

Not that there was anyone who would want to be close to him.

Their loss, though. He was educated, well-groomed, polite, and not that unattractive.

So why didn't any of these girls Flint had told him about ever say anything to him, aside from complimenting his battle style?

Lucian removed his glasses and rubbed his eyes. He was thinking too much, he had to focus on trigonometry and at least try to be a good influence on Aaron.

Aaron. That selfish little brat... even his specialization in bug-types seemed like cheating. Taking advantage of speed and flight like that. Poison the opponent first, flit about to avoid hits, then wait for the toxins to do in the challenging pokemon. Was that any way to uphold the Elite Four's reputation as proficient trainers?

Actually, Lucian thought, it did seem clever in its own way. Challengers would expect an easy win against bug-types, only to be overwhelmed by Aaron's skill.Overwhelming was a good word to describe any experience with Aaron. Lucian had expected him to be a nice young man eager to learn the ropes of Elitehood from his seniors. Instead, he had actually succeeded in breaking down Lucian's careful composure, drawing out such raw emotion like that.

It had felt so strange, yet freeing. To be able to scream like that, to have his heart race... exhilarating. Aaron, too, those green eyes keen and venomous, that slender chest throbbing with the weight of his passionate row...

It was almost...

Lucian shook his head and put his glasses back on. There was no way he enjoyed that uncontrollable, heated argument. Not at all.

He stared down at the trigonometry problems, but the numbers and lines were meaningless. He kept remembering Aaron's intense voice, the scowl that didn't seem to mar his pretty face. Try as he might to push aside these memories and concentrate on math, the things he'd seen and felt kept haunting him, bothersome but alluring distractions.

Author's note: This is delicious fun. I really enjoy their personalities.
Further chapters are on their way deserving of the rating. I just like building up to it.