Chapter 4

At the end of the chapter, Lucian took a moment to pause in his reading, to sip his cappuccino and take in his surroundings. The trip to Sunyshore with Flint for the weekend had been a very good idea. Uncharacteristically, Lucian had agreed to accompany Flint and Volkner to one of their favorite nightclubs last night. Flint had suggested a number of activities he thought might interest Lucian more: a foreign film fest, a trip to the art museum – but Lucian didn't want to put Volkner, who looked bored by just the mention, off. Please just do what you'd normally do, Lucian had said, and I'll go along. So Volkner had shrugged and brought up one of the clubs.

It was loud, chaotic, full of seizure-inducing lights and tantric music. While Flint and Volkner disappeared into the crowd to dance or flirt or whatever one does at these places, Lucian stayed by the bar and sipped martinis. He tried not to think about how Aaron would feel right at home at this place, and how he must stick out sorely in his pressed suit.

Then a young lady had come up to him and told him he looked nice, and had to lean in very close to do so over the music. And another asked him to dance several times. He had to refuse as politely as he could without saying that joining that crowd of close bodies would give him a panic attack. She went away with his phone number instead. Yet another girl bought him a drink and rubbed his arm quite a lot, and at that point Volkner came over and asked Lucian how he did it. Lucian seemed to have earned the sullen electric leader's respect.

He chuckled a little to himself, taking another sip of his cappuccino. He felt quite grateful to Flint for inviting him, and for not giving any indication of their talk about Aaron a few days before. In fact, the insightful Flint from that day had been replaced by the usual boisterous, partying version – although he did give Lucian a nod and pat on the back right before they went to the club. Flint really was a good friend; Lucian suspected he was the one that held Volkner together a good deal of the time.

Heh, am I reading too much into things again? he thought, glancing down at the book he should have been absorbing. He didn't know a thing about Volkner, just what Flint had said here and there, and that his piercing blue eyes revealed a curious depth behind his brooding exterior–

Lucian raised his head at that thought. Maybe getting over Aaron wouldn't be so hard.

But he and Aaron were going to have to resolve things after he returned to Foento. Once back at the Elites' castle, Flint slunk off to his room to nap. Lucian yawned, but his mind raced, as usual, meaning sleep would be impossible.

But first, time to wind down after that chaotic weekend. He changed clothes, sat at his desk and flipped through a novel to reset his nerves, found himself gazing out the window instead... He knew Aaron wasn't just going to come to him. Not like Aaron genuinely missed him over the weekend, Lucian realized bitterly. You want to talk to him, go track him down, idiot.

The youngest Elite typed away at his laptop when Lucian knocked on his open door. "Hey," he greeted with a brief grin. "You survived partying with Flint? How was it, I want to know what to expect."

"Not bad," Lucian admitted truthfully. "I got a few phone numbers."

Aaron's head snapped up from the laptop with more attentiveness. "Wow, really? Nice." That smile didn't indicate any jealousy at all, more like amusement.

Lucian drew in a breath softly, telling himself to be brave. "So, you and I should straighten things out, I think."

"What things?" Aaron's fingers clacked on his keypad rapidly before he turned around in his seat to face Lucian fully. "I didn't think there was anything... you know, that was a problem."

Lucian shut the bedroom door quietly. "I just..." he began uncomfortably. "I'm not the casual sex kind of person. And you seem that way, how you rushed over to my room right before that last challenger, and said spontaneity is best. And that's well and good but... I don't think I can do that without having a meaningful relationship."

Aaron looked a little embarrassed, or perhaps annoyed. "Yet you went clubbing with Flint and scored some phone numbers? Newsflash: none of those people are looking for relationships."

"You don't know that. Especially when you've never been clubbing," Lucian said crossly. Teenagers.

"I have too!"

Lucian held up his hand. "The point is, if that's the way it's going to be, then we have to stop. I want a lot more out of a situation than just some spontaneous sex whenever you'rein the mood."

Aaron shrugged. "I dunno, I just thought it was fun. And you loosened up a lot, you could use some fun."

"Well, not everyone is in it just for fun." Lucian frowned, well aware that he needed to loosen up. A know-it-all kid didn't need to remind him.

Aaron just shrugged again. "Probably awkward for Elites to date anyway, right? Like they say about office romance. If it goes bad, the whole operation gets fucked up... and it's not doing any good right now, the way you've gotten so worked up about it. You kinda flaked on that last challenger–"

"That was your fault!" Lucian cried. "If someone snuck a handjob on you minutes before you had a challenger, you wouldn't battle them very well, either!"

Aaron grinned. "Still pretty funny."

Lucian adjusted his glasses, taking deep breaths before his anger exploded, like the first time they'd fought. It wasn't worth it, not anymore. "So I guess that's that. Congratulations on keeping your grades up, though."

"Hell yes, there's no way I want to go back to regular high school after I've come this far. I'm gonna pass and graduate and focus on my Elite training 100%."

"That's good to hear. See you later." And with that, Lucian opened Aaron's door and left his bedroom for the last time.

It wasn't that difficult to get over it over the next couple of days. Things at Foento remained blissfully calm until a challenger showed up. With his old characteristic cool detachment, Lucian started to walk to his battle chamber when an idea hit him. An evil idea suited more for Flint or Volkner. Lucian smirked to himself at their imagined approval and strode to Aaron's arena.

"Wh–" Aaron looked shocked to see his colleague approaching purposefully. "What are you doing in here? Go get ready for that challenger... unless you're that confident I'll win."

Lucian snagged Aaron's hand and pulled him close to his body in the blink of an eye. "Oh, you just might. But I had to tell you something that couldn't wait."

Aaron squirmed a little, but not with enough force to escape. "Is that so?"

"Yes." Lucian spoke close to his ear, running his hands along the younger trainer's slender sides, down to his rear. "I changed my mind. You taught me a few things too, you know. Things about casual sex that I'm glad to know now."

"Yeah? You still talk too much." Aaron pressed his groin close to Lucian's. "Show me what you've learned after the battles."

"Mm... no, I'd rather do it now." Lucian slipped his hand between their bodies, giving Aaron's rapidly hardening bulge a squeeze.

"Wha–? Are you insane? They'll be here any second! Nnnh..." His hands pushed Lucian's shoulders feebly while his hips grinded welcomingly in his hand.

"No self-control. You have to be aware of that in a battle." The psychic-type master nibbled his junior's earlobe.

"Look who's talking..." Aaron seized the fondling hand, but only to lead Lucian behind a giant boulder that served as part of the forest-y decoration of the area, where he could unzip him and give him a handjob properly. Aaron gleefully licked at his neck in between moans. "God, yes... see what I mean? This is so hot... so much better..."

"Mmhm," was all Lucian said in agreement, focusing on his grasp and rhythm. Funny how it seemed routine by this point, just another skill he'd learned. No need to think about how it made him feel, just do it. It didn't even occur to him to kiss Aaron anywhere, because he no longer wanted to. This was an enormous weight off Lucian's fragile shoulders.

And Aaron didn't realize a thing, all he did was cling and moan and utter half-formed curses. "Fuck, I'm... fuck..." He rocked his lithe hips furiously and spilled all over Lucian's hand, groaning into his shoulder. Still hot, Lucian thought briefly. But alas.

The door burst open and a young woman's voice called out with confidence. "Are you ready for this?!"

"Shit!" Aaron hissed. "What do I do?!"

"Hello?" the challenger called out. "Anyone home?"

Aaron just stared at Lucian dumbly, those oft-wanton green eyes now wide with shock. Lucian calmly wiped his own hand with the handkerchief from his breast pocket, not offering it. "You'd better pull up your pants and get out there," he said softly, matter-of-factly.

Awkwardly, Aaron hiked up his boxers followed by his fitted orange pants, then took a wobbly step around the corner. "Dammit legs," he mumbled, trying to get his stride back for marching to the center of the arena. "Oh, sorry," he said loudly to the challenger, clearing his throat at his wavering voice. "Just, uh, getting my pokemon completely prepared! Are you ready to see just how deadly bug pokemon can be? And beautiful?" His voice dropped off like he muttered another curse, likely at fudging his speech.

From behind the boulder, Lucian listened to the battle. It suddenly occurred to him he hadn't yet watched Aaron with his pokemon. He sneaked a few glances, doing his best not to move too much and be noticed. Time to see just how skilled the newest Elite truly was.

Not very skilled today, as all of Aaron's bugs fell to the challenger's poisoned infernape, with a little help from her luxray. Lucian couldn't help but smirk at his revenge.

After she'd left, Lucian stepped out to see Aaron glaring at a pokeball in his hand. "You did that on purpose," he said bitterly.

"You were right. It was funny," Lucian replied.

Aaron stared at him in utter disbelief. No snappy comeback this time.

"And since we're even, now it's over," continued Lucian.

He defeated the challenger after a rigorous battle. She had an expertly trained, well-rounded team, but Lucian's pokemon were just a little stronger. And perhaps also his willpower. He congratulated her for making it this far, and said he hoped to see her again soon.

Later, privately, he told Flint what he'd done. Flint burst into loud laughter and slapped Lucian's back with definitive approval.

Cynthia was known to train her team against one another, playing on each of their strengths and weaknesses. As one of the few League champions to not specialize in a certain type, the National Pokemon Association had their eye on her frequently, always interested in her methods and matches. And as a long-running undefeated champion, she had started to gain worldwide recognition. Whomever could take her title would indeed be a master of battle.

Lucian had challenged her once. His newly-reclaimed resolve led him to seek her out in her arena for a rematch.

"Lucian, hello," she greeted him in a surprisingly friendly tone. "Can I help you with something?"

"Yes, actually," he began. "I have something I'd like to ask you. Tell you, I should say."

"Oh?" Cynthia asked. "Actually, I should go first."

That took Lucian aback. For all their history, they had never prefaced a conversation with the need to each say something.

"I'm sorry I was tough on you," continued Cynthia. "Just under a lot of stress lately, battling and traveling and dealing with various things... one of those being a new Elite with an attitude problem about his schoolwork, but he's really shaped up these past few weeks. You did good."

Lucian frowned a bit. "Thank you, I gave it my best shot. The rest is up to him."

"And I know you two had a thing. I picked up the hints here and there. And while I can't say I approve of inter-league dating, especially in such close quarters as we're in here, I think your influence must be part of Aaron's transformation. So I wish you two well. And, honestly, I hope it makes you happy. I..." She faltered for a second. "I always did want to see you happy."

The sting in Lucian's heart was as precise as a sharp arrow. "Then you don't know. It wasn't much of a thing. He wasn't that interested and I ended it last week because it was too complicated."

"Oh..." Cynthia's face softened. "I'm sorry to hear that, I really am."

"It's all right, but thank you." It was often easy for Lucian to forget what he had once felt for her. Cynthia was much more his equal, but her focus was outward rather than inward; the social scholar as opposed to the secluded psychic.

"So what did you want to tell me?" she asked curiously.

Lucian hesitated, unwilling to break their truce when they'd finally come to one. "I... want to challenge you again."

She blinked, trim blonde eyebrows raising in surprise. "Well... that's a surprise. But very well. I accept, Lucian. Tomorrow?"

He nodded. "Tomorrow."

Cynthia extended her hand with a faint smile. "You're getting a lot better, but we'll just see how it goes."

He shook it, more congenial than formal. "Yes, we shall."

Outside her arena, Aaron was leaned against the wall, waiting for Lucian. "You're challenging her for championship?" he asked incredulously, even before Lucian could ask what he was doing there. "Why?"

"Why not? I feel I can win this time," Lucian said coolly, adjusting the cuffs of his crimson jacket.

"So she knew?"

Lucian fixed the younger trainer with a look. "You were eavesdropping? What do you want, Aaron?"

Aaron stuck his hands in his orange pants pockets, shuffling his feet. "I dunno, just wondered... how you're doin'..."

"I'm fine. And I have the most important match of my career tomorrow, so I'm going to take my pokemon in for a thorough exam."

"Hey, um... if you become champion, I'll have to challenge you someday. I'm going to get up to your level."

"That's a worthy goal." Lucian looked over Aaron again in his tailored combee outfit. Funny how he didn't feel the same anymore, and it only took a few days. Funny if his relationship with Cynthia just might be mirrored in the one with Aaron, a champion and a challenger.

He had learned a great deal of things that month.

Author's Note: Well, I–

I figured out the closure for this long ago. Just forgetful, just made a few poor life choices and stopped writing for a time.

Thanks for reading! It makes me happy. :)