Disclaimer: I don't own anything.

Red is a failure in nobody's eyes but his own.

Red always wanted to be the hero when he was growing up. He wanted to be the person everyone looked up to, the person who everyone admired and gossiped about during parties and stuff. He wanted to catch a bunch of super-cool Pokémon and travel the world with them, doing such deeds that everyone couldn't help but take notice of him – he wouldn't be little Red, bully magnet anymore, but Red, Pokémon master and hero extraordinaire.

He knew that he'd become a hero one day, and was determined to act the part from the very beginning. He was actively friends with his Poliwhirl, because that was what the heroes on TV talked about all the time. He never gave up, even in the face of overwhelming odds, because the hero would always succeed, no matter how impossible it looked. Then one day, he heard that group of black-clad men chasing after a rare Pokémon, and he had to battle it. He jumped into battle headfirst with the mysterious Pokémon after that other guy just stepped back, and was sure that he was going to beat it, until the Pokémon suddenly reversed things and kicked his butt.

The other guy, who Red later found out was Green, told him to learn his limits.

Red had just realized that he was never going to live up to his vision.

Things only continued in a similar vein as time went by. While Red could easily capture the Pokémon around Pallet Town with minimal trouble, the farther away from home the more he felt less like a hero and more like a scared little kid who had no idea what he was supposed to do. Sure, people praised Red's ingenuity in battle, and told him that he'd go far. While before the mysterious Pokémon incident, Red would have basked in their praise, now he knew that his ingenuity was only flashes of lucky inspiration backed up by TV-hero bluster.

He tried his hardest to be a hero, he really did. When it came to things like stopping a wild Pokémon attack, or catching another Pokémon, Red was fine. But when it came to the big things, like Team Rocket attacking, Red knew that he couldn't stop them. He couldn't stop them from capturing the three legendary birds, couldn't stop them from catching and electrocuting him, and couldn't stop them from fusing those selfsame birds together to attack. It was only the luck of his inspiration that carried him through his battle with Lieutenant Surge, and only Green and Blue standing by him that managed to let the three of them win the final battle.

After Red won the Pokémon League championships, he really thought he had a shot at making his goal again. Red had managed to win this one, in front of hundreds of people, and without any outside help besides his own instincts and research into Green, hoping to become more like him. He immediately started training his own Pokémon almost religiously, allowing himself to dream again that he could actually become that hero he always wanted to be. It was all wrecked the instant Red accepted the challenge from that guy Bruno and refused to follow the groups evil plans, like a true hero would have done.

For his pains, he was frozen into a living statue, and wasn't even able to get out on his own power. It took another guy to break him out, and that selfsame guy to give him the weapons he needed to defeat Bruno the second time around. Red knew that it was going to set the pace from that time on, his weakness and inability to complete tasks on his own.

The same types of events occurred almost regularly. Red promised that girl, from so long ago, that he'd become the Viridian Gym leader – and let her down when he was unable to take the position due to the numbness in his body (and that had been contracted from his stupidity and weakness in front of Lorelei). He went up to the hot springs on Mount Silver, only to almost miss helping all his friends avoid a grisly demise at the hands of this new, controlled Team Rocket. He couldn't even tell that Yellow was a girl. How much worse could he be?

When he goes out, he feels like everyone knows his secret desire and shame, as they're always trying to console him. "You're a real hero!" he hears. "I want to be just like you when I grow up!" they say to him. He knows that it is all empty phrases – who would call a failure like him a hero? No, Red is a hero-wannabe, and everyone knows his shame. They probably pity him behind his back. Red hates that.

Perhaps it is the false pity that spurs Red on to further and greater tries, hoping against hope that one day, the false admiration he knows he sees in their eyes will turn to the real thing. He actively goes out to battle menaces to prove his worth to himself, despite knowing that a hero rejoices when times are peaceful. Failure. He stays around his strong, caring friends who are obviously heroes, in order to make himself look better, even though a hero should be able to stand on his own. Failure. He trains his Pokémon obsessively, hoping that their strength will be able to cover up the mistakes he only avoids making through his inspiration, never knowing when it will fade. Failure, failure, failure!

As if rubbing salt into the wound, Red learns that he is considered to be the leader of his group of friends. The thought makes him laugh in self-pity. A failure like him a leader amongst so many more heroes? Red can't solve any of their problems, or help them out, anything that a hero does with his friends.

Red cannot ease Silver's longing for his family or comfort him, watching instead as the boy turns to Blue and Gold for help. He cannot cure Blue's terminal fear of birds or soothe her when she cannot find her family, turning away shamed as she instead unburdens herself upon Green. He cannot teach Gold the inspiration he has, or how to hold everyone together, as he never knew himself. He cannot understand Chris' longing for recognition as herself until it is too late and she is turning to Gold and Silver. He cannot do anything for Green's feelings of anger when Red, like his usual, failure of a self, messes up the other boy's plans, except battle, battle, battle, and hope it will go away.

The worst failure of all, though, is how he fails Yellow on a daily basis. He knows the girl admires him, and she does so for no better reason than the fact that Red still spouts off the lessons of friendship and valuing others that he learned from wanting to be a hero. Yellow is close to him, too close, and while Red knows that he is not a hero and so Yellow should have nothing to fear from being around him, everybody else seems to want to mock and spite his efforts, and might hurt Yellow just to show how much of a failure Red is.

Red knows very well that a failure like him doesn't deserve a girl as pure, as clean and innocent as Yellow is. Yellow deserves someone who can protect her reliably, not a boy whose battle plans hinge on flashes of inspiration from random places. Yellow deserves more than Red can ever give her, and because of that Red can't help but give her everything in his power to grant. For even if Red is a failure, hearing Yellow's lies when she tells him that he is a hero seems so much sweeter than hearing anyone else's.

One day, Red knows, Yellow will find out exactly where Red got his speeches from, and she will leave him. Even though Yellow knows that Red is not a hero, she admires him for his sentiment – at least, she will until she finds out that Red is merely spouting words that he thinks heroes say, even if the boy really means them. At that point, Yellow will go off to find a person much more deserving of her than Red is, and the failure is not sure whether he dreads the day that he loses such a purifying influence or eagerly anticipates the day one of his friends finally finds someone who she deserves.

Red brushes off the false praise that people give him easily – he knows he is not a hero, they know that he is not a hero, and it is only a nice, polite lie between friends. When he saves people from Pokémon attacks and teaches kids how to catch Pokémon, he knows he is not a hero, but only trying to do what any decent person would do. After all, heroes don't waste their time with the people they protect when they face villains, and Red has failed against his fair share of villains.

Green, Red knows, is more of a hero than Red will ever be, and he is the person who should be called the leader of their group. He finds comfort in Green's lies, almost as much comfort as he finds in Yellow's, because even if they're just telling him what he wants to hear, Red does want to hear it. Green is the one who holds Blue close, who holds Silver close, who holds Gold and Chris close, Yellow is strong enough to be on her own, and Red does not fit anywhere into the equation. Green is the one who is able to take down the enemy without outside help.

Red is a failure in nobody's eyes but his own, but his utter conviction that he is a failure taints his viewpoint until he is sure that everyone can see his shame.

Red is too preoccupied with his failure to realize that he has become the hero that he set out to be.

And nobody will ever be able to convince him otherwise.

A/N: Well, hi. In case if you haven't found out by now, I'm Mage, and this marks my seventh - and final - installment in my Pokemon Special character pieces. I'd like to take a moment to bore you with a bit of reflection - although if you don't want to read it, I'd be perfectly happy if you just clicked the little purple button in the lower left-hand corner and let me know what you've been thinking.

This set of character pieces was inspired by a conversation with a dear friend who no longer writes for FanFiction, Tamara Raymond. She had recently gotten me interested in the manga, and I had read all I could find - a.k.a. through the Fire Red/Leaf Green arc. Our discussion quickly turned to Silver, who, despite being nowhere near as strong as what we called 'the original three' to be, had completely caught our interest due to reasons I'm not going to write here because it might spoil the Fire Red/Leaf Green arc for someone.

When I got home from our little outing, I started thinking about Silver. Silver was a pretty cool character, who handled his kidnapping and facing his kidnapper a lot better than Blue did (although that's probably because he was too young to remember the trauma of being ripped away from his family). A thought struck my mind - nobody is ever as strong as they pretend to be in front of their loved ones, and so I sat down that night and wrote a piece with a Silver who wasn't nearly as strong or together as he wanted to be, but was willing to overcome that in order to protect his 'family'. I posted it that night on LiveJournal, and went to bed content. The next day, I thought 'If Silver's hiding all that behind his face, what do you think Gold's actually thinking?' and the rest was history.

Initially, I didn't think I was going to write anything besides just Gold, Silver, and Chris. After I finished the one about Gold (which actually was finished before the one about Blue, but posted later due to a timetable of sorts), I started in on the one about Chris, but after finding her hard to write, decided to put the project on hold for awhile. About a week later, I started thinking about the fairytale Rapunzel, and what would have happened if the witch had caught on beforehand and moved the princess instead of cutting off her braids, specifically the line 'Once upon a never-time, the prince called for Rapunzel and waited for hours, never realizing that the witch had caught on and moved the girl'. I began to collect other snippits of fairytales that could have gone horribly wrong - or horribly right - and when I finally sat down with them and looked them over I said to myself, 'You know, you could write a story that fit Blue pretty well with this.' I began considering the other characters that I had initially discarded, and realized that they were a lot easier for me to figure out than Chris, causing me to start in on all the characters.

If you're new to my series, I hope that you go to my profile and read the rest of them. Maybe you'll find something you like. I'd like to thank the people who have read and reviewed these on a regular basis - you know who you are, and your encouragements have been very precious to me, causing me to force myself to finish instead of just letting the project rot.

Well, enough from me. This is Mage, signing out.