All day at work the phone refuse to stop ringing. Since I knew that I was no match for N's superior pokemon-rearing skills, I grudgingly volunteered to man the telephone while he took care of business outside with Mr Morgan. Most of the callers were children, mumbling and shouting to their parents for instructions on what to say, eager to get their long-abandoned pokemon back for the holidays. I was tempted to whip out the old 'not just for Christmas' lecture, before I caught myself and pressed my palm to my face. The influence of old people in the workplace was clearly rubbing off on me. One boy kept calling about his poliwhirl then hanging up before I had the chance to tell him about it. After five consecutive ten-second calls, my patience was wearing thin.
"What now?" I snapped down the receiver.
"Silver!" Blue replied, scandalised.
"Oh. Sorry." I coughed awkwardly. "Wait, why are you calling me at work anyway?"
"You weren't picking up your cell."
I recalled my beat-up, second hand phone left precariously on a spot on the kitchen counter where it was least likely to be leaked upon by faulty water pipes or not the quite rainproof ceiling. "I have to let it charge sometimes," I said. "What do you want?"
"Well that's a fine 'hello' if I ever heard one," she said irritably. "Do you have Green's new landline number? He forgot to give it to me."
"Obviously not on me, since I haven't got my phone."
"Well could you call him when you get home? Tell him to ring me."
I paused, trying to wrap my head around her logic. "Can't you just call him on his cell?"
"No! It's the principle," Blue said, exasperation evident in her tone. "I can't call on his phone to ask for his phone number! Anyway, I shouldn't have to. He was the one who forgot to tell me."
"You know I really don't understand you."
"You don't have to understand to obey."
As much as I hated playing the role of messenger, I dutifully wasted several pokedollars punching a number I hoped never to have to call into my phone. After a few tortuous rings, over which I tried desperately to think of all possible ways to defect the torrent of teasing that would no doubt come my way, the noise abruptly went dead in my ears and for a moment I thought my cell had broken. I was about to hang up when I heard the very faintest of snuffles. Listening hard, I realised that my phone wasn't dead. It was breathing.
"Hello?" I said, thoroughly confused.
"Hello, how are you?" someone instantly replied.
"...Who is this?"
I choked, knowing that I'd heard that gravelly voice somewhere before. "Why am I talking to you?" I demanded, unable to think of a better way of putting it on the spot.
"You called me," Red said, and I had to admit he had a point. "Who are you?"
"It's Silver! And isn't this Green's house?"
"Yeah, it is."
"Then why are you answering the phone?"
"I live here." Red spoke flatly, as if it was obvious and I was simply stupid.
"What – when did this happen?"
"Green wanted to come back and apologise to Professor Oak, so I went with him," he said. "As somebody's partner it is important to be supportive."
"I – oh. Well. Whatever. I-Is Green there?" I asked.
I waited for him to elaborate but instead found myself listening inanely to Red's soft breathing above the silence. My palms were sweating. I wiped them on my jeans before continuing. "Well, when he gets back could you tell him to phone Blue? If he doesn't, I'm the one who has to suffer the consequences."
"Okay. I'm going to write it down so I don't forget." Red replied, adding after a slight pause, "I'm quite forgetful."
"Right." I leaned against the counter, almost hitting my head off a protruding cupboard in the process. I felt a little awkward listening to shuffles, the protests of an opening drawer and the quiet clatter of pens, so in a last-ditch attempt I made a wild stab at conversation. "So... you worked things out then?"
"Actually I stopped going to the gym," Red replied. Silence took over once again as I wasn't sure what to say, and it was up to Red to break it. "That was a joke," he explained. "I don't know what the exact definition of having 'worked things out' is, but we're okay for now, I think. Who was it you wanted him to call?"
"I wrote it down," Red said after a pause. "Is that all you needed?"
"Yeah-" I did a double-take as the line suddenly went dead and was replaced by a constant buzzing. I stood there expressionless for a while, wondering if there was something wrong with the connection. Then, a falsely cheerful voice announced, "The other person has cleared". I set my phone down on the counter, slightly afraid to risk calling back. Talking to Red was like doing an interview I hadn't practised for, and for a job I knew nothing about. I began to think that perhaps I had underestimated Green.
I wondered what he meant when he said things were 'okay'. Was I okay? I scrolled through my contact, my fingers guiding me to Gold's number before I had a chance to think. He picked up on the second ring.
"Hello?" How refreshing; a person who let's you know when they're listening.
"Are we okay?" I asked.
"Um, yeah? Yeah, I think we are," he replied, clearly confused.
"All right. Good. Good." I took a deep breath. "I l-love you." I stumbled over the words as they all rushed off my tongue at once. It was different in a conversation that didn't consist of emoticons and a severe lack of vowels. If was different when he could hear me.
Was this okay? I was making myself vulnerable, practically inviting him to walk all over me. But he wouldn't do that. I knew he wouldn't. I trusted him.
Yeah. I think it was okay.
"I'm coming over," Gold said suddenly, making me bite down on my tongue. "So don't go anywhere! Got it?"
He hung up before I could reply. I stood glaring at my phone for a while, wondering if this was yet another trend nobody had told me about. I traipsed into my room and flopped down on my bed, contemplating how obedient I was being, and hating that I didn't seem to care.
I was knocked back several feet when Gold burst through the door, a split-second after I unlocked it, threw his arms around my neck and kissed me breathless. Too shocked to tear myself away, I simply lifted my hands to rest limply at his waist, and was taken aback at how small it was. I tightened my hands into an experimental squeeze, and Gold squealed and doubled-over, finally letting me up for air.
"I'm – so glad it's you," he panted, grinning up at me. "Because I didn't even look before I did that."
"You're tiny," I said with a smug smirk. He lifted his arms, showing off his quite-a-lot-flatter body before poking at a little roll of fat protruding from over the top of his jeans.
"Not quite," he said. He looked strangely pleased with my comment. "But nearly! Watch out, I'll have a six-pack and abs before Christmas."
"In a week? I don't think so." I prodded his hip too, and he kissed me again.
"We should move away from the door. G-Go..."
"O-Or the kitchen, or wherever, I don't mind! I wasn't suggesting we-" Gold fell into a fluster, blushing and curling his hands into my shirt. His anxiousness in turn caused me to lose my nerve, and I held his shoulders and pushed him away. A self-mocking smirk twisted its way onto Gold' face. "I kinda ruined that, didn't I?"
I mumbled incoherently in response, and he tried to push me, but only succeeded in propelling himself backwards. "Idiot," he muttered, in a rather accurate, if unintentional, impression of me. "I love you."
I groaned. "You're not going to make me say it again, are you?"
"Nope, but it'd be nice."
"I think once is enough for today."
He perched himself on the edge of my bed while I made us coffee (black for me, and for him enough sugar to feed a hungry nation), and when I returned to him with two steaming mugs in hand, he had transferred from sitting to laying, sprawled out with my limp pillow on his stomach, arms raised above his head. His hands were making quick work of my half-solved Rubik's cube.
"Hey, hey!" I quickly set down the mugs, making the coffee leap to life and launch painful little pinpricks into my hands. I snatched the cube from Gold's unresisting fingers and examined it, feeling a groan rising in my chest. "Now look what you've done! I'd just got the red side done!"
"But it's no good if the other sides are all mixed up," Gold pointed out. He laughed. "Why do you have that anyway?"
"There was life before TV and computers, you know," I snapped.
Gold faked a shudder, leaned over and slurped at his coffee from the rim of the mug without picking it up. "That's disgusting," I said, wrinkling my nose. He simply grinned and reached out for me. Tugging at my wrist, he unbuttoned the cuffs of my worn-out, too-long shirt and rolled them up to kiss my knuckles. My stomach gave a strange little hiccup, and I had to pull away and wipe my hand on my jeans.
"Oh, thanks," Gold muttered, and I felt my mouth twist into something resembling a smile as I sat down on the bed beside him. He put his hand on my thigh instead. "Lay down."
"N-No," I choked, finding it near impossible force words out past the spike that had scraped its way down my throat. The surprisingly slender hand on my thigh gave an encouraging squeeze, and I let out a gasp. I quickly covered my mouth and looked away, and the instant I did so, all the air was knocked out of me as Gold, like a spring-loaded trap, burst forward, latched his arms around me and fell back down, taking me with him.
I only struggled for a moment before deciding that blushing, flailing and getting mad would probably be decidedly more embarrassing than just going with the flow. Gold's hands were slipping from my shoulders and down my back and lower. Every muscle in my body twitched when I felt his palms come to rest gently on my ass.
"Told you this was a good idea," he said. Tightening his lips a little, he asked, quieter this time, "Is this okay?"
The hair on the back of my neck bristled as I felt my body tremor slightly. Being teased like this really didn't suit me. Unclenching my fists (and leaving tiny crescent-shaped valleys in my palms behind them) I pressed my hand against his chest, smirking a little when I felt that the weight hadn't quite dropped off him yet. "Is this okay?" I asked through gritted teeth, averting my gaze without meaning to.
"Mmm." Gold slid one hand back up my body to gently massage the back of my neck. My thighs trembled and I pressed them together, hoping he wouldn't notice the growing erection that was tenting the front of my jeans. I tried to cover it with my hands when, after leaning up to capture my lips in a kiss, Gold turned us both over and slipped his leg in between mine.
I stiffened and tried to squirm away, jaw clenched, humiliation burning behind tightly squeezed-shut eyes. I knew Gold was staring at me. Then, after an achingly long pause, Gold silently lowered his hand to rest against mine, guiding them out of the protective shield they had formed.
"It's okay," he whispered. "I-I'm the same."
Slowly steering my hand away from my own crotch, I knew what he was going to do yet made no move to stop him. He shivered against me at the feather-light touch of the very backs of my knuckles against his clothes erection. He held me, held himself against me.
And I couldn't.
I tore myself away with a gasp, lurching into a sitting position. Gold rolled around a bit before finally hauling himself up too and wrapped his arms around my waist.
"I'm sorry," he said quietly. "Did I go too far? I'm sorry..."
"No, no, it's..." I held his hands tightly, reluctant to let go. Even with him so close I could feel the warmth of his body wedged against my back, he felt so far away. More than my friend, not quite my lover. There was nothing but dirty words available to describe our relationship now. "Why did you come here," I murmured.
"Because," Gold replied. He didn't elaborate. I was expecting at least a "because I love you". My chest tightened when I realised how pathetic I was being. He could tell me a million times, and I still wouldn't be satisfied. A wry smile tugged at the corners of my mouth. Maybe this was payback for refusing to tell him I loved him when he asked.
"Let's just call this a 'well done' for finally saying it," he said, snuggling up against my back. warmth breath ghosted across the nape of my neck and gave me goosebumps. Resigning myself, I relaxed against him – then tensed and convulsed, my back arching like a cat, as Gold tweaked both my nipples.
I felt him grinning like a Cheshire Cat against my neck. "You let your guard down, Silver!" he said, wrapping his legs around my hips as his fingers teased and pinched.
I tried to tell him to get the hell off, but all that came out of my mouth was something like, "Anngahhngh!", and unable to bear the mortification I thrust my body forward into a crouched position in an effort to protect my chest. Gold ended up balanced on my back, arms and legs hooked around me like a baby koala. He sucked at the prominent bump of my spine at the nape of my neck, and I jerked my shoulders back, urging him away.
"St- what- stop! That's enough of that," I snapped, acutely aware of my burning cheeks and goose-pimpled neck. I rubbed the shivers away.
Gold simply smiled up at me, and something in the back of my mind was was telling me this was it. This was my chance. I could ask him to get back together with me, and I was almost certain he'd say yes. Everything would go back to the way they used to be.
I couldn't do that to him.
We finished our coffee quickly – all the time spent fooling around meant that it was now lukewarm and verging on the edge of cold. Gold kissed me again before leaving.
"I love you so much," he mumbled against my chest.
"So... what now?" The words tripped over my tongue, and I instantly regretted them.
"I leave, I guess," Gold said almost sadly. "I promised I'd help Crystal with her college applications. She wants to get into media – can you believe that? I thought she was just pretending to be interested in it because of her crush on Eusine, but it's not, she really wants to do it. For herself."
"I'll see you later then."
"I'll see you soon!"
He left via the stairwell, and I went back inside to make myself another cup of coffee.
It was three days before I heard from him again. It was just past four, and I was just about to leave work when he called me.
"Um, Silver?" I was a put a little off-balance by how nervous he sounded. Taking my jacket from where I had tucked it between my knees to fumble my phone out of my pocket, I pulled it on carelessly, making the sleeves of my T-shirt bunch up at the elbows.
"You okay?" I asked, propping one foot up on the desk to tie a lace that had sneaked its way undone.
"Yeah, I just want to talk to you. Um. Could you come over?"
"Yeah, sure." I set to work on my other shoelace, which had seized its opportunity to fall out of its knot while my attention was focused on the other. Mrs Morgan bustled in, gathered some papers up from the desk and swatted me with them like she would a particularly irritating insect. I took my foot off the desk.
"I'm on Eames Road, you know that block of flats at the end? I'll meet you out there if-"
"Wait, I thought you were – what are you-"
"Just come, please," Gold sighed. A slight smile crept into his voice. "I'll explain when you get here."
So I went. Eames Road was certainly a few steps ahead of the Lattimer Estate in terms of appearance, but that wasn't saying much. There was still gum on the pavement and the occasional yellowed egg stain on the white plastered walls. Gold was waiting for my outside the apartment block at the very end of the street, cradling his phone in his hands like a small, delicate animal. He grinned when he saw me, but the slight twitch in his eye gave him away; he was still nervous about something.
I looked appraisingly up at the rather plain-looking block towering over us. "Are you getting an apartment?"
"I'm planning on it," he said. "There's a few other people thinking about making offers on the place too, but-" he breathed in deeply and puffed out his chest, "-I'm feeling lucky! Let me show you it. The agent said we had permission."
"Did you get promoted or something?" I asked as he led me up the stairs towards the third floor.
"Not exactly. Not yet. But Buena called in sick and they grabbed me to fill in for her. I must've done okay because they said I could take over for the days when she can't make it in. I don't get paid for it, but at least I'm making a good impression, right?" Gold explained. "Plus I've been saving up."
"Won't Crystal miss you?" I asked, smirking.
"Nah, she's too busy working on her latest and greatest inspiration. She doesn't realise how lucky she was to have me!" he said. "Once I'm gone, her parents are planning on renting out the room I was using to other people. Just wait until she has strangers walking around her house like they own the place."
We stopped outside Room 312. Gold suddenly looked anxious again. "Don't expect much, okay?"
"Gold, I live in a dive, pretty much," I said flatly. Gold smiled wryly and opened the door and stepped in carefully, as if he was entering Aladdin's cave, and that the place could collapse at any moment. I followed him, suddenly inexplicably nervous myself. Trying to brush off the unsettling feeling Gold's unease was plunging into me, I decided to explore.
Only to find there wasn't really much to see. It was very small and very simple. Whitewashed walls, a standard stove and no furniture to speak of. Aside from the main room (which compacted the living room and kitchen into one) there was a bathroom with no sink, and two bedrooms, one of which was no bigger than an average broom closet. I went in and closed the door behind me. It wasn't actually so bad in there. Sure, it was small, but it didn't feel confined. It was quite nice, actually. I sat down on the worn carpet and leaned against the wall.
I flinched as Gold abruptly swung the door right into my shins as he came in.
"Sorry!" he said sheepishly as I scrambled to my feet, rubbing my smarting leg. He stepped a little closer to me, so that the static that had built up in my clothes caused his hair to bristle and stick to my shoulder, like we had our own magnetic pull. The back of his hand was touching mine. "Do you like it?" he asked.
"Yeah, it's..." I cleared my throat. "Good."
"Good," Gold repeated, a quiet smile lacing his voice. "Because I was hoping – thinking – this could be your bedroom. For weekends."
My heart leapt into my throat, and for one horrible moment I was teetering on the edge of a cliff, not quite sure if I was going to let go and spill my guts right there and then, all over the cream-coloured carpet. After what seemed like a stupidly long time I regained my balance and swallowed. "Y-You want to-"
Damn it, I was stuttering. My mouth was too dry; I couldn't get my words out.
"You don't have to," Gold said quickly. Quietly.
"No, I want, I want, I-" I didn't know what I was saying. I had to find my footing. I hadn't worked so hard only to have my control torn from me so easily. I moved away from Gold – the heat of his hand on mine was too much, if he kept doing that then I'd say yes, yes, I want this, and I couldn't let myself do that. I bumped my the side of my head on the wall as I turned away from him.
I sighed and pressed my forehead against the cool plaster. "Can I think about this?"
"Will it change your answer?" Gold asked.
"Probably not," I mumbled. I could feel my heart rising to my mouth again; if I wasn't careful it would all come spurting out and I wouldn't be able to stop it. "I don't... want to hurt you."
I think my heart stopped then, just for a fraction of a second. My breathing hitched anyway, and I wanted to look at him. But my feet were rooted to the floor, and the chains were coming back, binding me, telling me to stop being such an idiot. But that advice hadn't taken me to what I wanted in the past. It probably wouldn't now.
I turned around. I was almost trembling, and a deep pain had wormed its way into my chest and was squeezing so tight it threatened to cut off my breathing altogether.
I almost broke when I saw Gold standing so close, smiling up at me. It hurts to face your fears. But the pain in my chest dissipated into a numb, faraway feeling. And it was just me and Gold in the whole world, and we were scared. And happy. And ordinary.
"It's that simple to you?" I asked quietly.
"It is if you want it to be," he replied. "Do you want it to be?"
"Yeah," I said. "I! Uh..." I felt my face heat up as my tongue refused to unravel everything I wanted to say.
Gold grinned. "I know, I know, you love me," he said, taking hold of the front of my shirt and tugging me closer. "Idiot," he added affectionately.
"I only said it the other day," I pointed out, seeds of doubt threatening to burst in my chest.
"But you've been acting like it for a lot longer."
And just like that, they were gone. I wanted to touch him. I was frightened to touch him. But I wanted to touch him.
"You're smiling," Gold said triumphantly. "...Is that a yes? Are we, like, boyfriends now?"
"You start calling me that and you're dumped."
"Boyfriend Dearest," Gold teased, wrinkling his nose with a mischievous smile, and leaning up and giving me a peck on the lips before ushering me out of the cupboard-like bedroom with the explanation, "There's a kettle, we can have tea. There's no coffee though." Honestly. How sickeningly traditional.
There was nowhere to sit while we drank, so I settled on leaning my hips on the worktop with Gold resting on my side.
"Are we going to be okay?" I asked.
"I think so," Gold replied. "Are we going to be okay?"
"Yeah." I put my arm around him. After a pause, I added, in a somewhat defiant tone, "I don't need you though!"
Gold simply laughed at me. "Yeah, and I don't need you either," he said dismissively. "But this," - he put his mug down on the worktop and rubbed the sharp point of my hip with the pad of his thumb and delighting in my shudder - "this is nice. I like this. I want to be like this." His hand got a bit too adventurous and tried to slide under my shirt. I grabbed it, and even after twisting away, still held onto it.
"I'm going to need that later if I'm going to sign for this place," he said. "Should I?"
"If you want."
"I should probably tell them. Come with me?" He didn't need to ask, really, and what's more, he knew it. Leaving his tea half-drank, he pushed himself away from the worktop, and I wasn't far behind. I couldn't help thinking: this was it. What we'd been waiting for.
This was our beginning.
We joined hands, linked our fingers, and walked out together.
So there you have it; it's finally over. This is all of Gold and Silver's time together that you're going to see. What happens next? I don't know; I'll leave them to find out. They'll be okay on their own.
I'm sorry it took such a long time for this final chapter to come out, but for a long time I simply wasn't feeling anything for my writing, and forcing a story is a sure-fire way to make it suck. I wanted to be happy with the ending, which is why I waited until I'd managed to kick my brain back in gear!
Thanks to all of you who followed this story. To those of you who liked it – I'm really happy! To those of you who didn't, I'm not apologising. I'll admit that yes, some parts of this story aren't great. There are a lot of parts I'm not proud of, and if I'm ever struck with inspiration again I'll probably come back and change it. But only by writing this story and improving myself have I realised the mistakes I used to make. And I don't regret any of it.
Thank you again.