notes: Get this and I'll love you forever. It was supposed to be better but I got bored of it.



Alter Ego
(other self)



He is two. The day is bright and clear in New Bark. Gold is in the kitchen, staring at the television with a slackened jaw. His mother throws him a look before turning towards the stove, and the sunshine in his eyes flashes, stretches and fades into red just as soon as she turns her face away. She notices it, and blames it onto tricks of the light, onto the reflection of the glass window against the spacious kitchen. He looks up at her, from behind his black, unruly hair – he has his father's hair –, and smiles.

She thinks it must've been her imagination.

He is three. His first word is "red".

He is five.

She finds him – more than once – staring out the window of his room at night, with his eyes glassy and his mouth drawn into a thin line. His face is not the one she remembers, his face isn't Gold's at all, so she doesn't shake him out of his daze. Instead, she closes the door carefully and leaves, heart thumping painfully in her chest.

She thinks that maybe there will come a time when he leaves and never comes back, but she isn't as afraid as she should be, because this kid, this boy with pale skin and uneasy eyes is not her son. And she has no reason to miss someone who is nothing to her.

Still, she is careful: she never looks him in the eye, because of silly superstitions and rituals.

He doesn't seem to care.

He is six, and a blue-haired girl takes him by the hand, towards route 29.

She is hardly worried: she has seen him staring at wild birds until they leave in a hurry, she has seen him analyzing crucial details with so much as a quick glance. But she is still curious, so she peeks out her window to see just what they are doing.

Gold goes into the tall grass and the girl waits. He stays there for about an hour (she doesn't care to check after that), and when night falls, he return home with a blank stare on his face.

"Gold," she says, carefully and gently, just like a (good) mother, "What were you doing in the tall grass?"

He looks up, and his eyes are very dark against the bulb's white light—her heart snaps.

"I was waiting."

"For… For what?" she manages to mumble.

"For someone to come," he says clearly, and looks her in the eye, piercingly and maddeningly.

She is the first to look away.

He is ten and his eyes are very yellow, very vibrant.

The problem is that, when she glances at him, she expects crimson, and always feels a shot of disappointment when all that she sees is honey. His father's eyes were brown, and hers are black as coal: she doesn't know where he got this shade from. She doesn't want to know, either.

She wonders if it's normal for a mother to be scared of her child, when Gold arrives home in the morning and leaves at night. She wonders whether it is normal or not for a kid of such young age to go and return as he wishes – his legs aren't scarred or tanned, and his shoulders are very small for his age –, unharmed by the beasts that dawdle in the night's shadows. She wonders, briefly, before the door opens, if Pokémon are as afraid of him as she is.

He is eleven, and she finds him talking to Elm.

He doesn't react as if he's been cornered, as if she just found out something she shouldn't have. He reacts normally, with blank empty eyes and a stock smile—"Mother, I am going on an adventure. I wish to become the League's Champion and—"

So she breaks down crying—Gold doesn't react.

"—and for that I need to travel throughout Johto."

She sobs, sobs, sobs: "Come home sometimes."

"Of course," he says, eyes crimson with glee, "Of course."

She is thirty-six when he calls her on the phone. She can't keep track of his age anymore, but she thinks he's around seventeen now.

All she hears is the sound of his breathing, and strong, merciless wind in the background, slapping against the Pokégear's microphone. She pictures him on Mt. Silver, or maybe even in Kanto—or maybe Sinnoh's Mt. Coronet. A minute passes by, slowly, and all she can do is picture him wearing his cap. His old shirt must still fit, she figures, because it was always pretty big.

She wonders if his arms are still thin and white, and if in between the snow, someone would find him. Her finger curls around the string, and she opens her mouth to talk, but—

"I won." He breathes again, harshly, against the phone. His voice is strangely hollow, strangely vacant. "Against him."

And then he hangs up.