World – Game
Characters/Pairings – Hibiki/Kotone (Ethan/Lyra)
Genres – General, Romance, Friendship, Drama
Notes – Trying out the other end of the spectrum now.
Disclaimer – Pokémon doesn't belong to me.

Leap Years

He twirled the pokégear in his hands, lying with his back on the covers of his bed. He smelt the soap he used every other day he bothered with a shower, and closed his eyes out of habit. He breathed, inhaling a little more through his nose – remembering and imagining the fragrance of strawberries and mangoes.

She used to come over for sleepovers during the weekends and the scent of her favourite shampoo – her smell – would inevitably get mixed in with fresh blankets and blue-coloured bed sheets. He would never forget those times, when they were still so young that it was innocent and adorable to sleep together in the same room, their mothers chatting idly somewhere else. Those playful childhood days brought nothing but happiness – and sadness – to him. He shifted uncomfortably, resting his weight on his right arm, angling his face a fraction to observe someone taking a sound nap against the post of his bed.

Huh – even Marill was tired of playing games now, was he?

His head sunk deeper into the pillow, trying to push thoughts of his female friend with the overalls and white hat aside, giving space in his mind for more serious – attainable – things, like how he was going to start on his own journey. Sure, he had Marill and ample survival knowledge, thanks to his constant trips to the daycare center and the Professor's lab. But could he bear to leave this place? Would it be like a final farewell to their previous days as best friends, and the heralding of a time where they would become competitive trainers? He predicted realistically that they would both travel around hurriedly and distractedly – and not spend every night huddled together under the stars any more.

Ah, his thoughts had stealed back to her again.

Why was he the – only – one that remained immaturely attached to this boring old town? Why hadn't he outgrown such childish tendencies, like her? She had the bravery to just break free of habit and travel around the region one fine day, without discussing much with him prior. She'd just explained to him with a brief smile and nod of the head, as if it was okay – okay to leave him after he taught her how to catch a Pokémon, okay to caper off past the mountains framing the sunrise in New Bark Town. H-he wasn't about to let all those memories go just like that, not without a valid explanation of why she would want to sever her bonds with the sanctuary they had spent eleven years to painstakingly explore and perfect.

(They knew where the richest berries grew and where the stars shined brightest in the night sky. They even discovered the parts of the river near town where swimming was wonderful in the hottest summer.)

The pokégear in his hand stopped circling in the air as he stared at its grey screen. He pushed a button located to the side of the device, bringing it to life before scrolling through the lists and dropping the cursor next to her name. Perhaps he could ask her over now – she knew full well that he was not a wandering boy, and that he was usually at home. Perhaps she hadn't visited recently because she didn't catch herself a Flying-type. Of course it would be hard to get back to New Bark without an avian. Yes, that was quite right and acceptable.

Though, just in case, he could call to see how she was doing – maybe remind her to visit sometime.

But the moment he pressed the 'call' option, and the ringing of the phone reached his ears, his mind went conveniently blank. And he stared vaguely at the pokégear as the receiver finally picked up the call. He bolted upright from his bed and quickly greeted her, asking her how she was – of course she was fine, she couldn't be not fine – and trying to come up with something to say in the spur of the moment. Something, anything, to get her to come back to her hometown – to stay for awhile, hopefully watch the sunsets and point at the stars and get lost in the thickness of his blankets.

"… Marill's evolved," he exhaled into the speaker.

She didn't respond, probably too taken by surprise to piece together an answer. He heard aggravated shouts, an odd mixture of animal and human growls in the background – was she in the middle of a battle now? His shoulders slackened and he plummeted back onto his bed. He grinned weakly into the cushion of his pillow and cut the conversation off with the hesitant click of a button.

He wondered if it was alright to lie to her.

(But it wasn't like she ever found out.)