By Sileny

Summary: Home was the place that he went to when he was too tired to think, too tired to move, when he needed to back off from the world. Home was where she was. Ikari
If I owned Pokémon, I'd make Shinji ill, and then Hikari would have to take care of a sick and grumpy Shinji.
Note: Uh... yes... I despise most of the English translations for the characters, so they are all in their Japanese names. Translations are located at the end for your convenience, in the order that they appear in the oneshot.

He was tired.

He wasn't irritated or annoyed at the excessive cheering of the crowd, nor did he feel the exuberant rush of joy that usually happened when a great achievement was reached. He had won. He had finally defeated Shirona, after years of chasing after her, always reaching, always striving to catch up and then overtake the Champion of Sinnoh.

And now he had done it. He had defeated her; his Pokémon had finally made a break through after all those months and months of endless training.

He had won.

He was now the new Champion of Sinnoh, and the trophy that Shirona presented to him was proof of that.

But all he felt was exhaustion.

He was so very, very tired.

"I think he's the youngest Champion we ever had."

"No, no… Shirona couldn't have been older when she first assumed the title."

The whispers and awestruck murmurs followed him everywhere. They clung to him, entangling him like his sheets when he woke up in the morning. The faint sparks of his old irritable self appeared, but they failed to ignite, and all he did was cast a sidelong glance at the gossipers and continue on his stubborn way. He had forgotten how long the trip was from Tobari City to Futaba Town was. Even if he was taking the bus, which he was, it would still be nightfall by the time he reached the sleepy little town.

In all actuality, he wondered why he bothered to return to that tiny place. He was a city boy, having spent much of his childhood in the heart of Tobari City. He liked the hustle and bustle of city life, the sounds, the hard concrete underneath his feet, all those stores with reference materials and wonderful books that were always within a few minutes from whatever location he was at.

Futaba Town was different. The main street was paved, but all of the others were flat dirt roads. When it rained, they turned into a muddy mess. To make matters worse, Pokémon played in the mud, making the roads nearly twenty times less appealing to walk on. The town was also quiet, and while others would describe it as peaceful, to him it would always be an eerie sort of quiet.

He would never be able to get used to it.

The rest of the passengers boarded the bus, and he heard a child say to his mother, "Mommy, when will we get to Grandmother's house?"

"Just in time for dinner, sweetie," was the answer that the child received.

He closed his eyes and shut off the rest of the outside world. For the next nine hours, the Champion of Sinnoh slept on a bouncing bus, his head tipped gently to one side so that it rested against the window. Even the occasional jolts that made his head smash against the window didn't wake him up.

It wasn't raining when the bus dropped off its passengers at Futuba Town and received its next batch for the return trip to Tobari City.

It was snowing, instead.

He stood on the road, alone with his travelling bag slung casually over his shoulder, shivering slightly in the cold, the bus lurching down the road and farther away from him. It shrunk in size as it pulled away, until he could no longer find it with his eyes. Taking his eyes from the road and the place where the bus used to be, he started walking into town, stopping briefly at the 'Welcome to Futaba Town' sign. The town's motto, 'Where new leaves breathe,' coaxed the tiniest of amused smirks onto his face.

Really, it was silly. How could new leaves breathe when it was snowing and nearing winter?

The nipping cold against his cheeks warned him that he'd be ill in bed in the near future if he didn't go indoors soon. Not even Champions were immune from disease. Shaking his head, a few fat snowflakes clinging stubbornly to his bangs, he marched down the main street of Futaba Town. The whole town was laid out nicely in a map in his head, and the house he was looking for wasn't particularly hard to find. It was easily the biggest house in the whole town, and despite it being on the other side of the small town, it was… nice, he supposed.

There was a light in the window, warm and yellow, inviting him to come in. His fingers half numbed by the time he got to the front door, he rung the doorbell, stepping back on the front porch so that he was out of the path of the soon-to-be-swinging door. It was always like that, and by this time he had learned how to act if he wanted to save his nose from being squashed back into his face, a fate that he did not particularly want to happen to him.

True to his calculations, the door swung open with a sharp snap, missing his face by a slim margin. The hinges creaked in protest against the abuse that they were forced to suffer.

"You're late."

He shrugged nonchalantly, already feeling the warmth of the house sneaking out into the cold, kissing his skin and driving back the indignant cold.

He was stretched out in bed, his head cushioned on a pillow. The snowfall that had started when he had gotten off the bus two hours earlier had escalated into a storm; he could hear the wind howling outside the window. He was not alone in the room, but he was the only one awake, the only listener to the concert that Mother Nature was putting on. The other occupant was curled up next to him, head resting on his chest. Occasionally, she shifted, and she mumbled quite a bit in her sleep.

"You didn't seem too thrilled to win."

He let out a noncommittal, 'Hm…' as the weight on his chest lifted. He missed it almost at once, although his face was impassive as he turned his head. Through the shadows he could make out blue eyes staring up into his black ones, looking curiously puzzled.

"How come? You've always chased after Shirona. I thought you'd at least smile." The bed's other occupant sat up, and he let out an annoyed growl at the cold air rushing underneath the blanket when she moved it with her. Looking sheepish, she dropped it so that it settled over him again, grabbing a jacket hanging by the headboard and wrapping her torso up in the coarse cloth. "Could it be that you've forgotten to smile?"

"No," he answered shortly, turning on his side so that his back was facing her, and almost immediately she had pounced on him, whining:

"But why…?"

He groaned as she applied more weight onto his shoulder, and after withstanding the abuse for the next painful three minutes, he sat up, shrugging her off of him.

"I'll sleep on the couch," he grumbled, but his attempt at being annoyed was only halfhearted. He did not look forward to dragging himself the few steps out the bedroom door, down the stairs, and onto said couch. And while the couch was a nice couch, he was a good deal longer than it and did not look forward to scrunching himself up into a ball just so he fit.

His exodus to his forlorn destination was halted when his bedmate wrapped both arms around his middle, effectively forcing him to stop crawling out of bed lest he wanted to drag both of them out the door, down the stairs, and onto the couch.

He did not want to do that.

"What?" he asked sharply, his usual self beginning to rear its ugly head.

His answer was muffled against his back and he only understood her when she repeated herself, stretching up so she was speaking softly against his ear. "Shinji will catch a cold if he sleeps on the couch," she repeated. "And Shinji's tired, right? It's better to sleep in a proper bed than curled up on the couch." She planted a spontaneous kiss on his cheek and then left him be, snuggling back underneath the neglected covers. He joined her after a few moments of silent pondering.

She was right, in a way. Sleeping in a bed was much better than on the couch. And there probably wouldn't be anymore kisses from small smooth lips when he woke up in the morning if he migrated to the couch.

Hikari heard a groan from the doorway as she rewound the tape and played its contents again… the fifth time in a row. She was sitting on the floor, Pochama curled up in her lap, and the Coordinator twisted her head around her delicate little neck to look at an irritated Shinji. He stood in the doorway connecting living room to kitchen, a bottle of water in one hand, a towel draped around his neck and his hair still dripping from the shower he had just taken. He must have thrown on the first clothes his dark eyes saw… Hikari was displeased to see that he did not match at all. Hikari's Pachirisu sat on his shoulder, tiny cheek pouches occasionally letting out a few curious blue sparks as it rubbed happily against Shinji's cheek, long tail trailing behind with the occasional twitch.

Hikari was surprised that Shinji didn't shoo the tiny squirrel Pokémon away. She knew that he tolerated it because of her but surely he didn't like it enough to risk electrocuting himself…? She was puzzled.

"Why are you watching the match again?" Shinji asked, ignoring Pachirisu with its occasional sparks and plopping himself down on the couch. His legs were next to Hikari and she leaned her back against the couch, then let her body collapse sideways so that she was leaning comfortably against them.

She looked innocently up at him. "I can't watch Shinji's match?" she asked, and he frowned at her, before taking a drink from his water bottle. Pachirisu begged for a drink, too, putting on the cutest face and bouncing up and down on his shoulder.

Shinji gave the squirrel the entire bottle, although Hikari suspected it was to make it stop bouncing rather than being charmed by the cute face.

"I missed Shinji's match the other day," Hikari continued, turning her eyes from Shinji back to the TV. "I said that I'd come and watch you, but Satoshi got a sudden call from his mother. You remember… Hanako-san?" Shinji grunted in reply. The memory was vague; he had only met Satoshi's mother once or twice. "He and Kasumi-chan had to hurry back to Kanto, so Mama and I took them to the ferry in Mio City."

"That's where Ayako-san is right now, right?" Shinji asked, taking back the water bottle from Pachirisu while the Pokémon scrambled off, planting itself closer to the TV.

Hikari nodded. "She says she wants to buy some things. And that's why I missed your match." She looked so apologetic that even if Shinji were to get angry at her missing one of the most important events on his agenda, he wouldn't have been able to do anything.

"Luckily I managed to tape it, but in order to make up for missing the chance to watch it in person, I'm going to watch it over and over again until I can memorize every little thing that happened in it!"

Shinji's answer was silence, and Hikari pouted, head whipping up to look at him. "What? That's not good enough? You want me to find Diaruga and ask it to rewind time so that I can attend it?"

He almost choked on his mouthful of water, finally managing to reply with a cool, "There's no need."

She giggled, before becoming serious. "Ne, Shinji… you'll be staying for a while, won't you?"

Shinji gave her an odd look. "Where else would I stay?" he asked, surrendering the water bottle to Pachirisu when it came back to beg for more water. "Are you suggesting that you plan on kicking me out?"

Hikari flushed a brilliant shade of red, turning hastily so that she could stare at her (empty) lap. Pochama had gotten up and wandered away and she hadn't even noticed it. "That's not what I meant!" she snapped hastily. "I mean… you'll probably be busy with League battles and other Champion duties now that you've beaten Shirona, and I have Contests and such…" She stuttered on, while Shinji occupied himself with staring at the back of her head. Had her hair always been so long and glossy? When had it turned to such a gorgeous shade of blue?

He planted a hand lazily on her head, and she stopped mid-stutter, looking nervously up at him. He sighed, shaking his head.

"Idiot girl," he muttered, "I only go to one place when I'm so exhausted that I can't even see the Pokémon I'm calling out clearly, when I can't stand straight on the battlefield, when I just want to go to sleep and never wake up because all the sleep in the world won't make me feel any better."

At that point he stopped, removing his hand from her head and pushing off of the couch. "Worry about more practical stuff," he threw over his shoulder as he left the room, and Hikari sat there, a look of confusion on her face as she processed his words.

Shinji had counted all the way to twelve when he felt a weight fly onto him, nearly sending him flying out the front door, which he had been planning on exiting through in order to do some training with his Pokémon. "You're late," he muttered, steadying himself before waddling awkwardly down the few steps from front porch to road, Hikari half on him and hanging around his neck for dear life.

"It was because Shinji made everything confusing!" Hikari wailed in his ear, before pressing her cheek affectionately against his. "But if Shinji ever needs to get a good night's sleep or just a break, he can always come back home."

Home. That sounded nice to his ears as he hobbled off around the house to the backyard with his load. He actually wished that Hikari would let him just give her a classic piggyback, but she insisted on being happily stubborn, liking his awkward way of moving too much to give him much comfort. But home… that was nice.

Hikari let go of him when he managed to make his way in front of his quizzical team (only Dotaitos didn't seem too surprised by his Trainer's method of entrance), who had assembled themselves neatly in a line in the yard for their afternoon training. Shinji breathed out a sigh of relief as he was allowed to straighten up to his full height, only to have Hikari reach up and hug him cheerfully.

"Home will always be here when you're tired," she purred.

Shinji blinked, Hikari's hair tickling his nose. However, when she pulled away from him and smiled at him, he couldn't help but answer her with a tiny smirk. Yes, that kind of home sounded nice.

Hikari's bright eyes gazed up at him before she let go of him and started to go back to the house. Three steps out, though, she turned around, hands clasping around her back and giving a cute tip of her head. "Welcome back," she announced, and Shinji's smirk widened.


Shirona: Cynthia
Futaba Town: Twinleaf Town
Shinji: Paul
Hikari: Dawn
Pochama: Piplup
Pachirisu: Pachirisu
Satoshi: Ash
Hanako: Delia Ketchum
Kasumi: Misty
Mio City: Canalave City
Ayako: Johanna
Diaruga: Dialga
Dotaitos: Torterra
Tadaima: I'm here! / I'm home!

A/N: To celebrate the end of AP exams and a general freedom from hard-core school work until Regents Exams in mid-June, I present to you this oneshot which is a result of my exam-fried brain. After that, I will get cracking on those non-oneshots that I have neglected (like... Angel Shroud... Fire Rainbow... Worth... I got it, k? XD).

So... I apologize if Shinji is out of character, which I very much suspect since my brain refuses to cooperate with me in making him any more... Shinji-like. But since he's older, maybe I can defend myself with saying that time changes people? I think I'll go with that.

The last phrase I didn't want to make Japanese... but to put the English translation there just seems... odd. It didn't flow as well. So 'Tadaima' it will remain.

Leave a review? They would be very much appreciated!