Title: Big Damn Heroes (40/100)
Word Count: 2,411
Genre: Character Study, Action/Adventure, Romance
Warnings: Bromance, mild cursing
Summary: Game!Green/Red. Green isn't sure who saves whom anymore.
Disclaimer: Pokémon isn't mine.
Author's Notes: I've never actually navigated Mt. Silver in-game, so please excuse any geographical inaccuracies. One of several fills for a challenge over at LJ.
Something told him not to go, but it was cold, record-breaking lows that hadn't been seen in the past thirty years, and damn if he wasn't worried about Red. His Charizard could only do so much when it was twenty below zero and he refused to wear more than a sleeveless vest and a t-shirt.
Red has been up there for years, the little voice inside him said, but the weatherman said it was going to snow in the city, and if it was snowing down here then God only knows what it was like up there. And Green had never been able to leave Red alone anyway, not since the first moment he'd laid eyes on him, loping beside his grandfather and into his life.
So he gathered up the supplies he always brought and scribbled a note to tack on the door of his gym. Leaf called as he dotted the i in Silver.
"You're not going over there, are you?"
"Of course I am," he snapped, trying to find the map he always misplaced.
"He'll be fine."
"Have you seen the weather report?"
"He'll be fine," she repeated.
"He would be fine if he wasn't so stubborn," he growled, "And stopped living on that mountain and just came back down here—"
"You know he can't," she replied, and he didn't say anything, running a hand through his hair with an angry sigh. The truth was, no, he didn't understand it, he never had.
"I've gotta go if I want to beat this storm," he said, finding the map under a pile of gym leader documentation. When he yanked it out, white flew everywhere, a paper blizzard in his bedroom. "Damnit!"
"Did he ask you to do this?" he demanded. The silence on the other end of the line told him the answer. "Look, I'm going. Just tell him that."
She was silent, and he almost hung up on her. "...Be careful," she said quietly, and ended the call with a soft click.
Eevee sat curiously on the table and watched as he plucked six Poké Balls from the large pile. When he stood, not gesturing for his favorite to follow, the Pokémon leapt forward to bite down on his jacket sleeve.
"You're not coming."
"Vui," it grumbled through a mouthful of cloth, its tail lashing.
"It's too dangerous. You're staying here."
The Eevee scrabbled up his arm—"Ow!"—until it wrapped itself around his neck.
"No, damnit, I am not taking you with me!" He tried to pull the Pokémon off but it refused, clinging to his collar and squeezing tight with all the strength it could muster. Ten minutes later, Eevee was still stuck fast (and had even managed to knock the Exeggutor off his belt), and Green was panting. He was wearing way too many layers for this.
"All right, you win," he growled. "But don't you dare move from there, you understand?"
"Vui," it replied meekly.
"I'm still mad at you," he told it.
"You might get hurt."
"Vui." You too.
"Not again," he groaned. "Whatever—let's just get going." He slammed out the door and got five whole steps in before he had to turn around, cursing, remembering that he had to get the sign he'd made.
Ten minutes and one new sign later, his Pidgeot soared out of the city with the two of them in tow. They landed on the foothills of Mt. Silver when the winds became too strong to fly through, and then it was just Green, Eevee, and the mountain looming above.
"I'm coming, you bastard," he muttered under his breath, and began to climb.
One of the things he hated about Red was that he always managed to bring him down to his level. Red, obviously, was an idiot; he had known that since they were ten. He'd never been quite sure how he managed to survive without speaking, eating, or caring for himself, much less train the best Pokémon team in the world, but one thing was certain—whenever Red was involved, Green was inevitably reduced to filling in the gaps: shouting for his silence, traveling around the world to match his indomitable stillness, being—as corny as it was—the fire to his ice.
And he really wished he had some fire right now as his gloved fingers slipped on the frozen rocks. Eevee made a worried noise, but he shook his head. "I'm fine," he said, "don't you dare move, all right?" The Eevee shivered a little and tucked its tail more closely over Green's throat, its large eyes blinking warily.
His breath was visible in the air, and snow was getting in his eyes, and maybe, he thought, this was why Red was even more taciturn these days; in air this frigid, it hurt to breathe, much less speak. Getting inside the first cave cut the wind, but it was still freezing—beyond freezing—and he could feel Eevee trembling. Green was shaking pretty hard himself, actually; he was forty-five minutes in and his progress was laughable, his joints protesting from the extreme cold. The chill was sucking the strength right out of him, and by the time they had fought their way through the cave and out into the blizzard again, he was seriously starting to regret this.
Simultaneously, he was really starting to worry about Red.
"Do you want to go back in your ball?" Green offered. "It'll be warmer in there." The Pokémon shook its head furiously and he shrugged. "Suit yourself," he said, but he was glad for the company, and the two pressed on, stepping into the next cave.
They didn't see the Golbat hanging right inside the cave's mouth, and it blasted them both with a Supersonic before Green could react. He cried out as he fell to his knees, but Eevee was less affected, leaping from its trainer's shoulders to tackle the bat to the ground. His world splintered into chaos, and he thought he was still shouting, though he couldn't be sure—but he could definitely hear Eevee's screams mingling with the Golbat's and he had to hurry, he had to get up, he had—
He lurched to his feet and staggered a few steps back; everything was spinning so hard. Eevee sounded so distant now, and—where was he, anyway? He tried to lean forward but it didn't seem to work right, and he fell to his knees again. Wind was whipping by his face and there was a rumbling noise and that was weird, because wasn't he inside the cave?
Then he heard a crack, and the ground beneath him moved, and the blood drained from his face all at once.
"VUI!" his Pokémon shrieked, racing out of the cave. As the snowbank below him gave out, it sank its teeth into his outstretched hand and yanked back, but it wasn't strong enough. They were both skidding fast on the slick ice and the spinning was fading just in time for Green to see how far up they really were now, and oh God—
He scrambled for the Pidgeot on his belt, his numb fingers refusing to work, and just as they both fell completely over the edge, he clutched the Poké Ball firmly in his hand—
And then his fingers slipped—
And they fell off the cliff, Green's shout mixing with Eevee's high cry, the Poké Ball flying out of his fingers, and they were falling and the Poké Ball was just inches away and he could practically see the Pokémon inside of it but it was just out of reach, just too far—
A roar shook the air, and they collided hard with the orange blur that caught them; Eevee bounced in one direction, the Pidgeot in the other. Green lunged for his favorite Pokémon, nearly falling again, and Red calmly snagged the Poké Ball out of the air with one hand and grabbed him with the other, handily keeping all three of them in place.
As always, Red, cool, collected, stupid Red, had come to save the day and take all the glory, and as his blood thundered in his ears, Green couldn't think of anything he wanted to do more than punch his oldest friend in the face. He would have, too, if only his entire body hadn't been shaking uncontrollably from fear and cold and exhaustion, he would have, but instead he just collapsed against Red, allowing the other man to pull him to his chest as Charizard deftly navigated the swirling air currents.
They soon reached the top of the mountain, the dragon landing more smoothly than he would have believed possible. Red tried to carry him, but Green was having none of it. He pushed him away with a growl, but when he started to fall the Champion caught him—again—and they ended up compromising, Green throwing an arm over Red's shoulder as he staggered inside. It was shockingly warm in here, and the gym leader swallowed the feeling of frustration that rose in his throat.
Leaf had been right. Red, as always, was fine.
He dropped down next to the roaring fire in the middle of the cave. Eevee's eyes were still huge with terror, and the second its trainer was settled it crept into his coat, poking its head out of his collar to nuzzle his face.
"You shouldn't have come," the Champion said softly, and at that he lurched up into a half-sitting position and took a wild swing at Red's jaw. The other man caught his fist, and Green's chest heaved with rage.
"You ass," he spat, "I came here—you think I came here for fun? I came for you! I nearly died out there! I nearly—" and the enormity of it caught up with him all at once. His jaw went slack as his hand slid from Red's grip, but the other man seized it again at the wrist, squeezing hard enough to make Green wince despite the numbness of his skin.
"I know that," Red whispered. "I know."
The fire popped. Green stared at his old friend, but couldn't interpret his expression beyond wide eyes and trembling fingers; he couldn't even begin to imagine what his own face looked like. He turned away and tried not to hyperventilate, stifling the bubble of hysterical laughter that rose in his throat. "Well, shit," he muttered, and pressed his free hand to his mouth. His lips were rough against his fingers, cracked from the altitude and the cold.
Red was still holding his wrist, practically crushing it, and finally Green looked back, and their gazes met, and held. Eventually, they both stopped shaking and Green's breathing evened out, and the two of them watched each other in the newfound stillness.
"Come down," he said, his voice raw from the cold—just the cold. "Come down and live with me. I've got space, I've got two bedrooms I don't use—"
He stopped, because Red was getting to his feet.
The Champion left briefly and returned with a potion spray and some gauze. He picked up Green's injured hand and began to tend to it, his hands moving with a surety that said he'd done these exact repairs on himself hundreds of times before.
"I can't," he said, and his soft voice sounded so resigned.
"Why not?" Green asked, finally. "Why?"
"I just—" Red's eyes roved the walls and settled on his Pokémon, who sat quietly on the other side of the fire, watching them both. "—can't," he mumbled, letting go of him.
Green fell back onto the stone floor, covering his face with his hands; the bandage scraped against his frostbitten cheeks. "This is nuts," he groaned. "You're going to break your leg or get caught in an avalanche or—worse, up here. What's up here that you can't have down there?"
There was a heavy silence, and he heard the other man move. He pulled his hands away from his face to see Red leaning over him, expressionless. "You," he said, and Green just stared for a minute.
"That doesn't make any sense," he said.
"You're a Gym Leader," he said. "I'm the Champion. What would it be like if I lived down there?"
Green did not use this opportune moment to tell Red how often he fantasized about that very notion.
"Battling," he said wearily. "Day and night. Battling. It's bad enough here. Mt. Silver is dangerous, it keeps the children away. But in Viridian?"
"So you're saying," Green said slowly, "That you would rather sit up here and freeze your ass off—all by yourself—and make me climb up here all the time rather than live with me in the city, because..."
Red just looked at him, and Green knew he wasn't going to say it. Red, as everyone knew, never said anything.
"You're gonna die of hypothermia," he muttered. "If I don't kill you first." Red didn't smile, and Green sighed; as he sat up, the other man leaned back, looking away and tugging his hat back down into place.
Green yelped as the melting snow cut a painfully cold trail down his back. When he shook his head, ice water went flying everywhere, and Eevee gave a little squeak of protest. "Hey," he said, catching Red's attention. "I brought food." He dug through his pack and tossed a rice ball at Red, and without looking the other man caught it, peeled the plastic wrap off, and practically swallowed it whole. When it was gone, Green suspiciously threw him another one, which vanished just as quickly.
"You really weren't doing all right, were you?" the gym leader demanded. Red glanced at him as he chewed, a few stray grains of rice on his cheeks. "You jerk!" Green said, torn between laughter and irritation, and he chucked another rice ball at him, but Red just caught it and started in on that one, too, and Green threw up his hands. "Oh, God, how are you still alive?"
Red swallowed. "You," he said before taking another bite, and the simplicity of it took Green's breath away for a moment. When he'd finished swallowing the last bite, the Champion looked at him again; Green was smirking.
"I'm just your big damn hero, aren't I?" he said, giving the other man a knowing grin, and Red just rolled his eyes, pulling another rice ball out of Green's pack. The gym leader lay back on the floor, chuckling as he put his arms behind his head. "Oh yeah."