the emotion it was electric
and the stars, they all aligned
He's fifteen and she's fifteen and it doesn't work that way because he looks fifteen and she looks twenty. He blames it on puberty's quirks and himself, too, because he has to look up to meet her eyes. And that's—that's just disgraceful. They've both learned their ways, and the world's full shit because every single one of them are assholes. It's funny, in a desperate, noir way, but when she tells it like it is, it comes out lighter and funnier than when he does.
He leaves home before he can do as much as think straight—White laughs, and tells him that 'home' never will be a word in her dictionary, so he tries to choose his words more carefully. But it still is the truth, because he remembers being nine, a hotheaded kid with adoration for adventure, and slamming his door and swearing that he'd never really return. He tells her that he changes cellphone number thrice before his mom can stop calling, and though it isn't funny in the least, she still laughs, like it's hilarious, and the sound bounces off the walls of the warehouse, croaky and deep in her voice. It's the voice of someone who smokes, he notices, and just because it's hers, he feels the urge to grab one of her cigarettes – menthol – and smoke one himself.
So he does. He chokes, coughs until his throat burns and until his eyesight starts fading in prickles, but not even an urgent gulp of water can erase the light, fresh sensation in his tongue. He hates it. He wants to do it again. Black wonders if her mouth tastes like that, too, but the moment is lost along her hysterical noises.
He picks up the lighter and lights another, and asks her nonchalantly if he looks cool. She replies that he looks like a kid who's stolen a cigar from his mother, a still smile in the corner of her red lips, and she warns him not to smoke another. He gets annoyed. He asks why. She tells him that packs are getting expensive these days, and that if he wants to smoke, then that he do it with his money.
Black smiles and exhales, throat hurting.
They stick together because that way they don't go mad with the city's darkness. At least that's what she tells him, so Black doesn't think to correct her. Then she turns on her side, facing away from him, saying goodbye instead of goodnight because it's always like that with her: she's loud and adult-like with her depressions. It's dark behind the market tents, and Black gets up, grabs his bag, and grabs his pocketknife from his pocket.
He doesn't know why he does it. Stealing is cheap and right now he even has money for food, but it gives him a thrill. White sits up, glances at him, doesn't rub her eyes because of the eyeliner and mascara. He's learned that make-up remover is too expensive for her to buy, and too well-guarded for her to steal. She asks him what the fuck is he doing.
He replies that he doesn't know, and it's half-true.
Sometimes her phone beeps and she steps away to take the call.
He doesn't know why it bothers him—it shouldn't, because when it comes to the bottom of this and that, they don't even know each other that well. She knows that's he's called Black, that he's left home to pursue a childish dream, that he's fifteen and that he's just started smoking. He knows that she's called White, that she's just turned sixteen and that she wears high-heels and short dresses when she wants to. She knows that he's bound to get mugged and killed while on the road, that he's never going to accomplish anything in his short life, and that he looks good with a Marlboro in his mouth. He knows what she does at night, with her pretty smile and he knows that her stockings are meant to hide emergency-only-knives.
When she returns, she looks sidetracked and this worries him—but then again, it really shouldn't. She then tells him that her mother has died, and for the first time ever since they met, she doesn't smoke. She grabs her lighter, burns the edge of a cigarette, and watches it burn, watches the smoke fade in the yellow-lit street.
So he smokes for her, and for the first time ever since they met, it tastes a bit like shit.
He turns sixteen and White rewards him with a kiss.
It's not slow or gentle, not even in the beginning, and he hasn't got a clue what he's doing, but he figures he must've done something right because when she gets away from him, she's smiling even though her lipstick is smudged in the edges of her mouth. He asks her, voice squeaking in his surprise, what that was for, and remembers to breathe. It comes out sharp and biting, like the taste of peppermint, and she smiles at him.
She asks him if he didn't like it, and he is much too quick to assure her that he did; then he turns red and decides not to talk to her for the rest of the day.
It makes him wonder if she meant it, like really meant it, because he knows her for six months now and he's seen her giving away cheap kisses for food or shelter. It doesn't trouble her in the least, so he figures it's none of his business if she kisses security guards or store clerks for lower prices. But then she kisses him, and wasn't he supposed to be out of bounds or something?
He is too quick to wonder if she meant it, but then he can only think about her tongue and teeth, and she smells like she hasn't showered in days – but that is fine because neither has he – but she still manages to smell of cheap perfume and city.
Black watches her analyzing her nails, in which the polish is chipped and why the fuck is her thumb painted green when the rest is painted black?
Like many of his unasked questions, he never really gets the answer.
They're in the entrance of Hian, and the skyscrapers lean towards the gray heavens, menacing and powerful. He is enchanted. Like all cliché-trainers, he comes from a small village in the edge of nowhere, desperate to break out, desperate to break down. His beginning isn't cliché, though, because before he even got his hands on a pokémon, he was already wrestling with rabid hounds and deadly vipers. It's exactly one year and three months after he leaves the house that he finds his first partner.
He isn't delusional, though, even if White says he is. Black likes to think that he is aware of the dangers, of the impossibilities, and of the cruelness of the world. Because in all honesty, he is. Not many people get to leave home when they're a child, and though he knows that even before that he was already twistedly naïve and dark, the world only worsens his already demented state of mind. There are murderers running free, playing alongside kids whose parents are busy working, and it's assumed of him to preoccupy, but Black doesn't really care.
White says that he is even worse than her, and laughs it off when he replies that it's highly doubtful.
She pulls him by the sleeve, towards a seedy bar in the shadow of an all-lit building, and he shoves his heels on the pavement, asks what the hell is she thinking, they're only sixteen. She replies with an unflappably muttered 'exactly', and gets inside.
He doesn't like it at all. There's music and when he notices, there are short, small glasses in front of him, and it's so dark he doesn't make sure either they're four or five. He knows that at least two of them are empty, and White laughs loudly in his ear. He smells alcohol, but then she starts draping herself on his shoulder and he feels his throat dry. Just one, she slurs, just one.
But then it's three, and four, and five glasses he downs, and the room starts spinning on the eleventh. He only has time to rush out the door and retch on the dirty floor, and White's still laughing hysterically, her dress high on her thighs, her lipstick redder than any time before. She tells him that she's never seen him like that, but there's a slight proudness in her voice that compels him to get inside again, although all he wants to do is head towards an alley and sleep.
He comes to the conclusion that he hates Hian. The air is filthy, smelling of exhaust pipes and trash, and people with suitcases run by them without a second glance. They're invisible, here. They can do whatever the hell they want and never be seen, never be heard, never be arrested and never be killed.
It doesn't surprise him, then, that White likes it so much.
But it's been a month and he wants to keep going on. He's sure he's fought every single willing trainer in the city, but she's always missing, doing god knows what. His heart aches for forests so deep they'll lose themselves inside for weeks, for deserted beaches and silent mountains. Being in Hian reminds him of the thing he hates most, which is the pausing of exploring, the rest of adventure, the act of doing nothing at all.
But White loves the night, and she's at ease here, so much it scares him. When he returns from his walks, it's three in the morning and her bed is still done. And he knows that it's fine, because it's an unspoken rule that daylight brings nothing but troubles, and that's why they only get out at night. But this is something almost exaggerated of her, because he goes to sleep without her and wakes up with an undone bed beside him, with nothing but a red kiss in his forehead to know that she was there.
Her lipstick has been getting brighter, he notices, and scrubs it off in the shower. The water's cold because she's used it all up already, and sometimes it comes off orange with copper, but it's better than bathing in rivers and being bitten by remoraids, so he doesn't complain.
Today it's Monday, or maybe Wednesday, he isn't too sure because his sleep is all messed up, but he knows that something's bound to happen today, so he stays up all night waiting for her, staring at the ceiling. Morning comes and she steps in, sashaying a bit too much for him to find funny, and she blows him a kiss. Missed me much, she asks, lightly, and sits on her bed.
He has all these questions inside his chest, just threatening to burst and explode and—he finds himself inquiring her. The smile on her face only broadens as she starts to say that maybe she'll stick around Hian, because it feels so right, being here. For the first time in many years she actually feels really happy, not sort-of-happy like she is travelling around with him and, really, doesn't he get that they were never really supposed to be together forever – right? And she already has a rep, there are people who want to meet her and talk to her and be her.
But, what about the league?, he screams, and only notices that his voice is deep and angry and betrayed after it's done. White flips her hair back, smiles prettily, and it feels like she pulls a check-mate on him when she says that maybe he needs to grow up.
Black can't really say anything after that. White grabs her lipstick, scrawls a number in his arm, kisses him softly on the cheek and leaves, hips sashaying like those of a belly dancer. He stays sitting in his bed for a long time, and then lies down and just—sleeps.
But it's been five years and seven months (and fourteen days, not that he's counting), and all the girls he meets, all the girls who he travels with, all the girls he kisses, all the girls he sleeps with, they're all brown-haired and gorgeous. One of them, the one he liked best because she was snarky and sarcastic and intelligent, points out that maybe he's got some unresolved issues.
He recognizes the chance that there might be a girl he can't forget, and she smiles, victorious, and the smile is an echo of White's. But, he adds, it's not as if he has the chance to talk to her again (but oh, he does). But, he adds, it's not as if he wants to talk to her again (but, oh god, he does, he does).
But it's been five years and seven months and he is still nothing more than an invisible trainer in a sea of people, and he doesn't want her to see him like this. Sarah, or Hellen, or Anne, she just shrugs and kisses him goodbye. Before disappearing, she smiles back at him and tells him that he is too much of a proud fuck to ever succeed in anything.
He recognizes the chance that he might be, but he's already thinking about Hian and its unpleasant air, its smoky skies and its criminal colors.
He lasts a week before flying off.
She's gotten older, and for some reason he still expected her to be the fifteen-twenty-year-old girl she was, but the lipstick in her lips is still bright and her smile hasn't gotten away. The first thing she tells him is that she's given up smoking, but she accepts the pack he hands her.
He assumes this means he's being given a chance.