POKEMON: THE LAVENDER LEAGUE

::Realization & Reality!::

That night James had an odd dream. It was one about Butch, but it quite wasn't what he'd thought a dream about Butch would be. It was simple and totally G-rated. It was him, coming home to the apartment in Saffron City, but something was different. There wasn't the odor of smoke that usually was prominent throughout the place. Even the ashtray that Butch usually kept on the counter wasn't there anymore. Butch was there, and he greeted James and said something that he couldn't remember, but something was missing. The smokey breath that he usually had was gone. James smiled at this thought.

Butch had quit smoking for him.

It was so obvious, made all too clear by Butch's sweet-smelling breath, the fact that he looked at James with so much love in his eyes...

Then he woke up. He was still in the apartment, yes, but nothing had changed. Other than his sleeping position. He was laying on something awfully uncomfortable. He had his arms wrapped around it—a pillow? No. James yawned and opened his eyes. What he saw made him cringe in horror. He was laying on Butch's left leg—the same one that Butch had laid in his lap yesterday—and he had his arms wrapped around it. He let out a quiet gasp and tried to get up, but he heard Butch let out a soft chuckle. James felt his face turn red as he looked up.

The other man was already awake. He stared down at James with a sort of subtle—almost hidden—affection. His hands were resting on his chest and his fingers were woven together, making him look oddly relaxed for being in such an awkward situation.

"You look like you had a good night." James tried to get up, but Butch reached out and held him there, laughing. "No, come on! You're cute!"

James smiled a little. "Really?"

"Yeah," he said, nodding, "like a Meowth or something. Just too damn adorable."

His smile evaporated as he pulled out of Butch's grip and sat up. This didn't help him much, though, because the situation went from him sleeping on Butch's leg, to sitting on it. This made Butch begin to laugh madly again and pull his leg out from under James.

"You are way too uptight. Come on, have a little fun!"

James blushed and retorted, "Well, maybe I would if I knew that you could take me seriously."

"Take you seriously? Are you kidding me? You want me to take you seriously after you just woke up from a nap on my leg? Please." and he tried to get up, but fell back on the couch. "Ow. Damn it, you put my leg to sleep! Great going, you with your dirty little dreams..."

"I was not having a dirty dream!" James said.

Butch crossed his arms. "Oh really? Then why were you smiling so much?"

"I was...smiling?"

He nodded. "Yeah. It was really creepy."

"Well...I...I..." James struggled to find an excuse for his actions, but all he could come up with was, "...the couch is too small anyway. I'll just sleep in the floor tonight."

"No need," Butch said as he got up and went into the kitchen. He dug a fresh pack of cigarettes from a drawer and picked one out. "we're going on a job tonight."

"A job?"

"Yeah," he said, lighting the cigarette and putting it in between his lips. "it's what people do to earn mone-"

"Would you stop doing that?"

"Doing what?" Butch asked innocently as smoke came from his nostrils.

"Whenever I ask a question you make it sound like I'm being stupid."

"Well you are!"

"Am not!"

He sighed. "Fine, whatever. Just when I thought that we'd really made progress you start acting like you need more chocolate..."

James suddenly felt bad. He said, "Okay, I'm sorry. It's just...well, I did just wake up-"

"Before I tell you what the mission is, can you answer a question for me, Preppy?"

He shrugged. "Sure, what?"

"Well," Butch began, "is my leg comfortable, or does it smell like smoke?"

"Very funny." James said. He couldn't help but smile a little, despite himself. Butch grinned broadly at his joke and let out a breath of smoky air.

"I know. But anyway, the Boss called me this morning and told me about a rare Pokemon that was being driven out of Saffron today."

"What is it?"

"Well, technically they're fossils, but they're of Pokemon that I've never heard of. He said something about recovering the remains of a Kabutops, Arodactyl, and an Omastar."

"But those are all-"

Butch nodded. "I know. He says that somehow he's found a way to reanimate them, though. The only instructions he gave us were to get to the final destination of the truck that's carrying the fossils, infiltrate the building, and steal them."

James' eyes grew wide. "But that's impossible!"

"Maybe for you and Jessie, but not for you and me. We can do anything he throws at us." he said confidently. "Besides, it seems like he sort of wants to see you and Jessie fail, and I won't let that happen. It's not fair."

"I thought Team Rocket didn't play fair."

"Yeah, well. Don't get technical about it or I just might decide to let you go down like Giovanni wants."

James smiled a little. "It almost seems like you care about me."

Butch walked back over to him and in an oddly casual way ran his fingers through James' hair, saying gently, "I do, cause you're like my little pet Meowth. Purr, purr." and he snickered and sat back down on the couch.

The words had been spoken without a hint of seriousness or intimacy, but James' face still flushed all the same. In the end, he sat next to Butch feeling utterly and totally...in love.

~:~::~:~

As it turned out, the truck carrying the cargo of fossils drove all the way to Vermillion City. Clearly the owners of the fossils—whoever they may be, although James as sure that they were owned by some prestigious museum—meant to have them shipped to Cinnabar Island where they could be reanimated into living, breathing Pokemon. Unfortunately for them, this dream wouldn't come true.

Butch and James caught up with the truck once it reached a warehouse in Vermillion. There they were able to sneak into the facility through a poorly guarded window. Once they were in, however, things became much more complicated. James looked around nervously.

"Where do you think they put them?"

"In a well-guarded room."

He rolled his eyes. "Even I could've guessed that."

"Then why'd you ask?" Butch inquired, arching a brow.

James frowned. "I-"

"Hide!"

Suddenly Butch grabbed him by his hand and pulled him behind a ceiling-high stack of crates. He put a hand over James' mouth and whispered, "Please don't mess this one up...we can't afford it!"

They were alarmingly close together. So close that when James went to take a breath, his chest could barley rise without being compressed by Butchs'. But, needless to say, he liked it. No, in fact he loved it. He loved the way they shared each other's warmth for one crucial second, each other's air. The only indication that they were hiding from a person was the thin beam of yellow light that came from a man's flashlight, and the echoing of work boots hitting lazily against pavement. James swallowed and felt Butch press closer. He was nearly on top of James now, almost in a straddling position. James prayed that they weren't found, because if they were people just might get the wrong idea of what they were doing...

"I think he's-"

Before Butch could even get the thought out, the guard with the flashlight doubled back and the beam of light nearly passed over the two of them. In fear, Butch let out a little whimper and pressed his face to James', struggling to keep in his gasping, terrified breaths. James was scared too. This could very well be his last chance he had to prove himself to the Boss, and if they got caught they would get sent straight to jail. What was worse, Butch would get in almost as much trouble as himself, and that was the last thing that James wanted.

"Butch, maybe we're in over our heads," he whispered.

Butch, his eyes wide, instinctively tied to hide his face by burying it in James' shoulder. As the flashlight beam flashed over them for a third time. "Maybe...maybe you're right..." his warm breath tickled the other man's neck, making him squirm.

James had never seen him this scared before. He almost seemed helpless, but what was even stranger was that he actually seemed like the strong one for once. He smiled at this and, without realizing it, rested a hand on the small of Butch's back. Then the footsteps disappeared, as did the light from the flashlight. Once it had, Butch pulled away like nothing had happened. Slowly he got to his feet and offered a hand to James. "We were almost caught."

He nodded. "I know, but we can't give up, can we?"

Butch shook his head. "No way; I don't think that we could climb through that window again."

Both men smiled and continued on to find the fossils.

~:~::~:~

After going through many rooms, James finally happened upon the room housing the fossils. To his surprise, they were not in any expensive showcases. They were hidden carefully in layers of bubble wrap in cardboard boxes. Logically this only made sense. What thief—besides himself and Butch, of course—would think to look inside of a box that looked like all the others? James himself had been searching for some great showcase or something, but he was just equally as happy as he took a box and showed one to an astonished-looking Butch. "I can't believe that you found them!"

"Your confidence in my thieving skills amazes me, Botch."

Butch glared at James. "I could choose to say something really mean, but I won't. I won't because I'm nice."

"Yeah, real great," James mumbled as he took the second box of fossils and began walking out of the room. "You're so great that you let me lug around two boxes while you only carry one."

"Well if you're gonna whine about it-" Butch reached over and tried to take a box, but James shied away, smiling at him sheepishly.

"No way. I want more credit than you."

He expected him to put up more of an argument, but instead all Butch said was, "Yeah, sure. You deserve it, I guess. I mean, while I was cracking back there, you were pretty solid."

"I was scared too."

"But I was nearly pissing myself."

James frowned. "That's nice. You were pissing yourself all over me."

Butch smiled a little and said offhandedly, "Yeah, well, I said nearly. Besides, we weren't actually that close."

"Whatever you say."

And he hurried down the hall, praying that someone wouldn't catch them. Butch followed close behind, whispering, "Come on, we weren't that close. But hey, if you wanna be like that, fine. You're a good partner, nonetheless."

This hit James hard. He had thought—he had prayed with every fiber of his being—that after all of this Butch might start to think of him as more than just a partner. Obviously it wasn't so. Butch only made this fact more evident as he hurried past James and to the door that lead out of the warehouse.

He's just going to leave me behind like that? What if I get caught? Would he even look back?

Would he even care?