Fandom: Pokémon
Characters/Pairing: Gold/Kris [game]
Genre: Drama
Prompt: He keeps seeing someone beautiful; she hides in the periphery of his eyes and he doesn't know who she is, but oh, he loves her.

~*Degrees of Fire*~

Their story was nothing fancy, but he'd have it no other way.

~*1*~ Glance

Gold was a boy with black hair and loose clothes and the fire of adventure burning in his veins. His smirk was confident, his steps were sure, and his Pokémon mimicked him with straight backs and narrowed eyes.

That—all of it—shattered into little pieces in the span of a second. He was left stumbling, confused, turning around and ignoring his Larvitar as the little Rock/Ground-type clashed with a Drowzee. For a moment, he had imagined that he had seen something…someone…or was it simply a matter of his imagination?

He frowned, his attention finding its way back to the battle, though he continued to be troubled by the mere glimpse for hours after.

~*2*~ Unfocused

Goldenrod City was warm and stuffy, the air tasting of stale metal and exhaust. His ever faithful Larvitar at his side, Gold made his way through the winding streets, and sometimes he nearly slipped, and it bothered him like nothing ever had before. His confidence was shaken, and his thoughts were distracted, but why? What was he even wondering about? The world seemed suddenly hollow and vague, as if something was missing, and it frightened him because he knew why he was like this.

He knew.

~*3*~ Naught

It was a girl.

The realization hit him hard but distant, because he only got a glimpse of her but he wanted so much more. Such beautiful eyes, this he was certain, but no matter how desperately his gaze ravaged the trees of the Route behind him, he saw nothing and no one and maybe he was just going crazy.

Larvitar blinked anxiously at him, deep red eyes confused, and he tried to wave it off as nothing.

~*4*~ Mad

His Pokémon was not a patient creature, and he knew that he was worrying him. Larvitar butted his Trainer's knee with his head, but Gold would not budge from his position on the boulder. Chin propped on one hand, he stared at the ground and kept futilely searching the very edges of his vision, so intently that his eyes burned, looking for something that wasn't there—but he hoped she would be.

He couldn't see her, didn't know her name or face, and it hurt and seared and drove him crazy.

~*5*~ Her

Larvitar shuffled near his sneakers as Gold reached out and picked up a box of Potions in the Pokémart. He idly examined the glossy package, wondering if maybe it was time for the Super variety, when he heard a sound that made his heart pound and his breath catch.

"Excuse me, I'm sorry to bother you, but you are a Trainer, right?"

It was her. She wasn't hovering or gliding or ghosting around on the utmost borders of his eyes, she was actually there. He only knew this because he saw her reflection—a strangely familiar, haunting visage—shining in the steely gray rims of the shelf. He was afraid to turn around, in case it would all be just a dream or some sort of illusion. Her voice sounded soft and kind and he couldn't help but think that her Pokémon must simply adore her.

Fortunately, Larvitar had the presence of mind to growl quietly, bringing Gold back to his senses. "Y-Y-Yeah, I am," he muttered, blushing rather uncharacteristically. He imagined her clasping her hands—did she have calloused skin or smooth skin?—and speaking with a smile on her face. A smile for him.

"I'm such a ditz," she laughed, causing his heart to positively melt in delight. "But I don't remember…do Full Heals cure Confusion too?"

Gold was still lost in his little fantasy world made out of the small truths he knew of the girl behind him, and he swallowed hard, perplexed about why he would be feeling this way. So lightheaded and dreamy and…

Regardless, a reply emerged from his aching throat anyway. "Yeah." His voice sounded so rough compared to hers, which in comparison had rang with warmth like bells of sunshine.

"Thanks! Sorry to trouble you!"

Larvitar snarled sharply, but the girl wasn't bothered and Gold knew that the rebuttal was meant for him. Turn around; the Pokémon seemed to be demanding. Speak with her!

But he couldn't do anything, his feet were planted firmly on the gleaming Pokémart tiles and content to stay there, like long buried roots. "No problem," he answered slowly, not once moving from his spot. The Rock/Ground-type heaved a massive sigh.

Of course by the time Gold actually turned around, the girl was long gone.

~*6*~ Fade

Larvitar was annoyed, this much was clear. His scarlet gaze was heavy and baleful on Gold's skin, cutting deep into him like shards of ice.

"Okay," snapped his Trainer. "I know, I know, I'm spacing out. But we're getting Gym Badges, aren't we?"

In response to that, Feraligatr exchanged a look with Smeargle and Arcanine. They all shrugged, nodding in acknowledgment. For all of his longing musings for the girl, he hadn't once neglected any of his Pokémon's needs.

"So stop scowling at me or I'm bringing Noctowl along instead," Gold finished firmly, sticking his tongue out at the reptilian Rock/Ground-type that was due to evolve very soon. Of course, if his friend Lyra had been there, she'd have commented on the stupidity of mocking a one-hundred-and-fifty-eight pound lizard, but fortunately she and her smart remarks were not present.

It was always there though; the vain hope that he would run into the girl again. This time face to face, because he couldn't seem to find it within himself to directly gaze upon her, as if he feared her disappearing into thin air.

Like she often did.

~*7*~ Fetch

Recently, Larvitar had evolved and the space at his side was now filled by Arcanine. Why? Because Larvitar's evolution was Pupitar, a slow moving—though not entirely immobile—cocoon of great weight. Gold figured that the massive striped dog-like Pokémon would appreciate being able to stretch his extensive legs.

He bounded ahead of him, sniffing curiously and wagging his bushy tail. Gold was too lazy to check his Pokégear and see what Route he was on, but he knew they were near Moo Moo Farms. He was going to challenge the Gym Leader of the next city…what was her name…Jasmine?

Walking was a tiring thing, and gradually the boy called Arcanine back and they rested on the peak of a wooded slope. Gold pushed the brim of his cap up, leaning forward and grinning to himself. The appearances of the girl on the rims of his vision had started happening less and less. As a result, he was able to successfully gather his confidence and determination back together and he pushed her to the back of his mind—not quite succeeding, but almost.

Arcanine walked straight up to him and dropped a ball at his feet. At first the Trainer wondered where he had gotten it from, and then he realized that it was merely a rice ball from their lunch earlier. Smirking, he tossed the food item down the hill and snickered as the Pokémon charged off with an excited bark (howl) to retrieve it.

...This was followed mere seconds later by a panicked, "Oh no! Oddish! Come here, quick!"

That voice…was awfully familiar…

Instantly, Gold's skin grew hot and his tongue twisted itself into a knot, effectively preventing him from calling his spry Arcanine back. It was her! Speak of the Devil, he couldn't even think about not thinking about her!

He got to his feet—his legs were shaky for some reason—and he walked unsteadily down the slope. Pushing aside the low-hanging branches of a fir tree, he peered at the scene before him with a bemused expression.

Arcanine was barking eagerly, pacing around the rice ball as the girl shrank back from his considerable bulk. Gold was unable to meet her gaze or even attempt to look at her face. Instead, he pointed at the dirt and said firmly, "Arcanine! Here! Now!"

He was promptly knocked flat onto his back by a burst of wind as the dog Extreme Speed-ed over to him, materializing in front of his Trainer in the blink of an eye. Gold spluttered as earth was kicked up into his face and his hat flew off to the side. Jumping up, clearly indignant, he prepared to give the Pokémon a piece of his mind—only to receive a long, slow lick, which was Arcanine's attempt to clean his master.

A familiar giggle caught his attention, and Gold stiffened, one hand on the striped dog's great neck. He hunched his shoulders and felt his face burn in embarrassment.

"Oh? Is he yours?"

…She was there. She was there. There was absolutely no reason now why he couldn't, shouldn't, face her and introduce himself and…and…

Arcanine barked, frightening the musing Gold and sending the unbalanced boy backwards. He landed in a sprawling heap on top of the girl, and now he had no choice but to open his eyes and meet hers.

Her eyes were blue. Light, iridescent blue. Like…like…the sky. Or glimmering water. Ice? No, no, warmer than that. The ocean. Cerulean fire? Regardless, her hair was the same shade and she had a gentle face like he had thought, had imagined, that she would. A slim frame and light clothes, creamy skin too.

It dawned upon him that he likely looked like a mess. "I'm sorry! So sorry!" He spluttered, springing back faster than any Pokémon. He was still entranced by her, amazed that she hadn't simply disappeared into the sunlight or something. Her, his personal ghost, was real and breathing and…

And…

Laughing?

She got to her feet, dusting herself off and not appearing concerned or annoyed in the slightest. Her sunshine-bells-are-tolling voice succeeded in ensnaring his undivided interest without any difficulty. "It's all right! No need to worry!" She put her hands on her hips and leaned forward to study him with evident curiosity. "It's you! That boy from the Pokémart! I don't know if you remember me, but—"

"Gold!" He exclaimed, blushing intensely and barely succeeding in keeping eye contact. By Arceus, she was upsetting him more than the entirety of Team Rocket and Silver.

Her head tilted to the side. "Gold? Gold what?"

"Ah…um…" Please, don't let this be a cruel trick. Surely someone as beautiful as her only existed in that dream world on the edges of sight? "My name. Gold."

She smiled vividly. "Is that so? My name's Kris, nice to meet you." She offered her hand and he shook it uneasily, still terribly tongue-tied, and Arceus there went that wretched tightening of his throat and the world was cloudy and why was it suddenly so hot?

Kris nodded at Arcanine, whom had planted himself onto his haunches whilst panting loudly. "He's harmless, right?" An Oddish poked itself out of her backpack, button eyes intrigued, though a little nervous.

(Her skin definitely wasn't calloused…)

"…Huh? Oh, him? No, he's—I mean yes! No! Yes!" Gold floundered for his train of thought, to Kris's obvious amusement, and he wished that Giratina would take it upon itself to end his misery right then and there. "He's friendly," he finished lamely.

"Hehe, you're funny. Can I pet him?"

"S-Sure."

She went over to the large dog and started stroking his elegant mane. He collapsed onto his back and let her scratch his tawny belly, one long leg kicking at the air in delight.

Gold…felt jealous, but he denied its existence.

She's really here…the girl…

Laughing gently, Kris straightened after a while and smiled at him. "I'm really sorry, but I have to go. Oddish and I need to visit my grandmother."

"I—er—yeah. I'm sorry for bothering you. About the rice ball. Or…uh…about the…"

She merely shook her head. "It's okay! I'm glad I got to meet you properly! I'll see you later, Gold!"

As she sprinted off with a lively wave, he just managed to call, "Bye, Kris!" After that, she vanished back into whatever fantasy realm he had conjured her from.

Sighing happily, he sat down in the grass and shoved his discarded hat back onto his head. "She thinks I'm funny. Is that bad?"

Arcanine whimpered slightly, staring off in the direction that Kris had gone.

He patted the dog's back. "Yeah, I know buddy."

That's when it occurred to him that he had forgotten to ask for her number.

~*8*~ Aflame

…Darn it. He needed to stop being so lazy. What Route was he on, again…? Didn't matter, he was on the path just before the Ice Cave that led to Blackthorn City and that was all he needed to know.

The air was pure and clean here, and he inhaled deeply, enjoying the scent of water that lingered in his nose. Places like this were made for travelers, and today was no exception to such a golden rule.

Arcanine skipped at his side, his light steps belying his bulky frame. The Fire-type sniffed around, and Gold let him, examining his Badge Case with a triumphant smirk. Seven down, just one to go! Claire of Blackthorn was going down before the week was up.

Fishermen waved at him from the sides of the nearby lake, and he returned the gesture, not entirely interested in battling currently. The green grass rippled as it bent itself flat against the wind, and he fervently hoped that his silly Pokémon wouldn't accidentally start a fire like he had almost done down by the Lake of Rage.

Just then, Arcanine released a mighty howl that he only reserved for battles and put on a burst of Extreme Speed, disappearing from view in a single heartbeat. Swearing loudly, Gold raced as hard as he could after his stupid ridiculous hard-headed Pokémon that never

Gold skidded to an abrupt halt that almost sent him flying into the water. His insides melted and again he was exposed to the peculiar onslaught of physical and mental problems that only revealed themselves when she was near.

It was like burning, and loving every minute of it.

Kris was about ten feet from him, fishing pole at her side, and a Furret at her feet. She was giggling, trying and failing to shove Arcanine away as he licked her face fiercely over and over again. Her Furret was not amused, his fur becoming a spiny ripple across his back.

She managed to open one eye long enough to spot Gold. "H-Help!" She cried out jokingly. Scowling, he recalled his Arcanine and let out his much better mannered Eevee instead. She daintily brandished her tail before going over to the Furret and babbling away in Pokémon speech.

"I'm so sorry, he just gets away from me sometimes and—"

"No need to worry!" Kris remarked off-handedly, again radiating such confidence that Gold was envious. She clasped her hands behind her back and walked over to him. "We keep running into one another, don't we, Gold? How've you been?"

"G-G-Great."

"That's good." She sounded like she genuinely meant it. "Where are you off to next?"

Arceus help him, why wasn't he able to speak coherently? All of his flamboyancy just up and vanished whenever she was near him, and even now, his heart was thudding so loudly that he was certain that she could hear every stupid, quickened beat. "Blackthorn City."

"Me too! Want to go together? I here it's dangerous to go alone." Kris gave him a grin, and Gold practically jumped at the prospect.

"Sure!"

Eevee rolled her eyes, an action mimicked by the Furret.

~*9*~ Freed

The Ice Cave was, well, exactly what you would expect. It was a place of frost and cold and crystal, glittering in the weak light that came in from the ceiling. Kris started babbling about how the Ice Pokémon that lived in the cavern made it like this, and Gold hung onto every word with wide eyes.

They ran into some wild Pokémon as you would expect, but Gold was an extraordinary battler and they had no serious problems. Tongue-tied though he was, he was still able to order his Pokémon so long as he did his best to block her from his mind.

But oh, how happy he was that she was getting to see him in his element.

They were both in for a surprise, because as Pupitar finished off a Swinub without too much difficulty despite his type, the cocoon-like Pokémon evolved into the massive Tyranitar, complete with flashing lights and a roar of unrestrained fury.

Cue the ice floor shattering.

Kris screamed and Gold yelped as they all dropped the short distance down to the next level. Tyranitar was perfectly unharmed, and he proceeded to shove boulders aside in an attempt to clear the way out.

"He's a scary one," she giggled nervously, eyeing the monstrous lizard.

"He won't bite," was the cheerful reply. Gold watched her anxiously, her safety the first thing on his mind. "You're not hurt, are you?" The cave took his words and echoed it a dozen times, endeavoring to prove his concern for her valid.

She stared at him, her expression surprised. "That's a first!"

"What is?"

"You're not stammering!" A huge grin formed on her face, blue eyes twinkling like icy stars. "I was wondering when you'd stop! I won't bite either."

Gold opened and closed his mouth several times before turning away, blushing hard. However, his tongue was still fully operational and he was relieved by that.

The only thing that hadn't changed was the feeling in his heart—a pleasant, all-consuming fire that was burning him alive.

And he loved it.

~*10*~ Fin

She was the phantom that danced on the edges of his vision.

Here one moment.

Gone the next.

All of their meetings came and went like this, with unexpected encounters that were initiated by the both of them without any preemptive planning. Soon they just decided to travel together. Occasionally, it would be Kris—to Gold's surprise—who started stammering. This had initially happened during their first sunset together, just outside of the Pokémon League. He had only turned to ask her a question, and had said her name to get her attention, and in response she had begun to sputter unceasingly for a few good seconds.

Gradually, a friendship was forged, and it turned out that she didn't have a Pokégear. He felt better about all of those missed chances to get her number. For her victory against the Pokémon League, he got her one of the electronic devices, even if her triumph over the pompous heads of Pokémon battling came several months after his.

It didn't matter. He waited for her.

They defeated the Kanto Gyms one after another, but it was only after their big, climatic battle with Blue of Viridian City did this exchange take place.

The stars were obscured by the gray rain clouds overhead, and Gold sincerely regretted wandering so far from Viridian. With their luck, a huge storm would break out and they would be lost in the resulting torrent.

Kris, his constant companion nowadays, hugged her Furret tight, not at all worried. Tyranitar lumbered along behind them, keeping up despite his immense size.

"There's something about having a big deadly Pokémon behind you that makes a girl feel safe," she had joked once. The memory of it made Gold smile.

At that moment, he felt a few cold droplets splash against his face. In a matter of moments, a veritable deluge hurled itself from the sky at them, as if intending to swallow the pair up in its chilling embrace. Tyranitar was dismissed—he hated the rain—as was Furret—he hated getting wet—as their Trainers started sprinting along the muddy path towards the city.

"We're at least twenty minutes from Viridian," Kris called behind him, her voice nearly lost in the gale. "Let's find a place to shelter!"

Gold didn't answer, just grabbed her hand without thinking and hauled her into a low, wide niche he had spotted beneath a hill's overhang. They crouched there, their breaths fogging in front of their faces, making themselves comfortable as the rain went right on falling.

Drawing his legs up to his chest and resting his chin on his knees, he sighed and muttered, "We're gonna be here all evening."

"No we won't. Have some optimism."

"You'll have to have enough for the two of us—I'm all out."

She laughed softly and he closed his eyes with a tiny grin. The rain reminded him of something he and Lyra had talked about once, when they were much younger, and neither of them had ever stepped beyond New Bark Town. She had wondered what a kiss in the rain would feel like. He had joked that if he got one, he'd tell her.

Gold's brow furrowed. Hah. As if he could work up the courage to ever try that.

"Jeesh. It's cold," Kris stated absently, poking at a few of the buttons on her bright blue Pokégear.

He mumbled something in agreement, berating himself for his cowardice. "Kris?"

"Hmm?"

"…Let's keep going."

She studied him skeptically before shrugging. "Okay. But if we get a cold or something—"

"I take full responsibility," he chuckled, just a tad nervously despite their months of strong friendship. They crawled out of their shelter and Gold stepped aside to let Kris pass by him back onto the main road.

Well. Now or never.

He grabbed her wrist firmly but gently and queried nonchalantly, "Hey, can I ask a question?"

"Sure, shoot."

His heart beat wildly against his ribcage, faster than the hooves of a speeding Rapidash. With the added effects of Agility. His stutter returned with a vengeance. "E-E-Ever been kissed in the rain?"

For a moment, her eyes glittered with confusion, and then her expression shifted from flummoxed to shock to understanding. The corners of her lips twitched. "No. You?"

Keeping up their pretense of casualness, he moved closer as she did, barely feeling the effects of the numbing rain. All he felt was that fire. "Nope."

Gold, for once, swallowed his anxiety over everything and pressed his lips to the girl that had always played with the rims of his vision.

It seems he owed Lyra a phone call.


Author's Note: My part of the fic exchange between me and Pokemon author extraordinare, inked kisses. In advance, my apologies, because endings are seriously my weak point. Ugh. However, I hope you managed to enjoy it even with my bad conclusion-writing skills. XD As a random note, I've long had this thing where I have to use Pokemon somewhere in a Pokemon story. It's just odd otherwise, especially in the game universe, right?