Pairing: IgnitionShipping, aka Flint/Volkner
Author's note: These are the sort of things I used to think about when I was trying to get up the gall to confess I liked one of my own friends. In a way this is a nice outlet for those old worries. I do hope you enjoy this even if it isn't what I'd dare call "fluff." I worked hard on it, and the writing all just came out naturally. But oh MAN was this a feelings-jerker to write. All so confrontational, you know? Anyway, here is one of my favorite quotes ever to begin it.
Oh yeah, and I may go back and edit this later, but for now it's what I wanted it to be.
"There's no terror in the bang of the gun, only the anticipation of it."
Sunyshore City - Sinnoh
There was actually nothing stopping him from going through with this, now that he gave it the time of day. Sure, there was only their lifelong friendship to worry about losing, the loss of his respect, and furthermore, the commonly-felt but harshly-borne pain of rejection. Yes, he'd planned this all out in his head many times before, but always, always the pain brought him out his mind. He couldn't do it. Oh, but sometimes, he thought he could.
Like always, his feet carried him onward even if his mind was at a dead stop. They knew where he wanted to be, probably where he ought to be too. The gym plastered with solar panels was a second home, a getaway; or at least it was supposed to be. Lately though, it had been like the lake he always felt himself drowning in. He couldn't even breathe sometimes when he thought about confessing. Just, you know, spitting it out.
In the back room, he was greeted by his friend. His very old, very dear friend. Yesterday he'd seen his friend restored back to life in a way. A young challenger from Kanto had come and lit Volkner's battling spirit again. It's what he'd made very clear he'd wanted, but now that that problem was past, another had come in to take its place.
He hadn't seen his friend's eyes shine like that. Not in a very long time.
Volkner stepped away from the window that faced the ocean, and he must have asked him a question, but Flint didn't even hear a thing, lost in the sea of his own thoughts. When one door closes, another opens… he'd heard that saying somewhere before, and he could acknowledge now that it was true. Why had he come here again anyway? Maybe that's what Volkner was trying to ask him. Flint was supposed to have to gone back this morning, but he hadn't been able to leave, not with the turbulent conditions in his mind. A real storm.
His friend had come closer now, concern barely hidden under the guise of happiness at the fact that he hadn't left after all. One hand found its way to grab Flint's shoulder, as if he was about to try and shake him out of his quiet spell. And just with that little contact, a touch, suddenly he started paying a lot more attention to what was going on in the real world. What was happening right now. What he wasn't just dreaming.
"I'm sure you're busy, but I'm glad you decided to stop in to see me before you headed out. I know it's not like you live far away, but regardless…"
Volkner's voice was quiet. Quiet just like him, like this whole room. Even the electrical buzz from the various machines around the gym were louder than them right now. Normally Flint couldn't stand such languor, but it had already been proven that today was not a day like any other.
"I appreciate your visit and what you've managed to do for me. I hope that you will count on me in the future, if you should ever have some sort of need. You know where to find me, of course."
Silly, Flint thought momentarily. Silly, don't you know that I already trust you more than you could ever understand? That I wouldn't hesitate to ask you for help, like I won't hesitate to help you through times like these? Just silly. But hey, maybe you're as clueless as me with things like this. Maybe that's why we're so close to begin with.
"I guess, until next time, eh, old friend?"
Never close enough.
The tension was almost too much for him, and he was betting on their friendship to still stand even in the aftermath of what he felt he had to do right now. Twenty years of battling together, causing havoc together, getting to know each other, it was a big investment, and therefore, a risky bet to lay down. He was Officially Terrified, and that was not something Flint was used to, being how he was on any given normal day. But what did he always say to challengers? Let me see how hot your spirit burns. Oh yeah, that spiel.
He was always one for taking good advice when he found it, why should be this any different? His friend would never know what the extent was unless he showed him. And to throw in another cliché on top of this impending disaster - somehow he just felt it in his gut - actions speak louder than words.
He began with one hand around his friend's waist, and another hand at his jaw line, cupping his face to make this easier. It was uncharted territory for certain, but hey, go where no man has gone before. Without even a word of explanation, he melded his lips to that of his oldest and most beloved friend. The moment was sweet, warm, founded on sensations of triumph and sated romantic tension. For another moment, he even thought it was going to go well. There was no immediate resistance to his kiss.
Eventually though, another moment came along, and two hands were placed firmly on his chest. They pushed him away, not hard or even violently, but he got the underlying message. He had been rejected, no matter how you put it. He couldn't bear to look at Volkner, and apparently the same was true for the other man, who was staring at one of the other four walls of his office in the attempt to see anything but him.
"Look, I'm sorry," he spoke first, already feeling his insides twisting uncomfortably from his failure. Anticipation was building up again like a rogue wave. What of their friendship now? What of anything now?
"Volkner, I didn't know how you felt so I just…"
"I said goodbye, Flint. Don't you understand English? Usually someone says goodbye when the other is about to leave. Or when they want them to leave. Goodbye." His response was curt, and it was in a tone of voice that he'd never expected - nor wanted - to hear from his friend.
"And don't you understand that you're tearing out my heart right now? Not just because you rejected me either, Volk. Because you're not even letting me say my bit when I'm trying to apologize to you. I seriously… I seriously thought we were better friends than that, that you might be able to grow up and handle this like an adult. I just lost you to depression there for a while. That's because you couldn't suck it up either. You're acting as if no one knows you but you. But I do. And I cared. So I helped you."
"And yes, I'm upset that this didn't go the way I wanted, but I'm willing to let it go and just continue to be friends with you, because how I could I ever stoop so low as to give up on my buddy? We've known each other almost our whole lives."
His head hurt so much right now, but it was hardly from a migraine.
"Does that, at least, mean anything to you?"
Volkner scoffed. "Of course it does."
"Then why in the hell are you throwing it away now?" he asked him in his bravest voice.
The gym leader took a step back, turned away, and planted both palms facedown on his desk. He watched as the sky seemed to grow grayer. A storm was expected to come in tonight. If he ever got the chance, he wanted to go out to the lighthouse to monitor it.
"I asked you a question, Volkner."
"None of this has turned out how I expected it to be," he muttered darkly as his answer. "So it's easier to try and bow out now, before it gets even worse. Less damage that way, even you can acknowledge that's a smart strategy, can't you?"
Flint leaned against the nearest wall, a hand in each pocket to keep from making any dumb movements. Correction, any more dumb moves, today.
"Smart, sure, but it's not what my friend would do. I remember he never was smart in that way. He played with his plugs and devices, got good grades on all his tests, but he was never a calculating bastard like he's acting today."
"Bastard? I'm not the bastard here."
"Yes, you kind of are," Flint insisted, not feeling like he was going to stop at any time.
There was a very tensely charged silence again in which neither man moved from his assigned place. Their mean expressions never faded either.
"You… You weren't supposed to grow up without me, Flint."
"Hey, what are you talking about?"
"Exactly what I said. We got older together, for a while. But there was a point where you just left me behind. You weren't supposed to grow up and be some high class, talented Elite Four member who even outranks me by several spots. You weren't supposed to get everything you ever dreamed of when I'm still stuck here. In our hometown, with everything that's never changed. To have a Gym thrust upon me. Every engineering feat in the area has to be run by me. Everyone just abuses my talent. They respect yours. They leave you alone except for when they're adoring you."
"You're right about one thing Volkner. You never did grow up, or you'd realize I have absolutely no say in how other people think of me. You don't have to do all these things, and you could tell them to leave you alone at any time. And despite what you think, they would leave you alone. You're just like a whiny spoiled brat who gets too many presents, complains about it, when secretly getting all those presents makes him feel good about himself. I got to where I am because I worked hard. No one just gave it to me. And I'm definitely not about to let you bring me down because of your own goddamn issues. Grow the hell up man, you don't need me to do it for you!"
"If I'm so immature, then why do you like me?" he spat back, finally facing Flint.
"Because you're my goddamn best friend, and I ended up liking you more than I should have. A stupid idea now, it seems, as all you can do is spew mean things about me and my life."
"You weren't supposed to grow up to have FEELINGS for me!" Volkner shouted, fully into one of his irrational moods. "It's your own fucking fault, you idiot! I'm not good for you, never will be good enough for you, so why can't you just leave me alone!"
"Oh yeah, is that what you really want? To be all alone here in this gym of yours for another twenty years, a fucking shut-in of a gym leader who's facing challengers everyday with more maturity, more balls than him?"
"This would have been so much easier if you'd never had these sort of feelings for me." His voice was quiet, sort of defeated. It took all he had out of him, fighting with someone he cared so passionately about, even if he thought it was for the best.
"First rule for grown-ups, Volkner. Life is not easy, it never claims to be easy, and it never will be easy. I hope you were listening that time, because that's what I've been trying to tell you for a long time."
"Oh yeah, and how many of these rules are there, that I need to know about?"
"Infinite amount, bro. I'm still learning them, and I'm apparently a pro at this grown-up thing, as you make me sound."
"That… that really sucks," he responded, for lack of better words to adequately describe the situation.
"Do you still hate me?" Flint asked. It seemed like his friend had calmed down some, for whatever reason.
"Kind of." Flint could tell from that expression that he didn't really mean it. A considerable improvement to the last few minutes of their… conversation.
"I do have to get back to my day job. Are you going to miss me at all?"
"Is it because you care about me?"
"I'll never tell."
"I bet I could make you."
A sigh escaped the mentally-overwhelmed blond man's mouth. "I bet you could too. You make me do a lot of things I'd never expect myself to do, ever in this life. And I think a lot of things I wouldn't have with anyone else prodding me to."
"These things you think, philosophical amigo of mine, are they something I'd like to hear about?" Like maybe you're a stupid idiot, and you actually love me? Ring a bell there, old buddy, old pal? Flint thought to himself with a smile.
"Undoubtedly I'm sure you'd like to know. Especially know that I know you seem to be very interested in my mouth."
"Ha, you're a comedian, Volkner. Really, touché."
"But I don't feel up to it right now. I'm sure you understand."
"I do. And I'll give you all time in the world if that's what you need. Just not too much time, 'kay?"
Volkner smiled. Flint beamed.
The kiss, it didn't matter.
He'd try again next time.