Surprise! I was expecting to be a lot busier with classes, but I've had a lot of free time since coming back to college. Normally, this isn't the type of thing I write. My general theory is not to write things you haven't experienced, but this is actually something I've dealt with, especially as of late. This was a bit of a therapeutic exercise for me. The experience of self-injury is different for everyone, so I wouldn't expect everyone to be able to relate to Volkner's reasons. It's really dependent on the person, so I'd prefer no comments on how "realistic" it is or rather, how not. It's not objective. With that said, I hope you enjoy the read.

I did actually have fun writing this. I've been writing almost every night since I've returned. I really love Ignitionshipping and Volkner honestly seems like he has depression to me. The way he's described sounds like a serious case of depression to me. While Flint is pretty serious in this story, I don't think he'd joke around like Volkner if something was seriously wrong. As goofy as he is, he seems like he'd know when to stop joking and be serious. Let me know if you think they're in character or not. I think they are, but that might just be me.

Disclaimer: I do not own Pokemon, Volkner, Flint, or anything else mentioned in this story. I just own the laptop I write on and a bag of Doritos, which my friend is currently eating while gloating about winning a mini-game in Mario Party 4...which incidentally I don't own either. I don't even own the Gamecube and disk we're playing on. Michigan does, but they live in my dorm because...well that's a horribly long story filled with drama and woe. Well, not really woe. More like drama and annoyance.

The buoy floated in the water while the storm raged around it, waves threatening to overturn the drifting sea mark. The old and rusted chains that held the buoy down snapped from the abuse of the tempest; it was only a matter of time before they gave after the years of violent storms. A large wave crashed over the buoy, drowning it in the dark waters and finally overturning it.

Volkner turned away. He couldn't stand to watch anymore. The lighthouse and the sea no longer brought him peace. Nothing did. Like the buoy he was lost at sea, drifting through the waters of his mind and helpless against the tide.

The blond descended the stairs and walked out of the lighthouse onto the sand. The sand shifted beneath his feet as he walked, the grains moving with his influence but not on their own. He reached down to grab a fistful of sand, letting it slip through his fingertips. He didn't have the will to stop it. He didn't have the will to do anything. Battles were pointless when he always won. Battling was his life and now that battling had no meaning, what did that mean for his life? Just because he was alive outside didn't mean he was alive inside. He was nowhere near it.

"I figured I would find you here," a voice said. Volkner turned around to see a familiar red afro and an unfamiliar expression – concern, maybe? – in Flint's eyes. Volkner brushed the sand off his palms and turned back toward the sea. The waves were still crashing violently on the shore; the storm was far from over. "You closed your gym again." It was the third time this month that he'd closed the gym. He kept it open for a few days, only to close it when the battles didn't live up to his expectations. Battling just made him more depressed. He couldn't stand the rut he was stuck in. Most trainers complained about their losses; Volkner complained about his wins.

"Why aren't you at the castle?" asked Volkner, trying to change the subject. He sat down in the sand, his hands idly playing with the grains. He was used to Flint's many failed attempts to cheer him up, but Flint has never looked so serious before. Even if they were best friends, this wasn't the type of thing Volkner wanted to talk to him about. He never needed help before.

"Because I'm worried about you Volk," Flint replied. He sat down next to Volkner and took his hand. The blond tried to flinch away, but Flint's grip was firm. His fingers grasped the sleeve of Volkner's military jacket to pull the material up, revealing angry red lines marring the surface of his skin. "Why?" Volkner pulled his arm away and held it close to his chest protectively to hide the wounds.

"I don't want to talk about this," Volkner muttered. He pulled his sleeve down and made a motion to get up, but Flint grabbed him to pull him back down. He wrapped his arms tightly around the blond and held him close to his chest, preventing any chance at escape.

"Tell me why Volkner!" Flint's voice had an edge of desperation in it. The more Volkner struggled against his best friend's hold, the tighter Flint's arms became. "Just tell me why you're doing this to yourself! What's wrong?" He didn't want to talk about this. It was supposed to be his secret, something no one, especially not Flint, would find out about. He expected Flint to be angry – weren't fire trainers supposed to be hotheads? – but his concern was worse.

"Because it made me feel something!" Volkner cried out. He tried to shove Flint away, but the other male's arms were too strong for him to force them away. "I can't feel anything anymore. No anger, no depression, nothing. But this…?" Volkner shifted his arms, which were currently trapped between his chest and Flint's. "This made me feel something. Is that so wrong?" Was it so wrong to want to feel alive again? For a few all too brief seconds, Volkner would feel alive.

Flint's arms loosened enough to let Volkner move away from his chest. He whispered Volkner's name out softly to get his attention before leaning down to press their lips together. Blue eyes widened in shock at the unexpected kiss. Volkner moved back to break the kiss, but not enough to escape Flint's arms.

"What are you doing Flint?" Volkner asked quietly. His heart was pounding, almost as if it was trying to beat its way out of his chest. He wanted to get away from the situation, but Flint's arms were still holding him tight. There was no way Flint was going to let go of him anytime soon.

"Did you feel something?" Flint asked in reply. "When I kissed you, did you feel something?" Volkner's heart was still pounding as hard as it was when Flint kissed him. The blond turned his head to the side, unwilling to say anything. He'd thought about kissing Flint once or twice – or maybe a few times more than that – but he wouldn't let himself look like a fool in front of him. "Volkner." Flint's tone of voice got Volkner's attention. He turned back to look at Flint reluctantly. "Did you feel something when I kissed you?" Did his heart flutter? Did he feel like he was finally living and not just existing? Yes, he felt something. He felt surprised and maybe a little bit happy. Volkner looked up at Flint and nodded slightly, just enough to give him an answer.

"Volkner, you're my best friend," Flint said. "You always have been and I'd do anything to see you happy. I care about you more than anyone or anything on this planet. Please Volk, come talk to me next time you feel like this. I want to help you because when you hurt, I hurt. I love you and I just want to see you happy." Volkner froze as those three little words came out of Flint's mouth. I love you. There were a million ways he could mean that. Volkner's voice got caught in his throat as he tried to ask Flint what he meant.

"Don't mess with me Flint," Volkner murmured. "If you're not serious about this, then don't say stuff like that." Flint meant well; obviously he just wanted to help, but if his version of helping was using Volkner's feelings to manipulate him, then he didn't want it. If Flint wasn't serious about this, Volkner didn't want to be part of it. He wouldn't let himself be strung along.

"If I didn't mean it, I wouldn't have said it," replied Flint. He leaned down again to brush their lips together briefly. He pulled Volkner into a close embrace, his arms comforting rather than restricting this time. "I love you. I mean that in every way possible, as a friend, as a lover, and as the most important person in my life." Volkner's eyes wandered toward the ocean, determined to avoid Flint's intense gaze. This was a line they'd never crossed before, the line between being friends and something more. Flint's hand moved to tilt Volkner's face toward him, his other arm wrapped loosely around his waist.

"I don't know what to say," Volkner sighed. "This could screw everything up between us. I can't lose you as a friend. Do you really want to deal with this, this…depression? I'm going to become a burden to you." Not only was Flint his best friend, he was his only friend. He'd be alone if he lost Flint. He wouldn't be able to handle it if he lost Flint. The redhead's hand stroked Volkner's cheek gently as he leaned in for a light kiss.

"You won't," Flint murmured against his lips. "We've been together for so long that I can't be without you. Why do you think I've been so worried about you? I don't want to live without you." He pressed an affectionate kiss to Volkner's cheek, eyes closed as he nuzzled his neck softly. "You're not a burden Volk, not at all. I told you before that I want to help you. If you think I'd resent you over something like this, then you're crazy." Volkner turned his head away. How long had Flint been dealing with this? His depression started when he was sixteen and they were in their twenties now. Throughout the years, Flint had always been there through it all.

"And if I am crazy?" asked Volkner. His hands gripped Flint's shoulders tightly. "If this doesn't go away, what will you do? You can't just kiss away my problems. Life doesn't work like that." Battles and crazy schemes didn't work; why would kisses? His problems weren't that simple. Half the time he felt like he couldn't be saved, like trying was pointless. That wasn't going to go away like magic.

"We can get you help," Flint replied. "We'll talk to Cynthia and see what she can do. She'll know how to help, where to get help from. You're not alone Volk." Flint wrapped both his arms around Volkner as he hugged his best friend against his chest. "I promise that you'll never be alone. You'll always have me." Volkner relaxed against Flint's chest, letting the other hug him without putting up a fight. He wrapped his arms around Flint's neck and leaned up to press his lips to the other's for a kiss. In the ocean the buoy had tilted itself upright again, fighting resiliently against the tide as the waves continued to crash around it.

We all know the drill. You read it, you review it. Praise me, flame me, do whatever you see fit. Flames are used to keep my Rapidash's coat nice and shiny.