A/N: My first attempt at a Black/White fic. Centered around Pokemon Adventures, but I don't know exactly when. :P

Hate and Fear

Black hated thunderstorms. They were noisy and bright and usually rolled in with little warning. Plus, the rain soaked the ground, which made mud, which meant that he would have to spend precious time cleaning his clothes afterwards—time that could have been spent training his pokémon for the League. Yes, Black really didn't see any benefits to thunderstorms.

He was exasperated when he stepped out of his tent around midnight to pee and was greeted with a blinding flash of lightning. The clouds had been fluffy white when the sun set, and though they'd heard thunder in the distance, he hadn't realized it would reach their campsite so quickly. He zipped his tent closed, grateful for the waterproof lining on it, and jogged to the trees just twenty paces out. It was only drizzling; with luck, he'd be snug in his sleeping bag before the downpour hit.

Of course, that was too much to hope for. Just as he finished his business, he heard the telltale roar of rain fast approaching. He was maybe a five minute walk from their campsite, but before he'd even reached the clearing where they'd pitched their tents, he was drenched. Disgruntled, he trudged towards shelter, irritated that he hadn't pulled himself out of bed ten minutes earlier to miss the rain entirely.

Outside his tent, he paused—he was soaked through, and his sleeping bag was nice and warm and dry, and he didn't really want to change that. Knowing he needed his towel to dry off, he turned to White's tent; his was nearly too small to fit his sleeping bag, much less his backpack of supplies. Hoping she wouldn't be awake to see him sneaking in and draw her own conclusions, he slipped inside, averting his eyes from her bedroll as he found his backpack nestled in the corner of her larger tent.

He sifted through his stuff to find the towel, and immediately used it to wipe his dripping face. He'd just started to dry off his hair, debating just waiting out the storm in here so he wouldn't get his towel wet too, when lightning flashed and a whimper rose from White's side of the tent. Surprised, he froze, listening for the sound again, brown eyes squinting at her bedroll. From this angle, he could see the lump of her body under the covers, but White was silent, so he must have imagined it.

Then the thunder boomed, a loud, harsh sound that had him wincing. In the darkness, he could barely see White jump, but he heard her frightened cry over the crash of thunder. Realization hit him fast, and he stared at his employer with wide eyes. She was scared of thunderstorms. He'd never known her to be frightened of anything (except maybe losing a potential client), and the idea that she had a real fear left him dumbfounded.

She still didn't seem to have realized he was in the tent, but that was probably because she'd buried herself in her sleeping bag. He found himself straining to hear something else come from her mouth, since he still wasn't quite sure he hadn't just imagined her whimper and cry. When lightning flashed again, followed almost immediately by another roar of thunder, and he saw her covers get drawn more tightly around her form, he knew this was an actual problem. Still holding his towel, he crawled over to her and tentatively reached out to poke her.

"Hey, Pres?" he whispered, unsure if she could even hear him over the constant clapping of rain on the thin material of the tent. When she didn't move, he poked her again, a bit harder since her thick sleeping bag took most of the pressure. Finally, she shifted, and he hardly heard her say, "Go away," her voice strained and muffled by the covers.

Now, Black wasn't some kind of expert on woman-speak, but something in his mind warned him against leaving White in this prone state. He knew she was a proud person, and she probably never wanted to show such a vulnerable side to him, but he'd already figured out her fear. Leaving wouldn't change that fact, so he thought he might as well stay and try to help.

"It's just a storm, you know," he said, speaking louder than normal so White could hear him over the rain and her covers. He had yet to see her face, but if she wanted to stay curled up inside her bedroll, who was he to argue?

He didn't hear anything for a beat or two, and then she said, "Please go away." She sounded miserable, and he frowned and sat back on his heels. There had to be something he could do to help her, but he drew a blank. He was never very good at consoling people—his forte lied in battling, not coaxing someone out of a paralyzing fear.

Maybe it would be best to go… he thought, eyebrows furrowed as he watched the lump that was White. Maybe leaving her to her own devices is the best thing. But then thunder crashed again, and suddenly Black was knocked onto the ground, with White burying her head against his shoulder. He instinctively brought his arms around her, and she clutched his wet shirt, whimpering again.

"It's okay," he said, blinking in surprise at the sudden turn of events. "Hey, don't cry, White. We're safe in here, I promise." He could hear her sniffling against him, and her shudders made him tighten his hold on her. He wondered how many other times she'd had to handle her fear before they started traveling together. The idea made him frown, and he lowered his cheek to the crown of her head, his wet hair dripping rainwater on her pale skin. "We're okay."

They sat like that until the storm passed, which didn't take very long—it was quick to come, and it moved on just as fast—but felt like hours. When the thunder was merely a slight rumble in the distance, White loosened her grip on his shirt and pulled back, avoiding his gaze as she sniffed again and wiped her eyes with the palm of her hand.

"S-sorry, Black," she whispered, swallowing hard. "Go back to bed."

He gave her a sympathetic smile, which she didn't see, and stood up, taking his towel with him. He paused halfway out of the entrance of the tent and looked back at her, her dark hair cascading around her face, her nose red from crying. His expression softened, and he said, "You know, Pres, it's okay to be scared sometimes."

He left her alone before she could reply, returning to his own tent, but as he stripped his wet clothes and crawled back into his sleeping bag, he knew he had one more reason as to why he hated thunderstorms.