Cilan figured he was pretty good at being a third wheel. Back in Striaton city, Chilli and Cress had always been more of a duo act, what with their uncannily conflicting personalities, and in there many arguments, he'd always feel like some kind of referee rather than the participant he longed to be.
When he started travelling, Cilan though he'd finally found a group he belonged in. He'd convinced himself that Ash and Iris could barely survive without him, and he graciously cooked meals for them, if only as repayment for finally getting that feeling of belonging, and for a while all was well. That was until he had to finally start acknowldeging the sexual tension that existed between his two companions. The changes were subtle at first, little things such as conversations between the two where he felt out of place, or one of their hyper-competitive, tree climbing or vine swinging contests lingering a bit longer than was necessary, to the point where he actually started wondering wether the two had abandoned him, if they took too long. Still Cilan was pretty good at masking his emotions, and even as their tricycle was rapidly becoming two-wheeled, he cheerfully braced the storm, convincing himself that the two were too different to actually be attracted to each other. Gradually though, his companions drifted too close together for him to pretend to remain oblivious anymore. Their tree-climbing competitions became more about sitting atop a tree brach and talking about their respective regions, and Cilan often cuaght a gllimpse of them holding hands, when they thought he wasnt looking, and once found them in an extremely akward and inexperienced make-out session. Still, Cilan was not a selfish person, and decided it would be best for his two companions if they were a bit more open to each other. Ignoring his own feelings, Cilan egged the two on, often setting up romantic dinners exclusively for the two of them, or conveniently abandoning them near lakesides, with flocks of Cotonee couples, drifting in the wind. His plan was largely succesful, though Iris and Ash would vehemently deny his accusations, and would verbally boycott him for days if he so much as implied a relationship that went beyond friendship. At this point, however, their own opinions hardly mattered because of all the couple-ish things they did. Even Trip accused Ash of wasting too much time with his girlfriend and too little training, after he creamed the Kanto-native in yet another battle. As for Cilan, he watched all this with a cheerful facade, keeping his mind void of anything that resembled jealousy or loneliness.
It wasnt until Cilan woke up one night, to find his companions asleep in the same sleeping bag, that was already too small for one person, that the familiar sting of loneliness really flooded his mind. He immediately yelled them awake, and gave them an hour long lecture about controlling basal urges, and how they had wrecked their magnificently sweet flavour with this bitter lewdness. Later, as Iris scrambled back to her own sleeping bag, Cilan tried to convince himself that the immense satisfaction he felt was brotherly concern loosening on his conscience. The next morning when he woke up to find Iris and Ash in the same position as last night, perhaps even wrapped tighter around each other, Cilan could only sigh in frustration, and set out to make dinner, all the while rethinking his own emotions.
A few minutes later, when two hands wrapped obstinately around wither of his, Cilan decided he had absolutely no problems with being third wheel. Besides,that way he'd get his own sleeping bag.