Gold is sleeping behind him in his own sleeping bag. At least, Silver hopes he's sleeping. The mere presence of his rival is almost to much to bear, he can feel himself shaking, and it isn't from the cold. The cold was the reason they were sharing a tent, Silver had no warm Pokemon to keep with him through the night, and he had been forced to admit that trying to sleep alone in this frigid, northeastern Johto weather would likely kill him.
So here he was. His elbows locked up, tightly pressed against his ribs, muscles stretching and pulling to try and wrap around his body in a terribly unnatural way, fingers biting into his upper arm even through his jacket like tiny, bony little knives.
Silver is afraid.
Gold makes a noise behind him, shifting slightly, and Silver starts, locking up and ceasing to breathe as he waits for his tent mate to settle back into quiet, predictable slumber. Silver tries to let his breath out, but realizes he can't- it's locked in his chest, to afraid to leave him. His arms tighten and he gasps for oxygen, he feels himself breathing but no air comes in or out, his head is fuzzy and his eyes are wide,-he starts to double over, no longer able to control the vicious cough-like noises that are jumping from his throat as he desperately searches for oxygen that seems to have rapidly fled the atmosphere.
Gold is awake, he's shaking him now, he's saying something, but Silver can't hear him, he's too busy focusing on finding air when there's none left and being unable to- and suddenly, it's back. He lets go of his arms, gasping, coughing, sputtering and spitting as he stops hyperventilating, finally able to taste the air that was there all along. He feels light headed, sick- his throat burns, his chest is sore, and he breathes heavily, sweating, as if he's run for miles. He feels even colder. He realizes Gold's hand is still on his arm from when he was shaking him- he wrenches it away, swearing, still panting.
"Don't touch me- don't you ever touch me-" He snarls, backing away like a caged, vicious animal, fear in his eyes. Gold furrows his brow, confused- he looks briefly at his hand, as if he expects it to have turned into some terrifying beast when he had looked away.
Silver continues to pant, back pressed against the side of the tent as he stares wide eyed as a deer in the light, unblinking, muscles tensed, ready to flee at any provocation. Gold stays still.
"...Are you alright?" He asks, finally, when Silver fails to calm down. Silver just grits his teeth, sniffling harried breaths in and out of his nostrils.
"Shut up. Just shut up." He hisses, digging his hands into the plastic covered ground. He can almost feel the dirt beneath his fingers, but the thin polyethylene tent bottom reminds him he's trapped, caged, in a bag with another human being, and he can't just walk away. He can't stand up and leave, he has nowhere to go. The zipper is on the other side, behind Gold. He'd have to pass him to reach it, and he can't do that. Not ever. Can't move, can't look away. Frozen.
Gold sits back slowly, hoping to make his panicking tent occupant more comfortable with a little distance. Silver seems to appreciate this, and although he would obviously prefer greater distance, there is none to be had, so he settles somewhat- though his muscles are still tightly coiled, ready to spring to life if he needs to.
"I'm not going to touch you, okay? Just calm down. You're freaking me out. Did you have like... a nightmare or something?" Gold fields, hesitant.
Silver keeps staring. His eyes are watering. He only has nightmares when he's sleeping, but when he is sleeping he always has nightmares. He is always afraid. So very, very afraid.
"Just go back to sleep, Gold." He manages to squeak out. He hates the way the words sound, coming out of him. Weak and small and afraid. No one is allowed to know how afraid he is, they'll take advantage of that fear. They'll hurt him. No one is allowed near, ever allowed near, if they're too close, they'll use that to their advantage to hurt him. Silver swears for good measure, to make up for the squeak.
Gold looks at him in disbelief, "Are you kidding? Sil, you're over here having a goddamn heart attack. You look like someone just tried to kill you."
He might as well have. Silver hisses slightly, the words striking home. He feels like someone tried to kill him. He forces himself to settle, to relax. Gold isn't going to hurt him. He knows that. His brain knows Gold wouldn't want to hurt him because he has nothing to gain from hurting him, but he is still so very, very, very, very afraid he has overlooked something. That there is some trite piece of information he is not yet aware of that would invalidate that, that would make Gold want him dead or worse. Something he doesn't know that would rationalize his fear.
But there's nothing he doesn't know. Silver pretends to relax, he blinks, lets his legs settle, forces his arms back into his lap.
"I'm alright. Just shut up, okay. I'm too tired for this." Silver glares, then does the bravest thing he can possibly conceive at the moment, and lies back down where he was, willing, begging, pleading his body not to shake. At first it obeys, but Gold doesn't lie back down. He just keeps staring. At least, Silver feels like he's staring. He isn't moving. What else is there to look at? He's certain Gold is sneering, laughing at his stupidity silently. He knows it. God, he's so ashamed. He starts shaking again. Lightly, as if from the cold. Then more violently, to the point where he has to clench his hands into fists and crush them against his chest, because he can't hold still. Gold still won't lie down.
All the bad memories are flooding in. The things he wants to forget but can't. He can't remember the things he wants to. Nothing good comes to mind. He remembers his father shutting him out of the house when he was little, he remembers the cold nights in the woods or a Pokemon center. He remembers the other children laughing at him, his stupid hair that he could never cut because he was afraid to, the stupid, black, thick layers of clothing he wore even in the warmest weather because he can't bear to be seen, can't bear to be noticed. He remembers the older trainers taking advantage of him when he did win battles, kicking him into the ground, heavy footfalls beating his tiny frame into the dirt before the took what they would have won from him and a little extra, and left him there as if it were normal. He remembers tiny little Silver, young and afraid and alone and unloved, trying to be okay on his own on big city streets. He remembers snarling and fighting and screaming, and pushing people away before they could get close. He remembers trying to catch Pokemon to help himself, to make life easier, to be a trainer and not be such a failure- he remembers nursing wounds caused by weak Pokemon- Rattata, Pidgey, Geodude. As if everything he touched hated him, instantly and unconditionally.
Silver feels as if that is where his initial fear of contact stems from.
Silver realizes he's curled into a shaking ball now, and can't unlatch his hands from his shoulders. He hates everything, he hates himself, he hates how afraid he is, he hates Gold because he won't just lie down and ignore it, he hates the sky and the ground and the cold and the world and-
"Is it okay if I touch you?"
Silver opens his eyes. No, no, no, it isn't okay. It's never okay. He likes having a Rival, it's the closest thing he will ever get to a friend- because sometimes they don't act like they hate each other, and they can share a tent when it's cold enough to die outside, and if he touches him, he'll hate him to, just like everything else that ever touched him.
He withdraws even tighter into his little ball, hoping it's enough of an answer.
Gold shuffles forward, and Silver knows, just knows, he's going to touch him. He doesn't know why. His arms are stuck, his legs are numb and he scrunches his eyes shut, waiting, just waiting for that contact and then the screaming- get out, get out, I hate you, too.
He feels a hand on his shoulder, and Silver flinches, violently. It's quiet. Silver waits for it, just waits, but all the fear stemming from waiting for it is so much worse than when it will actually happen, and he can hardly bear it, he just wishes Gold would get it over with already and tell him he never wanted to see him again, so Silver could stumble out into the snow, and maybe get lost, and maybe not get un-lost, and maybe-
"I don't know what's wrong, but I want to help you, Sil."
Silver stops trembling.
"I just want you to talk to me- okay?"
Silver feels his hands loosen they're white-knuckled grip, and the blood rushes back into his arms and fingertips gratefully.
Silver looks up at just stares at him.
He has to be lying.
Gold bites his lip.
"I mean, obviously you don't want to talk about it but... do you need like... a hug?"
Silver can't even comprehend.
He sees people hug so often, in the streets, on trails, in buildings, on TV.
He has never been an active participant in one, however.
He notices he's crying.
Gold takes that as a yes, shuffles downward to meet him, carefully, and Silver, for once is not afraid.