notes – This is Sapphire-centric with silly boys everywhere. Of course there is rubysapphire, it is my endgame ship. This is just a more 'realistic' take on how Sapphire gets there. I feel like it's a rough road (ain't it always, with love?), but she gets there eventually.


Sapphire takes more than a couple of years to give up on the 'one true love' gig concerning Ruby. It's like kicking a bad habit, but she eventually manages to stop pestering Ruby about his missing feelings. She finally grows up.

She is sixteen and reaching for stars. She wins a handful of prodigy awards for her research papers (Green and Crystal still tutor her math and language every other week though.) and has thirty-six polished gym badges. She dates four boys and breaks up with five. She wonders if it's normal for teenage girls to have fickle hearts.

"Obviously." Blue enlightens her, lipstick smudged at the corner of her curved mouth. Sapphire wonders if she'll look like Blue when she is twenty-one and shudders.

She dates Red.

They do not become an official couple, but Red uses the word 'date' when he asks her out for dinner and exchanging battle tactics. Sapphire immediately imagines them at the altar, church bells ringing. She has to backpedal to realise that Red doesn't really grasp the concept of love. Affection is something he is familiar with, but romance is a department he will never be able to master.

She asks, "What about Yellow?" and Red stops and his voice catches in his throat and wow does he look incoherent right now. She wonders if she'll ever look that way. Be so hopelessly in love she doesn't even realise it herself.

"I – I don't mean a datedate, just a friendly date!" he clarifies.

Sapphire forgives him for unintentionally misleading her. They break up five minutes after Red first mentions the word 'date'. They go out for dinner at a café in Littleroot in the end. She irons her shirt and brushes her hair for once, only because Red is her idol. The date lasts for one night and happens annually whenever Red drops by Hoenn. Sapphire is fine with that because having a champion at your arm, if only for three hours, is never something to complain about.

Ruby chides her for wearing only a plain shirt and worn out shorts.

The lab assistant places a daisy on her workbench.

He is one year younger than her and probably new at the game of love because he looks so hopeful. He wears spectacles and has dark hair but his eyes are brown and he seems like a good person. Sapphire knows him well enough from all their fieldwork together. He appreciates nature the way she does. Still, she thinks he doesn't know her well enough and that he's being blinded by some hormonal desire to find romance. It's not possible for someone to be so crazy for her.

She whispers this into Dono's ear and gets bowled over by his tusks. He grunts and makes noises that insist that she is beautiful. Sapphire is happy her pokémon thinks so, at least.

It turns out she is right, though. The assistant sustains his crush on her for two months, and when he finally starts thinking about the long term, he realises that he doesn't want to spend it with a girl who wakes up at five in the morning and drinks straight from the milk carton. Sapphire understands. Ruby is there to clap his hands and congratulate her for being attached for more than a week. He even bothers to spare a compliment for her sundress. She supposes she should pretend to feel blessed.

Instead, she goes out into the forest, riding on Dono's back, shouting at the top of her lungs. Not before shoving Ruby into a shrubbery of bushes though.

She becomes Gold's rebound.

He shakes the tree she is sitting on profusely, and when that doesn't work, his typlosion mimics his actions with equal enthusiasm and a whole lot more strength. Sapphire tumbles from her height, falling onto the pokémon's pelt and sliding down to Gold's shoes. She looks up at him with a raised eyebrow. He looks genuinely sad for once.

"Crys – Crystal broke up with me!" he laments, falling over on the grass with a hand pressed to his forehead.

Sapphire can't help but feel sympathy for the guy. Even though it's probably his fault in the first place. It always is.

"Wha'ddya want me to do about it?" she asks, trying to sound frustrated but in the end it comes out as a sort of sad resignation. She can't leave Gold alone like this. She's too nice and helpful and both of them know it. Even Explotaro knows it. The typlosion hovers over Sapphire and nuzzles her cheek.

"Rebound!" Gold declares, sitting upright.

"You wanna play?" she asks, motioning the toss of a basketball into a hoop.

"Not that!" the boy corrects her. He grabs her by the shoulders and tells her about an elaborate scheme to win Crystal back to him. He intends to make her realise how much she likes him, help her remember all the good times they had –

" – By dating me?" Sapphire finishes, skeptical.

"C'mon!" Gold persists.

The girl bats his hands off her. Even though she kind of stinks at being romantic and finding love, Sapphire just knows this isn't the way to go about things. This is something only Gold would think of doing.

"Ten minutes, that's all I'm asking!" the older boy pleads. He casually takes her hand into his, the other arm raised to block any incoming punches. Sapphire just rolls her eyes. She feels nothing from the contact between them. She remembers a time when she'd felt warmth and support and a certain sureness, diving to the bottom of the sea with Ruby. Even through the gloves he'd given her, she'd felt something. Sapphire wonders if she'll ever find that feeling again.

"I'll give you some tips to score with Ruby if you do," Gold interrupts her thoughts with his words.

"W-what? I don't need that!" She tightens her grip on his hand to make a point. The boy beside her winces at the pain.


Of course, Crystal chooses this moment to find them. She'd walked over from the lab, her hands on her hips, lab coat swaying with the breeze.

"What?" he snaps.

"What are you doing with Sapphire?"

"She's – she's…" Gold struggles to say, reluctance appearing on his face as he blinks his eyes. He can't bring himself say Sapphire is his girlfriend, even if it is all in his head. Sapphire takes the chance to wriggle free and push him onto the ground.

"He called me a rebound, whatever that means," she explains, rolling Gold's limp body aside with the sole of her sneaker. Crystal looks even more vexed than usual.

"He thought we broke up, didn't he?" the girl asks.

"We didn't?" Gold jumps onto his feet, brought to life by the uncertainty of Crystal's words.

"I said I wanted us to take a break. Not break up." Crystal tugs her pigtails in exasperation. "Though I'm reconsidering what I said right now."

Gold dashes over to Crystal's side – a speed that leaves even Explotaro impressed. He spills out all his 'sorry's and pieces together all the apologies he can find. He takes her hand and swings it along with his and the look on Crystal's face means that she feels something when Gold touches her.

Sapphire tries glaring at Gold. The longer she looks at them though, the less angry she is and the more jaded she becomes. She falls back onto the comfy grass. Explotaro settles beside her and lets her scratch behind his ears. Gold and Crystal are lucky. No matter how much they fight, they always get back together. Sapphire wishes she knew someone like that.

"What are you slackers doing? Professor Birch needs you guys for an experiment! Why am I even coming out to call you all in? I don't even work here!" Sapphire hears Ruby's voice coming closer.

Explotaro growls, a smirk on his face. She bops his nose with a light fist and closes her eyes, listening to Gold and Crystal reconcile in the background.

She is happy when she is with Wally.

Wally is the kind of boy who appreciates everything about life, the kind of boy who can take risks for himself, the kind of boy who wears his heart on his sleeve. Sapphire pinches herself, and when she opens her eyes and finds him still standing in front of her, his face pink from his confession, she thinks she is finally on the right track.

He isn't healthy, but he's getting there. Sapphire learns to slow down and Wally learns to climb trees. It's a give and take and Sapphire likes it when Wally wipes his usual 'I can't do this' expression off his face and replaces it with that 'Watch me, I'll try my best' smile. It wins her over in many ways. She favours boys who show their true feelings on the surface, boys who don't hide away.

Maybe this is it, she thinks. Maybe ten years from now, she'll still be here. Wally is a patient guy. He is quiet but strong-minded, he has many things to teach her even though he's spent half his life inside a room. Sapphire knows that much.

She opens her fingers even more when Wally inches his hand close to hers.

Sapphire finds it weird – a good kind of weird. She's spent far too long with these gloves on her adventures. Human hands feel nothing like tree bark or rocky surfaces.

Wally gives her beautiflies in her stomach. She almost wants to admit that she feels like she's being engulfed by the entirety ocean. She wishes she could. But no, that's not what she feels. Wally reads this on her face even though it'd been just a split second thought.

"I… I like you, Sapphire," he begins. There is something stinging about the way he says this. It sounds different from his confession, all bravery and boyish. This is uncertain, unyielding.

"I know that!" she rushes in. "I like ya' too!"

"I know you do," Wally smiles. It's heartbreaking. Since when do boys have that kind of power? Oh, she remembers now. "But – "

Crystal teaches her, "Everything that comes before a 'but' is irrelevant."

Ruby sits beside Sapphire, her textbook in his hands, wearing his spectacles. "It doesn't explicitly say so here."

"That," Crystal says, "is something I learned the hard way."

She sits on the edge of her bed, Toro perched beside her. She places her claws on Sapphire's arm, and Sapphire smiles. Toro is the strongest pokémon she knows, and also the gentlest. The girl buries her head into Toro's feathers and reminisces about when she'd been small enough to use them as a pillow.

"It'll be alright, being single," she sighs, tired of many things.

"It's not!"

Ruby trots into her room, arms folded. "Especially if you haven't resolved all your relationships!"

Sapphire gives him a look of multiple meanings – first, she doesn't recall allowing him to saunter into her room without permission; second, she still doesn't get what he's trying to say, even after so long. All the scientific awards in the world probably wouldn't make a difference. The boy clears his throat.

"Who said you could break up with me?" Ruby yells, six years late in his grievance.

"We were never even together!" Sapphire shouts. There's that ten-year old frustration in her bones, a flutter in her stomach, and she tries to forget the saying Crystal taught her last week: better late than never.

"You don't go making decisions about uswithout consulting me, you know," Ruby informs her with the voice he uses to introduce his pokemon on the contest stage. Only... it's more knowing, more modest. "Just look at where the last four got you."

"Shut up." Sapphire slips back into her bad habit of saying the opposite of what she wants. She thought she'd left that behind when she'd been fourteen. "What do y'mean by us, anyway?"

Ruby listens to her for once. He closes his mouth and walks over to her. Toro seizes the moment to get off the bed and clamber out through the open window. Sapphire makes an 'ack!' sound, not from her blaziken's escape, but from Ruby holding her hand. It's different from Red or the assistant or Gold or even Wally. He isn't wearing his gloves, and neither is she.


He turns their hands around to and fro. The markings of the red and blue jewels are faint against their skin, but when Sapphire squints, she can see the insignias of Kyogre and Groundon, eternal enemies.

There is a feeling at the bottom of her heart. Something she thought she'd kept at the bottom of the ocean.

Sapphire doesn't run away this time.

She dates four boys, breaks up with five, but falls in love with only one.

additional notes
– 'tactus' means 'touch' in Latin
– written originally for akumugan, with the prompt 'reaching for stars'
– you can now request drabbles from me! the link is on my profile page, ciao!