|►►| Present

"Oh my! Is that a love letter, sweetheart?"

"Mom, go away!" Gold groaned sourly, he ducked his head and covered the sheet of paper with his hands. It was a silly little notion over the years: he needed to write whatever bothered him on paper; anything formed in words would end as nonsensical rambling. When he confessed to Morty—although every time he felt the opportunity was wrapped around his little finger he ended up turning red, squirming under the gym leader's fixated stare—he ended up steering the conversation to something completely unrelated, then he would return home disappointed but relieved. If anything, despite all these years, Gold began visiting less than the previous years.

He was oblivious whether his frequent meetings were becoming an inconvenience. Gold sighed, carelessly flinging the pencil in his abused steel mesh pencil cup—thankful his mother did indeed leave—and leaned back on his chair, his fingers running through his shaggy black hair. He felt like a sap, his time generally spent carelessly in Goldenrod shortened every month, his time occupied training with his pokémon and the daycare offspring had kept his mind clear of all the gushed up emotions welling inside him. Hell, he even managed to befriend the nasty personality of the redhead throughout the years, yet he never expected his friendship with Silver would ever reach that pinnacle of becoming "best friends" – the title made him cringe.

It was Silver that helped him maintain the last bit of sanity, his natural realist commentary—although rude on many occasions, not that Gold paid any mind anymore—kept Gold's head fixed on reality rather than on cloud nine. The perky amber-eyed teen's attention would gradually ebb away, his dreamy-like gaze radiating a warm blush rushing on his cheeks and ears, but one snarky comment from Silver was all it took for Gold to return his attention on the moody silver-eyed redhead. Gold focused his awareness on the paper abused with crinkles and pencil scratched words, he had nothing to brag about his writing considering his penmanship was bordering from terrible to illegible according to Silver.

It's not a love letter though! Well, it kinda sorta almost isn't.

Being prepared for that 'one moment' needed to be in words despite the possibility of the worst-case scenario: rejection. Hopefully it would be laid down in the kindest or tactful manner possible; it would relieve Gold if their connection became strained or awkward. He was certain his meeting with Morty would be lesser than usual, if it worsen he would simply never visit Ecruteak ever again.

Easier said than done.

"Aghh!" he moaned from his uncomforting frustration, his head hitting a corner of the keyboard and desk. Gold had to swallow the fact Morty was getting more…attractive. The blonde man matched the darkness and murkiness appeal of his gym to his clothes—which weren't exactly murky although it matched with the gym's image perfectly—the black turtleneck, the white jeans, the blue band around his head replaced by a purple band, a decorative insignia clipped on the flowing purple scarf with its hem dyed in a wispy red dye.

If it were not for his encounter with a hypno, Gold would have never personally greeted Morty so early, which means he would have no reason to develop an infuriating fascination for nine years. Gold banged his head repeatedly, contemplating whether he should jump out his window while he still had the chance:

Morty saved him from a hypno that scared the living daylights out of him enough to soil his pants in urine. He could barely defend himself from a hypno, no less fend off the power of its pendulum to silence him into a state of nothingness. If that wasn't bad enough Gold recalled playing to his heart's content in his embarrassingly old pikachu-printed underwear while Morty momentarily watched his guest and pokémon fully absorbed in their own amusement.

Gold would admit one thing though: at least he had a shred of dignity left to continuously visit the ghost-using gym leader. The teen rose from his chair, crumbled the paper in his fist before shoving the sheet in his pocket, with a sigh he reached for his sling backpack.

By the next hour he reached the little quaint city of Cherrygrove, he past the Pokémon Center but stopped abruptly at the entrance of the Pokémon Mart, his grin widening wickedly: Silver stuffed his change in his pocket, his metallic gray eyes staring at the amber irises before moodily falling half-lidded.

"Silver!" Gold exclaimed cheerfully.

Silver's shoulders sagged. "It is far too early to be dealing with you."

"You're just oozing with excitement. But anyway, it's been two whole days!" he arrogantly placed a hand on his chest, "Who wouldn't miss me by then?"

Silver regarded him with passive look, blinking boredly. "You really do not want me to answer that."

Gold shrugged, his grin never faltering. "Deep, deep, deep, deep down in that heart of yours, you totally miss me."

"You keep telling yourself that," Silver said, he turned on the heel of his foot to walk away from the nonsense shared between himself and Gold.

"Huh. Oh. W-Wait! Silver!"

Silver moaned wryly, he craned his neck and gave Gold his attention. He was caught in mid-surprise—even if his face expressed no such feature—as Gold directed his focus to the ground, his fingers twiddling fretfully.

The teen was shifting his weight uncomfortably; he then stuffed his nervously cold hands in the pockets of his red sweater. The ebony haired took a deep breath, his flushed face partially determined. "Silver, can you do me a favor…?"

Gengar and Haunter were readily preparing their swing set for Gold's arrival in the later hours. Morty chuckled faintly at their restless excitement having their favorite playmate over for a visit, even if the visit lasts a measly hour: Gold's mother was a prickly woman with time; she was over protectively concerned if her son returned later than ten. He spent the morning hours in the gym—the challengers coming in few numbers every passing day, probably agonizing over Whitney's miltank defeating them for every attempt they present—and returned home shortly after battling the last trainer for the day.

Gastly experimentally slid down the play set despite its gaseous form, Haunter went for the swing, and Gengar scrambled hurriedly for the open seat on the swing beside Haunter. Even after the years together the childish amusement had yet to wear off on his pokémon, not that he particularly minded. Rather the play set he purchased for the trio occupied most of their time, Morty was no longer at lost finding the remote control lodged between the air vents or his wardrobe entirely disappearing from his closet. Having prepared himself a warming bowl of soup, Morty relaxed comfortably on his old wicker chair, his eyes concentrated on the flashing images projected through his television screen.

"Gengar, change the channel," Morty said plainly.

"'Gar?" the dual ghost-poison type responded, as if saying, 'Why are you accusing me?'

The blonde gym leader sighed, he then pointed his spoon at his pokémon. "I know you have it. Please hand the remote over or change the channel, either one works."

Gengar chose the latter, preferring Morty having to tolerate being remote-less but changed the channel as ordered to the news. With a disinterested expression, Gengar and Gastly went down the slide together, their laughs boisterous and contagious.

Morty snickered, he could only imagine what Gold will—

"-not like I have a choice, do I?" the redhead stated curtly, not with intended malice but he was dimly smiling. "Go on."

Gold exhaled out of his nose, loudly clearing his throat. "So…yeah…uhh, just let me run through this, Silver. You can say whatever you want in the end."

When the redhead, Silver, nodded, Gold proceeded to fish out a sheet of paper from his pocket, from the nervous tension he endured—and perhaps to prolong blatantly confessing everything outright—his fingers pressed hard on its wrinkled corners. His eyes were scanning the surroundings, almost fearful to be heard, and shyly he tugged his hat down and brought the paper to cover his mouth and conceal his trembling lips weighing each word carefully.

"So, umm…"

Silver snorted. "Do you really need to read off a paper?"

Gold pouted childishly, he muttered something inaudible before stuffing said paper back into the depths of his pocket. "You," he pointed to the redhead accusingly, his eyebrows knitting together, "be quiet."

Silver scoffed.

"As I was saying!" Gold quipped, clearing his throat a second time. "I know this is going to be…beyond awkward but…" he clasped his hands together, his thumbs circling one another. "I'm sorry I haven't been able to see you as often, there are just some things that take up my time. I really wanted to turn up again soon! Well, unless you've been finding it annoying, then I'll just stop; no questions asked…Ahah…hah…"

Gold's wavering smile faltered completely, shoulders sagging, his amber eyes avoiding the scrutinizing gaze of unreadable gray orbs.

"B-But besides that, what I really wanted to say…" Gold drew a sharp intake of air before heaving a rolling sigh, "I've had a crush on you for a really long time—can it even be considered a crush anymore for this long? I know, pathetic!—and I seriously want to thank you for everything, especially for the first time we ever met. Haha, I know. I'm such a handful! But, umm, yeah…Sorry if this grosses you out, but I…wanted you to know…"

Gold raised his head, eyes expectant for a response.

Silver's face, neither moderately disturbed nor angered, was entirely neutral. He approached slowly, his hands resting on the teen's shoulder. The redhead voice's softened, "Gold…"

He shook his head to clear the vision rendering him speechless. Of all the occurrences in the world he had to intrude in Gold's privacy, but invading such a space was not enough for him to mentally repent. No, he found himself screwing his eyes shut, trying to concentrate to return to the scene – he needed to know the outcome, for nine years he would assume—

Morty reopened his eyes slowly. Needed? Assumed? He was normally a composed individual – Gold's affairs were his own, the scene had nothing that pertained to his personal life or would give him a valid reason to feel a form of agitation in his gut. Gold was free to do as he pleased, never did he once think he would ever be—or even feel—possessive. Haunter pressed its ghostly claws on its trainer's head, voicing its concern, Gastly and Gengar joined shortly after noticing their third member drifted away from their side. Gengar, naturally a smirking deviant, frowned and pulled on the sleeve of Morty's black turtleneck with its stubby fingers. Gastly circled the blonde man's head unhurriedly, somewhat relieved the purple eyes were acknowledging and following its gaseous form.

He offered the trio a tense smile to lessen their distress, silently pondering how he would weigh his words carefully to his pokémon: they adored the teen's company ever since he was a child: Gold was their playmate and sense of reason when their schemes would lead to severe repercussions. Morty enjoyed his space in his quiet home, never one for seeking connections outside of Ecruteak—excluding Goldenrod, Whitney would maim him if he stopped visiting her—several times he would accompany Eusine and his unrelenting endeavor to search the region for Suicune, but finally Morty became accustomed to Gold's frequent presence. The city's population derived from the elderly, it was a nice transition from its regular calmness: Gold was a ball of impatient energy; he livened up the city in the afternoon.

Having Gold confess to someone, and male, was rather…unexpected. Gold was sixteen: such feelings were bound to surface at his age. Morty would have never suspected the teenager harboring a crush when his schedule was preoccupied with his daily training and offering his assistance to the elderly couple's daycare. If everything went well, Gold would have little reason to return to Ecruteak.

Was the feeling welling up inside him loneliness? Furrowing his brows, Morty set the bowl of soup on the coffee table.

Gengar had apparently left during his musings, the ghost pokémon then returned hastily to its trainer's side shortly after securing a carton from the kitchen. It was only until he peered at his pokémon to notice its stubby hands were extended outwards, in its possession was a carton of sitrus berry juice he drank this morning. The expiration date on the carton was from last week.

He reasoned the feeling was probably indigestion.

Silver's tone returned back to normal: cold, rigid, and almost unfeeling, "…that may have been one of the worst rehearsed love confessions I ever had to hear. You lack eye contact, a firm voice, and your stiffness helps none."

Gold's ego deflated.

"You need to compose yourself, Gold. Stay calm—Arceus knows how difficult that must be, especially for you. Don't give me that look, you know it's true—unless you want to be reduced to a nervous wreck in front of that gym leader you adore so much," he groaned quietly, "and who knows when I will ever hear the end of it if worse comes to worse."

"It might end up terrible!" he realized, in a panicked frenzy he bit down on his fingernail, aimlessly walking in circles that eventually had Silver's hand leave his shoulder. "I am so screwed."

Silver diverted his attention from the ebony-haired breeder going through a mentally conflicting episode with himself.

"If anything," Silver abruptly turned on his heel, "I'll be in New Bark for several days."

A silence rolled by the pair, Gold's frown twitched upwards in a warm smile – Silver was such an open book to him, the traces of kindness lurking deep within the cold exterior was once a rare occurrence a few years back.

Now he was graced with reassuring words only Gold could decipher from Silver's cryptic comments: 'I'll be there for you.'

"Mom, why did you have to be so short? Because of you I have no hope of growing," he argued on his end of the pokégear, grinding his teeth as his mother simply laughed at his woes. Togekiss descended on the elderly couple's daycare home, he quickly thanked the flying pokémon before knocking on their door.

"Love, you might reach a growth spurt eventually. Is this about Silver's growth? Gold, sweetie, it's only a few centimeters! Speaking of Silver, when are you inviting him for dinner again?" she huffed impatiently.

"We are not having this conversation. Be back before ten like usual, later." He ended the call before she could intervene in her tangent of questions, having Silver for dinner was an hour full of humility – his mother adored confessing every embarrassing tidbit of his life. Silver would nod to indicate he was listening; he would snort mockingly when his mother stepped out momentarily from the dinner table to wash dishes, leaving Gold groaning pathetically.

The daycare man opened the door, cradling a baby cyndaquil in his free arm. "Ah, perfect timing."

"Yo," he greeted energetically, he wagged his finger in front of the infant quirking its head, puffing black smoke in an attempt to expel flames from its mouth. The baby cyndaquil reminded him of his fully evolved Typhlosion during its younger days, it was a nice change considering all the pokémon he cared for threatened his life with their developing poison or harmful spores. "Am I taking care of this little one?"

The daycare man nodded, even before he could respond and instruct Gold properly the teenager snatched the infant from his arms. "Sweet! C'mon little guy, you're gonna come with me," he regarded the daycare man with a cheerful snicker. "See ya in a few days, Gramps!"

He rested Cyndaquil in his hood, laughing when the infant kicked and giggled taking flight in the sky, its stubby arms trying to reach the puffy white clouds hovering overhead of its long snout.

The incoming city of Ecruteak had Gold exhale through his nose, his amber eyes determined to give it his all. "Alright, time to hope for the best."

Gold skimmed through the note rumpled in his pocket for the last time today, he was going to allow whatever came naturally—even if he would be stuttering throughout his sentences or fumbling to pronounce a very simple word—if a rejection was Morty's answer, at the very least he would like to return for visits. He rang the doorbell once, waiting eagerly for someone to respond – Johto was becoming chillier during the night, he left too quickly before properly receiving Cyndaquil's pokéball, and waiting outside on the front porch was out of the question for the infant accompanying him that was still unable to produce a small burst of fire from its toothless maws. Gold began to weigh whether he should use the key in his pocket although everything he wanted to tell Morty urged him to maintain his better sense of judgment: it feel all too rushed if he just entered, spluttering his confession he has been saving for the past nine years.

He waved at the giggling elderly women passing by to greet him, posing the same question, "Are you here for Morty?" He scratched his cheek absentmindedly, thankful the cooling temperature made it seem like his cheeks were reddening from the cold winds whishing past his face. He rubbed his hands together to feel the temporary warmth to linger on his frozen fingertips, his amber eyes brightening elatedly spotting the door cracking open. Gold rushed inside the warm house, he neatly hung his sling backpack on the wall hook rack, the baby fire pokémon breathing a sigh of relief feeling the warmth returning back inside its small body.

Out of the corner of his eyes he spotted the ghost trio whispering amongst themselves. "Hey guys!" he greeted cheerfully. As Gold turned his body to face him his wide smile twitched downwards. "What's wrong?"

The trio dashed for Gold, causing him to flinch reflexively.

Gengar tugged the hem of Gold's sweater, burying its face in the fabric, Haunter rested its ghostly head on the teen's shoulder, and Gastly hovered slowly over Gold's face, his face wrinkling from the stench of the purple smog. They all sobbed simultaneously, loudly and obnoxiously.

He was getting worried, it was unlike them to be upset. Had Morty disappeared? Had their play set got trashed? The amber-eyed trainer forced a reassuring smile, his voice shaky and unnerving. "G-Guys, wh-what's going on…?"

There was no response from any of the three saddened ghost pokémon, not that he should have expected a remark from creatures only capable of speaking their dialect, not human speech. He couldn't storm through the house when his longtime playmates were crying all over his clothes, leaving dampened spots on his sweater. Cyndaquil began to sob loudly after its initial alarm from the loud racket, it kicked and moved violently inside the white hood.

Morty appeared in the hallway, following the sound of the uproar gathered in a single place. Ever since he explained the circumstances to his pokémon and his final decision, the trio grew became eerily quiet throughout the day, all his hidden items were returned to their proper places without having to be asked. The cabinet in the hallway stored the three pokéballs; he only used it when his pokémon created havoc outside or inside the gym, never in their proper home. The trio was reclaimed by the red beam storing them inside the small capsules without warning, Morty expected to be given the cold shoulder after they were released—

Gold scooped Cyndaquil from his hood, its loud sobs reduced to squeaky hiccups. Once everything settled into an uncomfortable silence, Cyndaquil quirked its head, its stubby arms pointing at the gym leader gazing at the teenage trainer-breeder with an unreadable expression. Unsure whether to wait for the blonde to speak first, Gold seized the initiative to break the overwhelming choking silence.

"What-What's going on? I've never seen them act like that," he said softly. It was true: in all the nine years he yet to witness the ghostly trio break into tears, disappointed sure, but never this upset.

Gold would never admit from his steady composure he was nervous beyond words, he continued to hold Cyndaquil in place with one arm, his free hand stuffed inside his pocket—his digits turning as cold as the dead from the uneasiness, a shiver running down his spine feeling the numbing sensation of the key brushing against his palm—his thoughts were running amok, his heart hammering in his chest.


"You should leave."

Gold flinched; he blinked, his expression befuddled and urging him to clarify. Surely he heard wrong.

Morty rubbed the bridge of his nose, eyes closed to avoid the saddened amber eyes evidently hurt. Why should he be?

Trying again was harder, he wanted to raise his voice to have the message clear as day in the teen's head – he sighed through his nose: he wouldn't possibly shout. The composed gym leader of Ecruteak never raised his voice, not even to ghost trio that created mischief left and right, not even when Gold dampened his clothes with urine as a small child…

"Please leave," he muttered calmly, his voice cold but soothingly collected. "You must have better things to do. I really don't need a nuisance-" finally he looked up, purple eyes reopening and widening as large saucers. Nuisance? That wasn't him; Morty absolutely did not mean to have that word slip out of his mouth. Arms returning to his sides, the guilt tore him completely…never had he thought of Gold as a nuisance,


The outcome of the ordeal was for Gold to leave his home. There was something known about Gold: besides his childhood trauma encountering a hypno, he hardly ever cried. The ebony haired trainer-breeder was known for his cheeriness, his terrible habit gambling his entire allowance's worth at Goldenrod's Game Corner, his friendly attitude, his natural loudness,

his smile.

Cyndaquil felt some moist droplets fall on its snout, it squeaked from the rapid motion of its breeder taking a small key out from his pocket and carelessly tossing it on the floor with an uncontrolled anger. His chest was heaving, his nostrils flaring, feeling a mingled amount of disappointment and relief he never had to recite the note he painstakingly memorized…it would just hurt all the much more. "I'll leave," he said quickly, snatching his sling backpack from the hook, Gold bit down his lower lip to ignore the warm streaks of tears running down his cheeks.

Weavile nibbled on the baring fruits of a berry tree from the grassy field of Cherrygrove to New Bark, Silver observed his pokémon with a blank expression, patiently waiting for his partner to finish eating. Having no incoming calls from Gold's pokégear, Silver assumed his friend's poor performance rehearsing every line in the shabby letter may have lead to greater outcome like eventually receiving calls that would entail of a bubbly Gold feeding him the mush about the relationship. The peace was interrupted by the vibration of the pokégear clutched in his hand, the screen flashing Gold's name and its equally obnoxious ringtone the amber-eyed teen downloaded.

It rather disturbing Gold's laugh was so dead of emotions, he sounded ill, the first few words out of his mouth was an excuse—as he could tell Gold became like an open book to him in the past years, the slightest lie would never go undetected—for failing to call, then another dead laugh. More rambling. More dead laughter.

Something was wrong and Silver knew it. He beckoned his pokémon with a finger, gray eyes narrowing on the sight of brown and white dots in the distance: the houses and the windmills that made the small town.

An oddish poked its head from a shrub, stealing a glance at Weavile before hurriedly heading to the direction of New Bark.

The brief second he heard Gold sniffle the mucus building up in his nose, he ruled out the possibility of an illness or even a little cold. Something had happened in Ecruteak and it took only until a week later Gold felt it was right to call.

Silver felt absolutely murderous.

The elderly couples flocking Ecruteak had passed him several times before he opened the gym in the morning, their pale faces frowning, asking for the whereabouts of town's literal ball of sunshine and energy. How was he going to explain to the tender aged citizens of Ecruteak he wrongfully hurt Gold's feelings? That they would never see the loudmouth teenager's flashing smiles or causing destruction when accompanied by his ghostly playmates? Having no explanation to offer the elderly, he would shrug, then inform them Gold was occupied at Goldenrod's Game Corner or the daycare with the other newborn pokémon.

He closed the gym for the afternoon, his pokémon stored in their pokéballs, and turned on his heel to return home. Eat. Sleep. Repeat.

Except today, it was the night of the—

He stopped midway, peering at the redhead in his trail—he hid his honest surprise, to think he would ever encounter the teenager Gold confessed to—accompanied by a weavile.

Silver briefly examined the gym leader, trying to distinguish the man's most prominent features that attracted Gold. Seeing none, the redhead smirked and said offhandedly, "Weavile's claws are sharp enough to sever heads, care to see?"

Morty blinked, regarding the redhead with a look of incredulity. "Are you threatening a gym leader?"

"Are you testing my patience?" Silver countered.

Despite having a weavile sharpening its claws in Morty's presence intentionally, the blonde resisted the urge to chuckle. At least Gold has interesting taste.

Togekiss droned out the sounds of its trainer prolonged shouts.

"That prick! I can't believe he put me to sleep with an oddish's sleeping powder. He was planning it, he had to, he doesn't even own a friggin' oddish!" he groaned, to ease the anger reddening his face he distractingly tickled Cyndaquil's plump underbelly. He hadn't even shown his face at the daycare in the past week to report the pokémon's condition, he was certain he was going to earn himself a good earful of the daycare couple's enraged lecture. Home was unbearable with his mother constantly poking her head in his room, tempting him with his favorite treats to lighten his awful mood.

He was upset but he would never submit to the luring sweets that he would gorge himself with until he got sick.

Okay, he did eat the cookies she brought for him. The sugar rush was an absolute need to train Cyndaquil.

It was his fault he fell for Silver's trap—he should have been more reserved and cautious—but Gold really couldn't resort to accusing Silver of anything when his redheaded friend was eating his mother's pasta, terrifyingly comfortable on the large snorlax beanbag chair. How much time has elapsed? Knowing Silver, he would be seeking blood since he smiled—which was a cringing and terrifying sight regardless—so coldly when Gold had finally told him what occurred in Ecruteak. Then again, Silver couldn't possibly have the potential to hurt someone…

"Go faster, Togekiss!" he pleaded loudly; he leaned closer to his pokémon's round body to brace for the speedy flight.

The time zone difference from New Bark to Ecruteak was an overwhelming gap, what could have been the afternoon in his rural hometown was a nightfall in Ecruteak, the only visibility to distinguish the city below was the city's glowing street lamps. His dispirited mood had him forget about the festivity held in the quiet city, a few meters away from the Burned Tower was a small pond the elderly gathered to see the ghost pokémon ignite the flames of their will-o-wisp – coordinated by Morty, of course. The blonde gym leader would oversee the event, his gastly would invite the other ghost pokémon to give the city a yearly presentation before the winter struck the houses with mounds of snow, that is if the ghost pokémon were willing. If not, Gastly was capable of performing by itself and its two partners.

He breathed out. It was cold enough to see his breath.

He left Cyndaquil in his hood, this time he covered the lower half of the infant's body with a warm blanket, adding weight enough to tighten around his neck if Cyndaquil moved forward. He stuffed his hands in the front pockets of his sweater, shivering from the breeze rushing past his exposed legs. It was so warm at home… Gold's eyes searched the area frantically; he could spot the citizens shivering from the cold despite the blanket they draped over their shoulders: Morty would have never allowed the crowd to have to wait in such a chilling night, he was organized with his time to be at the event accordingly.

Togekiss flew over the thick mass of trees of obscuring most of the grassy land below, in the end he recalled Togekiss in its pokéball to thoroughly search the grassy terrain for his friend or Morty. Gold frowned uneasily, he had never gotten over his fear of the specific part of the field during the night, if anything he avoided it like a plague.

His heart sunk.

A hypno appeared from the trees, its squinted eyes perking upward deviously, he was sure if the pokémon had a mouth it would be licking its lips already. The fear overpowered him, he felt too petrified to move his legs in order to run for dear life. The teen observed the pokémon steadily, captivated by the pendulum swaying in its hypnotizing lull, not even the calls of the cyndaquil resting in his hood could return his mind back to reality.

Hypno beckoned its meal with a finger; its meal complied as planned.

"Gengar, shadow ball!"

"Honchkrow, use pursuit!"

The voices faded like a whirling wind, a pokémon's cry echoed loudly through his head, the familiar voices calling orders became a low-hushed whisper as Gold regained his consciousness from the possession of the hypno's hypnotic power. He felt weakened having his mind almost lost; startled he encountered a hypno twice in his life. He wanted to intervene—although dazed in his judgment—to ensure Silver was not out for blood of a certain blonde gym leader.

He stumbled backwards, limbs haphazardly spread. Cyndaquil safely kicked off the blanket and scurried away to alert the gym leader and the redhead.

Gold yielded to the demand for sleep on the barren green land.

Silver had left him in Ecruteak all alone.

Cyndaquil returned inside the safety of its temporary home in Gold's hood, Gold arose from the chair he slept on, he yawned loudly, stretching the aches in his back and shoulders from resting on the uncomfortable rickety aged chair. He vision could not distinguish his surroundings, his setting covered in the blackened night obscuring the objects in what he assumed to be a room – he could hear the excited chatter outside, the situated angle of the lone window prevented him searching the cause of his noise. He shivered at the chilling weather greeting him with a soft smack of the wind carrying the curtains forward, the cloth pressing and swaying on his face before slipping off the bridge of his nose. Feeling the pokéballs clattering in his pocket for every cautious step he took, he ran his hand through the walls to brush against the light switch or the door to the isolated room, the gelid feel of a metal knob had him stop in his tracks, fingers firmly grasping the knob to rotate the metal piece.

The hallway structure felt eerily familiar to Gold, he shrugged the notion away from his mind, concentrated finding the light switch of the hallway to safely ascend down the stairs he felt was nearing. Cyndaquil yawned quietly, startled by its pitch black surroundings a flame flickered from its back, a warming feeling tickling the back of Gold's neck. Realization dawned hastily, with one hand he snatched the infant from his hood, his other hand patting the burning material in a frenzied panic. Breathing a sigh of relief, he congratulated the small fire-mouse for successfully igniting its luminous red-orange flames—not at all bothered his hood and skin could have been burned—he extended his arms to bring the pokémon forward, a safe distance so his face had no direct contact with the flames.

Gold arrived to the living room, scanning the room if familiarity of the walkway structure was alike to what-

The play set.

He was in Morty's house.

Gold restlessly observed the play set gathering a small layer of dust. The ghostly trio would have endless amount of amusement on it, he could hardly begin to fathom the mere idea they would abandon their play set to such a condition, while he was around they hardly ever left—

When I was welcomed here…

The twitch of his smile faltered, deflating immediately like a balloon when he recalled having Togekiss as a means of flight transportation. He was saved by hypno, he was allowed to rest in the house, surely Morty would no longer want his presence around him since the last incident. As much as he wanted to avoid approaching the gym leader, he needed to at least express his gratitude for saving him, as well as Silver whenever he wandered near New Bark.

Bolting the door behind him, Gold followed the commotion in the normally quiet city, his amber eyes widening at the scene: little wispy flames floated in the air, the ghostly trio each taking their roles for the ceremonial night. Gastly hovered over the pond, casting its will-o-wisp on the pond, Gengar's eyes glowed brightly harnessing the power of the flames, converting their form in golden orbs—outlined bright in white as a protective layer to prevents burns—and Haunter using its ominous wind attack to scatter the brightly colored orbs around the elderly hooting excitedly, their aged hands extending to touch the falling orbed flames.

Gold blinked; surprised he completely forgot the festivity celebrated in the city. As a child he often tried to touch the orbs as if they were snowflakes, his cheeriness would normalize feeling the warming exertion of the orbed flames in his palms, their brightly glowing hues never failing to bring a smile to his childish face. Cyndaquil's flames died down, allowing Gold to return the fire type pokémon in his hood, his focus disturbed by the townspeople welcoming him with warming hugs and smiles. Their endless talks questioned his absent presence throughout the long week, he reassured them with a strained smile, eyes frantically searching for Morty within the crowd somewhere.

He promised the elderly townspeople he would visit again, but suppressed the urge to laugh coldly: he would never return to this city, not when Morty chose not to rekindle their rela—friendsh—companionship.

We really are nothing to each other.

Cyndaquil squealed elatedly, its small stubby arms embracing the glowing orb in its hold. It opened its mouth, bringing the orb to its maws.

"Now, now," Gold warned, he plucked the orb from the pokémon's hold. "This is not for eating; it'll ruin your appetite." Or curse you. Arceus, I don't even know.

Flicking the orb to the ground, Gold's breath hitched spotting Morty standing beside the pond, his gleaming purple eyes staring upright at the starry-night sky.

Gold approached from behind, admiring the sight of Morty contently watching the falling will-o-wisp in his view.


Morty's body stiffened, looked around shortly, then his gaze settled on Gold. The gym leader bit down on his bottom lip unconsciously, the faintest flickers of his expression evidently suggesting his uneasiness, weighing every word accordingly to avoid the disturbance of the boisterous crowd.

"You're awake," he noted unnecessarily, quickly he mended his remark. "Hypno must have not caused you any harm, that is…good."

"Yeah, I guess it is." he muttered quietly, his cheeks becoming pink from the cold and the warming joy: he finally had the chance to speak to Morty after such a long time. "Uhm, thanks for saving me…again."

Morty nodded, neither encouraging nor discouraging the continuation of their conversation. The pair allowed the silence to swallow their anxiety, the flames falling like the snowfall of Johto's winter; several townspeople retreated slowly into their homes, unable to withstand the chilling cold creeping on their legs and fingers. A wave of worriment snapped Gold back to reality: with the mass slowly decreasing in numbers, Morty would eventually return to his home too.

The teen's throat felt constricted, prickling in pain to retain the words wanting to form out of his mouth.

The people lingering near the pond bothered Gold; there were too many distractions, witnesses if he happened to raise his voice prying an explanation from the ghost-using gym leader.

He yanked the hem of Morty's scarf, caring less whether his forceful tug either heightened Morty's awareness he was being pulled behind an empty house—away from view of the spectators—or gasping for breath throughout his useless endeavor. Morty pressed his back on the house, loosening the tightened scarf to alleviate the lingering painful twitch being dragged so violently.

"What did I do wrong?" It was more like a pleading, despairing demand rather than a question. Ignoring how his voice faltered, Gold paused thoughtfully. His sun-kissed skin drained of color; he looked away as he began to slowly conclude to the blonde's reasoning.

"You hate me," Gold acknowledged shakily, his mouth fumbling on his words. "You hate me and I'm a bother…aren't I?"

And there was the problem.

Morty could have clarified to Gold that he could never even imagine the prospect of loathing the teen's presence; he brought life to the city, to the elderly citizens occupying Ecruteak, and created a newfound amusement than suffering every passing day from his ordinary routine. How could he ever 'hate' a person that brought his ghostly pokémon endless amount of entertainment, to even become their playmate for the endless nine years? Gold was spontaneous, energetic – everything the composed gym leader with the calm persona was not. To keep the smile budding on the teen's face he was willing to withhold his selfish desire to monopolize—goodness, should he even call it that?—the ebony-haired trainer-breeder for himself. He refused Gold's visit, his vision made it apparent Gold returned to Ecruteak out of a mere obligation.

An obligation from their long nine years: if Gold had suddenly stopped when he was known for arriving frequently, he would later be weighed with guilt, it would no longer be from his whim to be part of Morty's and the ghost trio's company. Having Gold no longer staying in home would have the teen seize the opportunity to recollect himself, his time that he would have spent in Ecruteak would become time spent with the snarky redhead teenager that threatened him earlier during the day, their polar personalities seemed—in an unworldly perspective—ideal for each other. He could follow his routine once again, undisturbed by an energetic Gold turning up in the morning or in the dead of night, sporting his welcoming smile everyone adored.

"I'm sorry I haven't been able to see you as often, there are just some things that take up my time."

It was for the best.

"Why does my opinion bother you?" Morty asked, assuring his voice was leveled.

Gold finally returned his focus to the gym leader. His body visibly stiffened, his lips slightly parted. "So you really do…I-"

Morty contemplated on continuing the charade – it was outright cruel but he was not going to subject himself as being Gold's burden either.

"I'll search for an abra, you'll get home much quicker. Where do you want to be teleported to? Your mother's?" Morty heaved a sigh, unable to suppress the suggestion of the latter option to Gold. "Or wherever your friend is?"

Gold moodily twiddled with his fingers, not perturbed in the slightest Silver would be considered the alternative. "Not like I have any other choice. I don't even know where Silver is, he might not answer me if I called him."

Of course Gold would seek comfort in him.

Considering this will completely sever their connection, Morty decided to go against his judgment to question the boy unmistakably sulking.

"How are you not aware where your lover would be?" Morty inwardly cringed; the word 'lover' had an awful taste in his mouth.

However, instead of expecting an answer from the amber-eyed teenager he was greeted with Gold's obvious flicker of mingled disbelief and disgust. Gold raised his hands, crinkling them in mock rage. "How could you," he drawled slowly and melodramatically, "call my best friend my lover? He is just—we're not—that will never happen in this lifetime. He complains about getting migraines around me all the time—which aren't true by the way, I totally make his week after paying him a visit if he's ever around—and Silver will never swing that way. Actually, I'm not sure. Or he could be…what's it called again…? Aromantic or something?"

Morty blinked, completely dumbfounded by Gold's passionate rambling.

"We've been friends for a long time, I tell him everything. He's not open though but he tells me stuff too. I'm pretty sure Silver would tell me if he had a crush on anybody though…or not. Ehh, I really don't know. B-But that doesn't mean he likes me, I'm positive about this one at least! Arceus, it would be pretty awkward if he liked me…" he trailed off for a brief moment, hands returning to his sides, then Gold shook his head slightly to regain the focus of his inane chattering. "Point is we are definitely not together. Best friends, not bo-boy…boyfriends. Ugh, Morty, where in the world could you have ever come up with something so—so impossible?"

A few seconds of silence past the two.

"You were confessing to your friend in the forest. From a paper?" he quickly amended his remark, "It wasn't my intention to pry, the vision came to me unannounced."

Gold buried his reddening face in his hands, voice faintly muffled in his conflicting brooding. "You didn't see that. Please tell me you didn't. Oh my Arceus, please tell me you're lying."

No response, just a quizzical blink.

"You're not lying…" Gold whined sourly, he lifted his head to stare intently into the dark, purple irises. "Morty, you're an idiot. That wasn't for Silver, I was rehearsing. I asked Silver to listen to me going over it, he told me I was doing a crummy job in the end and kinda gave me advice to be a little calmer."

Morty quirked a brow. "Rehearsing?"

"So you didn't see who it was meant for," he sighed depressingly. It was his last night with Morty, regardless of their conversation Morty's resentment still holds a place in Gold's pained, hammering heart. All things considered, he really had nothing left to lose. Aware of the inevitable rejection, Gold would return with a forlorn expression that will surely last several months, all that is left to distract his expected heartbreak would be training Cyndaquil—resting soundly in his hood—and his best friend's occasional visits.

The warming sensation crept on his ears; curse him for easily falling prey to the unnerving embarrassment:

"That was meant for you, Morty. Not like it matters anymore, huh? Don't worry about me, I'll get Togekiss to send me home." As he intended, Gold called the pokémon from its ball, its expression rather cranky from the demanding orders in a single day. Briefly offering his apology, he soothingly ran his hand on the creature's head. "Mind taking me home? We're…pretty much done here."

Gold was his, his heart was his, and he harbored no affections for the redhead—

Togekiss nodded.

His lifted his gaze from the white creature expanding its wings, fluttering them to stretch its tired muscles from the earlier flight. Quirking his head, Gold scratched his cheek, grinning lopsidedly – it took every cell in his body to fight back his watering eyes, he refused to break into tears a second time.

He was Gold, not some crybaby.

"Well, umm…later Mor—I mean…goodbye."

The teen was determined leaving with some form of dignity intact.

—he had nothing left to make him feel reluctant about touching Gold. Would it have been different if he had never seen the vision? To feel this unthinkable possession about anyone, least of all Gold? It was a dark, thorny feeling in his gut. Gold was not leaving him, Morty would never allow it.

"Gold, wait."

Gold tensed, slowly he shook his head. "I rather not listen to some possible mean backla-"

Being pulled forward was not what Gold was expecting as some hateful backlash, he expected he would be receiving insults or having his crush bare him a look of disgust.

This backlash was unexpected but richly satisfying: in his own state of fretting panic Gold lowered his direct eye contact for a brief second—Togekiss sharply jumped a step back, giving the pair their space—not expecting his shoulders to be grasped, to be pulled forward, for his hands raised up instinctively to only rest on the warm fabric on the gym leader's black turtleneck. The man of his dreams—the one person who tolerated him most as a kid, who watched 'the-boy-who-ran-around-a-household-in-embarrassing-pikachu printed underwear' grow up—was definitely his.

There was no underlying mistake; the rough kiss had bruised Gold's bottom lip, the taste of iron invading his taste buds,

and it didn't matter.

Gold, as cheeky as he was, was a nervous wreck having Morty as his nine-year crush – he was no genius at love, he wasn't even sure if he could be considered a good kisser for Morty. Feeling slightly self-conscious and inexperienced, Gold pried himself away from Morty, his chest heaving to earn a plentiful breathe of air. Despite the grandeur of the situation, Gold meekly asked breathlessly, "You…like me?"

Gengar, Haunter, and Gastly returned in brighter moods. Gastly hovered obliviously around Gold, their wide snickers pleased to see the return of their longtime playmate. Cyndaquil woke up, ogling the ghost pokémon floating around curiously, its stubby arms extending outwards to touch the gaseous ghost-ball pokémon, and the rest fell into a short fit of hearty giggles. When Gold's laughter died down he blinked, feeling strange warmth enveloping his hand.

Peering upwards, Morty flashed a warming smile, his hand closing around Gold's.

"I suppose I do," he said finally. Giving an encouraging pull forward, Morty lead Gold into his home.

By the next morning Gold was welcomed by the voice of his mother on the line.

"Young man, where have you been? You had me worried sick! No call, no nothing! My poor old age can't handle this childish rebellion; have you no consideration for your mother? Oho, when you get home, it'll be chores for a week. No, a month! And don't you think that's all, Gold-"

Morty entered the living room, one hand resting in his pocket, eyeing the teen droning out the loud shriek over his pokégear with a bored expression, rather entertained watching the ghostly trio toy with the young cyndaquil. Noticing the other presence in the room—whilst making a yapping motion with his hand—Gold regarded him with a nod, eager to see his new lover awake.

"Who is it?" the blonde asked him quietly.

Gold rolled his eyes, mouthing the words 'my mom.'

"I could talk to her," he suggested weakly: it was his fault he kept Gold for himself the entire night. The teen's response was a shake of the head, as if to say, 'Don't worry, I got this.'

"Yes, yes. I get it. I'll get to those chores when I get home. Love you too. Uh-huh, later mom." Prying the device away from his ear, he glared at his pokégear bitterly. "She is such a nag in the mornings. If I don't get to those chores she'll bug me all day."

Morty chuckled.

"What time are you coming back? I'll get my stuff whenever you're done, I'll wait in front."

Sitting comfortably beside Gold, his free arm wrapped over the teen's shoulder affectionately, he dipped his head near his lover's ear, unveiling the key he flashed out from his pocket,

"You don't have to wait."

A/N: Happy Friday the thirteenth! It's almost befitting for a story that revolves around a character that has pokémon known for being unlucky/ominous/natural pranksters. But that does it. Truth be told, I was getting tired typing. :V Finally a pairing of this is posted, so I'm content. (Sorry for the wait, I was stuck working on my school assignments! It's actually by chance I updated on this day specifically;;) I know I might accidentally overlook a mistake, so my apologies for spotted errors. :x


This length for a simple planned one-shot is some bull. I had no intention having this agonizingly long. Lawl. And I almost crammed this in one entire one-shot. Pfft :'D

And truthfully, I have a one-shot sequel planned for this in my head. It's bugging me for the past few nights, urging me to type it on FF like crazy. Maybe I'll get to it when I stop procrastinating. c: Ahem, the rating for the -possible- sequel will definitely be 'M.' Might as well get some more practice while I'm at it.

Thanks to all those that faved/alerted/reviewed~! :)