Leaning forward slowly, the Champion gently bumped heads with his Charizard. The creatures gave a small growl, letting thin trails of smoke curl and writhe from his mouth and blow away into the wind. The two stood that way, both at the entrance of the cave with only the wind, their breathing, and the sounds of the nearby wildlife being the source of noise. Sitting on the ravenet's shoulder was a Pikachu, his yellow body curling around his trainer's neck for warmth and comfort. The mountain was always cold at the peak, snowing year-round no matter the temperatures that surrounded it. Standing there, body occasionally trembling with chills, the Champion remained where he was. Speech was not a talent he wielded well. Red could know every word in every language… but he had no clue how to employ them the way he wanted. If he wanted to tell his Charizard the creature was doing well, even in these cold temperatures… somehow saying it directly seemed degrading. Yet nothing measured up to the same thing, and then…

…so standing there, letting his forehead touch the Charizard's, the small action said more than any words could. The creature pulled back, and gently nipped at his trainer's hair – teeth combing through strands thickened by years of exposure to cold. Giving a soft nod, Red pulled away and let his fingers slip from his Pokemon's. Training was finished for the day, and tomorrow would be Venusaur's turn. It was a small, tiny detail that helped Red keep track of the days and weeks. Seven days in a week, and he had six Pokemon – Mondays for Pikachu, Tuesdays for Lapras, Wednesdays for Snorlax, Thursdays for Blastoise, Fridays for Charizard, Saturdays for Venusaur, and on Sundays they all trained together. On the occasional Sunday though, his Pokemon were able to persuade him to let all of them take a break – though he knew their intentions. While five of the six almost always had close to a week of rest, Red hardly took any of his own. Someone had to lead them, care for them, and keep them close to home.
Actions spoke volumes, of which Red was grateful because his voice rarely had any.

Scowling at yet another useless trainer who burst into tears the second her 'beautiful Delibird' (as though those things could be beautiful – at least a Feebas evolved) got hit by an attack, Green called back his exasperated Pidgeot being well-aware the battle was already over. Not that he could blame his bird – Green had been kind enough to let the trainer have at least a semblance of an advantage since she was kind of cute, and she blew it ten seconds into the battle. Holding the Pokeball to her breast almost as though she was nursing the stupid thing, she coddled and cooed at the creature inside before turning around to race out of the Gym. Green could almost swear he had heard her yell an ever mature, "Meanie!" on her way out. He sighed, and slapped his hand on his face. The resounding smack, in addition to the blooming pain, informed him he used too much force and that was going to leave a mark for the next few hours.

If anyone asked, he would just say the girl didn't appreciate him getting fresh with her – not only did that earn him macho points with the guys, but is also saved him another lecture from Leaf about how his "Gym was 'too hard'" and he needed to "stop training as much as Red" and to "take into consideration not everyone was as obsessed with 'helping their Pokemon be all they could be'" and whatever other nonsense she would attempt to (sometimes literally) drill into his head. Not that he didn't understand where she was coming from – but after hearing it three times this week, he was in no mood for the exact same conversation to play out again. She would berate him for about twenty minutes, he would get bored, and just to make her shut up he would cop a feel – and then get punched in the face. Honestly, he was impressed that these days she mastered the art of hitting him hard enough to knock him over but not break his nose.

Peeling his throbbing palm from his equally throbbing face, Green turned on his heel to head towards the back of the gym where he could sulk in his office for the next two hours – and he ignored all stares at his beautifully handprinted face as he did so. That was the Mark of a Man – it showed bravery, confidence, and perhaps a small hint of egoism for flavor. Of course, the Mark of the Man was earned by men who were slapped by women, and not by men who accidentally slapped their own faces silly due to a poor judgment call. That was it, though. There was no going back – he was going to stick to his story, and never change it no matter what the circumstances. It was too late to go back now. The second he walked inside his office, his phone rang. He reached out, answering automatically and greeted the caller with, "I gave her the advantage, if she got teary-eyed over an Air Slash that ruffled that a few feathers then I am in no way at fault."

So much for sticking to the story.

"I… wasn't calling about that." Came Leaf's voice, somewhat taken aback by the abrupt and sudden honesty that was fired in her direction. "Wait, did you make her cry…? Green, that is the FOURTH kid this week! I swear, if you didn't train every day like the genius up in the mountain –" The worst part about her harassing him over the phone was that he couldn't even feel the soft warmth of her breasts against his fingers as a consolation, "-and stop thinking about my boobs, you pervert! Ugh, you're not even listening, are you?"

"No, the breast of my attention is on you, and you alone." Green replied instantly, only to curse at his Freudian slip. An annoyed groan came from the other end, followed by a few curses and annoyed mutterings. He patiently waited for Leaf to gather her bearings, decide to drop the lecture this time, and talk about what she really called him for. Really, the girl could be so predictable sometimes.

That, or they had been friends for too long.

"Just… you know the drill by now." Leaf scowled, suddenly a surly child. Probably because not being able to punch him was as frustrating to her as his not being able to sexually harass her. "Look, I am calling you about Espeon." And suddenly the jokes, the feigned sexual tension between the two, and the equally feigned annoyance with the other faded into a backdrop of trainers doing repeated motions with their Pokemon.

"Oh." Green's voice fell a few levels, and he looked around to make sure his door was in fact locked behind him and the blinds were closed. Not that he had any reason to be so nervous – but the subject was such a bizarre one, that for some reason he felt paranoid about discussing it was anyone other than Leaf. Which was funny, because Espeon did not even belong to either of them – Leaf was just being a good friend and caring for the creature.

The story wasn't complicated or epic in any kind of scope. It was a simple clockwork turn of the Kanto region's ever-rising and falling champions. Add in the newest champion, too young and irresponsible to want to take on the requirements his newest position required, and there was a recipe for what was in Green's opinion a disaster for the Elite Four. Officially, there were three Champions of the Kanto region (there would have been four, but Green forfeited that title the second he became a Gym Leader). There was only supposed to be one Champion, but a series of weird technicalities resulted in Lance being the Champion that presided over with the Elite Four, Red being a more lucrative and powerful Champion, and then the young Gold. No one really knew about Gold, except the Elite Four, Gym Leaders, and Leaf. Kanto was not Gold's home – and at ten, what child did not want to go home? …other than Red, anyway.

"I think… Espeon is ready to go back to home. He misses his trainer. He misses the others. He… well, he misses his home, Green." Leaf continued, her voice thick but steady. She had been caring for the little guy since, "The most epic battle EVER," (to use Gold's exact words). Naturally, she had grown attached and fond of the Pokemon. From what he understood, Espeon was quiet but very affectionate. His injury had originally been life-threatening, but living on a frigid mountain for years had taught Espeon's trainer any number of ways of treating and caring for various ailments and wounds. The makeshift bandaging was enough to help the creature last until he could arrive at a Pokemon Center – but it had taken close to six years of physical therapy for Espeon to be back in the condition he was before the battle.

"…so… I guess we should plan a visit, huh?" Green murmured, his eyes straying over to his northwestern wall.

"We? Green, we can't both go. One of us has a Gym to run." Leaf reminded him, the frown evident in her voice. Rather than retort, Green fell silent at the reminder. Her heard her take in a breath, and noticed she was holding it in. Hesitating – what did she want to say? "Well… it has been awhile, hasn't it? Look, Green… I know you two have a lot of unfinished business – a lot of things that weren't said, but heard. And you two never… really corrected each other, have you? So… I guess what I'm saying is… Green! Your Gym is too hard! You're always training and training, making your Pokemon be all they can be and a bag of Poffins… and I won't stand for it anymore! You… you take a vacation, and run me an errand while you're at it because I am substituting your stupid butt! And I won't make little kids cry unlike someone I can mention…" She trailed, and though the pettiness and determination in her voice was forced… Green found himself smiling.

"Thanks, Leaf. I promise, when I see you I won't molest any part of you." He laughed, feeling a strange sense of relief flooding through him.

"Why thank you. That's very kind and thoughtful of you. I'll be impressed when you succeed, but for the moment I'm touched – emotionally, not physically you pervert – by the thought." Leaf chuckled. "I'll see you in a day or two. Don't make anymore trainers cry, or I'm going to bust one of your balls. Got it?"

Red and Green were the classic story: grew up friends, became rivals, and then… well, they were what they were – whatever that was. "Boys will be boys," Red's mother had commented once upon a time to Professor Oak when the two boys were roughhousing. Green's grandfather frowned, his brows creasing with age and annoyance as the seven-year olds kicked and punched each other. His grandfather had not been so sure – in his day kids were a great deal less violent. Had to be all of those videogames, those television shows, on and on. When the Professor got on his rants, Green rolled his eyes and Red imitated a perfect listener (though the brunet was almost positive his friend was not listening to a word the old man said). Red was the best at being a perfect listener, though. Then again, sometimes Green felt as though his friend was the best at everything. At training Pokemon, at leaving impressions, at understanding…

Years ago, this was enough to drive Green into fits of jealousy and rage. When the two were children, this was tolerable. But at puberty? When there were all those girls to impress, and Pokemon now at both of their beck and calls… he could not stop himself from hating someone he used to adore. The hormones told him to worry about what the girl next door thought, not care whether his sudden change in behavior would hurt his long-time friend's feelings. Besides, Red was a boy – he would get over it.

Instead he just went silent.

Silent. The silence was ultimately what sent Green over the edge, as the silence only added to Red's impressions on people. "Have you seen that trainer with the Pikachu? Not a single word and his Pokemon still wiped the floor with mine!" "I met this boy… he was so mysterious! I wonder what he's like? Not a single word – I don't even know his name!" Girls romanticized about him, and men admired him. And Green? Green hated him. He wanted to defeat him, to crush him, to break that silence and show the whole world that Red was just another human being. There was nothing enigmatic about him, he was just quiet. His Pokemon were trained to understand body language – did no one ever wonder how someone who was Deaf or incapable of speech communicated with their Pokemon? Idiots – they were all idiots! Fooled and deceived, Green hated them and he hated Red. Green gloated and flaunted, gave debonair smiles, and was the life of every party. But Red continued to defeat him in battle, and everyone forgot the life after the party to wonder about that silent boy in the back.

But with age came maturity, and the hate melted into regret. Red no longer spoke to him (of which Green did take personally, even though his friend no longer spoke to anyone). Oh, there were numerous people who knew the trainer's name, and claimed to be his friend. But these were mere claims – in his time at the Viridian Gym, not once had Green seen anyone other than Red's mother and challengers attempt to make the trek up Mount Silver. True, Green went up there himself once upon a time and he did consider Red a friend… but with that oppressive silence, and those indifferent stares he had no way of knowing if the feeling was mutual. He had punished his friend for no real reason other than to impress girls he did not even have the intention of dating. Quite honestly, if Red hated him he would understand. Not that he really knew these days – this was the first time he would be seeing his childhood friend in years.

A heavy camping bag attached to his back and strapped tightly across his chest, Green was grateful Espeon was finally ready to return to his rightful trainer in the summer. Mount Silver was a pain to climb up to begin with – but during the winter and spring the whole mountain was a treacherous death trap. The winter was obvious – blizzards, hail the size of a child's head, and half-starved Pokemon determined to protect what little food they could gather or turn an exhausted person into the food they desperately needed. The spring was tricky, as people assumed the warmer conditions and the explosion of life and nutrients made the trek easier. This was not so – melting ice resulted in the occasional flash flood, the odd mud slide, and more Pokemon ready to mate (and thus being irritable if interrupted) than a person could shake a stick at. This left the ideal seasons to be summer and fall, preferably fall simply because all traces of the spring and summer pollen was gone but hey – Green would happily take summer over spring and winter.

Trotting dutifully at his side was his Eevee – the little creature was more akin to an old friend or pet than a Pokemon for battle these days. Her coat was sleek and shiny, and she was perhaps more pudgy than she needed to be. Then again, between having a Gym Leader for an owner and his doting sibling being a most excellent groomer there was no reason to be surprised at her extra weight. Smiling down at the brown creature, he at least knew this adventure might get her back into a better shape. She needed more exercise anyway that did not consist of prancing around his legs when she wanted a meal.

Feet maneuvering around blooming flowers cuddled next to jagged rocks, Green looked up at the distant peak just long enough to squint. True, he could have requested Pidgeot to fly him closer to the summit – but then the bird would have been tired when they got there, and Green knew the mountain was crawling with enough Pokemon that the landing would be too dangerous to even try that. It had been eight years, almost, since Red locked himself away into his frozen fortress. Six years since the Champion lost, but most of the region still believed he remained undefeated. Gold never contacted the Elite Four to claim his right as Kanto's true Champion, and so Red had no reason to leave his isolated home. Or perhaps he had all the reason to remain – to keep training, getting stronger, and perhaps reclaim his title. Green had not the faintest idea, but with luck he would find out soon enough. Yeah, right – he would need a lot of luck for that, and maybe even Jirachi nearby to grant his wish as well.

Green would have more luck finding and catching a Legendary Pokemon than he would getting his childhood friend to speak. Furthermore, after all those years of so little human companionship… did Red even know how to speak still? What language was for? Green sighed, realizing wondering all of this did no good. So instead he raked his fingers through his brown hair, feeling the faint moistness of sweat beading on his scalp from the overhead sun. "This is going to be fun." He muttered, and his only reply was a happy squeal from Eevee. At least someone was happy about this adventure – other than Espeon, anyway.

Despite seeing the result, hearing the story, and actually seeing Red off the mountain for an entire week Green still had trouble believing that battle had transpired. In short, Red knew what he was doing – as always. Gold claimed he knew as much because, "he's how I survived when the avalanche happened!" Ten years old, and he already had a near-death experience that left him giddy. Green wondered if the kid had been dropped on his head a few hundred times growing up. By now the kid was at least sixteen, and suddenly the Gym Leader wondered if he had nightmares from the experience. There were a lot of things to wonder. The avalanche was nothing major, but it happened after the battle. Gold had a theory why it happened, "the power of my awesome was too great for the mountain," the then-ten-year old had told Lance gravely but somehow Green just did not buy it.

In all of his great and enigmatic ways, Red grabbed Gold and dragged the child – who was probably on a euphoric high when he realized he actually won and had no idea what was happening – into his man cave. Bachelor pad. Training location. Home… cave… thing. Regardless, the ex-champion essentially saved the new champion's life. However, one of Gold's Pokemon had been left behind and the stupid kid had not realized that until it was too late – Red's Espeon, however, had been all too aware. Broken ribs, severe frostbite, and fractured bones had been enough to leave the creature broken, but not dead – Espeon's psychic was not enough to save more than Gold's Pokemon and Espeon's own life. Though he was not there, and he could not believe it… Green was unable get the image of Red, stoic and indifferent even in such a dire situation, shoveling snow aside with his bare hands trying to find his Espeon.

Long story short, Red stayed long enough to ensure Espeon would live and requested (perhaps through body language? Sign language? Morse Code via blinking?) Leaf to help Espeon recover entirely. Once knowing his Pokemon was safe, comfortable, and most importantly alive, Red retrieved Lapras and returned to his domain. The story was sketchy at best, particularly because the only person telling it was a ten-year old kid who had just received one of the biggest ego-boosters known to mankind next to Arceus suddenly appearing in a mystic light and proclaiming the person it was speaking with as, "The Chosen One."

Cursing as he tripped on a rock hidden beneath moss and vines, Green paused just long enough to make sure the slip had not resulted in a twisted anything. His Eevee made a small sound, and tentatively approached his leg to sniff his foot. She lightly nuzzled the fabric of his pants, her version of a kiss in an attempt to make the area feel better. He chuckled, and reached down to gently pat her on the head. "I'm much better now, thank you." He informed her softly, and she beamed up at him with the most pleased expression an Eevee's facial muscles could physically permit. Why couldn't the women in the brunet's life be as doting and adoring as his little lady? Probably because, in his opinion anyway, there was no woman who could match up with Eevee's feminine charms – and wiles. She tricked him into more treats than any single Pokemon should have reasonably been able to.

The slow trudge of his walk carried him further up the mountain. One week – that was seven days. That was also incredibly obvious, and a nice little smack echoed across the emptiness of the mountainside as Green realized how stupid of a thought that had been – followed by an incredibly stupid reaction. "I really need to stop slapping myself." The teenager said, his words muffled by his hand remaining on his face. He had at least one good thing going for him – only the wild Pokemon staring at him as though he was some kind of defective Hitmonchan and Eevee would see the bright red handprint on his face this time. This realization did nothing to console him.

"…hey, Eevee? Do you think he would be happy to see us?" Green inquired, looking back up at the summit. "It's been awhile…" He trailed. The brunet already knew it was going to be awkward – all those years of hatred and jealousy, of silence, of no communication or contact… of a fear born of maturity and acknowledgment of his own negligent actions that made Green fear Red in ways he never thought he could fear a person. Months of regret and guilt festered over all this time – and none of it was really Red's fault, though at the time it had seemed that way. Back then, before the Indigo Plateau… Green had honestly believed the death of his Raticate was Red's fault, but he had wanted to be mature – to claim he did not blame anyone else. He was above childish gestures, he was a young man, an adult… a Pokemon trainer. Even so, he wanted his revenge. What did Red have? He had the gift of battling as one with his team.

So in a whirlwind of determination, Green became the champion. He avenged his Raticate by becoming the strongest, and took away the one thing he knew for certain Red wanted. Having the years of experience he had now, and the foresight the brunet thought himself silly thinking that would last long. Red had defeated him several times before then – what made him think that he would win that time? And in their last battle together, he did lose. He was humiliated, and his grandfather did nothing to help. The man always played favourites – it didn't matter if it was with his own grandchildren or the trainers he sent out into the world. Whoever did best, Professor Oak doted on. That was the way he was. Red never spoke – he never asked for the doting. When the ravenet disappeared, part of Green wondered if it was because the old geezer would not leave his rival alone.

Red had always wanted to be the Champion, for who knew what reason. But he had never wanted the whirlwind of attention that came with it.

A casual gait began to grow slower, as Green felt the first stirrings of apprehension. It had been years, after all. What did Red even look like these days? An image of Red (as Green remembered him when he was fourteen) with a Hiker's unkempt beard and pot belly flashed through the brunet's mind and he nearly retched from the visual. "Oh Arceus, why… why did that… oh…" He groaned, and desperately tried to wipe the image with whatever pin-up he could call to mind immediately. The end result was not a pleasant one, and in a last-ditch effort he just began to recite all the different species of Pokemon known to man. This was not only an effective method to get one's mind off unpleasant thoughts, but also great for falling asleep. Better than counting Mareep, even.

One hour later, and only slightly closer to the top Green effectively lost all interest in naming all of the Pokemon – especially because after number four hundred he began forgetting which ones he already named. That was the issue with just thinking up names and not going in a particular order. At least the traumatic visual was gone.

A day later, Green was bundled up more than he had been earlier. He wore a jacket with medium thickness, and a scarf half-heartedly wrapped around his neck. His fingers were gloved, kept warm in the chilling air while Eevee continued to walk next to him with her own little scarf and tiny snow-shoes fit for her paws. Unlike the wild Pokemon, her paws did not have the calluses and adaptations to protect her paw pads from suffering from the snow. The peak was as foreboding as Green remembered it, the world once filled with life abruptly stifled with nothing but whites and grays. The view was nice, at least… and the snow was not as thick or fresh as it would have been in winter. He was almost there – now he just had to remember where the cave was.

Yes, once upon a time he had come up regularly to visit Red. Someone had to bring him supplies, and even offer him some human companionship. Or at least, that was the reasoning behind Green's visits – of which he did not start until two years after his friend became the Champion. There was still hatred in him then, but there was also a sense of obligation and even concern. What if Red died up in that mountain, forever thinking Green hated him? The idea of his childhood friend dead, lying there in a mountain as nothing more than a carcass to feed starving Pokemon… he shivered. There was no honour in that, and there was no joy in death. The death of his Raticate taught him as much.

So he visited his friend for awhile. He was a Gym Leader then, and took a weekend off once a month with the explanation that someone had to keep the Champion alive. But after six months, Green began seeking reasons to stop going. The silence was oppressive and choking. He never knew what to say, and Red said nothing. Green would fill the air with trivial things, sometimes even spouting nonsense so the cave would not feel devoid of human life. The Pokemon made sounds, nature made sounds… but Red was an almost nonexistent presence. The emptiness was so powerful, that Green wondered how much of his friend was even left after all that time of isolation. Lifting up snow-laden trees branches, and gently tapping thick protrusions of rock the brunet could already imagine the next few days being just like those weekends years ago. Was there even a person left beneath that apathetic visage and those stilled lips?

Eevee gave a triumphant cry, and seconds later she came bounding at him at full-speed. Following after her in awkward, wobbly steps that shook some of the trees was Blastoise – the giant turtle had his brows furrowed only to widen in surprise seeing Green. The creature wobbled closer in order to bend down, and begin sniffing Green. "Wow. Has it really been that long?" The brunet gave an appreciative whistle, and was surprised at his own ability to hide how nerve-wracked he felt inside. What if this was the wrong Blastoise? But if it was, why was Eevee so psyched?

The turtle pulled back, and blinked rapidly. With a small grunt, he turned around before a tiny arm motioned the brunet to follow. So it was the right Blastoise (then again, how many Blastoise's did a guy see running around?). Feeling at least that much assurance, Green scooped up Eevee who made a pleased sound at finally being carried. The two followed Blastoise to the cave entrance, which when he saw it he realized it was the same as it was over six years ago. Perhaps some people just didn't change. The brunet's heart hastened, hammering in his chest as that nervousness slipped back into his system. This was it. Okay, just play it cool. You're just giving Espeon back to his rightful owner. That's it. There is nothing to be nervous about. If Red still wants to be a tightwad jackass and say nothing, that's his decision. But you're going to set things right… even if he won't.

The three entered the cave, and though no permission was given Green dumped his camping bag anyway onto the (not snow-covered) floor. Eevee hopped from his arms, and immediately set to scouring the whole cave while her trainer stretched. The cave trembled, and the brunet ceased rotating his arms to take several steps back. "Whoa there big guy, I'm happy to see you as well but please do-" But Snorlax did, reaching forward and scooping Green into a hug the teenager had never wanted to experience again. If all that hiking did nothing to his back and the thin air nothing to his lungs, Snorlax certainly just took care of that for the mountain. "Y-yeah… m-missed you too…" The brunet gasped, wriggling in the giant's hold in a desperate attempt at escape. Pacing in circles around Snorlax's feet was Eevee, whimpering softly with her ears down.

How reassuring. She was afraid he was going to die.

Lapras gave a low whine to Snorlax, and with his flippers scooted closer to the two in order to nudge little encouragements to permit the brunet freedom. Frowning softly, the giant Pokemon let his shoulders sag before he released Green into a twitching mass on the floor. In his temporary state of air-deprived consciousness, the Gym Leader was almost certain he just saw Charizard leave the cave and fly off. Was that Red making a break for it…? Talk about the "hellos and good byes" being rushed…

A wet nose gently pressed against his cheek, and with a deep intake of breath Green gently lifted himself up into a sitting position. Once the spinning stopped and his lungs no longer felt as though they were on the verge of a collapse, he actually bothered to take in his surroundings. Or he would have, if there weren't three fairly big Pokemon hovering over him. "I'm fine." Green finally said, and gave the three The Look. Which mostly consisted of his raising one brow while lowering to other, and staring without blinking at someone else (or a Pokemon) until they felt uncomfortable and looked away. The Look did not work very well on wild Pokemon – staring tended to be interpreted as challenges. Caught Pokemon on the other hand…

…were apparently immune, because the three stared back at him (Lapras seemed amused by this, though). "Right." Green sighed. These three were probably so used to being stared at by their own trainer, they had no idea what it even meant anymore with other humans. That would be his luck – which again, was why he did not ride on Pidgeot to get up here. "So," He took in another deep breath, and stood back up abruptly. "I'm assuming you're waiting for me to ask where Red is. Well, obviously he isn't here otherwise you guys wouldn't have come out to greet me. That, or he's here and hiding behind all of you in which case it is equally as obvious I am not welcome. How have you all been?" The brunet did not bat an eye at all of the drabble tumbling out of his mouth, and neither did the three Pokemon staring at him (Snorlax did cock his head to the side ever-so-slighty, though).

Green was also surprised realizing he was breathing just fine. Which he supposed made sense, because he never heard of anyone suffering oxygen deprivation from the low levels at the top. By all means the air should have been thin, and people should have had trouble breathing at such an altitude. But instead it was as though some important function of nature was not programmed into this particular area. Whatever – he was not going to complain about being able to breathe. "You all look good." Green commented, and immediately knew what he was doing. He was filling the air again. While not thin, it did feel empty. Craning his neck forward, Lapras gently nudged the Pokeball separated from the rest on Green's belt. He made a small sound of recognition, before pulling away with a pleased expression. Lapras made a few sounds to the other two, and the brunet noticed they immediately brightened. Turning around in two huge steps, Snorlax released a call deeper into the cave and the cry of Venusaur soon followed.

"Yes, Espeon is feeling much better. Leaf told me he was ready to come back home." Green announced, and he raised a brow as the large head of a certain plant-type peeking his head out between Snorlack and Blastoise's sides. Four of the six Pokemon in total – and the brunet was fairly certain he had watched Charizard leave moments ago. Considering Eevee was still by her trainer's side… perhaps Red was just out with Pikachu, and the winged lizard went off to find the two. Maybe getting… lunch. Yeah, it felt about lunchtime. The four still remained huddled at the front, and now would stare intently at the Pokeball before trying to look around the Gym Leader to see if their trainer would be back soon.

They were excited about the reunion.

"Of course they are." Green chuckled, stepping aside to let them stare and wait. Venusaur actually bothered to notice Green finally, and gave an awkward smile before resuming his wait for Red. They were all waiting for Red.


People, consciously or unconsciously, often chose to stick by what emulated them best – which was probably why Red chose such a foreboding place to live. Red was just like the top of Mt. Silver. He was always far away, nearly impossible to reach, and had the same kind of strange and cold beauty. Red was always silent, and people assigned emotions to him but never truly knew what he felt. Everyone knew what insides made up the champion – organs, water, the like – but no one knew what was the metaphorical inside. They imagined. Dreamed. Painted. Just like the mountain, the champion remained silent and offered no comments or responses to these depictions.

Staring at Red, Green felt a swarm of emotions. Red simply stared back at him, with no expression as usual. The two had been named for their eyes, or so Professor Oak and Red's mother claimed. Sometimes, Green wondered if their names should have been switched, especially now as the two teenagers continued the staring contest (of which the champion would undoubtedly win – he spent years staring, and the brunet only minutes). The colour red was supposed to warm, powerful, evocative. When a person saw a picture with lots of red hues, they should have melted at the sight – fallen into a passion or a simple comfort. Not feel frozen in place, staring at slices of red that stood out starkly against pale skin and draping black bangs.

Surprisingly, Red was the one who blinked and looked away – probably to see what his Pokemon were up to. Back to the silence, to being there but never acknowledged. "You haven't really changed, have you?" Green asked, and gave a small chuckle but it sounded as forced as it felt. As expected, the champion said nothing as he walked over to pat Lapras on the head of who leaned forward to the touch. Charizard and Pikachu followed after. The yellow rodent gave a few sparks of his cheeks at the brunet, before resuming his attention on his trainer. Watching them, the Gym Leader noted that Red's hair had gotten a bit longer – his mother probably made a trip every few months to trim it. She was rather strict about men keeping their hair short, "lest they look like hippies." He doubted Red even cared. There was probably a hair cut planned for the near future.

The hair looked slick, and parts of the champion's clothes clung to him – Pikachu even appeared slightly out of breath. Training – of course they were training. Did they train every day? Still observing his once rival, if he did train every day he certainly didn't have the bulk to prove it. There was definitely muscle – Red was probably stronger than he looked, but the strength was subtle. Living on the mountain, Red probably could not or simply would not get the nutrients necessary to help his muscle continue to build. He probably did go out of his way to ensure his Pokemon got those nutrients, on the other hand. With how healthy the creatures looked in comparison to their trainer, the brunet had a sneaking suspicion he was on the right track.

Clearing his throat until he got Red's blank stare again, Green nodded to his friend. "This isn't exactly a visit." Still no response, except the obligatory stare. Was Red really listening to him, or was he just humoring the brunet the same way he once humored Professor Oak? Green could not even tell the difference anymore – all the silences sounded the same these days. Empty. "Leaf wanted me to bring you someone." And having nothing more to say, Green took long strides over to Red and held out the Pokeball. They both grew – a lot. Once upon a time Red barely came up to Charizard's neck, and now the champion had an inch or so on his Pokemon (the last remnants of the rival within Green was pleased to see he was still taller of the two – at least he had that).

When closer, the Gym Leader noticed that Red had been quietly and subtly panting this whole time – had he run all the way back after training? Did he think something was wrong? Either way, leave it to Red to master the art of gasping for breath and somehow still look as though he was perfectly fine. Actually… he probably should not have been that pale, or had little circles under his eyes either. "Geeze, you'd probably be dead if your mom didn't worry over you." The brunet scoffed, and placed the Pokeball into the ravenet's hands – gently. With a scowl, Green turned away so he could rummage through his bag. At first when Red's mother contacted him about bringing, "her baby something healthy," Green thought she was just being a mom. Now that he actually saw his friend up close, he realized she was just being human.

There was a sound, followed by a pleased cry from Espeon. Unable to help himself, Green peeked out from around his bag. Okay, yeah – he was just as curious about the reunion as Red's other Pokemon. His sister Daisy still called him a nosy brat for a reason. Espeon was rubbing his cheeks against his trainer's denim jeans, making a multitude of happy sounds while his tail gave pleased twists and coils behind him. His trainer reached down, with what may have been shaky hands, to pet the lavender fur. A small murr left Espeon, who pressed into the touch. Six years. It must have been nice to see someone he cared about so much after six years, and be able to know beneath that mask the person was glad to see him as well.

Jealous. It was a silly thing to be jealous over, especially since Espeon had almost died and deserved some kind of happiness after all those years of physical therapy, pain, and separation. There was no way Red could tell the creature he couldn't stay – so Green was probably going to take one of the other six back with him to Viridian. After that, Leaf would probably make yearly trips so the champion could give all his Pokemon turns and chances to train in their home. Their home. And Gold was probably going to continue hiding as the real champion, living out his reign only as Johto's champion. At sixteen, the kid probably mellowed out since being the egoistical little bastard he was. Maybe that avalanche taught him, if nothing else, a respect for Red. Maybe Gold just stayed in Johto, because he knew that some people needed an excuse to stay home.

"Thank you, Green." The words were soft, and almost inaudible. They were faint, and the silence that had been there moments ago was gone so quickly it was as though that oppressive thing had never been there. Green looked up, his eyes glued to Red because had he actually spoken, actually said something to him? And there looking at him were seven Pokemon and a pair of red eyes that for once in years were more than pools of scarlet – there was warmth there, and gratitude, and though Red's face was as empty as it always had been…

…Green was still pretty sure the other was smiling at him.

"Y-you're welcome." Stammering – Green never stammered. And like a Stantler caught in headlights, Red's head snapped to look at his Pokemon. Green was not supposed to see that, and he had. How many other times had that happened, and the brunet never caught it?

A/N: Yeah, I know I know... you guys are sick and tired of the, "Green is going up the mountain concept." I know this because it seems every GreenRed fic I find, somewhere in the summary someone is commenting on it. But I couldn't resiiiiisssssttt. So here you go. A fresh order of, "Green is going up the mountain." Hopefully the fact he's staying there for about a week will provide some illusion of variety. In other news, unless something horrible and cataclysmic happens, this should be updated once a week - I finished writing it MONTHS ago (so for those of you who read my NTouya stuff, that's why this is being updated and not "Bits and Pieces") so aside from actually taking five minutes to upload it, there's no work involved. xD Anyway, I hope you all enjoy! I love receiving feedback to determine what I'm doing right and wrong in my work, so any and all commentary is appreciated. Thank you!
Disclaimer: This may be a shocker (read: relief, because I am sooo much worse at sticking to my release schedule than Nintendo, harhar) for some of you, but I do not own nor have any affiliation with Pokemon. At all. I'm just a fan that likes to write and level-grind my Pokemon.