A/N: I wrote this as a companion to another story of mine, Let The Right One In. Basically this is an answer to "Where was the responsible adult during those hijinx, and did he know what they were up to?" question. Hehe. Goooo Reggie. You tell those boys a little something about life. They'll never see it coming. xD I also cover a little more ColdCoffee goodness toward the end, so in all, it's a mixed bag of tricks.
Check out the other stories in the Halcyon universe (see profile for ze info)
Just Go With It
Rain was a common thing in this sector of Sinnoh, and thus to the natives, it was nothing. Most of them had grown so accustomed to this pesky weather condition that it all came in a blur anyway. It was odd to those not used to this behavior, but walk around the streets of Veilstone, and you would be likely to catch most of the population not carrying umbrellas, and still a great portion not even wearing coats that protected them from the elements. Truly, the people had become so thick-skinned that a little precipitation wouldn't wear them down, unless they had already contracted some virus like the flu that weakened their body's natural defense mechanisms. It simply didn't faze them.
If anyone was particularly guilty of not showing what others would consider a common-sense approach to inclement weather like this torrential downpour, that would be Reggie.
He trudged along one of the main streets downtown with nary but his shirt covering his torso. He wasn't trying to be foolhardy, but given that he'd been born strong and had never suffered many colds or other ailments over the years, a little rain didn't concern him enough to invest in a coat or umbrella. The last time he could remember using either was several years ago when his younger brother had still been with him, and he was trying to set a good example - not to mention his brother was not so lucky when it came to avoiding even common sicknesses; indeed they seemed to hit him harder than most normal people. Reggie had worn a coat mainly because he knew that if he didn't, Paul definitely wasn't going to wear one and risk looking "weak." He was just that stubborn.
But, Reggie had made his peace with his sibling's unique personality years ago. It was of little consequence by now.
He had just finished the shopping he'd needed to do for the week, and it was time to head for home. When he arrived, it would be dinner time for all the Pokémon he was caring for, and if he had learned anything in all his years of experience, it was that establishing a routine for things like feeding and play time were essential in keeping them all happy and in line, not to mention making it easier on himself. Focusing on one task at a time suited his style best.
The younger the Pokémon was, the more this statement was true. The babies' growth could be tampered with if they had too disjointed of an upbringing, and, frankly, he wouldn't be very good at his job if he let that happen.
It wasn't more than a five or ten minute's drive back to the house. Their neighborhood, while quiet and peaceful, was well-placed, just outside the bustling part of town where there were many services, not to mention the multilevel department store. It also was close to the Pokemon Gym, which kept the area respectable - no matter who was running the place, people didn't bother around under a Gym Leader's nose unless they were particularly daring.
He arrived and began to set to work. It didn't seem like his brother was home, but that was fairly normal for Paul. Either he spent his days out and about, holed up in his room, or occasionally he'd venture out a ways to train. So to not see him wasn't in itself alarming.
He hummed to himself as he arranged the bowls of food out on the lawn. He was sure to place some farther away from others. As young as his charges were, some of the types were very excitable and if they ate too near another such Pokémon, a scuffle was apt to break out; this had happened too many times for Reggie to make the same mistake. The learning curve was rather short when you were caught in the middle of two newly-hatched Pokémon who were still learning how to control their own strength. Needless to say he'd been on the receiving end of several poorly-aimed attacks, and though he'd cultured patience over time, it simply wasn't a fun experience.
He stood up straight and took a step back to admire his handiwork.
As soon as he was satisfied that everything was in order, he made a motion towards the crowd of hungry Pokémon that it was finally time to eat. They surged forth in packs, the younger ones trotting quickly up to feed; the older ones were content to make their way over slowly, knowing from the past that the food would still be there when they arrived. Reggie smiled. He wasn't getting anything out of this directly, but this was one of his favorite times of the day. He could see the elation on the faces of them all when they dug in, and they were all so well-behaved when they were busy stuffing their faces. He didn't have to do much at all!
In fact, he was considering going in to check on the roast that had been in the oven most of the day, and start preparing the other courses for dinner since he knew the Pokémon would all, more or less, be good while he was inside the house. As it was the end of the day, most of them were too tired out to cause mayhem at this point. Well, apart from Itzal the Umbreon, who was nocturnal, but that Pokémon had a Mild nature to begin with, so it'd be okay.
Inevitably though, something had to come up to mar an otherwise smooth day.
He hadn't been listening too intently, but he still heard a sudden stream of oaths being screeched from what sounded like his front yard. This was very unusual to be happening in his neighborhood, so of course he rushed around the house to see what was going on.
He had a sneaking suspicion one of the voices belonged to his brother. Reggie truly knew the little upstart more than he thought he did, and could have placed that voice almost anywhere.
But what sort of trouble had he gotten himself into this time?
Paul usually avoided people period, not to mention he never got close enough to another person even to pick a fight with them. Not since he was little, anyway. When Paul had been a small child, the story had been quite different. He was always getting written up at school. Apparently he didn't play well with the other kids.
Reggie would never hold that against him though. Paul was just different. He had a singular personality that rubbed most "normal" folks the wrong way, not that many bothered to try and conquer that. One day, he hoped someone would though. Paul could definitely use a friend or something of a social nature. Reggie worried that he'd just get more and more bitter as time went on, and he spent it alone. He especially dreaded if his younger sibling ever moved out on his own like he threatened to occasionally. The thought of him spending his days completely alone, not even with his brother around for social stimulation was just depressing for such a caring soul as Reggie to want to contemplate!
As he had suspected, one of the voices did belong to his brother. When he made it out to the front yard, all he could see were flailing limbs and the mud that was being kicked up in the wake of the fighting. Reggie didn't recognize the other boy, but he looked about his brother's age. What in the world could have happened to where they were rough-housing in the yard on a rainy day like this? He didn't know the full story, but he'd figure it out later. For now, he needed to break this up before it got out of hand.
Plucking one red-and-white Pokéball off his belt, he threw it and called out one of his oldest friends. The Beaver Pokémon materialized in front of him, its large black eyes appraising its master, awaiting the command. Reggie pointed towards the feuding young men, and ordered a Water Gun. He felt sorry about it, but getting in the middle of the scuffle with his own bare hands was a disaster waiting to happen. He may be stronger than Paul, and probably more so than the other boy he was fighting, but the simple fact was there were two of them, pumped full of adrenaline, and one of him, not all psyched up. You do the math.
The water blasted the boys apart by force, sending them flying in two opposite directions. His brother ended up far away from him, and the other young man within his reach. Reggie immediately offered him a hand to help him stand up, much to the boy's surprise. Once vertical again, he began scraping the mud off the knees of his jeans with his hands, looking thoughtful about something. Reggie wondered if it had anything to do with why they were fighting.
"Are you all right?" he inquired.
"Oh yeah, I'm good." He didn't look up from his cleaning project at all, but there was a faint blush on his face.
"I'm sorry about my little brother. He isn't a very good host, but we'll work on that. "
Reggie had a feeling that whatever they were quarreling about it, it was probably a situation aggravated by his sibling, judging by his opponent's mild behavior. But no matter. These things had a way of working themselves out in the end, and he figured eventually he'd find out what the fight was about. So, he took a second to return his Pokemon, now that it looked like the scuffle was over.
"Paul, why didn't you just invite your friend in? It would have been polite, given the weather being what it is today." The insolent look Paul bestowed on him in the next moment told him a little about the situation. Still, it seemed this other young man wanted to hang out with his brother, and goodness knows he could use a companion. Reggie really didn't see what the harm would be in allowing it to continue. Paul was stubborn, he wouldn't get friends on his own free will. Perhaps this was the only way to make it happen.
"What's your name? I'm Reggie, Paul's brother."
"The name is Barry." The blond looked happy to be greeted so warmly. He shook his hand confidently.
"It's so nice to have a visitor. Please, come inside. I'm sure you're wanting to get cleaned up now. You can use my shower."
"Don't mention it. And after that, you can have dinner with us. Probably stay the night too," Reggie added on as he eyed the rainstorm in progress. "It's going to flood without a doubt, so it'll be hard getting out of the city tonight, so we'd love it if you stayed here so that we knew you were okay."
Apparently things were going too well, because his little brother decided to put in his two cents on the matter.
"What you mean is you'd love it if he stayed," he jibed harshly, looking utterly fed-up by the exchange. He immediately turned on his heel and headed inside the house. Reggie and Barry were left outside to deal with the anger left in his wake, and on the whole, Reggie was worried this might finally have soured the day enough for Barry to give up.
"Sorry about that."
"Oh no, you don't have to apologize. I don't mind. I know that's how Paul is." Barry waved off the issue. He was already over it, and his mind was working already on how he could press ahead. He headed for the house, figuring that putting one foot in front of the other was a good way to start. Off to the side, Reggie was finding himself pleasantly surprised. Call him a crazy wishful thinker, but he thought that this boy might actually have a chance at charming his wayward younger brother.
And though he'd never express it aloud, Reggie was on his side.
Hours later, he was drying a few plates and letting his mind drift off elsewhere.
He was thinking about if he had to return any of his charges to their trainers soon, and mentally calculating what the best time of day for that would be, working around the feeding and exercise regimens he had devised. If he had to, he could ask Paul to do some of the chores, but he would rather not, for several reasons, least of all being Paul's typical unwillingness to help out in his brother's work, of which he quietly disapproved.
No, that would be his last resort if possible.
Reggie then considered the viability of asking Maylene, who was a good friend, but of course he didn't want to impose on her either, given her many responsibilities to the city. All in all it was making his brain hurt, and so the distraction he received helped to reset his mind into a better place.
He heard a sudden shout from upstairs and tuned his ears that way out of concern, at least until he realized what was being said, because he then promptly stopped listening, as they were clearly of a private nature. Not meant for his hearing, and in fact he knew all too well how embarrassed at least one of those boys would be if they knew that he had heard what they were getting up to.
"Oh, come on! I am practically half naked and you can't say anything, Paul? Sheesh!"
And that was as good as a cue for him to go outside to check on the Pokemon!
Reggie chuckled to himself as he shut the door behind him. Perhaps he might have intervened, but Paul could take care of himself. If he didn't want to...well, he wouldn't; he was as stubborn and immoveable as a boulder. Aside from that, he could stand to experience a little affection. They might be moving fast, but all in all, that was a personal decision, and it wasn't for Reggie to judge.
He gave them a good hour or so before he returned indoors, and by then, the atmosphere had calmed down, only quiet drifting down from the upper floor of the house, meaning that things must have ended. He wished that events had gone well, and hoped for the best. As he had talked with Barry at dinner he had really grown to like the young man, and thought that maybe he had enough confidence to stand beside Paul as an equal, if only his little brother was willing to let that person in.
It wasn't something he could force, even if he really wanted to, and so he went to bed himself a while later, curious to see what the next day would bring.
Early in the morning, he got the answer to his ponderings. Both boys came down to breakfast together, and despite the clear act they were putting on, trying to keep a friendly distance, it was hard to miss the grin on the young blond's face when he watched his brother at the table. It made his own heart jump with joy, for he had been wanting Paul to find someone to be close to him for years and years, and now it was finally appearing to happen.
What was most gratifying though was the subtle transformation he was noticing in his brother. Present there that morning was a side of Paul he had not seen in a very long time, years and years in fact. Even when faced with a high-strung personality such as he had to admit Barry possessed, as well as peeking out from under the usual grumpy mask, the guy showed patience and care when deferring to his friend.
Instead of eating, Reggie often felt the urge to soak in the sight, so happy and unaccustomed to it as he was. It was a rare thing, and who knows if it would continue. That was entirely up to Paul to decide, although he gathered Barry wasn't the type to give up easily.
That meal was imbedded amongst some of his fondest memories.
"We're leaving. Be back later," Paul informed him immediately following breakfast, his eyes seemingly challenging him to stop them. The thought of this amused Reggie, who realized after a pause that his little brother was nervous. He didn't know that Reggie knew, but he was cautious in case he didn't and he could fool him. He kept a straight face as the pair left, Barry trundling off after Paul looking positively carefree and oblivious in comparison.
"Have fun!" he called after them, allowing himself to smile, just a little, when they were out of sight.
He had time now to prepare what he wanted to say for when they got back.
In all he had a relaxed attitude toward what they were getting up to given, one, they were adults now and could make that decision, and two, he didn't think there was anything wrong with it. Though, his brotherly instincts did lead him to want to sit them down and make certain that they were being safe and that they knew and understand all that was going on with their bodies.
It had been years since he had given Paul "The Talk" but at that time he hadn't covered the special conditions that came up with sex. Paul had not wanted to hear any of the talk so he had decided to let it go at that point, figuring that he wasn't sexually active so it wasn't a pressing concern. He didn't have to embarrass him unnecessarily, and it was never his goal to, so that had been the end of that.
He wasn't fully unaware of how it would be different between two men but given that wasn't what he personally was used to, he needed to look up a few things, just to make sure he was giving them all the information they'd need that they might be too embarrassed to search out themselves.
He passed the next few hours between that and his work, patiently waiting for Barry and Paul to make their way back to the house. He guessed, correctly, that they were only out as a sort of alibi to make it seem like this was a normal friend-staying-over situation. Whenever they got bored of keeping the pretense, they'd come back, and he would be waiting.
Eventually the time came. He was reading in the living room when he heard the front door open and two sets of feet stomp on the mat inside, removing some of the dirt from outdoors. He picked out Barry's voice babbling on about some purchases he had made, and Paul's terse additions to the conversation, mainly noncommittal sounds to show that he was listening. Ah, so they must have gone to the Department Store, Reggie figured. That seemed reasonable.
"Can you two come in here, please?"
Reggie perched himself in his chair comfortably, feeling just the slightest bit of anticipation at having this conversation. After it was through he would feel like he had done his duty, and things could truly go on in peace. It was a necessary evil. He knew probably neither of the boys would take to it well, but he was going to try to make it as natural as he could. After all, nothing embarrassing about expressing affection in a safe way. It was merely responsible to cover these topics, and that was his opinion.
He wasn't going to beat around the bush.
As soon as they walked in the room he motioned for them to sit across from him on the couch, and he was perfectly direct as to why.
"I know that you're together."
Paul coughed seemingly out of nowhere, and Barry didn't seem all too concerned, though he did pat Paul mildly on the back, just in case something was truly wrong.
"And that's fine. I'm happy for you."
His little brother's expression told him that he was feeling quite the opposite about finding out that Reggie knew. Barry was starting to catch on, putting two and two together. He started to realize how Reggie might possibly have figured that out, and he flushed a bright pink, shooting a look of apology Paul's way.
"But, I do think it's about time we all sat down for a nice talk about all of this. I wouldn't want you two going on without the proper knowledge in hand…"
The look on the younger boys' faces in that fleeting moment could only be interpreted as pure, unadulterated horror. He could have given them any punishment in the world, but this was by far the worst.
Errantly, Barry would muse that the one up side of the situation for him is that he might be able to tune the guy out. The real worst case scenario would have been getting The Talk from his dad, again. His recollections of the initial conversation they'd had when he was about 10 or so were not too fond to look back on. Let's just say that his dad had the same tendency to over-share that he had inherited from him, and that Barry learned way more about things he could have gone without ever knowing. Or information on things that he would have rather found out from someone less… blood related to him.
For Paul though, this was worst case scenario. Nothing could be more humiliating than what was about to go down, and he had a gut feeling Reggie would be in that "understanding, ask me anything, spill your guts, I don't mind" mindset that made him seven sorts of uneasy whenever he was faced with it.
The worst was yet to come, unfortunately. He hadn't seen it coming, which made it all the worse, and he felt his face turn the brightest shade of red he thought he'd ever accomplished.
"And from now on, Paul, you'll be doing your own laundry. I'm sure you understand why."
Oh yes, this was the ultimate buzz kill. The final embarrassment.
Karma had chosen its time deviously well to bite him in the ass.
Later That Day...
"Yeesh, that was some talk!"
Barry was whining, and not even trying to hide it. Paul generally detested such a display of the lack of control over one's feelings, but inwardly he had to agree with the sarcasm being portrayed. Indeed it had been a harrowing event - one he would be happy never to have to repeat in his lifetime. Perhaps the worst aspect of it was his brother's attitude. How could anyone in their right minds be so cheerful, so shameless, discussing the things he did with them?
"It was worse than when my dad gave me the talk, and Paul you have no idea what that was like! My dad is... okay, I guess you might get it since your brother outclassed him there, but just whoa! For a guy who likes girls, he knows far too much about... things."
Paul's face darkened for a moment. Barry side-eyed him attentively. "Something you want to say?" he prompted.
"You say he knows a lot..." he replied curtly. He could feel himself getting a bit worked up over the assumptions running through his mind, and was embarrassed by it. Why should he care? He made it a point not to care about other's private lives, but perhaps since they were close, it wasn't so strange to wonder...?
Barry grinned rather gleefully as he drew his own conclusion to his lover's behavior. "Well, I do believe I've got you thinking now."
He moved in closer, claiming one of Paul's hands with his own. "I understand that the possibility might be hard for you to take, but it's okay. After all, if it makes him happy, shouldn't that make you happy, too? Is it because... you know, it's not the end of the world to have something in common with your brother, Paul. If I had a brother, I wouldn't mind if he was like me."
Paul wrenched his hand away at that moment.
"What are you trying to say?" He shot Barry a rather stern look. It wasn't his being taciturn either, he was genuinely thrown by the subject.
"Isn't it obvious, Paul? Your brother is like us! I wasn't sure, but you've told me all I needed to know. This is kind of awesome, don't you think? Heck! No wonder he was so okay with us, I mean, apart from that craaazy lecture about responsibility! He's older though, that explains everything! He's been around the block."
On his side of the bed, Paul was inexplicably dumbfounded. Not that he believed anything of what Barry was saying... it simply wasn't the case... Paul had had a very different idea in mind when he'd tried to strike up a conversation. The part about not liking to be like Reggie though, that much was hitting on truth, but the rest was pure conjecture and false not to mention.
"Barry," he spoke up, making an effort to have an even tone out of politeness, "that's not it."
"What do you mean? It definitely makes sense, just think about it!"
"My brother... is not..." Paul stopped short, finding himself uncomfortable about saying the word. If he was being honest with himself, it was because he felt as soon as he said it, even about a different person, he'd have to realize it about himself. And even though last night had happened - Paul still couldn't forget the feeling of waking up this morning and knowing that he had someone who not only would put up with him, but cared about him despite how he was - his mind was slow to categorize it, to accept it as his new reality. He wanted to be around Barry, but the context was not something he could admit to himself.
"He's always liked girls," he finished, congratulating himself on figuring out an alternative that didn't scar him so much. "He's dated plenty in his time."
"You're kidding," Barry deadpanned. Or, maybe he was being sincere, Paul mused. Come to think of it, Barry was absolutely terrible at subtlety, so, that answered that question effectively. He had truly convinced himself about Reggie. In a weird way, Paul couldn't help but be affected by it. Even if he had the wrong idea, the guy was so passionate as to try and cure Paul's supposed depression over the matter. That was ... different.
"No. He has this weird flirting thing going on with the Gym Leader even today. He likes girls. End of story."
"So then what was the big idea with you repeating how he knew stuff? What were you trying to say, Paul?" And with that, his mind was brought back around to his initial misgivings in the conversation. Remembering why he had mouthed off at all, Paul became disagreeable once more, only this time he had no intention of spouting off unfinished sentences to serve as his interrogation.
"You were talking about my brother, and how he 'knew too many things'. My question to you is... how do you know so many things?" Despite how much he wanted, and in a sense, needed to know the answer to this, the words did not come easy. He could feel his hands shaking a little bit. Reflecting upon other things, he supposed he had been naive, believing that Barry took it into his mind with no prompting that he was going to chase him. There had to have someone that made Barry know who and what he liked, with whom he learned what he did... and yet the revelation brought only jealousy.
Barry, who was only now beginning to grasp the topic, felt uneasy. He glanced over Paul with his oddly orange eyes, trying to pick out his mood instinctively.
"Did I, what?" he echoed, biting his lip slightly afterward.
"You're just being difficult. You must know what I mean," Paul snapped rather effusively for one usually so controlled. "Did you or did you not have someone before...?"
"Before me," he completed the question, his voice barely audible.
"Err, well, sort of," Barry answered truthfully. "It wasn't anything serious. Look, I used to practice kissing with a guy friend of mine when we were younger. That's it."
If he hadn't been upset over it, he might have shook his head at the same.
He had heard of girls doing this with other girls, but it had never come up as an idea in his brain that guys might do it, too. Then again this was Barry. Should he really be surprised? Perhaps not, but it wasn't about the surprise. The fact was that he was jealous. Barry claimed it wasn't anything that was a big deal, but to him, it was. It was something that Barry had beaten him at, childishly put. He was used to being the best at everything, but Barry had previous experience to outweigh him in this area. It was unacceptable to his way of viewing things.
"I never felt about him the way I feel about you, though."
Paul remained contemplative, not really sure how to deal with this knowledge within the confines of his mind and in keeping with his pride.
He ignored him.
"Listen to me, ya big grump." Barry's hand's went to either side of his face, forcing him turn to look at him. "If I could take that stuff back I would, but it is how it is, so you shouldn't worry about it. I like only you, got it? My lips belong to you now, if you still want them."
His expression must have been interesting at that point, because inwardly he was torn between shock and the strains of what he thought could be called happiness, though he wasn't very acquainted with such a thing to tell for sure.
Barry kissed him then, and he let it happen, a few of the doubts lifting from his consciousness.
Though Paul's nature was proving difficult to deal with, Barry realized in that moment that he wouldn't have wanted him so much if he were any way other than how he was.
Paul was his insensitive jerk, and he'd keep him by his side for as long as he possibly could.
A/N: *heart clutch* I love writing these two characters even separately, but together - Perfection! Take that, Pokemon anime, for your lack of developing romantic interests even when they're obvious! Anyway, hehe, let me know what you thought of this piece if you have time to leave me a review. Every single one is treasured and replied to, I promise. Au revoir!
An aside - why is it whenever I write about Veilstone City... it's always raining? I think my subconscious equates it with where I live or something!