I'm so dead.

I am SO dead.

Gold, ever the idiot, decided to speak. "Does this mean we gangbang Silver?" He asked with what I assumed would have been a vacuous expression on his blank face, had I been facing him.

"No, this does NOT!" I barked. Heat was rapidly rushing to my face, no doubt creating the maddest, deepest blush that I'd ever experienced. "Why the hell would you suggest something like that? Are you stupid?"

A dark look passed over Lance's eyes. "Gold," he boomed so sinisterly that his voice bounced off the walls of Tohjo Falls and instantly paled my rosy bloom with fear. "If I catch you alone with Silver again, I won't just defeat you in the Pokemon League—I'll have Dragonite rip you apart, limb by limb, until you're nothing but a bloody stump."

An incredibly awkward silence followed. My jaw had magically unhinged from my skull, causing me to gape openly at Lance's petrifying—and possibly genuine—threat. I could hear Gold make a meek-sounding squeak behind me along with a muffled thump, indicating that he'd backed so far into my secret room that he'd hit a wall as he tried to shrink into the backdrop and make himself a natural part of the scenery. Lance, on the other hand, was glaring so viciously into the crack—overlooking me completely, as if I totally wasn't caught in such an embarrassing position—that I swore Gold would go up in flames.

Suddenly, Lance's hard, inflamed gaze shot down to me. I felt my breath hitch and my fingers go numb with fright. "Now, as for you," he growled, "you're coming with me. Give me your hands." Without even allowing me a window of time so I could do such, Lance pretentiously grabbed my forearms and started yanking. He didn't have to do much of that—Lance could probably pull a train engine if he wanted to—before I popped out noiselessly from my ensnared horizontal posture within the entrance to my little chamber. Bowling forward with a brief yelp, I tumbled into Lance's arms. He promptly threw me over his right shoulder like I was a wet blanket (albeit a light one at that) and slung his arm over my spine to keep me intact.

"Silver?" I heard Gold timidly cheep inside the small hot springs.

"If you know what's good for you," Lance rumbled, still shaking the large interior cavern of Tohjo Falls with his power, "you'll get lost. I don't want to see you again until you come to challenge me." Swinging around so quickly that I felt a bit of snot run out of my nose from the gust, Lance marched crisply away from the nook under the roaring waterfall.

So stunned that I couldn't say a word, I let Lance carry me until we got close to the Kanto exit of Tohjo Falls, sunlight streaming in from the fresh springtime outdoors. Judging from the way the shadows pirouetted inside Tohjo Falls, I estimated that it was late afternoon. Lance had tried to seduce me around lunchtime. Have I been here that long?

"Hey," I finally said. Lance didn't slow; he just kept walking, mind affixed on the task ahead. "We weren't doing anything, you suspicious old geezer. We were just soaking our feet in the hot springs."

Instead of words, Lance responded by reaching over with his left hand and slapping my ass so hard that it stung. I cringed and bit back tears of anguish.

"The hell was that for?" I cried. "That hurt, you moron!"

Still nothing.

Petulant dirtbag.

We broke the threshold of the Kanto egress, and I found myself enveloped in a cool, tender breeze that hugged my cheeks with its benevolence. I caught a wiff of blooming wildflowers and tree sap as Lance moved past a clump of blossoms in the meadow that was nearby the entrance to Victory Road. The sky was a dynamic blue, offering a few scattered, fluffy clouds here and there that resembled a lively herd of Mareep. A petal from one of the flowers in the departing cluster shook loose from the soft wind and drifted upward, tickling my nose. I sneezed.

Wow, it's… kind of nice out here. It's been ages since I've been on this Route. Maybe I should've stuck around outside instead. Gold probably wouldn't have found me.

I didn't have long to admire the beautiful landscape, though, because at the first sign of a patch of long grass, Lance lifted me up off his shoulder and threw me down—not roughly—into the foliage. My rear end hit the moist soil first, earning an "oof" out of me. Lance towered above me, his direction to the sun casting an ominous shadow over my recoiling body. His rage was now directed at me as he lowered down, his anger radiating like warmth off his body, encompassing him as a dragon would.

"There is a price to running away from me," Lance growled. "Did you really think that by hiding, you could also hide from the consequences?"

My mouth felt like cotton as I tried to speak. "Lance, I wasn't—"

"Shut up," Lance snapped. Kneeling down to my level, he leaned in so closely that his breath rushed onto my face, tepid and smoldering (and smelling vaguely like butterscotch). "I'm going to make you regret leaving me in the dust, Silver. And when I'm done with you, you won't be able to stand up, let alone walk in a straight line."

I whimpered. For once in my life, I was truly scared of him. "What-what're you going to—"

Lance smirked. "This."

And he reached under my shirt and began to tickle me.

Immediately, I was howling and thrashing about with laughter, beating my fists on the ground. Taking a risk, Lance slid his other hand to join the first, doubling my "punishment" so acutely that I felt teardrops of hilarity well up in my eyes. We tumbled around like that together, Lance occasionally interjecting things like "Oh, so you like that, huh?" and "Be quiet! I'm trying to discipline you!" with a huge grin on his face and myself flailing around like a Magikarp out of water, choking on hysterics until my throat hurt. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a Doduo watching us with curiosity, exchanging glances between their two heads and squawking before dashing away from the weird humans.

Soon, we both ran out of zest and collapsed on the huge bed of flattened grass, panting with weariness. Unthinkingly, I rolled over on my side to face Lance, sweat trickling down my forehead with the intensity of a pulsing river. Lance was smiling as he stared at me, the irritation in his expression now having faded to what appeared to be love reflecting his sharp golden eyes. Gulping, I felt a shiver creep through my skin, but I couldn't tear myself away from his gaze.

"Hey," I whispered, hoarse from my loud and somewhat feminine giggling.

"Hey yourself," Lance replied with a twinkle in his eye.

I buried my face into the smoothed out green. "I'm sorry," I apologized with a groan. "I shouldn't have pushed you away like that and acted like such a… such a woman. I just didn't know what to do. Nobody has ever kissed me before."

I felt Lance reach over with a minute rustle and pluck blades of grass from my hair. "I should be the one apologizing, you know," he stated matter-of-factly. "It was me who made the gaffe. I was just so overcome by my feelings that I couldn't help myself. I've been smothering those for quite a while, you know."

Raising my now dirt-infested face from the ground, I gave Lance a skeptical look. "You're Lance the Dragon Master," I said blandly. "You aren't supposed to have feelings. Duh. Everybody in Kanto and Johto knows that."

Lance licked his thumb and used it to wipe the earth away from my cheek like a fussing mother, a deep chuckle infusing his normal baritone. "Forgive me for breaking it to you," he said, "but he does have feelings." He brought the finger away as I wrinkled my nose at him for the paternal gesture and wiped it on his leg.

I made a gesture toward his cape, which was draped over his torso. "That thing is covered in grass stains," I said.

Lance took it in his thumb and forefinger and inspected his most important accessory. "Oh," he grunted. "So it is. Oh well. Nothing laundry detergent won't fix."

"You said you've been hiding them for quite a while," I pointed out. "How long, exactly?"

In the quickest flash, Lance was on top of me, straddling my lower body with his sturdy, strapping legs. Pinning my wrists gently with his hands, his eyes burrowed fathomlessly into mine as he stared at me with such fondness that my heartbeat sped up. "Months, Silver," he murmured, as if there were witnesses and he only wanted me to hear what he was about to say. "Soon after you moved in to be my student, in fact. I've dated countless women and broke hearts and had mine broken, but nobody has swayed me quite like you have. I found myself making more mistakes in battle and training, forgetting the smallest things, all because you occupied my mind the entire time. I… I came to not just want you, but need you. When you left to train solo, I felt that there was something missing. You weren't there—I couldn't hear your voice, smell your scent, pat you on the back when you did something correctly." Lance inhaled deeply and swallowed. "Silver… I love you. I know you're young—we have a decade between us—but I won't do anything you aren't comfortable with. I learned that this morning. Let me be your first everything."

I wanted to cry. "Lance, I…" I couldn't possibly tell him. I had feelings—even if they were negligible—for him, but they would never rival the way I felt about Gold. Still, I couldn't deny the way Lance stared at me—he was utterly and perhaps madly in love, while Gold only saw a friend in me. Gold was unthinkable.

But Lance was within reach.

Maybe it's time to move on.

"… I love you too, Lance."

Lance smiled so broadly that it touched his eyes, glittering with joy and affection. "Oh," he breathed. "You don't know how happy it makes me to hear that."

Leaning down, he covered his lips with mine, and I let my body melt together with his.

And this time, Gold wasn't in my thoughts.