Red was frowning at Green.

"What?" Green asked as he ran his fingers through the silken, raven locks that adorned Red's head beneath his hat, which he'd removed out of bland habit a few minutes before. "I'm just playing with your beautiful hair. Is there something wrong with that?" He pinched one small wisp that rested softly above the nape of Red's neck. Red's hair was so clean and glossy, untainted by the usual hair products guys used to keep their hair held in one douchey position—so sleek, in fact, that whenever Green tried to acquire a firm hold on the boy's tresses, they slipped between Green's fingers and disappeared back into the jet-black pile, slithering like black mambas. Green was mesmerized. Red had always been a hygienic sort, but the state of his hair was hypnotic. Loosely sexual.
Jerking his head away, Red held Green's gaze. His lips were curled down into a profoundly annoyed scowl as his glimmering scarlet eyes warned Green away.

"Geez, you're so moody," Green said at Red's brooding, hostile expression. "That time of month again?"

Clearly, Red didn't find the joke amusing. The corners of Red's mouth shuddered in reprehension that he couldn't physically articulate. Since birth, Red had been unable to speak—years of speech therapy and attempts to surgically implant artificial vocal chords had been fruitless. Red's family had refused the latter, and the former was useless without the actual ability to talk. While this handicap didn't affect his Pokemon training or even prevent him from taking the Kanto Champion title away from Green, Red never kept close friends for long due to his disability. Green knew that being an involuntary mute drove Red and everyone else that wasn't aware of his condition up a wall, for people that didn't know him intimately couldn't read the emotions that Green found so easily behind his crimson stare. Even now, several years into his career, Red only had a handful of professional friends—Agatha (who regarded Red as somewhat of an adopted grandson, like she did with Lance), Bruno (who was impressed by his brute strength), and Lance (who was currently in Johto, serving as Champion there, and considering his relationship with Silver, probably though Red was hot or something). Even Lorelei found Red too much to bear.

Green thought that this was sad. If strangers would give Red a chance, they would discover what a character he really was—rich in emotion and determination, and capability to speak his mind without uttering a word. To him, Red embodied all that personified power. Actions, after all, spoke louder than words.

Much, much louder.

And right now, Red was screaming at him.

Swishing his head back and forth in agitation, Red continued to glare at his longtime rival, as if this was the very first time Green had laid a finger on him. Slinking away like a slight mink, Red took a few steps back on the lawn in the backyard of Green's childhood home, his eyes not once moving from Green. He backed into the patio floor, shuffling his feet with the ire of a rhino, ready to charge. His annoyed expression reminded Green of the sulky, silent child that Green remembered from his childhood.

Green sighed. Do you really have to do this, Red?

Red had come back from five months on the subzero summit of Mount Silver just the day before and had arrived to visit Green's family just when Green happened to be there. Still, even after a shower and sleeping in clean-pressed bedding the night before, Green noticed that Red reeked of the gamey scent of sweat, ice and sleet. A hint of the tangy spice of blood nestled around him in a sanguinary cloud, the metallic smell making Green hesitant to get too near to the teenage boy. He was thin—too thin, just in the slightest, from five months of dieting on vegetation and Ratatta. Green was afraid that if he even brushed Red's skin, Red would be crushed beneath the muscular arms Green possessed from months of strength and Pokemon training.

"Cripes, what the hell is wrong?" Green asked, becoming fed up with Red's touchiness. "I was stroking your hair. Big deal. This isn't the first time I've touched you."

Immediately, Red blushed and broke Green's gaze, looking at the ground with his bowlegged feet nudging each other. He stood, his skinny knees hooking away in opposite directions and his slender thighs far from touching. That was Green's favorite physical aspect of Red—he had such an awkward stance that it was almost endearing.

Green found that he had cornered his friend. Smirking, he continued, "Seeing as you usually like it when I touch you, this is weird of you."

Red's flush deepened as he opened his mouth, attempting to release a flustered bout of words—but then, when he realized for the thousandth time in his life that he could not, he swallowed so audibly that Green heard him clearly, one of the few noises that Red could make without trouble. Dropping his head, Green discerned a tiny, barely perceptible nod.

Taking a step to close the space Red had created between them, Green found his smirk dissolving in the sweet liquid of Red's innocence and shaping itself into a calm smile. "Remember when you went off to Mount Silver?"

Again, Red gave the tiniest possible nod.

Green took another step. Each footfall on his part seemed to make Red's tense posture loosen and relax, as if the anticipation of Green's nearing assuaged him more than it did perturb him. Inhaling, Green was ready to begin talking once more, but moved once again toward Red, just to make a point. "I was the only one who said goodbye to you."

Red dipped his head in agreement. This one was much easier to see.

Green was now so close to Red that he could feel the champion's trembling breath on the sleeve of his black jacket, the floating aroma of tomato soup drifting up into Green's nose. The smell loitered from their lunch that day. Reaching for Red, Green gently placed his arms around his rival's waist, his hands coming to rest at the small of his back. Red jerked, shocked by the sudden contact, but slackened as he let Green pull him in by a margin.

There was now not more than an inch separating the two, their heartbeats irregular with a mix of exasperation and tenderness. Green, being but half a foot taller than Red, peeked down at the young man he held in his arms. Red still wouldn't even look at him, instead taking the opportunity to bury his face into Green's clothing and drawing in the smell.

Green placed one hand on Red's neck, tugging him away from his chest. "Red," he said with all the care in the world. "Look at me, please."

Red, usually an obstinate and stubborn person, broke his mold and glanced up at Green. The ruby tinge in his eyes shone with tension, the apples his cheeks still colored his namesake.

"Want to pick up where we left off?" Green asked, his voice lower than he intended. "Just how we promised five months ago?"

With a faltering sigh, Red bit his lip.

Green narrowed his eyes. "Come on. Five months of no human contact shouldn't have turned you off to it that much."

Red smiled at Green, reminiscent of a child who was ignoring his mother's discipline. Swinging forward on his tiptoes, Red closed his eyes and leaned in, pressing his lips against Green's. Green kissed back, relishing in the tomato flavor that held Red's taste for the time being. When Green felt Red collapse against him in a lustful stupor, Green further wrapped his embrace around the boy's middle and hugged him, like Red was going to leave him for another five months.

Red was the first to break away, perhaps not wanting the feel to last too long. The minute he tried to stare meaningfully into Green's gaze, Green speedily slapped the palm of his right hand on the top of Red's head and ruffled his hair lightheartedly. As Red thrashed and grunted, trying to twist himself from Green's grip, he found he could not, for Green was heavier and more muscular than he—his strength was outmatched here. Finally, he quit floundering about and dug his fingernails into Green's forearms, emitting breathless wheezes that Green had placed on the same level as howling in protest for years before. Green prided himself in this defeat of his rival, for he'd never lost to him before—not even in the Pokemon League. But at least he overpowered him in a wrestling match.

"Now that I've kissed you, can I play with your hair?" He chuckled. "Tit for tat?"

Red snorted.

Green took that as a yes.