cactus in the valley

(tell me that you'll still recall my name.)

"It's interesting seeing you here."

She's all venom, and spite, blue eyes flashing with anger beyond belief. Hands on her hips, pursed lips, there's not a friendly bone left in her body. He grinned, all smiles and charm, and let out a low whistle. He ran a hand through messy, black hair, hatless for once. His hat was sitting alone in his Mount Silver home, on the broken love-seat that brought more pain than comfort. The girl in front of him glares at him with the passion of ten million charizards, she's pins and needles, and the thought amuses him to no end.

"Yeah, I guess it is."

She's shocked. Her mouth opens, and closes, then her hands leave her hips. They clasp each other, and she presses them against her chest, as if in prayer. She mumbles to herself, inaudible and rushed. He raises his eyebrows in response to her sudden three-sixty in mood, and she lets a sigh escape from her blue lips, painted in the richest cobalt, the color is darker, more vibrant than her sapphire hued hair.

"What did Leaf do to you? Knock the words back into you?" She breathes, in a quiet whisper filled with desire and calm. She's seething, he can just tell from how calculated her words are, and he almost felt sorry.

Almost. That was how it always was with them, there was no spectrum, they landed right in the middle of yes, and no. They were grayscale, it had always been like this.

"No." His reply is short, curt. He crosses his arms, and looks to the side, for a millisecond before returning his attention the girl from Johto. Behind her, a curious tourist stopped, and stared with interest in their eyes. Red glared at them, and they scurried away, back towards the Pokemon World Tournament's main arena. It was then when the boy realized just how packed the lobby was, people and pokemon from different regions, all skulking and screaming and shouting at each other from every angle of the room, all fighting and clawing their way into the arena, be it for battling, or for spectating.

Red hated Unova. It was loud, chaotic. An uncontrollable disaster. The cities smelled of drainage, and fast food, and the streets were grimy, and glass-stained. The sky was darker than obsidian, the stars were suffocating behind blankets of smog.

Kris was right. It was interesting he was here, and not back home.

"Then what?" She shoved her hands into yellow bike short pockets, and scowled. His lips twitched into a thin line, and he shrugged.

"I don't know."

A pause. She waited.

"I think it's better like this. Here." He fumbled for words, attempted to rationalize his appearance in Unova with logic, but grasped for straws. He had no real reason here, besides battling at the PWT. Not even that, he came to Driftveil because Blue had kidnapped him, put him on a boat, and shipped him off.

He was in Unova for something else.

"It's better because..." he faltered. It's been years since he's had to formulate so many words, so many phrases in one conversation. Kris's face was the picture of smug satisfaction and sarcastic laughter, she was pushing his buttons, making him talk, and talk more.

It was something no one else had been able to do.

"It's better because," he repeated, and continued. "I'm not famous here. I don't need to be Red here. I can be forgotten."

If she had been holding something, she would've dropped it. Or thrown it at him, of that, he was absolutely certain. She was livid, eyes wide and fists clenched.

"Forgotten?" The word came out in a bellow, and Red looked down, letting the girl's shout fly past him. The tourists were no longer scuffling around, they stared at the teenagers with glassy gazes, and cameras at the ready. "Forgotten?" She said again, with less fire, more ice.

He nodded slowly.

"Why?" She spat. He looked at her, she was shaking with fury, and he wondered why she was so vexed. The Kris from Newbark Town years ago was not like this. She was a simple girl, he remembered. She was edgy, but kind, and was always in control of her emotions.

This girl was a stranger.

"Don't you know how hard it is for people to live once the world stops caring about them? Once everyone they know and love moves on without them, simply forgets? Red, you're the luckiest asshole to live under the blistering Unovian sun.

"No one will ever forget your name, it doesn't matter if you become a hermit in Mirage Island, they will remember the hero of Kanto, the Pokemon Master."

He flinched with the intensity of her words. At this point, she is done trembling, her cheeks are red, streaked with mascara and tears. She quickly wipes the away, and he feels a surge of empathy, and slowly presses his hand against her face, and carefully rubbed the residue away.

She stiffens, and he leaves his hand there, cupping her cheek. The crowd around them diffuses into the arena, uninterested once more, and Red lets out another sigh.

Sighing seemed to be a trend nowadays, anyway, with humanity's inability to appreciate.

"I'm a stranger to my people, Red." She whispers, finally, in the sweet soprano he remembered from their battle a long, long time ago. "No one knows my name, no one cares."

He brought her closer, and pressed a chaste kiss against her forehead. She blushed under his touch, and he tilted her head up, and they locked eyes.

"I remember you, Kris."

notes: considering lyra's entrance as the official protag of hg/ss, i assumed kris would feel rather indignant about it. she is loved by all until hg/ss, and suddenly, it's like she never existed. for her situation, it would be the most rational thing to blow up at the king of mystery. red goes through protagonist replacement every generation, but is loved and remembered by all.

anyhow, this was silly.