Roark woke up to the insistent sound of his pokègear. He yawned out loudly grabbing the shaking object with his right hand, going for the glasses with the other; the specs slipped off the bedside table, falling to the carpet.
The rescue of his glasses cost him quite a bit of curses. When the object was finally put in place, he succeeded to answer "Y…yeah…Roark here…"
/"Hey dude! Where did your politeness fly to?"/
Roark was still puzzled, he could recognize Riley's voice well, what his friend was babbling about, sounded like a forbidden mystery to him.
Feeling the throat still dry, the better he could answer was "What?" before coughing violently.
/"Today at the Iron Island, you passed in front of me and didn't even turn back to greet me! I really wanted to get a look closer to your new Rhyperior, since when you own one?"/
Roark rubbed his eyes in confusion, he had a suspect that the other was drunk or something "Riley, I think you should stay less under the beaming sun. You're freaking out, I don't have a Rhyperior and I was sleeping 'til five minutes ago, it wasn't me!"
The other laughed. Was sleeping considered a funny action?
/"For me it's you that are freaking out: do you think that just changing clothes,( and honestly why on the bloody world you decided to wear a black turtleneck with long sleeves in the Iron Island), could make me mistake you? Is that something that I made? Are you mad at me? Shot it!"/
Confusion in Roark's head was growing higher and higher, Riley seemed pretty convinced about his point but he wasn't fool, he was at home the whole day, and there was nothing that can make him change his mind "Hey listen, why don't you come here so we can talk about it? It's better you take a day off of training Riley…"
/"Well…I guess I should…"/ he didn't sound convinced though.
Roark slowly crawled out of his bed, reluctantly. He always had hard days and used to spend his day off from mining and gym completely relaxing in bed. But it happened that he particularly cared about Riley, and he was pretty worried for him. Roark was aware that the boy had a big disappointment: some months before, he went to challenge the Elite four, pretty sure he could beat them, just a little feared about Flint because the most of his team was made up by steel type pokèmon, he couldn't foresaw to lose so miserably against Aaron: his damned Drapion was way too strong, Lucario didn't succeed it, neither did the rest of his team, and where the violet scorpion-like pokemon failed, Heracross and Scizor fixed it all. The bug master didn't even have to call out Yanmega and Vespiquen.
Since then, Riley promised to train harder and harder, and spent every single day on the Iron Island training on his own, sometimes Roark made it up to him, but everything always ended in a battle, and the rock master was pretty tired for having to fight even when he wasn't supposed to. So it had been something like a month since they last saw each other.
Roark was pretty positive that Riley wasn't eating sufficiently and the starving combined with strong sunlight heat might have made him had a vision. It was like walking in a desert.
Seriously, he wearing a turtleneck with long sleeves in the Iron Island, what the hell? Roark who doesn't even wear long sleeves in winter. Riley was mistaking.
Roark opened the door to a sweat but beaming Riley, he wasn't as bad as he imaged.
The steel trainer gave Roark a pat on the shoulder "Hey, dude. I'm here!"
Roark let him in "I noticed…come in have a seat"
Riley took his hat off, sighing in pleasure when he noticed Roark's new air-conditioning system.
"So, why didn't you greet me today?"
Roark rolled his eyes "Because it wasn't me. I've slept all the day long and haven't even stepped out of the house, you could ask the miners around here, they would have noticed. And a Rhyperior! Please! Since when do I own one of that?"
Riley rose his hands up in defense
"I can assure you, I…I was sure it was you! I mean how many people may look like you around here, especially in the Iron Island?"
This conversation was driving the rock master mad, he was pretty pissed at his friend stubbornness.
"Are you calling me crazy? I can recognize you! If it was me I'd surely come and greet you!"
His tone grew rather loud and angry; Riley gave him a scared look "Hey, calm down I'm not saying anything of the like"
Roark sighed, placing a comforting hand on his friend's shoulder "Riley…seriously, you should take a long break from training, me and Dad are worried for you. I know you were disappointed for your defeat, but, look, it's not the end of the world! I couldn't even dream about going there and face Aaron, even a Skorupi of his would win against my Onix!"
Riley didn't answer him, and Roark continued "Why don't you go and challenge gym leaders in other regions like Jotho or Kanto? I think it's more useful than killing yourself on that Island!"
Riley's expression was exhausted "Because…I don't know, I still fear the direct fight, what if I lose again?"
"You shouldn't worry about this, you know there are good and bad times, you can't always pretend to win, look at me! I should have quit with pokèmon several years ago!"
Riley offered a weak smile, his childhood friend was right, he sighed passing a hand through his hair, brushing them back "Well, I have never thought about it. I'm sorry. The sun must have played me an ugly trick, but there was actually a Rhyperior out there and a boy training it, maybe, settled the fact that I have never seen that pokèmon for real, I was just so marveled I was sure to see you"
Even though he said that, he didn't seem convinced about it. Roark pretended just to not notice as he stood up, pouring a glass of iced tea for both of them.
"Not to stick my nose in your business, but what have you been eating lately, there's not so much food in those surroundings as far as I know. Unless you developed the ability to eat and digest steel…"
"Well, you could be impressed on how delicious some sea weeds could be, besides some parts inside the cave are made up if fertile ground and there are berry bushes that grow in"
Riley spoke like he had just discovered a gold mine, on the other hand, Roark didn't seem as marveled as he was.
"Nice, but you can't spend the rest of your life eating berries and sea weeds: this is insane!" with that, he moved behind the kitchen counter and pulled some cereals out of a cabinet, he walked back handing Riley a bowl of chocolate rice flakes; the other accepted gently, giving his friend a smile "Thank you…"
He chewed slowly "I wish I could plant and grow chocolate flakes crisps trees!"
"Keep on dreaming Riley, keep on dreaming…" chuckled Roark, his friend would never change. He could still remember the day in their childhood when he waited awake to see the tooth fairy, obviously now he was just kidding, but if you just gave him a hint that something impossible was likely to happen, he would have tried the hardest to see it.
"You should take some sleep as well. Rocks aren't good for your back."
Riley stood up stretching out, his back bones crackling at the action "Well, maybe it's time for me to go home and get some deserved sleep…"
"Yep, you can't train properly if you don't sleep…actually that Ghost Leader from Ecruteak City can, but that's another story"
Riley greeted his friend giving him a pat on the shoulder, just like when he arrived, almost making him fall "Bye Roark, thank you." He smiled "For nothing"
"Roark! You bastard!" the sound of Candice's voice squeaked through the mine walls; Roark sighed heavily, letting go of his pick, and turning the attention to the intruder
"You can't enter here without head and feet protection" he scolded, giving a critical look to the girl that was wearing a mini skirt
"Screw the stupid rules! You had no hardhat on the head when you politely decided to make the rock walls of Mt. Coronet collapse with your damned Rhyperior!"
The rock master threw his arms in the air "I don't have a Rhyperior!"
"Yes, yes….Listen Roark, I can pass over the matter for this time because I can assume you did it just to find fossils, and I know that lately you're feeling lonely…but…just don't cause me any troubles again, right?" she had a furious look in her eyes and Roark almost felt scared and threatened from her.
"But Candice, there are no fossils on Mt. Coronet and I've not been there for months! I don't even own a Rhyperior if I have to say it all…"
She pointed an accusing finger towards him "Are you fucking kidding me? What point do you have in denying the evidence? Roark, I'm not blind, I saw you with your Rhyperior entering Mt. Coronet and then ordering it to use Earthquake….Don't try to prove me wrong, I can make you fire from your Gym Leader charge just for that, you know this?"
That piercing glare told Roark that the ice master wasn't kidding him at all, he hung his head, there was nothing he could do against it, no one could prove he wasn't at Mt. Coronet, even if he really wasn't; and damn it, he was sure he didn't own a Rhyperior!
A worker came closer to him "Is everything alright sir?"
He shrugged "I thought it was, people seem to see me and a Rhyperior everywhere lately…."
"But you don't own one as far as I know"
"Yeah, that's right, I hope this is just a bad joke someone is playing me"
Roark was putting in order his latest fossils when an impatient knock on the door made him distract from the task.
He went over to see who was there, and found a rather pissed Riley, a couple of weeks had passed since their last encounter "Ehy, what's up dude?" asked the rock master, gaining no answer..
The other walked past him inside, shoving him away almost making him fall on the floor "Hey! What the hell is in your head man?"
"What's in my head, what's in my head? You really can't bear the fact that I was going to challenge the Elite Four again? You just needed to stop me, right?"
"Riley…what the holy hell are you talking about? You know that! If I did something to hamper your training, I can assure I didn't do it on purpose, actually I can't even think about what I could have done!"
Riley smashed his badge case on the counter, it was burned. Roark looked at it questioningly "Riley, that's your badge case, I can't see how could I have something to do with it…"
"Really? What if I say you destroyed my safety house in Iron Island?"
Roark jumped back "Me? Riley why on Earth would I have done something like that…I…."
Riley grabbed him from the collar of his shirt, growling at his face "Don't lie! They saw you! You and your fucking Rhyperior!"
Roark shook free from his grip "A Rhyperior my ass! I don't have that pokèmon, what's into you all of sudden? Will you ever understand there's someone else who's not me out there?"
Riley folded his arms over his chest "Where were you yesterday at noon?"
"I was somewhere else here, maybe in the mine, can't remember, I wasn't at the Iron Island!"
Useless to say, the Aura user didn't believe a single word coming from his friend's mouth
"The possible things are two: either you are lying for unkwon reason, or you suffer for multiple personality!"
Roark pushed his friend violently on the shoulders "Multiple personality? Can you even hear the words you say? Why don't you just accept that there's someone who looks like me and is having fun in messing up with my life?"
Their voice was going louder "And why would someone do this to you?"
"I don't know! Besides why would I made the Mt. Coronet walls collapse or make your home burst?Why can't you fucking think before you open that mouth?"
Roark's face was red for anger and shame "Why are you so stubborn on not believing me? Don't you have any brain at all? Riley, if this is a joke, well it's not funny anymore! It might be alright scolding me for not waving at you, but accusing me of destroying your home! Dammit Riley, since when do you think I can be able to do such a thing…" he groaned in disappointment, then reached the drawer for his wallet, handing his friend something like five hundred dollars "It's not that much, when I get the rest I'll give you, build your safety house again…"
Riley looked at the sum in his hands disbelieving, Roark wasn't even looking at back at him. Maybe after all he wasn't telling lies, Riley was too impulsive "Roark…"
"What? Isn't it enough?" he spit out angrily handing him another bill "I really can't push over for now."
"No Roark, I don't want your money!"
"And what do you want me to do then? Build your home again? Give you mine?"
He sounded really desperate, spitting out each word with fire.
"Are you really going to…give…"
"Yes Riley, what am I supposed to do to prove I have nothing to deal with those accidents? To prove that I really give a damn about you?"
Roark walked over him and opened the door "Do you want to think about it? Well, now I'm sorry, but I need to go mining. I hope you have your decision made for when I'm back!"
The door slammed closed, making a case falling on the floor breaking in several shards. Riley felt a strange headache, he leaned back, slipping slowly down on a chair. He was sure Roark wasn't lying, he could tell by the way his friend reacted, and now he was feeling guilty for it. But he was even sure it was his friend the one he saw on the Iron Island…
He wanted to run after him, but he knew the only way he could talk to Roark and apologize with him, was to wait until he calmed down for good.
Riley was also starting to get worried, what if his friend actually suffered of multiple personality issues? He knew Roark had never known his mother. She died before he was even four months old, and he knew that the loss of a parent at a very young age, could display the shocks later in life, and the later it appears, the worse it is. If it really was, he had just been senseless towards a sick guy.
His headache increased and forced him to move to the couch, his thoughts pestering, and driving him to sleep.