Don't Shoot the Messenger
They were acting strange. 'They' being Cilan and Iris and 'strange' being their absolute resolves to avoid each other.
Ash had suggested that they spend the day by the lake today. He wanted to get in some training before the league started, and he could train both Oshawott and Palpitoad in the water whilst the others could train on land.
Cilan and Iris had been delighted with his decision. While he did want to get to the League as fast as possible, it was some time before it started and he wasn't sure he was ready yet. After Trip's Serperior had crushed him in the Pokémon World Tournament Junior Cup, he needed to rethink his strategy. Or just think of one, since he didn't have one yet.
His two friends went off to pick some berries by the woods on the other side of the lake, to prepare for the dessert Cilan would make after dinner (Ash had been really excited about the dessert). Though later, once he had already gone through a tough training course that left every single one of his pokemon tired out, Cilan and Iris returned, empty-handed.
Alright, he had been pretty annoyed that they were gone for so long and couldn't get the berries for dessert, but there was another thing that made him question their prolonged absence.
Both their clothes and hair looked ruffled with hints of dirt and scratches. And Ash was certain that was a cut there on Cilan's face.
"Guys? What happened?"
They had refused to look at either him or each other. Ash repeated his question, wondering why the atmosphere between them felt so tense.
Cilan let out a long breathe of air and shook his head. "It was nothing."
"It was not nothing!" Iris had snapped, shooting a glare at Cilan.
Without another word, Iris ran to the right side of the camp, climbing up a tree. Cilan huffed and had said something along the lines of "do what you like", and headed to the opposite end of their camp.
And that brought Ash to where he was now - sitting at the dinner table with only Cilan, who seemed to not care that Iris wasn't coming down for dinner.
Something's definitely up, he thought. Cilan always makes sure we eat all our three meals.
"Cilan, what happened to you and Iris?" Ash asked, hoping to get a helpful answer from his usually helpful friend.
"It's got nothing to do with you," the teen replied sharply.
Woah. Woah. Woah. Cilan had never been so directly annoyed with Ash before. This was more serious then he thought.
Seeing the shock on Ash's face, Cilan sighed. "Sorry Ash. It's not fair of me to take things out on you."
"It's cool," Ash said. "But, uh, mind tellin' me what 'things' are? You and Iris are acting really weird."
"Something...happened in the woods earlier," Cilan admitted.
Ash waited for Cilan to continue. Only the connoisseur started eating his dinner.
"That's it!? Of course I know something happened. I mean I want to know what exactly happened." Even Ash wasn't that oblivious.
Cilan muttered something incoherent, and then, "- and Iris got mad at me and we shouted at each other. Anyway, could you tell Iris to come down for dinner?" He seemed to have changed his mind about whether he wanted Iris with them or not.
Ash wanted to protest but Cilan's eyes pleaded with him. Well, Cilan was his friend and never asked too much of Ash, so this one favour wasn't a big deal.
The young trainer made his way to the tree he had seen Iris climb up. He cupped his hands on both sides of his mouth and started shouting. "Iris! Cilan wants you to get down here and eat!"
There was no reply.
"Iris, I know you're up there."
Still no reply.
"That's it! I'm coming up to get you." Ash grabbed hold around the tree and clung to it with his legs. Putting one hand in front of the other while making stiff movements with his legs, he tried not to fall, because this tree was really slippery for some reason.
He fell back down, despite all that.
"Pika. Pikapi chu." Ash looked down to see his best friend tugging at his pants.
"Pikachu! Ya finished eating? I'm looking for Iris." He looked at his pokemon expectantly, waiting for it to take its usual spot on his shoulder.
Pikachu only tugged at his pants more urgently and pointed to his left. "Pikapi, pi pika pikachu pi."
"Huh? Wrong tree?" His eyes snapped to the tree on his left and sure enough, after some rustling, Iris came into view, mouth covered by her right hand.
"Yep, you were barking up the wrong tree there," said Iris, smiling with amusement. Pikachu was smiling too, and clambered onto its trainer's shoulder. "Literally."
"I wasn't barking." He knew that wasn't really the point, but still. "Anyway, hurry up and come down. Cilan wants you to have dinner!"
Her expression turned sour. "Well Cilan can mind his own business. Although that's going to be hard for him since he's such a pain and just loves putting his nose where it doesn't belong." She paused. "Go tell him that."
"Isn't that a bit harsh-?"
Under her glare, Ash scampered off back to the campsite. Cilan looked happy to hear Ash returning but frowned when he saw he didn't have Iris with him.
"Er...she said," Ash was going to regret this, "to mind your own business and to stop putting your nose where it doesn't belong."
Cilan's eyes grew wide.
"Oh, um, and she called you a pain."
Cilan raised the fork he was holding.
Pikachu let out a surprised 'pika!' and its cheeks started sparking.
Ash gulped, staring at the fork that was now implanted in the table, just about missing his hand.
"Tell her it was my business and she's being such a kid for being so stubborn."
"Why don't you go-"
"I'm not talking to her."
Ash sighed and ran back to Iris.
"Cilan says that it was his business and that you're being a kid."
Iris looked highly offended. "Me. I'm a kid."
She threw an apple ferociously down at Ash who only just managed to dodge. Where the heck did she get that anyway? There were no freakin apple trees around.
"Tell Cilan that I was completely capable of handling it myself and I didn't need ask for his help." Again she gave Ash another piercing look. "And do what I just did."
"What do you mean by-?"
Man, he was getting sick of being cut off.
"I see Iris still isn't complying," Cilan observed as he came back again.
"Yeah, but she said...well...er, I'm really sorry Cilan."
Cilan began to smile, mistakenly thinking that the apology was coming from Iris...only to get hit in the face with an apple.
He almost fell back from shock (no, he wouldn't be pushed back by an apple...although it did look like he was in pain).
"Ash! What was that for?"
Ash said in a rush of words, "Iris told me to do it. She said she could handle things by herself. No clue what 'things' she was talking about so it'd be great if one of you told me what the heck is going on."
And of course Cilan only paid attention to the 'Iris told me to do it' part.
"Alright, I've had enough of this taste." Cilan stood up suddenly and walked past Ash.
Finally, they were going to sort themselves out-
"Ash, come with me."
He should have known.
Iris, who heard both of them coming, glared down at them. "Ash, tell Cilan to go away."
"What? He's right there."
"Ash." She sent down an icy glare.
"Cilan, go away."
Cilan crossed his arms. "Tell Iris no."
"Not you too -"
"Iris, Cilan says no," Ash said, giving up on arguing against the two.
"Tell him if he doesn't leave me alone I'm going to sleep up here."
"Cilan, if you don't go, Iris is going to-"
"Tell Iris that it's going to be freezing cold. And even colder since she hasn't had dinner."
"Iris, it's going to be really-"
"Tell him that I don't care about the cold."
"Tell her that's a lie and we all know it.
"It's a li-"
"Tell Cilan that I don't care."
"Tell Iris, that I care."
And then it got quiet. Ash looked between the two. They both seemed to be considering something.
But Cilan was right, and Iris was stubborn. Addressing Cilan, she said, "I'm still staying up here."
Huh, well at least Ash didn't need to be their messenger anymore.
"Iris," Cilan called out to her, angry. "Stop being so difficult and have your dinner."
The girl in question stuck out her tongue. "Make me."
"Fine." Before Ash could stop him, Cilan attempted to climb the tree Iris was perched on.
He must have been really determined because he actually made it to the Iris's level. She had scooted further out on the branch and further than Cilan.
Ash heard the branch creak as Cilan moved to sit on it...
"Stop it Cilan, why do you care so much if I have dinner or not? It's just food."
"Just food? Oh no. Food is the most essential thing in the world. It is where life springs from and the different flavours and texture come together in a beautiful marriage -" Cilan stopped when he realised Iris had set him on one of his tangents on purpose.
It had put an amused smile on her face - better than the glares she had been shooting.
"See, it's better when you're smiling."
The branch couldn't take both of their weights. Cilan sprung forward towards Iris, putting his arms around her and holding her close, turning so that it was his back that was facing the ground.
At the same time, with the reflex of getting accustomed to situations like this, Ash reached for his pokeball and flung it in their direction."Snivy! Use vine whip to catch Cilan and Iris."
Snivy's twin vines shot out at them, wrapping around them before they hit the ground and pulling them out of the branch's way.
The broken branch crashed with a loud thud.
The pokemon carefully let them down carefully, withdrawing its vines.
"Thanks, Snivy," said Ash. "Are you guys okay?"
"We're okay," Cilan replied, though he sounded out of breath. "Thanks Ash."
He seemed to realise that he was holding onto Iris rather tightly so he quickly let go. "Sorry Iris."
The girl stayed silent, her head still lying on Cilan's chest. "Iris?"
She slowly raised herself up, though she was still sitting on Cilan. "Idiot."Both boys were startled to see hints of tears forming at her eyes. "Idiot."
"Iris?" Cilan repeated, frowning at her.
"I told you already. I can take care of myself. You didn't need to do that. What if you got hurt again?" She reached out to touch the right side of his face, the one where he had been cut. "You shouldn't do things for me if you're going to get hurt."
Cilan closed his eyes. "So that's what it was. You were feeling guilty that the Beedrill had got me."
"Yes...If I was more careful, I wouldn't have bumped into all the Kakuna and made them mad. It was completely my fault that they came after me." Iris's voice turned quiet. "And then I was stupid and just stood there."
"You were in shock, Iris. It happens."
"But I'm used to wild pokemon. I shouldn't have froze. And then you ran in front of me. Sure, you already sent Pansage on them but one still cut you. You could have stayed back..."
Iris felt Cilan's hand close around hers, holding it against his cheek. "It doesn't hurt. It's just a small cut. So it's fine right?" He continued before Iris could protest, "Whether it's something big like saving you, or just getting you to eat, I care about you Iris. We share the same tastes - we didn't want to see each other get hurt. You should understand then, why I did that. If the situation had been reversed, wouldn't you have done the same for me?"
Iris stared at him for a moment, at his sincere smile. Then she found herself nod and smile back. "I would."
Ash hadn't said anything during the exchange. He could sense that anything he said would have disturbed the atmosphere.
Whoops. That was him. His stomach didn't know that it just killed the mood, only that it wanted food.
The two looked at him as he smiled sheepishly. "So...I'm guessing we can all finish dinner now, right?"
Cilan looked up at Iris who giggled. "Yes, I'll come to dinner."
With a cheer, Ash sprinted back to the campsite, desperate for food, leaving the two alone and even forgetting to return Snivy to its pokeball.
"Iris," said Cilan.
"Could you perhaps...get off me?"
"Oh! Right!" Face red from embarrassment, she stood up and moved a little away from Cilan.
He stood up too, dusting himself off.
"Erm...oh, that's right!" Still flustered, she turned to Snivy. "Thanks for saving us two." She grinned. "Although, now that I think about it, only Cilan really needed saving. I can land on my feet whenever I fall out of trees."
Cilan adjusted his bow tie."Didn't we just agree that we could care about each other's safety?"
"I know, I know." She returned a smile, just as gentle as the one he was giving her.
Then, Snivy called out, catching their attention.
It had its vines out and they formed the shape of a heart. It was also smirking and looking straight at them.
It didn't need to be able to speak for the message to be heard.
Iris's blush increased tenfold and Cilan formed one of his own.
They shouted at the same time.
"It's not like that!"
"Teehee, I've got loads of berries for tonight!" Iris announced, climbing down the tree with arms full of berries. Cilan didn't have as many in comparison. "I do wonder what that thing I knocked into earlier was…"
All of a sudden a whole swarm of flying pokémon, yellow and black in colour with lances at the end of stick-thin arms emerged from trees all around. Iris dropped her berries. "W-what are they?"
Cilan, who had been standing a few metres away, looked at them thoughtfully. "I think they're called beedrill. They're the evolved for of kakuna, which kind of look like yellow, spikeless Ferroseeds."
"Oh no! I think that's what I knocked into earlier." Their buzzing grew louder and more aggressive.
Without warning, they charged towards Iris, who stared at them, wide-eyed and unmoving.
Before Iris knew what was happening, Cilan was in front of her, taking their attack. He let out his Pansage. "My Vintage! Use bulletseed!
Within minutes, the beedrill realised that even combined, their opponent was too strong, and retreated. "That was a surprising flavour…"
He looked at Iris was gaping at him. "Y-you're bleeding."
Cilan realised that she was right, and his cheek was, indeed, slightly cut. He pulled out a handkerchief that every gentleman should obviously carry and wiped it without much fuss.
"Why did you do that?" Iris suddenly cried, startling him. "I didn't need your help."
He raised an eyebrow as he pocketed his handkerchief and called back Pansage to its pokeball. "Come now, you were about to get hit by them."
"I can take of myself," she said insistently.
"Yes, but even you need help sometimes. They would have scratched you, not me if I hadn't stepped me."
"That's exactly why you should've stayed out of it!"
"I'm not getting what you mean," he said, starting to get annoyed. "You're not invincible, Iris."
"I mean that I don't want your help."
"I didn't ask you what you wanted."
"Well I'm telling you what I want and it's to stay out of things that don't concern you."
"I'll do what pleases me."
"Fine. Let's just get back."
They walked back to the camp-site, both bristling, and not completely sure why they were arguing.
A/N: Tadaa! Poor Ash. Getting stuck in all these Wishfulshipping situations. Snivy was Ash's assistant-cupid today, of course. And I guess we have to credit the beedrill who allowed for the situation -salutes-. I actually had this written out months ago, but got too lazy to edit it. Anyway, hope you enjoyed this. Leave a review and you get a virtual hug from me :'D Thanks for reading!