Sapphire took the deepest breath her lungs could manage as she walked to her campus, school bag in hand and over her shoulder. It's been a while since she could breathe through her nose without nasal congestion keeping her from doing so. If there was anything she had an intense dislike for, it was being sick and stuck at home. Not that she hated being home, mind you; she just didn't like the feeling of having so little energy to do anything. She disliked it so much that even she wouldn't acknowledge that she was ill and needed to rest. In fact, she continued going to school when her flu began to hit her.
Sapphire always believed that as long as she wasn't barfing, she was okay to go to school. The only reason she was sent home to rest and recover from her flu was when one of her teachers noticed she was having a very difficult time focusing on the lesson. To him, it was all too obvious that she was sick, so he sent her to the infirmary. The school nurse took her temperature with a thermometer, and a fever of 101 degrees Fahrenheit sealed the deal of being sent home. Her father, the town's renowned professor, took care of her during the past six days and brought her the homework she needed to complete. Since she was too sick to do anything too rigorous, she worked on her homework to keep herself busy and not lose her mind from boredom.
But now that she was free from her illness, she couldn't be happier to be going back to school. Being away for almost a week made her realize that school, despite what a pain in the ass it can be sometimes, gave her something to do – something to put all her (nearly) boundless energy into. She excelled in P.E., but that didn't mean that she only liked physical activities. She did fairly well in her other classes, though English and other language related classes she had some trouble in, along with some of her math classes over the years. As for science classes, she had a bit of a love-hate relationship with it. Life science, biology, anatomy… Those were the subjects she could read about all day long if she could. Physical science and chemistry, however, was something she would rather avoid.
Unfortunately for Sapphire, chemistry was the first class of the school day. She dreaded the periodic table; the electrons, protons, and neutrons; scientific notation; and the acids and bases and all the elements that made them. This was one class she didn't miss during her absence.
She sighed, not at all thrilled about chemistry. She looked down at her school uniform, checking that nothing was out of place. There didn't seem to be anything wrong with the white button-up shirt, the red tie, or the knee-length red skirt. She could really care less how she looked, but since her school is rather strict on the dress code, she was obligated to care. Otherwise she would be catching hell from one of her teachers or even the principal. It was best to prevent troublesome issues like that.
The bell rang as soon as she set foot on campus, causing her to power-walk all the way to the worst class imaginable for her. She weaved through all the students, occasionally squeezing through crowds to make it in time for class, which was slightly difficult when going up the stairs to the second floor. When she entered the classroom, her teacher looked oddly glad to see her again. She sat down in her assigned seat, setting her bag in the empty chair next to her. Her eyes drifted to the door, watching her classmates walk into class. After five minutes, the bell rang again, and class officially began.
"Sapphire, it's nice to have you back again," said her teacher, getting up from his desk and walking to the front of the class. "You've done all your homework while you were away, right?"
"Yep, I got it all done," she replied proudly, trying not to remember how much she struggled with it. "So, what happened while I was gone?"
"We started a lab project," yelled someone from the back of the room.
"Huh," was all she said, taking out all the homework she needed to turn in. She handed the thick bundle to her teacher, who accepted and placed it on his desk.
"Well, Sapphire," he began, clearing his throat a bit. "Since you were absent when we formed the groups, I'll have to—"
There was a knock at the door, stopping him from continuing on. The door opened, one of the office attendants and a boy walking in. His black hair was neatly brushed, his uniform – a white button-up shirt with a red tie and black pants – was flawless, which, for some reason, sickened Sapphire. Though, what bothered her most was his expression. It was all too obvious that he didn't want to be there, much less talk to anyone. It wasn't the antisocial or awkward type of "non-socializing"; it was a type of arrogance that really irritated Sapphire. The only thing that was slightly off was the backpack he carried on his back by one strap.
"I feel like throwing him out of the building," she thought, grabbing a pen from her bag and clicking it repeatedly to keep her irritation at bay. "People like him are annoying and troublesome."
"Good morning, Mr. Rozzlin," said the attendant, handing a slip of paper to the teacher. "You have a new student starting today."
"New student, eh? Let's see—" He looked at the paper briefly and smiled politely. "Ruby, welcome to chemistry. Why don't you introduce yourself to the class?"
The office attendant gave a small nod to Mr. Rozzlin before stepping out, Ruby sighing a bit that he had to introduce himself to everyone. But, that was to be expected when you're a new student to a school.
"I'm Ruby," he began, pride obvious in his tone. "I moved to Littleroot Town a few days ago from Johto, and—"
"What part of Johto," asked a girl sitting a couple of seats away from Sapphire.
A couple students began whispering about it, though it was more of the impressed kind of whispering.
"Big deal," thought Sapphire, earning a look from Mr. Rozzlin because of the incessant clicking of her pen.
"Ruby, why don't you take a seat next to Sapphire," said Mr. Rozzlin, writing down his name on the seat chart. "It's the only empty seat at the moment. Sapphire, please raise your hand so Ruby knows where to sit at."
Sapphire slowly raised her hand, her mind repeating "no" over and over again. She grabbed her bag and set it on the floor near her feet, leaving the chair empty next to her. She calmed her mind, knowing it wasn't fair to not give the new student a chance. For all she knew, it was just a bad first impression.
"Well, that was perfect timing," added Mr. Rozzlin, setting the seat chart on his desk. "Sapphire, you and Ruby will be lab partners since everyone else is already paired up. Okay, everyone, we're going to head over to the lab today to continue working on the experiments. Please be calm and walk in an orderly fashion."
All the students collected their belongings, got up from their seats, and joined up with their lab partners, following their teacher out the door as he led the way to the lab room. Sapphire and Ruby walked in silence, unsure of what to say to end the awkward silence.
"So," she began slowly, getting his attention. "Why did you move all the way to Hoenn from Johto?"
"My dad got a new job here," replied Ruby, focusing on following the other students since he wasn't familiar with the school. "He's wanted the job for years already."
"And how do you like Littleroot Town?"
"It's… All right. Really different from Goldenrod City."
"'Different good' or 'different bad'?"
"Different in a good way," he corrected, which slightly irritated Sapphire. She brushed it off, already accustomed to people finding her way of speaking odd. It didn't take long for them to arrive at the lab, their teacher unlocking the door and allowing the students to enter. Ruby and Sapphire watched the other students slowly occupy the desk-like counters, beakers and Bunsen burners set neatly to the side on each one. They walked over to the only empty "station" available, which happened to be at the far back of the lab room. Mr. Rozzlin went on to prop the door open with a spare chair and open up all the windows for proper ventilation.
"All right, class," began Mr. Rozzlin, clearing his throat. "We've gone over the safety rules many times but I will remind everyone that you shouldn't directly inhale the fumes of the acids and bases, don't drink them, and if there's a spill of any kind, please notify me immediately. Everyone got that?"
Almost everyone groaned, similar to how a child responds to a nagging parent.
"Good. Now, put on the gloves and lab goggles. When I call on your group, have at least two people come and pick up the acids I've prepared in the back room. One last reminder: the eye-wash station and the shower are also in the back room should something unfortunate happen. Do not start the experiment until I say so. Ruby, Sapphire, you two will be first because you're both very new to this, and I'd like to make sure you know what not to do when handling acids and bases."
Ruby and Sapphire stood up, after putting on the gloves and goggles, following their teacher into the back room nearby. He opened up a metal cabinet, which had a built-in lock that he opened in seconds with his keys, the contents within revealing trays of numerous containers. Each container had a label on its glass exterior, varying from HCl to H2O2 and many other molecular formulas that Sapphire was not familiar with.
"Here's your tray," said Mr. Rozzlin, handing a tray of three acid and three base containers to Ruby. "Remember to not touch any of the acids or bases, no matter how 'weak' they are in pH level. Oh, and here's the pH strips, too—" He took out a small box of pH strips from a plaster container on the counter nearby, handing it to Sapphire. "The experiment is to record how strong an acid or base is with the pH strips. I have one question for you both: is it okay to add water to acids and bases?"
Sapphire and Ruby stood quietly, unsure of how to answer that. After a couple more seconds, Mr. Rozzlin sighed, a patient smile on his face.
"It's safer to add an acid or base to water, otherwise you might cause a volatile reaction that may splatter and leave burns on you. Please be careful when handling them, and don't, under any circumstances, remove your gloves or goggles while the experiment is in duration. Do you understand?"
"Yes," replied Ruby and Sapphire at the same time, answering in a serious tone to show that they had no intention of playing or anything of the sort.
"One last thing: Sapphire, you should tie up your hair. It's best if you keep it out of the way, especially when we have experiments like this."
Sapphire gave him a quick nod, and she and Ruby walked back to their table back in the lab room. Their teacher called in the next group as the lab partners carefully set down their supplies on the table, sitting down across from each other. Sapphire opened up her bag and took out a scrunchie, a little annoyed that she'd have to tie up her hair.
"Your hair is really different," commented Ruby, watching her tie up the long pieces of hair near her face.
"Shut up," she retorted, tying her hair in an odd ponytail. "My hair is like this 'coz it's a pain to have it long, especially during the summer. And you're one to talk – I don't dye my hair white or any other color!"
"It's a hat—" Ruby lightly pulled at the knit hat to prove that it wasn't his hair. "—And, for your information, I was initially complimenting you on your weird hairstyle. But I guess compliments go flying over a barbarian."
"Barbarian? Where do you get off acting high and mighty? I oughta throw you out the window!"
"Are you crazy? We're on the second floor!"
"Then I hope you took some flying lessons when you moved here!"
"Guys, stop fighting," said a girl sitting behind Sapphire. "You're being really loud, and it's giving me a headache."
Both Ruby and Sapphire fell silent, a little embarrassed of their rather loud argument, especially with all the stares they were receiving from the rest of the class.
"Let's try starting over," said Ruby, shrugging off the stares.
"Uh, sure," agreed Sapphire, unable to look at her other classmates.
"What do you usually do around here?"
"I help my dad out with his research."
"Research? You mean that your dad is the professor here in Littleroot?"
"Sure is! I help him out whenever I can. Pokémon researching is a hundred times more fun than anything here in school. What about you?"
"Okay, class," interrupted Mr. Rozzlin, walking out of the backroom. "Everyone has their acids, bases, and pH strips, right?"
"Yes," replied the class in a bored tone.
"Good. You should all know what the experiment is by now, so you should do just fine from here on. When it's time to clean up, please leave the containers next to the sink in the backroom. As much as I'd like some of you to help me, I'm afraid it's against school regulations to have students clean up dangerous substances. And don't pour them down the sink either. Anyway, I'm going to be grading papers, but if there are any questions or if you're unsure about something, don't hesitate to ask me."
The class immediately came to life when he finished, the groups talking amongst themselves as they worked on the experiment. Ruby and Sapphire quietly worked on their experiment, Ruby checking one of the substances with a pH strip as Sapphire took out a notebook to record their findings.
"This one has a pH level of four," said Ruby, holding up the strip of paper before setting it on the tray. Sapphire quickly wrote the acidity, checking the container and her notes to find out that it was citric acid.
"And I like sewing and photography," added Ruby, catching Sapphire off-guard.
"Uh, what," she asked, not sure if she misheard him. After all, she's never heard of a boy who liked—
"I like sewing and photography," repeated Ruby proudly. "I can show you some photographs of my Pokémon wearing outfits that I made for them. I'd say they look really good in them – one of my best works yet. I carry the album in my backpack if you'd like to look."
"Um, maybe later. We need to finish up the experiment first."
"Yeah, I know."
They were quiet for a short moment, Ruby staring at her – waiting for her to say something.
"What," she asked, a little annoyed by the staring.
"You're not going to say anything about the sewing?"
She raised an eyebrow at him, noticing that he was hesitating before he answered.
"Usually, people like to criticize me for sewing. Actually, no, it's not always criticism. They just always have something to say about it."
"Well, it is kind of weird that you like sewing, I'll admit. But, you're not hurting anyone, are ya? I doubt it, so it's no business of mine to say 'you should stop that' or anything like that, especially since you really like doing something you enjoy. 'Course, if you didn't enjoy it, you wouldn't like doing it."
"That's very obvious," he remarked, dipping another strip in a small container of hydrochloric acid. Sapphire, sensing the insult in his remark, opened her mouth to say a comeback, but was stopped short when she noticed the small smile on his face.
"Thanks," added Ruby, setting the pH strip on a paper towel that was on the tray. "The pH is one, by the way."
"Right," she muttered, scribbling down the acidity level and ignoring the weird feeling in her gut. It made her feel like throwing up but in a good way.
"That's just weird," she thought, waiting for Ruby to check the next chemical. "How can you throw up from being happy? Unless you're barfing rainbows, it doesn't make sense. Wait – Barfing rainbows doesn't make sense either! Agh, why can't I think straight?"
"Sapphire," called out Ruby, snapping her out of her thoughts.
"I was repeating myself for the past minute! Were you ignoring me?"
"Not intentionally. I was just thinking, that's all. So, what were you saying?"
"I was saying that the pH of this chemical was ten. You know, you shouldn't space out in the middle of a chemistry experiment, or something bad might happen, like an acid spill or explosion."
"Spare me the lecture, professor."
"If you end up in some kind of lab accident, don't come crying to me. I was only warning you so you wouldn't hurt yourself, which is something I don't want."
Sapphire raised an eyebrow at him again, picking up the hidden connotation in what he said.
"You… Were worried about me? Why? I met you at the beginning of class and hardly know you. Why would you be worried about a stranger?"
"You're a decent stranger. Besides, it'd look bad if something happened to you that I could have prevented."
Sapphire was conflicted between feeling flattered by the compliment and aggravated by how vain he was to concern himself about his own appearance. It was strange – the feeling of wanting to shake his hand in thanks and punching him at the same time. She ignored it, finishing up on the written part of the experiment.
"Okay, everyone," said Mr. Rozzlin, getting up from his desk. "Time to clean up! Please be careful when you take the acids and bases to the sink in the back. Don't pour it down the sink!"
"Hey, what class do you have next," asked Sapphire to Ruby as she gathered up the used pH strips and paper towels.
"History," he replied, picking up the tray with the acids and bases. "What about you?"
"I have P.E. – my favorite class," she said excitedly, impatient to do some running or whatever sport/activity her teacher wanted the class to do.
"How can you like that class when all it does is make you tired, sweaty, and dirty?"
"That's what the showers are for. You really thought we'd go through the day smelling like a football team or something? I am a girl, and I know how to take care of my personal hygiene!"
"Your breath says otherwise."
Ruby waved his hand in front of his nose, blowing away the stench he smelled. Sapphire blushed in embarrassment, recalling her breakfast of leftover liver and onions from two days ago. She only ate it because she didn't want it to go to waste by getting overtaken by mold. Who knows how many other people have smelled the stench in her breath?
"Shut up! My breath stinks because of my breakfast! And I only ate that breakfast so I wouldn't waste food that was still good!"
They both walked to the back room, disposing the trash in a special bin and placing the tray of chemical containers near the sink. They sat down in silence at their lab station, waiting for the bell to ring to move on to their next class. After about five minutes, their wish was granted when the school bell rang out, signaling the end of the first class. Everyone headed out of the class, Sapphire still sitting in her seat. She was just waiting for the other students to leave so she wouldn't get stuck in the middle of the crowd. Being squished against other students was beyond uncomfortable. In the meant time, she figured she could make some small talk with her teacher.
"Hey, Mr. Rozzlin," she said as she walked into the back room.
"Still here, Sapphire," he asked, running tap water in the sink as he poured certain chemicals down the drain.
"Yeah. Can you change my lab partner? He's really irritating."
"Is that so? From the look of it, I thought you guys had some good chemistry between you."
"Very funny," she sighed at the pun. "What does that even mean, anyway? Like, why do people use chemistry to compare interactions between people to science about atoms, chemicals, and elements?"
"Honestly, I didn't understand it either when I was younger. But, there is a good reason why people use that as a metaphor for human interaction. Tell me, what happens when you combine sodium and chloride together?"
"Hm… It becomes sodium chloride, which is salt."
"Correct. They combine effortlessly. What about potassium with H20?"
"I don't know about that one."
"It's considered a violent reaction because it sparks and catches on fire."
"But what does this have to do with the metaphor you were talking about?"
He shut off the tap water and began to place the more dangerous chemicals in special containers with hazard warnings, most likely for safe disposal later.
"Sodium chloride is the result of a harmonious union – a perfect union. I'm sure you've heard stories of people finding their soul mates. They get along perfectly, as if they were made for each other. Then there's potassium with water – a volatile union. They can still form a union together, but it wouldn't be the best and it's unadvisable. And, of course, there are the compounds that combine but are unstable. These ones are able to combine and stay together, yet certain aspects of them can tear them apart or make them potentially dangerous. Finally, we have the elements that just can't combine together, similar to how some people can't get along, no matter how hard they try. You can try to force them together, but it'd be impossible because they are too incompatible."
He closed the last container, washed his hands in the sink, and dried them off.
"You understand now, Sapphire?"
"I think so."
"Okay, let me write you a hall pass in case you don't make it to your next class. Better to be safe than sorry, right?"
Sapphire happily nodded, following Mr. Rozzlin to the desk so he can write her the pass.
Sapphire absently at her leppa berry slices, thinking of what Mr. Rozzlin told her in the morning before she headed out to her P.E. class. She was sitting on a bench facing a school building of classrooms that were mostly empty. In the middle of eating a leppa slice, one of the doors opened, Ruby walking out of it with a large book in hand. Somehow, their eyes met, both staring at the other with surprise at the coincidence that they ran into each other again. Sapphire spit out the food in her mouth, pointing at Ruby with annoyance.
"You," she shouted, still pointing at him. "You have the first lunch, too?"
Ruby walked over to her, obviously annoyed by her recent actions.
"I'm surprised myself to know you also have the same lunch."
"How about you head on over to the other side of the campus? I don't want to see you or have you anywhere near me."
"That's fine by me! In fact, it's preferable to being around you!"
Sapphire glanced at the large book in his hand, realizing that it was actually a photo album.
"What's in here," she asked, swiping the album out of his hand and opening it to a random page.
"You can't take stuff that isn't yours," yelled Ruby as he tried to retrieve his album. However, Sapphire kept him away with just one arm, using her other arm to look through the album.
"That Pokémon is really cute," she said, staring at a picture of a Skitty. "Is it yours?"
"Yes, and her name is Coco! Now give back my album!"
Sapphire handed back his album without a second thought, watching him quickly skim through it to make sure there weren't any photos out of place.
"You have really good photography skills," commented Sapphire, looking away. "I thought you were just lying and bragging earlier, but you are good at it."
"Well, of course I have to be good at it. No one wants to look at terrible photographs. I want to show people how beautiful my Pokémon are, so I have to take perfect pictures to properly show them that beauty. It'd be disgraceful to take low-quality photos because that'd taint my Pokémon's image. A picture is worth a thousand words, and I want each of my pictures to tell people that my Pokémon are the most beautiful in the land, and that nothing matches their beauty!"
"We have a photography club here in school. Maybe you'd like to join?"
"Why would I want to do that?"
"Oh, well, since you don't know, the school newspaper usually gets most of their images from the photography club."
It didn't take long for Ruby to see that this was a chance to show the entire school his photos of his Pokémon.
"Hm, it does sound very tempting. Where is the club at?"
"In the C building. That building also has first lunch, and they usually meet up in one of the classrooms during lunch. This'd be a good chance for ya to sign up. I'll even show the way!"
"All right. I'll take your offer. Thanks!"
There was that feeling again – that barfing rainbows feel she had during chemistry class. And just like before, she had that feeling when he thanked her. Why was it that whenever he infuriated her, he did something that brought her back in? That every time they fought, they'd be able to get along after? It was odd that he made her feel like hugging and strangling him at the same time. Was that considered healthy? She doubted it. But, there was something about this feeling that certainly was very different. It was so different from the chemistry metaphor Mr. Rozzlin told her earlier. This was a combination of a volatile and harmonious reaction. She didn't even know that something like that was even possible.
It seemed that human relationships were able to have its compound of reactions, unlike those of chemical reactions. That was what separated elements from people. Though, it made her feel both anxious and excited because there was no telling if… Well, should she and Ruby be together, it'd end badly or they were just right for each other. From the corner of her eye, she could see another small smile on his face. Whether it was the idea of spreading his Pokémon's beauty on the school newspaper or the fact she was being nice to him now, she wasn't sure. She wasn't even sure if he was feeling the same gut feeling she was getting. One thing she was sure of is that she certainly liked him.
A/N: And here's the request/gift fanfic I've been working on for CATSthewriter. I hope you like it! It was actually fun to write about Ruby and Sapphire's relationship dynamic, being that they're opposites. They definitely have a violent-and-peaceful type of relationship. This was meant to be more of a love confession story, but since the manga only had them admit they had crushes on the other, I wanted the fic to be somewhat canon to the manga. Besides, they did say that they liked each other when they first met, so with that in mind... Well, I'll have you fill in the spaces. I MAY add a second part, if CATS wants to see more of this. For now, it's a one-shot.