This takes place in the same universe as Love Match, when the boys have only been traveling together for a month or so.
Alfred didn't like sleeping in a tent the way Arthur did. Arthur was relatively new to this whole traveling around and sleeping outside thing, after all, and even though the flimsy, thin canvas didn't provide too much of a shelter, Arthur was able to trick himself into thinking it did.
Alfred, on the other hand, had been out in the wilderness of every region of the world since he was ten, sometimes alone, sometimes with companions, but always traveling. It was a fight getting the boy to stay in a Pokemon Center most days when they were actually near one, as if the free bed and breakfast weren't any different than spending the night in the woods.
This night was no exception, and the only reason Arthur hadn't put up much of a fight when Alfred stomped off into the forest, was because the boy had just had a rather disappointing loss at the local Gym. They hadn't known each other very long, but Arthur knew when the normally bubbly Alfred was feeling down, so he didn't argue.
They shared a few cans of beef stew and beans in gravy cooked over the fire, and sat in uncomfortable silence until Alfred gave an over-exaggerated yawn, and told Arthur he was ready for bed.
The sun hadn't even completely set, but Arthur took the hint and set up his tent anyway.
He had been reading by lantern light for a few hours, when he decided to finally turn in. He had just flicked off the lantern when a small, barely audible sound caught his ear. He paused, halfway in his sleeping bag. "Alfred?" he asked into the night, his own voice sounding strange after so long of sitting in silence.
He didn't get a reply. Quietly, he pulled his spare blanket around his shoulders and crawled out of the tent flap, shivering in the cold air. "Alfred?" he asked again. A lump by the fire twitched.
"It's all good, dude," Alfred choked out. "Go back to bed."
Arthur's eyebrows scrunched up in irritation. "You said you were going to sleep hours ago, what are earth are you-" he froze, Alfred had sniffed. "Are you crying?"
"What? No!" he exclaimed, finally spinning to face Arthur and revealing his red and puffy eyes. "Pokemon Masters don't cry, don't be silly! I was just puttin' out the fire and some ash got in my eye, no big deal!"
"Oh please," Arthur scoffed, striding over to the log and sitting down next to Alfred. "Has anyone ever told you that you are a dreadful liar?"
Alfred deflated. "Yeah."
Arthur smiled softly, scooting a bit closer and offering him some of his blanket, which Alfred took gratefully. "Want to talk about it?" he asked.
Alfred blushed. "You're gonna make fun of me."
"Probably," Arthur said with a smile, nudging him in the shoulder. "But I'll wait until morning so I wont feel as bad about it."
"You ass," Alfred laughed, before going solum once again. "It's just," he sighed. "Sometimes I wonder why I'm even on this journey at all, ya know?"
Arthur blinked in surprise. Alfred questioning his calling in life as a pokemon trainer? The same Alfred who talked non-stop of being a Master some day? "You?" Arthur gasped, before he could help himself. Alfred smiled wryly.
"Me. I'm not always Mr. big-shot, golden-boy, ya know." He ran a hand uncomfortably though his hair. "After that match today... I battled like shit, there's no sugarcoating it, so don't even try." Arthur snapped his mouth shut, stopping himself from arguing. "My pokemon didn't deserve that, and it's all my fault. It was pathetic."
"You juts had an off day, Alfred," Arthur said soothingly. "It happens to everyone."
"But it doesn't happen to me." He turned his head to face Arthur's, his bright blue eyes aflame with determination; it upset Arthur that it was directed in such a wrong direction.
Arthur rolled his eyes and promptly smacked Alfred right in the back of his head.
"Ow! What the hell was that for?"
"For being an idiot," he replied. Alfred pouted, so Arthur explained. "Everyone has off days, Alfred. Even Pokemon Masters. Making mistakes is how you learn. When you go back tomorrow and have your rematch, you'll know exactly what you need to do, and this time you'll win for sure." He paused, biting his lip and flushing lightly. "You're an amazing trainer."
Alfred was uncharacteristically quiet, watching the dying embers in the fire. Finally, he met his eyes again, a small smile playing on his lips. "I think that's the first compliment you've ever given me," he teased. "I'm growing on you, aren't I?"
Arthur's light flushing turned into an all out glow. He yanked his blanket back from Alfred and spun on his heals to face away from him, his nose turned up in the air stubbornly. "Don't get used to it," he spat, clutching the blanket around himself and marching back to the tent. Behind him, Alfred cackled.
"Hey," he laughed, and Arthur froze halfway in the tent to glare at him half-heartily. "Thanks."
Arthur smiled back at him, despite himself. "Of course. Now get some sleep" he chided, back to his old self, "you have a match tomorrow."
"Ay, ay, captain!" Alfred chirped, his stupid grin audible in his voice.
Arthur rolled his eyes and disappeared back into his tent. He was going to need a good night's sleep if he was going to put up with Alfred's gloating after he won tomorrow.
Because what is a Pokemon!AU without some firelight confessions and consoling? ;)
Hope you enjoyed! (Love Match will be updated shortly, I promise. I just really needed to get this out of my system before I could finish it. XD XD)