This was entered for the Iron Fic contest on The Fanfiction Forum, with the goal of writing a fic within 4 hours for a specific theme.
Iron Fic 5-1: "Moving. Leaving the nest. Transferring. Changing venue. No matter what you call it, a move is a big deal. It means leaving behind the known to enter the unknown, trading familiarity for opportunity, and saying farewell with the knowledge that you'll be greeting new people before long."
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It was almost funny, really, he reflected to himself. When the city-states of Kanto had first managed to organise themselves into a regional government, the cartographers had designated the road from Pallet Town to Viridian City as 'Route One', as if fate had ordained it the start of his journey, which seemed oh so long ago, but had started only a year and a half ago, ending a mere six months later.
Taking a step through the narrow grass, where oh so long ago he had encountered a wild Pikachu, Red found himself on the dusty, dirty contours of the Route. How many other intrepid trainers had started out their journey here, leaving only their footprints and the bodies of fainted Pokemon as proof they had been there? Had the good Professor also, once upon a time, taken his first steps as a budding Pokemon trainer past these cliffs and trees, breathing in the same air, trampling the same grass, before eventually becoming a Pokemon League Champion?
He swept around, taking one look at the town he had been born in, had grown up in, had spent another year in after his stunning win at the Pokemon League, before he would inevitably turn his back on it, perhaps forever. The place was beautiful. Most of the settlements he had visited had been too urbanised, concrete and glass jungles that neither man nor Pokemon were meant to live in. Only Lavender Town and to a lesser extent Cinnabar Island matched Pallet Town for its whimsical feeling of being connected to the earth, the sky, the sea, to the mother nature who kept you safe in her bountiful bosom. Houses, schools, and Professor Oak's Laboratory all complemented the natural habitat, instead of fighting against it.
If he was to retire, he wouldn't have minded staying in Pallet. But he couldn't.
That was a voice he could recognise anywhere. Turning, he saw the trainer he had faced in more Pokemon battles than any other, most of them being won or lost by a Pikachu's or Eevee's whisker. Blue, his childhood rival, grandson of Professor Oak, and the boy, nay, man he had defeated to become Pokemon League Champion.
"Where are you going?" The question was posed in an almost conversational manner, but there was a tinge of respect, of desire and envy, all mixed together in a violent melting pot underneath.
With a small smile etched into his face, Red pointed off west, towards the distant horizon. Blue followed the motion, before turning back, sighing, burrowing the dome of his head into one hand.
"Mt. Silver, huh? That doesn't surprise me."
Red nodded in return.
Blue let out a light growl. "You never did talk much, did you?" That was a self-ironic statement. Red had never spoken much, and Blue certainly didn't expect him to change even now.
The brown-haired boy paced back and forth in front of the bemused Champion, before stopping, looking out at the thin river nearby. "I've been thinking of late, in the last year, ever since that day." The anniversary of their final, destined clash wasn't something that needed to be spoken. "You see that stream, Red?"
Blue didn't need to wait for Red to nod. Instead, he continued, "The glaciers at the top of Mt. Moon slowly melt, feeding the waters of Cerulean City and Pewter City. Some of that drains down through the Viridian Forest to the City, finally coming down through Route 1, into Pallet, finally exiting out into the sea. Nature follows a flow, the water drains from the peaks of the mountain to the troughs of the sea."
Marching his way back over to Red, the grandson of Professor Oak was forthright in his conversational manners. "Most people, Red, they're like that flow of water. They're born, they let themselves be thrown around by wherever the streams of fate take them. It's all one direction for them. They don't fight it, they would rather take the easy way out."
"Us, we're not like them. We're like the rare Magikarp that fights against the flow, refusing to let life be decided for them by events. They create events, they overtake others. Look at us! Both ten years, and we both became Pokemon League Champions, defeating trainers with decades of experience."
A bemused look came across Red's face. Whether it was at Blue's speech or at the unspoken fact that Blue's reign as Champion had lasted less than a day was difficult to discern, but Blue scowled nonetheless. "Don't give me that, Red! It took me time to come up with that!"
Silence filled the plains of Route One, as the echoes of Blue's outburst quickly died out. The two Trainers regarded each other quietly, red eyes meeting green before, in unison, they both sat down against the same tree, facing out to opposite directions.
The chirping of Pidgeys and Pidgeottos could be heard in the distance, along with the rare Spearow. The buzzing of a Bug-type Pokemon was faint, but distinct. Occasionally, a loud slap was heard along the river by a Water-type making an acrobatic leap through the air or using its fins or tail as a heavy propeller.
At last, Blue spoke again.
"I've...been requested to take over as the Gym Leader of Viridian City's Gym," He stated.
Red tilted his head over, signalling interest.
"It's not quite what I imagined, y'know?" Blue continued. "I wanted to get away from here, too. Gramps casts a long shadow. I thought I had it when I finally defeated Lance, and then you came along. Heh, my tenure didn't last very long, but at least I got the trophy, ring, and pictures to prove it."
"But I'll take it, anyways. Nothing in League protocol says I have to accept any challenge. The former leader, he was also Team Rocket's leader, and we were two of only a handful of people allowed to actually challenge him in years. As a former Champion, I'm pretty sure I'll be allowed the same leeway. I'll answer the call of only the best of the best. The rest of the time...I'll do what I've always done. Travel. Train. Find like-minded people, and inspire them. And..." He nudged his head around, meeting the periphery of Red's gaze, "I'll find you again, Red, and I'll challenge you again as well. I'll never be satisfied, not even if I win against you."
Red snorted, a soft laugh following, before he became silent once more.
Blue took no offense. He knew Red wasn't laughing at him in a mocking manner. "You and I both grew up in Pallet, and we both couldn't wait to get out. Don't lie, Red. You'll reminiscence about how you enjoyed having your mother's home cooking again, flirting with my sister, helping Gramps with the field work. But that itch is back, isn't it? Those wooden posts that mark the edge of this village? You must look at them every day and feel contempt for them, just as you did as a kid. You think of how they fence you in, keep you from achieving your potential in life. You don't want a complacent, luxurious life. You want things to happen, even if you yourself must make them occur!"
"We thought the world was our Cloyster, ready for the pickings, and we did. But the world was bigger than even we imagined. The wanderlust is too great for you, isn't it? Even for me. I don't dislike Viridian, but I don't like it either. But becoming its Gym Leader gives me a greater license to move around, to complete the research Gramps asked us to do for his Pokedex, and when I follow after you up Mt. Silver, the guards won't question my ability to fend off the worst the mountain can throw at me."
Red nodded, in assent, before bringing his head back. Silence permeated the porous air again, before the rustle of grass from close by indicated his rival, friend, brother-in-arm standing up. Wiping at his slacks to remove bits of greenery, Blue spoke one final time.
"Good luck on Mt. Silver, Red," The youngest Oak said. "Don't forget to write, will you? My sister would despise me if I was to let you disappear off the map and she didn't get any more letters. And...come back, sometimes? I'm sure your mother and Gramps will miss you."
With that, the brown-haired boy turned around, treading back through the tall grass. No wild Pokemon dared to attack him.
Red stood up from the tree watched him go, memorising his posture, the confident way he walked, as if he were atop the world. Even with his loss over a year ago, he still was.
But Blue was wrong, he thought. Taking over as a Gym Leader? That was all well and fine, Blue would no doubt be the unofficial League Champion. Winning the Pokemon league would be an easier task than winning against him in a Pokemon Battle, and many would learn that lesson the hard way.
But becoming a Gym Leader also meant being anchored down, even if you were out most of the time on independent sojourns, much as the former Viridian Gym Leader Giovanni had been (Red snorted at that thought, being Gym Leader was more the side activity for Giovanni than his main job). Red couldn't tolerate that. He thought himself almost allergic to duties.
If there had been one inspiring moment for him, it had been many years ago, when he had seen his first Pidgey. Eager to make friends with it, he had approached it, only for the bird to fly off in a wild fright. Contrary to the moment scarring him, however, he had looked at its flight with a wide-eyed awe. Flying-types weren't forever bound to the earth. They could spread their wings, and fly.
He couldn't fly himself, of course. But that ability to go anywhere, anytime, and do his own thing...that was addicting. Blue had been partially right, about his river analogy. He was also right, thinking Red craved being able to move around. But he also was wrong, thinking that Red had some intrinsic motivation to become the best. Perhaps deep inside, he truly did...but mostly, he had become a Pokemon Trainer because of how his soul had cried out upon seeing that first Pidgey. His was a free spirit, wishing to be able to fly away from earthbound responsibilities. Along his wandering path, he had managed to acquire many Pokemon, defeat multitudes of trainer, acquire eight badges, and defeat a League of the toughest Pokemon Trainers alive.
Red detected a hint of irony. He would finally be settling down. But only the strongest, most iron-willed would be able to reach him at the peak of Mt. Silver. It wouldn't be a chore to face them in a bout of wits with their Pokemon. Instead, it would be...fun.
He sighed, making rare use of his vocal cords in the effort. Blue had nearly disappeared, his body only a speck on the horizon now. Turning back to the river, he mused over the analogy his childhood, no, lifelong rival had made. Even if he partially disputed it, there was still fun to be had. But that was enough for now.
Picking a Pokeball off the belt at his weight, he opened the electronic clasp, summoning a giant winged lizard of a dark-red pigment. Violent black eyes bore down on his own red eyes, before the large Charizard that he had raised from its first-stage form as a Charmander growled loudly, then assented. His Charizard was a ferocious one. None could have tamed him. Few could have bartered with him for use of his strength. Red had forced Charizard, newly evolved from his stage as Charmeleon and drunk with power, to respect him. Even now there was always a battle of wills when the Fire-type came out.
Making motions with his hands that the always-silent Red had developed as a form of sign language with his Pokemon, Charizard understood his task. Turning around, he lowered his neck and wings, allowing Red to mount his back. Once the Trainer was on securely, two mighty flaps of Charizard's wings lifted his body from the ground, sending gusts of wings that tore leaves off nearby bushes and trees, before the dragon-like Pokemon was in the air.
As the powerful Charizard glided through the air, occasionally building altitude through use of his wings, Red sighed, looking over the horizon as his hometown slowly shrank and shrank, and Pallet Town's insignificance relative to the world became ever clearer. Soon, the sun would finally dip behind Mt. Silver, and the only visible signs of human settlements would be the nighttime lights.
Red thought about Blue's last request. Come back to Pallet Town in the future? He wasn't quite so sure. Nostalgia of his boyhood overwhelmed him for a few seconds, and he allowed unshed tears to fall from his eyes before they were evaporated by the strong air currents. He didn't think so. Even after having made his way through Kanto, he wasn't satisfied. There was a whole new world out there, and Mt. Silver would hopefully be just the first stop. He would wait for Blue, then he would leave the coop.
Spread your wings and fly, indeed.
This should be considered as 'Game' Red and Blue (based off of Pokemon Yellow with Pikachu and Eevee as the starters), with a little bit of Pokemon Adventures/Special personality mixed in. This would effectively be a scene between Yellow and GSC (or HG/SS, I like the idea of fighting Red outside more than inside).
On that note, I haven't decided whether Red did indeed ever leave Mt. Silver, or if there would be a more depressing future where he never really leaves.