This turned out a lot longer than I was expecting, I sort of just got carried away with writing, haha. I hope it's alright though, I love ignitionshipping so much. There's not much of it on this site either, so I figured I'd contribute. 13 is the minimum age for training because it seems more fitting, sorry.

Rated T for a few swears.

I'll Be Alright

after all, i'm just a jerk playing with matches
and i'm just an asshole playing with candles.

Flint is seven when he meets Volkner for the first time. He's at a playground near the beach with tons of other kids and as usual, they're play-battling on the grass. The blonde kid wanders over and they welcome the newcomer gladly, though apparently he's only new to Flint as most of the others call him by name and he seems to know the rules to their game quite well (in fact, he's better than the others. Almost good enough to rival him, almost).

But before he gets a chance to introduce himself, he's called to go home because Buck is crying and needs to sleep. So he leaves the very uneventful encounter with two thoughts - one; the blonde kid was tall for his age and two; stupid Buck ruined everything.

He's ten the next time they meet up, but he thinks he can pull off a thirteen year old pretty well.

Mum lets him take the family eevee for walks sometimes and when he's out and about in the city, he pretends he's a trainer. He's three years off the minimum age, but no one knows that...or he thinks they don't at least. He also thinks people won't battle with him because he's awesome and they don't want to lose, but in actuality it's because he's very obviously ten. But anyway, he's walking with eevee when he bumps straight into that familiar blonde hair.

He turns around, annoyed at being interrupted but stops when he realises who it is. During the past three years he's hardly given him any thought, but the boy is easily recognisable as he's still really tall. He's also got an eevee tailing his feet too and Flint wonders with envy if he's a trainer already.

He mumbles an apology and then says, louder this time, "I'm Flint." Finally, he's gotten to introduce himself.

"Volkner," He replies. "And I know you, I remember your hair."

"It's pretty rad," He grins and thumbs himself in the chest to show that he's more talking about himself rather than the afro. "I'm pretty rad."

"Did you seriously just say rad?"

"Duh." His equally as snappy reply is apparently what Volkner wants to hear when he smiles amusedly back, Flint knows that they'll be friends from then on.

"I'm going to get all the badges and beat the Champion, it'll be awesome." He kicks his legs around enthusiastically, earning a quizzical look from Volkner. It's been what, two months since they met properly and each day is spent down at that same park together. Right now Flint is swinging from a tree branch and Volkner is watching because they're much too old and much too cool to be on the playground.

"I'm not." He answers, leaning back against the trunk.

He stops mid-swing and drops to the ground. "Why?" He doesn't understand what Volkner is trying to say, wasn't it a rite of passage for trainers to take the gym challenge and prove their worth? Why would you not want that? The more badges you had, the more respected you were as well, after all. "Don't you want to be strong too?"

"Well, yeah," He shrugs. "But I don't get why I have to have badges to do that. I mean, if I'm strong, I'll know I'm strong and I won't need any little pins to tell me." Flint just raises an eyebrow at this and jumps back into the tree. His friend makes a point, but it doesn't deter him in the slightest. He's going to be the toughest there is! His championship daydreams are soon interrupted by a loud yell though and Volkner dives behind the tree trunk, apparently hiding from it.

"What's the matter?" At this point he's managed to swing around somehow and is hanging upside down off the branch.

"That's my dad," Volkner mutters. "He's making me go to nana's and she's got this glameow that always hisses at me."

Flint pulls himself up so he's the right way up again and peers at the tall blonde man walking towards them. He looks a lot like his friend and this probably being the most interesting revelation he's going to have all day, he feels the need to comment on it. "You look like him."

"Most people look like their dads."

"I don't." But he's not sure, maybe he does. He hasn't seen him for a long time now, so he can't really remember properly.

When they officially become trainers three years later (it turned out Volkner was the same age as him), they're suddenly very competitive. Until then they'd both been super excited just to get their own pokemon, but when it came it the reality of it, Volkner was just another trainer standing in the way of him getting to the top. For the first six months, they hate each others guts and Flint growls when he passes the other boy. The animosity is returned too, Volkner blanks him and this just makes him even more annoyed.

It changes when they discover tag battling though. They don't have to be adversaries he figures, they can fight together too. Plus, it was kind of a faux-hate anyway.

It takes him two years to finally win a gym badge. The leaders are a lot tougher than he expected and it takes a lot of training and effort to get his pokemon anywhere near the level that theirs are, but eventually he succeeds and now is the very proud owner of Veilstone's badge. Volkner wins one too and Flint gives him crap for it as he was so adamant about it a few years ago. He acts all nonchalant, but Flint knows secretly he's excited.

At sixteen he's finally caught up height-wise. They are also well on their way to becoming Sinnoh's premier tag battling team and like to frequently challenge the Battle Tower, unsuccessfully though he might add. His voice has deepened and despite only being a trainer for three years, he feels old compared to some he meets. It's stupid, he knows that, but they're all so bright-eyed that he feels kind of jaded in comparison. He tells this to Volkner, who replies that he's being an idiot.

"Just look at all the gym leaders, they're a lot older than we are and they're still trainers. Don't worry about it, we're fine." And he doesn't after that.

Six months later, the two finally defeat the Battle Tower. Flint thinks it's awesome but Volkner is less than thrilled. When quizzed about it, he shrugs and says, "there's one less thing to do now."

He has to get out of Sunyshore. Sure, he's travelled to lots of other cities in the region, but he's always come back, never staying away for long. But now, at nineteen, he needs (or wants, he thinks needing to sounds selfish) to leave. He knows every street, every alleyway, every person like the back of his hand and it's boring and kind of suffocating. He wants a challenge, to see how people talk, behave, battle and coordinate in other places.

"Are you fucking kidding me?" Volkner unfortunately isn't as pleased about the idea as he is.

"Yeah, it'll be great!" He ignores the hostility, nothing is going to bring him down or talk him out of this idea. "I've never been as far as Jubilife before."

"It's boring as hell, you'll hate it."

"No, I won't."

He hums in response and goes quiet for a moment. His eventual reply is not as well thought out as usual and it's the first time Flint sees Volkner lose his calm composure. For once he's not in total control of himself. "And what am I supposed to do?" He hisses, narrowing his eyes.

"I'm not your -"

"You're just going to leave?"

Flint takes a deep breath, fighting the urge to yell back. But damn, he's almost twenty and if he thinks he's mature enough to travel then he has to learn not to get into fights like this. "I'll still talk to you, man. I'm not going to drop off the face of the earth." He almost asks him to come too because in truth, he'll miss him, but he knows his friend's family ties run deep and he can't just pack up and leave like he can. Not that he'd want to anyway, Volkner loves their city.

He waits for another angry reply, but all he gets is a nod.

In five days he's packed and ready to go. He kisses his mum goodbye on the cheek and ruffles Buck's hair while the latter complains that it's no fair and he wants to travel too. It's awkward when he says bye to Volkner though, his friend is clearly not pleased about it and there are few words exchanged. But just as he's about to leave, Volkner frowns and shoves a pokeball into his hands.

"It's Electabuzz," He mutters. "If you train it while you're away, it might evolve."

"Alright!" He grins, pulling out one of his own. "But you look after Magmar, okay?"

"I'll miss you, asshole."

i'm still a jerk playing with matches,
it's just that he's not around to play along

It comes as a complete surprise to learn that three weeks later Volkner has taken the recently-vacated position of Sunyshore gym leader. It makes him a little sad and he can't help but think that his friend has given up, that he's willing to stop there and go no further. But he's sure he has his reasons and gets yelled at when he asks one too many questions anyway.

It takes him a little while longer (more like two years) to get his own act together, but after rigorous training and tournaments, he's offered a position in the Elite Four. It's great, but he's still going to keep getting stronger, the Champion position is where it's at.

He's done lots of things while he's been away, but honestly, lying on the floor of a gym with its power out was probably one of the weirdest. Volkner is next to him, watching the ceiling with a sort of disinterest. He'd been bored, apparently. That was his excuse for renovating his gym and putting the whole city in a blackout for a week, which it was still currently in. He must admit though, through the darkness, the gym does look pretty cool. There's a big gear puzzle or something and he's never seen anything like it.

"I'm so bored," Volkner says, turning towards him. "When I figure out how to fix the power, I'm not going to have anything to do." That's the first sign something is wrong, but he doesn't pay much attention and rolls over so he's on his stomach.

"You'll find something."

"I don't know if I will." He sounds sort of unsure and unsure himself of what else to say, Flint shimmies over so he's closer and then suddenly throws his arms around his torso, giving him a massive beartic hug (he's not sure what a beartic is, but he's heard the phrase before). "What are you doing?" He shakes him off and sits up, but he's laughing so it's all right.

Turns out 'something to do' was to actually build a whole lot of solar panels and totally overhaul the city's power supply, because you know, that's a fun activity on a sunny afternoon.

Flint's twenty-three now, but that's not important. What is important is that something's up with Volkner and he's worried. He's not sure what he's worried about, but his instinct tells him something isn't right so he goes and visits as often as he can. Most of the time his friend is at the lighthouse and whenever he sprints up those stairs to the top, his heart is pounding and he's not entirely sure why.

"There's no one strong to fight anymore." That's what's up and why he's so down all the time. It takes a lot of persuasion and constant nagging from Flint for him to finally admit it, and when he does, he doesn't understand. Volkner is the reason why no one ever challenges the Elite Four (ie. him), so really, he should be the one who is upset. But he's not because what's the point? The ones that do get through will be a real challenge and that's what his job is all about, right?

There's something else though, that's not the only reason. It can't be. He may not be a genius, but he realises that.

One day a trainer does come though, it's a girl from some tiny town south-western Sinnoh and she's amazing. She beats them both easily and for a while afterwards Volkner's himself again and Flint can't thank her enough.

He's not sure what's going on. Sure, he has other friends and the gym leaders are great, but he never wants to spend time with anyone other than Volkner. There have been people he's known even longer than the stupid blonde dickhead and geez; he works closely with the most sought-after woman in the whole Sinnoh region, but nope. All he wants to do is see him. Why?

Said woman is good to talk to though and on one of their many challenger-less days, they chat. She asks him to tell Volkner to stop closing his gym so often, she's asked herself before but she knows what's going on and thinks that maybe if Flint broached the subject with him then it might get through. He's not sure how it happens, but somehow he finds himself spilling everything - all his concerns about Volk's well-being and how he always assumes the worst.

"You two are very close, aren't you?" It's more of a statement than a question and he nods, feeling relieved that he's finally talking to someone. "Well, just tell him that the whole League is behind him. We're all here for one another."

"Thanks," He mumbles. "I'll let him know."

"And as for you, Flint, you need to get around to asking him out." She laughs but he doesn't get it.

It's been around a year since Dawn challenged the Sunyshore Gym and Flint is back, stomping around the room. "Stop being so miserable!" He knows he sounds like an ass, but what of it? Volkner's down again and while he's usually more...nice, sometimes he loses his cool too. It's also pretty hard to be understanding when he didn't even understand his own self. "Or at least speak to me. What's going on? Why are you like this?"

It's not the first time this has happened; it's been going on for months now and the outcome is always the same. No answer.

Two weeks later and Flint has just gotten back to the League after a long day of training, he's supposed to be meeting Lucian and Aaron for dinner later on but he honestly can't be bothered. Kicking his shoes off, he lies down on the lounge and checks his pokegear - he never takes the thing anywhere, its too much to carry and he doesn't really care about it anyway. There are two messages, one is from Buck who yells down the phone that he's only calling because mum made him and the other is from Volkner.

"Because I'm bored and there's nothing to do," He says. "And ugh...because I'm fucking in love with you, dickhead."

"Hi, I'm Elesa." The blonde girl extends her hand out and Volkner shakes it happily.

They're in the Unova region for a tournament all the gym leaders were invited to and the tall girl has approached them for some reason. He doesn't get it, every single gym leader was invited to compete and the Champions too, but the Elite Four weren't. It's not fair, he wants to battle! Why is he here though? Well, the Sinnoh League were nice enough to bring them over as spectators so they could watch everyone else battle, but it just seemed like they were rubbing it in their faces a little.

Whatever though, nothing he can do about it now.

"Candice is a gym leader from Sinnoh, right?" She continues and Volkner nods. "Well, I was talking to her and she told me I should come chat to you because you're an electric-type specialist too."

"I am, so we should discuss strategy," He smiles. "I'm Volkner, by the way, and this," He yanks on Flint's arm, bringing him forward so they're standing next to one another. "Is my partner, Flint."

they were just two jerks playing with matches
because that's all they knew how to play

Ending is a little bit cheesy, I'm sorry! And iunno if you can tag-battle at the Battle Tower, I've never been there before in my games. So if you can't, just pretend you can for this story and I apologise.