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Fic for the melancholic season
Betty black-and-white
Title: Mirages
Character(s) / pairing(s): Green / Red, the Oak family.
Rating: PG
Word count: 1868
Note: apparently this was a story I needed to get out of my system. Too many Green and Green/Red feelings after watching Pokémon The Origin (which I highly recommend and which ought to have been longer than just the couple of episodes, thank you very much). Beware for the angst because unfortunately this is a relationship that spells just that. (Though as a writer I'm secretly delighted about that of course...)
Summary: Forgive and forget is not an option where Red is concerned.


Green probably ought to hate Red.

Maybe he does: it's gotten hard to distinguish between things that should be and things that are, baseline of his life.

Resentment neatly fits in with hurt (pride) and in moments when his temper seems the least important thing to lose it's easy to imagine he does hate his former best friend. There's a fine line sometimes between one emotion and the other and nuance never has been Green's ally in life.

Nuance is the difference between being great and being the best, they say, but see, there's nothing nuanced about that at all: it's about being number one and being the rest and he should not be thinking about this (but yet he always does).

There are enough reasons for dislike, enough justification if he could be bothered with the concept, because dashing someone's dreams should not go unpunished except that Red's still literally on top of the world. Head in the freezing clouds and everyone else miles below him.

(And then he thinks of the hurt look in Red's eyes as he pushed him away at the age of ten and something in his chest clenches. It might be guilt).

Green does not like the season of autumn. Walking from Pewter to Viridian the forest surrounding him seems to have been dipped in orange and yellow paint, and though it's objectively beautiful it can hardly disguise the morbid truth that all is dying.

It reminds him of his own losses, because as Daisy once said with a wary sigh: he makes everything about himself.

Someone has to, Green thinks morosely as he looks at yet another leaf twirling down from a young beech tree.

At least it's not an oak, is what Red would have said, because when he spoke he said random things like that.

No. Summer is the best season, he repeats to himself, hands shoved deep in his jacket pockets. Summer is bright green grass and endless possibilities and days of success so close you can taste them like the sweat on your skin.

But summer was also when his charizard hit the floor and Red walked into the Hall of Fame and the blue sky outside jarred his every scattered thought.

Somehow it always comes back to this.

Daisy is visiting today. She's wiser than him, he acknowledges, and kinder, the whole of Kanto knows, and though that might once have been enough for him to draw a divide between them, now he looks at her and thinks she's my sister and feels a queer sort of happiness.

Daisy looks at him and reads him like the pokémon that are brought in her gentle care, and instead of perturbation he (childishly, oddly, pitifully) thinks, at least someone knows me.

Sometimes she offhandedly mentions Red.

'I heard he beat the champion from the Johto region.'

'Do you remember when you two encountered that wild fearow and could not stop talking about it for days?'

“I made coconut cookies,” she says today as she draws a jar from her floral bag,”isn't it almost Red's birthday? I used to bake them every year, he was crazy about them.”

It's not an off-limits topic.

It's not.

But Green says: “Have you had a look yet at the nidoking I added to my team?” as he accepts the gift with a forced smile she reads like a book.

'Congratulations, Red!'

Gramps beamed at his former friend, a hand resting on his shoulder, a look of pride on his face that was usually saved for him.

For family.

Red had been family once, of sorts. Now he was champion.

And Green: forgotten.

Perhaps the difference between Red and him is this: achievement is the end goal for Green, whereas it is the byproduct of everything Red does.

Red saved people. From the shadowy grip of the Pokémon Tower, from Team Rocket's loom all around the region. (He'd entered the gloomy shadows of Lavender's tower too, but it was success he'd been thinking of).

Red trained his pokémon and his pokémon trained him ('we are a team,' he'd once shouted at him after a match, when Green still scoffed at words like that). Getting stronger came naturally for him, and all the while Green had looked at the numbers on his pokédex and thought, this is how I'll stay ahead.

Red lives in the moment while Green lives in the future.

(Or does he? And Red walks through the Hall of Fame again, not looking back).

Though duty-bound, he travels whenever he has the chance. Once you've had a taste of freedom – whatever that means – it is impossible to let go.

He has heard of other regions from foreign challengers: tropical ones; ones where snow covers everything from the year's dawn to closing; ones with swamps no sane person would go save for the rare pokémon that made it their habitat. But apart from innate curiosity he never feels desire to go – he belongs in Kanto, feels connected to its earth whether it's Viridian or Vermillion, and maybe it is cruelly fitting he inherited the Earth badge from his predecessor he does not wish to think about.

Whether at home or on the road, Green prides himself on not being the sappy type. The type that reminisces, that recalls. Dwelling on memories seems far inferior to making your dreams come true.

So Route 1 is the road he needs to travel to get from Pallet to Viridian and not where he left Red behind literally, figuratively; Saffron a noisy conglomerate that makes him appreciate the quiet of Pallet, the towering Silph building not a reminder of rocket uniforms in the corner of his every eye, Red's fingers digging in his shoulder, urging that we need to save these people Green and a breathless moment's hesitation before everything shifted back to new clear reality.

Mt. Silver is but a mountain that looms large over the region, not his dreams.

(How strange to think of Red without you, Daisy had once mused absentmindedly in one of her thoughtful moods when the clock had struck twelve and her glass of sake was long empty, impossible to think of one without the other).

And Green wants to stomp the notion under his boots in the same fashion he does the roads as he walks away from home, even as his heart leaps treacherously at the sound.

Training gives him clarity. It's what he excels in. Usually he's alone but sometimes fans gather at the gym and he won't bother pretend he doesn't enjoy the attention.

Why should he?

Mega horn! he shouts with perfectly controlled excitement, and the impact of nidoking's attack coincides with cheers from the tribunes. The corner of his mouth lifts in a smirk.

“Well done,” he offers, because he's learned that showing care does not equal weakness, necessarily.


“Rock tomb,” he commands in a loud voice. Different move types means spreading your chances, means spreading your victories. Means not sticking to one thing when you can have it all.

The attack is carried out almost perfectly, but his trained eye detects that more work is needed on their accuracy from the left.

Applause fills the gym regardless – they don't know anything – and he waves it away with semi-modesty.

If Gramps; if Daisy; (if Red) were here they'd deduce that his hunger for recognition was the narrative of his life; would offer probably well-meant advice, fathom his mood (look at him quietly until his skin itched and prickled).

But they are not, so.

'Red's completed the pokédex!' Gramps said, excitement making his voice almost vibrate in the otherwise quiet lab.

Green regarded the red device in his grandfather's hand in disbelief. Pressed a button: 151 pokémon caught.

'I would have been able to do the same,' he muttered, and believed it in the ways that mattered most.

The way in which Red's eyes are strange is this: the less expressive they became along the road, the harder Green found it to meet them for all the things they made him feel.

If he were the poetic type he supposes he could make a metaphor out of that.

But he's not, and he's started to forget what Red's eyes look like anyway.

There is a challenger from Cinnabar today. He can tell by the way she drawls her r's and a's – travelling gives you that kind of useless information.

Before the match starts she licks her lips apprehensively and then says, as though she knows she shouldn't but can't help herself, “Aren't you a friend of Red?”

There's awe in her voice.

Green clamps his hand around his pokéball and wants to smash her idol fantasy in the same way.

Red's not a hero, he wants to make her (everyone) understand. He's just a kid, a kid who cried when he fell down the stairs at age seven and he helped him, a kid who's biggest dream was to have a pokémon and look where that led to?

“I battled him for the first time,” he says instead, “I beat him.”

And already he senses that this is all wrong but –

(somehow it always comes back to this)

then lost the ones that followed, the silence adds and this is a path he cannot stray from.

“Let's start,” he spits out forcefully and releases his charizard.

They had been close, once, like the pidgey that flocked together in late summer, like the pokémon that never left his sister's side.

“We'll be champions together,” Red said and Green believed him unconditionally.

Until one day he read in his grandfather's magazines there could only be one champion, and for the first time he didn't know whether he should tell Red.

(“We'll change the rules,” Red declared simply when he finally did, and Green scoffed at his friend because you could not just change rules, rules meant what always had been and what always would be).

At night Green thought of the two of them travelling, to Mt. Moon and faraway Lavender and further still, with all the mysteries surrounding the places and the road going up, up, up to the Indigo Plateau.

But there he paused, because then what?

And he thought of Red abandoning him and ascending imagined stairs with his back straight, and he unawarely clutched at his sheets as a slumbering fear gripped his heart.

(“They loved you very much,” Daisy dutifully says whenever he looks at a picture of their parents, but – )

Better to abandon than be abandoned.

''Choose your pokémon, Red,' Gramps said, ignoring Green's frown.

“Whatever, I'll choose a better pokémon anyway,” he recovered immediately and dived for the fire pokémon as Red picked bulbasaur as his starter. Fire beat grass, he knew – he'd learned that kind of stuff.

He would still be first.

“Hey, let's have a battle!' Green shouted because Red was turning his back on him.

And his (former) friend released bulbasaur, with unused air but wonder in his eyes, as Green looked at charmander.

His breathing quickened. This is what it all came down to.

“Scratch,” he commanded and felt the taste of victory.

Comments are as always.

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Love it! Those two...sigh. Too many emotions to handle lol. I like how you interspersed parentheses throughout to give a sense of how jumbled Green's feelings are and ended with the breaking of their friendship.

Thanks a bunch! I wish this fic were a bit happier, but then their drama writes itself. 'Too many emotions to handle,' I'm with you there.

Glad you got a jumbled kind of feel from the fic, as Green's thoughts on Red are indeed far from clear. I feel like I still haven't explored everything from their dynamic so maybe there'll be a follow-up fic...

Thanks again! ♥

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