Rise to Champion
Ever since he was a kid, Red had always dreamed of traveling the world. Collecting and meeting new Pokemon friends. From the moment he was capable of conscious thought he loved
Pokemon and knew he wanted them in his life as much as possible. Those thoughts? They were leading him right up to this very moment. The moment he'd been waiting for his entire career as a Pokemon Trainer. The battle for the title of Champion.
It was safe to say that it would be an upset for Green if Red were to win. Green hadn't had the title for long, perhaps barely long enough for his Pokemon to be in any shape to actually fight. His Pokemon seemed in tip-top condition, but mentally? Well, he felt like they were still struggling from the fight here. Like they'd already had to fight five powerful trainers and now they had to face off against another one. Despite the fact that Red was familiar to them. It was safe to say that Green was looking a little desperate too. Down to one Pokemon while Red still had two. Charizard had taken to the field and was flying around in sharp turns as a barrage of seed-shaped bombs erupted from one of the three heads that made up Exeggutor's consciousness.
There was hesitation in Red. He could see not just how mentally worn down his opponent's pokemon were but...just how worn down Green was. He was making sloppy calls. He hadn't had time to rest and it was obvious just how tired his opponent was. This wasn't the kind of victory Red wanted...but if he threw the match or tried to lose, he wouldn't be able to forgive himself. If he did that, he'd be letting his pokemon down. They'd fought hard to get here too. Green would have known he was holding back and he wasn't sure he'd forgive him either. So, he uttered the words that would likely end this.
The words were spoken just as Charizard was getting ready to do a sweep over the Exeggutor. Twisting his long neck upward, he sprayed a gout of flames down onto the palm tree-looking pokemon. The heads reacted with a shout of agony before they fell to the ground. Charizard gave one mighty swing of his wings upward and landed upon the ground, releasing a victory roar into the air and spouting flames off harmlessly.
The crowd cheered. Reporters stormed the field. Green fell to his knees, exhausted and dejected. For Red, it felt like an empty victory. For his pokemon, it was a victory well earned. To Green? A crushing defeat. It was clear on his face as he walked away. Just before the swarm of reporters blocked Red from going after Green, he saw his rival slam his fist into the wall of the doorway before disappearing from sight.
Not all victories felt good.
It was only after the reporters had thoroughly gotten as much of his life story from him as he could that he was able to get a moment of reprieve. A small part of him wished he would have to face a trainer who had been coming right after him and lose the title. If only because he felt awful about having defeated Green...but then again, if he'd lost after that, he was pretty sure Green would have wanted to kick his ass even more. Defeating him and then going on to lose?
He reflected on the questions that had been asked. People had tried to get him to talk badly about Green. But he told them the truth. "Our pokemon fought hard. We both fought hard. But in the end, I think I only won because I was still riding the adrenaline high from my matches with the Elite Four." It was really all he had to say on the matter. When he got to the locker room after having his name put into the Hall of Fame, right next to Green's, he found his rival there waiting for him.
The TV in the locker room showed the empty stage where a celebration was still happening. Challenges were closed for the day even though there weren't anymore people waiting to challenge the Elite Four. Green and Red had just been neck and neck in their race to the Indigo Plateau. Green had beaten him there...and then Red had beaten Green in the fight for the finish line. There was a small party happening on the final stage, all of the Four were there as well as Professor Oak, a bunch of reporters, and fans who had been in the stands.
"You should be out there celebrating. I would be if I were you." Green muttered bitterly, his eyes still focused on the screen before him.
Red shifted awkwardly, frowning. "Well, you're not me. I...don't care much about all the atten--"
"Can it, loser. If you didn't want the attention, why'd you show up in the first place? Why couldn't you just let me have this?"
"Y'know what? I don't wanna hear it, actually." A flash of his green eyes, anger and tears evident in them. "Smell ya later, Chumpion."
And Green was gone. It was like a punch to the stomach. He hadn't even given him a chance to explain why he wanted it. But, honestly, now that he had it? He didn't even know why he wanted the damn title. He thought it would be fun. He figured 'Champion' was the highest title a trainer could achieve! He wanted to be the best that he could be...for his pokemon's sake. For his mom's sake. He didn't think of himself as a role model or anything like that, of course. But he wanted to do right by the people and pokemon in his life. All the gym leaders he'd defeated and all the friends he'd made along the way. He'd done just that. Red had become the Champion. The strongest trainer in Kanto and Johto.
So why did he feel so empty? So hollow? This wasn't what every other win had felt like. He'd been excited and happy but right now he felt about the opposite of that. He felt dejected, like this wasn't much of a win. He didn't necessarily want to be in the spotlight but now his name and his pokemon were ingrained in the Hall of Fame forever. He left the locker room feeling as though he shouldn't have even bothered coming here. But this was his responsibility now.
This was the life of a Champion.
Fall from Grace
The life of a Champion wasn't as sweet and luxurious as some might think. Every day you had certain tasks you had to fulfill. One never really got time off and when he did, it was spent sleeping. It felt like he could never get enough sleep. He just felt exhausted all the time to the point where his mother was starting to worry about him. His pokemon were neglected, the only time he got to spend with them was during battles.
This wasn't what he wanted when he wanted when he set out to become a pokemon trainer. He'd dreamed of traveling all over the world. Seeing far away places and befriending as many pokemon as he could. The fact that he was stuck in Kanto when he'd seen as much of it as he'd been able to see was slowly pulling his soul from his body. At least, that's what it felt like. He felt heavy and unable to find that zest that he'd had months ago when he'd been on his adventure to the Plateau. He'd just wanted to have a good time with his pokemon.
He didn't want to go to interviews all over the world. He didn't want to stay in the same place and battle people for supremacy, dashing their hopes and dreams when he won against them. Seeing someone get defeated by him after having fought the Elite Four wasn't something he liked seeing. People looked up to him. Admired him. But Red didn't see why. He felt miserable here. He was sure Green would have loved it and every day he wished that he hadn't won that day.
After an annoying day of interviews and scheduled public appearances and battles, he found himself on a cliff overlooking the ocean somewhere between Pallet and Cinnabar Island. Slowly, Red tilted his head down to look at the red and white spheres covering his belt, polished to perfection by people that didn't even know what the pokemon inside were like. A series of six clicks hung in the air for a moment as he plucked the orbs from his belt and examined them quietly to himself.
He tossed all six spheres into the air behind him, all of them exploding with light and revealing the six pokemon hidden beneath them. Charizard, Venusaur, Blastoise, Pikachu, Snorlax, and Lapras. A smile rose from his lips as soon as he saw them all, seeming quite happy to be out of their pokeballs and even happier to see him outside of a battle setting. Pikachu instantly launched himself at his trainer, skittering up his form until he was perched on his shoulder.
A hand came up to rub at Pikachu's cheeks, causing the creature to release a pleased noise. That was the first moment in months that he'd really felt as though he was at peace. It was the first moment in months that he hadn't felt like he was slowly being smothered. "I need to get away from all of this." Red said softly, affectionately scratching and petting Pikachu's head and face. "You guys are with me, right?" His gaze shifted toward the rest of his team.
Naturally, they all nodded. He expected as much from them. They were all powerful creatures but they were also his best friends. If even one of them hadn't been with him, he would have gladly stayed and continued to do what he didn't want to do. He would have stayed miserable if it meant keeping his pokemon happy. But he had a feeling that they could feel just how miserable he was. They were probably miserable too. They never got to spend time with him. Not quality time like they had when they were adventuring.
But he knew that in order to really get away...he had to go somewhere that nobody could find him for a long time. Luckily, he'd been studying locations all over the continent and, while he didn't feel like hiding on the same continent was something that was wise...he knew just the place. He'd heard of a dangerous mountain near the end of the Indigo Plateau that nobody ever dared to brave. Powerful wild pokemon lived there and the weather itself was always treacherous. Mount Silver, his next challenge...and one that would take him away from this title of Champion.
"Then let's go. I'm tired of being Champion anyway. They'll find someone else, right?" He smiled softly at his team and they returned it in kind. With a flurry of red beams from their own individual pokeballs, he hopped onto Charizard's back and they were off to the base of Mount Silver.
The headlines that Red would never read would come in the form of "Missing Champion", "Red Nowhere To Be Found!", and "Conspiracy in the Pokemon League?!" He was blissfully unaware of the drama he was causing back home. Admittedly, he did feel bad that he'd done so without so much as a word to anyone before he left. He hadn't even told his mom that he was leaving. But he knew that if he did that...she would have convinced him to stay. While Red didn't want to disappoint anyone, he knew all too well that if he didn't do this for himself, he didn't know what he'd end up doing to himself. That thought was far scarier than any amount of disappointment the people in his life would deal with.
As he approached the base of Mount Silver, his gaze stared up toward the summit which was hidden within the clouds. His jaw clenched tightly and he gripped the straps of his backpack tightly. There was a moment of hesitation...but when he thought of going back and embracing the hectic life of a Champion...he put one foot in front of the other and didn't stop. There were many wild pokemon that stood in his way, even some that he hadn't had logged into his Pokedex that he managed to capture and send on their way back to Professor Oak.
And those pokemon were likely the last ones that would be seen captured by him for almost 3 years. He spent those three years up on that mountain asking himself what he wanted to do with his life. Where he would go from here. If anyone would even want him to come back now. He felt as though the longer he was gone, the more angry people would be when he came back. Had everyone moved on? Did people assume he was dead or something?
It was all of these thoughts and more that kept him from coming down off of Mount Silver. He had survived off the surrounding wildlife. Eating berries, hunting down what he needed in order to survive. With the help of his pokemon, they actually lived a decently comfortable life. Every day they took a trip up to the summit of Mount Silver in order to contemplate what their next move was. It was cold up there but it set his head straight. In a way, it reminded him of why he was here. The isolation of it all. He didn't care for flashing cameras and people yelling questions at him from all angles.
That life had been suffocating and painful. It had also not at all been what he had set out to do from the start. He'd set out to explore the world with pokemon and enjoy a life filled with them. Pokemon battles were fun challenges and collecting badges had something of a satisfying feeling to it because they held memories from those battles when his pokemon shone brightly. But the pressure that came with being Champion had been more than he bargained for. Ruining people's hopes and dreams for a living by defeating them wasn't his idea of a life he wanted to continue leaving. Not to mention the defeat of Green and how he still hadn't forgiven him still weighed heavily on his mind.
The sound of snow crunching behind him gave him pause. Was that one of the wild pokemon? They hardly ever bothered him anymore, mostly accepting him as part of Mount Silver now that he had been there for a few years. Even then, they rarely came up to the summit of Mount Silver. Slowly, Red turned to face the intruder, his eyes flashing faintly from beneath his hat. There was a hint of recognition...not because he recognized the person standing before him but because it was a person and not a pokemon. He still knew what a human looked like...so that was good at least.
The boy looked a bit confused by his presence. "Uh...hey?"
Red stared at him for a few seconds...but the determination on the other's face started to light a fire in his belly. A fire he hadn't felt in a long time. The trainer's eyes flashed to the pokeballs attached to the other boy's belt and then back up to his face. Red ran a gloved hand across the spheres on his own belt before plucking one from it and pressing the button to enlarge the orb in his palm. The other trainer took the hint, quickly drawing a pokeball from his belt.
An eruption of red light from both sides would signal the start of a heated battle. A battle that would allow the fire within Red to consume him...and for him to be reborn from the ashes. This would then allow him to return to the world once more. He felt...satisfied that he had finally faced a challenge after all these years. To have that fire in his belly reignited by a trainer stronger than himself was something he desperately needed in his life of seclusion.
It was time to return home.
"I thought you were dead!"
Smack! Yeah. He deserved that. The red hand print on his cheek was a homecoming gift from his mother...but admittedly, he felt as though he deserved it. The stinging sensation was welcome as it felt much warmer than the stinging cold wind of Mount Silver. Though he probably could have done without the rib-crushing hug that followed only seconds after the slap to his face. His arms slowly slid around his mother and he could feel her shaking, sobbing into his chest. He could feel her tears soaking through his shirt and the guilt of leaving her without even so much as calling her set in.
"I'm sorry, mom...if I'd told you I was going to leave...you of all people could have convinced me to stay." He said quietly. She shook her head, clinging to the back of his shirt.
"I've been nothing but supportive of you your entire life...if...if you'd wanted to step down...you could have told me and I would have supported that. You didn't have to run away for three years...! You didn't have to let me think you were d-dead!"
Red's head tipped back and he closed his eyes. The guilt that gripped him was an icy claw digging into his ribs, a great weight crushing his chest and filling him with grief. To think that he'd made her worry this much...but he supposed his mother had always cared about him in such a way. She'd always given him the support he needed. It didn't help that he'd thrown away his phone on his way up Mount Silver.
"We're having a party tomorrow so that everyone you made worry can see you and know for themselves that you're still alive. Ugh. My idiot son." She pulled herself away from him, wiping her face with the back of her hands and sniffing loudly. She moved to turn away but found herself staring up at her boy again. How he'd grown since he left. It was astounding and painful for her to see...he could see it written all over her face. Tears welling up in her eyes once more as her hands came up to cup her face. "My baby boy...I'm so glad you're back..."
Her lip quivered...and she turned away to start making calls. Red looked away, mostly ashamed of himself for his actions. It was a mother's job to make one feel guilty about things...but in this case, he deserved to feel guilty, he thought. His actions had been selfish but necessary in order to keep his sanity in check. After a hot shower, he entered his room, just how he left it. Which was even more sad for him, honestly. The fact that she had kept it just how he left it just added more fuel to the fire of his guilt.
He felt more human after a shower and cleaning himself up. Then, as he dropped down onto the bed, he let out a long, heavy sigh...and before long, sleep took him. And he slept for a long time. For nearly twenty four hours, in fact. He awoke to his mother rapidly knocking on his door and bursting in, a frazzled look on her face...and then a sigh of relief came from her. Perhaps she was just making sure he was still there?
"Honey, I know you're tired and I'm happy to have you back, but would you mind getting cleaned up? Everyone will be here soon."
"Ugh...sure." He was still half asleep, disoriented from how long he'd slept. He felt as though he'd only taken a nap considering he looked at the clock and it was only about an hour after he'd fallen asleep last. Hell...was that right? He rose from his bed, shaking his head and running his fingers through his hair with a groan. Once he got downstairs, he found Pikachu running around and helping his mom with some preparations, though that mostly just included taste-testing things and setting things in specific places.
"Well, well, look what the cat dragged in! It's about time you got out of bed."
The voice caused his breath to hitch in his throat, that old feeling of guilt coming back as he turned to see Green standing there. But he...didn't look mad or anything. He actually looked happy to see Red. That was confusing for him. "Green? You're--"
"He's been here since early this morning. He wanted to help me set up for the party, dear! Green has been very excited to see you again. He was one of the ones that wouldn't stop looking for you when you...when you disappeared."
Red's eyes never left Green, who furrowed his brow and looked off to the side, arms crossing over his chest. "Yeah, well...back then it was just 'cause I didn't want him thinkin' he could just walk away from his responsibilities. And I'm not gonna pretend like I know what you were goin' through...but I am glad you're safe, pal. I may not be a Champion, bt I am the gym leader over at the Viridian Gym if you wanna come try your hand at taking my badge sometime. I promise that my pokemon and I have just gotten stronger!"
Green was...totally different. He'd changed for the better. It was...surreal to see him so accepting and laidback. The attitude was still there but it wasn't necessarily a bad thing. Green had really searched for him for so long? That was...oddly touching. "You're not mad?"
That drew a 'tsk' from his rival, who moved slowly over to him, curled his hand into a fist and socked him right in the shoulder. A jolt of pain shot through him and Red grimaced, bringing a hand up to rub the spot where he'd been punched. Yeah. He deserved that. "Of course I'm mad, you idiot! You're lucky you didn't show your face two years ago otherwise I would've really walloped ya! I'm pretty much over it now though. I invited the other gym leaders so you might see some of them too." An arm hooked around Red's neck this time, a playful squeeze being given as Green laughed. "I'm sure all of 'em will be happy to see you too!"
He couldn't get over this. After three years at him this situation felt so...alien. So different. He wasn't sure what to do. What to say. He'd missed so much. Green was a gym leader now. He couldn't wait to see Brock, Misty, and the others that he'd met along his journey. "...Thanks." It was really all he could say. He was at a loss for words.
That night, it had been a night full of memories. Full of good feelings, despite the guilt of having made the people who cared about him worry. He was still a registered trainer with the Pokemon League because Professor Oak had refused to let them remove him, despite having not heard from him in years. So he would be able to continue traveling, even getting his Pokedex upgraded...just for the heck of it.
That night reminded him of exactly why he became a pokemon trainer.
There wasn't as much sleep had that night. It was a lot of debating with himself. Thinking about what he wanted to do next. The internal struggle was definitely real in that moment. After thinking about it almost all night, he got a bit of sleep and then headed downstairs, finding a couple of the gym leaders who had partied a little too hard draped across the various furniture there. A smile drifted across his lips as he looked around at them all and nodded his head gently. Silently, Red moved out the front door, having left a note on his bed for his mom to find.
Sorry, but you know I've never been able to sit still for long. I've missed a lot over the years. I'm going to head out there again. See what I can see. Don't worry. This time I'm not cutting off all communication. And I've got Char with me so I can come and see you anytime you want me around. I'm never as far away as you think I am. I'll get a new phone today so you can call me.
I'm gonna go see the world so I'll bring you lots of souvenirs back. If you ask nicely, I might even take you along when I go to Alola. Thanks for the party last night. I know you wouldn't have let me leave if I'd waited till you woke up. Just don't forget that I love you, alright?