I'm sorry again for the delay. This fic is not on hiatus but stuff happened and it's affecting my health (physical and mental) and my sanity so I need to lay down for a while, so,,,,,yeah,,,,,I apologize for the delay...
[If you see me excessively posting about franticshipping, that's how I try to keep my sanity sdjfkds]
I admit the last chapter ended with a cliffhanger and I can't promise there won't be another one, so, yeah, I apologize for that. ^^;
Since this hasn't been updated for a while, here's what happened last chapter in case people have forgotten (because I tend to forget a lot of things jsfkd):
Ruby had a bad feeling about this. He wanted to escape but he'd just engage himself in a battle he didn't want to participate. Taking a deep breath, he popped the horn open as puffs of smokes slowly appeared from it. His eyes widened in shock.
Chapter 11 - Bargains and Consequences
Courtney laughed with her right hand placed in front of her mouth. "You are Norman's son, am I correct?"
Ruby didn't answer; he just continued staring at the memory lighter.
His father seemed to be in some sort of cell with his wrists and his ankles were chained to the wall. There was a woman next to his father too. He could only see her brown hair while darkness shrouded her face. He didn't know who that woman was and what was she doing there with his father, but she needed to be saved as well. No innocent person deserved to stay in prison, after all.
"Maxie needs those feathers. If you want to free your father from our little playground, then go to Lilycove City at eleven in the morning sharp. Don't be late or else your girlfriend and your father will die."
Hearing those felt like he was stabbed in the chest.
His girlfriend? How did she even know about his relationship with Sapphire in the first place?! "W-Wait, I—" Before Ruby could catch her, Courtney threw a smoke bomb on the ground whilst laughing. He gritted his teeth and clenched his left fist, waiting for the smoke to clear and when it did, Courtney was nowhere to be found.
"Dammit!" He dropped the memory lighter and used his left fist to punch the ground. "Ugh!" he groaned with his palms covering his face.
He then sat on the grass as he took a deep breath, in then out, slowly but surely, just to relax his quicksilver heartbeat. What is going on? Why did Maxie have his father locked up in his prison? Why did Maxie want the feathers so badly?
He had to do something, but what would it be? If he didn't show up, Sapphire and his father will die! And if he did show up, Maxie will get the feathers from him! Ugh, He gritted his teeth and held his head, shaking it vigorously. Stop! Stop! STOP!
Ruby snapped out of his trance and turned at his left side. He saw Sapphire running towards him and just seeing her managed to calm his fast pulsation. "S-Sapph..."
"Are ya alright?" Sapphire stopped and crouched down, placing a hand on his shoulder. His facial expression worried her. He looked like he was calm but she could tell it in his eyes that something is bothering him. Should she remind him that she was there to listen or should she just wait for him to open up? "Ruby," she called in an anxious tone and held his hand. "What's wrong?"
Ruby didn't answer, but the tears streaming down his eyes gave it away. Not knowing what else to do, he looked at her with fearful eyes as he weakly squeezed their joint hands. How should he tell her what he just witnessed?
"Ruby?" Sapphire asked in an anxious tone. She placed one hand on his shoulder as she watched his eyes close slowly. "Ruby!"
"WHAT THE HELL?!" Archie screamed, throwing everything off the table from his sight. He slammed his fist on it as one hand traveled on his hair, gripping it. "HOW THE FUCK DID THAT BLONDIE KNOW ABOUT CELEBI? WHO EVEN THE FUCK IS THAT GUY?!"
"Boss," Amber tried to approach Archie but he threw a book towards the bald man (Amber thankfully dodged it), signaling him to not take a step closer. Amber just sighed and backed off.
Emerald tried to approach Archie but Amber placed a hand on the small boy's shoulder, stopping him. The blond boy just bit his lip and watched Archie whack his fist on the table.
"Just so you bloody idiots know," Archie stood up straight, fixing the loose locks of his hair and grabbed his electric cigarette. "No one knew about Celebi. I strictly told everyone to keep it a secret," he stopped to gasp for breath before shoving his vape in his mouth. He scrutinized the four teenagers and Amber. "Who the hell spread the word?"
The room was silent; nobody dared to move nor look at Archie.
Emerald and Amber were staring at the ground while Sapphire was holding a weak Ruby. His right arm was draped around her shoulder while hers was placed on his waist and his chest.
Ruby just cried and passed out earlier; he only woke up when Emerald slapped him. According to Amber, they failed to catch up with that blond guy and he told them that they should just go back to Littleroot. The moment they stepped in the base, however, they heard Archie's cussing.
"No one, huh?" Archie asked and kicked the table with a scowling face, making more mess in the room. They all thought he needed to fix his anger issues.
"I'll be excusing myself," Ruby spoke and removed Sapphire's arm around him. She gave him a look, asking if he was alright to which he responded with a weak smile. Her mouth was set in a hard line, as she bit her lip, and removed her arms around him.
Archie bit his lip and looked at Ruby from head to toe with a creased forehead. He didn't realize that this boy looked absolutely exhausted again. Was it because they failed to get Celebi?
"Sorry to interrupt but," Wally said and had his arms folded across his chest whilst leaning against the wall. His eyes were on Ruby and Sapphire. "If someone told that blonde-haired dude about Celebi, then there must be a traitor."
"You're kidding?" Emerald questioned, looking at Wally. Shock was written all over his face.
Wally shrugged. "Just my hunch. Only this cult knows about Celebi and there's no one else. Someone must have leaked the info."
Archie ran his hands through his face and grunted. "Even if there is a traitor, I can't just risk accusing innocent people."
"Well, I have my suspicions," Wally replied satirically, eyeing Ruby.
Ruby stopped in his tracks before his hand could touch the doorknob. He gave Wally a side glare. He didn't have time for this, but this Wally was getting into his nerves. "What do you want?" he asked bitterly. Wally just chuckled.
"Nothing," the green-haired teenager answered. "I'm just observing you. How did you get here? I heard you're the son of a Gym Leader from Johto. Must be hard following in his footsteps, huh?" Laughter escaped from his lips after that, causing Ruby's blood to boil.
He was fuming with anger at this rate, and the last statement couldn't help but trigger him. He spent his whole life trying to be his own person and not just being known as 'Norman's son' nor his father's shadow. Wally had no right to say such things and laugh at him to boot. If he spoke one more cocky word then he would—
"You know, we would've caught that guy if you bothered to follow us. Just saying."
"That's it!" Ruby shouted angrily. He immediately approached Wally to grab the green-haired boy's collar but Sapphire yelled a "Stop it!" before standing between the two young men. She turned to look at Ruby and placed her hand on his chest, pushing him away from Wally.
"Ruby, that's enough!" Sapphire scolded while gripping his shirt. "We don't have time for this!"
Wally's chortling didn't help, however. "She's riiight," he quipped in a mocking tone, then winked at her, which did nothing but to make Ruby's rage increase immensely. His furious face almost resembled his father's. "Thanks for having a brain, Sapphire. You're a much better company even if—"
"If you flirt with my girlfriend again, I won't hesitate to punch your face!"
Wally dropped his arms and looked at Ruby with a slacked jaw. Did Ruby specifically just stated Sapphire is his girlfriend? How in the world was that even possible?!
Great. Archie sarcastically thought, sighing. "That's enough," he spoke in a calmer tone. "Sapphire, take your boyfriend away from here—while you," He pointed his index finger at the surprised lad behind Sapphire. "Punk, I want you to stay here. You and Ruby shouldn't be in the same room in the first place." He then looked at Sapphire and nodded at her. "Take Ruby out of here before it gets worse."
Sapphire bobbed her head as a response. She grabbed Ruby's hand and took him outside the room, leaving the three men and a bewildered Wally behind.
Archie took a deep breath and shoved his electric cigarette in his mouth. He inhaled another, feeling the warm smoke soothe his throat, and exhaled through his nose and his mouth. Smoke that smelled like crushed Pinap Berries came out from it as it loitered around him. He repeated the process until he placed one hand on the wall, his eyes suddenly took interest in the floor.
Things were suddenly more complicated now.
Not a voice was heard from everyone in the room; all four men were quiet, too busy with their own thoughts.
Archie continued piping his vape like an addict, his body now smelled like smoked Pinap Berries while his lips were slightly burned from the berry's spicy nature. He sighed, standing up straight and forced himself to make eye contact with the green-headed boy.
He hated sulking; it's what he's been doing for weeks now. He kept many secrets, many lies about everything that Maxie did just to protect him from the hate, but this lie he told just to protect two children must be told since it wasn't meant to be kept in the first place. It's the truth, and it's what should be happening; there was nothing he could do about it.
"Listen," Archie said in a grumbling voice. "Wally, what you heard is—"
"Was it true?" Wally asked in a bitter tone. Emerald and Amber couldn't help but stare at the two men.
"What?" Archie asked with a raised eyebrow. He was confused about Wally's question. Or was it the boy's pride preventing him to believe what he just heard?
"Was it true?!" Wally repeated in a demanding tone. He approached Archie and glowered at him, lifting his head in the process to make eye contact with him. "Tell me!" he yelled and grabbed Archie's shirt, balling his fists on it. "What Ruby said: was it true?"
Archie couldn't help but stare at the boy. Why was he hesitating now?
Wally shook him. "You bloody start talking right now, you coward!"
Coward; that's the best word Archie could describe himself. He's nothing but a pussy. He hid in this basement for weeks and weeks all because he couldn't face Maxie and take him down. This kid had the right to call him such a word.
"Wally," Amber tried to approach but Archie slowly shook his head, signaling his right-hand man to stop. Amber understood this and stopped, backing off.
"You tell me something! Speak up! Talk!" Wally tried to vigorously shake Archie again to snap him out of his thoughts but only got to nudge his body. "You bloody speak up right now, coward!"
"I..." Archie tried to speak; he tried to form a paragraph, a sentence, even a word, but he couldn't. His mind was blank and his body was shivering anxiously; he couldn't bear to tell Wally the truth and hurt him.
He felt so stupid. He was determined to tell him the truth earlier but now, he didn't know. What should he say? What could he say? The truth? It sounds risky and he wasn't ready to face the consequences. He didn't want this boy to lose his faith in him.
"Fuck it!" Wally cussed, dropping his hands. He balled his left fist and punched Archie in the gut, hoping to wake up the old man.
Archie's eyes just widened. He looked down and saw a fist in his stomach. How come he couldn't he feel anything?
"I won't leave until you spit a word out of your damn mouth! Do you hear me?! Speak up now!"
Sapphire decided to take Ruby to 'Room 3818' and have a private talk with him. She didn't know why he acted like that but she was anxious about him. This is the first time she had seen Ruby so mad that his aura almost matched his father's. Ruby was hardly angry, and if he was, he would only show it in serious Pokemon battles like the one he had with his father months ago. She knew it had something to do with Wally flirting with her.
She sighed, locking the door behind them, and took Ruby to the bed. She eyed him from head to toe and bit her lip, inhaling. At least he looked calmer now.
"Ruby," she whispered his name while she just watched him sigh and plop on the bed. His arms were spread wide as his now calm yet depressed eyes were staring at the ceiling.
She drew her lower lip between her teeth, as she sat a few inches away from him.
She didn't like this; there was something wrong with him and she could feel it. Would he open up about it after a few moments or did she have to ask him again? She didn't want to sound too desperate nor make him feel that she pushed him to say things.
It was tough. She didn't know what would she do besides gaze at him with the same melancholic eyes.
Should she lay beside him? Hug him? Kiss him? They'd been in a relationship for a year now, but how come she's still hesitating to do those intimate gestures that could possibly help him cheer up? Sure, she may have kissed him a few days ago, but that was because she felt like he didn't deserve to get punched more than once.
Ruby sighed and slowly sat up on the bed. His back was slouching and his eyes were now gazing at the floor. What should he do? What could he do to prevent his own father and his girlfriend from dying?
He hated it that he only had two options. He would either give Maxie the feathers to save his father and the woman he loves, or to face him; there was no in-between with the choices that Courtney provided. He gulped, biting his lip and gripping the fabric of his shorts.
If he was going to be honest with himself, he wanted to go to Lilycove City and just beat the pulp out of Maxie just so he could release his prisoners, but it didn't feel right. It was making him hesitate, but...why?
"R-Ruby," Sapphire stuttered and placed a hand on his chest, causing Ruby to snap out of his trance. His mouth fell slightly as he looked at her with those devastated red eyes.
"Sapphire..." he mumbled her name in a relieved tone. He watched her reach her hands to his cheek. "I..." He was speechless. All he could see was the love, care, and worry in her eyes as she wiped the tears falling from his own.
Wait, he was crying? But, for how long? How come he didn't feel it?
"What's wrong?" Sapphire asked, inching her face closer. Ruby felt her kiss his cheek before leaning her forehead against his with closed eyes. His heart couldn't help but skip a beat. He had never seen her this affectionate before; she was usually the shy one when it came to this. "Remember that ya can tell me anythin'. You don't have to carry all your burdens." She bit her lip and took a deep breath. Her thumb returned to caressing his cheek.
And like a light illuminating a dark room, Ruby knew why he was hesitating. He gulped to quench his dry throat.
Of course, he had to keep his promise. He should keep his promise. He had to let Sapphire know what troubled him, for his fear often clouds his judgment, letting him make the wrong decisions in the first place. He felt bad for almost forgetting it, though. He could have done better.
"You're not alone, Ruby," she added before dropping her hands on his cheeks. She proceeded to bury her head in his chest just to hug him. She felt his fast heartbeat and she couldn't tell if the reason was either he was surprised or anxious. "You're never alone..."
Ruby took a deep breath, his arms slowly wrapped around her waist and pulled her closer.
No more closed doors. No more walls between them; he had to let Sapphire in. He had to speak to her about it. Sapphire is his girlfriend; she is his everything. They were in this together and nothing could ever change that. Besides, it would be another way of showing her that he would never make the same mistake more than once again.
He gritted his teeth while taking another deep breath. He didn't know how he should start, but he knew that Sapphire would understand it. "I was gonna follow you guys, but..." He bit his lip. Just imagining Courtney's offer did nothing but make him apprehensive.
How did she know he got the feathers? Why on earth would her companion take Celebi from them? Why did Maxie want the feathers so badly? He could only conclude that Maxie wanted to go back in time, and he—no—they had to stop Maxie and fix the timeline themselves. They couldn't afford to get their reality ruined again. "Courtney came to bargain."
Sapphire blinked, processing Ruby's words. She removed her face from his chest to look at him. "What?" She suddenly felt the bad side of nostalgia striking her. She had a feeling that Courtney's 'bargain' would cause nothing but disaster.
Ruby nodded and pressed his lips on her forehead, pouring all of his burning emotions for her. "She gave me her memory lighter. My father and a woman were in it. They're chained in Maxie's lair. I don't have it since I dropped it in Petalburg Woods. I have this feeling that we should save them both."
Sapphire nibbled her bottom lip. She had a feeling that this could be a trap, but either way, she had to help Ruby save his father. Even if going in time would fix it, it was still traumatizing to see one's father die in front of them, especially when one could do something to prevent it.
"Courtney told me that I should go to Lilycove City tomorrow to give her the feathers or else my dad a-and you will..." His skin color was pale, as he closed his eyes, hoping to wake up from this nightmare. He didn't want any of them to die, but if he did nothing, they wouldn't hesitate to kill his father and his girlfriend.
"They will kill us..." Sapphire finished while Ruby swiftly opened his eyes. His astonished reaction returned.
"Thank ya for telling me about this," Sapphire muttered and took a quick peck on his lips, surprising him more. "I'm glad you're able to tell me what's buggin' ya."
Ruby closed his mouth and averted his gaze at her. He tried to hide the blush on his cheeks. "I-I don't know what I should do, Sapph. There has to be a way to prevent this from happening. I don't want to give him the feathers, but at the same time, I don't want you and my father to die."
"Ruby," She placed a hand on his chest and gripped his shirt. Her free hand then proceeded to hold his, intertwining their fingers together. "We'll figure it out," She then gave him a weak smile. "Together, we'll figure somethin' out."
Ruby couldn't be more relieved. His anxious expression changed to a determined one. He was ready to fight and face this with Sapphire. Nothing could stop him from doing so. "I can't believe we're saving the world again," he replied as his eyelids drooped. Why does it always have to be them? Could they just have a normal life for once in a while? Then again, neither of this would've happened if he thought this through or talked to Sapphire. He sighed mentally.
The past didn't matter. Like Sapphire told him, he had to accept the things he couldn't change and have the courage to change the things he could. He could still change the present for the better, and he was willing to do everything in his power. He knew he could do it, especially with Sapphire by his side.
"You fucking douche!" Wally shouted and grabbed his notes on the table. He shoved it in his backpack while still wearing an angry face. There was a line on his forehead while his eyebrows were stitching together. His aura was furious and neither Emerald nor Amber tried to calm him down.
"If you're not gonna spit the truth then forget about asking for my help!" He placed his hand on his backpack's handle and draped it over his shoulder. "I won't ever return to this cult unless you speak the truth and nothing but the damn truth!" He gave Archie one last glare before storming out of the room.
The doors smacked the wall but he didn't care. He continued walking away, eyes fixed on the floor. He just couldn't believe what had happened. Sapphire was Ruby's girlfriend? What the fuck happened when she disappeared? It doesn't add up; they barely knew each other. And in his humble opinion, Sapphire was too good for Ruby despite her sudden change in attitude and personality. "Bullshit."
Several minutes after
"Archie!" Sapphire marched into the room, and not a moment later, Ruby entered as well. She stopped to scan the room.
Everything was a mess. There were piles of papers scattered everywhere and berries on the floor. What happened while they were gone?
"What now, princess?" Archie asked, his voice cracking while not making eye contact with her. He was slouched on a chair with his vape in his mouth, piping it like a machine.
Sapphire blinked, trying to process Archie's tone. She was now worried. She wanted to help but she had a feeling Archie would just dismiss it. "Listen, we know where Celebi is."
Archie was silent. Ruby stood beside Sapphire and looked at her while she returned the confused gaze. He bit his lip after a few moments before holding her hand, gesturing her to continue.
Sapphire took a deep breath. "Celebi is in Maxie's hands."
Maxie's name brought Archie back into his senses. "What in the bloody name of Arceus are you talking about?!" he exclaimed, and slowly moved his head to look at Ruby and Sapphire.
"Ya heard us," Sapphire said, squeezing Ruby's hand. "That blond guy is actually Maxie's ally. I don't know why they're so interested in Celebi, but Ruby and I have a hunch."
Archie sighed. He didn't have the energy to socialize after his talk with Wally. "And what would that be, princess?"
Sapphire looked at Ruby, signaling him that it's his turn. He gave her a wink before squeezing her hand. "Maxie's other ally—her name is Courtney—made a bargain with me."
Archie rose an eyebrow. He assumed that they knew the names of those goons all because of that whole 'messed up timeline' thing. He really needed a brief history about it once everything was all over.
"She wants me to give her the feathers in Lilycove tomorrow at eleven, or else they will" he hesitated, but he continued when he felt Sapphire gave his hand a soft press. "...kill my dad a-and...Sapphire."
Archie's eyes widened. It took him a minute to stand up properly. He tried to compose himself by wearing a neutral face but the concern in his eyes gave it away. Maxie had gone mad. No, he was insane, and he must be stopped. But how? According to Wally, they needed the feathers to survive the time vortex; the entire mission may fail without it.
And if Maxie wanted the feathers, there's a chance that he would use Celebi's time travel powers. Why would he even do that? What would he change in the past?
Then, like a bolt of lightning falling from the sky, something inside Archie clicked.
Ten years ago.
"Wouldn't it be nice if I could change something in the past?"
Archie tilted his head and arched an eyebrow. "That's insane, Maxie. Why would you wanna change the past?"
Maxie shrugged and fixed his eyes to the sky. There was a flock of Wingulls flying in the air. The crashing of the ocean waves was enough to make him smile, along with the cool ocean breeze. The two men were laying their backs on Archie's Wailord as they observed the sky. It was their way to avoid their responsibilities from the Pokemon Association.
Maxie took a deep breath. "Pretty sure my life would be better for my mom since my dad's abusing her. Trust me, my dad looks like an honourable man but on the inside." He bit his lip as he squinted his eyes. "He's a monster."
"Ehh," Archie sat up. He was thankful that his best friend was able to tell him about it. He appreciated it but showing that he cares and all that jazz wasn't really his thing. But still, he couldn't help but admire Maxie. His father may be abusive but he still managed to remain as a strong and kind person. He wished he could be like Maxie too. "That's great and all," he started, looking at his left palm. "But you wouldn't be alive if your parents didn't meet, and..."
"And what?" Maxie asked, but Archie shook his head.
"Ah, forget it," Archie faked a laugh. "I thought I had something there but nah, nope. I got nothing else to add."
"I see," Maxie chuckled and sat up as well. He smiled at his friend. "But you're right. It's such a ridiculous concept to go back in time, but it is fascinating."
Archie couldn't help but stare at Maxie. The way he smiled and admired the sky made his stomach flip and his cheeks rosy. He looked so happy and calm, and that alone was making him happy. Honestly, he would be clueless about what he would do without him. "Yeah..."
Archie didn't know what to do; he was scared. He didn't want to face Maxie and take him down for good, but in order to save him, he must. He had to. He needed to save his friend and the man he once loved. He took a deep breath. "Bloody hell," he uttered shakily. "I think I know why he wanted Celebi so bad now..."
Archie is so gay for Maxie in this fic I'm dhgkddf (honestly I'm shipping them more now this is insane sdfks)
But seriously, Ruby TELLING SAPPHIRE STUFF LIKE THAT IS ONE OF THE MANY THINGS I WANNA SEE IN CANON, BUT KUSAKA-SAN SAID NO SO FINE I'LL DO IT MYSELF :D
"Honor!" - Zuko (Avatar: The Last Airbender, 2005)
The original line is supposed to be "like a bolt from the blue" as a TWEWY reference but I'll get a copyright strike. Okay, no this a fanfic but it just doesn't fit, haha but an almost TWEWY reference (love that game T^T)
Yes, I have franticshipping brain rot when editing this and now I know why it took a while because I felt EMOTIONS EVEN IF I WAS STOIC AS A BRICK WHEN WRITING THIS BUT WHY NOW IN MY 2384923582359TH EDIT