The entry to the cave was small, barely big enough for even a scrawny man such as himself to squeeze through. The narrow tunnel inside was empty except for a few expanding puddles of residual rainwater and a few wild Pokemon that called the place home. It was the perfect habitat for most, unlike the poor Pokemon who were displaced from their homes, forced to call alleyways of the man made jungle their homes. The man almost wanted to take pity on the poor creatures, but there was no time to do so. They would have to suffer just a little bit longer. His plans, his dreams, all of that will change the world for the better for both people and Pokemon alike.
But for the time being, there was someone wanting to interfere with the great Maxie's plans.
All Maxie had to do was grab what he wanted from Meteor Falls and then leave. Honestly, such a simple job should have been left to one of his admins. Tabitha has been itching for a good mission for quite some time now and Courtney, well, she would have done anything Maxie requested with no complaint. He most certainly had better things to do than to scavenge around a cave system, but the real question was whether or not he wanted to be doing those things in oppose to scavenging around a cave system. The answer is definitely a no.
Maxie carried himself as a man of dignity. He held his head high no matter the situation. A strand of his red locks was never out of place. Never has anyone associated with Team Magma even seen a wrinkle on his clothes. No one would have ever thought that such a man obtained great joy from having dirt under his nails or the sensation from feeling the cool, ragged touch of rocks on his skin, but he most certainly did. His feelings were nothing less than a paradox. It was thrilling, yet relaxing.
With a simple snap of his fingers, the entrance he emerged from was blocked with a few thick and quickly formed stalagmites. Now, of course he didn't have to do anything to will his powers to work. With a little thought and focus, he could control the earth under his feet to do his bidding. However, where was the fun in that? Even the most stoic of superpowered beings needed to add a little flare to their performances.
Meteor Falls gave off a type of energy that felt absolutely rejuvenating. Maxie was surrounded by his element. However, the roaring sound of the crashing waterfall was able to keep him from becoming completely zen. It felt like it was an annoying reminder that if he was unable to complete the job at hand, his enemy would most certainly take things into his own. Get in, get out, he reminded himself. He would have time to lollygag around in such a beautiful cave system when his plans were complete.
He grabbed one of the Pokeballs from his belt and lazily tossed it in the air. A mighty Camerupt emerged, and despite the fact that he loved his trainer with all of his heart, he looked a little on the grumpy side right now.
"Aw. Did I wake you up, darling?" Maxie cooed and stretched out his hand to pet the beast's head, but Camerupt moved it to avoid contact. So that was a yes.
"Oh, come now. I've given you ample time to rest in your ball. That, and look at where you are. Not every lovely Camerupt gets to see the wonders of Meteor Falls," Maxie said, but his words were falling deaf on the Pokemon's ears. This was the equivalent of taking a six year old to Geosenge Town and complaining that they weren't the least bit interested in looking at a bunch of old rocks. Camerupt gave a huff and began to walk away from his owner and toward a passage close by the waterfall. It was a good thing that the passage was where Maxie wanted to go. Once Camerupt started moving, there was no stopping him. Well, maybe if he made a thick enough wall or sunk his feet into the ground, but Maxie will never use his powers on his Pokemon unless if it benefits them in some way, shape, or form. Hell, that's how he even met his beloved partner to begin with when he was just starting out on his Pokemon journey. A small Numel had managed to get himself stuck between a rock and a harder rock when a ten year old Maxie came strolling around. He didn't have much control over his powers back then, but he was able to manipulate the rocks just enough for the Numel to get out.
It was fun to reminisce on those fond days, especially during times when Camerupt wanted to act like a spoiled brat Maxie had raised him to be. A bowl full of rawst berries will cure Camerupt's foul mood, but that will only happen once they leave the falls.
"I assure you that this is not a waste of your precious nap time," Maxie said now that they were deep into the passage and away from the blaring sound of the waterfall. Now the only immediate annoyance he had to deal with was the tiny drip drops of water running off of the stalactites above. The passage was much darker than the brightly lit entrance of the falls. Maxie was prepared though. He had a satchel of supplies strapped across his torso and he was genius enough to bring a heavy duty flashlight. With a simple switch, the dark passage was lit up with light it probably has never seen before. He caught sight of a few wild Lunatone floating to whatever shadows they could find, and frankly, it wasn't that hard to find it. While the light covered the path that Maxie wanted to follow, the eerie dark shadows filled the rest of the cave. It wasn't scary in the slightest to the great Maxie though. No, he would let Tabitha keep the title of the king of being scared by atmosphere and atmosphere alone.
"You are a wonderful Pokemon in every way, darling, but I believe I know of a way to make you even better. Meteor Falls is known for having various types of space debris and meteorites, hence the name. A meteorite from here may be our ticket to finding the secrets behind mega evolution, and from there, primal evolution." Camerupt huffed again and Maxie placed a hand on his hip. "Don't give me that. If I can figure out the secrets behind mega evolution, well my dear, I will have a keystone and you will have your very own Cameruptite. I'm quite curious to see what your evolution will be like, assuming you will be able to undergo it to begin with."
Camerupt still didn't seem to amused at the idea. Maxie reached out to give the stubborn Pokemon a caring pat, and this time he didn't move away from his owner's touch. "See? You're coming around. At least I didn't stoop so low to steal a meteorite like Tabitha had suggested. That's more of Archie's territory."
The mere name of the rival leader got a huff out of Camerupt, and rightfully so. If it hadn't been for Archie getting in his way, he very well could have awakened Groudon by now. If he had never befriended him at the start of his journey...if he had never developed more intimate feelings toward the man...if he had never started that fight...everything would have been so much different now.
Maxie shook the thoughts from his mind. Focus. The meteorite he wanted as here somewhere. It took plenty of work, but fortunately Maxie's powers as well as Camerupt's assistance didn't make the search too difficult. Rocks were moved with ease. The energy in the cave felt like it was flowing through Maxie's veins. He truly felt powerful, unstoppable even. The earth danced with his command and he didn't feel the least bit tired. If he hadn't already set up his base in Mt. Chimney, he would have set it up here in the middle of Meteor Falls. Archie would never stand a chance against him.
Hours had passed, but it only felt like a few short minutes. Maxie felt the best he ever has while Camerupt was starting to drag. Of course, Maxie was rather oblivious to the creature now that his mind was focused solely on finding the meteorite. Camerupt made a noise and he didn't respond. The Pokemon clearly didn't like that. Camerupt slammed his hooves into the ground, causing a small earthquake, but Maxie was able to stop it with a stomp of his own. He glanced over his shoulder to look at his beloved Pokemon like a mother who knows her child drew on the walls with a permanent marker but doesn't want to face the facts. "Now, now. What's all of that for?" Maxie asked and walked over to Camerupt. He saw the hint of something shimmering in his mouth and raised a curious brow. He knelt down and Camerupt dropped the item in his hand. Maxie shined his light on it and gasped in awe at the sight. The rock was large, yet felt weightless in his grasp. It sparkled when the light of his flashlight hit it, but not in a dazzling way like a gem stone. Rather, the fragments of light were reflected off minuscule spots on the rock's rough surface. The energy emitted from the rock was nothing like Maxie had ever felt before. It was healing, powerful, addicting even.
It was the meteorite he was looking for.
"Camerupt, you're amazing!" he praised and wrapped his arms around the creature's thick neck. Camerupt huffed, but seemed to ease into his owner's embrace. He can be stubborn all he wanted, but there was no doubt that he really liked getting hugs from Maxie almost as much as he liked eating a big bowl of rawst berries. Almost.
Maxie soon released him and gave him a final affectionate pat on the head. "Thank you, darling. Now, you look a bit tired. Would you like to resume your nap?" Maxie already knew the answer to the question, so it came as no surprise when Camerupt nodded his head. "Alright. I suppose you earned it, as well as a bowl of berries when we go back home,' he chuckled and returned his beloved Pokemon back to his ball. As much as he loved Camerupt's company, he knew just how cranky the old Pokemon could get.
Maxie returned the ball to his belt and let out a pleased sigh. He truly was glad that he didn't send Tabitha or Courtney out to do this job for him. This felt like the little break he needed. He hasn't felt this refreshed in quite some time.
"Enjoyin' your playtime, huh?"
The sound of someone's voice made Maxie freeze. He would have jumped a mile if he wasn't the dignified great Maxie. That, and he knew the voice all too well. Like hell he was going to give the other the satisfaction of catching him off guard.
Maxie spun on his heels and turned to look in the direction the voice came from. Even without his light, the bright blue coloring of the other's outrageous swim suit was blinding. However, Maxie would have preferred not to shine light on such a nuisance to begin with.
"What are you doing here, Archie?" he asked impatiently. Archie stood tall and proud, cocky even, as he slowly approached his rival.
"I was just in the neighborhood, y'know. Lucky thing I decided to stop by too. I overheard some nerd in Fallarbor Town that he's been finding some pretty damn powerful meteorites in this place and I decided to check it out myself," he replied casually. "It looks like we had the same idea. Great minds think alike and all that."
Maxie gripped the meteorite tighter in his hand and held it behind his back. There was no doubt in his mind that Archie had already seen it, but it was just instinct for him. His other hand would have joined it if it wasn't too busy holding the flashlight in Archie's direction. "It's more like you copied my idea after stealing some valuable Magma files during our last interaction," Maxie countered. He should just go on and impale the man, but he couldn't do that. He wouldn't do that. The world may have been better off without Archie, but Maxie was better than that.
"If ya left my base alone, then I wouldn't've had to do that, now would I? I ain't about to let some nerd walk all over me and my crew. They're still scrubbin' the shitty Magma graffiti off the walls."
"That was the grunts' idea." Maxie wagged the flashlight toward Archie like a scolding school teacher.
"Whatever. Point is, I think I deserve a lil' somethin' somethin' for having to deal with your stupid shenanigans all the time."
"Oh, whatever do you mean?" Maxie asked, playing dumb as he took a few cautious steps back. The waterfall wasn't an issue this deep into the cave, but there was plenty of moisture that could potentially prove to be perilous. A plan was working its way through his mind, but it was rather fifty fifty as to whether or not it would actually work in his favor.
"Gimme a lil' more credit than that, Max. I've been standin' here long enough to know that Camerupt found the meteorite. Instead of delaying the inevitable, just go on and give it to me so I can get out of your hair. I know you never like to see my pretty face longer than you need to."
Maxie rolled his eyes. The sound of the roaring waterfall was faint in the distance, but now Maxie was beginning to hear another source of running water. He couldn't pinpoint exactly where it was coming from though, at least, not until he felt a drop of water hit the top of his head. "Did you honestly think that approach would work? That I would simply hand over the meteorite to the likes of you without hesitation?"
"Nah, but it was worth a shot. Plus, now I have an excuse to do this!" Archie slammed his fist into the palm of his hand like a mighty hammer coming down on the head of a nail. Thinking quick on his feet, Maxie jumped back, finally hitting the wall of the cave like he wanted. A portion of the rock shot out from the wall, protecting Maxie from the makeshift waterfall. It lasted for only a few seconds, but those few seconds made all the difference. He was trapped while Archie quickly approached him. The water on the ground rose to life. Maxie pushed himself off of the wall right before the water crashed into him. His evasiveness didn't protect him entirely. However, the sudden formation of a stalagmite did.
While Maxie's focus was placed on the frontal attack, he didn't have time to think about his back. A heavy stream of water crashed into his back. The force thrusted him against the stalagmite he previously used for protection. He let out a shout of surprise and pain and dropped the meteorite he was holding so dear. The less important flashlight was also dropped. The light flickered for a moment before deciding to stay on.
He forced the stalagmite back into the ground and made a lunge for the meteorite, but Archie was quicker. Archie scooped it up while Maxie fell on his feet. Before Maxie could even attempt to get back on his feet, a heavy weight was placed on his back, keeping him down on the cool ground. Back when they were younger Maxie tended to like Archie stepping on his back when it was stiff and needed a few knots loosened up, but right now it was humiliating.
"Y'know, that's a good look for ya. Too bad I can't really see ya though." Archie applied a little more pressure to his foot and Maxie had to do everything in his power to keep from shouting out. He clenched his fists and scowled at Archie. The other man lazily tossed the meteorite in the air and easily caught it, mocking him. "Now, I think it's best if ya just stayed down for a while. I got places to be, people to see, all that."
Maxie stayed silent. He wasn't going to give in to defeat that easily. He tried to push himself up, but Archie had more muscles in his leg than Maxie did in his whole body apparently. "See, that ain't what I'm talkin' about here."
"Oh fuck you," Maxie groaned.
Maxie may be at the disadvantage here physically, but this was his element. They were surrounded by everything he loved, well, minus the moisture and the abundance of water. He just needed to focus. Focus on taking Archie down.
A blunt stalagmite emerged from the ground, forcefully hitting Archie in the side. Then another formed, hitting him in the gut. It was enough to get the man off of Maxie and knock him to the ground. Maxie took quick advantage of the few seconds he had before Archie got over his disorientation. The area was dark, but Maxie could still make out his figure. He grabbed his wrists and pinned them up and over his head.
"Hey, hey!" Archie shouted, finally finding the strength to put up a fight once again, but it was a split second too late. The rocks from the cave wall shifted outward and molded themselves around Archie's wrists like it was nothing more than putty at Maxie's control. By the time he could fight back, he was already trapped. He struggled against his restraints, but to no avail.
Maxie let out a soft sigh of relief and stood up. Archie would be subdued for a while, so instead of immediately going for the meteorite, he brushed himself off and picked his flashlight off of the floor.
"You know..." Maxie started with a hint of an amused grin. "That is a nice look for you." He shined the light on Archie. The scowl on his face was harsh, but it was impossible to ignore the faint hint of red on his face. Maxie knelt down beside Archie and tilted his chin up with the crook of his finger. "However, I don't feel like looking at you longer than I need to. I'll be taking that meteorite back now, if you don't mind."
"You'll get it back after I bite your finger off."
"You're lucky I have no intention of gagging you."
"Yeah, because last time I checked that was my job." A mean spirited grin had crossed Archie's face but Maxie looked sincerely unamused.
"Quiet." Maxie reached up to grab the meteorite from Archie's hand, but Archie's grip was practically unbreakable. "Let it go," Maxie ordered.
"Ain't gonna happen, Max."
"You're just delaying the inevitable."
"Well, maybe if you have something other than twigs for arms you would be able to get it out of my hand."
"You are absolutely ridiculous," Maxie groaned and placed the flashlight down. One hand worked on prying away Archie's fingers while the other hand tried to pull the meteorite free. The plan was working even though his concentration was being tests by the back and forth bickering between the two. However, right before he was able to pry it away, cool water wrapped itself around his own wrists. He knew what was coming next and did his best to get away from it, but it seemed like Archie had been practicing with his powers as of late. Freezing something was a long and drawn out process. One in which Archie normally grew impatient and gave up. Now, the water froze instantly around Maxie's wrists and the portion of the wall right above where Archie's own wrists were pinned. The ice felt horrible against his sensitive skin and both of the men knew if there was one thing in the world that Maxie hated most, it was being cold.
"Two can play at this game, Max," Archie laughed and Maxie looked down to glare at him. He didn't even try to struggle against the ice since he knew he wouldn't be able to break it.
"You've been practicing, I see."
"Yep. You can thank Shelly for that. Now, we both know this can end up one of two ways. Either we stay like this an' die here, or we let each other go," Archie said, cutting straight to the point.
"There's only one way I'll release you, and that's if I get my meteorite back."
"So it looks like we're dying, huh?"
"You are impossible."
This was by far the worst predicament Maxie has been in in quite some time. His wrists were burning from the cold and he hasn't been this close to Archie since the establishment of Teams Aqua and Magma. If this were a few years prior, Maxie wouldn't have been complaining that much about being so close. If anything, he would have willingly climbed into Archie's lap and enjoyed his company, but now...he refused to let those feeling shine through again.
Time passed slowly. Neither of the men wanted to be the first to cave. They were either silent or bickering with no in between. However, it felt like Archie got the nicer end of the stick. All he had to do was sit down and hope his arms didn't get tired. Maxie had to prop himself up on his knees, and while he loved rocks, they were murder on his joints. His freezing cold restraints didn't help matters either. His fingers were beginning to go numb and the cold was torturous. He refused to be the first to cave though. He could keep up the brave face for as long as he needed.
However, a few glances toward Archie's face told him that the other wasn't necessarily enjoying this either. He wanted this to be over with and kept on making comments trying to persuade Maxie to give it up first. Like hell that was going to work.
It was hard to say exactly how much time had passed, but finally, Archie said those magical words. "Alright, fine. You can have your dumb meteorite back."
Maxie perked up with interest as well as confusion. Based on how they were going, dying seemed like the more likely outcome for the two. "And what's the catch?"
"You let me go first."
"Absolutely not," Maxie was quick to answer. "You're not trustworthy anymore." Archie looked rather hurt at the accusation, but Maxie didn't care. "Release me first, then I'll release you."
"Fat chance. How 'bout we do this the fairest way possible? On the count of three, we release each other. Fair?"
Maxie was hesitant as he thought, but he finally nodded. "Fair."
On the number, the ice turned to water and the rocks fell off the wall, promptly hitting Archie in the head as they tumbled down. Maxie reached for the meteorite, but Archie pulled his sore arm down to his chest before he could grab it.
Maxie knew the deal was too good to be true, but at least he was out of the icy restraints. Still, his wrists burned and his fingers didn't really want to work. Forming a fist was painful, but his anger was the driving force behind his actions right now. Attempting to elbow Archie proved to be futile. The broad man grabbed his skinny arm and flung him off of his person as if he weighed little to nothing. Archie jumped to his feet, avoiding Maxie's desperate grabs at his ankles.
"Nice try, Maxie!" Archie taunted. Maxie didn't even try to say something witty. There was no point. The only thing he was focused on now was stopping Archie from escaping with the meteorite after pulling a nasty stunt like that. He slammed his fist down on the ground in anger which worked out to his benefit. The ground shook fiercely, making Archie lose his balance and nearly topple over on himself, but he managed to keep on moving out of Maxie's line of sight. Maxie grabbed his flashlight and got back on his feet. An earthquake was a wide range attack, but he needed to know where Archie was for very obvious reasons. He shined the light in the area frantically, trying to find that blue swim suit that was oh so visible only moments ago.
Finally, right before it was too late, he saw the tail end of the suit escape into a different tunnel, one that went deeper into the cave. At least Archie had no idea where he was going.
Maxie had never been much of a runner. Gym class was absolute hell back in the days of his schooling, but he needed to catch up to Archie. Once he entered the new tunnel, rocks and other debris covered the entrance. The tunnel system in Meteor Falls was massive, but at least this was one tunnel he could trap Archie in. The sound of the waterfall was now distant, allowing for the echo of Archie's footsteps to be heard. How he was running through the dark tunnel was a mystery to Maxie. Did he have a flashlight on him? Or maybe even night vision goggles? He didn't know and didn't care. All he cared about was finding Archie and getting his meteorite back.
His search turned out to be a wild zangoose chase. After going through tunnel after tunnel without noting his surroundings, even Maxie became confused about his whereabouts. The only thing he had to go on was the sound of the waterfall, and knowing Archie, that's where he was headed. Moisture grew more and more apparent and finally the sound of the waterfall became deafening once more. There was literally light at the end of the tunnel, so Maxie could only hope the same applied figuratively.
He stepped out and winced at the natural light. His chest heaved up and down as he caught his breath. Looking out he saw nothing but a very active lake, so he put two and two together and figured out that he must have made his way to the top of the waterfall.
He didn't even want to think about how he was going to get down.
He placed the flashlight back in his bag and took a few hesitant steps toward the water. It was hard to say whether Archie was in there or not, waiting for him to get close just to pull him in. It was one of his favorite tricks. It has been since they were kids.
"Archie, I know you're in there!" Maxie shouted. The water was crystal clear, so he was bound to see Archie swimming around in there eventually. For now, all he could see were some water type Pokemon carrying about their uninteresting day.
Maxie bit the bottom of his lip and clenched his fists. Archie had to be in there. He just had to be. The great Maxie's hunch was never wrong. If he caused an earthquake, that really wouldn't hinder Archie in the water. If he went in himself, Archie could grab his ankles and pull him down. Really, there was no good and smart way to go about this.
He let out a deep breath and stepped to the edge of the water. A rock pillar with a flat top formed from under the water, stopping a few inches above the water. While the top was flat, the sides were covered in sharp spikes and ridges. Archie would have to be even more of an idiot than Maxie gives him credit for if he were to get close to that.
One by one, Maxie stepped onto the newly formed pillars until he was out in the middle of the lake. While he forced his mind to stay calm and focused, his body began to shake. He was never fond of the water, and being out in the middle of it so vulnerable like this, well, it made him really nervous.
Those nerves caused him to jump at the sound of Archie's voice.
"Maxie!" Archie called not from the water, but from behind Maxie. He quickly turned to see Archie at the entrance of the tunnel...and obviously not out in the open water.
"What are you doing over there?!" Maxie shouted from his spot. His nerves were starting to get the better of him. Although he could manipulate the earth, the slippery water that came with it was out of his jurisdiction.
"What am I-What're ya doing out there?" Archie shouted back.
"What does it fucking look like? I was looking for you, you dolt!"
Despite his nervousness before, Maxie had been able to make it to where he was now. Now, after seeing that he was wrong and even more vulnerable than before, he was starting to panic. Archie was going to be gone by the time he made it to land again, or worse, he was going to jump in and pull Maxie under. Archie was shouting something, but Maxie didn't hear him. His pulse and the waterfall pounded in his head. He needed to get out of here. He needed to get out before Archie pulled a stunt. The other pillar was only a short step away, but it felt like the longest jump. There was no time to clear his head. Maxie took a step forward, barely making it on to the next stepping pillar without falling.
Unfortunately, he wasn't so lucky with the next one.
The surface was slick and something must have gone wrong with his footing. He slipped and hit the spikes he laid out for his own protection as he tumbled into the active water. He didn't even have much of a chance to hold his breath since he was yelling the whole way down. Salty water entered his mouth, causing him to shut it and cover his mouth with his hands, as if that was going to do him any good.
He needed to get to the surface. He desperately tried to grab on to one of the sides of the pillars, but the current was too strong. It easily pulled him away from where he fell. His panic was in full swing. He needed to get to the surface. He needed to get a gulp of air. He really really needed to punch Archie in his stupid face.
Maxie was able to concentrate just enough to form another pillar, this was much smoother and taller than the others. He grabbed onto it like his life depended on it, and frankly, it really did. It was smooth, but just ridged enough for him to get a nice grip on it. He pulled himself up, taking a deep breath once he broke the surface. Still, it was hard to breathe. His lungs were doing their very best to get the water out of them. He was in pathetic shape and he knew it. Archie was probably standing on the edge, pointing and laughing at him. Maxie would find a way to get his revenge later. For now, he just needed to get air in his lungs again.
A rough hand grabbed his shoulder and Maxie's eyes went wide. Wildly, he swung his arm out to throw Archie off of him. It made contact with the other man, but it didn't shake him off.
"Max, Maxie! Calm down!"
Archie's words didn't process through Maxie's frantic mind. "Get off of me!" Archie continued to try and grab a hold of Maxie but Maxie continued to fight him. Finally, Archie froze one of his wrists to the side of the pillar but Maxie wasn't doing this again. Not in the water, at least. Was Archie trying to murder him? Maxie's mind wasn't working as efficiently as he would have liked. It worked just enough for him to break off part of the pillar to free his wrist at the expense of losing his grip. The current took control of his body again, forcing him below the surface once more.
Between trying to fight the water and trying to fight Archie, Maxie was losing this battle. His vision was starting to grow bleary and his strength was leaving him. However, it wasn't completely gone. He had enough to fight off Archie's advances until the bitter end. The lack of air was really getting to him, but his ultimate downfall came when he conked his head on something. What it was, he wasn't sure. He didn't see. All he knew was that it was enough to make his vision turn black.
Leading a team often created a lot of headaches for even the great Maxie, but he has never felt such extreme pain in his head like now. The pounding started even before he opened his eyes, and it most certainly didn't stop when he was exposed to the soft flickering of the blurry lantern light. He groaned and buried his face in his hands, barely noticing that his glasses weren't on his face. His fingers grazed something on his forehead. It felt soft and kind of sticky. His groggy mind couldn't make heads or tails of what it could be.
"Mornin' sleeping beauty."
Maxie's eyes snapped open.
He turned his head to the direction the voice came from and groaned loudly into his hands when he saw Archie's blurry figure sitting a few feet away from him. Now he was very aware that he wasn't wearing his glasses.
"Still not a mornin' person, huh? Well, I mean, three in the morning is still technically morning."
Maxie's head was pounding too harshly to deal with Archie's ramblings. He let his hands droop down from his face and rest on his chest. He stayed silent, only finding the energy to look at the man.
"I can't really tell if you're squinting or glaring at me," Archie laughed softly.
"A little of both," Maxie mumbled. He tried to sit up, but his energy to do something so strenuous as that hadn't returned to him yet. Besides, he was admittedly a little comfy despite the pain he was in. He glanced down and saw that his coat and turtleneck were no longer on his person. Rather, they were hanging up on the opposite wall. Instead, a soft and silky black shirt laid loosely on his torso. He really wasn't ready to figure out what was going on with his pants situation. All he knew was that he was wearing dry pants, and that was good enough in his book. Normally, all he would have to do was look down to get the answer, but he was bundled up in a warm sleeping back with an extra blanket thrown on top of that.
He stirred a little, trying to figure out exactly what was going on here. When he couldn't do it on his own, he looked to Archie for answers. The man laughed at his expression and scooted a little closer. "I know that we haven't seen eye to eye in a while, but you're still Maxie. What were you expectin'? I steal your shit and then throw you off a waterfall?"
Perhaps, but Maxie couldn't bring himself to say that. Not now, at least. Instead, he stayed quiet while Archie sighed out.
"I was tryin' to get ya out of there, but you were putting up too much of a fight. I finally managed to get ya out right before ya went over. Must've hit your head on something fierce. You had a pretty nasty gash, but you know me. Sharpedo likes to play rough so I gotta keep a few extra bandages on me," he said proudly and patted his own bag.
Maxie let out another groan and pulled the blanket closer to himself. He couldn't remember how he acted and frankly he didn't want to know. "Where are we now?"
"A secret base," Archie replied easily. "There were tons of open spots outside of the falls, so I picked the closest one. It ain't the biggest, but it's enough for the two of us."
"I still hold the throne for finding the largest secret base, huh?"
Archie laughed. "Yeah. Ain't found one bigger than the one in Rustboro." There was a slight pause before he spoke again. "I kinda don't wanna either. That place is special in more ways than one. I mean, we were what? Two awkward sixteen year olds when we found that place?"
"You were sixteen. I was seventeen, mind you."
"You're like a month older than me, shut up. That just meant I got my first kiss before you, ya nerd."
"Oh hush." Maxie managed to prop himself up on his shoulders and from there pushed himself up into a sitting position. He wouldn't have been able to sit up on his own, so leaning on the wall did the trick. He saw Archie extend a hand out to help, but let it drop down to his side since Maxie didn't need it. "And what's all this for?" he asked and gestured to the sleeping bag and blanket before pulling the blanket up to cover him once more.
"You were soakin'. Didn't want your weak ass immune system lose against a cold. Plus, I know you really like turning into a cocoon, ya goddamn blanket hog."
"It's not my fault I'm always cold. You were also always warm. I assumed I was doing you a favor."
"Yeah, well, you assumed wrong."
"There's absolutely nothing I can do about it now."
There was a silence between the two since neither really knew what to say next. The mood in the air was...complicated. Archie was trying to be friendly, but that didn't stop the awkwardness in the air.
Finally, Archie made his move. He held out the meteorite that was previously hidden from the angle Maxie was looking at him and slid it over to Maxie. Puzzled, Maxie looked at it and then hesitantly picked it up. He closely examined it, well, as could as he could do without his glasses, and then looked over at Archie. Before he could ask the obvious question, Archie started to talk.
"I didn't do anything to it, if that's what you're wondering. It's just...You found it. It's yours. Like, I know we're on opposing teams and all, not afraid to steal important shit from each other, but, well, I feel like things went a lil' too far. Besides, I can find my own meteorite," Archie waved off but Maxie continued to look at his curiously.
"Are you...is this your form of an apology?"
"What? No, no," he nervously laughed. "I don't really know what to call it. Just take it, alright?" Archie stood up and grabbed his bag. Maxie's eyes followed him. "So now that you're awake and lookin' like you're good, I think I'll just leave you be."
Before Archie could take a step toward the only exit, large stalagmites covered it. Now it was Archie's turn to look at Maxie curiously.
"Do you honestly think you can get off the hook that easily? You give me my meteorite back and you get to leave while I'm still very much wounded? I think not, Archie Aogiri," Maxie stated, letting a little smile form on his lips. "I appreciate the gesture, I really do, but if you want to clear up whatever guilt your conscience if feeling, you will need to do more than that."
"I'm not feelin' guilty," Archie huffed. "I just have morals, y'know."
"Whatever. Come here." Maxie gestured for Archie to come closer to him. Archie was cautious, but followed suit nonetheless. "Okay, now sit down."
"Max, what're ya-"
"Just do it, Archie."
Archie mumbled something under his breath as he sat down next to Maxie, leaning against the wall with him. "Okay, now what?"
Without much of a warning, Maxie rested against Archie's warm body. Archie was obviously surprised, but he wasn't in much of a position to move out of the way.
"Stay here. You're warm."
"Maxie...what're you doing?"
That was a good question. What was he doing? He had broke any and all positive ties with Archie long ago. Nothing but bad memories plagued his mind, but...he still held on to plenty of good memories as well. Perhaps it was the talk of their old secret base, the one they created for protection against a storm one fateful day, the one they decorated and called their own...the one where Maxie realized he loved Archie. Or perhaps it was the fact that, despite everything, Archie showed signs of still caring for Maxie. He could have killed him. He could have pulled him on land and left him there. He could have done a number of things, but what he did, well, Maxie considered this special treatment.
"When we exit this base, we will go our separate ways and try and forget this ever happened," Maxie started. "You and I both know that such actions are inevitable. However, just this once, I am perfectly okay with forgetting about our lives outside of this base for the time being. I'm much too drained to care right now anyway. So just...don't question it, will you? You've always been one to roll with the punches. Roll with this as well."
Archie was quiet, but his silence was soon ended by soft laughter. Two meaty arms wrapped themselves around Maxie as Archie shifted into a much more comfortable position for the both of them.
"This is the first thing that you've said in a long time that I can agree with. Now rest up. You're gonna need your strength to keep up with the ass beatin' I'm gonna lay down on ya when we get out of here."
"In your dreams, Archie. Now hush. Heaters don't talk."
Whatever Archie said next was too quiet for Maxie to hear. He was curious, but not curious enough to investigate. For the first time in a long time, Maxie was perfectly content with Archie's company. He wasn't looking forward to forgetting about this when they eventually had to leave, so for the time being, he was just going to enjoy this moment and pretend that things were like they were. Teams Aqua and Magma didn't exist. It was just him, Archie, and two big dreams of changing the world.