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one.

 

 

‘Champion Leon, congratulations on yet another victory! How are you feeling right now?’

The Leon projected on the television screen is standing in front of a wall emblazoned with the World Championship Tournament logo. Camera flashes go off at impossible speeds, but Leon is hardly phased by the bright lights strobing in his face. If anything, it makes him grin harder as he waves to the press.

He turns to the interviewer’s camera and microphone, pumping one fist into the air as he declares, ‘It was an exhilarating battle! Couldn’t you feel it? The audience cheering, the unity when they lost themselves in the heat of our fiery battle! The electric energy when they gasped as one, utterly captivated by their cruel yearnings for either one of us to fall! But of course, I had to put on a good show for everyone in the stands, even if some may have been watching and hoping for an end to my unbeatable winning streak.’

In the corner of the shot, it looks like fifty journalists are fervently jotting down notes as the bold words spew out of the hotshot champion’s mouth. In a further corner, hundreds of phones, held up by an equal number of screaming fans, jostle for dominance. No one’s winning.

The interviewer chuckles. ‘But of course, you proved them wrong once again! Do you have any words for the fans who’ve supported you the whole way?’

Leon grabs the hem of his cape and tosses it back with a flourish, then shoots one hand in the air to give his signature pose. ‘I hope you had a champion time!’

The flash photography goes wild, as do the screams of the fans in the back.

‘The perfect clincher for yet another perfect performance! Thank you, champion Leon! Well folks, that was our post-battle interview with the winner of the World Championship Tournament! Tune in next time for an exclusive scoop with the famed Pokemon League Champion, Lance!’

 

 

/

 

 

Raihan rolls over and rubs his temples, one eye twitching irritably as he squints up at Leon. ‘You,’ he declares, ‘are so obnoxious.’

‘But Raihan,’ Leon whines, trying his best to flash his boyfriend one of his fabulous, winning smiles, ‘I want pancakes.’

Raihan groans and throws himself back under the covers. ‘It’s eight in the morning and it’s cold outside.’

Leon clambers over the boyfriend-shaped lump in the covers and starts shaking him. ‘Come on, breakfast ends at ten-thirty, we have to go now—’

There’s a disgruntled noise from beneath the covers, and Leon stops, briefly, if only to let the lump speak.

‘No.’

Well, if that’s how he wants to play, then so be it. Leon resumes his shaking. ‘There’s a twenty percent off coupon, let’s go—’

‘Make— them— your— self—’

Leon pauses his shaking again. ‘You’re out of sugar,’ he points out.

The lump sounds mildly out of breath when he retorts, ‘Then make some eggs or something.’

Knowing full well that Raihan can’t see his expression (since he’s currently a boyfriend-shaped lump hidden under the covers), Leon puts on his champion smirk and clears his throat. ‘But Raihan, don’t you see?’

The theatrical shift in his tone alone is enough to send the boyfriend-shaped lump into a frenzy, but alas, Leon has him trapped nicely under the covers with nothing but the weight of his own body. A classic battle strategy, really, using your opponent’s own defences against him. If anything, Raihan should know better at this point.

There’s a muffled objection. ‘No, you are not doing this to me at eight in the bloody morning—’

‘The soft fluffiness!’ Leon declares, one hand spread dramatically on his chest and the other thrown out while he firmly secures his position on top of Raihan with nothing but the strength of his thighs. ‘The questionable spongy texture of those perfect, mass-produced, uniform circles!’

One hand successfully shoots out from under the covers, and Raihan begins extricating himself from the knots Leon’s tied him into. ‘Don’t you champion talk me any further, you horse’s arse—’

‘Just think about it,’ he beseeches. This is really coming to him a little too easily, he thinks, a little worried, but he can think on that later. He’s got more important things on his plate right now. ‘The so-called “butter”, which is actually cheap, oily margarine, melting together with the surprisingly decent maple syrup, soaked up by the suspiciously porous pancakes! Imagine that explosion of empty calories in your mouth, so sinful yet so good—’

Raihan’s head pops up, gasping for air. Soon enough, his other arm follows, free from Leon’s trap. With surprising strength for someone who usually refuses to be anything but an overgrown Goomy before noon, Raihan flips them over and quickly rolls Leon into a burrito before he can wreak any more havoc.

Now it’s Raihan sitting on Leon and Leon trapped under the warm, fluffy blankets, but there’s a crazed desperation in Raihan’s bright blue eyes and a pleased, angelic smile on Leon’s face.

‘Can you feel the syrup coating the inside of your mouth? The sickly sweet aftertaste—’

Raihan firmly clamps both hands over Leon’s blabbermouth. ‘If you shut up, I’ll order delivery.’

Leon acquiesces, if only for the McDonald’s pancakes. And the hashbrowns, of course.

 

 

two.

 

 

Raihan’s fans have his posting habits memorised so well, they’ve shared multiple illustrations of his decision trees. It goes a bit like this:

If he ever loses a match, there’ll be a selfie posted within the next hour or so. So far, the average time it takes for him to post after a defeat is thirty-five minutes and twenty-seven point two seconds, but the median is forty-seven minutes and one point one seconds. This discrepancy is due to the fact that on the rare occasion he loses to Gym challengers, he posts almost immediately, with a standard deviation of only ten minutes and fifty-two seconds. However, when he loses to the Galar Champion, there’s radio silence from him for more than an hour, with a standard deviation so large that declaring the variable would be utterly worthless.

His fans have worried for him during those quiet moments, but he’s always bounced back with a cheerful yet reflective caption, so they’ve collectively agreed not to worry too hard about it.

(The conspiracy theorists claim that it’s because he’s too busy engaging in sexual activity with aforementioned Galar Champion, but most of his fandom is decent enough to keep their fan theories out of his real-life personal affairs.)

If he doesn’t have anything battle-related to post for the day, he’ll post a gym (like the actual, workout gym, not his Pokemon gym) mirror selfie around five pm. It’s always a solo shot, so they’ve figured out that it’s some kind of private gym, and that he trains alone. However, these posts almost never occur consecutively— that is to say, if he’d posted a gym selfie yesterday, he won’t be posting another gym selfie today.

Instead, he’ll post a full-body shot that showcases his outfit of the day in one way or another. Sometimes, it’ll be a regular photo of him trying on outfits in a changing room, with a caption like “cop or drop?”, and based on several algorithms created by the more technologically-inclined fans, it would appear that fan votes do actually impact his purchase decisions to a great extent. Armed with that knowledge, they’ve made it their personal mission to steer his fashion sense in a more… tasteful direction, to say the least.

Other times, he’ll be posing together with his Pokemon, either mid-battle in the Wild Area, or playing together at a campsite. No one knows who takes those photos, because they’re clearly not selfies, but a popular headcanon is that his Goodra has an excellent eye for composition and colour theory.

Sometimes, almost like he’s doing it on purpose to ruin the fandom’s perfect theory, he’ll randomly throw in a photo of what he’s eating, just to spice things up. He seems partial to spicy foods, but once in a while he’ll indulge in some sort of bizarre junk food. They’ve managed to at least figure out that these posts show up only when he’s exhausted all other posting formats, so there’s some kind of discernible pattern, at least.

And then some days, like today, he’ll post a photo that only shows a sandstorm, and they all collectively scratch their heads and go wild coming up with new theories about what it could possibly mean.

 

 

/

 

 

‘It’s so— urgh.’ Raihan knows he’s messing up his hair, what with the way he’s grabbing the back of his own head in frustration right now.

Leon pats his back. ‘I have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about,’ he says with a completely straight face, ‘but I want you to know that I support you.’

‘I’ve posted too many food photos lately,’ Raihan complains. ‘How am I supposed to rebuild my cool, pro-battler image now?’

Leon obviously doesn’t get it, the lucky bastard. He probably has people getting paid ridiculous amounts of money to manage his social media for him. ‘How does posting food photos not make you a “cool, pro-battler”? Even the Champion has to eat sometime.’

As if to prove his point, Leon scoops up a forkful of cake and munches down in delight.

They’re seated side-by-side on Leon’s couch, back at his apartment in Wyndon. An opened box of various sliced cakes sits on the low coffee table, their attempt at a café date sans the actual going-out-in-public-together aspect of the date.

(Already, Raihan’s notifications are full of tabloids reporting on a certain Champion’s mysterious appearance at a cake shop, complete with an itemised list of each and every cake sitting in the little box on their coffee table, including allergy information of all things.

He ignores them. The public and media have always been too-nosy and too-intrusive for Raihan’s liking, which is, ironically, why he likes being active on social media so much. It’s sinfully satisfying to wrest back control of his image, and even more satisfying to know that there’s nothing anyone can do to change what he’s chosen to make public to the world.)

With great vehemence, Raihan chomps down on the large chunk of strawberry shortcake floating in front of his face. The cake is delicious. Leon’s taste in expensive things is as impeccable as always.

Leon tugs the fork out of Raihan’s mouth and starts prodding at the edges of his downturned lips. ‘Is it really that big a deal? Why don’t you just, I dunno, let someone else handle your stuff for a while?’

Raihan swallows and licks the cream off his lips. ‘I like running my own accounts,’ he says quietly. ‘It’s just… harder than I thought it’d be, that’s all.’

Another notification pops up on his screen.

daverybest commented: lol whens the “strongest gym leader in galar” gn get off his lazy ass and train? no way he’s gn beat leon anytime soon if he keeps eating crap and getting fat smh

Raihan’s hand shoots out to cover the incriminating message and turn off the display, but it’s too late. When he chances a glance at Leon, he’s already frowning and pulling out his own phone.

‘H-hey,’ Raihan laughs nervously, ‘you’re not gonna take that seriously, are you? Come on, you can’t seriously think I care about that, I get rubbish like that every day—’

‘I know,’ Leon says serenely. He’s logging into the social media app that Raihan’s most active on.

That’s weird. ‘Huh, since when did they let you use your own social media?’

‘They don’t,’ Leon says, still in that same eerily serene tone.

A strange mixture of dread and curiosity pools in Raihan’s chest, but Leon refuses to let him peer over his shoulder, no matter how much he tries. Eventually, Raihan gives in and backs down (like always) and Leon triumphantly scrolls down and taps away on his screen, snickering to himself all the while.

Another notification shows up on Raihan’s phone.

raileon_2411 replied to daverybest’s comment: big words for a normie who can’t even beat milo lolololol get rekt pleb

Raihan stares at Leon blankly. His boyfriend looks disproportionately pleased with himself. ‘No.’

‘No what?’ Leon says, fluttering his eyelashes like a dolt.

Raihan is this close to exploding. ‘What kind of username is that?!’

Leon won’t stop making that stupid face. ‘Can’t be mine. I’m not allowed on social media, remember?’

‘I can’t believe— You—’

A barrage of supportive comments flies past both their screens, and soon enough, their phones are abuzz in an all-out flame war.

Leon’s movements are suspiciously practiced when he turns off notifications for the app, and then he has the gall to reach for Raihan’s own phone and turn his off as well. With the same satisfied smirk as the cat who got the cream, he picks up the fork and shovels another large scoop of cake into his boyfriend’s gaping mouth before physically clamping Raihan’s bottom jaw shut.

Raihan chews and accepts his fate, because there’s no recovering from any of that.

Leon stands up and stretches, like it’s all in a day’s work to him. ‘Want some more tea?’

 

 

three.

 

 

You won’t believe who Hammerlocke Gym Leader Raihan was spotted TOUCHING INAPPROPRIATELY!

BY TERRY BELLMANN FOR DAILY MAIL GALAR
PUBLISHED: 23:02 GMT, 17 January XXXX | UPDATED: 22:35 GMT, 18 January XXXX

Hammerlocke Gym Leader Raihan, 21, has sparked rumours that he’s back on the prowl in Galar’s dating scene.

One of the hottest bachelors on the market, Raihan was spotted on a mystery date with an unidentified girl outside the famous five-star hotel, Rose of the Rondelands.

The hunk looked dapper in his signature Gym outfit as he left the hotel with the brunette beauty by his side, quite literally.

The girl, who looked to be no older than twenty, had dressed to impress for their date in a little black dress and tasteful silver jewellery.

The beauty sported sleek raven locks and shimmering bronzed make-up, which must have helped her win the heart of the most eligible bachelor in Galar.

The lovebirds looked smitten as they left the hotel, with the Hammerlocke Gym Leader holding his companion tight by his side and his companion grabbing the front of his shirt.

We reached out to a source close to Raihan for comment.

‘It’s probably nothing…  he goes through girls like Poké Balls on a Dynamax Raid.”

This is not the first time the beau has been spotted emerging from hotels with lady friends.

Only time will tell whether this relationship survives Raihan’s playboy tendencies.

Share or comment on this article: You won’t believe who Hammerlocke Gym Leader Raihan was spotted TOUCHING INAPPROPRIATELY! (7194 comments)

 

 

/

 

 

Leon puts his phone down. ‘That’s… new,’ he says slowly.

Raihan glares at him. ‘Poké Balls on a Dynamax Raid? Really?’

He looks so very guilty. ‘I didn’t think they’d take it that far out of context—’

What context?’ Raihan demands. ‘In what world is me going through girls like Poké Balls on a Dynamax Raid a good thing? Scratch that, how’d you even manage to come up with that comparison?’

‘First off, I said it was nothing scandalous, because, you know, I was actually there when you were helping her out—’

‘Yes, so why didn’t you just say that I was helping her get away from some creeps—’

‘I did!’ Leon says indignantly, but the heat behind Raihan’s glare has him shrinking and throwing both hands up in surrender. ‘But they kept pressing me for more, and I couldn’t get away fast enough— you know how crowded the lifts in Rose Tower get— and they started asking how I knew so much about you so I panicked and said that it’d be ridiculous if the rumours were true, because that’d mean—’

‘No,’ Raihan says, horror sinking in as the truth dawns on him.

This is where it all starts to go wrong.

Leon looks absolutely wretched, but the twinge of sympathy inside Raihan only serves to add fuel to the weird fire building inside him. There’s a part of him that knows that he’s overreacting, but he’s just so—

‘I’m sorry,’ Leon says. ‘I don’t know what I was thinking. I don’t think I was.’

Raihan struggles to keep a lid on the mix of emotions (anger, hurt, exhaustion, betrayal, Leon of all people should know better, how could he do this—) rising in his chest, but there are only so many ways this conversation can end non-fatally for their relationship. He’s angry at the tabloids, yes, but he’s disappointed in Leon, and that’s far more devastating than any careless anger could ever be.

After a long silence, Raihan speaks at last. ‘Battle me.’

There’s genuine fear in Leon’s eyes, and the cruellest parts of Raihan relish in it. ‘What?’

‘Battle me,’ he repeats forcefully.

Raihan knows Leon doesn’t want to fight, but Raihan won’t speak to him until he does. So he watches Leon’s inner turmoil, observing his stormy expression with as much emotional distance as a meteorologist.

Leon’s eyes stay bright and clear, even if there’s fear-and-sadness in them when he turns to face Raihan and says, ‘Okay.’

They leave for Wyndon Stadium separately, Raihan slamming the door behind him when he goes.

By the time Leon arrives, Raihan’s already waiting for him on the pitch, both hands balled in fists in his pockets.

Leon reaches back for a Poké Ball, fingers brushing over the glossy surface, but he doesn’t grab hold of it yet. ‘Are you sure about this?’ His voice is so quiet, so unlike him.

Raihan responds by sending out his Goodra. ‘Let’s get this over with already.’

Leon pulls his cap low so that it hides his eyes, then throws out his Dragapult.

Goodra coos at Dragapult across the field. The ghostly dragon grunts in response, but his eyes curve up into a happy expression.

‘Hydro Pump,’ Raihan orders.

Goodra hesitates, looking between the unusually-laconic Raihan, the obviously-distraught Leon and the equally-confused Dragapult, who’s also begun to take stock of their situation. He’s looking back and forth between Raihan and Leon with wide eyes, and the Dreepy on his head are nervously chittering away.

‘Do it,’ Raihan says again, more firmly this time.

Goodra cries out, waving her little stubby arms in concern.

Over on the other side of the field, Raihan hears Leon dully tell his Dragapult, ‘Use Dragon Breath.’

Instead, the Dragapult lazily floats over to Leon and wraps his translucent tail around his neck like a comforting scarf. He nuzzles the Champion’s face and closes his eyes.

There’s a small, sad smile on Leon’s face as he murmurs something to his Dragapult, who shakes his head and drifts slightly higher to plonk his chin on Leon’s cap.

Goodra keeps waving her arms and yelling in her deep, haunting cry. Raihan doesn’t speak Goodra, but he gets the idea.

‘You really won’t fight?’ he asks, frowning.

Goodra glares at him with more animosity than he ever knew the gentle Pokémon could possess.

‘Fine,’ Raihan bites out, ‘I’ll just switch to someone who will— Hey!’

At some point, the gooey dragon had stormed over in front of him. While he’d been speaking, she had marched right behind him and, with a stubbornness that she could only have learned from Leon, unleashed her Hydro Pump right into Raihan’s back.

Which is how he found himself being propelled across the field at top speed.

He only gets a second to see Leon and Dragapult staring at him with the same wide-eyed, horrified expression before Dragapult turns off his tangibility, shooting upward like a missile, and Raihan crashes right into Leon’s chest.

The two humans are sent flying a good distance, bouncing on the pitch at least twice before rolling to a stop.

When Raihan regains control over his senses, he realises that Leon’s holding on to him tight, shielding his head from any impact by pressing Raihan’s face into his chest and wrapping around the rest of him with his arms.

‘Are you okay?’ Leon asks breathlessly, the wind knocked out of him.

They’re both soaked, so Raihan’s not sure what the wetness on his face means.

‘I’m sorry,’ Raihan mumbles. ‘I was so angry, I just—’

‘Are you okay?’ Leon repeats, looking down with nothing but concern scrawled all over his features.

And just like that, Raihan shatters.

 

 

four.

 

 

‘We’re live on air with the Champ— sorry, ex-Champ, I’m too used to saying Champion, wow that’s gonna take some getting used to huh— ex-Champ Leon!’

A deep, rich laugh. ‘Just Leon’s fine.’

‘Good evening, Leon!’

‘And a wonderful evening to you, Alan.’

‘Champ— sorry, ex-Champion Leon, thank you for your time, it is appreciated. I know there have been endless interviews about that astonishing battle, but I don’t want to talk to you about that.’

An intrigued chuckle, two beats too late. ‘Oh?’

‘Well, no, to be honest, I’m hoping to address that later, but this is the here and now and I don’t know whether you know it yet— I certainly,’ the interviewer laughs, ‘I certainly wouldn’t, no— but I’d like to ask about your future plans? Or, no, how about now? What have you been up to these days?’

Leon’s voice gets softer, then louder again, like he’s getting comfortable in his seat and then leaning back in to the studio mic. ‘What have I been up to, huh? To be honest, and I don’t mean to bore you or the lovely audience that’s tuning in, I haven’t been doing too much that’s different. There’s the work involved with handing over the title to the new Champion, and the work running Rose Tower now that, well…’

The interviewer picks up the trail immediately. ‘Is it difficult, going from— I mean, none of us really know the work that goes into being Champion, and it’s only been three days since your historical loss, but—’

‘Oh, you know, the hardest part of waking up these days is figuring out a new catchphrase!’

They both laugh.

‘So, tell us more about yourself. Who is the Leon underneath the champion’s cape? I know there are listeners out there absolutely dying to know.’

Leon hums. ‘Well, I still train every day, of course. And I still make sure that Galar’s running in tip-top shape. And I still go camping and cooking curry with friends. Actually, one thing that has changed is that I have a little more time to spend with my loved ones now.’

‘Oh yes, how’s your little brother doing?’

Leon laughs, and this time there’s something genuinely warm in his voice. ‘Oh, you know. Every day he still asks for a battle, and every day it gets a little harder to beat him. Did you see his matches during the championship tournament? That boy really is my little brother.’

‘Do you think he’s got a shot at taking the title back then? Y’know, like some kind of family tradition?’ The interviewer laughs, and Leon laughs, too.

‘No, no such luck, I’m afraid. I hear he wants to be a researcher. But it’s good that Hop has dreams of his own. Besides, the new Champ’s gonna give him a real run for his money. I should know, I endorsed them myself.’

The interviewer takes over, sliding into a voice that’s obviously reading from a prepared script. ‘We’re now on air with the ex-Champion— hey, I got it right this time— Leon! After the next song, we’ll be delving more into his thoughts about the new Champion, and more about his plans for the future in this exclusive interview. We’ll be right back after the break, stay tuned!’

 

 

/

 

 

Leon stumbles home.

Raihan is there. He’s there when Leon crashes through the doorway, he’s there when Leon sinks to the floor, he’s there when Leon’s legs fold under him and refuse to move another step.

Raihan might push Leon to greater heights, but he’s not pushy. No, not Raihan, never. ‘C’mon,’ he says. ‘Let’s get you into the bath.’ His voice is so familiar, but it sounds like he’s speaking to him underwater.

Leon’s sitting naked in the cold bathtub, hot water streaming down his back. Raihan sits on a stool in front of the bathtub, sleeves of his t-shirt rolled up. He’s wearing his gym shorts. Leon vaguely recalls that he’d been at the gym today, doing whatever it is that successful, powerful, respected gym leaders do best.

There are long, gentle fingers massaging shampoo into his scalp in circles, running through the lengths of his long, purple hair. Raihan’s telling him about his day. Leon listens to the sound of his voice and closes his eyes, losing himself in it. He doesn’t listen to the words. He can’t, not right now.

(not yet.)

Raihan’s rubbing a towel over his wet hair, again in gentle, soothing circles. His hair smells clean, like a meadow of flowers. His skin is clean. He doesn’t remember getting clean or getting out of the bath. He doesn’t even remember getting into the bath. It doesn’t matter, Raihan’s hands are gentle and warm, and they guide him out of the bathroom.

They’re curled up together in Leon’s big, king-sized bed.

‘I lost,’ Leon feels himself say.

‘Mhm.’ Raihan holds him closer, tucking Leon’s head under his chin.

‘I could’ve done better.’

Raihan hugs him tighter. ‘You did your best.’

‘But it wasn’t enough. But I knew this would happen.’

‘Knowing something will happen doesn’t make it any easier,’ Raihan points out.

Leon falls silent. Raihan’s lost to him for ten years. Ten consecutive years. But he’s never fallen apart, not like this, so why is he so weak

‘Stop thinking,’ Raihan says. ‘Let’s go watch a movie.’

Leon grabs the front of Raihan’s thin t-shirt.

‘We don’t have to go out,’ he assures. ‘I’ll just put something on the telly. You wanna watch that movie where a Tyranitar goes on a rampage against a whole bunch of Duraludons? I’m sure it’ll cheer you right up.’

They’re seated on Leon’s couch, Leon curled up in Raihan’s lap and Raihan with his arms spread lazily over the back of the couch. Somehow, Leon manages to follow the story. Somehow.

‘Why’s the Tyranitar so… big?’

‘Energy bomb testing, apparently.’ Raihan strokes the skin under Leon’s ear, right by his neck. His hands are warm and surprisingly smooth.

‘Is that… a love triangle between the old guy’s daughter, the scientist with morals, and the dumb soldier guy?’

‘Yep.’

‘That’s so dumb.’

‘Yep.’

‘Thank you for everything.’

Raihan leans down to kiss Leon’s temple. ‘I’m here,’ he promises, and Leon closes his eyes.

His dreams are peaceful, if only for tonight.

Even so, that’s still a start, and it’s better than nothing.

 

 

five.

 

 

The video starts with Raihan and Leon in casual outfits, seated on hard plastic chairs against a pure white backdrop.

Raihan grins at the camera. ‘Hey, it’s the great Raihan—’

Leon makes a show of rolling his eyes, but still smiles when he says, ‘—and your favourite champion in all but name, Leon—’

‘—and we’re here to do our autocomplete interviews!’ Raihan cheers and whoops.

The camera cuts to a plain white graphic explaining that autocomplete suggests the most common searches on the internet, and that today the two pro-battlers will be answering these questions as fielded by the team behind the video.

When the video continues, Leon and Raihan are sitting facing each other, close enough to be friendly but not close enough to touch. Raihan’s holding up a board with a bunch of autocomplete suggestions hidden behind white tape.

He’s looking down at the board, perplexed. ‘So I just— pull?’

Leon leans forward. ‘Yeah, I think—’ He reaches forward and peels one strip of tape off.

‘What is Champion Leon type?’ Raihan reads.

‘Huh? Like, my Pokémon team?’

Raihan scratches his head. ‘Yeah, I guess that’s what they’d be getting at, wouldn’t it—’

‘Well, I am— or, I was a Champion, so it’s not like I had to limit myself to one particular type, but I’m really more about what gets the crowd going, you know? Gotta get that blood pumping somehow. And these days, in the Battle Tower—’

‘Which you should all,’ Raihan looks into the camera pointedly, ‘visit, by the way—’

‘Yes, yes, of course— But like I was saying, in the Battle Tower it’s all about different strategies and teams, and while it would certainly make a fun challenge to use just one type of Pokémon, it might be a little hard to progress at the higher levels, but I’d encourage anyone to just try.’

Raihan tears another strip of white tape off. ‘What age is Leon?’

‘I’m twenty-one this year—’

‘Are you?’ Raihan sounds politely surprised, then sneaks a glance at the camera and adds, ‘Much, much older than me—'

Leon laughs. ‘Don’t listen to him, he’s the older one— Next one, who is Leon brother— That one’s easy, it’s my boy Hop—'

They get through two more boards worth of Leon’s questions, and then it’s Raihan’s turn.

Leon rips the tape off gleefully.

‘You really like doing that, huh,’ Raihan comments. ‘Wouldn’t have expected that of the champion.’

‘What Raihan height,’ Leon reads, enunciating every word.

‘Over two hundred centimetres— that’s six foot six to those of you who use the wrong measuring system—’

Leon tears another piece of tape off before Raihan can say anything more offensive. ‘Who is Raihan dating?’

‘Believe it or not,’ he says pointedly, ‘I’m not as popular with the ladies as you all might expect—’

‘I’m sure he’s just being modest,’ Leon assures the camera.

Raihan snorts. ‘Me? Modest? Yeah right.’

‘Well, no rival of mine should be anything but perfect boyfriend material, so maybe you should get a move on and do something about that.’

‘Nope, no thank you, next!’

Leon rips the tape with aplomb. ‘Is Raihan related to Pokémon League Lance?’

Raihan stares at the board. ‘What?’

‘Is Raihan related—’

‘No, I heard you, just… What?’

Leon shrugs, ‘I don’t know, maybe you look alike?’

Raihan makes a face. ‘No, there’s no way anyone thinks that— But I will say, he has trained at my Gym before.’

‘Ah yeah, he did mention that, huh?’

Raihan looks at Leon. ‘Did he?’

‘Yeah, at the end of the World Championship Tournament that one time—’

‘Huh, I didn’t know that.’

They get through two more boards of Raihan’s questions, and then the video cuts to a shot of Raihan and Leon facing forward at the cameras.

‘Well, we’re out of time, sorry.’ Raihan shrugs, reaching down out of the frame to pull up a cup of tea.

Leon smiles. ‘But we had a lovely time, thank you!’

Raihan raises his cup in a toast. ‘Be sure to check out the Battle Tower in Wyndon!’

 

 

/

 

 

‘You,’ Raihan sighs, ‘are the most insufferable git I’ve ever met.’

Leon smiles winningly. ‘So you’ll do the laundry?’

Raihan stomps over to the laundry room, his hands thrown in the air. ‘And no one will ever believe me if I said the Leon gets too lazy to do his own laundry.’

‘I’m a busy man!’ Leon yells. ‘And could you do the dishes too?’

Raihan throws a glare back over his shoulder. ‘This is your house, and I’m your guest.’

‘I did your dishes last time,’ Leon points out. He really is busy grooming Dragapult, anyway, and going by the way the ghostly dragon has his tail wrapped around Leon’s neck, he’s certain that his Pokémon would rather choke him than let him go.

He scratches his adorable little missile launcher behind the ears. Dragapult coos, eyes closed in bliss.

He hears the sound of a Poké Ball opening and looks over. Goodra’s let herself out. She’s plodding up to Leon with her big, innocent eyes.

Leon watches the entrance to his room. No Raihan in sight. ‘Alright, coast is clear, come here.’

Goodra cries excitedly and snuggles right up to Leon’s side. Leon pats her head, rubbing her antenna-horns just the way she likes it.

‘Aren’t you a cutie,’ he murmurs, and she snuggles in closer.

‘So this is why I have a traitor in my midst.’

In a flash, both Leon and Goodra turn to find Raihan standing in the doorway with his arms crossed. Leon’s full basket of laundry has been left abandoned on the floor.

Goodra slowly inches away from Leon, desperately patting the ground in search of her Poké Ball.

‘Look,’ Leon says slowly, ‘don’t get mad, but I think I might be the real Dragon Tamer in this relationship—'

‘First you take my Goodra,’ Raihan says, shaking his head, ‘and now you want my title? What’s next, my Gym?’

Leon actually starts to consider it. ‘Hm, I suppose I could do with a new pet project—’

‘No.’ Raihan puts his foot down immediately. ‘Take a proper vacation, you chronic workaholic.’

There’s a bright red flash, and Goodra mysteriously vanishes into her Poké Ball.

Dragapult cracks one eye open and snorts.

Raihan stares at him. ‘Yeah? What’s so funny?’

He closes his eyes and turns away.

Leon taps the side of Dragapult’s head. ‘Play nice,’ he chides.

Dragapult grunts.

Raihan looks very cross. ‘Do your own laundry, Dragon Tamer.’ He turns on his heel and moves in the general direction of the kitchen.

Leon escapes from Dragapult’s grip and runs after him. ‘Wait, I was just kidding, do my laundry, please—’

Dragapult sighs. His dads are so stupid.