It was supposed to be relatively simple, a perfect plan really.
Give an Applin to the person you fancy and you two will be together forever. That was the Galarian legend summed up in short.
There were many things that Leon could be oblivious to. His friends and family try to be delicate about the subject, but Leon can read between the lines. He doesn’t particularly disagree all that much either. However, even considering that, there are a few things he knows for sure.
One of them is that he has been utterly gone for his best friend for years now.
He tried to, but he could never find any other explanation for the way his heart squeezed just being looked at by electric blue eyes. The way his mood could instantly always brighten just seeing Raihan happy. It was a no brainer really.
He had been spending a few years thinking of just when and how he was going to confess. With Oleana and Rose constantly keeping him on a consistent schedule he didn’t have much time for that. It had been a good few months since Galar crowned a new Champion and he quickly got sucked back into thinking about it once the world stopped feeling like it was falling out from beneath him.
Most things didn’t seem like enough and everything else seemed like too much. Applin somehow fell perfectly in the middle.
His team had not been very happy to be delegated Applin hunters for a good few days. To be fair he probably should have started out with the fact he was hunting for a shiny one instead of making that known after finally finding a regular Applin in a particularly nasty thunderstorm. Charizard and Haxorus had swiped him good with their tails for that one. But he made sure to pay them back in kind in whatever way worked best for each of them.
(Dragapult hadn’t outright accepted any of his offerings, but Leon was getting the vague feeling that scaring the ever living crap out of him by manifesting whenever he wasn’t expecting it was doing nicely.)
After nearly a week he did have a shiny Applin to show for all of their work though; she was a stubborn thing, rolling her way around the house any which way to get to any sweets she could and butting Leon’s legs in a manner that spoke of wanting to rough house.
Raihan would love her.
The plan was supposed to be relatively simple, a perfect plan really. Easy to pull off without too much trouble.
While Leon was very good at commanding attention wherever he went whether he wanted to or not, having a latent skill like that also meant he was good at the opposite, not attracting attention.
It being an off season of the gym challenge meant that there weren’t likely to be many people in the castle that weren't Raihan or his gym trainers. That made it all the easier to go into Hammerlocke Castle and leave Applin’s pokeball at the front where drop offs for Raihan were often left. Leaving was just as much trouble as coming in had been, which is to say none at all.
The plan was supposed to be relatively simple, a perfect plan really. Easy to pull off without too much trouble. And technically it was!
Yet, as Raihan sat across from him with Applin wiggling around his lap, Leon realized he forgot to do something very important.
He left not a single clue behind as to suggest that the Applin was from him.
Though the vaguely uncomfortable look on Raihan’s face made him think that maybe that little mishap would end up doing more good than harm.
The man had shown up at Leon’s flat unprompted the day after Leon dropped off the Applin and had strode inside for what seemed to be a day of just lounging around Leon’s flat. Raihan had been doing that a lot since the gym season ended.
The two ended up sprawled over the couch leisurely watching whatever was on the telly and making idle chatter. At some point, Leon had left one of his hands free and Raihan had wasted no time in holding it in his own, absentmindedly thumbing circles onto Leon’s hand.
Raihan had also been doing that a lot lately too, and it took all of Leon’s training in self control not to combust on the spot whenever he did.
Hand holding had mostly been a thing of their youth; something Raihan would often do to make sure not to lose sight of Leon. The habit dropped once they aged and both fell more and more into their respective jobs, but evidently, for some reason Leon could not figure out, it was a habit born anew.
“Someone left me an Applin,” Raihan had prompted after the credits on S.S.Cactus had started rolling.
Leon tries to remain casual, to appear not too bothered by the information. “Oh?”
Wrong move apparently. The corners of Raihan’s lips twitch downwards as he releases the aforementioned pokemon. The little critter chirps and proceeds to indulge herself by trying to roll into Raihan’s hoodie to little success. “Aria found her at the front desk when she went out for lunch, apparently. Didn’t see who left it though.”
Leon reaches out to stroke a finger across her shell and is wholly unsurprised when she immediately bats it away with her tail as hard as he can. “Are you going to keep her?”
Raihan’s expression goes a bit complicated at that as he watches the spry Applin play around on his lap. “She’s cute….” He admits somewhat reluctantly.
Leon is wholly unsurprised by the admission, Raihan is and always will be a bit of a nerd for everything dragon.
“But,” Raihan continues. “I’d feel bad keeping her and telling the person no with...ya know..” The man gestures vaguely between the two of them at the end of the sentence and Leon nods and hopes that Raihan cannot hear the sound of his heart shattering with it ringing loud in his ears as it is.
Because while Leon most certainly does not know whatever Raihan is referring to he does know two things.
One is that he is supposed to know about whatever Raihan is talking about, and because he does not want to appear to be a bad friend, he does not admit he has absolutely no idea what Raihan is talking about.
“It’s not like I can really track down whoever left her anyway.”
More importantly is that he knows whatever this thing is, Leon is aware that it would get him rejected whether or not Raihan knew the Applin came from him.
Leon apparently stays silent for a second too long because next thing he knows Raihan is giving him an appraising look. “You’re upset.”
“I’m not.” He is, but it wouldn’t do any good to talk about it here really. Would probably just make everything awkward as hell.
Raihan leans up a bit and his eyebrows crease in a way that speaks of concern, but the curve of his mouth suggests annoyance. It’s hard to tell which one. “You are,” He states a bit more firmly.
Okay. Apparently they were going to talk about this.
Leon resolutely stays silent in spite of acknowledging that.
“Are you upset that I got an Applin?” It seems Raihan is fine to fill in the silence for both of them.
“Are you upset that I’m keeping her?”
Leon whips his head up at that. “No!” He says with a little more force than he’d like. The surprise that quickly shifts into incredulity in Raihan’s eyes at the emotion is to be expected.
“You want me to keep her?”
Crap. “Well it’s just,” Leon flusters a bit. It would look way too obvious if he were to outright say yes. “You already like her quite a bit don’t you?”
Raihan most definitely does, but the look the gym leader gives him now is very blatantly telling Leon that him liking her already is not the point.
And Leon knows it’s not the point, but it’s better to play dumb right now.
Raihan has yet to beat Leon in a battle. Maybe the day would come eventually, but today was not that day. So Raihan huffs out a frustrated breath and leans back, looking a bit contrite.
Leon feels a flash of guilt running through him, as it always does whenever Raihan is upset, whether it's his fault or not. (And this is most definitely his fault.) He has half a mind to press the conversation, but has a feeling that will only serve in getting Raihan even more upset. Instead Leon chooses to engage him about a stone in Kalos that changes the forms of pokemon and can even turn a few, including Charizard, into dragon types.
It’s all too easy to get lost in the topic. Even so Leon feels like he’s missing something.
That night after Raihan leaves, Leon allows himself to fall to pieces. In a way he hadn’t even done when he lost the Champion title. He lets years of what he now knows were delusions crumble into dust.
Because after today, it is pretty clear he won’t be able to be together with Raihan anytime soon, not in the way he’s been dreaming of.
Deep into the night, when it is fully dark outside, and the only light comes from the flame of Charizard’s tail, Leon makes a promise to at least be the best friend he can be for Raihan from here on out.
Because despite everything, Raihan is still his best friend and one of the best things to ever happen to him. He can’t lose that completely.
Leon is failing immensely at the one thing he promised himself already, if the massive frown on Raihan’s face was anything to go by anyway.
Though to be fair Leon does think that Raihan is disproportionately upset.
“What do you mean you’re going to Hoenn?”
They are at Raihan’s flat. It is a little ways on the outskirts of Hammerlocke so that the gym leader can have a yard big enough for his pokemon to roam around.
Leon had been idly scrolling through League battles from the Hoenn champion’s record while Raihan fixed dinner for them and their teams when he had thought to ask the man if he wanted anything from Hoenn in particular. And well…
“I have some ideas about what to do with Rose Tower.”
Raihan rolls his eyes from where he is stirring the pot. “Yes I know. We’ve gone over that before. I don’t see what that has to do with you suddenly going to Hoenn by yourself.”
If Leon didn’t know any better, he’d think Raihan almost sounded a bit petulant.
He leans back in his seat as he watches Raihan “accidently” nudge a berry Applin had been eyeing hard over the edge of the counter. The proud pokemon would never outright ask for it and seeing as she cannot get to the top of the counter herself, that was the next best thing. “There’s a group of facilities in Hoenn called the Battle Frontier. Their owner Scott was kind enough to say yes to my request to take a gander at them to see how they run for my own project.”
“Okay I get that, but for almost three weeks? By yourself ?” Raihan exclaims. And once again, Leon gets the vague sensation creeping up on him that he is missing something.
Leon huffs. “I’ll have Charizard with me. I won’t be entirely lost.”
“That’s not,” Raihan stops stirring the pot to run a hand through his dreads in a nervous habit. Leon would like to be absorbed with how cute the gesture is, if he were not getting more confused by the second. “You didn’t invite me to come with you.” Raihan says at last.
As if it were entirely normal to bring your long time best friend and rival on an almost three week business trip in another region.
As if that wasn’t something along the lines of what couples did.
“I’ll be fine by myself,” Leon tries again. Because he really doesn’t get it. And he also already booked his ticket.
Raihan’s shoulders fall a bit and he shrugs lightly. “We just really haven’t been moving anywhere, which isn’t bad, but...just thought a special trip for the two of us would be nice.”
Leon’s mouth goes a bit dry because there are really only two things that could mean.
They have been friends for a long time. Taking trips together is normal for two people who have been friends as long as they have.
There is, however, the slight, ever so slight chance Raihan means as…
Leon happily lets his brain fizzle out, all too happy to not finish that thought and inspire any flame of hope looking to be lit.
Though Leon still can’t help but think it’s weird for Raihan to be as insistent as he is about this. As someone who is very careful about what he posts about his private life despite how much he shares, Raihan understands boundaries and privacy more than anyone. And yet…
“I’ll bring you back something nice. Don’t look so down mate!”
Raihan looks over at Leon from where he is portioning out food and Leon can see a glint of something in blue eyes, but it’s gone before Leon can identify what it is.
Raihan is soon over by the back door to his yard, calling out to their teams, “Oi you lugs. Get in here, dinner’s ready!” And the chaos of dinner time between them unfolds before Leon can even think to ask what that was about.
Pretty cold to leave your boyfriend on a vacation that long
Leon stares blankly at his phone as the winds blow by while he rides a Corviknight Taxi to Raihan’s flat. His luggage fills up the rest of the space in the taxi and an egg seated firmly in his lap. The egg moves ever so slightly, and small noises come from it every once in a while. Leon had been half scared it would hatch before he wanted it too, but Winona had been quick to assure him that these eggs were just like that.
It is the middle of the day and Leon is tired and jet lagged, but he wanted to give Raihan this egg as soon as he could. They didn’t talk about it much after, but Leon knew Raihan was still a bit upset from the whole Applin thing and his trip to Hoenn and Leon couldn’t help but feel bad about that. He is not too tired to go check on his friend.
He is too tired to deal with Sonia’s teasing right now, mainly in that he does not even want to argue about the whole boyfriend thing and tell her that’s not going to happen any bloody time soon.
I was only gone for three weeks :T
He doesn’t know what compels him to, but he quickly snaps a picture of the egg and sends it to her.
Picked up something nice for him (:
!!!! The reply from Sonia is immediate. Putting anniversary, and make-up gift all in one? Pretty ace gift too, if I do say so myself
Anniversary?...Raihan’s birthday was still a little ways off. Not that far away, but a little too long for him to keep the egg an egg, that’s for sure. What a weird way to word it…
Thank you Sonny! Leon looked up as he felt the Taxi begin to make it’s descent onto the ground. Hoping he thinks so too!! He pocketed his phone before hiding the surprise egg in the safety of an over the shoulder travel bag.
Leon thanked the Corviknight profusely before it took off and he took a deep breath, suddenly feeling anxious over whether Raihan would even want to see him.
His anxieties are chased away when Raihan opens the door and gives him one of the most open smiles he’s seen from the man a while. “Lee!” Leon’s heart does a funny flip from just how happy Raihan looks to be seeing him there. “I didn’t think you were getting back in early!” The taller man steps aside to let Leon in.
“Yea.” Leon waste no time in moving all of his things over to Raihan’s ridiculously long couch, and throwing himself over it, willing himself to immediately pass out. If he were not so tired he would probably question why Raihan is fine with him just showing up unannounced like this after such a long trip. “Got lucky. Everything was super in order so flight left a bit earlier than expected.”
Leon hears the door shut behind him and footsteps approaching him. “Real lucky aren’t cha?” Leon can hear the tell tale sound of muffled shrilling coming from his travel bag and stretches like a Purrloin along the couch, letting out an overly loud groan of exhaustion. “Real exhausted too.” The cushion next to his head bounces a bit as presumably, Raihan sits there.
“Tell me about the trip.” Leon is all too willing, despite being bloody knackered out of his mind. He’s never been able to refuse Raihan much. As soon as he opens his mouth though, he can feel long, slender fingers start to card through his hair.
It physically pains Leon to sit up and away, but falling asleep under his friend’s gentle caress is the last thing he needs to do right now. In fact, he really should’ve done this as soon as the door opened instead of waiting but-
“Watcha doing there Lee?” Raihan leans over his shoulder where Leon is picking up and adjusting his travel bag.
Leon turns suddenly and can tell he must look a bit manic right now; the combined force of being overly tiredly plus the sheer confidence he is trying to build up in himself right now must make him a bit of a sight.
Without any preamble Leon takes the egg out of the bag and puts it in Raihan’s lap, because being up for 20 hours is starting to melt his brain a little. It most certainly has already burned through any part of Leon that could be somewhat smooth in the execution of anything.
For once, Raihan beats Leon to the punch though.
“This is a Swablu egg,” Because bloody hell, of course he would know the kind of egg it is on sight.
To be fair, the faint trills coming from inside the egg aren’t helping keeping the secret surprise much of a secret. Swablu are apparently one of the few pokemon that are noisy as hell in their eggs.
“You got me a Swablu egg…” Raihan fingers side of the egg softly where the blue fades into clouded white in dapples. Raihan is fighting a smile. “You might be Chairman now, but this is still kind of illegal you know?”
And Leon shrugs because well, he was the Chairman. It was just one pokemon and if anybody had a complaint about it, they could take it up with him. (He wouldn’t care.) He also has a Charizard so he really can’t say much there.
But he also knows about some dragons that aren’t native to Galar. Altaria in particular. Raihan only gushes about them all the time.
(Leon also knows that Garchomps are pretty up there for Raihan as well, but he looked scandalized and somewhat offended of all things when Leon asked him if he had ever wanted one. It would hurt Flygon’s feelings he had told him incredulously. It wouldn’t be fair to him. Leon had thought it cute that he was so sensitive to his pokemon’s feelings.)
But as far back as Leon can remember he doesn’t think he’s ever had a talk about anything foreign with Raihan without Altaria coming up in the mix. And to be honest it just mostly came down to the fact that-
“There’s not much I wouldn’t do for you Rai.” It’s a simple truth really, but it still makes Raihan blink up at him with surprise etched clear on his face, as if it’s the most convoluted thing he’s ever heard in life.
His surprised look breaks out into an adoring grin that Leon doesn’t even have time to melt at because in the next second Raihan’s lips are pressed against his in a way that Leon convinces himself is not a kiss.
Because there’s no way Raihan would be kissing him. It must be a delusion his sleep-deprived mind is conjuring up.
But as Raihan tilts his head to press himself a bit more firmly against Leon’s lips and reaches a hand up to thumb at Leon’s beard, the former Champion feels something inside him break.
Never have any of his dreams felt quite like this. Mainly because despite knowing Raihan for just about half his life, he could never in his wildest dreams really imagine what kind of kisser Raihan would be.
A very soft one is apparently the answer.
When Raihan pulls back, the adoring look is still stare, but it’s softened a bit in a way that makes Leon’s last brain brain cell shrivel up in a corner of his head.
“Do you like me?”
Raihan snorts, as if this is some sort of laughing matter and not the thing that is going to help Leon determine whether he’s officially gone over the edge or not. “I would hope I like my boyfriend,” he tells Leon with a teasing lilt in voice before leaning back in. Probably for another kiss. And had Leon been in his right mind he wouldn’t have stopped Raihan.
Actually no, that’s a lie. Because even if he were not practically a walking zombie this wouldn’t make any sense. Because what?
Raihan is startled back by Leon’s indignant shout and looks a bit panicked as he looks around for some nonexistent problem. “What?! What’s wrong?”
“What the hell?!”
“What?!” Raihan asked him again, absolutely perplexed by Leon’s distressed mood.
“Wha, why do you,” Leon starts haltingly trying in vain to piece together the quickly cracking fragments of his sanity left. “We’re dating ?”
Raihan pulls back and stares at him for a long stretch of silence and Leon can’t help but suddenly think he’s really bad at this whole friend thing.
(Boyfriend thing too apparently!)
“Are we not?” Raihan eventually asks, voice significantly quieter.
Leon’s first instinct is to say no, but he quickly backtracks because that is not the route he should go for here. And though he knows for certain that’s the wrong turn to make, this is unfamiliar territory and Leon gets lost in things that are familiar to him. Where does he go from here? “Why do you think we are?” He tries.
“Because you asked me out?...Three days ago was six months since then.” Now Raihan sounds unsure. This is also something unfamiliar to Leon and he’s not sure how much more of it he can take.
But wait. Three days ago was six months? Three days ago...when he was still in Hoenn...by himself.
Oh Leon is going to have some groveling to do after this.
Six months ago….?
“When I invited you to that fancy place in Wyndon?” He hazards a guess. Somewhere in the back of his mind he also realizes Sonia's text was very much not about Raihan's birthday and more about the fact that Raihan had probably told her they were dating and she recognized it had been half a year.
“Yea..” Raihan is no longer looking him in the eye, but gears are too busy spinning in Leon’s head for him to entirely notice.
Because he remembers that. It has been just after the gym season ended and he wanted to properly thank Raihan for not letting him spiral when everything had gone down. He wasn’t Champion anymore, but he still had some pull and what better thing to do than to treat his friend to a restaurant that even he wouldn’t be able to get reservations to without doing it a month or two in advance.
Raihan had been giddy but flustered when Leon sprung on him which restaurant they had been going to, telling him he shouldn’t have surprised him so he could have dressed a little nicer. Leon had shrugged it off at the time, he was used to going to that place to eat in his usual Champion outfit and hadn’t cared much for dressing up for a casual outing.
But in retrospect he realized Raihan was worried he was underdressed for a date. He thought Leon had asked him out on a date. And that they were dating.
Little things like the sudden increase in time they spent together, the hand holding, and Raihan’s troubled attitude towards the trip suddenly made a lot more sense now.
Arceus he was a bloody fucking idi-
Out of the corner of his eye Leon registers Raihan looking for an escape and he reaches out to grab Raihan’s wrist, wary of the egg he was cradling, before he can stop himself.
Raihan jumps a bit, but still does not look him in the eye.
Leon is not exactly sure of where he should start, but goes with his instinct. “I’m the one who left the Applin for you.”
That does indeed finally get Raihan to look him in the eye again, his mouth hanging agape in a silent question.
“I wanted to for years. Confess to you,” he clarifies. “But I didn’t know how and I just. I thought the Applin would be fine, but I forgot to leave you a note or bloody anything so you would know she was from me.”
Raihan’s brows furrow a bit. “Wait, why didn’t you just tell me when I showed her to you?”
“Because you were upset you got an Applin.”
Raihan shakes his head at him, looking like he wants to kiss Leon again but also strangle him a bit. Leon kind of understood the feeling. “No Leon. I was upset I got the Applin because she was cute and I wanted to keep her. But it would have been rude to keep her because-”
“We were dating…” Leon pieces together.
“Mmhmm. I was annoyed you were so okay with me keeping an Applin considering that. I...I wasn’t sure what exactly that meant for us. And I…” His eyes drift off to the side again in an unsure manner and Leon feels just like when he was ten and got stuck in one of Trapinch’s sand pits.
Arceus weren’t they both adults?
Something occurs to Leon then.
“We were dating for six months and this is the first time you’ve tried to kiss me?” He can’t really help the tone of the question as it leaves his mouth.
Raihan flushes a deep, concerning shade of red. It blossoms on his cheeks, the tips of his ears and spreads down his neck past the collar of his shirt. Leon has the sudden urge to chase it down. With his lips.
His brain short circuits as he realizes he could’ve been doing that for six months, and technically can be doing that right now.
“I didn’t want to rush you into anything you weren’t comfortable with.” And Leon could cry. He really could just burst into tears on the spot. Because his boyfriend (his boyfriend!!) was an angel. But Leon also wishes he were a bit less on angel because gosh they really could have been making out this entire time.
Leon wants to press more because even with respecting boundaries, six months is a little ridiculous. He also kind of wants to tease Raihan to see if he’ll go even redder. Instead he asks, “Can we start making up for that?”
Raihan huffs out a laugh and brings Leon’s face towards him. Leon leans forward, ready to experience kissing his boyfriend properly. And when their lips meet-
Leon feels like the world stops.
(When he wakes up later, Raihan will laugh and inform him he totally passed out, the fatigue finally catching up with him. Leon will be a bit put off by Raihan’s teasing and when his boyfriend only ribs him more ruthlessly, Leon will kiss his smile.)