Topic: Metanoia's Fic Dump
I suppose this will be where I post random shit once every two years or so. Let's kick it off with a character study kind of thing.
Title: Stormchaser, the night after Ren and Cambria's wedding
Warnings: Liberal use of second-person, none
Summary: Channah looks at her life and her choices.
The problem wasn't him. It was you. As fucking usual.
The darkness and heavy foreboding atmosphere of your haunted room on the Stormchaser settled around you like a disconcerting blanket that you'd grown used to over the months. Right now, inebriated and gasping lightly for breath after stumbling through the airship's halls while you lay on your back on the bed's covers, it was nearly a welcome comfort for your mood.
You'd never thought, up until earlier tonight, that Tagg was attractive. It was an avenue of thought that didn't and shouldn't pertain to you, so you had simply ignored his rare smiles and the comforting solidity of his tall frame when he walked alongside you. Just a normal, natural reflex from years of self-imposed isolation. One you barely noticed anymore.
But now, after his roundabout confession, it was coloring every memory of him and more. In those confused moments after he spoke, you had a hard time focusing. Your poor drunk brain wasn't really handling the sudden mental sensory assault as your eyes adjusted to the darkness. Getting ahold of yourself felt like trying to remote-control a newborn Ponyta's legs in QWOP.
Images flashed through your mind, each feeling entirely different for the change in perspective despite the familiarity. The way he sometimes turned his head and leaned down a bit to talk to you when you were standing next to each other. The quiet something in his voice when he took you to the Grey Ruins. His pleasantly surprised reaction when you agreed to walk through the human-to-mon portal in Mauville. The faint scent of him lingering in his secret base. His serious, haunted expression and purposeful gait in the chaos of the Pokefutures lab raid. The heartbreaking vulnerability in the hunch of his shoulders in that Mossdeep hotel after the restaurant debacle. The steam rising around his scarred chest in the hot springs.
You fought back a wave of revulsion. At yourself, obviously. That you, just another plebian failure on this bitch of an earth, would dare to look at a guy so far above your station and think about him like that. Not as a future opponent, another nuisance, or as a friend, which was already still crazy when you thought about it, but as someone you might be allowed to touch.
You mentally flailed for a second, and then you remembered - He likes you. He said so. Or insinuated it heavily. The thought was like an anchor dropping in the turbulent lake of your mind. You relaxed minutely. It had to be, how else would all of this make sense?
It was still almost impossible to think about. How could he possibly...
But there wasn't just that. The physical. In some ways that was the least important thing. Assuming Tagg wasn't just broadcasting superficial attraction (which was impossible, Tagg was classy and he wouldn't be that shallow even if you were prettier), he apparently had looked at the whole of Channah [Surname] and seen something worth continuing to look at. Not into your soul - or maybe so, who knew how deep he went in that mindscape dive (you know, hinted at in those dreams you forget in the morning) - but just enough to notice something shiny to chase after.
What in the world could it be?
You took a deep breath and tried to picture yourself as a... potential boyfriend - god, the thought felt blasphemous - might do. A tiny, not very feminine female in her mid-twenties, probably a 6/10 at most, and that was being generous. An androgynous, slightly nasal voice, little nervous tics in the extremities that you never grew out of, and an ungainly sweep of too-long hair that you tended to hide behind. No accolades to your name, no interesting heritage, no skills or talents besides a long-neglected penchant for battling. Maybe more knowledge about Wobbuffet biology and behavior than most trainers. That was about it.
And the personality...
What even was there to say about that? Nothing, that was what.
You exhaled hard and forced yourself to think, to process this ridiculous situation. There was absolutely nothing you could bring up, no easily-listed traits. It was impossible. Trying to hit a Ghost-type with a Normal-type move. You could think of a thousand faults and weaknesses.
If you wanted, you supposed you could ask your mons for their opinions on you, but their viewpoints were heavily skewed at the best of times. Montanari, who had assumed a sort of grandfatherly role among the team, thought too much like your brother despite his sophistication. Even the precocious Hale, whose mental voice sounded so much like yours these days that you wondered if his imprisonment in your mind had a permanent effect on his, could be laughably short-sighted in matters of the human heart. More so than you, if that could be believed.
No, that wouldn't do. You would just have to trust Tagg's judgment. As much as the thought disgusted you. It was pretty damn good judgment in general, but in relation to you...
Probably best not to think too hard about that. You might have been making a mountain out of a Diglett hill about all this in the first place, no need to keep piling it up.
Next on the list - Did you even want a relationship? Hale's words from a few hours ago rang in your ears. Of course, the conversation he was referring to happened when you were eleven. You had expressed your rigid dislike of boys at the time and baby!Hale had approved of your single-mindedness on your goal to be the best trainer there ever was. Truthfully, that attitude had persisted into your twenties, strengthened and fleshed out by ideology and the matter-of-fact lessons life taught you.
That was new. You held onto that thought and reached for some of the penetrating questions you'd learned from analyzing the way your therapist handled your worse moods. Treat the irrational fears like a training exercise, she'd said, knowing your life's obsession. Attack the weak points with the most logical moves, chain them into combos of positive thought that you could fall back on in a tight corner.
What was causing you to be afraid? Afraid of what? Commitment? Vulnerability? Men in general? All three, probably. You were such a coward.
You zeroed in on that last one. All your life was spent trying to join the boy's club, now that you considered it. Your brother/mentor, your best friend Kyler and his friends, rivals, most of the trainers worth anything... Ending with Tagg. None of them were truly cruel, not the way girls were. They understood and accepted you without reservation. But there were certain expectations of you that they didn't know they had. With your oh-so-eager-to-please and observant nature, you'd picked up on those invisible cues and somehow came out of it with a strong distaste for romance.
Why? Because - you saw the way they treated other girls, talked about them behind their backs. You distanced yourself as soon as possible from other females, helped by your parents' approval of your sensible lack of boy-craziness. You wouldn't be like them. You weren't hanging around male trainers to be their girlfriend or fangirl in the background, you belonged in their ranks, and you had the skills to back it up.
Well. That was a bit fucked, wasn't it? You ran over your conclusions again, testing them for weaknesses. Nope, all bases were covered, it made sense.
You winced and relaxed muscles you didn't know you were tensing. A tension headache, too, wonderful. This was why you hated introspection.
So... With all that hastily cleared up (you took a moment to feel brief pride at having singled out at least one of the issues), were you still so reluctant to give dating a try?
You thought of what would happen if you told Tagg you weren't interested. Probably not much. He would respect your boundaries, be awkward for a bit, continue to occasionally hang out with you, determined to maintain the friendship, and then it would stagnate with the new wedge of distance between you (as it already was starting to do) and he come to his senses and would gradually stop seeking you out - not abruptly like Kyler did, but gently and therefore more painfully - and you would be left to go on as usual and he would fill that gap in his social life with more time spent with Solana or Ever or Salvador or Echo or some other long-time friend and you would be left alone again to dutifully get lost in the herd of strangely-named weirdos you had no interest in making friends with and your world would turn gray again and he would become another vague acquaintance just like everyone else you ever had the impertinence to try holding onto -
An uncomfortable tightness filled up your chest. You rolled on your side into a fetal position and closed your eyes. You grabbed at the comforter like a baby Pokemon, squeezing it between fingers that suddenly felt weak, as though you were having low-sugar shakes.
You had to reciprocate. There was no other option, radical freedom be damned. You already took so much emotionally from him, too much over your allowance as a casual friend. The least you could do was give it a good college try, do this experiment for him.
And would it be a hardship? Being his girlfriend? Going on dates? Holding his hand? There was the whole polyamory thing, a distant thundercloud of more doubt and fear, but that was another matter entirely. Telling people he was your boyfriend instead of some guy you knew? Another feeling was rising in your chest alongside the stifling panic, something that seemed to fill your head with static, buzzing and not entirely unpleasant. It felt like a threshold was fast-approaching and threatening to show up on your doorstep any minute now.
How am I supposed to feel? you almost asked Tagg tonight. You sort of did. No matter how frustratingly stilted he could be at times, he was the one with actual experience in this area. But he didn't answer that. As much as you almost begged him to, he couldn't, that wasn't his place or his job. You were a fucking adult. This was your problem to fix, your turn to attack.
Whatever. Might as well. From here, at least, it was miles better than the alternative. You didn't think you were ready, but would you ever be?
Now you just had to wait until sunrise.