I fought the War, but the war won't stop.

This is my 3rd or 4th attempt to write a toxic bolt shipping fic. None of the others got past a paragraph. But I liked the idea of, rather than Koga having all these problems letting the past go that we see a lot in fanfics if, rather, it was Surge who had trouble with the past. War is a nasty things after all. The fic is partially inspired by Monster Hospital by Metric. “I fought the war, but the war won't stop for the love for the love of god.”

Thanks for reading.

This fic and more at my ff.net and LJ

xxxxx

There was a pounding in the back of his brain. The heat was unbearable, the sticky, sweaty air was stagnate, and Matis Surge couldn't find sleep. Drums from a far away and bloody place kept sounding in his memories, and rivets of sweat poured down the side of his face, chasing off peaceful thoughts and peaceful sleep. The serenade of bug Pokémon outside his window melted into gun fire and the roar of flames.

He sat up, surrendering to the nightmares. No sleep for him tonight. His Raichu looked over at him sleepily and yawned.

“Go back to sleep,” he ordered gently, rubbing the Pokémon behind the ears. “I'm going to take a cold shower to cool off.” He headed towards the bathroom.

The cold water jolted him, clearing his mind. He had grown used to the nightmares, the demon screams in his dreams, but the heat always made it worse. It took him back to the stuffy bunkers and the tropical trenches with sensory precision. He closed his eyes, leaning his head back, and focused on his own breathing.

Ten minutes later he was throwing a few pairs of clothes into a duffel bag. Time to take a vacation south.

“Come on Raichu,” he said to his Pokémon, picking up the sleeping rat. “We're going to Fuchsia for a few days to escape the heat.” He left a note on the door of his gym and took off into the night.

X x x

“It's the middle of the night, Surge.” Koga scowled, drowsy and agitated, from the doorway of the dojo. He was more than used to Matis appearing at his door at odd and inconvenient times. It had long since ceased to surprise him, but never before had Matis appeared at three in the morning.

Surge shrugged and grinned widely. “Wasn't tired,” he said.

Koga had known Matis for years, and years of knowing Matis meant he could decode the man's seemingly brainless behavior. 'Wasn't tired' meant he couldn't sleep.

“Damn, didn't mean to wake you from your beauty sleep. I'll just crash on the floor. No worries.” Surge laughed, which Koga knew meant 'please don't make me leave'.

Koga shook his head. “You know where the spare bedroom is.” He muttered and walked off. The night was quiet and warm, but far less humid than Vermilion must have been that night. Surge always did find time to visit more often when it was humid. Koga could hear the man's footsteps thundering down the North Hall to the small bedroom that was used mostly for storage.

Koga waited in his room for a good half an hour before creeping soundlessly down the hall. He peered into Surge's room to find the man peacefully asleep. Whatever thoughts had driven him here had left him at peace for a time. With that, Koga himself went to bed.

X x x

Surge woke to the smell of food and the rain. The humidity that plagued Vermilion had moved south to Fuchsia and turned to rain. Surge stood up and cracked his neck, stiff from sleeping on the floor. He didn't know how Koga did it. Those sleeping mats were not comfortable. Raichu had wandered off, no doubt to find the food. Surge decided to do the same.

Janine was in the kitchen, thirteen years old and already beautiful. He hesitated by the door, looking into the small room. The kitchen was small and simple, traditional, like Koga liked it. The open window let in the soft patter of the rain and wind chimes. He spotted his Raichu in the corner, sharing a plate of apple slices happily with Koga's Venonat.

“So you finally decided to wake up, lazy American,” said a steely voice from behind him. Surge nearly jumped out of his socks.

“Dammit, ninja! Give a guy some warning.” He huffed, earning a smirk from Koga.

“Janine, take our lunch to the second floor balcony,” Koga said and turned on his heel, headed silently for the stairs. Surge had little choice but to follow. The wooden floorboards creaked under his weight. Surge had no idea how Koga could move through the old house so quietly. Must be his secret ninja skills.

When Koga pulled back the doors to the balcony and sat on a floor cushion, Surge, for the millionth time, cursed the man's inability to invest in proper chairs. He leaned against the railing instead, sparing his knees the torment. Neither man said anything, quietly listening to the rain for several minutes as Janine delivered their food and left.

“The heat is bothering you again,” Koga said finally, taking a small bite of his rice.

Surge snorted as he struggled with his chop sticks. He hated the little things. He wanted a fork. Or a spoon. Or a spork. Anything but these damn sticks. “Nonsense,” he said, trying to get the rice from his plate into his mouth while leaning with his back against the wooden railing. Trying and failing.

“The heat always bothers you,” Koga observed.

“Maybe I just missed you, huh? Think of that,” Surge said, scowling at the rice.

“The heat reminds you of the war.”

“No. No it doesn't” Surge said, glaring at his food. A chopstick clattered to the floor. “It just...” His face softened. “Makes it hard to sleep.” This Koga translated to 'You're right, but shut up'.

“Matis,” Koga said softly, breathing out. He set his plate to the side and stood up. He walked over to the railing and leaned forward, staring out over the yard, his arm brushing against Surge's.

They fell into silence again. “Janine's growing up real pretty,” Surge said absently, trying to fill the quiet.

“Can't you ever just not talk? That's all you Americans do. Talk, talk, talk.” Koga grunted, making Surge laugh. Koga looked over at the man and sighed. Spiky blond hair, a cocky grin, and sunglasses indoors. Combat boots, dog tags, camouflage. A flask of whiskey, a pack of smokes, a weakness for dice. That was Surge.

The first time Koga met him, Surge was in a medic tent, his leg bleeding, his face feverish in the humid air. Koga himself had taken a wound to the arm. In the middle of the night Surge, his eyes glazed over with fever, looked at him in the bed next to mine. “You know what scares me the most?” He whispered. “That I wont make it home to apologize to my pa for runnin’ off and not sayin’ goodbye.” Koga didn't have a reply. His father was already dead. Outside the humid air thundered with the roar of bullets and Pokémon cries. “Sorry for bothering you. Just... thought someone should know that,” Surge had muttered before falling to sleep. Within a week both of them were fighting again.

The second time they met, Surge had fought in the war and survived it and had come to Kanto to get a new start. Even then, with his plucky little Raichu, the man was, at the risk of being corny, magnetic. He flashed a smile and his 5 already won badges as he tilted his sunglasses back and declared a challenge to him. He was here to “kick *** and take names” and win himself another Gym Badge. The spark of recognition was there. “Glad to see you survived.” Surge said, flipping his sunglasses up onto his head.

Koga nodded. “You survived as well.”

“Hurt my knee, but it'll take more than that to keep me down. Now, let's do this battle thing.” He grinned. “I'm Matis, by the way. But they call me Lt. Surge.”

That had been over a decade ago. Janine had been little more than a toddler, and he recently a widower. Within a year Surge had become Vermilion City Gym Leader. It wasn't long after that the man developed a habit for appearing in his dojo, playing with his daughter and being a horrible (wonderful), annoying distraction.

“Matis,” he said again, softly this time, snapping back to the present. Surge looked at him, his eyebrows raised slightly, the cocky smirk temporarily removed from his face. Koga leaned over slowly, his eyes closing, and, taking in a deep breath, pressed his lips against the other man's. Surge's arm made its way around his waist, pulling him closer. Koga's fingers curled in the fabric of Surge's shirt as the kiss deepened. Surge's uneaten plate of food clattered to the floor.

It was not the first time they had kissed, though it was the first time that it hadn't been precluded by drinking, initiated by Surge, and followed by a punch in the face from Koga. But the action felt as familiar and natural as the rain and it reminded Surge why he had come here in the first place.

They separated slowly, both of them grappling with their pride. Surge smirked first and pulled Koga into another kiss. Around them, the rain died down.