Rating: PG-13 for language
Genre: Friendship, slice-of-life
Verse: B/W (Gen. 5)
Word Count: 3,086
Characters: Hilbert/Touya, Hilda/Touko
Summary: (post final N-fight) Hilbert questions Hilda's state as champion – or not champion. Hilda grins and dances around the question.
Author's Note: More of a character practice than a character study and overall a practice one-shot to get my mind back into writing. Turns out that I do love Hilda; I wanted her to be dreamy and soft, but she kept screaming to be more bamf. Think Hilbert is growing on me, too, even with his ridiculous name (might be because I never call him Hilbert in the story, but whatever). Original art was made by 1-kilometer from dA. Please enjoy and critique if possible. =)
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Name:Hilbert would watch Hilda struggle with the second-to-last to last question, teeth digging into the cap of her ballpoint pen, before her hand jolted down and scribbled “other.” He never questioned why.
Date of Birth:
Battle Style Preference:
Suggested Pokemon Team (choose 3):
Preferred Partner (optional):
- - -
Life is a state of monotony, something that did not thrill Hilbert but did not annoy him enough to change the way his world worked. Every Wednesday for example, he would wake up, fix a bowl of cereal, and prepare himself to wake up the screaming banshee that possessed the four year-old body of his little brother. He, after a fifteen minute wrestling match consisting of clothes being thrown on and a toothbrush dragged haphazardly across baby teeth, would half-walk, half-carry the brat the half mile to the local preschool. He would then trek another half-mile to Striaton City's gardens and would sit himself between a pidove statue that appeared to be an object of worship for actual pidove (or perhaps the opposite considering all the lovely, fresh poop that constantly adorned it) and a pillar of the stone bridge, and he would watch the sky's reflection in the pond's clear surface. His daily thoughts, accompanied by the loud chatter of tourists amazed by the gardens, the loud chatter of local Striaton residents annoyed by the loud, amazed tourists, and the coos of pooping pidove, were of grand ideas that were always planned out but never executed. The whip of wind, the chime of bell, and a blur of pink would snap him out of his thoughts, and he would smile, grip the brim of his baseball cap between his thumb and pointer finger, and watch a girl circle the park on her bike. After a few laps, she would stop, chain her bike around the streetlight, and sit next to him.
“Hey, Hil,” she would say in her dreamy, soft voice, wiping her hand against the back of her neck.
“It's a beautiful day.” She combed her fingers through her ponytail while looking up, letting the sun dance on her face. “I'm glad to see you. It's been a while.”
This was every Wednesday, and it had only been a week since they last saw each other, but she always seemed calmly surprised he was sitting here watching her insanely pedal around the gardens when both of them knew that after this conversation ended, they would both get up, walk into the city, and wait for the GSS Striaton Subway Line that would take them into the heart of Nimbasa at ten o'clock on the dot.
The station smelled of sewer water and something disgustingly indescribable, though his nostrils had already gotten used to the scent. She would stare at her shoes, blue eyes crinkled at the edges, and he would lace his hands on top of his hat and gaze into the blackness. Minutes later, there would be a loud roar, like a beast, and a sudden flash of light, and the mechanical serpent would emerged from the dark, screeching to a stop, doors opening. Hilda always sat down while Hil grabbed a handhold and stood up, hovering over her. The line disallowed battles as it was used for tourism (Hil played a silent game trying to figure out where a person came from) but a subway worker would pass around clipboards with sign-up sheets attached to them for battle subways later. He would fill his up and turn it in as soon as it was handed to him, but Hilda always took her time. He read her sheet upside down. She had everything filled already, with him as her preferred partner, but the sixth question, the question that asked what she was as a trainer, remained blank until the final call for sign-up sheets was sounded. It was only then when she would hastily scribble “other.” She would pass the clipboard to him and he would halfheartedly pass it to the subway worker and never question it.
Life is a state of repetition, of safety, because people enjoy safety, the feeling of being in a comfortable situation whenever possible. To be thrown out of the loop is uncomfortable. He would question it in his head but never out loud; it would change things, throw off their streamlined day into a state of ... he didn't know but knew he didn't like.
Yet today he asked:
“What are you?”
“Hilda,” she said idly, pulling her right leg up and pressing the bottom of her shoe against her bare thigh. She turned her head slightly to stare out the window that would occasionally pass through another station and where they would catch the blurred blues and greens of people.
“You know what I mean.”
She smiled to herself with half-lidded eyes. “A girl.”
“A lovely girl.”
“A lovely girl annoyed with your question.”
“Does it matter?” She adjusted her body, both feet firm on the ground, and stared up at him. Their eyes interlocked, his serious and hers seemingly amused, and he leaned forward, both hands gripping the handhold above his head. “The answer is acceptable. It allows me to battle.” She stared him straight in the face, a smirk dancing on her face. “We have been battling together for more than two months, no?”
He frowned and clarified. “What is 'other'?”
She sighed and didn't respond, so he continued. “You're not even just, you know, pokemon trainer? Ace trainer? Lass? Why do you have to call yourself 'other'?”
She brushed this comment aside with a movement of her hand. “Labels,” she said. “Why do we need labels? Pointless, little things, labels.”
He didn't reply and stared at his reflection in the window. Hilda was a girl who never illustrated her anger, her frustration, which was why he admired her as a partner in battling and was probably why she was able to rise so far up in the ranks – whatever she was in those ranks – but it has its faults, like her constant need to avoid confrontation whenever possible.
“I'm just sayin',” he finally replied. He swung forward on the handhold before releasing it and sitting next to her on the plastic bench. He kicked his left leg up and pressed the bottom of his shoe against the steel pole. Hilda dragged her own feet across the gum-littered ground. “It doesn't bug you not knowing what you are?”
She closed her eyes and let her head press back into the grimy subway window, ponytail lifting further up. “All I know is that I'm a trainer.” She laced her hands together and settled them in her lap. “A damn good one I might add. Why do you need me to prove it?”
“It's not that I need you to prove it for me. I just want you to prove it for yourself. I don't want you to regret not knowing.”
“But I'm fine”–he saw her grit her teeth at the word–“not knowing.”
He frowned, right eyebrow raised up. She curled her legs up and rested her chin on her chapped knees. “I love that it bugs you, though,” she added. “You were always too meticulous for your own good. You just gotta know how things are going to work out and what person is in what place.”
The subway was slowing down to a stop, but Hilbert already knew that they were at a city close to Nimbasa before the captain announced it. The time would be twenty-five minutes past ten, and in five more minutes, they would be arriving in Nimbasa at the Gear Station. Hilda would depart first, hopping out the door, her right hand digging into her shorts' pocket for her trainer I.D. while he would be rolling his xtransceiver in his hand, and they would wait another fifteen minutes for the multi battle subway line to roll back into the station.
Again, the subway screeched to a stop, throwing everyone inside off balance. Hilda swerved into his shoulder but didn't bother to sit back up. His leg still remained glued to the pole. People in business clothing departed and were replaced by kids their age, most of them wearing clothing that had the Unova symbol plastered on it. He counted to thirty in his head. In thirty seconds, the doors would close. In another ten, the captain would speak over the intercom announcing their next destination. At the five second mark of this speech, the subway would kick back up to a roar, and they would be streaming down the dark and narrow tunnels.
Begin the small talk.
“Bianca decided to apprentice under Professor Juniper.” She stretched her legs out across the seats and pressed her back into his arm. He tried to ignore her hair tickling the side of his neck.
“That's good. I'm glad she decided what to do.”
“In a cave still. It's very Red of him.”
“All mad geniuses pick similar locations to waste away.”
She grinned. “All we need is some cocky boy with a backwards cap to fight him.”
“It's not me. I'm not one of those jackasses that does that.”
“Yeah, you're one of those forward-facing ones.”
“Don't turn back, baby.”
A whistle would blow, jolting awake sleepy passengers, a warning by a subway worker who was now walking down the aisle to pick up final sign-up sheets. Hilda would quickly scribble in “other” in the second-to-last slot and would pass Hil her clipboard, and Hil would stretch out and hand it to the worker before returning to his position as Hilda's backboard. Hilda would now swing her bag around so it rested in her lap and wasn't pressed uncomfortably against her side. At this moment on the subway, she would dig into her bag and check her xtransceiver for texts, usually ones from Bianca that made Hilda crack a smile, but midway between her unzipping, he asked:
“Seriously, why don't you want to know?”
She curled her hand up into her fist and rested it on top of her bag. “You're still hung up on this? Why do you care?”
“It bugs me.”
“I would hate to disappoint you, but it ain't about you, sweetheart.”
“It doesn't bug you?”
“About not knowing if you're champion?”
She laughed. No response, just a light laugh that annoyingly echoed in his head.
“I fail to find what's so mockingly funny,” he said, flustered.
“It just ... is, Hil. But you tell me,” she said. “What do you think?”
“You beat N,” he replied. “N was champion by defeating Alder. By rule, you should be champion.”
“I didn't register it,” she argued. “There were no witnesses to our battle. For all you know, I could be lying to you – to everyone – about my battle with N. That wasn't under official circumstances anyway.”
He raised an eyebrow again. “So you seem to be on the side that says you're not champion.”
“Did I say that?” Her amused tone was back. “I didn't say that. Like you said, I did defeat the current champion, and by rule, the winner becomes the latest champion even if he or she doesn't participate in official duties.”
“No pics, no proof.”
She reached behind her and rapped her knuckles lightly against the top of Hil's head playfully. “Dork.”
“I just don't get you is all. It'd bug me if I was you. You don't want to 'officialize' it? Or 'de-officialize' it?”
“Those aren't words.”
“Don't avoid my question.”
She sat back up, placing her bag next to her thigh, and turned her head, the bottom of her ponytail sweeping against her shoulders. She stared into him intensely, enough to make him gulp. Another smirk danced on her face; Hilbert vaguely wondered if she fed off his fear of her. “I'm gonna tell you something.” She beckoned him to sit closer with a motion of her finger, so he scooted. She repeated the motion, so again he scooted. She leaned forward, her lips a few centimeters away from his ear. Her breath was hot.
“You're a loser,” she whispered.
He quickly pulled away, a disgusted look on his face as she giggled to herself, fingers pressed against her mouth.
“I'm serious, Hilda.”
“I'm Hilda, Serious. It's nice to meet you.”
“Dear god. That joke is so old I might vomit.”
Hilda reached over and patted his thigh twice. “Okay, let's have this sappy discussion your heart is beating rapidly for.”
“My sweaty thighs quivering ...”
“Your breath a heavy whisper ...”
“My eyes screaming with ... something.”
“I totally won that round.”
“I apologize for not reading as much erotica as you.”
She wrinkled her nose in good humor. “All right, Hil. If there's anything that N and his situation taught me is that we're all in a ... in a predetermined destiny that we're not aware of. Something like that.”
He didn't respond, waiting for her to continue, but she didn't, so he asked, “And?”
She cupped her chin with her open palm and rested her pointer finger on her nose, her mouth between the gaps of her other fingers. “I'm not sure, Hil. It's just scary. When I think of N, I think of his face.”
“It was so distinct,” she said wistfully. “He looked shattered. After that battle. After that conversation with his dad. After his dad revealed what his true plans were, what he was doing all of this for.”
He sat there quietly, wiggling his laced fingers before resting them on top of his head, elbows pointed forward. Hilda pulled her hand away from her face and licked her lips, sullen. “What he believed was his fate ... all of that changed with a single phrase,” she said.
“You are the father?”
Hilda snorted and smiled at Hilbert. “You're ... I don't even know.”
“Glorious in twenty different ways.”
“I'm glorious in twenty-one.”
Hil pulled up the cap of his hat, letting his sweaty forehead get some air. “What does this have to do with you not wanting to know if you're champion or not?”
She looked down at her lap. “I guess what I'm saying,” she began, “is that me not knowing my position is what is forcing my destiny to remain unknown. It ... it makes my life structured and safe, and that's what I really want right now after all that has happened. I want to feel safe.”
“I feel that's too boring for you.”
She grimaced. “You know me too well.”
“But look at it like this. My life right now is on a repetitive schedule, and I know you like things on schedule. Maybe I'm just trying to please you. Have you thought about it like that?”
“I also like making out. Please me that way.”
“Keep trying,” she said with a grin.
“Damn.” Like clockwork, he pulled out his xtransceiver from his pocket to check the time (he already knew it would be two more minutes until they hit Nimbasa's Gear Station) and would set the device down next to his leg until they would depart.
“I'm comfortable not knowing. I'm sorry you aren't.”
“It's not about me, Hilda. You always want to be known as 'other'?”
“If things remained unchanged, sure. I don't like things being determined for me. I don't want everything I have now to be messed up.”
“And you don't like settling either. What harm would it do if you battled the Elite 4 again and challenged Alder and figured out if you are champion-material or not?”
“Everything will change.”
It was his time to smirk. He sat back in his seat and slouched so his butt was on edge and threw his arm around her shoulders. “And I'll tell you this,” he began as she stared at his hand. “One silly-ass battle isn't going to change all the shit in your world.”
She glared at him, brushing his hand off her shoulder. “I swear I'm going to kill you. Why don't you take your own advice? You're the most routine guy I have met. Tell me, how long until the subway comes to a stop?”
“Ten seconds, and thank you for riding with us. Please be careful while exiting through the sliding doors, and have a nice day.”
She paused for a few seconds, and soon enough, the subway came to an abrupt stop where she slid back into him and the captain's voice announced, “Thank you for riding with us. Please be careful while exiting through the sliding doors, and have a nice day.” Hilda stood up and grabbed her bag, sliding the strap over her arm, and Hil followed after her through the doors. She hopped out and landed on the concrete platform as Hil rotated his xtransceiver in his hand.
“Then maybe it's time to stir things up. Change it. Only a little.”
“Only a little,” she agreed. “One step at a time.”
- - -
Two Wednesdays from now, Hilbert would turn on the news as usual, stand in the kitchen in his boxers, and pull out a ceramic bowl from the mahogany kitchen cabinet. He would let the bowl hit the wooden table with a loud clatter before walking to the pantry and pulling out a box of cereal. As he would walk to the fridge, he would sleepily scratch underneath his armpit, yawn, and pull open the door, lazy eyes scanning the shelves for the carton of milk. Bare feet would cross the cold tile. He would plop himself in his seat and pour the cereal into the bowl with a pleasant rattle as he halfheartedly watched the current news of Unova for thirty minutes. The top story was about Hilda, which made him widen his eyes just slightly, and they were talking about her losing to Alder.
When did she lose to Alder?
He caught the end of her interview clip, spoon midway between the bowl and his mouth. She was looking directly into the camera, and he could have sworn she was talking directly toward him instead of the generic audience.
“I don't mind losing”–she didn't mind a lot of things, he noted–“and I have no regrets about my battle with Alder. But I will be back. Trust me. Until then, I suppose I have 'other' things to do.” She winked.
He groaned. “You're so freakin' corny, Hilda.” He reached for his xtransceiver, already saw that he got a text, and opened it.
Don't worry, you freak. I won't ruin your schedule. I'll be in the gardens at the exact same time to do the exact same Wednesday all over again.
He sighed to himself and stared at the spoon he still had gripped in his hand, drops of milk dripping back down into the bowl. He put the spoon back in his bowl and pushed the cereal away.
It's time to stir things up. Change it. Only a little.
Today Hilbert would have waffles.
Originally Posted: 2 July 2011
Revised: 11 July 2011