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Green holds the phone between his ear and shoulder while he waits for the call to connect, frowning at the paper in front of him as if it holds the secrets of the universe. It rings once, twice, three times, and then clicks—

"What is this?" Lance snaps. "It better be important, or—"

Green cuts in. "Yeah, yeah. When do you need last month's financial reports? I've got them ready. I just don't know if it's enough to stick them into the post office box or if I should send Pidgeot to the Plateau."

There's silence for a while, and Green frowns harder before lifting his eyes from the form.

"What?"

"Green," Lance says slowly, "it's seven in the morning."

"So what? You don't work at seven in the morning?"

"Not on a Sunday."

Green raises his eyebrows, dropping the papers onto his desk. "Oh," he draws out. After a beat, he adds, "So I assume you don't need the report today."

Lance sighs, and Green grimaces as it crackles in his ear. "Doesn't Red mind that you're yelling so early? Did you even sleep?"

"I'm not yelling," Green barks into the phone. "And Red's training on the mountain, so it's not like I have anything better to do." Lance makes a choked off sound, and Green smirks. "I have a lot of stuff to catch up on, anyway, so this is actually convenient." He might as well open the gym today, too, if he's going to be there.

"You know," Lance says, interrupting Green's train of thought, "if you hired some help you wouldn't have so much backlog. You'd have less challengers, too, because they'd weed out the incompetent ones. More people to delegate paperwork to—"

"I don't need to delegate my work to anyone, thanks. I'm doing just fine." And he is; the small mountain of unfinished paperwork has diminished significantly over the past few hours. Lance is silent for a while until Green can't take it anymore. "I'm sending the report in the post, then."

"That's fine," Lance replies, and Green hangs up.

 

There’s a room at the back of the Viridian gym with the slowest clock on the planet.

It was once probably a closet, but fits a desk and a chair so Green doesn't mind.

There used to be a bigger office on the upper floor, including a leather chair and an obscenely large wooden desk—courtesy of Giovanni—that a fourteen-year-old Green seriously considered keeping out of sheer pretentiousness. In the end, the idea of having a place of his own won out, and Green chucked the chair and desk, replacing them with a bed and a small sofa. The office-turned-apartment has stayed the same ever since, except the bed has gotten bigger as Green has gotten older and Red started spending more time with him.

And when Green realized he wouldn't get any serious work done in close proximity to Red and a bed of any kind, he moved his work space to the room with the slowest clock on the planet that was once probably a closet.

There's paperwork to be done, budgets for the next quarter, assessments of the past three months, an inventory check that Green's been putting off for almost a week—but instead, Green is biting the back of his pen and staring at the clock as it ticks away each slow second, idly kicking the bag that is packed and waiting underneath his desk.

It's twenty to six, the clock says; twenty minutes until Green can and will close the gym for the night. It might as well be two hours with how far away it feels.

Green is deep in thought, pen hanging out of his mouth, when the hand strikes 5:44 and the gym’s front door creaks open. Green looks up at the clock, sighs, and calls out, "The gym is closed."

A pause, a sound of two muffled voices, and then an unsure answer echoing across the battle arena. "No, it's not."

Green expected to recognize the voice—Leaf has an unfortunate habit of dropping by at the worst of moments, as does Daisy—but it's unfamiliar. He stands up and reaches for the Pokeball on his belt before he makes his way to the front room. He's not very worried, but it wouldn't be the first time (or the second, or the third) that someone came in and thought they could fuck around.

He leans against the wall in the battle arena, eyeing the two trainers shuffling their feet by the entrance. He often takes advantage of the moment before his challengers notice him, creeping out from the shadows in the back to observe and assess the situation in front of him; it's only when he deems them not dangerous—just two damn kids, hardly older than Green himself—does he step forward.

"It will be in—" He glances at the clock by the side of the arena. "—fourteen minutes."

The trainers on the other side of the room straighten their backs in a movement as synchronized as if they practiced it, and Green barely suppresses a laugh. "Fourteen minutes is enough for a battle, right?" one of them says. He puffs up his chest and squares his jaw. "This is the last badge I need to be able to challenge the Elite Four. I'm not leaving this gym until I have it."

Green whistles. "Did you rehearse that?" he asks. Judging by the way the trainer's face falls, he might have. Green shakes his head. "Guess fourteen minutes will have to do for trainers as accomplished as yourselves. Wait here."

He goes back to his closet office and rummages through all of his junk and unfinished paperwork until he finds the forms he's looking for, and grabs two.

Being the last pitstop before the Elite Four can be annoying, especially when he's faced down by over-confident trainers hungry for victory and excited to see the League. But Green doesn't give out the Earth Badge for nothing; people forget that he was the Champion once, too. And he hates it—he hates it—when they do.

He doesn't hurry back. There's still a little more than eleven minutes until the gym closes, and even with filling out the forms it should be more than enough time. "Are your teams ready?" he calls across the battlefield when he returns, and beckons the trainers over to him with a flick of his hand. "What are your names?"

"I'm Arabella," the louder and more nervous looking trainer tells him, rushing towards him. The other follows at a steadier pace, and Arabella points at him over his shoulder. "This is Bonita. We're from Hoenn."

Green raises an eyebrow, in genuine surprise this time. "Hoenn," he says. "You’re ways away from home."

Something peculiar flickers in Arabella's expression, and Bonita shuffles in place. Green hopes he finally says something, but Arabella's shoulders tense before Bonita has a chance to step in. "I suppose," he says.

Green looks them up and down, takes note of their wide shoulders and masculine build and the feminine name. He thinks about how far they are from their homeland, and their reaction to it being mentioned. He thinks of Pallet Town, and people asking, How is your grandfather doing these days? and wonders if his reaction is anything like Arabella and Bonita's was just moments ago.

But he's not here to judge them or speculate about their lives. "Alright, Arabella and Bonita," he says and rubs his hands together. "Who wants to go first?"

Arabella rubs the side of his nose. "Actually, I'm the challenger. It's just me."

Green's eyebrows quirk up, taken aback. "Why?" he asks, frowning. He was looking forward to a double battle.

"We only have four Pokemon between us," Bonita explains.

Green turns to him, smirking. "He speaks," he says in a bright voice, and Bonita scowls at him so potently he almost takes a step back. He and Arabella share a brief glance, and Arabella shakes his head.

Green is beginning to suspect he was wrong—fourteen minutes is not going to be enough for whatever is happening with these two. "You're not a trainer?" he asks Bonita, ignoring the glowering and scowling and silent conversations.

"I am," Bonita replies flatly. "Two of the Pokemon are mine."

Unconventional, Green thinks, but it makes the paperwork easier. He turns to Arabella again. "Alright, let's just get this over with," he says and shoves the form at him. "Read this and sign at the bottom of the page."

Arabella takes the papers, staring at Green wide-eyed. "What's that for?"

Green shrugs and puts his hands in his pocket. "Agreement that you go into this of your own free will, knowing all the risks, yadda yadda."

The two trainers read the form, sharing the paper between them, until their eyes go comically wide almost simultaneously. Arabella looks up at Green. "Are you going to hurt our Pokemon?"

"Not intentionally," Green replies nonchalantly. "But I've had a bad day, and shit happens. Trust me." The trainers gape at him, Arabella's mouth opening and closing like a shored magikarp for a while. Green sighs. "Come on, don't act like you've never seen this before. I'm sure at least Sabrina makes her challengers sign something similar."

Arabella shudders and says, "But Sabrina is mean."

"So am I," Green replies.

He wipes the floor with Arabella's four Pokemon in four and a half minutes.

The two trainers stare at the wreckage in sheer horror, and once Arabella calls back the fainted Spinda, Green dusts off his pants. "Well, you were right—fourteen minutes was more than enough time. I’ll be taking your money now and closing up. Good luck next time," he says, and holds out his palm.

Arabella bursts into tears.

 

There is a storm on Mt. Silver when Green gets there. He has to make Pidgeot land a good mile under the peak because of the unmanageable weather, and walks the rest of the way on foot like a peasant. By the time he finds Red's cave in the white darkness, his fringe hangs frozen into his eyes. There is ice on his eyelashes.

His lungs burn like hell.

"Dammit, Red," he says on the back of a wheeze once he stomps inside. "If I have to climb here one more time I’m gonna—are you eating a Pokepuff?"

Red is leaning against his Charizard with his ass seated on top of his folded jacket, half-eaten Pokepuff hanging out if his mouth. He chews for a moment, watching Green stand in the mouth of the cave in his five layers of winter clothing looking like a particularly fat snowman. "You didn't have to come," Red says finally once he swallows.

Green scoffs. "Right. I brought more blankets," he says and hoists his bag down from his shoulders, throwing it at Red's feet. "I was watching the weather forecast and I know you didn't bring nearly enough stuff for this kind of shitty weather. So I decided to drop by."

It's kind of a lie. Green was planning on stopping by a day ago already, before any insane storm was even announced, but things just—got in the way. He's not going to tell Red that, though.

"So ta-dah," he says instead and shrugs out of his jacket, holding out his arms. "Here I am." He drops his arms and untangles his scarf from around his neck.

Red is looking through Green's bag, pulling out blanket after blanket after blanket. He turns to look at Green as Green sits down next to him. "I don't need so many," Red tells him. "The cold isn't so bad."

"Don't be silly," Green says. "You say that, but it's been awhile since you actually stayed up here. You sleep in a normal bed in normal, human-friendly temperatures these days. You definitely need blankets."

Red holds them up. "Not so many," he says slowly and shakes them a little.

"Well, duh. Some of them are for me."

Red blinks.

For a moment Green panics that he's going to send him back down to Viridian City. He knows Red does actually come here to train and not get away from him, like Leaf (jokingly) and Gramps (less jokingly) like to suggest, but—

Green would go if Red asked him to, of course. He'd rather slide down the mountainside on his ass than infringe on Red's quality training time and make him stay up longer to make up for it. He sighs and mentally resigns himself to some nice, late-night mountain sliding, but thinks desperately, Please, don't send me home. He just wants to drop onto a pile of blankets with Red and sleep.

Red doesn't send him home. He just says, "Okay," and hands Green one of his Pokepuffs.

Green scrunches up his nose. He wants to tell Red off, but—what comes out of his mouth is a sneeze. It bends Green over at the waist with the suddenness of it, and both he and Red stare at each other in the aftermath, stricken.

"Bless me," Green says after a moment of silence, and Red hands over some of the blankets.

 

Later that night, in the muted light of Charizard's tail flame, Green sits with Red, wrapped in the relative warmth of the blankets and leaning into Red's side. On the other side, Pikachu is curled up against Red's thigh.

"I had two challengers yesterday," Green says, staring off at the far wall. Red hums. "From Hoenn, Arabella and Bonita. They came in ten minutes before closing time and demanded a battle. The one I battled, she was pretty good, too. The other one speaks less than you do."

Red raises an eyebrow at that. "Did you win?" he asks.

Green grins. Of course that's what he cares about. "Sure did," he says. "In less than five minutes. But the fun part is—the battle is over, and I ask for their money and Arabella just... starts wailing."

A moment of silence. "Not unusual," Red says.

"Well, no," Green admits. "The thing is, though, they don't really look like—well, like Leaf, or your mom, or Daisy. They look more like us, or whatever. Whatever. It's not like that matters in a battle, right? So I give them the normal spiel, you know, 'not the end of the world, go home for a bit, train some more, come back later'. And Arabella shrieks at me, 'I can't go home!'"

Red is tense against Green's side, and Green sighs.

"What I get out of her and Bonita, between the sobbing, is that their families back in Hoenn weren't too excited about them changing their names and, you know… being girls."

Green yawns, but the inhale strains his lungs, still tired from his steep climb. He unpeels himself from Red's side, bends over, and bursts into a coughing fit that scrapes at the insides of his chest and the soft walls of his throat.

He doesn't notice the hand rubbing his back until he's done coughing, leaning back against Red and panting. "I hate this goddamn mountain," he says, voice raw. "I kind of get it, though. When your family hates you."

Red says the next words slowly and carefully, like he's tired just from having to say them. "Your family doesn't hate you, Green."

Green turns to look up at him, cheeks pressed into Red's shoulder. He grins. "No, just Gramps. He thinks I ruined you." He can practically feel Red rolling his eyes.

"Is that why you didn't come yesterday?" Red asks then, and Green leans back further to meet his eyes.

"What? No, I wasn't going to..." Smirking, he looks at Red through his eyelashes. "Were you hoping I would? Did you miss me?"

Red looks perfectly unimpressed. He shrugs, and Green sighs.

"You're fucking rude. Here I am, climbing up here to be with you and you can't even admit you miss me."

Red makes a noise in the back of his throat and pats Green's hair.

Green swats at his hand, slapping it away. "But yeah, you ass. I let them keep their money, made them tea, and let them sleep in the front room. I kicked them out in the morning, but I'm sure they'll be back soon enough."

 

Soon enough turns out to be next afternoon.

Green is on the battlefield, leaning against the far wall and watching Arcanine and Rhydon run laps, when the front door opens and here they are—Arabella with Bonita on her heels, heads peeking in.

"What do you want?" Green yells at them, and covers his mouth when his raised volume inevitably provokes a fit of raw, painful cough.

Arabella and Bonita close the doors behind them, and Arabella shouts back, "A rematch!" Then, a little more hesitantly, "Are you okay?"

Green waves the concern away and walks towards them. "I kicked your ass yesterday, and I'm going to kick your ass again today. And this time, I won't be nice about it."

"You were nice yesterday?" Bonita asks.

Green stares at her. "I didn't charge you, did I?"

Arabella throws out her arms. "Well, what am I supposed to do? There are no other gyms to challenge."

"Train," Green says and crosses his arms.

"Train what? All I do is train."

Green sighs, and suppresses another wave of coughing. "Your Spinda," he says. "It's underleveled. It's not strong enough to beat me and it's definitely not strong enough for the Elite Four. I'm surprised you got past Blaine with it."

Arabella blinks at him; Bonita frowns.

Green goes on. "The Sudowoodo isn’t bad, but its movepool is a waste. It's slow, so you’ll want to make sure you're hitting as hard as possible and not waste your turns with subpar moves like Rock Throw." Trick Room would probably take care of that problem, but he doesn't just give that out—especially if it could be used against him in the near future. No Trick Room for the losers.

Green's lungs burn and he can feel the cough climbing up his throat; he tries to mask it as a scoff. Arabella opens and closes her mouth, wringing her fingers. Green assumes he failed.

"Not to mention you allowed it to go against Exeggutor, of all my Pokemon..." he shakes his head. "Go read up on some battle theory, I'm sure there's something at the Pokemon center. And Professor Oak lives in the next town over. He'd happily talk your ears off about how to beat me if you asked him nicely. There's plenty of stuff to do."

Arabella is pink in the cheeks, but she looks strangely pleased, too. Eager. "What else?" she asks.

"No," Green snaps. "This isn't Pokemon Battling 101. Go learn stuff like everyone else."

"Okay," Arabella says and grabs Bonita by the forearm, dragging her towards the exit. "I'll be back tomorrow!" she calls over her shoulder before she slams the door behind them.

"No!" Green yells, and starts coughing again.

 

He stomps inside Red's cave that evening, hair and shoulders dusted with snow, and shakes himself like a wet growlithe. "I don't believe this!" he wheezes out the moment Red looks up at him from where he's eating his Pokepuff. Green frowns and coughs into the bend of his elbow. "If you don't stop eating those, your Pokemon are gonna have to go hungry."

Red frowns back at him. "You're sick," he says.

"I'm fine," Green snaps and flops down next to Red, who scrambles to throw one of his blankets under him. "The two Hoenn chicks came by again today and—what the fuck are you doing?"

Red reaches for Green's forehead with the back of his hand, brows furrowed. Green leans away with a scowl and swats at Red's imploring wrist.

"Stop that," he says.

Red catches his fingers and reaches out with his other palm; Green leans back further and slaps at Red with his other hand. Red catches that one, too, and a full-blown scuffle breaks out between them for a few short moments, before Red loses the rest of his patience with a frustrated growl, pins Green's arms to his chest, and leans in with his face instead.

Green raises his chin up, blinking at the ceiling. "I wouldn't do that if I were you," he says, voice as ragged as the rocky walls of the cave. "Because—"

"Because you're sick," Red finishes for him, but mercifully leans back and lets go of Green's arms.

Green sighs. "Asshole," he mutters and rests his head against Red's shoulder. "You're warm," he says quietly, and closes his eyes, just to rest them. Just for a while.

 

The next time Green wakes up, it's to a stark-white ceiling and the comfortable smell of his apartment. His eyes feel heavy as he blinks against the light filtering through the blinded windows, and he pushes himself into a half sitting position.

Eevee, lying comfortably in the corner of the bed by Green's feet, raises her head at the movement and yawns, stretching out her legs.

The apartment is entirely silent except for that.

Green doesn't remember ever going down the mountain. What he remembers is the cold and how tired he was, how hard it was to breathe. "Red?" he calls out—or tries to. Instead, his breath tears at his lungs as if they are nothing but raw meat in his chest, and Green collapses back into the covers, eyes squeezed shut. He tries to stop the cough, but it rips out of him without mercy anyway. When it finally stops, it leaves Green panting and reluctant to take a breath.

The bed dips, and Green peels one eye open, staring blearily at—Pikachu, standing on his chest, his nose almost touching Green's. And behind him, Red.

"What the fuck?" Green croaks out, and pushes at Pikachu weakly. "Get off me, hellspawn." To his credit, Pikachu does climb down and slinks over to where Eevee is, curling up next to her. Green looks up at Red then.

Red, who has his arms crossed and is scowling down at Green.

"What?" Green wheezes. "What, Red? Aren't you—" A cough. "—supposed to be on the mountain?"

Red's face softens a bit. He kneels by the bed and props his chin with his hand. "How do you feel?"

Wretched. "Fine," Green replies, but the weakness of his voice betrays him. Red scowls at him again, and Green scowls back. "Okay," he admits, "I feel like shit, but—"

It seems to be beyond him to get out more than four words at a time without bursting into raw, painful cough; breathless and shaky, Green sinks back into the mattress and closes his watering eyes.

"Water?" he tries.

Red pats his forearm and Green feels more than sees him leave. He grits his teeth.

This fucking sucks. He should be able to get his own goddamn water if he wants to, not lie around and wait for Red to do it for him. He lifts his hand to his face to wipe at his treacherous eyes, and it feels like it's made of marble rather than flesh and bone. He lets it hang over his eyes, and tests his lungs; he breathes in, exhales, breathes in, listens for a moment as the air rattles around in his chest. He exhales.

He doesn't realize he's been drifting off to sleep until he hears Red. "Green."

Green opens his eyes and slides his forearm out of the way, blinking up at Red. He smiles. "Hi," he says.

Red purses his lips, but it's more likely in amusement than anything else. He holds out the cup he brought with him.

For a moment, Green expects Red to help him up, or even worse, try to help him drink, but he doesn't. He watches patiently as Green hauls himself up and takes the glass himself.

It's not water. It's lukewarm, bitter tea, and it's the grossest and the best goddamn thing Green has ever tasted. Some of it almost dribbles down his chin, but when he's done drinking and meets Red's eyes, he feels more like a human.

"What did you do to me?" he asks then and shoves the empty cup at Red. His voice sounds like shredded glass. "I was fine last night, and now I'm this."

Red points at his own chest, eyebrows quirking. "Last night?" he says.

Green frowns. "On the mountain..."

Feverish memories, almost like dreams, float to the front of Green's mind, too faint to even grasp. Green slumped into Red's side in silence, eyes heavy and chest heavier. Green, on his side on the hard rock floor, his head in Red's lap. The cave ceiling and around his blurry field of vision, Red's worried face and his Pokemon. Green asking, "Why do you run?" and "Why can't you just train at the gym?" and "If I die, take care of Eevee." Red, voice amused with just a hint of concern, "You won't die, Green."

Being jostled and enveloped by warmth, rocked from side to side and a steady rhythm, the cold air and snow on his cheeks. Watching the mouth of the cave get further and further away over Red's shoulder. Red stroking his hair and running his fingers under Green's hurting eyes, saying, "Why come here when you're sick?" and Green replying breathlessly, "Can't sleep alone."

Green groans and coughs. "That wasn't last night," he says.

Red is smiling softly as he shakes his head.

"You carried me out of the cave."

Another nod. "Two days ago."

Green frowns up at the ceiling, and covers his heating face with his hands when he hears Red snickering. "Why the heck did I get sick and you didn't?" he grits out, annoyed. "You spend hours freezing up there, while I'm holed up in—" Green gasps and shoots straight up into a sitting position. "The gym!" he barks out only to burst into the next violent coughing fit.

Red pats his back. "The gym is fine," he says. "Your trainers are taking care of it."

Green stares at him, choking the cough back. "My—what?" he says.

"Bonita and Arabella," Red says. "You hired them."

Green's eyes boggle. "I didn't—when—I didn't hire them! Red, what did you do?"

Red is examining his cuticles. "Okay," he says. "I hired them."

"What!" Green yelps; it comes out as a croak. "You asshole! It's my gym! You don't get to—" And he's off again, coughing into the palm of his hand until he tears up. He collapses back onto his pillow. "This sucks!" he says. "I can't even yell at you for this."

Red is watching him with a blank expression, leaning forward. "You got sick and I didn't because you're exhausted," he tells him slowly, like Green's a child and Red a patient parent. "You need more sleep and less work. You need help, admit it."

"I admit nothing!" Green snaps.

Red looks at him for a moment longer and shrugs, sets the empty cup on Green's bedside table, and gets up from where he's been perched by Green's bed. He gives him one, significant look, and goes for the door.

Green's eyes boggle.

Red is going to leave him to drown in his mucus.

"Wait," Green calls after him, and covers his mouth as if to physically hold his cough in. "Wait," he wheezes. Red stops and turns. "Won't you—sit with me? Don't go." When Red doesn't move, Green squeezes his eyes shut. "Fine," he grinds out in his best pathetically sick voice. "You're right. You're right, okay? The gym is—a lot of work." With a resigned sigh, Green says, "I should have hired some help."

Red walks over to Green and gives him a toothy smile, which is unusual and always slightly alarming on him. "I lied," he says. "I didn't hire them. But you will now."

Green gapes. "You evil douchebag," he wheezes. "You just wanted me to admit that I need help!"

Red shrugs, holding out his arms.

"I hate you. That was terrible."

"It wasn't terrible," Red says.

Green scowls up at the ceiling, crossing his arms. "I don't like being replaceable."

Red's face fills his entire vision then; he hovers above Green so close that their noses nearly touch, eyes narrowed. "Don't be an idiot," he says in a tone that leaves no room for arguing.

Green nods, pressing his lips together in an attempt not to breathe his germs all over Red. "Okay," he says faintly. "I'm sorry you had to climb off the mountain because of me."

"That's okay," Red says. "It was lonely, anyway."

 

A week later, when Green's lungs feel less like useless bags of hot air, he marches into his gym, Red following behind him like a guard dog, there to make sure Green doesn't back out at last moment.

Arabella and Bonita are standing on the battlefield in tracksuits, surrounded by Arabella's four Pokemon, telling something to her Stantler with their arms at the hips.

"Hey," Green shouts, probably louder than strictly necessary.

Their heads shoot up at the same time and they look towards Green with identical, wide-eyed expressions. "Oh," Arabella says, and straightens up, shuffling around. "Hello, Green. Mr. Oak. Gym Leader Green." She wrings her fingers nervously; for a short moment, she looks like she might salute.

Green smirks—he'd quite like that. "I see you're lording over my gym already, even though you have no authority." He points at Red. "I'd introduce you, but I heard you've already met. To conspire against me."

"Um," Arabella says, glancing somewhere past Green's shoulder; presumably at Red.

Green sidesteps into her line of sight. "He's not going to help you. He's on thin ice with me already," he says. "What do you have to say for yourself?"

Arabella blinks, shakes her head, and takes a deep breath. "I accept the position as a trainer at the gym," she says. "Thank you for the opportunity."

"I haven't offered you anything yet," Green says and Arabella's face falls, turning scarlet. "What do you want, though?"

"Is this a job interview?" Arabella asks.

"Yeah," Green replies. "If I'm going to employ you, I might as well interview you. What do you want?"

Arabella thinks about it for a moment, biting her bottom lip. "I want to be strong enough to earn the Earth Badge," she says. "And to beat the Indigo League. Have enough money to do what I want with myself."

"Kick Lance's ass and get rich? I can get behind that." Green turns to Bonita. "What about you?"

Without missing a beat, Bonita says, "I think you're a prick."

Next to him Red makes a choked off noise, and Green tries to stomp on his feet; he misses only by sheer bad luck. "What the fuck have you been telling them?" he hisses at him.

Red just shakes his head helplessly, choking back laughter.

Green sighs. "I'm going to regret this. I already regret it." He turns to Arabella and Bonita. "The positions are yours if you want them. But—" He holds up his index finger. "—in this gym we work hard. Long hours. Six days a week. This isn't an act of charity, understood? You'll be basically my slaves, except you will get paid."

"So, we will be your… employees," Arabella says, grinning from ear to ear. "That's great!"

It isn't, Green thinks. But it also really kind of is. "Okay, then. I'll call the League, then I'll show you around the gym—"

"No need," Arabella says. "Mr. Red already showed us around." She grins. "Who do you think has been taking care of all your paperwork while you've been ill?"

Green narrows his eyes at Red who looks back innocently. "I hate you," he tells him.

 

"We've been over this a hundred times already, Green," Lance says. "We can't just change things like that, that's not how it works. I just don't see it as an issue."

Green crosses his legs at the ankles on his desk. "Of course not. You don't have ten year olds coming to the Plateau asking why you're giving out the Earth Badge when you don't even train ground types."

"We have a legacy to keep—"

"What legacy? Whose legacy? Giovanni's legacy?"

"You know, I regret approving of you getting help with the gym. You didn't have time to think about this crap when you were drowning in paperwork." Green snorts, and Lance snaps, "What would you even name this new badge? Since you have this all thought-out so thoroughly."

Green shrugs. "Whatever badge. The Cool badge."

Lance makes a noise of utter disgust and hangs up.

Green is still snickering when someone knocks on his door and Bonita pushes her way in with an armful of finished paperwork. She gives Green a questioning look.

"Ah, I've just had a very informative call with Lance," Green tells her. "Apparently, we can't change the gym badge because we need to uphold the legacy of the former Team Rocket leader."

Bonita snorts, and sets the pile of papers onto Green's desk.

Green wiggles his feet, knocking into it lightly. "Thank you," he says.

"Thank you," Bonita replies, and slips out the door.