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This isn’t Silver’s world.

That’s how the man who looks like his father but isn’t had explained it after he’d found him cold, lost, and tired in the forest yesterday; some pokemon had dragged him from his to this one. Or at least that’s the theory.

It doesn’t make sense, but given that his father left three days ago, and clearly doesn’t actually care what happens to him (and wears a different cut of suit, has a different brand of cigarettes, doesn’t drink, wouldn’t train a beedrill if his life depended on it), Silver is inclined to agree with this somewhat nicer version of Team Rocket’s leader.

Or former leader; the organization is gone here too.

Not that that matters; Silver’s only staying here until his probably bruised ribs heal, and then he’s gone. He’s learned what reliance gets him.

There is one thing confusing him; Giovanni had known his name in the forest, which implies that there is another Silver in this world as well. But there are no signs of a child in the house.

No signs of anyone in the house, really. It’s clear Giovanni’s injuries (apparently “Red” is more destructive than Leaf) are the only things keeping him here; the place is barely used.

All the more reason to be ready to leave.

But he’s still making the most of his remaining time in the mansion (that is not home, no matter how much it looks like it); currently curled up in a guestroom with a book, taking a break from combing over maps of Johto and Kanto to piece together a plan.

The door opening pulls him from the story, and he looks up to see Giovanni standing in the doorway.

“What is it?” Silver asks, sitting up straighter in his chair.

“I think we may as well discuss plans. Seeing as you’ll be sticking around for the time being, you should have a say in them.”

Silver blinks. “I’ll just leave once my ribs are manageable.” Currently, even the stairs are winding him, hiking would probably land him in the hospital. “If you’re planning on leaving before then, I’ll go…” There is nowhere to go.

“I’m offering to take you with, Silver.”

“Why?” His father would not help a random child from the forest, and he sees no reason this man would either, beyond what he’s done already. “I’m not your son.”

Did he wince?

“I’m aware of that. What you are, is eight, injured, and alone. If your heart’s set on taking off by yourself, fine. Otherwise, you can come with me to Olivine in, let’s say two weeks, and from there, probably Kalos while Interpol’s agents pretend to do their jobs here.”

“Why Olivine? What’s wrong with Vermilion?”

“The ports have all been shut down for a while.”

So Team Rocket got more done here. Father would hate this world.

“Oh.” He studies the wall next to Giovanni. There’s no real reason to say no, other than just a rather large fear of it being a trap. But what does it matter where he gets dumped? He’d be just as alone in Kalos as he is here. “I don’t have a passport.”

“That can be changed. Yes or no?”

“I’ll come with. For a bit.”

~

The boy hurts to look at; almost every inch of him an unwanted reminder of what could (should) have been. The one exception and respite being his wrong colored eyes, red instead of gray, and they’re undeniably the only things making this sudden arrangement manageable.

He’d been huddled up in the forest when Giovanni found him, nursing injuries from an apparent fall, and seemingly oblivious to how he’d wound up there. Giovanni had had a brief few seconds of relief before it became apparent that they both thought they were speaking to someone else.

He has yet to get a full story of what had sent Silver running into the forest in his world, but judging by the bought of yelling he’d been greeted with, it had been some familial dispute brought about by a combination of Team Rocket, and a father apparently oblivious to his blessings.

That a bedroom window had not been smashed in by that damned bird, that his son knows his name and face, that he knows he’s alive.

Silver’s behavior in the two weeks before they leave is enough to paint a bit of a picture of his life though; his surprise at a lack of staff around the house aside, he’s at least somewhat independent, if anti-social.

But nothing in his behavior speaks of fear. Loneliness, yes, but not fear. He doesn’t flinch away, or avoid contact, and, while it had taken a bit of prompting, it wasn’t impossible to get him talking about non-family related topics: battling, mainly, but also which books he’d been flipping through, and a handful of vague questions about Team Rocket.

And why Giovanni’s helping him, which is the one thing he doesn’t have an answer for, beyond that he hadn’t been able to leave him in the forest. That mess of bright red hair had been enough to keep him rooted to the spot even after he’d realized it was not his son at his feet.

Besides, his son is gone (for now), and this apparently-fatherless boy had been all but dropped into his lap in a forest that Giovanni is not wholly certain is only what it appears to be; perhaps he should keep him around.

If nothing else, he is enjoying the company, especially on the otherwise dull trip to Kalos.

Even if Silver is currently more interested in finding a way of sleeping that puts as much of him on top of Giovanni as possible than any conversation, as he dozes with his head in his lap on the couch in their cabin on the ship.

At least he’s trusting.

(He’d missed this.)

~

A year and a half in Kalos, then back to Kanto they go.

Silver still has no interest in getting back to his world (and he’s sure his father has even less interest in him anyway), and is perfectly content to continue pretending that nothing is out of place.

Giovanni is gone for a few months, dealing with the Elite Four, and whatever they were planning (is there anyone in the Kanto League who isn’t hell-bent on some convoluted plot in this world? He had liked Koga and Surge in his, Bruno had always seemed pleasant, and he doesn’t remember Agatha ever being mean to someone not named Oak), but beyond that, this is the most attention he’s gotten from someone who hasn’t been paid to deal with him in years. (Even if Giovanni is frequently buried in research, but he’s at least around.)

It’s still not his world. Things are still different enough that he can’t forget that. But the differences are for the most part good, and it’s not impossible to lie to himself that nothing’s wrong.

He doesn’t want to go home, and even if he did there is no guaranteed way to do so, why does it matter if it’s not really his world?

There is still the mystery of his seemingly vanished other-self though. He’s not quite willing to ask about it, but a locked bedroom near Giovanni’s, and scribbling on the wall of a guest room indicate that there had been a child here at some point.

He gets the start of an answer in a library in Viridian, as he skims through books, killing time more than actually browsing.

A gloved finger taps his shoulder, and he hears a too-sweet voice chirp, “Silver? What are you doing here?”

He twists around, startled, and his eyes land on…

Leaf?

Maybe?

She looks a bit like the girl he saw leaving his father’s gym.

But she’s definitely not her specifically.

Not-Leaf’s eyes widen before she hides her surprise with a smile. “Sorry, thought you were someone else.”

She steps away but glances back at him with enough confusion in her eyes that he doesn’t think she’s completely convinced she made a simple mistake.

“What happened to your son?”

The question slips out that night over dinner, and Giovanni goes completely still.

“He was taken.” There’s an edge to his voice when he replies, and he leans back, looking like he’s trying to force himself to relax. “By Ho-oh, when he was two.”

“Is that why you let me stay?”

“I’m not trying to turn you into a replacement if that’s what you’re asking. But your company hasn’t been awful either. I thought you were him in the forest, it seemed wrong to leave you just because you weren’t.”

An hour later, Silver curls up next to him on the couch, letting an arm wrap around his shoulders as Giovanni continues reading.

“Are you still looking for him?”

Giovanni pauses mid-page-turn, before nodding. “There’s almost no chance he’s still alive, but I need to find something.”

If Silver had any desire to go home, he’d feel jealous. Instead, he explains about the girl.

~

Well, Green hadn’t been wrong.

The boy she’d told him to meet up with for information on his family does look a lot like him.

Except Silver’s never that relaxed, and when his doppelganger takes his sunglasses off (Silver wouldn’t wear those (or the black blazer) either) his eyes are revealed to be red.

She hadn’t told him who he is either, and currently Silver is leaning towards a brother, if only because he can’t think of anything else.

But he’ll have an answer to that once he walks over (he’s not stalling or nervous), and he’ll at least be on the way home by the end of the day.

In theory.

He’s not sure why he’s so worried about this; Green had broken their somewhat-agreed-upon radio silence to tell him about this, clearly, she’s expecting it to end well.

Finally, he walks over, stopping next to the strange boy.

“Green didn’t tell me your name.”

He jumps, looking up, and his eyes widen briefly before he smirks.

“Yeah, I don’t think she believed the one I gave her.” He stands up and tilts his head. “That sounds bad, sorry. Uh… we’re taking the train back to Viridian, and meeting up with your father. If you’re okay with the train?”

“The train’s fine.”

“Your father” not “our father”. So maybe he’d been wrong. And still no name.

But he follows him to the train station, and within a few hours, they’re in Viridian, walking towards the forest.

The boy is still nameless.

Silver is still confused.

But Green wouldn’t have sent him into a trap.

Even if she didn’t seem to know much more than he does.

The house throws him off when they finally reach it; it’s overwhelmingly large, and Silver almost freezes when the other boy opens the front door and motions for him to go through.

There’s no way this is the right place.

This isn’t his world.

It’s too nice.

But he makes himself step through the door, and as he goes Sneasel decides to let herself out.

She eyes the other boy as they follow him down the hall, and into a room where they find his father.

Silver takes in the man in front of him as he stands up; dark hair and eyes, a dark suit. And the fact that he doesn’t recognize him at all.

He hadn’t expected to, but it still hurts that no part of this feels familiar.

He takes a hesitant step forward, and his father walks over, sinking down in front of him almost immediately, and Silver reaches up to catch his hand when he brushes his fingers through his hair, before almost crumpling against him.

~

The first few weeks are difficult.

It’s neither of the boys’ fault; while they don’t necessarily get along, they aren’t too eager to antagonize each other either (and his son had taken the explanation of the other boy’s presence oddly well).

No, Giovanni just has no idea what to do now that he has him back.

Everything about his behavior speaks of years on the streets: an urgency when eating, an apparent wariness in the house, and Giovanni’s sure that if he bothered to look he’d find stashed food somewhere.

(Not to mention the scars on his arms (why has a ten-year-old been in knife fights?), the way he flinches back from any contact, and seems constantly braced for reprimands when none are necessary.)

Team Rocket is brought up courtesy of the girl (Green, apparently), and a carefully worded explanation, and a talk between the two boys that he hadn’t been part of later, and his son acts no differently than before.

He still won’t share what happened though.

But for now, Giovanni is content to let it remain a mystery. There will be time for vengeance later, right now he would rather figure things out here.

With both of them.