It would be expected for the strongest trainer in the region (excluding the Champion and ex Champion, of course) to be this full of himself.
Raihan poses with a fan, his smile blinding, fangs showing, taking one of his famous selfies. Piers gulps as he looks at him, pretending not to care too much. He knows he is not exactly doing a good job at concealing his feelings, he never does.
His pride always has other plans.
It would be expected of Raihan not to even notice him looking, but he does. And as soon as their eyes meet, Piers averts his.
Raihan may be the second (or third, anyway) strongest trainer in the region, but Piers swears he feels Raihan’s eyes on him more often than before. Not a hint of pride or superiority on his face.
“You look at me. A lot. Too much.” he tells Raihan once, half playful. Playing hard to get.
Raihan’s smile is tiny this time, but he doesn’t stop looking. They’re sitting together, waiting for their next match. It usually ends up like this, them facing each other in battle, two different kinds of passion meeting face to face.
Raihan has even stopped dynamaxing if he is battling Piers, and he deeply appreciates the gesture. He doesn’t have the strength to taunt him about it.
“You do, too.” Raihan states, as a matter of fact, one of his big hands playing with his phone as he finally stops looking at him, even if just for a second.
Retrospectively, Piers should have expected that.
Raihan shrugs. Piers doesn’t miss that he takes advantage of the gesture, getting a little closer to him. He almost gets tempted to laugh.
“You’re a cool guy, Piers.”
He doesn’t have the heart to say anything to that.
To be fair, Piers loves teasing others. From his colleagues, to the few young trainers that actually face him. Not with Raihan. His characteristic acidic remarks get reduced to a bashful silence when Raihan smiles at him.
“You’re as strong as I am.” Raihan continues, seeing that Piers cannot utter a single word. “A good brother, too. A good guy.”
Piers does perk up at that. Apparently, Team Yell hasn’t gone unnoticed in the region. And not just because of the obvious reasons. Piers loves his sister, that much is true. To the point that his love inspired a whole town to make sure that Marnie succeeded. Not that she needed anyone’s help, really. Not that Team Yell made him feel any less depressed and guilty for what Spikemuth had become, back in the day, before the whole legendary mess thing.
“Just doin’ my job.” he retorts, his fingers nervously playing with one of his locks.
Raihan looks at him in disbelief, because his façade is apparently just that obvious.
“Let’s stop playing cat and mouse, shall we?” Raihan says, and Piers’ eyes open wide, feeling his neck burn in embarrassment.
At that, Raihan smiles wider, as if he were expecting the question.
“You’re not good at this pretending thing, Piers.”
“‘M not good at a lot of things.”
Raihan’s laugh makes him realise his mistake. He’s usually that bad at interacting with others, even more when he’s nervous. His gym mates and his sister find him endearing, but most people just find him plain rude. Not that they’re wrong, exactly. Piers enjoys being a little shit from time to time. Almost always.
“Such a charmer.”
Piers groans, out loud, deeply embarrassed, face between his hands. They’re alone, and the air feels a little heavy. He is not usually honest about his feelings, but he knows better than to keep hiding them. They both know better.
“A’ight, I like you. A lot.” he admits, his voice shaking a little. “Chuffed now, I bet.”
He can feel Raihan getting closer to him. He is big, taller than anyone Piers knows, and the thought makes the blush run up to his cheeks.
“You bet, alright.”
Piers can feel Raihan’s fangs on his lower lip when they kiss. Big hands on his shoulders, gently moving towards his neck. He feels a soft bite, and he almost moans. Almost.
“Such an arse…”
But Piers doesn’t mean any of that. He just stays close, and wants to be closer. To the guy who looks at him and sees right through him. The one who renders him speechless.
And suddenly, the announcer pronounces their names. They both groan in frustration, but know it cannot be helped.
“Ready to bite the dust?” Piers asks, his fake confidence returning to him in a second as he gets up.
Raihan’s eyes shine when he looks at him, and he gets up, too.
“When I win.” he starts, cocky, pride making him look even taller. “You’re gonna sing one of those beautiful songs of yours. Tonight. On a date.”
Again, Piers goes silent, cursing under his breath as he runs towards the field.
He swears that he doesn’t lose the match on purpose. Solemnly. It’s just that he has never been a good gym leader, after all.