Warnings: nothing, really.
Summary: Because it takes more than once to reach the sky. Blue, Green, and the ways he tries to teach her to fly.
Notes: Based on the opinion that a phobia takes more than a one-time rush to cure. It's the first time I write for this fandom so characterization might be a little rough – especially Blue's, since this fic is more about her than anyone else. I might get a few (okay, several) things wrong about the timeline, but it's been a while since I last read the manga so I hope you can correct me if anything's ippy.
song to the sky.
The black dress she wore was fluid, and she remembers she likes it for the way the skirt twirls with every subtle graze of the wind that's not strong enough to even lift dead leaves off the ground.
She chooses the colour because it's the stark opposite of her outfits a few years before, the days with the Mask of Ice, and in her mind the outfit is a chain that's startling sterile white. Blue doesn't remember where the hemline ends, doesn't even remember the feel of the material against her skin - it might be rough, smooth, silky, cool, sleeve falling from her shoulder all the time, but the image of the outfit itself is permanently carved into the recesses of her thoughts, like a cigarette burn than gleams fire, more orange than red.
Orange, the background to her dreams of flaps of Ho-oh wings, stealing her away into an ice prison.
Sometimes Blue dreams of flying too, and in the evenings she wakes up with a flutter of eyelashes and looks out the window and sees the orange ray of sun; and then she'll pull her pillow over her head and pretends to be asleep, just for a little while longer. On days like this the incense by her bedside smells that little bit too strong, tendrils of aroma curling around her neck - almost choking, never quite.
It's similar to how she feels whenever she's around Green, maybe.
Green takes her to the park on a Sunday evening, and Blue walks alongside him trying to break the string between wings and the colour of the sky. She's always imagined that her first walk to the park with a boy would follow the script of a small romance, hand in hand and her the independent heroine, him the kind, coaxing hero.
Independence. She prides herself for living on her own, plays the part of the heroine well, but there's something in her that knows that a part of her needs Green even more than he needs her. It's a painful hollow in her mind that always denies that Green's name is etched in there somewhere, somewhere hidden and secret and so safe even storm waves wouldn't erase.
Blue tells nobody of this, much less herself.
Ten minutes and her shoulders bump into his. His hands capture her elbow before she could fall and she pretends her heart doesn't rattle in her chest.
A click of tongue. "Pesky woman. We're here."
"Finally," she rolls her eyes, "I was getting tired of walki-"
'Here' turns out to be a Pidgey feeding area. The sight of hundreds of birds, beaks, wings, saps the strength of her legs; only her distaste at appearing so weak keeps her standing.
There can only be one thing left to do. "Oh, look at the time!" Blue gestures at the clock face of a faraway tower, "I should be going, a lot of business to attend to -"
Green catches her palm before she's able to take a step backwards. He frowns. "I know you'll just run away. As if I'd let you."
"No, I really must be going-"
"Blue." The way Green says her name somehow shatters any semblance of panic. He shakes his head, exasperated and if Blue deludes herself enough, fond. "What did we come here for?"
"To get you new shoes."
Green snorts, pulls her a little closer. "Nice try."
"Argh!" Blue struggles against his grip, but it's futile. Green doesn't let go. "Fine. To try to get over my fear of flying."
Green smirks. "Correction: to get over your fear of birds. There won't be any flying as of today. We'll start slow."
"Come on," he says, and there's a gentle pull of her hand. She doesn't move, because the sight of wings is a shotgun to the mind; scatters of images flash across her retinas, images of prison and chains and a mask that lets her see all a little too much too young too fast, perched above her nose. Suddenly the orange of the sky turns suffocating and again that claustrophobic scent of decay surrounds her like a bite that wouldn't let go.
A warm hand falls upon her eyes. The vision of wings in the sun is obscured; only little sunlight shines through the spaces between Green's fingers. "Fine. You don't have to see them," he says, and Blue can always tell when he thinks he has a bright idea, "Just, follow me. And listen. Listen," and he says the last word with a warm breath - unintentional, she believes - onto the ridge of her ear, sending a shiver down to the tips of her toes.
With their footsteps in line, he guides her gently forward. It's strange how she doesn't feel trapped, even when her movements don't seem her own.
It's even stranger that she's still standing when all she hears is the ruffling of feathers and beating of wings; it's different with Green here, somehow. Seconds pass by and his hand shields her eyes still, and she finds her breathing settle into a comfortable pace, a contrast to how the rhythm of her heartbeats seem to match the wings' beat.
Green notices the slow unwinding of tension in her spine, and he removes the hand on her face. "You can open your eyes if you want to."
It's a wonder to herself that she does.
What she sees is a mass of Pidgeys in almost every inch of the air. Startled, she screams and flails, and it's a few moments before she realizes she's pushed Green into a nearby pool. The splash he makes is quite legendary.
Now she's alone in the midst feathers and flight and all that fills her mind is laughter, she's laughing so hard the birds scatter and maybe for that Green will not scold her when he rises.
The visits to the park become a daily occurrence whenever she's in town, and Green wears a waterproof wristwatch every time but the first.
In towns she notices that her perceptions become sharper, hovering in the air like sharp invisible edges no one would ever think a girl like her possesses.
Precaution, built from years and years of irreversible mistakes, causes Blue to make a note of every face she passes by on the street, labelling them in her mental sketchbook, a simple what to avoid and who to steal from, and it's almost routine the way people think. Blue likes to think she has a mastery of the art of observation; even if she's the furthest person from the primadonna on the stage, even if there will never be hairdressers or designers who paint colours on her face, turns her into someone else, even if she doesn't have all that she twists easily the perceptions other people have about herself - an artist of the mind, imagine that.
Faces on the street are soon forgotten, because a person is only important for the time she can get something out of them. There are a select few she remembers, though.
Among all those faces with a page she remembers Green's the most, and she tells herself the reason for this is that she meets him most frequently; she likes to think she's bringing colour, banging on his door before the sun rises and taking him to the shopping street.
But Green's always been memorable, because when they meet for the first time the first thing Blue notices is not the silver chain hanging from his pocket or the leather wallet inside. It's the way he stands as the wings of his dragon slices the air into ribbons, like he's not, never afraid of falling, and as a tendril of frost rises up her chest she doesn't even bother telling herself she does not envy this.
Truth be told, Blue isn't afraid of falling either. It's just that up in the air she's trapped in that some two by one meters-square of a bird's back, a living thing she's perched on, the movement of wings sends shudders up the soles of her feet. Sometimes it feels like there's an invisible wall of sky trapping her in this strange place where maybe nobody can see her.
It's part of the reason why, when Green tries to take her for a ride she backs away, stutters, "I can't do this!" Green gives her a look that's like asking why.
"What if I fall?"
"You think I'd let you fall?"
"What if we fall?"
"We won't fall. I've been riding Charizard for ages without even swaying."
"Today could be the first. You never know these things." Her feet remain adamantly planted on the ground.
Green lays two fingers against the bridge of his nose and, to her surprise, settles down on the grass below. "Fine," he says, "Fine. I don't know how to do this. Let's just... talk, or something." He gestures vaguely to a patch of grass opposite him. "What do you feel about heights?"
In one of her moments of raw, scalding honesty she ends up telling him close to everything.
With his eyes reflecting sunlight he looks at her straight and startling, and he replies, "What would you need to run away from? You have me."
There's nothing but conviction in his voice, a weight behind his words that pin them steady to the ground. She feels that gripping sensation again. Only this time, instead of cold tendrils of sterile decay she feels warmth.
Memory can be foolish, sometimes, because Blue's smart enough to know that memories are only a selection of electrical impulses in the mind. She's proud of her free lifestyle, but a part of her mind tells her it's ironic the way her biggest captor is herself; whenever thoughts such as these run through her head she's glad she's one of those people who can lie to herself.
"You're not afraid of flying," Green tells her one day when they're sitting beside each other on a park bench. "When we first met," he explains to her questioning stare, "You were on your Jigglypuff."
"That's floating," Blue considers, "It's different."
How, indeed. Green probably wouldn't understand how she would much rather bob aimlessly in the sea or even the sky if it means she wouldn't land somewhere she doesn't want to. Floating's something like choosing a different set of bars over another, and even if at times it still suffocates, without the sound of wings in her ears the only fear she has to overcome is that of being trapped. Truth be told she would prefer a prison some ten or twenty metres high up in the sky if it means no one could lay a hand on her.
With wings there's always the prospect of landing; it brings back that memory of the time she landed in a strange place, surrounded by white masks and echoing laughter, and possibly that scares her most.
"Don't answer," Green shrugs, "You can tell me later when you're ready."
She almost laughs at how easily he makes the promise of later. But again, as always with Green, there's a tendril of comfort that seeps warmly beneath her ribs.
"Let's just try this for now," he says, and tosses her a pokéball. "That's Pidgeot. Take care of him for a few days."
This is unexpected, and she responds by reflex. "You sure you'd really leave your pokémon with me?" This she says with a fluttering of eyelashes and not a little amusement - just following the script, just to make it seem like she doesn't want an answer.
Green shrugs. "You haven't killed any of yours yet. Must be doing something right, at least."
This is supposed to be sweet, in Green's terms, but all she can think about is what if and or else and suddenly she's back in that cage of responsibility.
She wills her breathing to stay normal when all she wants is to run away from here. "I'm flattered, Green," she forces a smug grin, of course I'm doing something right, and lets the script in her mind do the talking for her. "But so sadly, I don't think it's the right time. I have a lot of things to do, you know, and while I'm sure Pidgeot would benefit from my expertise," here he rolls his eyes, "I think you'll have to find someone else."
Green sighs. "Look, I'm not expecting anything, all right? Just let him out every few days," then his look darkens as he narrows his eyes, "Of course, if anything happens..."
Or else, the echo of the Mask of Ice resounds in her ears, and Blue waits for the impending punishment. But Green just coughs, a little. "Of course, if I find a ribbon on his head or... pink dye," he shudders, "I will murder you in your sleep."
It's somewhat insulting that to Green the worst she can do is pink hair dye; somewhat gratifying as well, because it's as if her tenure with the Mask has never happened, as if she's just an ordinary girl. Clicking her tongue, she shakes her head. "How violent." He makes a tch sound while she continues, "Who do you think I am?" and for once she means the smile and the sentiment.
When she returns Pidgeot some weeks later he's covered in head to toe with salmon, not pink dye, and even if Green fumes and grumbles for days and forces her to wash all that disgusting stuff out, he still doesn't kill her in her sleep. There's the warmth that she associates with Green and she finds that she can admit at least that much.
Waking up and in front of her doorstep is a Spearow, leg bent and bite marks on its wings, tufts of feathers and blood trailing the ground. It's like a scene out of a movie; the heroine, only kindness in her heart, cradles gently the bird with torn wings and nurses it until it is able to fly again. They never tell the story of the heroine who has ornithophobia.
It would be too easy to shut the door and walk away – she can do this without feeling the slightest bit of guilt, because in half an hour the city cleaners will arrive, and the Spearow will be deposited to the nearest Pokémon centre. Will it survive until then? Blue doesn't ask herself, but as she hears the creak of the door closing she remembers Green's Pidgeot, calm and majestic and gentle all at once, his eyes gleaming proud under sunshine before it lowers its beak, an approval of her as his temporary master.
Stumbling out the front steps and scooping the broken bird into her arms, she runs straight to the Centre without looking back – she runs so fast the wind whistles in her ears.
The automatic door of the Centre opens, letting her in. She deposits the Spearow on the counter, chest too tight with contradictions and warnings and fear to speak, but the nurse smiles at her and gestures to the waiting seats.
She sits there for who knows how long, spine a straight rod and feet tapping the legs of her chair. Her eyes are fixed on the clenched fingers in her lap so she misses it when the door opens and Green walks in, until he approaches her and calls out her name. Her head snaps up.
"I saw you running here. What happened?"
Opening her mouth to answer, she is interrupted by a soft voice from behind the counter. "Miss," the nurse begins, shaking her head slowly, and Blue doesn't have time to steel herself. "I'm sorry – the snake venom –" She knows she doesn't need to hear the rest. Shoving Green out of the way, she bolts out of the building.
There is no story for you, she hears, and from a near-forgotten corner of her mind – the one with the crawling thorns that lurk hidden, always ready to snap at her ankles or her wrists whenever she's not ready – from that corner of her mind the Mask of Ice's laughter echoes.
She ends up in one of the grasslands near town, and this is where she stops, lungs burning and knees giving way. Later, Green is the one who finds her, his brows creased and him looking slightly out of breath. She is crouched on the ground, face buried in her knees. As he approaches his sneakers rustle the grass, and when he's within arm-length he flops down onto the green below.
"You didn't let her finish," Green pauses, inhales, "She said the Spearow will have to stay for a while. To get the venom out of its system."
Her eyes widen, a gasp slipping past her lips. Taking a deep breath, she finds that the laughter in her mind has dissolved.
"Of all the women I've met, you're probably the most screwed up," Green mutters as his breath settles, "Annoying woman. If you want to cry, just cry."
"I'm not crying," Blue mumbles, voice muffled, stubborn until the last of the stars fall.
"Huh," Green shrugs. He remains beside her until the sun sets, until orange no longer paints the sky. There's a secret part of her wishing for forever.
Somewhere between the spaces of the sky there is a story for someone like her, Blue recognizes. Maybe the pages are dog-eared and stained and torn, edges frayed and blurred, the words hidden beneath masks and sterile white and the cloying weight of wounds and ashes – but she sees them for what they are, now. It's the same as her black dress, now replaced by bright red and bright blue.
This is the reason why as soon as the peak of the sun appears over the horizon she's banging on Green's door, carrying a pokéball with a Spearow in it, listening to the tittering song of morning birds.
Green yanks the door open, still in his pyjamas and a murderous gleam in his eyes.
Blue whistles, musters her best impish smile. "You promised we'd go flying today, didn't you? Hurry up, we've got a lot to do!"
She giggles as Green suppresses a groan. "I don't remember you being this enthusiastic before," he mutters, but even he cannot hide the corner of his lips that threaten to rise.
He doesn't need to. Before he can move away, Blue stands on her tiptoes and takes a hold of his collar, lay her lips on his. Instead of shackles and cages and ivy thorn chains, Blue thinks she feels like flying.
Thank you for reading. All mistakes are mine. I'd be really grateful if you point them out to me.