Burgh listened to the tale in silence, every ounce of energy in his body focused on absorbing even the slightest details of Grimsley’s words. They ended up seated on the floor in the middle of Burgh’s room, illuminated by pale light that gave the setting a far eerier quality than the younger would have liked, but he would take what he could get. It felt like a miracle on its own that Grimsley was even here, right in front of him, speaking — on more than one occasion Burgh found his mind wandering, just marvelling at how much he had missed this stubborn, proud boy.
But at the conclusion of Grimsley’s tale Burgh had no clue what to say. What could he say, anyway? He was only a child, and unlike his friend he knew next to nothing about his parent’s line of work. As it happened he didn’t need to say anything, because Grimsley began to speak again.
"All I truly know is that… I need you…"
Burgh’s heart flipped erratically, elation swimming through his body at the quiet confession. He bit his tongue in an attempt to hold down the fit of happiness threatening to burst forth, and it worked for the most part. Grimsley then requested to spend the night with him, and that had the brunet, nodding immediately. “O-Of course, of course!” he exclaimed, simply unable to contain his energy anymore. He was about to scramble to his feet and rush for the linen closet in the hallway, before changing his mind at the last moment and instead lunging for Grimsley with open arms. Burgh wrapped the other boy in a tight hug, holding him close.
"I missed you a lot, you big idiot," he whispered into his friend’s ear, only barely resisting the urge to nuzzle against Grimsley’s cheek. And then he was up on his feet, trotting out of the room to acquire more blankets.
When he returned he brandished an assortment of bedding supplies; two rather fluffy pillows and several thick blankets of various colours. He dumped them all on his bed and fell into the pile seconds later, giggling quietly to himself. He hoped that Grimsley didn’t think he was ignoring his problems — no, it was exactly the opposite. He may not have known how to fix them, but he certainly knew how to make his friend feel better, at least for the moment. “Giima!” he hissed from the bed, sitting up and patting the space beside him. “Come on, you’ll sleep much better up here.”
While Grimsley has spoke, his friend had sat still and listened attentively, keeping a wide, focused gaze fixed upon him throughout the entirety of his tale. The young Sinclair appreciated this— not only for the amount of care and concern and shown, but also because with the sluggish state he was in, he wasn’t sure that he could process his thoughts and words well enough to handle sudden questions. Not for tonight, anyways…
After he was finally able to crawl over his guilt and bride to get the big question out, Burgh spoke a brief and hasty reply of approval that was delivered with refreshing enthusiasm. After this, the boy seemed to scramble about himself, unsure of where he was going or whether he wished to rise to his feet at all or not. Grimsley watched him with his piercing eyes, anticipating his movement, until suddenly Burgh’s movement was towards him.
The young Sinclair lost sight of his friend as he came to close to his body to be able to see him. Instead of his vision, Burgh’s scent and warmth became what overtook his senses. The other boy came rushing towards him and wrapped himself tightly around him, leaving Grimsley tense and wide eyed.
For as long as he could remember, Grimsley had always loathed the sensation of close physical contact, even from his best friend. He’d been so scant of it from his family for all of his life that when he finally began receiving it— no matter how warm its intent may have been— it had made him oddly uncomfortable. His general distance from most people and high poise as served as a cog, as well.
Despite all of these past preferences, at this one time in this particular contact, Grimsley felt none of that at all; there was no discomfort or uneasiness, and somehow… he found himself enjoying his friend’s touch and responded by snaking his arms around Burgh in return.
The messaged that had carried on the warm breath that had hit his ear left Grimsley holding a soft smile. Burgh, though, had ended their embrace just as the words were spoken and then trotted out of the room, so it was unable to be seen by him. The ravenet held this expression until he returned into the room carrying several additional blankets. Grimsley kept his a warm gaze on him, but spoke no words, hoping the fact that he hadn’t pushed him away and his tender demeanor would be enough to get this message across: he’d truly missed Arti, too.
Burgh carried his pile of blankets over to his bed where he plopped them down and then plopped himself down on top of them. After a moment, he raised back up and called for him to join him up.
"Come on, you’ll sleep much better up here."
"…Is that really alright?"
Grimsley was hesitant, voicing his doubts just loud enough for Burgh to hear. His expression sunk back to one that was notably more docile as we slowly began pacing his way towards the bed, eyeing his friend questionably. He’d felt guilty enough for even askingto be harbored here to begin with, but now Burgh was insisting on sharing his own bed, as well…? Grimsley had planned on sleeping on the ground somewhere in the room, or perhaps on a stray chair or other piece of furniture, not wanting to be any more of a burden.
Sure, the two of them had shared rooms and even beds before when they were children. As they grew older, these events, of course, became less and less frequent until they stopped completely. It wasn’t the idea of it that bothered him, but moreso the worry of his presence being troubling in any way…
Burgh, though, seemed to see it as far from that. As Grimsley reluctantly crawled up onto his friend’s bed and sat down beside him, that gleeful smile had never left Burgh’s face. Grimsley couldn’t quite understand it, but it made him happy and more willing to, nonetheless.
Making himself comfortable, Grimsley grabbed one of the blankets from the pile and made himself nestled underneath it. He laid his head down and then placed his gaze back onto his friend, planning to speak up again in order to thank him. The young man opened his mouth to do so, but no words came out. This was because he fond himself drifting to sleep almost instantly. The young Sinclair had just experience the single most stressful and eventful day of his life, and— needless to say— he was completely exhausted.
Within in seconds of laying down, Grimsley was completely unconscious beside Burgh, the last image he saw before falling asleep being the warm and comforting sight of his friend’s cheerful face.
Though the offender who had stepped out in front of Cress stopped him in his tracks they didn’t knock him over, both managing to narrowly avoid the collision. Cress scowled a little at the interruption to his search, his mood already starting to dampen, but when he noticed just who he had run into he paused and stared. “… Oh. Hello.”
Cress blinked up at the Dark-type master, suddenly forgetting how to speak. They had met before, only briefly at League functions and the like, so they were able to exchange pleasantries with practised ease. Anything more than that, however — well, perhaps now they would find out how that worked. ”Grimsley Sinclair,” the young Gym Leader said with a small smile, “I could say likewise. What were you doing lurking in the dark side-streets?”
His teasing words were just that; only teasing. If Grimsley wanted to lurk, that was okay, and he was almost certain it was to avoid the crowds. Someone as famous as him would be swamped by the public in such an open place. Cress sighed a little at the query, shoulder stumping in an uncharacteristic manner. “Cilan wants exotic groceries for the restaurant, and of course I made the bright decision of running the errand myself.” The laugh he let out was weak, forced. He didn’t like admitting he’d been wrong, made a bad decision. “Castelia is far bigger than any city I frequent; I’m afraid I’ve no idea where I’m heading.” Glancing up at Grimsley, he added, “Probably in circles.”
Cress took a moment to take in the surroundings, catch a glimpse of anything that looked like the name of the street he was searching for. He was much too proud to ask Grimsley for help, though, even though it was likely the Elite knew exactly where he should be headed. The blue triplet huffed quietly, flashing an embarrassed smirk up at the other man. “Maybe Cilan didn’t write these addresses down correctly. I feel like I’ve been searching this place for hours now.”
"I don’t believe you’re in any position to be questioning my means of travel through the city, now, Cress…" The man replied with a small, concealed, chuckle, voice as equally impish. He was fixed on the other man with downward yet covertly friendly eyes, his icy blue stare beading into him in a way that would easily intimidate an uneasy stranger. This particular Elite’s unique eye color had always tended to have that effect on people, though, regardless of his true convictions. "I do seem to be doing a much better job of it than a certain someone… You really shouldn’t question a local, you know."
Grimsley’s background wasn’t exactly commonly known information to the world, regardless of his status and the attention of detail given to him by the public because of it. Regardless of that, Cress wasn’t just any general member of society, and something as seemingly trivial as a hometown wouldn’t hurt to be shared. As a matter of fact, in this particular situation, him knowing this would most likely make him seem more trustworthy and make this exchange a bit easier— and perhaps more eventful.
"And, since I am a local, perhaps I may be fine with lending a hand to a lost visitor. If it’s fresh culinary ingredients you’re after, I’d assume they’d be in the market district, which just happens to be near where I’m heading, myself…” Grimsley’s last few words lingered in his mouth, elongated for effect while he looked to Cress, questioningly. “How about you let me lead the way? If…”
After his brief proposal, the Elite began to overtly step around the other man until he now stood behind him. He continued to back away, all while never taking his eyes off of the former Leader, his sharp gaze narrowed while his mouth sat tugged into a roguish smile. He quickly moved back until he was left standing just at the entrance of another dark side street, the shadow cast from the nearby building falling upon him.
"…you don’t mind running these alleys with me, that is…"
Burgh watched as his friend’s eyes began to glisten, worry rising quickly in his chest. “Of… Yes, of course I was…” he mumbled, taking a small step closer when Grimsley lifted a hand and touched his damp cheek. “Giima? What’s wrong?”
But Grimsley was smiling, so there couldn’t be something wrong, could there? All of this was very confusing to Burgh. On any other day he would have pouted and whined until Grimsley told him what on Earth was going on, but the tears on this occasion were the one thing holding it back.
"Grimsley…" the young Thayer began, huffing in exasperation, "I don’t understand. You’re acting so strange…! What in the name of Arceus is going on?" He grabbed the older boy’s hand, gripped it tightly and levelled him with as much of a serious expression as he could manage.
An entire month. That’s how long it had been since the two had seen each other. A lot of things could change in a month — for Burgh, change was limited to the lack of contact with his friend. But for Grimsley… a lot more than just that had changed, and deep down Burgh knew it. He just didn’t know what, and it was eating him up inside.
The silence stretched on, and it didn’t take much longer for Burgh to cave and start talking again. “Are you moving away?” he asked, not really wanting to know the answer. But he couldn’t take not knowing a second longer. “If I’m the only one you have… please tell me what happened.”
The silence that surged while Grimsley’s emotions swirled raged on, continuing his lack of communication with the person he’d came her to be consoled by in the first place. The troubled Sinclair remained in this state for all too long, none of his friend’s words having the capability of reaching him…
But, his touch had had a different effect; the firm feel of Burgh grabbing his hand tightly brought Grimsley back to his senses, causing him to raise his head, his expression holding a sudden attentiveness. It was then that he was able to take in the sight of his friend’s brooding gaze. The last few phases he spoke were the only ones he was able to hear, but they were the only ones that he needed to reply to.
"Ah…" The boy exhaled, a small bit of nerved laughter riding under his breath. "Forgive me— the thought of you being concerned with me has been weighing on me for all of this time, yet I’m causing just that with such a stunt, aren’t I? I’m sorry, Arti…"
He paused, taking another moment for a strained chuckle. A weak smile rested upon his face, perhaps as an attempt from the boy to put on a facade to lead his friend to believe everything was alright. But, he knew that wasn’t true; Arti probably knew that by this point, as well.
As his silence grew longer, as did the corners of his lips fall shorter, descending until sitting into a very low frown. He knew that— even here, in a place that held the warm and gentle vibe of a safe haven— he had to face the truth… But, he wouldn’t be facing it alone.
"But… I’m afraid your worry is well-placed," he spoke again, sadly.
"Moving isn’t… quite right." Grimsley answered his friend in a low tone. He then took a moment to turn his head to the side and towards the balcony from whence he came, looking out into the neighboring darkness, knowing exactly what structure was hidden within it. "I’ve— no, we’ve all— been removed: that is no longer my home. No place is my home… All because of my father…”
And, from off that dishearten prologue, Grimsley began telling his whole story to Burgh. He started from the beginning, explaining his lack of presence at the manor and how he’d been brought along to work with his parents daily for hours and hours on end, joining them as they carried out their duties for what his father called ‘future reference.’ He also mentioned how his father had spoke of ‘big things to come,’ leaving that as his explanation for why the heir was required follow behind them everyday.
The trips to the company had left him exhausted, and he explained how any time he had been at home he had been resting. The moment he would wake up, it was back off into the city with his parents… Except for that one night, that in reality was only a day ago.
Grimsley recited the argument that he’d overheard between his parents and the reaction he’d had to it. His father was hiding something from all of them, and it was at that time that the young heir learned that something very big was happening to all of them, and it was an event that filled his mind and heart with anxious dread all up until the moment that his father gathered all of his family and began a tale of his own, a take that was full of negligence, carelessness, and greed.
Following the reveal of his father’s mistakes and what would come from it— and fall upon all of them, regardless of their lack of involvement in father’s backfired plan— came the wait for morning, where each and every Sinclair became a victim to their own thoughts and fears of what would become of them, including Grimsley. When morning came, that was no longer their home; as they emptied out onto the streets, all that belonged to them was whatever to carry, which for Grimsley had been his Purrloin. He made sure to mention to his friend that he still had her, knowing that Burgh was well aware of how much she meant to him.
The remainder of the story had came easy: the separation from his family and how he now had no idea of their whereabouts was the only last hurdle. He explained the petulant behavior of his father, even with his current situation, and how he felt truly sorry for the remainder of his family members. Even though they’d never treated Grimsley particularity well in the past, they didn’t deserve to suffer in such a drastic way due to the mistakes of someone else. Grimsley was in a way relieved that he didn’t have to put up with his father’s unbelievable behavior at this time, but he’d known that he in no way wanted to find himself all alone during this time. And so, that need for company and comfort had brought him here to the only person he had left, thus ending his story.
"Arti…" He spoke his friend’s name softly after the moment of silence that had followed the conclusion of his tale. "I want to take some sort of action; I want to attempt to ale this situation… but… I’m in no state for that. Right now, I think I just need a moment of solace…"
It had been a lot of information for one person to take in. Even Grimsley himself, somewhere in his mind, still couldn’t fully believe the situation he was in. Too much had happened too fast and he was still in a state of reeling, his uncontrollable emotions being proof of that. Even now, Grimsley found himself feeling and thinking in ways that he never had before, or at least had never wanted to accept or admit to himself.
"All I truly know is that… I need you…"
Even after his episode from just a short while ago, Grimsley was finding it hard to express himself to his friend, his pride becoming an obstacle; the difficulty of dropping any and all prior condescension he’d had with his wealth to fully grasp the lack of power and importance he now had was one that cannot be worded. He found himself feeling overbearingly guilty to even think of asking Arti to tend for him like this, but Grimsley had to realize that he was now completely defenseless; he had no right to pride, now, and would have to drop all his inhibitions.
Looking back up to Arti with one truly tenuous, silently pleading stare, Grimsley spoke his true request:
"And— if it’s alright— I wish to spend my nights with you…"
One month without talking to Giima was far, far too long for Burgh to handle.
It had started one weekend, when upon visiting the Sinclair Manor Burgh had been informed by a maid that Grimsley was with his father all day. Though a little deflated he had accepted the fact, after all, there was nothing he could do to change Mr. Sinclair’s schedule. The lively young brunet had nodded and smiled, told the maid to tell his friend that he stopped by, and went back home. It was no big deal, just swing and a miss. He’d catch up with Giima tomorrow.
But then tomorrow came, and Grimsley didn’t. One day was nothing to worry about, but two? His friend would have let him know if he knew he was going to be gone for a while. But maybe he didn’t know? There were too many possibilities, and Burgh just wanted an answer. Wanted to know where his friend had gone.
By the end of the first week Burgh had been to the Sinclair residence at least once a day, sometimes more — but it soon became apparent that he wouldn’t be getting to see Grimsley any time soon. It was always the same story; he was away with his father, he was resting and not to be disturbed, even a blunt dismissal of the young Thayer’s request. So eventually he stopped going, sick of the same answers that told him nothing.
After that Burgh took to sitting in the tree just outside his bedroom, lazing around and watching the Sinclair’s driveway for something, anything. Occasionally a car would pull in or pull out of the property, the staff would come and go, but there was no sign of Grimsley anywhere. The heavy feelings that began to weigh down on the bubbly young teen were unfamiliar to him, made him restless. He had to fight with himself to stay cheerful. Giima wouldn’t want him to be sad, even if he was too proud to say it. It would be something like, "Don’t waste your thoughts on me, it’s pitiful. Worry about yourself for a change." Imagining Giima say that to him made Burgh laugh, brought a smile to his previously gloomy expression.
As the days went by Burgh attempted to remain cheery, distracted himself by playing with Lily and Venipede, doodling in his sketch pad, climbing over the tree outside his balcony; sometimes all three. He would sit in the curve of a branch, sketch pad balanced on his knees and Pokemon cuddled up against his shoulders and head. He would draw whatever came to mind, mostly nature scenes and Pokemon. But at some point he began to draw people, namely one. Page after page was suddenly covered with monochrome sketches of his dear friend Giima, busts and full bodies, hands and clothes, facial expressions and hairstyles. It was the only way he could get it all off his chest, find some silence in his head that buzzed endlessly like a hive full of Combee. And it worked for the most part. If he concentrated enough it felt like he was actually with Giima again.
And then one morning the moving trucks arrived. Burgh’s mind reeled, what in the name of God was happening with Giima? Nothing made sense. Why were there moving trucks? Was Giima leaving? Did he plan on telling his friend any of this? Did he even care what Burgh thought? Did he hate him now or something?
But thankfully, that night the radio silence ended.
It was after midnight when Burgh was alerted to the sound of rustling in the tree outside. He hadn’t been asleep just yet, so when he opened his eyes at the noise he was almost completely awake. When the sound abruptly stopped the young Thayer turned his head slightly, green eyes straining to see through the darkness until —
Oh god. Was he dreaming or was this actually happening?
He stared at the shadowed figure in his doorway for a moment before a grin broke out on his face. Burgh sat up in a flash, flicking his bedside lamp on and very nearly leaping across the room. “Giima!” he whispered in his happiest voice, sliding the balcony door open a little more to let Grimsley in. His friend trudged in slowly, something cautious about the way he moved, but Burgh hardly noticed. “Where on Earth have you been? I was worried about you, you know, with all the moving trucks this morning and whatnot! A message or two would have been nice!”
His voice was stern but it held too much elation to be taken seriously. The brunet nearly lunged in for a hug, but he knew how much Giima would hate that. So he bounced on his heels a little, doing his best to contain the excitement. Grimsley stood stock still, staring at Burgh in silence, and the intensity in his eyes was so raw and powerful that it actually made the younger pause, suddenly take notice of how unusual Grimsley was behaving.
"… Hey, are you… okay?"
His wade at the doorway had not been long, but every passing second that he was alone just drove the young Sinclair to seeks his friend’s company even more desperately. But, then a quick sound came from within the room, one that was too low for him to determine what it was or what was being said if it really was a word spoken from the one he was seeking. Following it was a series of noises— footsteps— which grew closer and closer, louder in volume. And then… his friend’s face was in front of him, visible in the moonlight as he stood pushing the door open, looking onto to him with wide, bright eyes.
He was here…
Grimsley didn’t have to be alone.
The ravenet found himself drudging into Burgh’s room by his lead. The whole time, he kept his eyes on his friend, watching his every movement and expression while taking in every word he spoke. The genuine smile that sat upon his face at the sight of him… The way his voice fluctuated with excitement while still holding a concerned undertone as he delved for answers, seeking ease to any thoughts that had been on his mind regarding him…
In it’s basic state, Grimsley’s eyes were icy and cold. With his mind still swirling with thoughts from the day behind him, as well as the traces of fear that had rested in his mind of his friend not being here when he stepped through his door still in the process of fully dissipating, Grimsley was sluggish, silent, and his expression was frigid.
Burgh had always been able to read his eyes and detect his emotions; he was perhaps even keener on them than Grimsley himself, who had always held the habit of concealing his true thoughts and feelings. But, on that night and in that moment, the boy had no barriers left, and— for what may have been the very first time— he would be seen by Burgh in an utterly open and defenseless state; Grimsley’s feelings would become known.
"…You really were worried about me…"
The boy lowered his head, sending his gaze to the floor and off of his friend for the first time since he entered the room. His voice had been weak, but everything about him at the time was weak. He was weak.
"Of course you were worried about me…" he continued, voice growing less meek. He placed his hand against his face and rose back up again. Under his hand, his cheek was moist, tears swelling within his eyes.
He was crying; he was crying in front of Burgh, just as he’d been crying earlier. But, something was different about this time… Instead of being evoked by fear and loneliness as his previous bout had been caused by, this had came from the sight of his friend happily, eagerly, and anxiously approaching him…
There was a smile upon Grimsley’s face.
"You’re the only one who does that…"
Overwhelmed with emotion— happiness from his friend’s care, relief from his appearance, and comfort from his presence— Grimsley remained in that position as tears continued to fall. While it warmed his heart, in a way he felt guilty for making Burgh worry about him, and that thought weighed on the flow of his tears in it’s own, more saddened way. Somewhere in the back of his mind he knew that his current state was probably doing just that. He needed to explain himself… He needed to tell Burgh what had happened and why these thoughts and emotions were bubbling at his surface… but for the moment, all he could do was bask in his appreciation for having such a soul in his life when he needed him the most.
"You’re the only one I have."